In many ways, Pedro the Second, Emperor of Brazil (Rio, 1825- Paris, 1891), embodied the Enlightenment’s ideal of a humanist leader.
He was as fair and principled as Saint Luis, as cultured and enlightened as Frederic II of Prussia, and as unhappy on the throne as a true intellectual and adventurer could be. He had the most romantic death: in exile in Paris, poor and lonely.
His 58 year old reign transformed Brazil into a prosperous country with a liberal parliamentary monarchy. What’s more, he was a true abolitionist. In 1850, he even threatened to abdicate unless the Brazilian General Assembly declared the Atlantic slave trade illegal, and then fought to end the enslavement of children born of slaves (the “Law of the Free Birth” 1871). Continue reading