José Manuel I, King of Portugal (1750-1777) was a mediocre prince, devoted to the Church and the opera. He succeeded to the Portuguese throne in 1750 and almost immediately placed effective power in the hands of Sebastião de Carvalho, Marquis of Pombal. Indeed the history of José's reign is really that of Pombal himself. The powerful marquis sought to overhaul all aspects of economic, social and colonial policy to make Portugal a more efficient contender with the great powers of Europe, and thus secure her own middle-power status as a result. A conspiracy of nobles aimed (allegedly) at murdering King José and the marquis gave Pombal the pretext to expel the Jesuits in September 1759, thus gaining control of public education and a wealth of church lands. The reign of José was also famous for the great Lisbon earthquake of November 1, 1755, in which around 30,000 people lost their lives. The capital was eventually rebuilt at great cost, and an equestrian statue of King José still dominates Lisbon's main plaza. With José Manuel's death on Feb 24 1777 the throne passed to his daughter Maria I and Pombal's iron rule was sharply brought to an end.

Preceded by:
D. João V
List of Portuguese monarchs Succeeded by:
Maria I and
her consort, D. Pedro III