Dom Pedro II, nicknamed "the Magnanimous", was the second and last monarch of the Empire of Brazil, reigning for over 58 years. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, the seventh child of Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil and Empress Dona Maria Leopoldina and thus a member of the Brazilian branch of the House of Braganza. His father's abrupt abdication and departure to Europe in 1831 left the five year-old as emperor and led to a grim and lonely childhood and adolescence, obliged to spend his time studying in preparation for rule. His experiences with court intrigues and political disputes during this period greatly affected his later character; he grew into a man with a strong sense of duty and devotion toward his country and his people, yet increasingly resentful of his role as monarch.
Pedro II inherited an empire on the verge of disintegration, but he turned Brazil into an emerging power in the international arena. The nation grew to be distinguished from its Hispanic neighbors on account of its political stability, zealously guarded freedom of speech, respect for civil rights, vibrant economic growth, and form of government—a functional representative parliamentary monarchy.