Early Life and Family Background

Peter was born on July 5, 1717, at the Ribeira Palace in Lisbon, Portugal. His parents were King John V of Portugal and Maria Ana of Austria. As a younger brother of Joseph I of Portugal, Peter was born into a royal family with strong connections to European nobility. His maternal grandparents were Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg, sister of Queen Maria Sofia of Portugal.

Reign and Marriage

In 1760, Peter married his niece, Maria, Princess of Brazil. At the time of their marriage, Maria was the heiress presumptive to the Portuguese throne, which was then held by Peter's brother, Joseph I. Following the birth of their first child, as per custom, Peter became the king of Portugal in right of his wife. Throughout their marriage, they had a total of six children, with their eldest surviving son, John VI, succeeding Maria as the ruler of Portugal upon her death in 1816.

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Peter's reign was marked by his disinterest in government affairs. He preferred to spend his time hunting or engaging in religious activities. Despite his lack of involvement in politics, Peter defended the high nobility of Portugal and supported the petitions of those accused in the Távora affair. He sought the restitution of their confiscated properties and advocated for their rehabilitation through legal proceedings.

Relationship with the Jesuits

Peter III held moderate views regarding the Jesuits, who had been banished from Portugal and its overseas empire in 1759 under the influence of the Marquis of Pombal. Peter had received part of his early education from the Jesuits, which may explain his sympathy towards them. However, his affection had little effect, as Pope Clement XIV ordered the suppression of the Jesuit order across Europe in 1773.

Legacy and Conclusion

King Peter III of Portugal, known as the Builder, left his mark on the kingdom through his role as co-ruler alongside his wife, Queen Dona Maria I. Despite his limited involvement in politics, he maintained a supportive stance towards the high nobility and displayed moderate favor towards the Jesuits. His reign was a period of stability, and his descendants would continue to shape the course of Portuguese history in the years to come.