John III, nicknamed The Pious, was the King of Portugal and the Algarves from 1521 until his death in 1557. He was the son of King Manuel I and Maria of Aragon, the third daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. John succeeded his father in 1521 at the age of nineteen.
During his rule Portuguese possessions were extended in Asia and in the New World through the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. John III's policy of reinforcing Portugal's bases in India secured Portugal's monopoly over the spice trade of cloves and nutmeg from the Maluku Islands. On the eve of his death in 1557, the Portuguese empire had a global dimension and spanned almost 4 million square kilometres.
During his reign, the Portuguese became the first Europeans to make contact with Japan. He abandoned the Muslim territories in North Africa in favor of the trade with India and investments in Brazil. In Europe he improved relations with the Baltic region and the Rhineland, hoping that this would bolster Portuguese trade.