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Pedro II ( ; 2 December, 1825 5 December, 1891), nicknamed "the Magnanimous" was the second and last Emperor of Brazil, having reigned for 58 years. His name in full was Pedro de Alcântara João Carlos Leopoldo Salvador Bibiano Francisco Xavier de Paula Leocádio Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga. When anglicised, his name would be Peter II, full name Peter of Alcantara John Charles Leopold Salvador Vivian Francis Xavier of Paula Leocadio Michael Gabriel Raphael Gonzaga.

He was born on December 2, 1825, in Rio de Janeiromarker, the seventh child of Emperor Pedro I of Brazil and Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria. As a member of the Brazilian Royalty, he held the honorific title "Dom" (In English: Don)Guralnik, David B. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American language. New York: Warner Books, 1993, p.183 “don (dän) n. [Sp L. dominus, master] 1. [D-] Sir;. Emperor Pedro II is usually considered the greatest Brazilian.

Early years

Prince Imperial

Pedro de Alcântara João Carlos Leopoldo Salvador Bibiano Francisco Xavier de Paula Leocádio Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga was born after a childbirth that lasted for more than five hours at 2:30 a.m. on 2 December 1825. His name, as well as his father´s, was a homage to saint Peter of Alcantara. At the same day he was presented by Brigadier General Francisco de Lima e Silva, the Empress´ veador (gentleman usher) to members of the Brazilian Government in the Palace of São Cristóvãomarker. He was only 47 centimeters tall and was considered a fragile and sickly child, having inherited the epilepsy of the Spanish Bourbon. He was baptized a few days later, in 9 December and had his elder sister Maria as his godmother and his own father as godfather.
Pedro II at 10 months old, 1826.
Pedro I invited Dona Mariana de Verna Magalhães Coutinho (later Countess of Belmonte in 1844) for the position of aia (supervisor) of his son. Mariana de Verna was a Portuguese widow, considered a cultured, honored and kind woman. Pedro II called her “Dadama” as he did not pronounce correctly the word “dame” as a child. However, he would continue calling her that way even as an adult, but by affection as he treated her as his surrogate mother.

As the son of Emperor Pedro I, he was a member of the Brazilian branch of the House of Braganza which was, in turn, an illegitimate branch of the Capetian dynasty. He was, therefore, grandson of João VI and nephew of Miguel I. His mother was the Archduchess Maria Leopoldina, daughter of Francis II, last Holy Roman Emperor. Through his mother he was a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and first cousin of Emperors Napoleon II of France, Franz Joseph I of Austria and Maximilian I of Mexico.

Having been born after the recognition of Brazilian independence (25 November 1825), he was considered a foreigner under Portuguese law. Therefore his elder sister became Queen of Portugal as Maria II after the abdication of Pedro I (also Pedro IV of Portugal) in 28 May 1826. However, he was the only legitimate male child of Pedro I to survive childhood and became the heir of the Brazilian crown of his father as Prince Imperial and officially recognized as such in 6 August 1826. Empress Leopoldina died in 11 December 1826, days after the stillbirth of a male child, when Pedro was one year old. Pedro would not have any memory of his own mother but only what he would be later told about.

His father was married two and half years later to Amélie of Leuchtenberg. Prince Pedro spent little time with his stepmother who would definitively leave the country two years later. But it seems that they had had an affectionate relationship and both would keep contact with each other until her death in 1878. Pedro I abdicated the imperial crown 7 April 1831, after a long conflict with the federalist liberals and opted to go to Portugal to reclaim the crown of his daughter which had been usurped by his brother Miguel I. The Prince Imperial Pedro became, thus, "Dom Pedro II, Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil".

The Regency


When the five year old Pedro awoke on 7 April 1831, beside him on the bed lay his father´s imperial crown. Pedro I and his wife had already left Brazilian soil and boarded the British frigate Warspite. Pedro II wrote a letter of farewell to his father aided by Mariana de Verna. On receipt of this, a tearful Pedro I composed a reply, calling the little boy "My beloved son, and my Emperor.". His father and step-mother remained on board the Warspite another five days before leaving for Europe, but they did not see the young emperor during that period … or ever again. For the remainder of his life, Pedro I would become distressed with his children's absence and fretted about their futures. Pedro II missed his father and stepmother (who had assumed his mother's role), and this may account for his later lack of any emotional display in public. Three of his sisters stayed behind in Brazil with Pedro II: Januária, Paula and Francisca.
Pedro II was acclaimed as the new Brazilian Emperor on 9 April. Bewildered by his parents' abandonment and frightened by the large crowds and thundering artillery salutes, he wept inconsolably as he was taken, with Mariana de Verna at his side, by carriage up to the City Palacemarker. The frightened Emperor Pedro II was displayed along with his sisters at one of the windows of the palace. He stood atop a chair so that he could be seen by and observe the acclamation of the assembled thousands. The Brazilians were touched by this "figure of the small orphan who would rule them one day." The entire ordeal, followed by the roar of saluting cannon, was so traumatic for the little emperor that it may account for his noted aversion to pomp as an adult.

His elevation as emperor ushered in a period of crisis, the most troublesome in Brazil's history. As Pedro II could not exert his constitutional prerogatives as Emperor (Executive and Moderating Power) until he reached majority, a regency was created. The first regency consisted of a triumvirate, and one of its members was the same Brigadier General Francisco de Lima e Silva who had presented the infant Pedro to the Government more than five years previously. Disputes between political factions resulted in an unstable, almost anarchical, regency. The Liberals which had ousted Pedro I soon split into two factions: moderate liberals (constitutional monarchists who would later split into the Liberal Party and Conservative Party) and republicans (a small minority, but radical and highly rebellious). There were also the restorationists who had been previously known as Bonifacians.

Several rebellions erupted during the regency. The first were the Rebellion of Santa Rita (1831), the Revolt of the Year of the Smoke (1833) and the Cabanada (or War of the Cabanos, 1832-34), which sought the return of Pedro I and which had the support of common people, former slaves, and even slaves. The death of Pedro I on 24 September 1834 ended their hopes. The promulgation of the Additional Act in 1834, an constitutional amendment that gave higher administrative and political provincial decentralization, exacerbated conflicts between political parties, as whichever dominated the provinces would also gain control over the electoral and political system. Those parties which lost elections rebelled and tried to assume power by force. Rebellious factions, however, continued to uphold the throne of Pedro II as a way of giving the appearance of legitimacy to their actions (that is, they were not in revolt against the monarchy per se). The Cabanagem (1835-40), the Sabinada (1837-38) and the Balaiada (1838-41), all followed this course, even though some declared the secession of the provinces as independent republics (but only so long as Pedro II was a minor). The exception was the Farroupilha (or War of Tatters, 1835-45), which began as another dispute between political factions in the province of Rio Grande do Sul but quickly evolved into a separatist rebellion financed by the Argentinemarker dictator Don Manuel Rosas. But even in this case, the majority of the province's population, including the largest and most prosperous cities, remained loyal to the Empire.


Emperor Pedro I chose three people to take care of his children when he left the country. The first one was his friend José Bonifácio, whom he nominated guardian of his children, a position that was confirmed later by the General Assemblymarker. The second was Mariana de Verna that already occupied the position of aia (supervisor) since the birth of Pedro II. The third one was Rafael, an afro-Brazilian veteran of the Argentina-Brazil War who was an employee in the Palace of São Cristóvãomarker and that was also a man whom Pedro I deeply trusted, to whom he asked to look after his son, which he indeed did until the end of his life. José Bonifácio did not stay for a long time in his position and was dismissed in December 1833. His relationship with the regency governed by liberals had become unsustainable due to his role as the leader of the restorers that desired the return of Pedro I, not as Emperor, but as regent until the majority of his son. The General Assembly nominated to substitute him Manuel Inácio de Andrade, Marquis of Itanhaém.
Itanhaém was chosen because he was easy to manipulate and was considered submissive. The new guardian was a man of mediocre intelligence, but honest and was wise enough to provide the young Emperor with an extraordinary education. The guardian had a “great influence on the democratic character and thought of Pedro II”. He kept the same professors who were already teaching Pedro II and his sisters when José Bonifácio was guardian. The exception was Friar Pedro de Santa Mariana who was nominated to occupy the place of Friar Antonio de Arrábida (who also had educated Pedro I as a child). Friar Pedro Mariana acted as a general supervisor of Pedro II´s education but also taught him Latin, religion and mathematics. He was one of the few people beyond his family who Pedro II nourished a great affection. Itanhaém and Friar Pedro Mariana educated Pedro II so that he should consider all human beings as equals, to be impartial and just, to watch public servants and ministers of state, to not have favourites and to always worry about public welfare. Both had as an objective “to make a human, honest, constitutional, pacifist, tolerant, wise and just monarch. That is, a perfect ruler, dedicated integrally to his obligations, above political passions and private interests”.

The education of Pedro II began when he was still the heir to throne and learned to read and write in Portuguese at age five. His first teachers were Mariana de Verna and Friar Antonio de Arrábida. When he became Emperor he already had several professors. Amongst them, Félix Taunay (father of Alfredo d'Escragnolle Taunay) and Luís Alves de Lima e Silva (son of the regent Francisco de Lima e Silva), that taught French and Fencing, respectively, for whom he would have a friendship and admiration that would last all his life. Pedro II passed the entire day studying and only two hours were destined to amusement. He would wake up at 6.30 a.m. and started the studies at seven and continued until 10 p.m. when he would go to bed. The disciplines were diverse, from languages, history, philosophy, astronomy, physics, geography and music up to hunting, riding and fencing. A great care was taken so that he should become the opposite of his father in matters related to education, character and personality. He would learn throughout his life to speak and write not only in his native Portuguese, but also in Latin, French, German, English, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Chinese, Occitan, Tupi and Guarani. His passion for reading allowed him to assimilate any information. Pedro II, although an intelligent person, was not a genius, but had a great easiness to accumulate knowledge. As a constitutional monarch, his education was followed closely by the General Assembly that demanded from Itanhaém reports concerning his progress in the studies. Meanwhile, Pedro II was kept unaware from what happened outside the palace, including political matters.

The Emperor had an unhappy and solitary childhood. He was considered precocious, docile and obedient, but was always crying and nothing seemed to please him. He “was not raised with luxury and everything was very simple”. He only had permission to meet his sisters after lunch, as they could not make him company and even so for one hour only. He had few friends of his age, and the only one he kept after becoming and adult was Luís Pedreira do Couto Ferraz, future Viscount of Bom Retiro. However, he received tenderness from Mariana de Verna and from Rafael, who played with him by carrying him over his shoulders and allowing Pedro II to hide in his room to escape from his studies. For the most part of his time he was surrounded by employees who only had permission to speak to him when questioned. The way that Pedro II was raised made him become a shy and needy person who tried to escape from reality by making “books another world where he could isolate and protect himself”. Behind the “pomp of the monarchy, of the self-sufficiency appearance, there might has lived an unhappy man”.



Marriage and Family

Pedro II was married on 17 September 1842 to his cousin Princess Teresa of the Two Sicilies (1822–1889), the youngest daughter of his grand-uncle King Francis I of the Two Sicilies (1777–1830) and his grand-aunt Maria Isabella of Spain.Pedro II and Teresa Cristina had four children:
Name Portrait Lifespan Notes
By Teresa Cristina of the Two Sicilies (14 March 1822 – 28 December 1889; married in 17 September 1842)
Dom Afonso Pedro de Alcântara Cristiano Leopoldo Filipe Eugênio Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga 23 February 1845 –

11 June 1847
was the Prince Imperial of Brazil from 1845 to his death in 1847. He died in childhood.
Dona Isabel Cristina Leopoldina Augusta Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga 29 July 1846 –

14 November 1921
was the Princess Imperial of Brazil and Comtesse d´Eu due to her marriage to Gaston, comte d'Eu. She had 3 sons from this marriage. She also acted as Regent of the Empire while her father was traveling abroad.
Dona Leopoldina Teresa Francisca Carolina Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga 13 July 1847 –

7 February 1871
married Prince Ludwig August of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary and had 4 sons from this marriage.
Dom Pedro Afonso Cristiano Leopoldo Eugênio Fernando Vicente Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga 19 July 1848 –

9 January 1850
was the Prince Imperial of Brazil from 1848 to his death in 1850. He died in childhood.

File:A imperatriz e filhos.jpg|Empress Teresa Cristina and her chiildrenFile:Victor Frond (gravado por Sébastien Auguste Sisson) - Família Imperial do Brasil, 1860.jpg|Pedro II with his wife and daughtersFile:Familiaimperialnova.jpg|Pedro II with his wife and daughtersFile:Alberto Henschel - A Familia Imperial.jpg|The Imperial Family in 1875.File:Isabel e Pedro II 1870.jpg|Pedro II with his daughter and heir.File:Familia Imperial 1887.jpg|The Imperial Family on an outing in 1887File:Pedro II departing to Europe 1887.jpg|The Imperial Family departing on vacation to Europe in 1887.File:Família Imperial por Otto Hees.jpg|The Imperial Family in exile, 1889.

Aureliano tutorship


The Platine War

The Conciliation

Quasi-war with Great Britain

The War of the Triple Alliance

The number one volunteer

In December 1864 the dictator of Paraguay, Francisco Solano López, ordered the capture of the Brazilian civilian steamship Marquis of Olinda, including its passengers and crew members. Immediately afterwards the Paraguayan armyinvaded the Brazilian province of Mato Grosso(current state of Mato Grosso do Sul) without previous declaration of war. Four months later Argentinamarker was also invaded so that the Paraguayan troops could attack the Brazilian province of Rio Grande do Sul.The notice of the Paraguayan invasions was received with surprise not only by the Brazilian government, but also by the general population. Paraguay was seen with disdain in Brazil that paid little attention to the war faring potential of its neighboring country. Pedro II, as well as the Brazilian people, was infuriated with the attacks that were considered unjustified and believed that it was necessary to punish the Paraguayan dictator. Such feeling was strengthened by the aversion that the Emperor had by the caudillos-dictatorswho were common in the Hispanic-Americans countries.
Still thus, Pedro II tried to tranquilize the country in the speech from the thronein 6 May 1865, where he dealt with common subjects such as public health, economy, and the marriage of his daughters and calmly made a brief mention of the still ongoing conflict with Great Britainand also about the Paraguayan invasion. He was particularly against the participation of the Empire in the problems of the platine regionmarker, as he affirmed in his diary in 1862: “After the war against Rosas, I was always a partisan of the abstention of Brazil in the businesses of the Plata, without harm to the national honor and the Brazilian interests.” However, he decidedly supported the cabinet in its will to counterattack.

It was known in the capital of the Empire of the invasion of the Rio Grande do Sul in 30 June 1865. Knowing of the anarchy in the province and the incapacity and incompetence of the military chiefs in fighting back the Paraguayan army, Pedro II did not hesitate and decided to leave to the battlefront. He wrote to the Countess of Barral: “Rio Grande do Sul has been invaded, my place is in there”. As Head of State, he would go to assume the commandof the Brazilian army. Neither the Cabinet nor the General Assembly agreed with the Emperor´s wish. The senators and general deputies using their constitutional prerogatives refused to grant their permission for the travel. If something occurred with Pedro II, the throne would be inherited by his 18 years old daughter Isabel. The risks were considered too high to the stability of the country in what was considered a critical moment. After he received also the objections from the Council of State, Pedro II pronounced his memorable phrase: “If they can prevent me from going as an Emperor, they can not prevent me from abdicating, and go on as a Fatherland Volunteer”. Thus became known nationwide the Brazilians that signed up to go to the war according to the Decree 3,371 of 7 January 1865: the Fatherland Volunteers. The monarch himself was popularly called the “Number one volunteer”.

Pedro II left for the south in 7 July 1865 (other authors affirm that he left in 10 July) being greeted by a crowd with the sound of the national hymn and patriotic celebrations. Departed with him his son-in-law the Duke of Saxe, his aide-de-campthe General Francisco Xavier Calmon Cabral da Silva(later the 2nd Baron of Itapagipe), the Vice Admiral William Parker, the Minister of War Ângelo Ferraz, his Aide-de-Campthe Marquis of Caxias, the Admiral Joaquim Raimundo de Lamare, the General Beaurepaire Rohanand an escort of 300 soldiers. When embarking, he spoke: “I am the perpetual defender of Brazil, and when my fellow citizens sacrifice their lives in holocaust on top of the fatherland altar in defense of such saintly cause, I will not be the one who will not follow them”.

Siege of Uruguaiana

Pedro II disembarked in Rio Grande do Sul on 16 July and thereafter proceeded by land with his escort of 300 men. The trip was made by horse and wagons; by night the emperor slept in campaign tents. On 1 August at Caçapavamarker he met with his other son-in-law, Gaston d´Orléans, the Count of Eu, who had arrived from Europe where he had been spending his honeymoon.From Caçapava he went to São Gabrielmarker and on 5 September he passed through the Campo do Rosário (Field of the Rosary), where 37 years earlier Brazilian troops were defeatedmarker by Argentine and Uruguayan forces.General Francisco Xavier Calmon, who had participated in the battle and was traveling with the Emperor, told him his memories of it. In São Gabriel he said farewell to João Propício Mena Barreto, Baron of São Gabriel, former commander-in-chief of the Brazilian Army in the Uruguayan War, who was dying of tuberculosis. He also visited the hospitals and talked with the wounded. Pedro II also had his first contact with the Paraguayans when he talked with three prisoners. He spoke in guaraniand offered the soldiers the opportunity to return to Paraguay. The Paraguayans refused, alleging that they would be put to death by Lopez for having been taken prisoner. The Paraguayan soldiers, who had hated the monarch without ever having met him, began to admire him greatly and called him Murubichab(“Great Chief” in guarani). The Emperor, for his part, felt pity for the Paraguayan people and was convinced that Lopez’s dictatorship was barbarous and had to be overthrown at any cost.
After passing briefly by Alegretemarker Pedro II arrived in Uruguaiana in 11 September, where he met Admiral Joaquim Marques Lisboa, then Baron of Tamandaré, General João Frederico Caldwell, General Manuel Luis Osório (later Marquis of Erval) and Manuel Marques de Sousa, then Baron of Porto Alegre and also commander of the besieging forces.Uruguaiana had been taken by the Paraguayans under Lieutenant Colonel Antonio de la Cruz Estigarribiawith a force of 10,000 men in 5 August 1865. By the time of the emperor's arrival, Estigarribia's force was reduced to only 5,500 men; the besieging army composed of Brazilians, Argentines and Uruguayans was 17,000 strong. Pedro II also met the Argentine president Bartolomé Mitreand Uruguayan president Venancio Flores, who were commanding the troops of their respective countries.

There was a quarrel in the allied camp: Mitre demanded the command of the allied army in accordance with the Treaty of the Triple Alliance. The Brazilian military leaders refused to accept this, since the same treaty affirmed that in Brazilian ground the command would be held by a Brazilian. Pedro II amicably persuaded all to accept his proposal: the allied forces would be divided in three columns, each under the command of a chief of their own nationality, while he would act as a Moderating Power to mediate conflicts between the three commanders, thus becoming the de factoand de jurecommander of the allied army. The Emperor rode within rifle shot of Uruguaiana to demonstrate his courage, but the Paraguayans did not attack him.

The commanders' opinions on what should be done conflicted: Osório suggested that they should destroy the village with the artillery, since all its (Brazilian) inhabitants had run away before the Paraguayans had captured it. Tamandaré and Flores, on the other hand, desired a bombardment that would be followed by the advance of the allied troops. Pedro II preferred to prevent the bloodshed of a battle, and called on Estigarribia to surrender. Estigarribia did so, on the condition that he would surrender only to the Brazilian Emperor, as he did not trust his fellow republicans from Argentina and Uruguay. The Paraguayan troops paraded in front of the allies and the sword of Estigarribia was solemnly delivered by the minister Ferraz to Pedro II. By "his example and his actions he had contributed decisively to the expulsion of the Paraguayan invaders from Brazilian soil." The Paraguayans were skeletal from hunger and practically naked. Pedro II did not feel proud of the victory and wrote to the Countess of Barral: “Yesterday we entered in Uruguaiana. The enemy was unworthy even of being defeated. What a rabble!” There was a general belief that the war was near its end and that it was only a matter of time until López surrendered. For this reason Pedro II decided to return to Rio de Janeiro. Before leaving Uruguaiana, he received the British ambassador Edward Thorntonwho publicly apologized on behalf of Queen Victoria and of the British Government for the crisis between both Empires. The emperor considered that this diplomatic victory over the most powerful nation of the world was sufficient and rekindled the friendly relations between both countries. He returned to Rio de Janeiromarker and everywhere he passed he was received with great joy and celebration.



The war's cost came to R$614,000,000, which was paid as follows: R$265,000,000 from taxes, R$171,000,000 from bond sales, R$102,000,000 in new money issued, R$27,000,000 from internal loansand R$49,000,000 from foreign loans. Thus, only 7.9% of the total war debt was composed of external loans. However, the country was so rich, that the government paid off the war debt in only ten years. The conflict "brought about a considerable expansion in Brazil's economy, stimulating new forms of production". After more than five years of war, the emperor seemed to have aged twenty years: his blond hair and beard had become completely grey and at age 44 his face seemed to be of a sexagenarian. However, Pedro II whose popularity was shaken by the long conflict, immediately recouped it with the final victory. He also turned down the General Assembly's suggestion to create an equestrian statueof him to commemorate the victory and chose instead to use the money to build elementary schools.


Racial thoughts and abolitionism

The end of the War of the Triple Alliancerepresented the beginning of the apogee of the Empire, being considered the “golden age” of the Brazilian monarchic era. In a “general way, the 1870s were prosperous for the nation and its monarch. It was a period of social and political progress where the distribution of national wealthbegan to benefit a greater part of the population”. The international reputation of Brazil was extremely high to which, with the exception of the United Statesmarker, none other American country got near.Indeed, the "start of the 1870s brought prosperous times for Brazil. Its economy was booming, and schemes for internal development - railroads, shipping lines, and immigrant colonies - proliferated. With slavery destined for extinction and other reforms projected, the prospects for 'moral and material advances' seemed vast".
Few Brazilians opposed slavery around 1870 and even less were openly against it, but among them was Pedro II. He “repudiated the enslaved man power and he considered it a national shame”. The emperor never owned slaves. The only ones that he ever had (little more than forty) came from inheritance he received when declared of age in 1840 and he immediately set them all free. Around this time he began looking for ways of abolishing slavery, even if gradually. He affirmed in a letter: “Nobody desires the abolition more strongly than I do.” In a private conversation with Louis Agassizhe spoke: “Slavery is a terrible curse on any nation, and it must, and will, disappear among us [Brazilians].” He was supported by few, among them his sister DonaFrancisca and his wife, Teresa Cristina. But “the emperor, who declared several times his intention to assume the conduction of the abolitionism movement, as expected, took too long to trespass the political obstacles.”

Pedro II was not a racist and had a “great tolerance towards all his subjects, without exception, no matter their color or faith.” His tolerance was also geared towards Jews; when inquired why there were no laws against them in the country he answered: “I will not attack the Jews, as the God of my religion came from their people”, and also to the Muslims, affirming that a sincere reconciliation between the Westand the Eastwas necessary. The emperor was never convinced himself of the ideas common on his time of inequality between races. According to historian Roderick J.Barman:

"During one of his visits to a night school in Rio, the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios, the emperor learned that a freed slave was enrolled, learning how to read, write and do arithmetic.
'When he entered the classroom, he went up to him, clapping him on the shoulder, as a demonstration of his immense satisfaction in seeing the way in which a man of the people was striving to learn how to be useful to the country and his family.'
Pedro II’s commendable freedom from racial prejudice meant that he did not perceive skin color as a bar to civilization or citizenship."

The abolition of slavery was a delicate subject in Brazil. Slaves were used by everyone, from the richest to the poorest. They worked as house servants, as farmers, miners, prostitutes or even gardeners. Slavery was so widespread in the country that formers slaves owned slaves and cases of slaves that had their own slaves were not uncommon. Such institution was so strong that none of the rebellions that occurred during the regency in the 1830s advocated its ending. Even the Malê Revolthad as a goal the release of the Muslim slaves only. To place itself against slavery would be the same as to be against the interests of all the nation. Even so, the emperor did not give up. Pedro II despised slave dealers and never granted nobility titles to any of them, including the most powerful and influential in the court. He even threatened to abdicate if the General Assembly (the Parliament) did not declare the traffic illegal, which was done in 1850. This was his first public manifestation against slavery.

An one of the sources of slavery had been eliminated, at the beginning of 1860s Pedro II turned his attention to the other one: the birth of new slaves. By his own initiative, a project of law was drafted by the Marquis of São Vicente. The War of the Triple Alliance, however, delayed the discussion of the law by the General Assembly. Pedro II openly asked for the gradual extinguishing of slavery in the Speech from the Thronein 1867. He was heavily criticized (also by the republicans), being his act considered a “national suicide”. He was “accused that the abolition was a desire that only he had and not the nation". The nomination of the abolitionist and conservative Viscount of Rio Brancoas President of the Council of Ministers made possible to pass the bill that became the Law of Free Birth in 28 September 1871, where all children born of slave women after that date would be considered free.

First trip to Europe

Religious thoughts

Travel to the United States

Second trip to Europe




The republicanism as a constant political movement appeared in Brazil in December 1870 in Rio de Janeiromarker with the publishing of a manifesto signed by 57 people and with the creation of the Republican Club.It was an “insignificant minority of scholars”. There was no repudiation or desire of extinguishing slavery in the manifesto. In 1873 it was created the Republican Party of São Paulomarker and it affirmed that slavery would have to be resolved by the monarchist [Conservative and Liberal] parties.The reason was because many of the republicans from São Paulo were farmers that owned slaves. Most republicans had as an objective to wait until the death of Pedro II and by peaceful ways, such as with a plebiscite, prevent Princess Isabel reign. The republicans did not desire any “social readjustment” (such as to improve the quality of life of former-slaves) and “were not revolutionaries in the deep meaning of the word”. The republican movement “had a slow and irregular evolution, concentrated in the provinces south of Bahia”, more precisely in the provinces of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Geraismarker and Rio Grande do Sul.It was “an extremely small group”, with a “precarious organization in the provinces” and no cohesion or connection among themselves. The only republican group that achieved some notoriety was the Republican Party of São Paulo that managed to elect two deputies into the Chamber of Deputiesin 1884 but none in the last legislature of the Empire in 1889. In the 1880s “it allured sympathy in lesser number than the [slavery] abolitionism, and in a slower pace”. Its numbers only increased after 1888, with the adhesion of farmers that formerly owned slaves that felt victims of an injustice for the extinguishing of slavery without any type of indemnity. Still thus, in 1889 the “avowed republicans were probably a small minority” as the "republican ideals, in reality, had never managed to seduce the people. Its dissemination was restricted to the intelectual and military fields".
As “the republicans themselves recognized, the party did not have size, organization and popular support enough to overthrown the monarchy”. The republicanism “did not manage, in any moment of its development, to spur the national soul. It never had the privilege to provoke a strong enthusiasm or enlist all forces that were divorcing from the throne”. Even with a radical propaganda and the little interference from the authorities, the Republican Party that acted since the beginning of the 1870s was a small one. Its propaganda praised republics such as the United Statesmarker, France and Argentinamarker, but at the same time it conveniently ignored progressive monarchies such as the United Kingdommarker and the Scandinavian countries.In 1889, its members were some “spokesmen of public squares and writers of periodicals. They were far from having the power to develop a propaganda that could shake the foundations of the throne”. In the “political process of the second empire [Pedro II reign], the republican party had such a dull and secondary role that it could even had been forgotten, that would have not interfered in the order of reasoning that intended to explain the motives of the regime´s disaggregation”. It was the crisis between the military and the Government, “of very diverse origin and evolution” from the republicanism, that was the main factor for the fall of the monarchy.

Pedro II showed no interest in the 1870´s republican manifesto. The Marquis of São Vicente, then President of the Council of Ministers, suggested to the Emperor that republicans should be forbidden of ingressing into the public service, a then common practice in monarchies. Pedro II answered: “Mr. São Vicente, just let the country govern itself and give the reason to whoever it has.” The President reprimanded the monarch: “Your Majesty does not have right to think in that way. The Monarchy is a constitutional dogma that Your Majesty swore to maintain; it is not incarnated in the person of Your Majesty”. But the Emperor did not care and simply answered: “Well, if the Brazilians do not want me as their Emperor, I shall become a teacher instead!”

The Emperor not only always refused to forbid republicans from becoming public servants but also hired the republican military officer Benjamin Constantas a professor of mathematics to his grandsons. He allowed open republican´s manifestations, such as in newspapers, assemblies, meetings or political parties and exempted the elected republican deputies from the Chamber of Deputies to swear allegiance to the crown. The freedom of the Press, “one of the foundations of the regime, kept allowing the fiercely critics and vile caricatures against the regime and its public personalities”. Pedro II was intransigent in his defense of the unrestricted freedom of speechthat existed in Brazil since its independence in 1822. He was accused of being excessively tolerant in relation to the republicans, but “he did not pay any attention to the several warnings that told that his behavior mined the political foundation of the monarchy”. In 1889, Pedro II told to José Antonio Saraivathat he would not mind if Brazil became a republic. The “Emperor´s indifference towards the fate of the regime was also one of the main factors for the fall of the Monarchy”.

Military indiscipline

Third trip to Europe

The emperor’s health had gotten considerably worse by 1887 and fever attacks had become common. His personal doctors suggested a trip to Europe for medical treatment. When embarking, he was greeted by a crowd that cried out: “Long live His Majesty the Emperor of Brazil!” He left in 30 June 1887 with his wife and his grandson Pedro Augusto. One more time his daughter Isabel became regent in his place. He remained for a short time in Portugal and went to Paris where he stood in the Grand Hotel as usual. There he was visited by Louis Pasteur, Ambroise Thomas, Pierre Émile Levasseur , François Coppée, Alexandre Dumas, fils, Arsène Houssaye, Guerra Junqueiro, two of Victor Hugo's grandsons, amongst others. In a conversation with Houssaye the emperor once again lamented what he considered a “crown of thorns” he had to carry. Pedro II also saw his old friend Michel Eugène Chevreulwho was by then 102 years old.
The monarch was examined by the French doctors Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard, Jean-Martin Charcot and Michel Peter who recommended a visit to the spas in Baden-Badenmarker.He remained there for two months and met with old acquaintances such as Wilhelm I of Germanyand Leopold II of Belgium. He also visited the tomb of his daughter Leopoldina in Coburg. He returned to Paris in 8 October 1887 and met his sisters Januária and Francisca. From there he traveled to Italy where he was invited by the King of Italy to a dinner along with Victoria of the United Kingdomand Natalija Obrenović, Queen of the Serbia. In Florencemarker he inaugurated the painting Independence or Death done by the Brazilian painter Pedro Américo in the presence of the British Queen, of the Serbian queen and of Charles I, King of Württemberg.In Milanmarker he met with Cesare Cantù.There his health worsened in 3 May 1888 where he passed two weeks between life and death, even being anointed. The doctor Charcot came from Paris to assist and injected in the emperor’s vein caffeine, resulting in an improvement of his health. In 22 May he got the news that slavery had been abolishedin Brazil. He was lying in his bed and with a weak voice and tears in his eyes he spoke: “Great people! Great people!”

Pedro II returned to Brazil and disembarked in Rio de Janeiro in 22 August 1888. The “whole country welcomed him with an enthusiasm never seen before. From the capital, from the provinces, from everywhere, arrived proofs of affection and veneration. The emotion from the ones who saw him disembark, frail, thin, with the bending body, weak legs, was the most profound one”. The cadets from the Military College climbed the Sugarloaf Mountainmarker and placed a gigantic band where it was written “Hail”.Such popular enthusiasm directed towards the emperor was not matched even by the celebrations of his majority in 1840, or in the Christie Affair in 1864, or in his departure to Rio Grande do Sul in 1865 or even after the victory in the War of the Triple Alliancein 1870. “To judge from the general manifestations of affection that the Emperor and the Empress had received for the occasion of their arrival from Europe, in this winter of 1888, no political institution seemed to be so strong as the monarchyin in Brazil”. Even the former slaves showed loyalty towards the monarchy and vehemently opposed the republicans, whom they called “the Paulistasmarker”.The “monarchy seemed to be in the height of its popularity”. Pedro II had reached the highest point of his popularity among Brazilians.

The end of slavery resulted in the explicit support from the rich and powerfull coffee farmers (that held the political, economical and social power in the country) to the republicanism. Although there was no desire in Brazil (at least among the majority of its population) to change the form of government, the republicans began to pressure the Army, and its main leader the Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca, to overthown the monarchy.


On 9th November 1889 a large number of officers gathered in the Military Club and decided to make the coup d’etatto overthrown the monarchy. Two days later in the house of Rui Barbosathe plan to execute the coup was drawn by some officers, including Benjamin Constantand Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca, beyond others two civilians, Quintino Bocaiúvaand Aristides Lobo. It was the only meeting that counted with the participation of civilian republicans as Deodoro did not desire their presence on what he considered strictly a military matter. Deodoro still hesitated: “I wanted to follow the Emperor‘s coffin, who is old and whom I deeply respect”. But he ended yielding after pressured: “He [Benjamin Constant] wants it thus, let us make the Republic. Benjamin and I will take care of the military action; Mr. Quintino and his friends will organize everything else”. At 11 p.m. on 14 November, Deodoro assumed the command of 600 men, whose majority had no idea of what was happening or simply believed that they were going to defend themselves from the National Guard or the Black Guard. Some few republicans yelled "Hail to the Republic" but Deodoro ordered them to be silent.
The President of the Council of MinistersAfonso Celso, Viscount of Ouro Preto, after knowing of the revolt went with the other ministers of the Cabinet to the Army Headquarters located in the Field of Santana, in the heart of the capital. The supposedly loyal troops were larger and better equipped than that the rebel ones. The adjutant-general [Commander] of the Army, Marshal Floriano Peixotoguaranteed to Ouro Preto the loyalty of his men, but he was secretly an ally of the rebels. Floriano and the Minister of the War Rufino Enéias, Viscount of Maracajú (cousin of Deodoro) ignored the reiterated orders of Ouro Preto to attack the rebels that were by then approaching the headquarters. He tried to convince them remembering the acts of bravery of the Brazilian military in the War of the Triple Alliance, but received as a reply from Floriano “that there in front of us there were enemies and here we are all Brazilians” and finally understood how far the betrayal among officers had reached. The supposedly loyal troops opened the gates of the headquarters to Deodoro whom cried out: “Long live His Majesty the Emperor!” Deodoro met with Ouro Preto and affirmed that it would personally deliver to the emperor a list with names that he indicated to form a new cabinet. For the disillusionment of the civil and military republicans, Deodoro did not proclaim the Republic and seemed that he would only knock down the cabinet. He was not sure if he really wanted to act against Pedro II and the rebel themselves did not believe in the possibility of success of the coup. The few people who witnessed what happened did not know that it was a rebellion and according to the republican Aristides Lobo, the civilian people were “stunned”. “Rarely a revolution had been so minority”.

In the morning of 15 November Pedro II was in Petrópolismarker when he received the first telegram from Ouro Preto informing him of the rebellion, but did not give importance to the news.The monarch received a second telegram at 11 a.m when he left a mass in homage to the 45 years of the death of his sister Maria II and decided to return to Rio de Janeiromarker.His wife demonstrated concern but he told her: “On what ma’am, when I arrive there it will be over!” He travelled by train, reading periodicals and scientific magazines, without imagining the gravity of the situation and arrived at the city palacemarker at 3 p.m.André Rebouças suggested him to leave into the countryside to organize the resistance. The Marquis of Tamandaréasked for his permission to lead the Armada and suppress the rebellion. He simply ignored all ideas and spoke: “This is nothing, I know my countrymen”. The emperor asked the Conservative senator Manuel Francisco Correiawhat he thought of the situation. Correia answered that he believed that it was the end of the monarchy. Pedro II did not show any feeling, as if he did not care about that outcome.

Ouro Preto arrived at the palace at 4 p.m and suggested to Pedro II to nominate the senator Gaspar da Silveira Martins, who would only arrive in the city two days later, as the new President. Deodoro avoided meeting personally with Pedro II but once he heard that the emperor had chosen an personnal enemy of his for the office he was finally decided for the instauration of the Republic. The recent elected Chamber of Deputies would only be congregated on 20 November and the Senate was in recess. For such reason, Princess Isabel insisted with her father of the necessity to convoke the Council of Stateto deal with the matter, but always heard as reply: “Later on”. The princess, on her own account, called the council members. The council gathered at 11 p.m and after two hours suggested instead of Silveira Martins the emperor should call Antônio Saraiva. The politician accepted the office and sent an emissary to talk with Deodoro, but the officer told him that is was too late to change his mind. After he heard the notice, Pedro II commented: “If so it is, it will be my retirement. I have worked too hard and I am tired. I will go rest then”.

Departure to exile

On November 16, a Saturday, the imperial family remained in the palace, surrounded by a cavalry regiment. Pedro II kept reading scientific magazines and looked calm all day. At 3 p.m Major Frederico Solón Sampaio Ribeiroappeared to inform the Imperial Family of that the Republic had been proclaimed and that they would have to leave the country in 24 hours to live in exile. The “republicans had not courage to meet the Emperor face to face, whom they secretly admired” and therefore preferred to send low-rank officers to communicate with him. Solón, when complimenting the emperor, called him first Your Excellency, then Your Highness and lastly Your Majesty. Although clearly deposed, the emperor still had the respect of the people around him, as shown in the dialogue between him and Solón. The notice of banishment made the women cry, while the men tried to remain calm, with the exception of Pedro II, who remained indifferent to everything. The monarch decided to travel in the afternoon of the following day and sent a written message to the Provisory Government informing that he agreed to leave the country.
The republican Government feared that in November 17, Monday, demonstrations in favor of the emperor could occur. The lieutenant colonel João Nepomuceno de Medeiros Malletwas sent at dawn to inform the imperial family that it had to leave immediately. There was a certain commotion among those present until Pedro II himself appeared in the room. Mallet respectfully told him that the Government asked them to embark at that moment. The emperor refused to leave at that moment claiming that he was not a slave that was trying to run away in the middle of the night. Mallet tried to persuade him, alleging that republican students would launch violent demonstrations against him. The emperor seemed skeptical: “Who gives importance to students?” At that moment, shots were heard outside. Mallet left the palace to find out what had happened. Fifteen imperial sailors had tried to disembark to give support to the emperor but were defeated and imprisoned by the republican troops. Mallet returned to the building and deceived Pedro II by saying that militant republicans had tried to attack him and his family. Astonished, the emperor agreed to leave.

When Pedro II left the palace, the soldiers that were mounting guard outside instinctively presented their weapons to him while he responded by raising his hat. Some close friends voluntarily went into exile with the imperial family, including André Rebouças and Franklin Dória, Baron of Loreto. Very few witnessed the departure. They were taken to the steamship Parnaíba and after that to the ship Alagoas, from where they traveled a day later to Europe. Before definitively leaving, Pedro II sent a short message to his faithful friend the Marquis of Tamandaré, who had remained at his side until the departure: “What it is done, it is done. It remains to all of you to establish the order and to consolidate your institutions”. After learning of the departure, Benjamin Constant spoke: “It is fulfilled, the most painful of our duties.” Later, Rui Barbosa, remembering the occasion, spoke to Major Carlos Nunes de Aguiarwho was at his side, witnessing the departure from afar: “You were right to cry when the emperor left”. It was “the end of the monarchy but not of myth called d. Pedro”.

The government headed by Deodoro “was little more than a military dictatorship. The army dominated affairs both at Rio de Janeiro and in the states. Freedom of the press disappeared and elections were controlled by those in power”. The republican regime that followed the overthrow of the monarchy revealed itself to be highly unstable. In “a little more than a century of existence, the Brazilian Republic faced twelve states of emergency, seventeen institutional acts, the National Congressmarker shut down six times, nineteen military revolutions, two presidential resignations, three presidents prevented from assuming office, four presidents deposed, seven different Constitutions, four dictatorships, and nine authoritarian governments”.


Later years

The monarchist reaction after the fall of the empire “was not small and even less its repression”. The “new regime suppressed with swift brutality and total disdain for civil liberties all attempts to launch a monarchist party or to publish monarchist newspapers.” Soon after several popular riots in protest against the coup occurred as also battles between monarchist Army troops against republican militias. Those were followed by a civil war where monarchist military and politicians tried to restore the empire in the Federalist Revolutionand the Second Navy Rebellion. The last monarchist rebellion occurred in 1904 in what was called the Vaccine Revolt.


In 23 November 1891 Pedro II appeared at the Academy of Sciencesfor the last time to participate in an election. In the following morning he coldly wrote down in his diary the news that the dictator Deodoro da Fonsecahad resigned: “10:30. Deodoro has quit.” Soon after that he made a long stroll in an open chariot along the Seinemarker even though the temperature was extremely low.He felt sick after returning to Bedford hotel at night. The illness evolved into pneumoniain the following days. There was no celebration on his anniversary on December 2, with the exception of a simple mass where he stood in bed and had only the company of his daughter, his son-in-lawand his grandchildren. However, he received later the visit from several French and Brazilians who lived in Paris and had gone there to compliment him.
His health suddenly got worse in the morning on day 3. Other relatives and friends went to visit him after the news of the seriousness of the situation. On December 4 he received the last sacrament from Abbot Pierre-Jacques-Almeyre Le Rébours, vicar of Madeleinemarker.Pedro II entered in agony in the night of the same day and died at 0:35 a.m. of day 5. His last words were: “May God grant me these last wishes - peace and prosperity for Brazil…”. He was so weakened that he did not suffer any kind of pain. Pedro II was surrounded by his daughter Isabel, the Count of Eu, his grandchildren Pedro, Luís, Antonio, Pedro Augusto and Augusto, his sisters Januáriaand Franciscaand their respectively husbands, the Count of Aquilaand the Prince of Joinville.

According to the death certificatethe causa mortiswas an acute pneumonia on the left lung. Pedro II died without abdicating and Isabel inherited the claim to the throne of the Brazilian Empire. She solemnly kissed her father´s hands and after that all the ones that were present, including dozens of Brazilian that were already there at that time, kissed her hand, recognizing her as the Empress de jureof Brazil. The Baron of Rio Branco, that was also present, later wrote: “The Brazilians, thirty and something, went in line and, one by one, threw blessed water on the corpse and kissed his hand. I did the same. They were saying farewell to the great dead.” Senator Gaspar da Silveira Martinsarrived soon after the Emperor´s death and when he saw the body of his old friend, cried convulsively.

Isabel declined an autopsy which allowed the body to be embalmed at 9 a.m. on 5 December after it was injected six liters of hydrochlorideof zinc and aluminum into his common carotid artery. A death maskwas also made. Pedro II was dressed with the court dress uniform of Marshal of the Armyrepresenting his position as commander-in-chief of the Brazilian armed forces. It was placed in his chest the band of the Order of the Southern Cross, the insignias of the Order of the Golden Fleeceand of the Order of the Roseand in his hands a crucifix made of silver sent by Pope Leo XIII. Two Brazilian flags were placed over his legs to cover them. While the body was being prepared, the Count of Eu found in the room a sealed package next to a message written by the Emperor himself: “It is land from my country, I want it to be placed in my coffin in case I die away from my fatherland”. The package that contained land from all Brazilian provinces was placed inside the coffin. Three coffins were used; one made of lead lined with white satin inside where they deposited the body and two others that coated the first one: a varnished oak and another one of oak covered by black velvet.


Just a few hours after the death of Pedro II, thousands of people appeared in the Bedford hotel, amongst them, the President of the Council of Ministers, Charles de Freycinetand the ministers of War and Navy. In one day, more than 2,000 telegrams were sent to the hotel with messages of condolences. French president Sadi Carnotwas travelling in the south of the country and sent all the members of the Military Household on his behalf to pay homage to the deceased monarch. Princess Isabel wanted to make a discrete and private ceremony for the burial of Pedro II. However, she finally accepted the request of the French Government to allow a Head of State´s funeral. To prevent political disruption, the government decided that the burial would be officially carried out because the Emperor was a grand cross of the Légion d'honneur, but with the pomp due to a monarch. All requests from the Brazilian republican government to reject an official funeral or to fly the imperial flag in public were simply ignored by the French government.

The coffin that contained the body of Pedro II left the Bedford hotel for the Madeleine Churchmarker on the night of 8 December.Eight French military carried the coffin, covered with the imperial flag while being seen by more than 5,000 people. The carriage used for the rite was the same one used for the funerals of cardinal Morlot, the Duke of Mornyand Adolphe Thiers.
In the following day, thousands of personalities appeared in the ceremony that was done in Madeleine. Beyond the family of Pedro II, they were: Amadeo, former king of Spain, Francis II, former king of the Two Sicilies, Isabella II, former queen of Spain, Philippe, Count of Paris, and several other members of the European royalty. Also present were General Joseph Brugère, representing the President Sadi Carnot, the presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as its members, diplomats and other representatives of the French government. Almost all members of the French Academy, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, French Academy of Sciences, Académie des Beaux-Artsand Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiquesparticipated. Among the ones present, were: Eça de Queiroz, Alexandre Dumas, fils, Gabriel Auguste Daubrée, Jules Arsène Arnaud Claretie, Marcellin Berthelot, Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefages de Bréau, Edmond Jurien de la Gravière, Julius Oppert, Camille Doucetand others. Representatives of other governments, such as from the American continent and Europe were there, beyond others from distant countries such as Ottoman Turkey, Chinamarker, Japanmarker and Persia, with the exception of Brazil.

After that the coffin was taken in procession until the train station, from where it would leave to Portugalmarker.Even with the incessant rain and the extremely low temperature, between 200,000 and 300,000 people attended the event. The French military troops who were part of procession were composed of 80,000 men. Two carriages carried almost 200 crowns of flowers. In it, messages paying homage to the Emperor such as: “To Dom Pedro, Victoria R.I.", “To the great Emperor for whom Caxias, Osório, Andrade Neves and many other heroes fought for, Fatherland Volunteers from Rio de Janeiromarker.”, “A group of Brazilian students in Paris.”, “Happy times when the thought, the word and the pen were free, when Brazil freed oppressed people…” (Sent by the Baron of Ladário, Marquis of Tamandaré, Viscount of Sinimbu, Rodolfo Dantas, Joaquim Nabuco and Taunay), “To the great Brazilian worthy of honors from the Fatherland and Humanity.Ubique Patria Memor.” (sent by the Baron of Rio Branco), “From the people of Rio Grande do Sulto the liberal and patriotic king.” and “A Brazilian blackon behalf of his race”. The “state funeral granted by the French republic proclaimed the former’s [Pedro II] personal virtues and popularity and, by implication, distinguished the imperial regime from other monarchies”.

The travel continued until the Church of São Vicente de Fora, next to Lisbonmarker, where the body of Pedro II was deposited in the Braganza Pantheon in 12 December, between his stepmother Amélia and his wife, Teresa Cristina.In all places that the coffin passed through, from France to Spain and finally, Portugal, homage was paid. As always, with the exception of the Brazilian republican Government.

Death's repercussion

The members of the Brazilian republican government, “fearful of the great repercussion caused by the death of the emperor”, denied the possibility of any official manifestation. However, the Brazilian peoplewere not indifferent to the death of Pedro II, the “repercussion in Brazil was also immense, despite the efforts of the government to prevent it. There were manifestations of sorrow all over the country: the commerce was closed, flag were displayed at half-staff, black bands in clothes, death knells, religious ceremonies”. An article written by João Mendes de Almeida in 7 December 1891 says that: “The news of the death of His Majesty Emperor Dom Pedro II has revealed the feelings of the Brazilian nation towards the Imperial dynasty. The consternation has been general”. Solemn “masses were done all over the country, which were followed by funereal pronouncements that praised Dom Pedro II and the monarchy”, thus the “Republic stood silent given the strength and impact of the manifestations”.
Pedro II´s coffin arriving in Lisbon, 1891.
The police was sent to hinder public manifestations of sorrow, “provoking serious incidents” while “the people sympathized with the manifestants”. A popular meeting with the objective of paying homage to the deceased emperor was done in 9 December and was organized by the Marquis of Tamandaré, Viscount of Ouro Preto, Viscount of Sinimbu, Baron of Ladário, Carlos de Laet, Alfredo d' Escragnolle Taunay, Rodolfo Dantas, Afonso Celso and Joaquim Nabuco. Even the old political adversaries of Pedro II praised him, “criticizing his policies” but pointing out “his patriotism, honesty, abnegation, spirit of justice, devotion to work, tolerance, simplicity”. Quintino Bocaiúva, one of the main republican leaders, spoke: “The entire world, can be said, has given the homage Mr. Dom Pedro de Alcântara has earned by his virtues as a great citizen”. Some “members of republican clubs protested against what they called an exaggerated sentimentalism of the homages, seeing in it monarchist maneuvers. They were lonely voices”.

The reaction abroad also revealed sympathy towards the monarch. The New York Timespublished on 5 December praised Pedro II, considering him “the most enlightened monarch of the century” and also affirming that “he made Brazil as free as a monarchy could be”. The Herald wrote: “In another time, and in happier circumstances, he would be worshiped and honored by his subjects and would be known in history as 'Dom Pedro the Good'". The Tribune affirmed that his “reign was serene, peaceable and prosperous”. The Timespublished a long article: “Until November 1889, its was believed that the deceased Emperor and his wife were unanimously beloved in Brazil due to his intellectual and moral qualities and by his affectionate interest for the well-being of his subjects [...] When in Rio de Janeiro he was constantly seen in public; and two times per week he met his subjects, as well as foreign travelers, captivating all with his courtesy”.

The Weekly Register wrote: “He looked more like a poet or a scholar than an emperor, but had he had been given the chance to materialize his several projects, without a doubt he would have made Brazil one of the richest countries in the New World”. The French periodic Le Jour affirmed that “he was effectively the first sovereign that, after our disaster of 1871, dared to visit us. Our defeat did not move him away from us. France will know how to be grateful”. The Globe also wrote that he “was educated, he was patriotic; he was gentile and indulgent; he had all the private virtues, as well as the public ones, and died in exile”.


Post mortem

The monarchy “fell when it reached its higher point of popularity” among most Brazilians. Indifferent to the new republican heroes, such as Tiradentes, the Brazilians kept themselves attached to the figure of the popular Emperor as they considered him “a hero of the people, a son of the land”. Therefore, due to the “appearance, temperament, circumstances, nobody was better than D. Pedro II to incarnate the symbolic type of father of the people”. This image was even stronger among the afro-descendant populationthat believed that the monarchy “strangely continued to represent, even metaphorically, freedom”. The afro-Brazilians demonstrated their feeling of loyalty towards the monarch in subtle ways, such as through tattoos of the imperial crownin their bodies.
To the Brazilian people, Emperor Pedro II is the iconic representation of the wise, benevolent, austere and honest father-like figure.
In the cities all over the country popular music that reflected the general feeling were sung: “Pedro the Second left/to the kingdom of Lisbon./The monarchy is over/and now Brazil is adrift.”, as well as “The mother of Deodoro said: This son was once mine/Now he is cursed/by me and by God”. Among the “great - and few - names of our history [of Brazil] that has a space in the popular imaginary, it is certainly the figure of Dom Pedro II”. His “image is of a wise, benevolent, austere and honest ruler”. It was “as if a new mystique had fallen over the population that connected the fate of the Republic and its economical and political issues with the departure of d. Pedro II”. He was seen as a popular hero, and gradually “he would be reintroduced as an official hero”.

Surprisingly, among the republicans appeared a strong feeling of guilt “that became more and more evident with the death of d. Pedro”. In Brazil, “the news of Pedro II’s death aroused a genuine sense of regret among those who, without sympathy for a restoration, acknowledged both the merits and the achievements of their deceased ruler”. In the “memory, the monarchy was still alive, as well as a certain feeling of remorse”. The republicans “reconsidered the long banishment and pondered on the severity of such action”. They believed that Pedro II deserved a better ending. Many “men responsible for the [creation of the] Republic started to see in the Imperial epoch a happier time, a golden age, forever gone”. The “monarchy became viewed with greater tolerance and its achievements acknowledged”. It appeared "a feeling that there was once a time when Brazil was more respectable, more honest, and more powerful”.

There was a “strange insistence” by “several republican politicians”, and also by the ones “of higher projection”, in "praising D. Pedro II and the monarchy”. They did not desire the restorationbut believed that the Brazilian Republic could learn from the fallen regime. Thus, Pedro II “became, paradoxically, a model of republican ideals”. For “the republicans, d. Pedro appeared as the best one of them; for the monarchists the compliment was, clearly, another one”.

After the death of the monarch, the appeals for the return of his body to the country became common throughout the years. The republican periodical A Cidade do Rio(The City of Rio) affirmed that “Brazil is so large that it cannot deny some scarce feet of land to him” and demanded: “Bring him back”. The Gazeta da Tarde(Afternoon Gazette) said that Pedro II deserved an official funeral in the country. In 1895 Afonso Celso wrote in the Comércio de São Paulo(Commerce of São Paulo): “the body of D. Pedro cannot continue to lie in foreign territory”. In 1906 the poet Olavo Bilacalso said: “The fatherland reclaims your body and it shall have it”. The Jornal do Comércio(Commerce Newspaper), on the other hand, believed that “one day, when all passions have lost its strength, your body shall rest in here”.

The end of the banishment

A project of law in the Chamber of Deputiesthat would authorize the transfer of the Pedro II and his wife´s bodies, and that counted with the support of old republicans, was put aside given the requirement of Princess Isabel that would only allow it if the banishment of her family was gone too. The inauguration of a statue of the Emperor in Petrópolismarker in 5 February 1911 had more than 1,500 people, including members of the federal government.Several statues of the monarch were inaugurated throughout all over the country in the following years. Immediately afterwards a manifesto written by former Presidents of the Council of Ministers, Lafayette, Ouro Preto and João Alfredo declared that “given the love that Brazilians have for their sovereigns, we agree with the return of the venerable remains back from São Vicente de Fora”.
A new project of Law that would revoke the banishment was discussed in the Chamber in 1913. The deputy and republican Irineu Machado alleged that there were “futile excuses” that denied “justice to the memory of the emperor”. Another member, Martim Francisco de Andrada III affirmed that “D. Pedro II left poor, leaving the country rich; it was not just that the ones that are rich and leave the country poor be against it.” The deputy Pedro Moacir believed that the return of the remains would represent “the perpetual gratitude of the posterity towards the most clement, the most tolerant of all monarchs of his time”. The deputy Maurício de Lacerda said that “now the traces of his political legacy – the morality - are disappearing”. In the Senate, however, the project was not accepted due to intervention of the caudillo and radical republican Pinheiro Machado. In 1914, however, it was senator Rui Barbosa, the last of the republicans who participated in the 1889 coup (and also the one who ordered the banishment) that made the most famous speech in homage of Pedro II:

"The lack of justice, Mr. Senators, is the great evil of our land, the evil of evilness, the origin of all our misfortunes, the source of all our discredit, is the supreme misery of this poor nation.
[…] After seeing so much nullities triumph, after seeing so much dishonor to prosper, after seeing so much the power in the hand of evil people to grow, the man becomes disheartened about virtue, he laughs to himself at honor and becomes ashamed of being honest.
This has been the work of the Republic in the last years.
In the other regime [in the Monarchy] the man who had a certain smirch in his life was lost forever, as the political career would be closed to him.
There was vigilant sentinel [Dom Pedro II], whose severity everyone feared and that, bright and very high, protected the surroundings, as a lighthouse that never fades away, in benefit of honor, justice and morality".

But two years later, in 1916, presidentVenceslau Brásauthorized the return of the bodies and the end of the banishment, but opted to wait for the end of World War I to approve officially the act. His successor, Epitácio Pessoa, signed the law (with a gold quill offered for the Brazilian Press Association) in 3 September 1920 that that ended the banishment and allowed the transfer of the bodies. Rui Barbosa spoke that the ones “that made the federative republic do not have claims against the ashes of the old emperor, whose virtues were much higher than his faults”. And concluded: “Therefore, in the republican gallery there is a proper place, and a great one, for D. Pedro II”.

The Emperor returns home

In 1920 the dreadnoughtSão Paulobrought to Brazil the imperial coffins. The Portuguese republican government granted to Pedro II an exhumation with honors of Head of State and he received the same treatment when arrived at Brazil. The Count of Eualso came with his only surviving son, Pedro de Alcântara. His wife, Princess Isabel, was old and ill and could not come. She died one year later without ever seeing her homeland again. President Artur Bernardesdeclared national holiday and all over the country the return of the Emperor was celebrated.
Tomb of Pedro II inside the Cathedral of Petrópolis.
To the main solemnity in Rio de Janeiromarker came from São Paulomarker councilor Antonio Prado, the last minister of the Empire still alive.Thousands of people attended the event. The “elderly people cried. Many kneeled. All clapped. There was no distinction between republicans and monarchists. They were all Brazilians”. It marked the reconciliation of the Republican Brazil with its monarchical past. However, “the official return of the figure of d. Pedro as national hero would come truly in 1922 due to the great national commemoration of the centenary of the Brazilian independence” when the Emperor was highly celebrated.

Three years later, the Brazilians spontaneously commemorated the centenary of Pedro II. There was a clear “disproportion between the enthusiasm generated by the festivities around the birth of d. Pedro and the little interest over the anniversary of the Republic, that was, then, 36 years old”. President Artur Bernardes recognized the popularity of the monarch and affirmed that he would not refuse “the justice that the Emperor deserves. He loved Brazil and while he had the strength and energy he served the country together with the best men of that time”. Pedro II became, once again, the “Father of the Fatherland”.

His body was kept temporarily in the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro until the end of the construction of the Cathedral of Petrópolismarker.The definitive burial would only occur in 5 December 1939 when the dictator Getúlio Vargasused the opportunity in proper benefit to grant himself popularity (such as Mussoliniwith Anita Garibaldi´s funeral in 1932) and inaugurated the mortuary chapel in the Cathedral of Petrópolis where the mortal remains of the Emperor and his wife were placed.

Pedro II´s “principal achievements – the fostering of a political culture and the inculcation of an ideal of citizenship – not only survived his overthrown as emperor in 1889 but also endured as the norms and directives of public life during three succeeding regimes – the Old Republic (1889-1930), the Vargas Era , the Liberal Republic . Even the military regimewhich seized power in 1964was deeply influenced by the vision of Brazil as a nation-state established by Pedro II. Only in the 1980swould this vision begin to be supplanted”. At the beginning of the twenty first century his “name is widely employed to evoke both traditional values and the nation’s heritage. His image confers respectability, dignity, and integrity on whatever event or institution employs it”.



The ancestry of Emperor Pedro II:

See also



  • Barman, Roderick J. Citizen Emperor: Pedro II and the Making of Brazil, 1825–1891. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.
  • Benevides, José Marijeso de Alencar. D. Pedro II, patrono da astronomia brasileira. Fortaleza: Imprensa oficial do Ceará, 1979.
  • Besouchet, Lídia. Pedro II e o Século XIX. 2. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1993. ISBN 85-209-0494-7
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Further reading

  • Brown, Rose. American Emperor: Dom Pedro II of Brazil. 1945.
  • Crow, John A. The Epic of Latin American: Fourth Edition University of California Press, 1992.
  • da Costa, Emilia Viotti. The Brazilian Empire: Myths and Histories. 2000; 1985.
  • Harding, Bertita. Amazon Throne. London: Harrap, 1942.
  • Schwarcz, Lilia Moritz. The Emperor's Beard: Dom Pedro II and His Tropical Monarchy in Brazil. Trans. John Gledson. 2003.
  • Skidmore, Thomas. Brazil: Five Centuries of Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Skidmore, Thomas. Modern Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005


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