Peter II (Brazil)

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Emperor Peter II of Brazil, 1876

Dom Pedro II (Portuguese Dom Pedro de Alcântara João Carlos Leopoldo Salvador Bibiano Francisco Xavier de Paula Leocádio Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga de Bragança e Habsburgo ) ([ dõ ˈpedɾu seˈɡũdu ]; * December 2, 1825 in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil ; † 5 December 1891 in Paris , France ) was Emperor of Brazil from 1831 to 1889 .


Emperor Peter II in coronation regalia

As the seventh-born, Dom Pedro de Alcântara was the only surviving son of Pedro I (1798–1834), from his first marriage to Maria Leopoldine of Austria (1797–1826), daughter of Emperor Franz I.

After his father Pedro I had to abdicate under pressure from parliament on April 7, 1831 and had to return to Portugal, Dom Pedro II was proclaimed his successor at the age of five. A council of regents set up by parliament conducted the official business until he was declared prematurely of legal age on July 23, 1840 at the age of 14. The following year he was crowned Emperor of Brazil.

He received carefully planned training from selected teachers. Spanish , English , French , German , but also Greek and Latin were on his schedule as well as the natural sciences and the arts.

Pedro II, whom Victor Hugo called a descendant of Mark Aurel , was considered one of the most capable monarchs of his time. During his reign, which lasted over half a century, the population and economy grew at an unprecedented rate. Coffee became a national product, followed by rubber from 1870 . European immigrants poured into the country. Since he recognized the importance of good traffic routes and communication systems for economic and cultural development early on, he had a network of railways , telegraphs and telephone lines built. He gave the country its first cobbled streets, postage stamps and the telephone.

The emperor, multilingual and well-read, was more of a scholar than a politician. Hence his nickname “Senior Teacher of the Nation”. He promoted scientific progress and the arts. In his private life he was particularly interested in astronomy. So he had a small observatory set up under the roof of his summer residence in the town of Petrópolis , built by immigrants from German-speaking countries , in which he spent many nights discovering new heavenly bodies. In another part of the palace he set up a school for orphans. In 1876 he visited Heinrich Schliemann during his excavations in Mycenae in Greece . The documents and letters he collected during his numerous journeys are now recognized by UNESCO as World Document Heritage .

Pedro II was among other things one of the co-founders of the Louis Pasteur Institute in Paris and supported the construction of the Bayreuth Festival Hall . His years in government are considered the most stable in Brazilian history - and this despite the fact that the imperial government fought several wars: It supported the successful revolutionary struggle against the dictator of Argentina , Juan Manuel de Rosas , and led from 1865 to 1870, allied with Argentina and Uruguay in the Triple Alliance , a brutal but victorious war against Paraguay .

The imperial Brazilian coat of arms

Several factors contributed to the overthrow of the monarchy : the growing republican movement, which a Brazilian empire increasingly perceived as anachronistic and un-American, the conflict with parts of the clergy and finally the slave liberation , which alienated the big landowners from the crown. The Brazilian monarchy was overthrown by a military coup led by Marshal Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca , and on November 15, 1889 the generals proclaimed the republic. The coup , however, was based on the educated elite (an estimated 8,000 people had a higher education) and widespread feelings of nationalism and rejection of the former colonial power Portugal, whose representative Peter II was still seen. In the elections that followed quickly, Marshal Fonseca was confirmed as the first President of Brazil.

Only a century later, this “birth defect” of the republic was corrected in the new constitution of October 5, 1988, by making the form of government the subject of a referendum : on April 21, 1993, only about 12% of voters voted for a return to the monarchy out, the majority voted for the republic.

The emperor went into exile with his family in France , where he died in 1891. Shortly before his death, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences made him an honorary member in recognition of his lifetime achievement. He had been an honorary member of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory for a long time . In 1876 he became an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg and in 1882 of the Prussian Academy of Sciences .

The imperial family (from left to right) : Leopoldina, Peter II of Brazil, Teresa Maria Cristina of Naples-Sicily and Isabella


The most important domestic challenge arose from an extensive movement for the abolition of slavery . Although there was an early emancipation movement in Brazil as a result of humanism, the French Revolution and later the American Civil War , it met with a divided response. Slavery was deeply rooted in the population; the possession of a slave (legally referred to as a thing) was considered a status symbol even in lower sections of the population. Slaves represented a substantial investment for their masters, which explains their economic importance and resistance to their liberation.

The "importation" of African slaves was declared illegal as early as 1830 under pressure from the United Kingdom , but was not combated in practice until 1849, which increased the importance of the domestic slave trade .

An organized campaign for the emancipation of the 2.5 million slaves in Brazil began a few years later. The abolitionists won their first victory in 1871 when parliament declared all children born to female slaves to be free (law of the free lap, " Lei do Ventre Livre "). The apparently liberal law had a few catches, however: the slave owner decided to give the children freedom in return for state compensation or to let them work for him until they turn 21. Because of the extremely short life expectancy of a slave, the law had little effect.

Around the same time, a republican movement emerged, which gained more and more popularity in the following years. In 1885 all slaves over the age of 60 were finally declared free, and after resistance from the large landowners, the law finally stipulated 65 years - a utopian number. The emperor, who himself was a staunch supporter of the liberation of slaves, cautiously wanted to continue this policy. But the law that finally emancipated all remaining slaves on May 13, 1888 (" Golden Law ") was signed by the regent Princess Isabel in his absence during Dom Pedro II's spa stay in Europe. In purely numerical terms, slavery was now irrelevant: there were still 500,000 slaves out of a total population of 13.5 million. However, the liberation of slaves deprived the imperial government of its last hold on the landlords and prepared the ground for the proclamation of the republic in November of the following year.

Foreign policy

Pedro II was a staunch opponent of the Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas and supported the uprising of Justo José de Urquiza , which led to the overthrow of de Rosas in 1852. In the Uruguayan civil war that broke out in 1863, he supported the leader of the Colorados party, Venancio Flores , against the Blancos, backed by the Paraguayan dictator Francisco Solano López . Brazilian troops marched into Uruguay and captured the capital Montevideo on February 20, 1865 , whereupon Flores was installed as president.

López had declared war on Brazil as early as December 1864, and Paraguay's armed forces invaded the Brazilian province of Mato Grosso . López demanded that Argentina have the right to march through to attack the Brazilian troops in Uruguay. When the Argentine President refused, López also declared war on Argentina. Then Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay united against Paraguay on May 1, 1865 to form the Triple Alliance, which is why the war is called the Triple Alliance War . Brazil provided the vast majority of the alliance troops. When López considered a peace treaty after severe defeats, it was Emperor Pedro who prevented this. The emperor insisted that López resign and go into exile. That was unacceptable to López. Therefore, the war continued until the Alliance was completely victorious. On March 1, 1870, López was caught and shot while fleeing by Brazilian soldiers. Brazilian occupation troops were stationed in Paraguay.


On September 4, 1843, Pedro II married Teresa Maria Cristina of Naples-Sicily (1822-1889), daughter of King Francis I of the Two Sicilies . They had four children:


  • Boris Fausto: História Concisa do Brasil . Edusp, São Paulo 2006, ISBN 85-314-0592-0 .
  • Manuel Lucena Salmoral: Pedro II. Emperador de Brasil . Anaya, Madrid 1989, ISBN 84-207-3449-7 (Biblioteca iberoamericana; 84).
  • Lilia Moritz Schwarcz : As barbas do Imperador. Dom Pedro II to monarca nos trópicos . Companhia das Letras, São Paulo 1998, ISBN 85-7164-837-9 .
  • Barman, Roderick James: Citizen emperor. Pedro II and the making of Brazil, 1825-1891 . Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 1999, ISBN 0-8047-3510-7 .
  • Christian Haußer: Emperor Pedro II. In: Nikolaus Werz (Ed.): Populists, revolutionaries, statesmen. Politicians in Latin America . Vervuert publishing house, Frankfurt / M. 2010, ISBN 978-3-86527-513-4 , pp. 142-170.
  • Gloria Kaiser : Pedro II of Brazil. The son of the Habsburg woman; Novel . Verlag Styria, Graz 1997, ISBN 3-222-12522-8 .
  • Florian Kienzl: Emperor of Brazil. Rule and fall of Pedro I and Pedro II. Wegweiser-Verlag, Berlin 1952 (novel).

Web links

Commons : Peter II (Brazil)  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Documents regarding the Emperor D. Pedro II's journeys in Brazil and abroad | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Accessed August 31, 2017 (English).
  2. ^ Foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1724. Pedro II. De Alcantara, Kaiser. Russian Academy of Sciences, accessed October 14, 2015 (Russian).
  3. ^ Members of the previous academies. Pedro II. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences , accessed on May 20, 2015 .
predecessor Office successor
Peter I. Emperor of Brazil