Fearing Napoleon's onslaught the Portuguese royal family left Lisbon and moved their court to Brazil, the crown's most prized possession. Dom Joao of Braganza, Regent of Portugal, packed his family and his demented mother, Queen Maria I, and headed for the sunny coasts of Brazil. As the Portuguese royal family left Lisbon, Napoleon's troops led by the anti-monarchist General Junot overran the Portuguese border. On a cold November morning in 1807, the royal exodus started its long voyage into exile. Along with the royal family came an entourage estimated to include almost fifteen thousand people. The people of Lisbon watched in dismay as their ruler abandoned the country to the fate of the invading Napoleonic legions. But he had made the decision to escape the invasion, nothing would deter Dom Joao who believed that moving to Brazil would save his family from becoming Napoleon's puppets just as some of his royal cousins throughout Europe had Done. The Portuguese royal contingent arrived on the coasts of Brazil on January 21, 1808. Brazilians who witnessed this most unexpected arrival went wild with ovations for the exiled royals. Two months later the royal party arrived at their final destination, the beautiful port of Rio de Janeiro. It was at Rio that Dom Joao decided to settle his court in exile, and it was from there that he vigorously rebuild the fortunes of his shattered kingdom. Dom Joao opened Brazilian ports to foreign trade and basically constituted the colony into an independent, self-reliant kingdom under the rule of the House of Braganza. In due time, Dom Joao would acquire properties in the countryside to where the royal family would retire to lead a quiet life away from the exigencies of court life. The fall of Napoleon in 1814 restored the Portuguese royal family to their throne in Lisbon. Despite this event, Dom Joao refused to return to Europe until the political situation there settled. He was also faced with an uncertain future in Brazil if he departed.