Line of succession to the former Brazilian throne
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The Brazilian monarchy came to an end on November 15, 1889, following a military coup which overthrew Emperor Dom Pedro II. According to the Imperial Constitution (1824), the Brazilian monarchy was hereditary according to male-preference primogeniture and dynasts in the line of succession were required to hold Brazilian nationality. The Imperial Constitution also states that the Emperor and his heir presumptive should be Catholic, and the marriage of the princess heir presumptive should be done in accordance with the consent of the Emperor or the Assembly.
The current Brazilian Imperial Family is split into two branches: the Petrópolis and the Vassouras. The division erupted in 1908, when Dom Pedro de Alcântara (Petrópolis Branch) renounced his succession rights. The Petrópolis branch, headed by Prince Pedro Carlos of Orléans-Braganza, is descended from Princess Isabel's eldest son, Pedro de Alcântara, while the Vassouras branch, headed by Prince Luiz of Orléans-Braganza, is descended from her second son, Luiz.
In 1908, her son Dom Pedro de Alcântara wanted to marry Countess Elisabeth Dobržensky de Dobrženicz (1875–1951) who, although a noblewoman of the kingdom of Bohemia, did not belong to a royal or reigning dynasty. Although the constitution of the Brazilian Empire did not require a dynast to marry equally, it made the marriage of the heir to the Throne dependent upon the Sovereign's consent. Princess Isabel, then Head of the Imperial Family, considered that Brazilian dynasts should only marry people of royal blood, especially to increase the influence of the Dynasty and the prospects of the restoration of the monarchy. Prince Dom Pedro wanted to marry with his mother's blessing, and so it was agreed that she would consent to the marriage on condition that he resigned his position in the line of succession. As a result Dom Pedro de Alcantara renounced his rights to the throne of Brazil on 30 October 1908. To solemnize this, Dom Pedro, aged thirty-three, signed the document translated here:
|“||I, Prince Pedro de Alcântara Luiz Filipe Maria Gastão Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga of Orleans-Braganza, having maturely reflected, have resolved to renounce the right that, by the Constitution of the Empire of Brazil, promulgated on 25 March 1824, accords to me the Crown of that nation. I declare, therefore, that by my free and spontaneous will I hereby renounce, in my own name, as well as for any and all of my descendants, to all and any rights that the aforesaid Constitution confers upon us to the Brazilian Crown and Throne, which shall pass to the lines which follow mine, conforming to the order of succession as established by article 117. Before God I promise, for myself and my descendants, to hold to the present declaration.
Cannes 30 October 1908 signed: Pedro de Alcântara of Orleans-Braganza
This renunciation was followed by a letter from Isabel to royalists in Brazil:
9 November 1908, [Castle of] Eu
Most Excellent Gentlemen Members of the Monarchist Directory,
With all my heart I thank you for the congratulations upon the marriages of my dear children Pedro and Luiz. Luiz took place in Cannes on the 4th with the brilliance that is desired for so solemn an act in the life of my successor to the Throne of Brazil. I was very pleased. Pedro´s shall take place next on the 14th. Before the marriage of Luis he signed his resignation to the crown of Brazil, and here I send it to you, while keeping here an identical copy. I believe that this news must be published as soon as possible (you gentlemen shall do it in the way that you judge to be most satisfactory) in order to prevent the formation of parties that would be a great evil for our country. Pedro will continue to love his homeland, and will give all possible support to his brother. Thank God they are very united. Luis will engage actively in everything with respect to the monarchy and any good for our land. However, without giving up my rights I want that he be up to date on everything so that he may prepare himself for the position which with all my heart I desire that one day he will hold. You may write to him as many times as you may want to so that he shall be informed of everything. My strength is not the same as it once was, but my heart is still the same to love my homeland and all those who are so dedicated to us. I give you all my friendship and confidence,
a) Isabel, comtesse d'Eu
Assuming that the 1908 renunciation of Pedro de Alcântara was valid, his brother Luiz (and eventually, Pedro Henrique) became next in the line of succession after their mother. Isabel's headship of the Brazilian Imperial House lasted until her death in 1921, when she is widely considered to have been succeeded by her grandson, Prince Pedro Henrique of Orléans-Braganza. Pedro Henrique was the elder son of Prince Luiz, second child of Isabel and a veteran of World War I who had died in 1920 from an illness he contracted in the trenches.
Prince Pedro de Alcântara did not dispute the validity of the renunciation. Though he did not claim the headship of the Imperial House himself in 1937, he did say in an interview that his renunciation "did not meet the requirements of Brazilian Law, there was no prior consultation with the nation, there was none of the necessary protocol that is required for acts of this nature and, furthermore, it was not a hereditary renunciation."
The dynastic dispute over the Brazilian crown began after 1940 when Prince Pedro Gastão of Orléans-Braganza, eldest son of Pedro de Alcântara rejected his father's renunciation and claimed the headship of the Brazilian Imperial House.
Descendents of Princess Leopoldina
The Saxe-Coburg-Braganza branch is descended from Princess Leopoldina of Brazil, second daughter of D. Pedro II, and her husband, Prince Ludwig August of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Due to the difficulties of Princess Imperial Isabel with producing an heir to the Brazilian throne, clauses were included in the marriage contract between Leopoldina and her husband who ensured that the couple should, among other things, reside part of the year in Brazil and have their children in Brazilian territory, as heirs presumptive of Isabel: Pedro Augusto, Augusto Leopoldo, and José Fernando. With the birth of D. Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão-Pará and eldest son of Princess Isabel, the Saxe-Coburg-Braganza branch was passed over in the line of succession by the Orleans-Braganza branch.
The only members of the Saxe-Coburg-Braganza branch who still retain the Brazilian nationality, condition to legitimize to the line of succession to the Brazilian throne, are the descendants of Princess Teresa Cristina of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, daughter of Augusto Leopoldo. The Brazilian nationality of princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was recognized by the government of Brazil only in 1922. Their four children were registered in the consulate of Brazil in Vienna as Brazilian citizens. Carlos Tasso de Saxe-Coburg-Braganza, Baron di Taxis-Bordogna-Valnigra and son of Teresa Cristina, is the current head of this dynastic branch.
Line of succession (Vassouras)
- Prince Bertrand of Orléans-Braganza, Prince Imperial of Brazil (b. 1941)
- Prince Antônio of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1950)
- Prince Rafael of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1986)
- Princess Maria Gabriela of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1989)
- Princess Isabel Maria of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1944)
- Princess Eleonora of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1953)
- Henri Antoine, Hereditary Prince of Ligne (b. 1989)
- Princess Alix of Ligne (b. 1984)
Line of succession (Petrópolis)
- Prince Pedro Thiago of Orléans-Braganza, Prince Imperial of Brazil (b. 1979)
- Prince Felipe Rodrigo of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1982)
- Prince Afonso of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1948)
- Princess Maria of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1974)
- Princess Júlia of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1977)
- Prince Manuel of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1949)
- Prince Manuel of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1981)
- Princess Luíza of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1978)
- Prince Francisco of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1956)
- Prince Francisco of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1979)
- Prince Gabriel of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1989)
- Princess Maria Isabel of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1982)
- Princess Maria da Gloria, Duchess of Segorbe (b. 1946)
- Princess Cristina of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1950)
- Princess Ana Teresa Sapieha-Rozanska (b. 1981)
- Princess Paola Sapieha-Rozanska (b. 1983)
- Prince João Henrique of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1954)
- Prince João Philippe of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1986)
- Princess Maria Christina of Orléans-Braganza (b. 1989)
- Prince Luiz of Orléans-Braganza (Head of the Vassouras branch)
Followed by the members of the Vassouras line in the order of succession above plus the members of the Vassouras line deemed morganatic.
In science fiction, Robert Heinlein's novel Time for the Stars depicts its protagonists returning to Earth after a galactic voyage lasting several centuries, and landing at Rio de Janeiro, where they are greeted by "Emperor Dom Pedro III", who presents them with a medal on behalf of the World Government. Heinlein does not specify the circumstances under which, in the future depicted, the Brazilian monarchy was restored.
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