Birthday: October 12, 1798
Died At Age: 35
Sun Sign: Libra
Born Country: Portugal
Born in: Queluz Palace, Lisbon, Portugal
Famous as: First Emperor of Brazil
Emperors & Kings
Spouse/Ex-: Amélie of Leuchtenberg (m. 1829), Maria Leopoldina of Austria (m. 1817; died 1826)
father: Prince Dom João (King Dom João VI)
mother: Doña Carlota Joaquina
children: Francisca Princess of Joinville, João Carlos Prince of Beira, Maria II Queen of Portugal, Miguel Prince of Beira, Pedro II Emperor of Brazil, Princess Januária Countess of Aquila, Princess Maria Amélia, Princess Paula
Died on: September 24, 1834
place of death: Queluz Palace, Lisbon, Portugal
City: Lisbon, Portugal
Pedro I of Brazil, hailed as "the Liberator," was the first ruler of Brazil. He was the founder of the Empire of Brazil after securing independence from Portugal's rule. He was also known as ''The Soldier King'' because of his fine war skills. Pedro and his family had to flee to Portugal's most prospered colony, Brazil, when Napoleon invaded the country. When his father had to move back to Portugal to secure the power, Pedro supported the Brazilian struggle for independence. He saved the nation from being split up, and thus he is regarded with the utmost respect. Additionally, the reformations brought in under his reign were highly appreciated. Unfortunately, his image of being a womanizer and relationship with his wife caused his downfall. Pedro eventually found himself in a series of crises that occurred in Portugal and Brazil. His health started to deteriorate, and he died due to tuberculosis, and his son succeeded him.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on October 12, 1798, in the 'Queluz Royal Palace' near Lisbon, Pedro I was the fourth child and the second eldest son of King Dom João VI of Portugal and Queen Carlota Joaquina. He belonged to the House of Braganza.
Named after Spanish Franciscan friar St. Peter of Alcantara, his birth name was Pedro de Alcântara Francisco António João Carlos Xavier de Paula Miguel Rafael Joaquim José Gonzaga Pascoal Cipriano Serafim.
Since birth, he was referred to the honorary royal title of "Dom" (Lord).
Pedro's elder brother Francisco António died in 1801 and hence he became the king's heir apparent and Prince of Beira.
By 1802, his parents had separated. Pedro and his siblings were left with their grandmother Queen Maria I in the Queluz Palace. However, he was well-educated under the supervision of the best tutors available.
He was fond of his governess Maria Genoveva do Rêgo e Matos, while supervisor friar António de Arrábida was his mentor.
Pedro studied an array of subjects such as mathematics, political economy, logic, history, and geography; and languages Portuguese, Latin, French, English, and German.
He also commanded over activities such as training unbroken horses, horse-riding and was an excellent farrier. He displayed a knack for arts, handicrafts, furniture making, and music. He could play several musical instruments.
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Flight to Brazil
In 1807, Napoleon captured the Iberian Peninsula. Pedro and his family fled to Brazil after Napoleon had sent his army to Lisbon.
The royal family sailed on the British warships and reached the capital Rio de Janeiro in 1808. It marked the beginning of a long-run special relationship between Britain and Brazil.
During the voyage, Pedro picked up navigational skills.
Emperor of Brazil
The royal Braganza family regained the control over Portugal after Napoleon was defeated in 1815. Pedro's father became the king of Portugal after grandmother Queen Maria I died in 1816.
However, Pedro's father was hesitant to move back to Portugal and thus ruled from Brazil through a deputy council. It was contemplated to send Pedro back to Portugal to proxy his father. However, João decided to take charge to ensure that Portuguese liberals did not oust the king and royal family, which had resulted in the Liberal Revolution of 1820.
In April 1821, João left for Portugal; hence Pedro became his regent in Brazil. Before leaving, he advised his son not to revolt if Brazil wanted independence and instead should ensure his coronation as the emperor.
Brazilians heavily opposed the transformation from being the seat of royal authority to be under colonial rule. Pedro hence had to face the threats from Portuguese troops and was pressurized to re-implement the political autonomy in Brazil.
Pedro, however, supported Brazil, and as per his father and wife's advice, he declared Brazil's independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822.
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On December 1, 1822, he was raised as the emperor of Brazil.
He eventually became an acclaimed Brazilian emperor who had crushed all the armies loyal to Portugal.
He was also credited for the victorious Confederation of the Equator, a short-lived rebellion in the northeastern region of Brazil to gain independence from the Portugal rule.
By 1824, the United States and Great Britain had recognized the independence of Brazil and the nation thus had its own Constitution.
Portugal recognized Brazil's independence through the ‘Treaty of Rio de Janeiro,’ which was signed on August 29, 1825.
Pedro abolished slavery and supported the Constitution and the Brazilian Liberal party.
In early 1825, a secessionist rebellion occurred in Brazil's southern province of Cisplatina, which later United Provinces of the Río de la Plata tried to seize. Both events led to the Cisplatine War.
Failures & Abdication
Pedro's conflicts with his chief minister and mentor José Bonifácio de Andrada were highly publicized, which tarnished his image.
Brazilians, who dearly loved and respected his wife Leopoldina, blamed Pedro for her death in 1826, due to an infection after a miscarriage. People had lost respect for him because of his series of casual and sexual relationships.
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When his father died in 1826, Pedro was forced to claim the throne of Portugal.
He became the king of Portugal in March 1826, but it was for a brief pried.
He renounced the throne to his eldest daughter, Dona Maria II.
His greatest loss was when the war in the south caused the split of Cisplatina from Brazil in 1828.
Pedro's wanted to move to Brazil hence planned to make his daughter Maria the queen and his younger brother Miguel the regent through their marriage. The plan failed as Miguel seized the throne in Lisbon in 1828.
The Brazilian parliament was in complete turmoil at that point. In March of 1831, a conflict sparked between the Brazilian liberals and Portuguese royalists. Pedro fired his liberal cabinet, which was heavily opposed, and people called for his abdication.
To gain the power back, he traveled to France and Great Britain to seek help, but both nations did not want to get involved in the Portuguese civil war.
Pedro who was disturbed handling problems in both Brazil and Portugal simultaneously renounced the throne to his son Dom Pedro II on 7 April 1831 and sailed for Europe.
In July of 1832, he entered the city of Porto to invade Portugal. Unfortunately, it was not the end as Portugal got involved in the First Carlist War in Spain. Pedro ensured the power of Queen Isabella II of Spain.
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He won the war in 1834 and Miguel permanently exiled from Portugal. Maria II rose to the throne and ruled until 1853.
However, the never-ending crisis and the series of struggles deteriorated Pedro's health.
Family & Personal Life
Even though Pedro was good in his conduct, he was a womanizer. A French dancer called Noémi Thierry had a stillborn child by him. Pedro's father sent her away to carry on a peaceful engagement of Pedro and Archduchess Maria Leopoldina, daughter of Emperor Franz I of Austria.
On 13 May 1817, Pedro had a proxy marriage with Leopoldina. They had seven children, namely, Maria (later Queen Dona Maria II of Portugal), Miguel, João, Januária, Paula, Francisca and Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil).
Leopoldina's charm and talent made her a favorite of Brazilians. However, Pedro considered her ordinary and continued to have affairs, which disappointed Leopoldina, who loved him dearly.
After Leopoldina's death, Pedro wanted to remarry, but because of his reputation as a womanizer and how he had treated Leopoldina, no European princesses wanted him.
He eventually married Amélie of Leuchtenberg. Their relationship was harmonious, and Pedro had even banished his longtime mistress, Domitila de Castro.
By September 1834, Pedro contracted tuberculosis. He died on September 24.
In 1972, his remains were taken to Brazil.