D João V, the Magnanimous (and the womanizer)

By : September 17th, 2020 Kings and Queens 0 Comments

He is the King known for his splendour, the Baroque era, for the construction of the wonderful palace and convent of Mafra, but also for his extramarital relations. And what is strange about a king who has lovers? In appearance nothing, aside from the fact that D João V had a preference for nuns …

Of all the lovers, the most famous was Mother Paula Silva, a young brunette, a nun at the Convent of Odivelas, for whom D. João V had built sumptuous rooms, with gilded ceilings, where she was served by nine servants. According to the book “Amantes dos Reis de Portugal”, the beds were made of canopy, covered with silver foil and surrounded by red and gold velvets, and the jars in which she urinated were made of silver.

Over the 10 years that this relationship lasted, the King gave her an annual income of 1708 $ 000 réis, but he could only go to Odivelas to have relations with the nun when the palace doctor authorized him.

In 1720, when Mother Paula was 19 years old, she gave birth to José, who was already the fourth bastard son of the Monarch.

The first had been born already after the marriage with D. Maria Ana of Austria and was son of his first girlfriend, D. Filipa de Noronha, sister of the marquis of Cascais, seduced when D. João was only 15 years old and she 22. She was a lady-in-waiting of Queen Maria Sofia of Neuburg, mother of the fiery prince. To conquer her, D. João used madly foolish means, including a promise of marriage. Wooing and jewellery offering strengthened the lady’s love, who cherished the excusable illusion of becoming queen of Portugal. One can understand her frustration when she learned of the negotiations for the union with Princess Maria Ana of Austria.

There followed the three bastards who became known as the Meninos de Palhavã (for having lived in a palace in this area of ​​Lisbon). Before Mother Paula, on his first visits to the Odivelas Convent, the King was intime with a French nun, who gave birth to D. António, and another Portuguese nun, mother of D. Gaspar, who became archbishop of Braga. The King recognized these three of his illegitimate children in a declaration signed in 1742.

When he got tired of his visits to Paula, D. João V started going to a 17th century palace that still exists in Lisbon, on the corner of the streets of Poço dos Negros and São Bento. D. Jorge de Menezes, owner of properties in the Algarve, lived there, but the king chose to go there on the days (or nights) when he knew he was not there. With whom he was going to meet – furtively – it was with D. Luísa Clara de Portugal, the wife of D. Jorge.

But, while visiting Luísa Clara, D. João V also gallant a servant of hers. And he even appointed as diplomat to the Holy See, in Rome, a brother of the girl, a shoemaker!

And the predictable happened: Luísa Clara became pregnant during one of her husband’s absences. Dejected, D. Jorge retired to a farm in Sintra, where he would die. As for the queen, she tried – in vain – to prevent her rival from entering the parties at the Palace. The fruit of these loves was a girl, sent to the Convent of Santos.

Free from her children and her husband, Luísa Clara had time for everything, including being the lover of a half-brother of the king, bastard son of Pedro II. Furious, D. João V thought of having the bold relative castrated, and only the confessor managed to appease his wrath, evoking the pains of hell.

D. João V also got involved with a gypsy woman, Margarida do Monte, but sent her to a convent, so that she would no longer receive other lovers.

The last lover of D. João V, when he doubled the cape of the 50, would be the Italian opera singer Petronilla Basilli. To keep up with the required lyrical performance, the king started taking aphrodisiacs. And when, two years later, he turned his back on Basilli, he began to whisper that it was over. The truth is that, in the final decade of his life, the Magnânimo dedicated himself mainly to the charitable gestures that justified his epithet.


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