The fortunes of the Royal House of Braganza and the Kingdom of Portugal have been entwined for centuries. The very independence of Portugal, which alone among the Iberian Kingdoms managed to survive permanent amalgamation under the Castilian Crown, is, in no small measure, due to the determination of successive Braganza princes. When the last King of the Avis dynasty, Henry 1, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, died in 1580, the throne of Portugal was forcibly taken by Philip II of Spain. Spain remained in occupation for 100 years.
Eventually the Portuguese nobles rebelled and proclaimed João, VIII Duke of Braganza, as King João IV of Portugal on December the 1st 1640. Spain was finally defeated at the battle of Montes Claros in 1665. The Portugueses quickly achieved international re-recognition and control of their colonial possessions. At the Treaty of Lisbon of 1668, Spain finally recognized the independence of Portugal and gave up any further attempt to incorporate its people into the Spanish Empire.
The Dukes of Braganza had first established their residence at Guimarães but in 1501 built a substantial Palace in the Italian style at Vila Viçosa that remained their principal seat thereafter.
João IV was succeeded by each in turn of his two elder sons. Alfonso died in confinement to be succeeded by his brother, Pedro, who had been ruling as Regent. Pedro, who cemented an alliance with Britain, was succeeded by João V, who brought artists and architects from across Europe to Lisbon. His support of the Papal crusade against increasing Muslim incursions into South Eastern Europe earned him the title “Most Faithful Majesty”. Despite enormous Brazilian revenues, João V's expansive plans were more costly than anticipated and, combined with the devastating Lisbon earthquake of 1755, the later half of the eighteenth century began a period of gradual decline in Portuguese power. He was succeeded by José who was succeeded by his daughter Maria, who was in turn succeeded by her only surviving son, João VI.
King João VI was a benevolent Monarch whose good government prevented his country from being overtaken by the revolutionary spirit that engulfed Europe in the last years of the century. However the French successfully occupied Portugal and forced the Royal Family to escape on a British Warship to exile in Brazil. With the downfall of Napoleon, João VI decided to return immediatly to Portugal, which was then governed by Regency led by the Anglo-Irish General, Beresford, and the British Ambassador, Sir Charles Stuart.
The 1820 risings in Naples and Spain were echoed in Portugal by an attempt to impose a radical Constitution, obliging the King to return and assume absolute powers. João VI was of liberal inclination, however, and he and his principal Minister, the Duke of Palmela, favored a constitutional system. They were opposed in this by the Queen, and their second surviving son, Dom Miguel, sowing the seeds for a struggle between liberals and conservatives which was mirrored in Spain with the Carlist wars, and led to disastrous schisms in the Royal Houses of Braganza and Bourbon.
When João VI returned to Portugal he left his eldest son Pedro Regent of Brazil. The secession of Brazil, which already had its own national government, was already inevitable and, on October 12th, 1822, Pedro was proclaimed Emperor as Pedro 1.
The Portuguese and Brazilian thrones were now separate. King João VI died in early 1826. Pedro I, as the eldest son, was heir to the Crown of Portugal. Faced with the quandary concerning the succession to his two thrones, Pedro I abdicated the Portuguese crown on his daughter Maria da Gloria (Maria II). Pending her arrival in Portugal, Dom Miguel second son of João VI, was declared Prince Regent of Portugal.
Pedro also agreed to have his daughter marry her uncle Dom Miguel upon becoming of right age. Despite these future plans, Dom Miguel staged a palace “coup d'etat” and declared himself King Miguel I of Portugal. His own selfish desires, reactionary conservatism and opposition to the liberalizing actions of his brother motivated him. Maria da Gloria and her entourage sought refuge in London, pending a solution to Miguel's treasonous act.
In 1831 Pedro I finally decided to face his brother Miguel. Pedro abdicated his Brazilian throne on his only son Pedro H. Regency was quickly organized to rule Brazil until the infant monarch reached his legal age. Dom Pedro and Empress Amelia boarded an English ship, with Maria de Gloria, and sailed towards Portugal.
Dom Pedro with a seven thousand-strong army (comprising several nobles disenchanted with Dom Miguel's authoritarian actions) landed in Oporto in July of 1832. The city's garrison was surprised and Oporto surrendered before Pedro's forces fired a single shot.
One year later, Pedro and Miguel faced each other on the battlefield. Pedro's army was able to trap Miguel's forces administering the usurpees cause a deadly blow. Days later, Dom Miguel hurriedly abandoned Portugal and headed for exile in France. Dom Miguel would never see Portugal again and eventually settled in Austria. He and his descendants were formally excluded from any pretensions towards the throne and exiled in perpetuity at the convention of Evoramonte on May 26th, 1834.
HM Pedro did not live long enough to enjoy the success of his victory, for within a year of Miguel's removal he died unexpectedly aged 35. Maria II was fifteen when her father died and a ruling monarch in her own right. HM Maria II and Prince Ferdinand of Saxon - Coburg - Gotha were married at Lisbon on April 8, 1836. Thus did the Saxon - Coburg - Gotha family extend into Portugal.
She was succeeded by each of her two elder sons in turn, the younger, HM King Luis (who died in 1889), was followed by HM Carlos 1, who was assassinated in 1908, along with his elder son and heir apparent, Luis, Prince of Beira. The assassination brought the nineteen-year-old Manuel II to the throne. After a reign of thirty months he was forced into exile by the revolution of 1910. HM King Manuel II died in exile in England on July 2nd, 1932.
HRH Dona Maria Pia, daughter of HM Carlos I and sister of HM King Manuel II, became the lawful monarch. She spent her life supporting the democratic resistance to Salazar the Dictator. She accumulated a loyal and fervent following both in Portugal, in Europe and in the former and surviving colonies. She abdicated, due to failing health, in favor of Dom Rosario in 1987. She believed strongly that HRH Dom Rosario was capable of continuing her work and would be a worthy Head of the Royal House.
She died in 1995 and is buried in Vicenza. Her wish was to be buried with her ancestors in the Pantheon in Lisbon. Fullfillment of her wish is one of the most important goals of the Royal House today.
The Constitutional Line
The Succession, in accordance with the Monarchic Constitution, is as follows:
H.M King Dom Carlos
assassinated by Portuguese revolutionaries together with Infant Dom Luis in 1908.
H.M. King Dom Manuel II
Son of H.M. King Dom Carlos was the last ruling King of Portugal, forced into exile in 1910.
He died in London, without issue, in 1932.
H.R.H. Donna Maria Pia, XXI Duchess of Braganza
daughter of H.M. King Dom Carlos and sister of H.M. King Dom Manuel II.
She abdicated (due to failing health) in 1987 in favor of the successor of her choice
H.R.H. Dom Rosario, XXII Duke of Braganza
the lawful successor to the Crown of Portugal.