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D. Maria I – The crazy Queen

D.Maria I was very religious and got completely crazy during her lifetime.

Maria Francisca Isabel Josefa Antónia Gertrudes Rita Joana (Maria I) was the daughter of José I de Portugal and Mariana Victoria of Spain.

Maria was born in 1734 and grew up with her sisters at the court in Lisbon. They seemed to have a good life, they were loved by their father and they did a lot of things, like riding horses, learning to draw and read French and Latin. But things happened in Maria´s lifetime that slowly drove her crazy. For example the earthquake in Lisbon, which killed thousands of people. She had to marry her uncle (at the age of 17) and apart from that she had claustrophobia and suffered from delusions. When Maria´s dad José died in 1777, she became the first reigning Queen of Portugal. The reason was that her parents didn´t have any sons…

One of the first things Maria did when she became queen was dismiss her Secretary of State of Internal Affairs of the Kingdom, the current equivalent to Prime Minister, the Marquess of Pombal. The documents show that she accepted his resignation, probably due to the irreconcilable disputes and the accumulation of an unbearable situation for Pombal and his supporters. Maria didn´t really like him and she didn´t want to perpetuate his power in office. Pombal, back in 1759, was also one of the perpetrators of the persecution and expulsion of the Society of Jesus in Portugal. The Jesuit’s College in Funchal was closed in 1759 and the clergies were sent away the year after. During Maria reign, she donates part of the former College serve as a Seminary.

Even though shitty things had happened to Maria, she was still kind of happy. She had a husband and 7 healthy children, but the real bad stuff happened when Maria´s husband, son and daughter died. In 1792 she was deemed to be mentally insane. When the royal family had to flee to Brazil because of the Napoleonic wars, she couldn´t say anything else than ´Where are we going, where am I?´. She started slapping her own servants, was hysterical and screamed like hell. After the wars, part of the family went back to Portugal but she stayed in Brazil with her son, the prince regent D. João. Here she got more and more sick and died in 1816. End of story.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Eva Dijkstra, 18 year old volunteer from the Netherlands. Is a by nature chaotic person that tries to be structured, who loves food, animals, dancing and art.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.