May God grant me these last wishes – peace and prosperity for Brazil.” Those were the last words of Dom Pedro II of Brazil, the last monarch of the country. He had lived a lonely life in exile in Paris, France, for the last two years of his life and it had become very different to what he once knew. As he laid dying, surrounded by his family, he wished to return back to Brazil. However, the country was still recovering from a coup d’etat which took place in November 1889. Considering the factors of the coup d’etat, his failing health, and his exile, Dom Pedro knew he was not going home. On the 5th December 1891, three days after his birthday, Dom Pedro II was dead. He never fulfilled his wish of going back to Brazil. Even though the monarchy that Pedro ruled was overthrown, he still received wide spread adoration among the Brazilian people.

Colorized photo of Dom Pedro II sitting on a chair in a suit.
Colorized Photograph of Brazilian Emperor, Dom Pedro II, in c. 1885. Colorization by Mads Madsen

Dom Pedro II was born Pedro de Alcantara Joao Carlos Leopoldo Salvador Bibiano Francisco Xavier de Paula Leocádio Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga, to his predecessor Emperor Dom Pedro I, a native of Portugal, and his wife Dona Maria Leopoldina, a native of Austria. As the only son during their marriage to survive infancy, he was named heir presumptive to the Brazilian throne. After Pedro I’s brother, Miguel, illegally overtook the Portuguese throne, Pedro I officially abdicated the Brazilian throne on the 7th April 1831, to focus on restoring Maria’s position on the throne. He and his now second wife Amelie departed for Europe leaving Pedro II in Brazil; he officially became Emperor Dom Pedro II.  

Pedro II was trained and guided by his father’s trusted officials. He studied day and night, given only 2 hours free time a day. Pedro II had very little contact with children of his age, and was barely allowed to visit his siblings. It was his duty to one day be ruler of Brazil, he spent his childhood years very unhappy and alone. The government approached him to become ruler of Brazil after many years of studying. Pedro shyly accepted and was declared of legal age to rule; he was consecrated and crowned on the 18th July 1841. 

Following his coronation, the Brazilian government felt that Pedro II needed to pursue marriage. They chose his wife as Princess Teresa Cristina of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies; they married on the 30th May 1843, in a marriage by proxy. He did not see Princess Teresa as attractive and felt that the government had betrayed him in choosing his wife. Eventually, he came to terms that who they chose was best. 

Dom Pedro II painting of him in uniform
A 24-year-old Dom Pedro II of Brazil in 1849.

By 1845, Dom Pedro II’s gained in confidence as he had matured and rose his understanding of responsibility. He no longer let the people of Brazil see him as a shy, immature young man. Throughout the years, he focused on major Brazilian issues such as abolishing the illegal slave trade, having better relationships with other countries and dignitaries, and bringing Brazil to economic stability. But over the next few decades, his desire to please the country and reign the monarchy quickly faded.

Pedro had lost both of his sons at a young age which caused deep depression, and his ruling power weakened. By the 1880s, the officials that were governing while Pedro II was beginning his reign, were replaced with a younger generation of politicians who had new ideas. The new politicians had seen Pedro II’s monarchy as unnecessary. As he had no more sons to succeed him after his death, the Brazilian government staged a coup d’etat overthrowing the monarchy and exiling Pedro II on the 15th November 1889. 

Colorization of Dom Pedro II of Brazil taken in 1876. Colorization by Dana R. Keller

The overthrow did little to effect Pedro II. He was severely depressed and had no interest in ruling anyway. Two days after the siege, he and his family were exiled to Europe. Three weeks later, his wife died in Portugal, and he moved to live the rest of his years in Paris. He died on the 5th December 1891. Despite his exile, there was great mourning amongst the Brazilian people. There was no official reaction of the death of Pedro II from the government, but many natives were in deep mourning holding masses for him, flying flags at half staff, and staying home from work. 

Even though he was exiled from the country that he loved and cherished, Pedro II was and is still regarded as one of the greatest leaders of Brazil.

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