Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza

Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza
Duarte Nuno
Born 23 September 1907(1907-09-23)
Died 24 December 1976(1976-12-24) (aged 69)
Title(s) Duke of Braganza
Throne(s) claimed Portugal
Pretend from 31 July 1920 / 2 July 1932 - 24 December 1976
Monarchy abolished 1910
Last monarch Manuel II
Connection with Cousin
Royal House Braganza
Father Miguel (II), Duke of Braganza
Mother Princess Maria Theresa of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg
Spouse Princess Francisca of Orléans-Braganza
Predecessor (1920) Miguel (II)
(1932) Manuel II
Successor Duarte Pio

Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza (Duarte Nuno Fernando Maria Miguel Gabriel Rafael Francisco Xavier Raimundo António de Bragança; 23 September 1907 – 24 December 1976; Portuguese pronunciation: [duˈaɾt(ɨ) ˈnunu]) was a claimant to the throne of Portugal from 1920 until his death.



Duarte Nuno Fernando Maria Miguel Gabriel Rafael Francisco Xavier Raimundo António de Bragança was born at Seebenstein Castle in Austria, the son of Miguel II, Duke of Braganza and of his second wife, Princess Maria Theresa of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. Duarte Nuno had two older half-brothers and eight sisters.

His paternal grandparents were Miguel of Portugal and Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. His maternal grandparents were Charles Henry, Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, and Princess Sophia of Liechtenstein.

Duarte Nuno’s father was the Miguelist claimant to the throne of Portugal who opposed his cousins, the reigning line of the House of Braganza-Saxe-Coburg and Gotha descended from Queen Maria II. Duarte Nuno’s family had been disinherited and banished by Maria II for rebellion. In spite of this, with the permission of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, Portuguese soil had been placed under the bed where he was born, so that Duarte Nuno and his siblings could claim to have been born on Portuguese soil in order to comply with the Portuguese law of succession.[citation needed]

The day after his birth, Duarte Nuno was baptised at Seebenstein. His godparents were his aunt the Infanta Adelgundes and the husband of another aunt, the Infante Alfonso Carlos of Spain, Duke of San Jaime (both of whom were represented by proxies).

Succession as Miguelist claimant

Duarte Nuno’s second brother, Prince Francis Joseph of Braganza, died in 1919, and on 21 July 1920 his eldest brother, Prince Miguel, Duke of Viseu, renounced his succession rights. Ten days later on 31 July 1920 Duarte Nuno’s father, Miguel II, abdicated his claim to the Portuguese throne in favour of Duarte Nuno.[1] Henceforth the Miguelists recognised Duarte Nuno as King Duarte II of Portugal, even though Portugal had become a republic in 1910 when Maria II’s great-grandson, King Manuel II (who was still living in 1920), was sent into exile. Duarte Nuno used Duke of Braganza as a title of pretense.

Since Duarte Nuno was only twelve years old when he succeeded as Miguelist claimant to the Portuguese throne, his aunt, Infanta Adelgundes, Duchess of Guimarães, acted as regent for him until he attained his majority. In 1921, she issued a manifesto outlining the family’s goals for the restoration of the monarchy.

The abdication of Duarte Nuno’s father was intended to improve the relationship between the two monarchist groups in Portugal: the supporters of the Braganza-Saxe-Coburg line of Manuel II and the supporters of the Miguelist line of Duarte Nuno. The Braganza-Saxe-Coburg line was called "constitutional" because it had accepted a liberal constitution for Portugal.[citation needed]

Succession as Constitutional claimant

After the death of his uncle Afonso in 1920, ex-King Manuel II had no close relatives who could claim the throne according to the Constitutional Charter of 1826 (the constitution in force from 1842 until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1910).[2] The conflict between the Miguelist line and the Braganza-Saxe-Coburg and Gotha's was not just about which person should be sovereign; it was also about how much power the sovereign should have. The Miguelists upheld Portugal's tradition of autocratic absolutism, while the Braganza-Saxe-Coburg and Gotha's adhered to Constitutional monarchy.

In 1912, Duarte Nuno’s father, Miguel, met with Manuel to try to come to some agreement so that there would not be two claimants to the Portuguese throne, both living in exile. Their representatives alegally signed the Pact of Dover by which Miguel recognised Manuel as king, while Manuel recognised the succession rights of Duarte Nuno should Manuel and his uncle Afonso die without children.[3] The pact was unpopular with the supporters of both sides, some claiming that it was never actually signed.

On 17 April 1922 a second agreement called the Pact of Paris was signed by the representatives of Duarte Nuno and Manuel in which Manuel agreed that the Cortes should select his heir if he died without descendants, while Duarte Nuno agreed to ask and recommend that his followers accept Manuel as king-in-exile.[4]

Strictly speaking the Pact of Dover and the Pact of Paris were only private agreements and had no legal value. Nor did King Manuel agree to any provision in the latter pact which contravened Portugal's last monarchist constitution. But the agreements were important steps in reconciling the Miguelist and the Braganza-Saxe-Coburg branches of Portugal's royal family, and helped move the supporters of each toward a united monarchist movement.

In 1927, Duarte Nuno’s father died. On 2 July 1932 Manuel II died. Henceforth, the majority of monarchists, both Miguelist and constitutional, supported Duarte Nuno as claimant to the Portuguese throne. João António de Azevedo Coutinho, the head of Causa Monárquica and Manuel II’s lieutenant while he was in exile, published a declaration in support of Duarte Nuno.[5] Later Duarte Nuno was received in audience in Paris by Manuel’s mother, Queen Amelie.

While Duarte Nuno was accepted by most monarchists, there were some constitutionalists who continued to contest his claim. Duarte Nuno was undoubtedly the legal heir of his grandfather, Miguel I, but there were doubts about whether he was the legal heir of the last reigning king of Portugal, Manuel II. Articles 87 and 88 of the Constitutional Charter of 1826, in force when the monarchy was overthrown, stated that the throne passed first to the descendants of Queen Maria II (from whom Duarte Nuno was not descended), and only when they were extinct to collateral heirs.[6] Maria II had living descendants in 1932, but none of these had Portuguese nationality. Article 89 of the 1826 Charter stipulated that "no foreigner may succeed to the crown of the kingdom of Portugal".[7]

There was also some doubt about Duarte Nuno’s nationality. Duarte Nuno’s grandfather had been sent into exile by the law of 19 December 1834. Neither Duarte Nuno nor his father were born in Portugal, but Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria had granted extraterritoriality to Duarte Nuno’s birthplace.[citation needed] Article 8 of the 1826 Charter stated that Portuguese citizenship is lost "by those who are banished by sentence".[8] The fact that Duarte Nuno and his father had not been born in Portugal, and the fact that their family had been banished from Portugal, could therefore be used as arguments against them by their opponents (D. Duarte's line was not banished by judicial sentence, however the 1834 constitution in force at the time of D. Miguel I's banishment did not protect the citizenship of those exiled by law). On the other hand, when the Constitutional Charter of 1826 was re-instated in 1842, it cancelled the 1834 charter's clause depriving Miguel I and his heirs of succession rights as dynasts. Their banishment had not, however, been stipulated in that charter, but in a separate law that was not repealed until 1950.

A small minority of monarchists looked for a candidate other than Duarte Nuno. Manuel's genealogical heir at his death in 1932 was ex-Crown Prince George of Saxony (a great-grandson of Maria II), but he was not Portuguese; he was also a Catholic priest. The genealogical heir of Maria II's younger brother Emperor Pedro II of Brazil was his grandson Prince Pedro Gastão of Orléans-Braganza; he too was not Portuguese, but the fact that he was Brazilian and therefore imbued with Portuguese culture made him a somewhat attractive candidate. The closest heir who was undoubtedly Portuguese was Constança Berquó de Mendonça, 4th Duchess of Loulé (a great-great-granddaughter of King John VI), but her branch of the family put forth no claim at that time. Later, a lady calling herself Maria Pia de Saxe-Coburgo e Bragança, claimed to be the bastard daughter of King Charles I, also claimed to have succession rights. Her supporters played upon the traditional rivalry between the Miguelist line and the Braganza-Saxe-Coburg ang Gotha line to advance her cause.


Duarte Nuno’s first tutors were two Portuguese ladies, Maria Luisa Castelo and Maria das Dores de Sousa Prego. Later he was taught by the Benedictine monk Frei Estevao from the monastery of Cucujaes. Duarte Nuno attended school at the Abbey of Ettal in Bavaria and the Abbey of Clairvaux in France and then completed his secondary education in Regensburg. He received a degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Toulouse. Although forbidden entry to Portugal by the law of exile against the descendants of Miguel I, he visited the country in secret in 1929.

Marriage and children

On 15 October 1942, in the cathedral of Petropolis in Brazil, Duarte Nuno married Princess Maria Francisca of Orleans-Braganza (8 September 1914 - 15 January 1968), daughter of Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão Para. The marriage was particularly popular since Maria Francisca was the great-granddaughter of Pedro II of Brazil, the younger brother of Queen Maria II. The marriage thus united the two rival lines of the Portuguese royal family. Maria Francisca and her family were also viewed as representatives of a liberal monarchy as opposed to the traditional conservatism of Duarte Nuno's family.

Duarte Nuno and Maria Francisca had three sons:

Transfer of 1816 title of Duke of Braganza

In 1945, Maria Francisca’s brother, Prince Pedro Gastão of Orléans-Braganza, relinquished to Maria Francisca and her heirs his rights to the title of Duke of Braganza, which had been created in 1816 in favor of his great-great-grandfather, Emperor Pedro I of Brazil.[citation needed]

In 1826, Emperor Pedro I succeeded as King Pedro IV of Portugal, but two months later he was forced to abdicate in favor of his daughter, Maria II, although he remained emperor of Brazil. Some jurists held that Pedro had continued to be Duke of Braganza. Certainly after Pedro abdicated as emperor of Brazil and returned to Portugal in 1831, he used the title Duke of Braganza until his death in 1834. These same jurists held that the title passed to Pedro's son and heir in Brazil, Emperor Pedro II who, after he was deposed in 1889, used the title during his exile in France. The title was then inherited by Pedro II's daughter Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, then by her eldest son Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão Para, and then in turn by his son, Pedro Gastão. Under traditional Portuguese nobiliary law, Prince Pedro Gastão could alter the succession to the title by relinquishing it to his sister.[citation needed] Accordingly, Duarte Nuno regarded his wife and himself as the holders of the title of Duke of Braganza from the creation of 1816.

Return to Portugal

On 27 May 1950 the National Assembly repealed the laws of exile of 19 December 1834 and 15 October 1910. Duarte Nuno, however, did not return to Portugal until 1952 on account of a car accident in Thionville in which he was seriously injured. He was presented with a residence in Portugal by the Fundação Casa de Bragança.

Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar thought about restoring the monarchy in 1951, after the death of President Óscar Carmona, but he chose instead to maintain the post of republican Head of State as it had appeared in the Constitution of 1933.

In 1974, Duarte Nuno handed over his residence, the Palácio de São Marcos, to the University of Coimbra. From then until his death two years later, he lived in southern Portugal with his unmarried sister, the Infanta Filippa. American author Walter J. P. Curley interviewed Duarte Nuno near the end of his life, and his book Monarchs in Waiting describes Duarte Nuno as suffering from "nervous depression" since the death of his wife.

Duarte Nuno was Grand Master of the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa and Sovereign of the Order of Saint Isabel. He was a Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a Knight of the (Austrian) Order of the Golden Fleece.

Duarte Nuno is buried in the Augustinian monastery in Vila Viçosa, the traditional burial place of the dukes of Braganza.


Further reading

D. Duarte Nuno de Bragança, um rei que não reinou: testemunhos sobre a vida e a obra de D. Duarte II, Chefe da Casa Real Portuguesa. Lisbon, 1992.

Cabral, Antonio. El-Rei D. Duarte II: rei morto, rei posto, a sua vida, os seus direitos, paginas de historia. Lisbon: Livraria popular de F. Franco, 1934.

Galvão, Manuel de Bettencourt e. O Duque de Bragança. Lisbon: Edições Gama, 1945.

Miranda, Jorge O Constitucionalismo luso-brasileiro. Lisboa: Comissão nacional para as comemorações dos descobrimentos Portugueses. 2001 ISBN-972-787-034-1


  1. ^ Abdicação de Dom Miguel II de Bragança em Dom Duarte Nuno
  2. ^ There was an 1838 constitution which specifically removed succession rights from Duarte Nuno's grandfather Miguel and his family, but it had been repealed in 1842, when the Constitutional Charter of 1826 was re-instated. See The Parliament in the History of the Constitution
  3. ^ Pacto de Dover
  4. ^ D. Duarte Nuno de Bragança, um rei que não reinou : testemunhos sobre a vida e a obra de D. Duarte II, chefe da Casa Real Portuguesa (Lisbon, 1992).
  5. ^ Proclamação do Lugar-Tenente João de Azevedo Coutinho em Nome da Causa Monárquica, Aclamando Rei de Portugal O Senhor D. Duarte Nuno de Bragança
  6. ^ Carta Constitucional de 1826
  7. ^ Carta Constitucional de 1826
  8. ^ Carta Constitucional de 1826
Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza
Cadet branch of the House of Aviz
Born: 23 September 1907 Died: 24 December 1976
Portuguese nobility
Preceded by
Duke Miguel II
Duke of Braganza
31 July 1920 – 24 December 1976
Succeeded by
Duarte Pio
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Duke Miguel II
King of Portugal
Miguelist line
31 July 1920 – 24 December 1976
Reason for succession failure:
Grandfather deposed in 1834
Succeeded by
Duarte Pio
Preceded by
King Manuel II
King of Portugal
2 July 1932 – 24 December 1976
Reason for succession failure:
Monarchy abolished in 1910

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