Dona Teresa Cristina delle Due Sicilie, nicknamed "the Mother of the Brazilians", was the Empress consort of Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, who reigned from 1831 to 1889. Born a Princess of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in present-day southern Italy, she was the daughter of King Don Francesco I of the Italian branch of the House of Bourbon and his wife Maria Isabel. It was long believed by historians that the Princess was raised in an ultra-conservative, intolerant atmosphere which resulted in a timid and unassertive character in public and an ability to be contented with very little materially or emotionally. Recent studies revealed a more complex character, who despite having respected the social norms of the era, was able to assert a limited independence due to her strongly opinionated personality as well as her interest in learning, sciences and culture.
The Princess was married by proxy to Pedro II in 1843. Her spouse's expectations had been raised when a portrait was presented that depicted Teresa Cristina as an idealized beauty, but he was displeased by his bride's plain looks upon their first meeting later that year.