The Brazilian Imperial Family is a royal family and cadet branch of the Portuguese Royal House of Braganza that ruled the Empire of Brazil for 67 years, between 1822 and 1889, after the proclamation of independence by Prince Pedro of Braganza who was later acclaimed as Pedro I, Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil. The members of the family are dynastic descendants of Emperor Pedro I. Claimants to headship of the post-monarchic Brazilian Imperial legacy descend from Emperor Pedro II, including the senior agnates of two branches of the House of Orléans-Braganza; the so-called Petrópolis and Vassouras lines.[1] Prince Pedro Carlos of Orléans-Braganza (born 1945) heads the Petrópolis line, while the Vassouras branch is led by his second cousin, Prince Luiz of Orléans-Braganza.[2]

Rivalry within the family erupted in 1946 when Dom Pedro Gastão (1913–2007) repudiated the renunciation to the throne of his late father, Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão-Pará (1875–1940), for himself and his future descendants, when he made a non-dynastic marriage in 1908.[2] Pedro de Alcântara was the eldest son of the Princess Imperial Isabel (1846–1921) who, as Pedro II's elder daughter and heir presumptive when he was dethroned, became the last undisputed head of the family after her father's death in exile in 1891.[2] Pedro Carlos is Dom Pedro Gastão's eldest son. Dom Luiz descends from Isabel's younger son, Prince Luís (1878–1920) who, by a Bourbon princess, fathered Prince Pedro Henrique (1909–1981). Dom Luiz is Pedro Henrique's son by a Bavarian princess and upholds his dynastic claim to the same legacy.

Following the tradition of the Iberian monarchies, the closest relatives of the Brazilian Emperor are considered members of the Brazilian Imperial Family, disregarding those who renounced their dynastic rights. With the proclamation of the republic in 1889, and consequent extinction of the Brazilian Empire on that date, the title of Head of the Imperial House of Brazil was created for the apparent heir to the extinct throne, being considered as members of the Brazilian Imperial Family the closest relatives of the Head of the family, disregarding those who renounced their dynastic rights.


Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, with his wife, Teresa Cristina, and daughters Isabel and Leopoldina in a farm in Juíz de Fora, 1861.
Photograph of a group of people assembled on a columned porch at the top of a flight of steps, with one older lady seated, one younger lady leaning on the arm of an older bearded man, two younger men and three small boys
The last picture of the reigning Imperial Family in Brazil, 1889

Founded by Pedro of Braganza, until then Prince Royal of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, member of the House of Braganza, heir apparent to the Portuguese throne and the King's representative in the Kingdom of Brazil as Prince Regent, the Imperial House of Brazil was sovereign from 7 September 1822, when Prince Pedro proclaimed the independence of the Kingdom of Brazil from the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves and was subsequently acclaimed as Emperor of Brazil on 12 October that same year until 15 November 1889, when a military coup d'état took place and the proclamation of the Brazilian republic overthrew the monarchy.

Prince Pedro, then, was acclaimed as Emperor of Brazil in all the territory. The constitution of the Brazilian Empire of 1824 - the first Brazilian constitutional charter - was organized two years after independence, with the emperor being the head of state and head of government of the Empire of Brazil, as well as head of the moderator power and the executive power. He reigned until 7 April 1831 when he abdicated due to a long ideological conflict between with a sizable parliamentary faction over the role of the monarch in the government and other obstacles. Pedro I's successor in Brazil was his five-year-old son, Pedro II. As the latter was still a minor, a weak regency was created. The power vacuum resulting from the absence of a ruling monarch as the ultimate arbiter in political disputes led to regional civil wars between local factions. Having inherited an empire on the verge of disintegration, Pedro II, once he was declared of age, managed to bring peace and stability to the country, which eventually became an emerging international power. Even though the last four decades of Pedro II's reign were marked by continuous internal peace and economic prosperity, he had no expectation to see the monarchy survive beyond his lifetime and made no effort to maintain support for the institution. The next in line to the throne was his daughter Isabel, but neither Pedro II nor the ruling classes considered a female monarch acceptable. Lacking any viable heir, the Empire's political leaders saw no reason to defend the monarchy. After a 58-year reign, on 15 November 1889 the Emperor was overthrown in a sudden coup d'état led by a clique of military leaders whose goal was the formation of a republic headed by a dictator, forming the First Brazilian Republic.

Post monarchy

Isabel, de jure Empress of Brazil, and the Count of Eu with their son Prince Luís, his wife and children, 1913

With the proclamation of the Brazilian republic on 15 November 1889, the Imperial Family went into exile in Portugal, Spain, France and Austria-Hungary. In the party that accompanied the Imperial Family were included many loyal subjects and nobles, as politicians such the Viscount of Ouro Preto, the deposed last Prime Minister of the Empire, as well the Emperor's particular doctor. Price August Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, grandson of Emperor Pedro II was the only member of the imperial family not boarded to exile because he was on board the cruiser Almirante Barroso, on a circumnavigation trip. Subsequently, upon receiving the news of the deposition of the monarchy, he was sent into exile. In addition to the ban, the Republican government confiscated and auctioned many of the assets of the imperial family. In 1890, thirteen auctions of Imperial House goods were made. Empress Teresa Cristina died in the first months of exile. Later Emperor Pedro II died in France, where he receive a head of state's funeral by the French government. The Imperial Family settled in the Château d'Eu, former residence of King Louis Philippe of France and property of Gaston of Orléans, Count d'Eu, husband of Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, heiress of Pedro II and de jure Empress-in-Exile of Brazil.

Despite the prohibition then in force, Prince Luiz of Orléans-Braganza tried to disembark in Rio de Janeiro in 1906, but was prevented by local authorities. It ended in death in the year of the repeal of the Banishment Law. Finally, President Epitácio Pessoa, by presidential decree of 3 September 1920, revoked the Banishment Law. The Imperial Family was then able to return to Brazilian soil. The occasion was used to repatriate the remains of the last emperor and his consort, who would be transferred from Portugal a year later. Of the nine members of the Imperial Family originally exiled, only two returned to Brazil alive: Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão-Pará and his father, Prince Gaston, Count of Eu, who died the following year aboard the ship Massilia, on their way to Brazil to celebrate the centenary of independence. Prince Pedro de Alcântara acquired one of its former palaces, the Palácio do Grão-Pará in Petropolis, where it resided until his death and where his descendants still live. On the other hand, not all the family returned immediately to Brazil, and the Vassouras branch, present clamoring to the Brazilian throne, could only return after the end of World War II.


The tombs of the Brazilian Imperial Family at the Imperial Mausoleum.

Currently, the remains of five members of the Imperial Family are buried in Brazil, all in the Imperial Mausoleum in Petrópolis: Emperor Pedro II and Empress Teresa Cristina, whose mortal remains were transferred from the Royal Pantheon of the House of Braganza in Lisbon, in 1921, on the occasion of the centenary of the Independence of Brazil, Princess Isabel, removed from the cemetery of Eu in 1953 with her husband, Prince Gaston, and the Prince of Grão-Pará, transferred from the cemetery of Petrópolis in 1990, together with his wife. Prince Luiz and Prince Antônio are buried in the Royal Chapel of Dreux, France, where the wife of the first, Princess Maria Pia, was buried in 1973. Princes Pedro Augusto, August Leopold and Ludwig Gaston are buried in the crypt of the Church of St. Augustine, in Coburg, Germany, where the latter's mother, Princess Leopoldina of Brazil, had been buried in 1871.

In 1954, the remains of the first Empress, Maria Leopoldina, were transferred to the Imperial Chapel, São Paulo, which were in the Santo Antônio Convent, Rio de Janeiro. Some of the children of both emperors are buried in the Santo Antônio Convent: Prince Miguel, Prince João Carlos, Princess Paula Mariana, Prince Afonso Pedro and Prince Pedro Afonso, as well as Princess Luísa Vitória. In 1972, on the occasion of the sesquicentenary of Independence, the remains of Emperor Pedro I were transferred from the Royal Pantheon of the House of braganza to the Imperial Chapel. The body of his second wife, Empress Amélie, was transferred from the Braganza Pantheon to the Imperial Chapel in 1982. In that same year the body of her daughter, Princess Maria Amélia of Brazil, was transferred from the Braganz Pantheon to the Convent of Santo Antônio.

Dynastic question

Pedro de Alcântara
Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão-Pará renounced his rights of succession to the Brazilian throne in favor of his young brother.
Luis Maria
Prince Luís of Orléans-Braganza become Prince Imperial of Brazil after the renunciation of his older brother.

The so-called Brazilian dynastic question concerns inheritance rights to the titles of Head of the Brazilian Imperial House, Prince Imperial of Brazil, Prince of Grão-Pará and Prince of Brazil, who consequently would indicate the preferred heirs of to the Brazilian imperial throne. The primacy in the line of succession is disputed by some members and partisans of the dynastic branches of Petrópolis and Vassouras.

In 1908, Dom Pedro de Alcântara, then Prince Imperial of Brazil wanted to marry Countess Elisabeth Dobržensky de Dobrženicz (1875–1951) who, although a noblewoman of the kingdom of Bohemia, did not belong to a royal or reigning dynasty. Although the constitution of the Brazilian Empire did not require dynasts to marry equally, it made the marriage of the heir to the throne dependent upon the sovereign's consent.[3] Princess Isabel, then head of the Brazilian Imperial Family, considered that Brazilian dynasts should adhere to European marital tradition, within which royalty married royalty. It happens that, by the traditions of the Imperial House, their pretenders, besides having to maintain Brazilian nationality, can only marry with dynasties of high monarchical houses. This was not the case with the Countess, whose title, in addition to being of little expression and tradition - her first grandfather, Johan Josef II, was made first Count of Dobrzenicz - was debatable: in fact, it was her brother, Joachim Josef III, who inherited the county. The title of countess considered by many only courtesy. So, Prince Dom Pedro wanted to marry with his mother's blessing, and so it was agreed that she would consent to the marriage on condition that he resigned his position in the line of succession. As a result, Dom Pedro de Alcantara renounced his rights to the throne of Brazil on 30 October 1908. The resignation document, signed in three copies, was sent to the Brazilian Monarchical Directory, an official body created to take care of the monarchical interests in the country. [4][5][6][7][8][9][10] To solemnize this, Dom Pedro, aged thirty-three, signed the document translated here:

This renunciation was followed by a letter from Isabel to royalists in Brazil:

If the 1908 renunciation of Pedro de Alcântara was valid, his brother Luiz (and eventually, Pedro Henrique) became next in the line of succession after their mother.[5][6][7][8][9][10] Isabel's headship of the Brazilian Imperial House lasted until her death in 1921, when she is widely considered to have been succeeded by her grandson, Prince Pedro Henrique of Orléans-Braganza.[5][6][7][8][9][10] Pedro Henrique was the elder son of Prince Luiz, second child of Isabel and a veteran of World War I who had died in 1920 from an illness he contracted in the trenches.[12]

Prince Pedro de Alcântara did not dispute the validity of the renunciation.[13][14] Though he did not claim the headship of the Imperial House himself in 1937, he did say in an interview that his renunciation "did not meet the requirements of Brazilian Law, there was no prior consultation with the nation, there was none of the necessary protocol that is required for acts of this nature and, furthermore, it was not a hereditary renunciation."[15]

The dynastic dispute over the Brazilian crown began after 1940 when Prince Pedro Gastão of Orléans-Braganza, eldest son of Pedro de Alcântara repudiated his father's renunciation and claimed the headship of the Brazilian Imperial House.[16][17]

After the death of Pedro Gastão in 2007, his eldest son Prince Pedro Carlos and younger children declared themselves republicans.[18] Several of Pedro Gastão's grandchildren also have dual citizenship.[19]

Cadet branches

Coat of the House of Orléans-Braganza
Coat of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Braganza

House of Orléans-Braganza

With the marriage of Isabel of Braganza, Princess Imperial of Brazil, with Prince Gaston of Orléans, Count d'Eu in 1864, the Imperial House associated with the House of Orléans, that composes the French royal family. Thus began a new dynastic branch of Brazil: Orléans-Braganza, which never had the opportunity to reign in Brazil.

Of the four children of the couple, two have generated offspring and today, this branch of the family has more than thirty members. Many were the ones who renounced themselves and their descendants rights in succession to the imperial throne, losing titles and precedence in the imperial family.

In 1909, the Prince Gaston decided to guarantee to his children supposed rights of orleanist succession to the French throne. On the basis of negotiations with the House of Orléans, which resulted in a document called Family Pact, or Declaration of Brussels, the title of Prince of Orléans-Braganza was created, which only acts in that branch of the family.

House of Saxe-Coburg and Braganza

The Saxe-Coburg-Braganza branch is descended from Princess Leopoldina of Brazil, second daughter of D. Pedro II, and her husband, Prince Ludwig August of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Due to several years of difficulties that the Princess Imperial Isabel experienced in producing an heir to the Brazilian throne, clauses were included in the marriage contract between Leopoldina and her husband who ensured that the couple should, among other things, reside part of the year in Brazil and have their children in Brazilian territory, as heirs presumptive of Isabel: Pedro Augusto, Augusto Leopoldo, and José Fernando.[20] With the birth of D. Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão-Pará and eldest son of Princess Isabel, the Saxe-Coburg-Braganza branch yielded first place in the line of succession to the Orleans-Braganza branch.

The only members of the Saxe-Coburg-Braganza branch who still retain Brazilian nationality, which was a constitutional requirement to succeed to the now defunct Brazilian throne, are the descendants of Princess Teresa Cristina of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, daughter of Augusto Leopoldo.[21] The Brazilian nationality of princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was recognized by the government of Brazil only in 1922. Their four children were registered in the consulate of Brazil in Vienna as Brazilian citizens.[21] Carlos Tasso de Saxe-Coburgo e Bragança, Baron Taxis-Bordogna-Valnigra and son of Princess Teresa Cristina, is the current head of this branch.

Emperors of Brazil

Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil.

The Empire of Brazil remained a constitutional monarchy until 1889 - when the republic was proclaimed after a military coup d'état, and had two reigning emperors, both from the House of Braganza:

Their full style and title were: "His Imperial Majesty, Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil".

Name Became monarch Notes
Pedro I of Brazil 1822 Emperor of Brazil; declarer of Brazilian Independence
King of Portugal and the Algarves
Pedro II of Brazil 1831 Emperor of Brazil; last Emperor of Brazil

Pretenders to the Brazilian throne since 1889

The Vassouras line

The Petrópolis line

Past members and some descendants of the imperial family


Genealogical tree of the Brazilian branch House of Braganza and the subsequent House of Orléans-Braganza, cadet branch and current Imperial Family.

Emperor-King Pedro I/IV
King of Portugal and the Algarves
Emperor of Brazil
Coat of arms of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.svgCoA Empire of Brazil (1822-1870).svg
Queen Maria II
Queen of Portugal and the Algarves
Heraldic Royal Crown of Portugal - Eight Arches.svg
Shield of the Kingdom of Portugal (1481-1910).png
Princess Januária
Princess Imperial of Brazil
Countess of Aquila
COA Imperial Prince of Brazil (alternative).svg
Emperor Pedro II
Emperor of Brazil
CoA Empire of Brazil (1822-1870).svg
Princess Paula
Princess of Brazil
CoA Empire of Brazil (1822-1870).svg
Princess Francisca
Princess of Brazil
Princess of Joinville
CoA Empire of Brazil (1822-1870).svg
Princess Maria Amélia
Princess of Brazil
CoA Empire of Brazil (1822-1870).svg
From her descends the
Portuguese Royal Family
Princess Isabel
Princess Imperial of Brazil
COA Imperial Prince of Brazil (alternative).svg
Princess Leopoldina
Princess of Brazil
Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
CoA Empire of Brazil (1822-1870).svg
Prince Pedro de Alcântara
Prince of Grão-Pará
Prince of Orléans-Braganza
COA Dinasty Orleães-Bragança.svg
Prince Luís
Prince Imperial of Brazil
Prince of Orléans-Braganza
COA Imperial Prince of Brazil.svg
Prince Antônio Gastão
Prince of Brazil
Prince of Orléans-Braganza
COA Dinasty Orleães-Bragança.svg
From her descends
the Saxe-Coburg and Braganza branch of the
Brazilian Imperial Family

COA Dinasty Saxe-Coburgo-Bragança (blazon).svg
From his descends the Petrópolis branch of the House of Orléans-Braganza
From his descends the Vassouras branch of the House of Orléans-Braganza


Coat of arms Title Tenure Coat of arms Title Tenure Coat of arms Title Tenure
CoA Empire of Brazil (1822-1870).svg
Emperor of Brazil
COA Imperial Prince of Brazil (alternative).svg
Prince Imperial of Brazil
COA Dinasty Orleães-Bragança.svg
Prince of Grão-Pará
Prince of Brazil
Prince of Grão-Pará: 1875–1920
Prince of Brazil: 1822-present


Some of the most important Brazilian palaces that were built to the Brazilian Imperial Family to private or governamental use. These palaces were taken by the government of the republic when it was proclaimed.

Most members of the Imperial House live in rented apartments in wealthy neighborhoods, private mansions or in Europe. Some of them like Eleanora, Princess of Ligne, for having married members of other royal houses live in their palaces.

See also


  1. ^ SMITH, Peter H. Democracy in Latin America, p. 148.
  2. ^ a b c Les manuscrits du C.E.D.R.E. – Dictionnaire Historique et Généalogique, vol. III. Le Royaume de Portugal, L’Empire du Brésil. Cercle d'Études des Dynasties Royales Européennes (president, Jean-Fred Tourtchine), Paris, 1987, p. 51. (French). ISSN 0764-4426.
  3. ^ SAINT, Guy Stair. House of Bourbon: Branch of Orléans-Braganza. In: Chivalric Orders Archived 2008-10-25 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  4. ^ BARMAN, Roderick J (2005) (in Portuguese). Princesa Isabel do Brasil: gênero e poder no século XIX, UNESP
  5. ^ a b c VIANNA, Hélio (1968) (in Portuguese). Vultos do Império. São Paulo: Companhia Editoria Nacional, p. 224
  6. ^ a b c FREYRE, Gilberto. Ordem e Progresso (1959) (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, p. 517 and 591
  7. ^ a b c LYRA, Heitor (1940) (in Portuguese). História de Dom Pedro II, 1825–1891. São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, vol.III, p. 300
  8. ^ a b c BARSA (1992) (in Portuguese). Braganza, vol. 4, p. 210
  9. ^ a b c JANOTTI, Maria de Lourdes (1986) (in Portuguese). Os Subversivos da República. São Paulo: Brasiliense, pp. 255–257
  10. ^ a b c MALATIAN, Teresa Maria (1978) (in Portuguese). A Ação Imperial Patrianovista Brasileira. São Paulo, p. 153-159
  11. ^ MONTJOUVENT, Philippe de (1998) (in French). Le comte de Paris et sa Descendance. Charenton: Éditions du Chaney, p. 97. ISBN 2-913211-00-3.
  12. ^ MALATIAN, Teresa (2007) (in Portuguese). In: BrHistória issue 4, p. 35
  13. ^ SANTOS (1988: 76)
  14. ^ SILVA (1994: 228–229)
  15. ^ VILLON, Victor (2008). Elisabeth Dobrzensky von Dobrzenicz "Empress of Brazil". In: Royalty Digest Quarterly, 3, p. 33.
  16. ^ CERQUEIRA, Bruno da Silva A. (2007) (in Portuguese). In: BrHistória issue 4, p. 58
  17. ^ SANTOS (1988: 197)
  18. ^ GUTIÉRREZ, Bernardo (2008) (in Spanish). La familia real brasileña defiende los nuevos ideales. In: Pú, 2008-01-09.
  19. ^ Revista Caras. (March 28, 2013) Paola de Orleans e Bragança.
  20. ^ SAXE-COBURGO E BRAGANÇA, Dom Carlos de (1959) (in Portuguese). Princesa Leopoldina. In: Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro Archived 2010-12-21 at the Wayback Machine., vol. 243, pp. 75, 80–81.
  21. ^ a b LESSA, Clado Ribeiro de (1951) (in Portuguese). O Segundo Ramo da Casa Imperial e a Nossa Marinha de Guerra. In: Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro Archived 2014-03-07 at the Wayback Machine., vol. 211, p. 132 (ISSN 0101-4366)
  22. ^ Bodstein, Astrid (2006). "The Imperial Family of Brazil". Royalty Digest Quarterly (3). 
  23. ^ Bernardo Gutiérrez, "La familia real brasileña defiende los nuevos ideales", Príncipes Republicanos (09/01/2008)

External links

Brazilian House of Braganza
Cadet branch of the Portuguese House of Braganza
Regnal titles
New title Ruling House of the
Empire of Brazil

Monarchy Abolished
See República Velha
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
as the reigning house
Claimant House of the
Brazilian monarchy

Reason for succession failure:
Brazilian monarchy abolished
Claimant as
House of Orléans-Braganza
since 1921
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