Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil

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Head and shoulders photograph of a middle-aged Isabel wearing a flower hat
Princess Isabel around age 41, c. 1887
Head of the Imperial House of Brazil
Tenure5 December 1891 – 14 November 1921
PredecessorEmperor Pedro II
SuccessorPrince Pedro Henrique of Orléans-Braganza
Born(1846-07-29)29 July 1846
Palace of São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died14 November 1921(1921-11-14) (aged 75)
Château d'Eu, Eu, France
Full name
Portuguese: Isabel Cristina Leopoldina Augusta Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga
FatherPedro II of Brazil
MotherTeresa Cristina of the Two Sicilies
ReligionRoman Catholic
SignatureCursive signature in ink

Isabel (29 July 1846 – 14 November 1921), nicknamed "the Redemptress",[1] was Regent of the Empire of Brazil and titular Empress as successor to her father, the last reigning Emperor Pedro II. She was heiress presumptive to the Brazilian throne, bearing the title of Princess Imperial until 1891 when her father, deposed in 1889 in a military coup d'état, died and she was recognized as his successor by the countries who still did not acknowledged the First Brazilian Republic as well as by a large sector of the Brazilian society.

Life[change | change source]

Isabel was born in Rio de Janeiro, the eldest daughter of Emperor Pedro II and Empress Teresa Cristina, and thus she was a member of the Brazilian branch of the House of Braganza (Portuguese: Bragança). After the deaths of her two brothers in infancy, she was recognized as her father's heiress presumptive. She married a French prince, Gaston, Count of Eu, in an arranged marriage and they had three sons.

During her father's absences abroad, Isabel acted as regent. In her third and final regency, she actively promoted and ultimately signed a law, named Lei Áurea or the Golden Law, emancipating all slaves in Brazil. Even though the action was broadly popular, there was strong opposition to her succession to the throne by the conservative elites. Her gender, strong Catholic faith and marriage to a foreigner were seen as impediments against her. The emancipation of the slaves generated dislike among powerful planters. In 1889, her family was deposed in a military coup. Then she spent the last 30 years of her life in exile in France.

References[change | change source]

  1. Barman 2002, p. 1.
Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil
Cadet branch of the House of Aviz
Born: 29 July 1846 Died: 14 November 1921
Brazilian royalty
Preceded by
Prince Afonso
Princess Imperial of Brazil
11 June 1847 – 19 July 1848
Succeeded by
Prince Pedro
Preceded by
Prince Pedro
Princess Imperial of Brazil
9 January 1850 – 15 November 1889
Monarchy abolished
Titles in pretence
Republic declared Princess Imperial of Brazil
15 November 1889 – 5 December 1891
Succeeded by
Prince Pedro de Alcântara
Preceded by
Pedro II
Empress of Brazil
5 December 1891 – 14 November 1921
Reason for succession failure:
Empire abolished in 1889
Succeeded by
Prince Pedro Henrique