Pedro II

Pedro II (Dom Pedro II de Alcântara), 1825–91, emperor of Brazil (1831–89). At the age of five, he succeeded under a regency when his father, Pedro I, abdicated. He was declared of age in 1840. Pedro II's long reign was characterized by great social change, material progress, and wars with neighboring nations. Brazil aided Justo José de Urquiza in the war (1851–52) against Juan Manuel de Rosas, at the same time intervening in Uruguayan affairs in support of Venancio Flores. Later, Brazil joined Argentina and Uruguay in the War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay (1865–70). Pedro II was extremely popular, but the economic and social tendencies of his time betrayed him. In 1850 the slave trade was prohibited; in 1871 a law was passed providing for gradual emancipation; and, in 1888, when Pedro was in Europe, a law abolishing slavery was signed by his daughter Isabel. Brazil's modernization led to widening divisions between the feudalistic countryside and the rapidly growing urban populations and newer export sectors. A coalition of the urban middle class, coffee planters, and the military increasingly disparaged the monarchy and its ties to the traditional landed class. They advocated the creation of a modern republic that would support the new coffee and industrial capitalism, finding additional allies in the church. Discontent became widespread, and the military, representing this diverse opposition, overturned the empire. The revolution was led by Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca. Pedro was exiled, and spent the remainder of his life in Europe.

See biography by M. W. Williams (1937, repr. 1966); and study by E. V. de Costa, The Brazilian Empire: Myths and Histories (1985).

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