Pedro I (Dom Pedro de Alcântara) [key], 1798–1834, first emperor of Brazil (1822–31); son of John VI of Portugal. Dom Pedro was a child when the Portuguese royal family, fleeing from Napoleon's conquering French army, left Portugal for Brazil. He grew up in Rio de Janeiro, and when King John returned (1821) to Portugal, Dom Pedro remained as regent in Brazil. Attempts by the Portuguese to reduce the Brazilian colony once again to subordinate status sparked opposition. Heeding his Brazilian advisers, especially José Bonifácio, Pedro defied the government in Lisbon. On Sept. 7, 1822, he issued the Grito do Ipiranga, which declared Brazil a separate empire. In 1824, he granted Brazil its first constitution. The United States recognized the new empire the same year, and the Portuguese soon followed. Brazilian independence was thus won without the bloodshed that marked the Spanish-American independence movements. Dom Pedro's popularity, however, was soon undermined by his humiliating war with Argentina, which cost Brazil the Cisplatine Province (Uruguay), by his notorious private life, and by his preoccupation with Portuguese affairs. When John VI died in 1826, Dom Pedro was recognized as Peter IV of Portugal. However, he conceded the Portuguese crown to his daughter, Maria II, on condition that she marry her uncle Dom Miguel, and that Dom Miguel accept a constitutional charter for Portugal. Dom Miguel agreed, but in 1828 seized the rule for himself and set up an absolute regime. Meanwhile, the problems in Brazil led Dom Pedro to abdicate (1831) in favor of his son, Pedro II. He left for Europe, joined the Portuguese liberals entrenched in the Azores, and proceeded to Oporto in 1832, with a small fleet. In the Miguelist Wars, an English sea force fighting for Dom Pedro and Maria II defeated the Miguelist fleet, and Maria was restored to the throne. Dom Pedro died in the same year.
See N. Macaulay, Dom Pedro: The Struggle for Liberty in Brazil and Portugal (1798–1834) (1986); G. Freyre, Order and Progress: Brazil from Monarchy to Republic (1970, repr. 1986).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Spanish and Portuguese History: Biographies