During the reign of D. João V, after the signing of a peace treaty between several European countries (1713), a policy of approximation between Portugal and Spain was followed.
A double marriage was then negotiated between the heirs of the two kingdoms: the Portuguese princess Maria Bárbara (daughter of D. João V) would marry the heir to the Spanish throne, prince Fernando; the future king D. José I would marry princess D. Mariana Vitória (daughter of D. Filipe V, 1st king of the Bourbon dynasty, in Spain).
It was also a way of seeking to guarantee peace between the two kingdoms.
The documents for this contract were signed in Lisbon and Madrid in 1727, and preparations for the wedding ceremony began, which became known as the “exchange of princesses”.
On January 10, 1723, were signed the capitulations of the princess’s marriage contract with Prince of Asturias D. Fernando, son of Felipe V, of Spain, the first of the Bourbons dynasty. At night there were fireworks in Terreiro do Paço, all the outbreaks in the Tagus were flagged and lit up with brilliance, and the illuminations throughout the city were equally brilliant. The following day the wedding took place in Lisbon, by proxy in the Patriarchal church.
The exchange of princesses should take place on neutral ground. For this reason, a bridge was built with a wooden palace over the river Caia, a river that marks the border between Portugal and Spain in the Elvas / Badajoz region. The palace, very well decorated, would welcome the royal families and the main guests.
The royal procession left Lisbon on 8 January, followed by the retinues of Queen D. Ana Ana Josefa and the patriarch, D. Tomás de Almeida.
D. João V arrived in Évora on the 10th, accompanied by D. José, and soon tried to order a “solemn and festive reception” for his wife, who was traveling with her daughter, Maria Bárbara de Bragança, and the infant D . Peter. Welcoming them were the city authorities, including the nobility and clergy, two battalions of infantry and two cavalry regiments, in addition to the people who came to the gates of the Lagoon, “from outside the walls”.
The ceremony for the exchange of the princesses, married to the heirs of two crowns, was carried out with the greatest pomp, making the trip with all the magnificence.
Princess D. Maria Bárbara’s trousseau was grand and dazzling. D. João V, to make the ceremony more striking, ordered the construction of the Vendas Novas palace, which still exists today, with the sole purpose of providing accommodation for two nights to the Portuguese and Spanish delegation .
In 1746 Filipe V died, and the Prince of Asturias ascended the throne with the name of Fernando VI, thus crowning Princess D. Maria Bárbara the crown of Spain’s queen.
Princess Maria Bárbara’s entourage consisted of several coaches ordered on purpose for the ceremony. There were still 185 carts and 6,000 soldiers.
Many people came to the banks of the river to watch, as far as possible, the public events of the ceremonies.
The weddings took place on January 19, 1729.
291 years ago.