Maria Leopoldina of Austria

Maria Leopoldina of Austria
For the Holy Roman Empress, see Maria Leopoldine of Austria.
Maria Leopoldina of Austria
Leopoldina at age 18, 1815
Empress consort of Brazil
Tenure 12 October 1822 – 11 December 1826
Queen consort of Portugal
Tenure 26 March - 28 May 1826
Spouse Pedro I of Brazil
Maria II of Portugal
Pedro II of Brazil
Princess Francisca of Brazil
Januária Maria, Princess Imperial of Brazil
Full name
Maria Leopoldina Josefa Carolina
House House of Habsburg-Lorraine
House of Braganza
Father Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies
Born 22 January 1797
Died 11 December 1826(1826-12-11) (aged 29)
Paço de São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro
Burial 1954
Museu Paulista, São Paulo

Maria Leopoldina of Austria (Portuguese: Maria Leopoldina de Áustria; German: Maria Leopoldine von Österreich) (Maria Leopoldina Josefa Carolina;[1] 22 January 1797 – 11 December 1826) was archduchess of Austria, Empress consort of Brazil, and, for two months, simultaneously queen consort of Portugal.

She was born in Vienna, Austria, as archduchess of Austria. The daughter of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, and his second wife, Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies. Among her many siblings were Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria and Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.


Marriage to Pedro I

In 1817 she sailed to Brazil to marry Pedro, crown prince of Portugal. The Portuguese royal family had been living there in exile for ten years, as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. Leopoldina was highly cultured, fluent in six languages, and very interested in the natural sciences. In the years that followed she brought several researchers and biologists to her new homeland, starting with Johann Baptist von Spix, Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, and Johann Natterer, who accompanied her in 1817.

When his father, King John VI of Portugal, returned to Lisbon in 1821, Pedro chose to remain in Brazil with Leopoldina and their children. In 1822, Pedro headed Brazil's declaration of independence from Portugal, and was crowned as the country's emperor.

Empress of Brazil

Maria Leopoldina acting as Regent Princess chairs the council of ministers on September 2, 1822.

Maria Leopoldina became Brazil's first empress consort. She also played an important role on the Declaration of Independence process. On 2 September 1822, a new decree with demands from Lisbon arrived in Rio de Janeiro, while Prince Pedro was in São Paulo. Leopoldina, advised by José Bonifácio, and using her power as Princess Regent, met on 2 September 1822 with the Council of Ministers. She decided to send her husband the news along with a letter advising him to declare Brazil's independence and warned him, "The fruit is ready, it's time to harvest." Prince Pedro declared the country's independence upon receiving the letter, on 7 September 1822.

Portrait of Maria Leopoldina by Louis Schlappriz.

When his father died, on 10 March 1826, Pedro inherited the Portuguese throne as King Pedro IV, while remaining Emperor Pedro I of Brazil. Maria Leopoldina thus became both Empress consort of Brazil and Queen consort of Portugal. However, two months later, Pedro was forced to give up the Portuguese throne to their seven-year-old daughter Maria.


Maria Leopoldina and Pedro had seven children before she died in 1826 following a miscarriage:

Maria Leopoldina and their children.

Titles and styles

  • 22 January 1797 – 11 August 1804 Her Royal Highness Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria
  • 11 August 1804 – 6 November 1817 Her Imperial & Royal Highness Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria
  • 6 November 1817 – 12 October 1822 Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, Duchess of Braganza
  • 12 October 1822 – 10 March 1826 Her Imperial Majesty the Empress of Brazil
  • 10 March 1826 – 28 May 1826 Her Imperial & Most Faithful Majesty the Empress of Brazil, Queen of Portugal
  • 28 May 1826 – 11 December 1826 Her Imperial Majesty The Empress of Brazil




  1. ^ Rodrigues (v.4), p.13


  • Rodrigues, José Honório. Independência: revolução e contra-revolução (5 v.). Rio de Janeiro: F. Alves, 1975.

External links

Maria Leopoldina of Austria
Cadet branch of the House of Lorraine
Born: 22 January 1797 Died: 11 December 1826
Brazilian royalty
New title
Empress consort of Brazil
12 October 1822 – 11 December 1826
Title next held by
Amélie of Leuchtenberg
Portuguese royalty
Preceded by
Carlota Joaquina of Spain
Queen consort of Portugal
26 March – 28 May 1826
Succeeded by
Auguste de Beauharnais
as Prince consort

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