Pedro II of Brazil
Dom Pedro II (2 December 1825 – 5 December 1891), nicknamed the Magnanimous (Portuguese: O Magnânimo), was the second and last monarch of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years.[lower-alpha 1] He was born in Rio de Janeiro, the seventh child of Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil and Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina and thus a member of the Brazilian branch of the House of Braganza. His father's abrupt abdication and departure to Europe in 1831 left the five-year-old as emperor and led to a grim and lonely childhood and adolescence, obliged to spend his time studying in preparation for rule. His experiences with court intrigues and political disputes during this period greatly affected his later character; he grew into a man with a strong sense of duty and devotion toward his country and his people, yet increasingly resentful of his role as monarch.
|Emperor of Brazil|
|Reign||7 April 1831 – 15 November 1889|
|Coronation||18 July 1841|
|Regents||See list (1831–1840)|
|Prime ministers||See list|
|Head of the Imperial House of Brazil|
|Tenure||7 April 1831 – 5 December 1891|
|Predecessor||Pedro, Emperor of Brazil|
|Successor||Isabel, Princess Imperial|
|Born||2 December 1825|
Palace of São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Empire of Brazil
|Died||5 December 1891 66) (aged|
|Burial||5 December 1939|
(m. 1843; died 1889)
|Father||Pedro I of Brazil|
|Mother||Maria Leopoldina of Austria|
Early life (1825–40)
Pedro II inherited an empire on the verge of disintegration, but he turned Brazil into an emerging power in the international arena. The nation grew to be distinguished from its Hispanic neighbors on account of its political stability, zealously guarded freedom of speech, respect for civil rights, vibrant economic growth, and form of government—a functional representative parliamentary monarchy. Brazil was also victorious in the Platine War, the Uruguayan War, and the Paraguayan War, as well as prevailing in several other international disputes and domestic tensions. Pedro II steadfastly pushed through the abolition of slavery despite opposition from powerful political and economic interests. A savant in his own right, the Emperor established a reputation as a vigorous sponsor of learning, culture, and the sciences, and he won the respect and admiration of people such as Charles Darwin, Victor Hugo, and Friedrich Nietzsche, and was a friend to Richard Wagner, Louis Pasteur, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, among others.
There was no desire for a change in the form of government among most Brazilians, but the Emperor was overthrown in a sudden coup d'état that had almost no support outside a clique of military leaders who desired a form of republic headed by a dictator. Pedro II had become weary of emperorship and despaired over the monarchy's future prospects, despite its overwhelming popular support. He did not allow his ouster to be opposed and did not support any attempt to restore the monarchy. He spent the last two years of his life in exile in Europe, living alone on very little money.
The reign of Pedro II thus came to an unusual end—he was overthrown while highly regarded by the people and at the pinnacle of his popularity, and some of his accomplishments were soon brought to naught as Brazil slipped into a long period of weak governments, dictatorships, and constitutional and economic crises. The men who had exiled him soon began to see in him a model for the Brazilian Republic. A few decades after his death, his reputation was restored and his remains were returned to Brazil with celebrations nationwide. Historians have regarded the Emperor in an extremely positive light and several have ranked him as the greatest Brazilian.