Pedro II of Brazil

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Pedro II
Half-length photographic portrait of an older man with white hair and beard dressed in a dark jacket and necktie
Dom Pedro II around age 61, circa 1887.
Emperor of Brazil
Reign 7 April 1831 – 5  December 1889
Coronation 18 July 1841
Imperial Chapel
Predecessor Pedro I
Successor Isabel I
Regents See list (1831–1840)
Prime ministers See list
Born (1825-12-02)2 December 1825
Palace of São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Empire of Brazil
Died 5 December 1891(1891-12-05) (aged 66)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Spouse Teresa Cristina of the Two Sicilies (m. 1843; d. 1889)
Issue
  • Afonso, Prince Imperial
  • Isabel of Brazil
  • Princess Leopoldina
  • Pedro Afonso, Prince Imperial
Full name
Pedro de Alcântara João Carlos Leopoldo Salvador Bibiano Francisco Xavier de Paula Leocádio Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga
House Braganza
Father Pedro I of Brazil
Mother Maria Leopoldina of Austria
Burial Cathedral of São Pedro de Alcântara, Petrópolis, Brazil
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature Cursive signature in ink

Dom Pedro II (2 December 1825 – 5 December 1891), nicknamed "the Magnanimous," was the second monarch of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years. 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.

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.

After a failed coup d'etat attempt in November 1889, Pedro II, already weary of the crown and disillusioned with the future of the monarchy, abdicated on 5 December 1889, succeeded by his daughter, Isabel. He died two years later after a quiet retirement. Historians have regarded the Emperor in an extremely positive light and several have ranked him as the greatest Brazilian, though some have criticized him for inadequately preparing his family to deal with tumultuous times ahead for Brazil.