Country: Brazil, Portuguese
King (reign): Maria I, 1786-1789
Denomination/metal: Gold Reis, 6400 (Peca)
Date/mint mark: 1804
Type Mint of Rio de Janeiro
Ref. no: Russo 542; F 87
Obv. Draped bust right with elaborate hair-do, 'MARIA I D G PORT ET ALG REGINA'. Rev. Crowned Royal Arms in an elaborate ogee border.
32mm, 14.35g. EF - Extremely Fine, struck from rusty dies
As well as being Portuguese, these gold coins were also used in the early Australian settlement of New South Wales due to the acute need of current coin. On the 19th of November 1800 a Government Proclamation was made in Sydney legalising certain foreign coins as acceptable currency within the Colony and fixing a sterling value to them. This coin was fixed at £4 and was called a 'Joanna' because of the latinised name of the previous Portuguese monarch whose coins were most commonly met with. It was some 25 years later that Britain eventually sorted this problem out by ensuring that the colony had sufficient British coin. For the first quarter of the 19th century these 4 escudo pieces of Portugal was also legal tender in Australia as £4 pieces! Maria I (1734 – 1816) was Queen of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves. Known as Maria the Pious (in Portugal), or Maria the Mad (in Brazil), she was the first undisputed Queen regnant of Portugal. With Napoleon's European conquests and at the urging of the British government, on 29 November 1807, the entire Braganza dynasty decided to flee to Brazil to establish a Cortes-in-exile, in the Portuguese Viceroyalty of Brazil. Along with the Royal Family, she was transported aboard the nau Príncipe Real. During her move from the Royal palace to the docks she was heard screaming throughout the trip, in the middle of the crowd and in the carriage. The Queen's dementia was so great that she feared that she was going to be tortured or robbed during her movement by her servants. On 1 August 1808, the British General Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) landed a British army in Lisbon and thus initiated the Peninsular War. Portuguese forces under British command distinguished themselves in the defence of the lines of Torres Vedras (1809–1810) and in the subsequent invasion of Spain and France. In 1815, Prince Regent João government elevated Brazil to the status of a kingdom, and Maria I was proclaimed the Queen of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. When Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815, Maria and her family remained in Brazil. Very handsome coin of this first Brazilian queen and scarce date.