Pedro II, (December 2, 1825 December 5, 1891) was the second and last Emperor of Brazil. His name in full was Pedro de Alcântara João Carlos Leopoldo Salvador Bibiano Francisco Xavier de Paula Leocádio Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga de Bragança e Habsburgo, By the Grace of God and Unanimous Acclamation of the People, Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil.
When anglicised, his name would be Peter II of Brazil, full name Peter of Alcantara John Charles Leopold Salvador Vivian Francis Xavier of Paula Leocadio Michael Gabriel Raphael Gonzaga of Braganza and Habsburg.
As a result of caring for his children's interests, in 1834, his father, Pedro I of Brazil (and Pedro IV of Portugal), had a daughter (who was only 15 years old) on the throne of Portugal and a son, Pedro II, who was Emperor of Brazil, at age 9.
During the Emperor's childhood, a series of regents administered the government, in accordance with the Constitution. In 1840, the Brazilian Imperial Parliament, or General Assembly, abolished the regency and declared Pedro to be of age to govern. Though only 14, Pedro already had a reputation as a judicious ruler, and the Imperial Parliament hoped that his popularity would quell the regional revolts that had rocked Brazil in the 1830s. Emperor Pedro II was consecrated and crowned on July 18, 1841.
Pedro II reigned as Emperor of Brazil for 49 years. The period saw the beginnings of industrialization, the first paved roads, the first steam-engine railway, a submarine telegraphy cable, and the introduction of the telephone. He traveled to the United States and attended the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876, where Alexander Graham Bell showed him his new telephone. Pedro II probably was the first Brazilian to use the invention. He recited Shakespeare's classic line from Hamlet, "To be or not to be" into it, and exclaimed, "This thing speaks!".
Liberal in outlook, Pedro II took steps to end slavery; the final abolition edict, the Golden Law, was signed in his absence by his daughter Princess Isabel, on May 13, 1888. Pedro II also took pains to learn Guarani, the most widely spoken indigenous language in nineteenth-century Brazil. He was widely respected by Brazilians of all social levels as an enlightened monarch who ruled in a principled, rational, moderate fashion. Historian Thomas Skidmore has compared Pedro II to Queen Victoria, another nineteenth-century monarch who was popular for similar reasons.
Though an enlightened monarch, Pedro II nonetheless retained extensive power over the Brazilian government. Under the Brazilian Constitution of 1824, the Emperor possessed Poder Moderador (Moderating Power), i.e. the power to temper the will of Brazil's representative government. In practice, this meant that Pedro II had the right to veto legislation, dissolve the lower house of the legislature (the only one that was elected), and call new elections at his pleasure. Pedro II generally respected the wishes of the electorate, but his favoritism towards the Conservative party in 1868 marred his reputation for evenhandedness. The unexpectedly long and costly Paraguayan War of 1865-1870 also diminished his popularity.
In the wake of the Paraguayan War, a war not started by Brazil, the monarchy was seen by some to be an obstacle to modernization and economic growth. Liberals called both for greater regional autonomy. The abolition of slavery in Brazil, the last place where it still existed in the Americas, irritated the wealthy elite. A military coup d'etat on November 15, 1889 overthrew the monarchy. The Emperor and his family went into exile in Portugal, and Brazil created a new federalist, republican government under the Brazilian Constitution of 1891.
Pedro II died on December 5, 1891 in Paris, France. The government of France gave a state funeral to the old emperor. At the same time, the Brazilian Republic censored the details of Pedro's death and funeral.
His and his wife's remains were taken from Portugal to Brazil in 1922, and were reburied in Petrópolis, their former summer residence, in 1939.