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Prince Luís of Orléans-Braganza (1878–1920)

Not to be confused with Prince Luís of Orléans-Braganza.
Prince of Orléans-Braganza

Prince Luís of Orléans-Braganza
Spouse Princess Maria di Grazia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Prince Pedro Henrique
Prince Luís Gastão
Princess Pia Maria
Full name
Luís Maria Filipe Pedro de Alcântara Gastão Miguel Rafael Gonzaga
House House of Orléans-Braganza
Father Prince Gaston, Count of Eu
Mother Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil
Born (1878-01-26)January 26, 1878
Petrópolis, Empire of Brazil
Died March 26, 1920(1920-03-26) (aged 42)
Cannes, France
Religion Roman Catholic

Prince Luís of Orléans-Braganza (January 26, 1878 – March 26, 1920), was an heir to the throne of the Empire of Brazil.

He was born in Brazil, the second son of Prince Gaston, Count of Eu, and Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil.

He was exiled along with his family as the result of the 1889 coup d'état that resulted in the formation of the republic. In 1908, the year he was married, his older brother Pedro resigned his claim to the imperial throne leaving Luís heir apparent. In this role he worked with monarchists in Brazil in several attempts to restore the monarchy.

At the outbreak of World War I he enlisted as an officer with the British Armed Forces and saw action in Flanders where he contracted a virulent form of rheumatism that caused his death at the age of 42. His efforts on behalf of the Allies of World War I saw him decorated by Belgium, France and Great Britain.


Luís was born at Petrópolis on January 26, 1878, to Prince Gaston d'Orléans, Count of Eu, and Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil. His paternal grandparents were Prince Louis, Duke of Nemours, and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, while his maternal grandparents were Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, and Princess Teresa Cristina of the Two Sicilies. He was named after his paternal grandfather.[1] His name in full was Luís Maria Filipe Pedro de Alcântara Gastão Miguel Rafael Gonzaga.[2] As the second oldest son of the heiress to the imperial throne of Brazil, he was not expected to one day ascend to the throne.[3]

From a young age he demonstrated a strong and determined personality.[4] While on a trip to Europe with his family, an earthquake occurred on February 23, 1887, and while his older brother Pedro appeared very nervous and cried, Luís simply stood calm and showed no emotions.[5] The differences between him and his oldest brother were well-known. His father wrote in a letter dated February 1889 that Pedro was "so incapable and careless in this" [playing pool with Pedro II] "as in everything else."[this quote needs a citation] Although Pedro was gentle and likeable, he did not like to study and was often clumsy, while Luís had a strong will, was active and apparently intelligent.[4] Gaston affirmed in another letter, written in March 1890, that "Baby Pedro [was] always notable for laziness and ineptness," while "Luís does the identical course work all by himself with admirable distinction and capacity."[4] The prince very early showed the interest in literature that would result in his authorship of several books about his travels around the world, such as: Dans les Alps, Tour d´Afrique, Where four empires meet and Under the Southern Cross.[6]

Luís was always impelled to action thanks to his restless spirit that would take him in his childhood to sports and as an adult to politics. At the height of the campaign for the abolition of slavery in Brazil, he and his brothers published a newspaper in favor of abolitionism in the palace of Petrópolis.[7] When the coup that replaced the monarchy with the republic occurred on November 15, 1889, Isabel preferred to send her children to Petrópolis, where later Luís would remember that "locked up in the palace, they had left us during two long days in the most complete ignorance of what was happening out there" until they were sent back to their parents and then left for forced exile. As they had not been able to take anything with them, except for a few personal objects that they could carry with their hands, the imperial family saw itself in a poor financial situation that was only made worse by Pedro II's refusal to accept the five thousand contos of Réis offered initially by the new republican government. In December 1889, the government stopped the family's income from Brazil. They had no alternative but to accept help from their few friends and from Gaston's father.[3]

In 1890, when Pedro was fifteen years old, Luís thirteen years old and the younger brother Antônio, nicknamed "Totó", their parents and the three boys moved to the outskirts of Versailles.[8] After the death of Pedro II in 1891 the monarchists made various efforts to restore the monarchy in Brazil. However, none of the imperial family provided any kind of aid or even words of explicit support.[9] Luís's older brother, Pedro, reached the age of majority in 1893, but he had no capacity and much less desire to assume the monarchist cause.[10] In the same year he left for Vienna, capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to study in the military school at Wiener Neustadt.[11] According to his own mother it was "clear that he must do something and a military career seems to us the only one he should follow".[11] Luís and his brother Antônio followed their older brother at the same military school.[11]


By 1896, Pedro was in love with Austro-Hungarian noblewoman Elisabeth "Elsi" Dobržensky.[12] Meanwhile, Luís was ambitious and active, eager to make his mark on the world.[12] He was a mountaineer, and climbed Mont Blanc in September 1896.[12] He traveled to southern Africa,central Asia and India, and later wrote and published travelogues of his experiences.[12] Luís was seen by his parents as the only member of the Imperial family capable of helping the monarchist movement in Brazil.[12]

After he returned to France in 1907 he planned an ambitious project to defy the decree banishing the imperial family from Brazil by travelling to Rio de Janeiro.[12] His sudden arrival created an uproar in the old imperial capital having been widely notified in newspapers. It also caused difficulties for Brazilian politicians by placing the imperial family at the center of attention and many Brazilians went to welcome him. However, Luís was prevented from disembarking and was not allowed to set foot on his native land by the republican government. Nonetheless, he sent his mother a telegram saying: "Hindered of disembarking by the Government, I greet the Redeemer of Slaves on the bay of Guanabara in the eve of May 13."[6] Some time later he wrote about his experiences on this trip in the book Under the Southern Cross (Sob o cruzeiro do sul) published in 1913.[6][13]

Luís became engaged to his cousin Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, a granddaughter of a brother of Luís's maternal grandmother, Teresa Cristina. Meanwhile, his brother Pedro, then the heir to Isabel, desired to marry Elizabeth Dobržensky. His mother disapproved of the marriage because Elizabeth was part of the minor nobility rather than royalty. Isabel agreed to accept the marriage with the condition that Pedro would renounce his position as heir. Pedro had no interest in becoming emperor and so he renounced his rights to the succession on October 30, 1908.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

I Prince Pedro de Alcântara Luís Filipe Maria Gastão Miguel Gabriel Rafael Gonzaga of Orléans and Braganza, having maturely reflected, have resolved to renounce the right that, by the Constitution of the Empire of Brazil, promulgated on March 25, 1824, accords to me the Crown of that nation. I declare, therefore, that by my free and spontaneous will I hereby renounce, in my own name, as well as for any and all of my descendants, to all and any rights that the aforesaid Constitution confers upon us to the Brazilian Crown and Throne, which shall pass to the lines which follow mine, conforming to the order of succssion as established by article 117. Before God I promise, for myself and my descendants, to hold to the present declaration.
Cannes October 30, 1908 signed: Pedro de Alcântara of Orléans-Braganza[21]

This renunciation was followed by a letter from Isabel to royalists in Brazil:

November 9, 1908, [Castle of] Eu
Most Excellent Gentlemen Members of the Monarchist Directory,
With all my heart I thank you for the congratulations upon the marriages of my dear children Pedro and Luís. Luís' took place in Cannes on day 4 with the brilliance that is desired for so solemn an act in the life of my successor to the Throne of Brazil. I was very pleased. Pedro's shall take place next on day 14. Before the marriage of Luís he signed his resignation to the crown of Brazil, and here I send it to you, while keeping here an identical copy. I believe that this news must be published as soon as possible (you gentlemen shall do it in the way that you judge to be more satisfactory) in order to prevent the formation of parties that would be a great evil for our country. Pedro will continue to love his homeland, and will give all possible support to his brother. Thank God they are very united. Luís will engage actively in everything with respect to the monarchy and any good for our land. However, without giving up my rights I want that he be up to date on everything so that he may prepare himself for the position which with all my heart I desire that one day he will hold. You may write to him as many times as you may want to so that he shall be informed of everything. My strength is not the same as it once was, but my heart is still the same to love my homeland and all those who are so dedicated to us. I give you all my friendship and confidence,

The marriage of Luís and Maria Pia was celebrated on November 4 at Cannes, and that of Pedro and Elizabeth ten days later at Versailles.[2] From the union of Luís and Maria Pia three children were born: Pedro Henrique, who became the direct successor to Princess Isabel and Head of the Imperial House of Brazil after her death in 1921; Luís Gastão, and Pia Maria.[2] Isabel did not take long to reveal her opinion about her grandchildren and wrote in a letter in 1914: "I am sending enclosed a photograph of myself with my grandchildren by Luís. Pedro Henrique is growing continually and is a very intelligent child. His grandparents have a particular love for their darling little grandchildren."[22]

Political activity

With the renunciation of the throne by his brother, Luís could finally collaborate effectively with the Brazilian monarchic movement, assuming clearly his position as heir to the throne (after his mother) and trying to assume the leadership of the restoration campaign.[23] His efforts to reverse the damage caused by the imperial family's inertia was valued by their supporters, and in 1909 he presented a political manifest to the Brazilian monarchists with the intent to restart the stalled campaign. He had some success as he was able to congregate coreligionists in several states of Brazil.[6] Some of the letters from the prince reveal his plans to restore the monarchy, such as the one written for Martim Francisco de Andrada III:[24]

[..."it costs me so much to be here with crossed arms, when I think that a handful of determined men would be enough to pull out our Fatherland from the claws of the adventurers who explore it".
"I still do not know what will be your attitude in the matter of the candidacies. As for me, I judge both the candidates 'undesirable'; but as we have to choose, I would pick Rui "[Barbosa]", whose partisans represent the element more reasonable and with bigger prestige in the country. It seems to me that we could use to advantage of the moment for an agreement with the members of this group in order to obtain a common effort for the restoration just after the presidential elections. What are your thoughts on it?"

The prince was active from 1907 through to his death in 1920, and argued in favor of federalism, obligatory military service and an improvement in the quality of life for laborers. In the first case, he was in favor of a greater degree of decentralization and economical and political freedom for the Brazilian states. In the second, he refuted the old custom of enlistment to the armed forces based on individuals coming only from particular sectors of society in favor of a truly professional military force formed by elements of all parts of society. The third, and more important case, was his proposal for a monarchy supported by social legislation that could make better conditions for Brazilian laborers possible.[6]

Luís defended ideas that were well ahead of his time and the necessity to guarantee worthy conditions of subsistence for the Brazilian workers would only be observed thirty years later during the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas. At the beginning of the twentieth century, neither the government nor Brazilian politicians admitted even the possibility of such basic rights as vacations, right to strike, and weekly maximum hours of work, amongst others. He said that "we monarchists must convince the laborers that the truth is that in the case of a restoration their situation could only improve".[24] The progressive vision of Luís made him a target for accusations of being a "socialist" and a "radical" when, in reality, his intent was to hinder the work force from adhering to socialism, communism, or even anarchism.[6]

World War I and final years

The start of World War I in August 1914 and the invasion of France by Germany made it possible for Luís to once more prove his idealism and activism as, in his own words, he was a "soldier heart and soul".[25] He and his brother Antônio wanted to defend the homeland of their ancestors.[25] As it was forbidden by law for them to serve in the French armed forces they both enlisted in the British armed forces as officers.[25] Luís went to the army while Antônio served as a pilot in the air force.[3]

While fighting in the trenches of Flanders in 1915 Luís contracted an aggressive type of bone rheumatism that left him very weak and incapable of walking.[3] The prince was invalided out of active service seriously ill and taken to safety in order to be able to recover from the disease. As a consequence of his actions in the conflict and for his bravery, Luís received several decorations: Military medal of the Yser, from King Albert I of Belgium; Legion of Honour, in the degree of knight, and the Cross of War from the French government; the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and Star from the Great Britain.[26] The serious illness contracted in the trenches proved resistant to all treatments and his health gradually deteriorated until he died on March 26, 1920.[27] As his mother lived until 1921, her successor in pretense to the throne of Brazil was her grandson, Pedro Henrique, Luís's son.[28]


By his wife, Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (August 12, 1878 – June 20, 1973):

  • Prince Pedro Henrique of Orléans-Braganza (September 13, 1909 – July 5, 1981)
  • Prince Luís Gastão of Orléans-Braganza (February 19, 1911 – September 8, 1931)
  • Princess Pia Maria of Orléans-Braganza (March 4, 1913 – October 24, 2000)


Styles of
Prince Luís of Orléans-Braganza
Reference style His Imperial Highness
Spoken style Your Imperial Highness
Alternative style Sir



  • Barman, Roderick J. Princesa Isabel do Brasil: gênero e poder no século XIX. UNESP, 2005.
  • BR História. nº 4, Year 1. Duetto, 2007.
  • Carvalho, José Murilo de. D. Pedro II. Companhia das Letras, 2007.
  • Santos, Armando Alexandre dos. Dom Pedro Henrique: o Condestável das Saudades e da Esperança. Editora Artpress, 2006.
Prince Luís of Orléans-Braganza (1878–1920)
Cadet branch of the House of Orléans
Born: 26 January 1878 Died: 26 March 1920
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Prince Pedro de Alcântara
Prince Imperial of Brazil
30 October 1908 – 26 March 1920
Reason for succession failure:
Empire abolished in 1889
Succeeded by
Prince Pedro Henrique
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