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Maria II of Portugal
Maria II da Glória, (English: Mary II), the Educator (Port. a Educadora) - (Rio de Janeiro, April 4, 1819 - Lisbon, November 15, 1853), named Maria da Glória Joana Carlota Leopoldina da Cruz Francisca Xavier de Paula Isidora Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga was the daughter of the future King Pedro IV (Emperor of Brazil as Pedro I) and his first wife, Archduchess Maria Leopoldine Josepha Caroline, daughter of Emperor Franz I of Austria. She was the second Queen of Portugal and the 29th (or 30th according to some historians) Portuguese monarch.
In March 1826, King João VI died and a crisis was installed in Portugal. The king had a male heir, but he had proclaimed the independence of Brazil in 1822 and he was now Emperor Pedro I of that country. He also had a second son, Miguel, but he was exiled in Austria after leading a number of revolutions against his father and his liberal regime.
The king had nominated his favorite daughter, Isabel Maria, as regent until "the legitimate heir returned to the Kingdom". But he didn't specify who was the legitimate heir. Pedro, the liberal Emperor of Brazil, or Miguel, the absolutist exiled prince?
Most people considered that Pedro was the legitimate heir, but nobody wanted him to unite Portugal and Brazil's thrones again. Aware that his brother's supporters were ready to bring Miguel back and put him in the throne, he decided for a more consensual option: he abdicated the throne to his eldest daughter, Maria da Gloria (who was only 7 years old), and she should marry her uncle Miguel, who should accept the Liberal Constitution and act as a regent until his niece was an adult.
Miguel pretended to accept, but when he arrived to Portugal he deposed Maria and proclaimed himself Absolutist King. During his reign of terror, Maria traveled for many European courts, including her grandfather's, Vienna, London, and Paris.
Pedro abdicated the Brazilian throne in 1831 and, from his base in the Azores he attacked Miguel, forcing him to abdicate in 1834. Maria was thereupon restored to the throne, and an annulment of her marriage obtained.
On 26 January 1835 she married, at the age of 15, Charles Auguste Eugène Napoléon de Beauharnais , 2nd Duke of Leuchtenberg, son of Eugène de Beauharnais, and grandson of Empress Josephine. He died after two months on 28 March 1835.
Maria's reign saw a revolutionary insurrection on May 16, 1846, but this was crushed by royalist troops on February 22, 1847, and Portugal otherwise avoided the European upheavals of 1848. Maria's reign was also notable for a public health act aimed at curbing the spread of cholera throughout the country. She also pursued policies aimed at increasing the levels of education throughout the country.
From her second marriage, she had the following children:
- Pedro V, who succeeded her
- Luis I, who eventually succeeded his brother
- Maria (1840)
- João, Duke of Beja, born in 1842, who died of cholera in 1861
- Maria Ana, (1843-1884) who married King George I of Saxe
- Antonia, (1845-1913) who married prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Signaringen and was the mother of King Ferdinand I of Romania
- Ferdinand, who was born in 1846 and also died of cholera in 1861
- Augustus, Duke of Coimbra (1847-1889)
- Leopold (1849)
- Maria da Glória (1851)
- Eugene (1853)
After constant pregnancies and births, doctors kept informing Maria of the danger of giving birth to nearly one child per year. She neglected the risks that had also killed her monther; "If I die, I die in my post", she said. Maria II died while giving birth to Prince Eugene in 1853.
Maria II is remembered as a good mother and a kind person, who always acted according to her convictions in an attempt to help her country. She was later given the surname "The Good Mother."
See also: War of the Two Brothers
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