Monthly Archives: January 2013

Did you know that the last Brazilian Emperor was a passionate Orientalist?

dom-pedro-PortraitThe 19th century’s official history was and remains too Eurocentric to notice the greatness of a non-European statesman and its sincere interest in other cultures, notably Oriental cultures.

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

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