The Peculiar Life of Emperor Pedro II

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12287

If you were a five-year-old emperor of a large country, what would you do? What if you were 15 years old? What if someone wanted to take over your throne? Find out how Pedro II of Brazil handled it!



learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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If you had all the power and money in the country and could do anything you want, what would you do? If you said, "Study," that might be a surprise, but not to Pedro II!

The modern nation of Brazil used to be an empire.

It only had two emperors in its time as an empire, and they were both named Pedro — Spanish for Peter: Pedro I, followed by his son, Pedro II. Pedro II ruled Brazil from 1831 to 1889, and was really unlike most world leaders of his day or ours. He had unusual interests, loved to travel anonymously, and when the time came for him to give up his rule, he barely protested.

Learn more about this interesting fellow by reading a short passage below.* As you read, write down information to answer the following questions:

  • How old was Pedro II when he became Emperor of Brazil?
  • What kinds of things did Pedro II like to do?
  • What was Pedro II’s attitude towards power and control?

Now, read about the life of Pedro II, the last emperor of Brazil:

*Pedro II became Emperor of Brazil when he was just five years old. That is a pretty big challenge for a young boy. As happens in many kingdoms when the new monarch is too young, government officials arranged for caretakers to control the government until the young emperor was old enough. Brazil had many problems when Pedro II became emperor, but when he turned fifteen and took control, he helped make the country stronger and more stable than it had ever been before.

The only thing was that Pedro was not totally interested in being emperor. His true love was to learn. Pedro loved to learn all about the world, and would set aside time every day for his true passion: reading. Pedro once said in a journal entry, “I was born to devote myself to culture and sciences.” He studied many subjects, including anthropology, history, geography, geology, medicine, law, religion, philosophy, chemistry, poetry, and many others. He is said to have been able to speak many languages, including Latin, French, German, English, Italian, Arabic, Hebrew, and others. He loved to learn so much that he frequently wrote to some of the smartest people alive in his day.

Pedro II loved to travel, but it is hard to travel and experience real life when you are an emperor. So, he traveled anonymously — he kept his true identity secret — and visited many countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Pedro II did not care much for power, and when a group of rebels ended the empire and removed him at the age of 64, he did not protest. Even though he lived his final years in exile, meaning he was prevented from returning to Brazil by its new rulers, he always remembered his country. It is said that his final words were, “May God grant me these last wishes — peace and prosperity for Brazil.” Pedro would be proud of the many accomplishments of his country since then.

Share your answers to the above questions with your parent or teacher, then discuss the following questions together:

  • What made Pedro II different from most political leaders?
  • Do you think his study habits were good or bad for a leader to have? What makes you think so?
  • Which of his favorite study topics do you find interesting as well?

The time in which Pedro II lived saw some of the greatest advancements in many different sciences and areas of learning.

In the Got It? section, examine some of those areas and find out what they are all about.

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