Pedro II, known as the last emperor that induced the end of the Brazilian Monarchy, ruled Brazil for over 45 years. During his rule and even the months before he was overthrown, he remained admired by the people for the economic prosperity and the social changes he fueled.
The Monarchy of Brazil ended with the 49-year reign of Pedro II, who abolished slavery and brought many improvements upon Brazil. His rule ended as he became detached and apathetic towards the people’s demands, who responded by forming a coup that successfully overthrew him.
The Reign of Emperor Pedro II
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 2, 1825, Dom Pedro De Alcantara, most commonly known as Pedro II, became the last emperor of the Brazilian Monarchy. His reign spans nearly half a century.
Both of his parents, Pedro I of Brazil and Leopoldina of Austria, died at an early age, making the task of guidance fall to his tutor’s hands. Unlike his father, Pedro II was an excellent student. Many of Brazil’s greatest intellectuals gave him lessons, and during that time, he became very close to his governess, Mariana de Verna.
At the young age of 16, Pedro II officially became crowned emperor, acquiring Teresa Cristina as a wife only a few years after. During his reign, many citizens greatly adored Emperor Pedro II, even in the months of his ousting. Many improvements emerged in his ruling, such as paved roads, water systems, improved port facilities, and railways. Pedro II also actively worked to abolish slavery, a socio-economic plague that affected 5,000,000 Brazilian citizens, angering the affluent class of landowners that supported it. (Source: ThoughtCo.)
In addition to that, he presided more than 30 various cabinets that gained support from its people. With the power he had, he gave both Liberal and Conservative political parties equal authority. As both political parties represented only the wealthy classes of Brazil, they served as a barrier that hindered the lower classes’ demands. (Source: Britannica)
In Pedro II, the elite found someone who suppressed the fanaticism of the masses, a skillful monarch who brought together liberty and order, internal peace and development of the country, provided it was under his strict supervision and with no excesses.Brazilian expert Roderick Barman
(Source: Revista Pesquisa Fapesp)
The most infamous moment in Pedro II’s reign occurred during the War of the Triple Alliance when he refused Paraguay’s request for peace, continuing the war for three more years before Paraguay’s fall and causing Brazil’s inflating debt. The War of Triple Alliance or the Paraguayan War soon became recognized as the interstate war that caused the most bloodshed. (Source: ThoughtCo.)
The Accepted Fall of Brazil’s Monarchy
The ousting of former Emperor Pedro II was a result of several factors. In Dom Pedro II’s Acceptance of Exile, Molly Quinn notes that the growth of the republican movement, a common discontent within the military, and increasing hate in politics contributed to the fall of the Brazilian monarchy.
The general dissatisfaction of the military became the most impactful catalyst for the 1889 coup that laid the foundations for the First Brazilian Republic, as most veterans received inadequate pay, opportunities, and respect despite their involvement in the Paraguayan war. (Source: Brown University Library)
And although Pedro II already observed the gradual shift of the people towards republicanism, he still chose to preserve the monarchy and its outdated ways, expecting his people to remain subservient. Pedro II’s apathetic, stubborn, and conservative mindset to address critical issues reflected how he saw the military coup as anything but a substantial threat.
In his later years as the emperor, Pedro II became more and more detached from his people as he remained abroad, developing an insufficient awareness of Brazil’s political and social concerns with the monarchy. Soon, he accepted the masses’ refusal of the monarchy, accepting the coup’s outcome with no ill intent towards the newly emerging republic. (Source: Brown University Library)