The Last Emperor of Brazil


The year after his coronation, Dom Pedro II married Princess Teresa of the Two Sicilies with whom he had three children. Two wars to protect Brazil’s borders and retain dominance in the region occurred during his reign, the Platine War and the War of the Triple Alliance. While numerous rebellions also took place, his fifty-year reign also included a period of stability that spread commerce into larger areas of the interior, including the Amazon. Dom Pedro II spoke several languages including three indigenous dialects. He considered slavery a curse and an embarrassment for his nation, advocating abolition against broad public sentiment that supported the institution.

In his time as emperor, Pedro II left the country three times, putting his daughter Isabel in charge as regent during these absences. During one sojourn, he joined President Ulysses S. Grant for the opening ceremonies of the 1876 World’s Fair, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of U.S. independence. Here in Philadelphia, he and the American public were introduced to the telephone by inventor Alexander Graham Bell. When he returned to Brazil, he had the country’s first phone line installed, establishing service between the royal summer palace and his farm. It was during his third trip abroad that Isabel signed the Golden Law, prohibiting slavery, fulfilling her father’s dream. Eighteen months later, the monarchy became a republic, and the military peacefully forced Dom Pedro II to abdicate. The royal family left for France to go into exile.

Dom Pedro II died of pneumonia in 1891 surrounded by his family. His remains were eventually returned to Brazil and buried with the rest of the family in the cathedral of Petropolis, a site visited by many tourists during their Brazil tours.

Depending on where they travel, visitors on Brazil tours today see the peaceful outcome of the country’s upheaval, an eclectic mix of ethnicities, rituals and pastimes along with splendid colonial architecture. For visitors with enough time on Rio de Janeiro tours to see more than the beaches, one interesting historic site is the Palacio da Ilha Fiscal, built by Dom Pedro II. Right after moving into his lavish new residence, the monarchy was overturned. This destination on one’s historic Brazil tours is reached by boat. Those who travel to Brazil with Southern Explorations will have many opportunities to experience this rich legacy in the sights of Bahia, along the northeast coast, on Rio de Janeiro tours, Amazon tours and while traveling to the coastal areas south of Rio.