12 Oct 1798 - 24 Sep 1834

PEDRO D'ALCÂNTARA Emperor of Brazil King of Portugal

National Palace of Queluz


Pedro d’Alcântara of Bragança (1798-1834), second male heir to King João VI and the Spanish Princess Carlota Joaquina de Bourbon, was the great character in one of the most decisive periods in Luso-Brazilian history. In a period of tension and transformation in both Portugal and Brazil, his actions played a decisive part in the armed conflict between absolutists and liberals, triggering the end of the Ancien Régime on both sides of the Atlantic.

The premature death of his older brother, António Pio, left him as heir to the throne of Portugal. Years later he would go to war against his brother Miguel over the rights of succession of his first daughter to the throne. As king, he also managed to maintain a coherent political attitude even when facing contradictions, responsibilities and private affections.

His passionate life story both begins and ends in the Royal Palace of Queluz, in the chambers where the mirrors, decoration and paintings  – allusive to the adventures of the resourceful noble Don Quixote de La Mancha – witnessed his birth and where, almost thirty-six years later, he lived out his final moments, surrounded by family and battlefield companions.

Few leaders in the history of the 19th century had such a short, intense and glorious reign as his own. Prince, Emperor, King and soldier, he abstained from his own ideals and personal interests  – as any romantic, liberating hero –, displaying utter commitment in his acting in defence of those causes he deemed just and necessary. The leader of two constitutional monarchies, on the old and the new continent, he abdicated his rights to two Crowns in favour of a liberty that he “signed into effect with a feather and defended with the sword”.

The renowned Don Quixote Room in the mid-19th century.

Around 50 pieces, selected for their quality and iconographic uniqueness, evoke the multiple facets of a monarch divided between two worlds in order to establish narratives based on the Palace of Queluz collections.

14 works loaned from the many of the most prestigious museological institutions complement this virtual and chronological tour through the life and times of King Pedro IV of Portugal, the first Emperor of Brazil.

This art exhibition provides new readings of the collections, establishes new dialogues between the pieces on display as well as bringing to light works either unknown or difficult to provide public access to. Furthermore, the Don Quixote Room, where King Pedro was born and died, is recalled through an 1850 watercolour (Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum) and an historical photograph (Lisbon Municipal Archive), both rare  iconographic documents pre-dating the fire of 4th October 1934, which damaged sections of the Palace.

One of the façades in the Don Quixote Room in 1844.
The current façade.

Royal Palace of Queluz

Don Quixote Room

12th October 1798

Born at 6.30am

Study of Prince Pedro, as a baby, for a probably collective portrait of the Royal Family (c.1798-1799).



“Our Lady Princess, having completed her pregnancy did happily give birth on the 12th of this month at 6.30 in the morning to a healthy prince.”

Gazeta de Lisboa, 16th October 1798.

“(...) the scenes that first came into the hazy and lost gaze of Pedro as a newborn were... excerpts from the Don Quixote story.”

Octávio Tarquínio de Sousa, “A Vida de D. Pedro I”, 1952.

The Palace of Queluz Royal Chapel.

“On the 19 of this month, in the Royal Chapel of Queluz, his Eminence the Patriarch Cardinal administered the Sacred Baptism to the recently born prince on who was bestowed the names of Pedro d'Alcântara, Francisco, António, João, Carlos, Xavier, de Paula, Miguel, Rafael, Joaquim, José, Gonzaga, Pascoal, Cypriano, Serafino.”

Gazeta de Lisboa, 23rd October 1798.

Posthumous portrait of Prince António Pio, the eldest brother of Pedro.





Portrait of Prince Pedro, aged around six, painted by his great aunt, Princess Maria Francisca Benedita (1804).
Maria Francisca Benedita of Bragança, known as the Widow Princess.

“(…) He was a disorderly and tough boy (…) Ruddy-cheeked, with the blood bursting through his rounded cheeks, very tall for his age, the mass of curly ginger hair falling over his forehead, slightly setback in its temples, with the thick lips of his father, the vivid eyes of his mother (…)”

Pedro Calmon,

“O Rei Cavalleiro”, 1933.

The Prince Regent João, father of Prince Pedro.
Prince Pedro, aged approximately 9.





The Royal Family embarks in the Port of Belém en route to Rio de Janeiro shortly before the imminent arrival of Napoleon's forces. 

“ (...) and even if forced (...) to cede for some moment their European possessions to the enemies (...) of the Governments, that should go and forge in Brazil, an Empire far greater in grandeur and strength than all those today existing in Europe.”

Rodrigo de Souza Coutinho, Minister of the Navy and Overseas Domains, exhorts Prince Regent João, to prepare the defence of Portugal against the French invaders.

9th November 1798.

“I have sought by all means possible to preserve Neutrality, (…) and despite (...) all of the Sacrifices that I have subjected to, (...) I have resolved, for the benefit of my subjects, to move (...) to the States of America and take up residence in the City of Rio de Janeiro through to General Peace.”

Decree signed by Prince Regent João, written in the Palace of Ajuda on 26th November 1807.

In 1811-1812, the adolescent Prince Pedro had his portrait painted in Rio de Janeiro, the new capital of the Portuguese Empire.
The grandmother of Prince Pedro, Queen Maria I, dies in Brazil aged 81.


Brazil, a former colony of Portugal, became elevated to the category of Kingdom and its capital, Rio de Janeiro, the seat of both the government and the court. This thus founds the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. 


Following the death of Queen Maria I, the Prince Regent ascends to the throne as João VI, King of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.

During the reign of João, the city of Rio de Janeiro became the great cultural centre of Brazil. There were incentives for music, literature, the sciences and fine arts as well as establishing the infrastructures necessary to their development. In the specific case of the academy of arts, beginning in 1816, the project received its official inauguration ten years later under Pedro I and entitled the Imperial Academy of the Fine Arts.

King João VI in coronation robes (1817), by Debret and Pradier. In this official image, he wears the rich mantle in which he is acclaimed king in 1818.


Prince Pedro was not yet 18 when a group of French painters, sculptors, engravers, artisans and specialists in various different fields arrived at the Court of Rio de Janeiro. Under the protection of João VI, the artists defined the bases of a formal system of teaching and artistic practice for the kingdom's capital. Important figures such as the architect Grandjean de Montigny, the sculptor Auguste-Marie Taunay, the engraver Charles-Simon Pradier and the painters Jean-Baptiste Debret and Nicolas-Antoine Taunay contributed actively to the cultural renovation of Brazil and to the foundation of its first academy of art, headed by Joachim Le Breton. Among the functions undertaken by the members of the Mission were the production of scenarios and decorations for Court festivities and events, the construction of public buildings, the definition of official images through royal portraits and other works of political affirmation.

The death of Le Breton in 1819 and the 1820 nomination of the Portuguese painter Henrique José da Silva as the new director of the Royal Academy, triggered the return to France of some of the leading members of this artistic mission. Such was the case for Nicolas Taunay (1821) and Debret (1831).

Infanta Maria Isabel, sister of Prince Pedro and the future Queen of Spain in an 1816 portrait by N. Taunay.
King João VI (1820) by H. J. da Silva.
Queen Carlota Joaquina (1820) by H. J. da Silva.






6th November 1817

Leopoldina, Archduchess of Austria (1797-1826)

► Once again, the Houses of Bragança and Habsburg are tied in marriage

Pistols given to Prince Pedro. 

“The World has just seen what has never before been seen:

an Archduchess of Austria crossing the seas to go to Brazil to sit on the first throne that America has ever offered to a Princess arriving from Europe:

the daughter of the modern Caesars, transplanted to climates that the first Caesars would never have suspected even existed.”

 De Pradt,

“Les Six derniers mois de l'Amérique et du Brésil”, 1817.

The Princess Royal, Archduchess Leopoldine.
The Prince Royal, by Pradier and Debret.




“Pedro, should Brazil separate, then may it be for you who has to respect me (...)”

João VI to Pedro, prior to embarkation for Lisbon. 

24th April 1821.

“(...) HIS MAJESTY entrusts the Government of the Kingdom of Brazil to H.R.H. the Prince Royal, Showing (...) the High Regard, deserved by the Singular Virtues of this Worthy Heir, as well as the Paternal Concern, which we all owe to Such a Provident Sovereign.”

Gazeta de Río de Janeiro, 26th April 1821.

Portrait of King João VI (1821), painted in Rio de Janeiro shortly before his return to Portugal to swear in the Constitution.





“Worthy representatives of the Brazilian nation. Today is the greatest day that Brazil has ever had; the day when, for the first time, it begins to show the world that it is an empire and a free empire.”

Pedro I, Constitutional Emperor of Brazil,

Diario de la Asamblea general del Imperio de Brasil, Session on 3rd May 1823.

“To give our life for Brazil,

To maintain the Constitution,

To sustain Independence;

That is our obligation.”

       Your Majesty Emperor Pedro I.

       Diario Fluminense, 14th July 1824.

Pedro I with the apparel, symbols and insignias which adorned his appearance at the solemn ceremony for his acclamation as Emperor of Brazil.



Brazil - signed on 25th March 1824 

Portugal - signed on 29th April  1826

“(..) it is easier to pluck a star from the heavens

than the Constitutional spirit

having once taken root in the heart of men.”

                            De Pradt,

                            Diario de la Asamblea general del Imperio de Brasil,

                            Session on 15th July 1824.






17th October 1829

Amélia Beauharnais, Princess of Leuchtenberg (1812-1873)

► The House of Bragança unites with the House of Leuchtenberg

Pedro I succeeds his father as King of Portugal under the title of King Pedro IV. Infanta Isabel Maria, his sister, acts as regent of Portugal during the absence of the new monarch. 
Isabel Maria served as regent through to the arrival of Infante Miguel, her brother, in 1828. 
Portrait of Infante Miguel, painted in 1827 during his exile in the Court of Vienna.
Allegory of the arrival of Infante Miguel in Portugal, in 1828. 


1826 - Maria da Glória, aged 7, Maria II of Portugal 

1831 - Pedro d'Alcântara, aged 5, Pedro II of Brazil

“Pedro by the Grace of God, King of Portugal (...) I do here make it known to all of My Portuguese Subjects, that as incompatible with the interests of the Empire of Brazil and the Kingdom of Portugal, that I continue as King of Portugal, (...) It is (...) of my free will to Abdicate, and to Cede all the (...) Rights that I Have to the Crown of the Portuguese Monarchy, (...) in the Person of my much loved, cherished and dear Daughter, the Princess (...) Maria da Glória”

King Pedro, in the act of abdicating the Portuguese crown, Palace of Rio de Janeiro, 2nd May 1826.

Text published in Gazeta de Lisboa, 12th July 1826.

Portrait of Maria II as a girl, completed on the occasion of her stay in London between 1828 and 1829.
Pedro II.

“They don't care about me because I am Portuguese. (...) 

My son has the advantage over me of being Brazilian. (...)

I shall step down from the throne with the glory of finishing as I started, constitutionally.”

King Pedro, on the day of his abdicating the imperial crown, Palace of Quinta de Boa Vista, 7th April 1831.

Requisites for the abdication of the Portuguese crown:

► that the Constitutional Charter is sworn to by the monarch and by Miguel;

► that Miguel seals his union with Maria da Glória.

“(...) and that My Abdication and Cession are unbinding should any of these two Conditions fail to be met.”

King Pedro, 

Act of Abdication, 2nd May 1826.






Miguel I portrayed following his acclamation as King of Portugal, with the attributes and insignias of a sovereign: the Crown and the Golden Fleece.
Satirical engraving.
Carlota Joaquina witnesses the Acclamation of her favourite son Miguel as absolute King of Portugal. She dies in 1830 and thus does not witness his defeat and exile in 1834.




“My Lady, there is here a Portuguese General who shall defend your rights and restore you to the Crown.”

King Pedro to Maria II,

Paris, 25th January 1832.

Satirical engraving by Daumier.
Pedro, Duke of Bragança, by John Simpson.
Duchess of Bragança.

““(...) in the century we live in, where Peoples (...) are no longer easily fooled, it is the duty of kings to earn the respect of their subjects due to their good qualities rather than to their birth, which is worth nothing in the free world...”

King Pedro, letter to his daughter Queen Maria II, written in Oporto on 18th July 1832.


1834 - The final days

“As it would not be possible to die in the land of his heart, his adopted homeland, he wanted to end where it had all begun: Queluz (...). And there did he go on the 10th [of September]. To await his death.”

Octávio Tarquínio de Sousa, “A Vida de D. Pedro I”, 1952.

The Last Moments of King Pedro, by N. Maurin (1836).

“On the 15th day of September, Dom Pedro did dictate to me his last will and testament with the greatest tranquillity of spirit.”

“On the 16th [day of September], in his last Council of Ministers, he resolved and signed the dispositions demanded by urgent affairs.”

“On the 17th he engaged in the devotions and exemplary sacraments that the Catholic Church has (…) to prepare its sons to enter into great combat.”

“On the 18th (…) [he is] informed of the deliberations taken by the courts, acknowledging the queen’s maturity; [he] summons the sovereign and his beloved consort, (…) giving his daughter the most healthy advices, recommending (…) clemency towards individuals sentenced for crimes or offences committed against him, and asks his wife that the birthplace of the Portuguese monarchy [the city of Oporto] be the tomb of his heart.” 

“On the 19th he felt (…) some slight and fleeting alleviation (…)”

“On the 20th he bid farewell to his field assistants and all those who had served him (…) The queen (…) at around four and a half hours into the afternoon (…) went (…) to give her august father the insignias (…) of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and the Sword, (…) destined to reward the services paid to the Queen and the State Constitution (…)”

“[On the 24th] filled with peace and glory, he launches his soul into the heart of the Divinity at around two and a half hours in the afternoon.” 

Marquis of Resende, “Elogio historico do Senhor Rei D. Pedro IV, recitado na Academia Real das Sciencias de Lisboa, em sessão ordinaria de 13 de Julho de 1836”, 1867.

Royal Palace of Queluz

Don Quixote Room

24th September 1834

He dies at 2.30pm

Deathbed portrait of King Pedro.

“A Prince, still in the flowering of his age and already at the peak of his glory has died! Two worlds shall mourn him.”

Marquis of Resende, 

“Elogio historico do Senhor Rei D. Pedro IV, recitado na Academia Real das Sciencias de Lisboa, em sessão ordinaria de 13 de Julho de 1836”.

“The chambers in which Pedro passed away are unique and entitled the Don Quixote Room and decorated exclusively with scenes taken from the adventures of that wistful knight. 

(...) Even while after the death of Pedro, Queluz was not inhabited, I found everything, both in the palace and in the gardens to be in a good state of order and very well maintained.”

Prince Lichnowsky,

“Portugal. Recordações do anno de 1842”, 1844.

Princess Maria Amélia, the daughter of King Pedro and Amélia Beauharnais, visited Queluz years later. In a melancholic letter, written on 27th August 1851, she describes the emotional experience: 

“Following the death of my father, I never again returned to this palace. (...) I recalled everything. Each object had been engrained in my memory, even while having, on that occasion, but three years of age! There was such great emotion when I went into the room!... The bed (...) is still the same and still in the same place, with the same bedcovers, the same mattresses, the same pillows… everything had been so well preserved...”

View from the Room at the beginning of the 20th century. Photograph prior to 1934. The bed with the canopy is the same as the 1850 watercolour on which Princess Maria Amélia wrote in French: "Chambre où mourut mon père, dans le Palais de Queluz" [Room where my father died in the Palace of Queluz]. 

“The extraordinary heir, who gave his life to his nation, who lives on in the memory of his century and who shall be admired down through all time, enveloped in the weight of all his glorious feats, idolised for his virtues, expired unperturbed in the midst of his illnesses, which were the agonies of the entire nation.

On the forever unfortunate day of 24th September 1834 died the august Duke of Bragança, Lord Pedro de Alcântara, King of Portugal, Emperor of Brasil, restorer of freedom to his nation and the usurped throne to his august Daughter in whose name he served as regent of the kingdom. 

(...) what Monarch ever had such funeral pomp that expressed so much pain? (...) Soldiers, officers and citizens of all social standings shed tears and gazed on that coffin with the religious respect inspired by a ruined temple that had once been the mansion of a god. 

(...) Never had Portugal seen a day of such lament. Only a single consolation remained to the nation, (...) the hope that his heir (...) shall set an example of such fair pity!” 

Gaceta de Madrid (official gazette of the Spanish government),

9th October 1834.

“Currently, Pedro is honoured by all as a great prince, as the founder of liberty in Portugal, as a courageous captain and, above all, as an adventurous leader who by his energy, his talents and his perseverance was able to bring about the finest, most poetic, most chivalrous feats of modern times (…).

Through to his last moments, Pedro never let down the greatest of his soul that stood up to such brilliant test in the most difficult vicissitudes of his life. Thus, he made his daughter, Queen Maria, promise to free from the prisons all the political exiles. This is his stipulation, certainly a good policy at least in terms of its generous and Christian soul. Finally, to end his career on earth with the style of noble modesty, Pedro, the former Emperor of Brazil, the former King of Portugal, the regent of a kingdom, sought only to receive in the wake of his death the honours due to a general (…).”

Le Figaro, Paris, 9th October 1834.

“The death of the former Emperor of Brazil is not a factor of indifference to the two factions of the (...) Portuguese Monarchy. (...) Pedro de Alcântara (...) opened the field to important successes and influenced (...) the destinies of the Empire of Brazil and the Kingdom of Portugal. 

(...) existing in them the core of great qualities (…), Providence made of him a powerful instrument of liberation whether in Brazil or in Portugal. 

(...) The former Emperor expired at the point most favourable to his own glory; the point that measures between the vivid remembrance of what he did to bring about Portuguese freedom and fears over the future that shall perhaps emerge with its coming about.”

Aurora Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro,

3rd November 1834.

“Anxiety, privations, disappointments, vicissitudes and exhausting exertions, has completely broken down a robust constitution, before any one was aware of it. In the moment of his success, he was taken suddenly ill, and he felt that his hour was come. 

(...) In contemplating the character of this man, who played such a high and conspicuous part in the drama of human life, everyone must acknowledge that it was no common one; energy, activity, sagacity, and a wish to improve the constitution of the people he governed, were all his own; caprice, ignorance, passion, sensuality, and occasional cruelty, were the results of his unfortunate education. 

(...) In private life, Dom Pedro was esteemed and (…) beloved by those about him."

The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, London, 1834.



“Dom Pedro did not die. Only common men die, not the heroes.”

José Bonifácio, in a letter to Pedro II and his sisters,

4th December 1834.

Web specific exhibition organised on the occasion of the new museological project for the Don Quixote Room on the 180th anniversary of the death of Pedro d'Alcântara of Bragança (1834-2014), First Emperor of Brazil and King of Portugal.

Project coordination: Inês Ferro (Director), Conceição Coelho and Fernando Montesinos.

TEXTS (catalogue entries)

Conceição Coelho / C.C.

Inês Ferro / I.F.

Fernando Montesinos / F.M.

Coronel Luís Sodré de Albuquerque / L.S.A.

Anísio Franco / A.F.

Teresa Maranhas / T.M.

Patrícia Telles / P.T.

Tânia Saraiva / T.S.


© the aforementioned institutions and photographers

Should you wish to make usage of any of the information published online as a reference material, please quote as follows:


Parques de Sintra-Monte da Lua. (2014) Pedro d'Alcântara of Bragança. Emperor of Brazil, King of Portugal. Iconographic notes on a life  [in italics]. Virtual exhibition organised by the National Palace of Queluz on the 180th anniversary of the death of King Pedro IV. Available at Google Art Project since 24th September 2014: <http: / /www.google.com /culturalinstitute /exhibit /aqyretjw> Accessed: [date of access].


Surname and initials of the author [catalogue entry]. (2014) “Title” [catalogue entry within quotation marks]. In: Pedro d'Alcântara of Bragança. Emperor of Brazil, King of Portugal. Iconographic notes on a life  [in italics]. Virtual exhibition organised by the National Palace of Queluz on the 180th anniversary of the death of King Pedro IV. Available at Google Art Project since 24th September 2014: <http: / /www.google.com /culturalinstitute /exhibit /aqyretjw> Accessed: [date of access].

Credits: Story

CEO of PSML — António Lamas
Director - National Palace of Queluz — Inês Ferro
Curator — Fernando Montesinos
Research Support — Inês Ferro, Conceição Coelho
They have also participated — Ana Martins, Miguel Crespo, Cláudio Marques

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.
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