Description:During the 1500ís to the 1700ís, the great seafaring Catholic nation of Portugal had a global empire that included possessions in Africa, Asia and South America. At this time Portugal was one of the world's major economic, political, and cultural powers. In 1500, Brazil was discovered by Admiral Pedro Alares Cabral and claimed for Portugal. The Portuguese Empire soon became extremely rich and Portugal collected more gold from the newly found Brazilian mines over a few decades than Spain took from their possessions in Central and South America over 400 years. There were also the very productive diamond and precious gemstone mines that kept the royal coffers full.
At the age of 17, John V succeeded his father Peter II in 1707 as the King of Portugal. With this endless supply of money he bought some of the greatest art collections that were available at the time. This Portuguese Reis coin, featuring a Jerusalem cross and crown, was minted in Lisbon, Portugal. This type of gold coin was not produced in very large quantities and was used as a trade coin at the time. John V used much of the crown's treasure to develop Portugal's economy, to patronize the arts and intellectuals and to advance his country's prestige among its European neighbors.