IntroductionAfter the death of King John VI of Portugal in 1826, the Braganzas were devided into three main family-branches: (1) the Brazilian branch, with its chief King John VI’s eldest son, Emperor Pedro I of Brazil, (2) the Constitutional branch, with its chief Emperor Pedro I’s eldest daughter, Queen Maria II of Portugal, and (3) the Miguelist branch, with its chief King John VI’s second eldest son and seventh child, King Miguel I of Portugal. The Brazilian branch became the House of Orléans-Braganza. This branch is divided by the Vassouras branch, led by Prince Luiz of Orléans-Braganza, and the Petrópolis branch, led by Prince Pedro Carlos of Orléans-Braganza. The Constitutional branch of Maria II became extinct with the death of King Manuel II (who’s reign ended with the dissolution of the monarchy in revolution on 5 October 1910) in 1932.
It is generally accepted that the claim to the Portuguese Crown, and therefore to the chieftainship of the House of Braganza, passed to Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza. Another well-known pretender is Pedro, Duke of Loulé. In this article I want to show that the Duke of Loulé has an equally serious claim to the defunct throne of Portugal – both from a historical as a legal perspective – as the Duke of Braganza. Apart from the Portuguese parliament, there is currently no authority to decide who’s claim is the most credible. I think it is interesting to see how the two main claims are derived and which facts are relevant to decide which claim is preferred. My conclusion is that this is a matter of opinion, because both claims are quite transparent and none of the two claiims can be dismissed on grounds that cannot be challenged.
The genealogical relations among the heirs to the throne of Portugal since the late 18th century are shown below:
I. King John VI (1767–1826), King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves from 1816 to 1825. Children:
- Emperor Pedro I (fourth child), follow IIa.
- King Miguel I (seventh child) , follow IIb.
- Queen Maria (ninth child), follow IIc.
IIa. King Pedro I (1798–1834), nicknamed “the Liberator”, was the founder and first ruler of the Empire of Brazil, as King Dom Pedro IV between 1822-1831, he reigned briefly over Portugal in 1826. Daughter:
IIIa. Queen Maria II (1819–1853), reigned as Queen of Portugal from 1826 to 1828, and again from 1834 to 1853. Maria II’s throne was usurped by Dom Miguel (see below, IIb), Pedro I’s younger brother. Sons:
IVa.1 King Pedro V (1837–1861), nicknamed “the Hopeful” (Portuguese: o Esperançoso), was King of Portugal from 1853 to 1861.
IVa.2 King Luís I (1838–1889), King of Portugal from 1861 to 1889. Son of Luís I:
Va. King Carlos I (1863–1908), known as “the Diplomat” (also known as “the Martyr”; Portuguese: o Diplomata and Portuguese: o Martirizado), King of Portugal 1889-1908 (murdered). Son:
VIa. King Manuel II (1889–1932), “the Patriot” (Portuguese: “o Patriota”) or “the Unfortunate” (Portuguese: “o Desventurado”), was the last King of Portugal, ascending the throne after the assassination of his father, King Carlos I, and his elder brother, Luís Filipe, the Prince Royal. Before ascending the throne he held the title of Duke of Beja. His reign ended with the dissolution of the monarchy in the 5 October 1910 revolution. Manuel lived the rest of his life in exile in Twickenham, South London.
IIb. Miguel I (1802 – 1866), “the Absolutist” (Portuguese: “o Absolutista”) or “the Traditionalist” (Portuguese: “o Tradicionalista”), usurper of the Portuguese throne, regent of Portugal from February 1828 and self-proclaimed king from July 1828 to 1834, though his royal title was not recognized everywhere.
Miguel went with the rest of the royal family to Brazil in 1807, escaping from Napoleon’s armies, but returned with them in 1821 to Portugal. He was then—and remained—much under the influence of his Spanish mother, Queen Carlota Joaquina. On his return, King John VI accepted the liberal constitution of 1821, but Queen Carlota refused to take the oath. When in 1823 the French overthrew the radical regime in Spain, Miguel led a military rebellion that dissolved the discredited Cortes in Portugal. His father promised an amended constitution but appointed liberal ministers, and on April 30, 1824, Miguel again led a military rebellion. When it faltered, his father reluctantly exiled him to Vienna (June 1824). When John VI died (March 10, 1826), his elder son, Pedro I, emperor of Brazil, became Pedro IV of Portugal but constitutionally abdicated in favour of his daughter Maria, then seven years of age. She was to marry Miguel, who was to accept Pedro’s constitutional Charter. Miguel swore to accept the Charter, returned to Portugal, and assumed the regency (Feb. 22, 1828); however, he promptly fell under his mother’s influence, settled old scores, and had himself proclaimed king (July 7, 1828). He was so recognized by the Holy See, Spain, the United States, and Russia but not by the liberal monarchies. In 1830 the Duke of Wellington’s government in Britain was about to recognize him, but it fell. In 1831 Peter abdicated in Brazil, returned to Europe, and initiated a civil war. Michael lost Porto, but the struggle was protracted; he was finally forced by foreign intervention to leave Lisbon and surrendered at Évora-Monte on May 26, 1834 (source: Encyclopaedia Britannica).
In December 1834 the Portuguese Cortes banished Miguel and all his descendants from Portugal upon pain of immediate death. Article 98 of the Constitution of 1838 excluded the collateral Miguelist line from the throne. The 1834 ban remained in effect until revoked in May 1950. Son:
IIIb. Miguel Januário de Bragança (1853 – 1927), Miguelist claimant to the throne of Portugal from 1866 to 1920. He used the title Duke of Braganza. Son:
IVb. Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza (1907 – 1976). In 1952, when the Portuguese Laws of Banishment were revoked, Dom Duarte Nuno moved his family to Portugal, where he spent the rest of his life attempting, without success, to restore the Brigantine assets to his family and reestablish the image of the Miguelist Braganzas in Portuguese society. Dom Duarte Nuno’s overall aim was to restore the Portuguese monarchy under the Braganzas. Son:
Vb. Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza (1945 -), claimant to the defunct Portuguese throne, President of the King Manuel II Foundation, married Dona Isabel Inês de Castro Curvello de Herédia.
IIc. Infanta Ana de Jesus Maria of Braganza (1806 – 1857), married Royal Ajuda Palace, 5 December 1827 Dom Nuno José Severo de Mendonça Rolim de Moura Barreto (1804-1875), then Marquis of Loulé and Count de Vale de Reis. As leader of the Historic Party, he was three times appointed President of the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister (1856 – 1859; 1860 – 1865 and 1869 – 1870). Dom Nuno was created 1st Duke of Loulé by Luís I of Portugal in 1862. He was awarded the Grand Cordon in the Order of Leopold (1857) and was Member of the Military Order of Christ and of the Order of the Tower and Sword. Son:
IIIc. Pedro José Agostinho de Mendoça Rolim de Moura Barreto, 2nd Duke of Loulé, 10th Count of Vale de Reis (1830–1909), married Constança Maria de Figueiredo Cabral da Câmara. Daughter:
IVc. Ana de Jesus Maria de Mendoça (1854 – 1922), married João Maria dos Enfermos da Câmara Berquó (1859 – 1934). Daughter:
Vc. Constança Maria da Conceição Berquó de Mendoça (1889 – 1967), condessa de Vale de Reis (11th, 29 May 1932), married Dom Pedro José de Basto Feyo Folque (1888 – 1969), succeeded to the dukedom of Loulé on 20 April 1947. Son:
VIc. Alberto Nuno Carlos Rita Folque de Mendoça Rolim de Moura Barreto (1923 – 2003), 5th Duke of Loulé married Dona Maria Augusta Amelia de Moraes Cardoso de Menezes. Son:
VIIc. Pedro José Folque de Mendoça Rolim de Moura Barreto, 6th Duke of Loulé (1958 -), claimant to the defunct Portuguese throne, entrepreneur, married Margarida Vaz Pinto and lives in Portugal.
Note: The Government of the Order of Saint Sebastian, called the Arrow is entrusted to the Dom Filipe, Count of Rio Grande, brother of VIIc. This Order was revived in January 1994, by Dom Filipe, with express authorization of his father, Dom Alberto, Duke of Loulé (VIc.).
The Duke of Braganza and the Duke of Loulé share a common ancestor: King John VI of Portugal. Both dukes claim the headship of the defunct throne of Portugal. When validating these claims, it should be taken into account that the direct ancestor of Dom Duarte Pio, Miguel I, usurped Maria II’s throne and that the legitimate Portuguese government banished Miguel I and all his descendants (like Dom Duarte Pio) from Portugal, as well as excluded the collateral Miguelist line from the throne. These facts do not contribute to the legitimacy of the claim of the Duke de Braganza.
However, a formal statement by the Portuguese government in 2006 (see below, sources), makes it clear that the Duke of Braganza is seen as the legitimate claimant to the defunct Portuguese throne. The Duke of Braganza even has the right to grant titles and to name new members of the royal dynastic orders of chivalry, although titles granted after 1905 are not recognized by the Republic. The Duke and Duchess of Braganza are entitled to use their royal title and style in Portugal based on the law that permits those who had a noble status prior to 1905 to use their styles and titles in Portugal. Only the Duke and Duchess of Braganza and their eldest son, the Duke of Beira, have the right to use the style of HRH. Very interesting and an act of social recognition is the fact that the document states that it has long been the custom of the Portuguese Republic to invite the head of the House of Braganza to participate in solemn ceremonies and to represent the country abroad as a living symbol of Portuguese history.
The Duke of Loulé descends from King John VI in the female line and from a younger child than the Duke of Braganza. I think these facts might not entirely fit into the traditional lines of succession, but they do not hinder a legitimate claim regarding the defunct throne of Portugal, especially taking into account that the line of succession in the past already included females. The mentioned statement by the Portuguese government does not exclude or dismiss the Duke of Loulé’s claims. The statement only concerns the legitimacy of the claim of mr. Rosario Poidimani, an Italian businessman.
Articles 87 and 88 of the Constitutional Charter of 1826 stated that the throne passed first to the descendants of Queen Maria II, and stipulated that only in the case this line was extinct, the throne succeeded to her collateral heirs. Article 89 of the same Charter stipulated that “no foreigner may succeed to the crown of the kingdom of Portugal”. Maria II had living descendants in 1932, but none of these had the Portuguese nationality. These facts and circumstances make the matter even more complex. The so-called Dover and Paris Pacts (two supposed agreements regarding the line of succession between the Miguelist and the Braganza-Saxe-Coburg branches of Portugal’s royal family in exile) cannot be seen as authoritative in this matter. The existence of both Pacts is a subject of debate (to say the least), since no signed versions have ever been published and Princess Aldegundes de Bragança later announced that the parties had not reached an agreement and that the whole story was just a propaganda stunt with the intention to validate the unsuccessful Miguelist claims. Between 1920 and 1928, Adelgundes acted as the regent-in-absentia on behalf of her nephew and Miguelist claimant to the Portuguese throne, Duarte Nuno (IVb), who was twelve years old when his father Miguel (IIIb) renounced his claim to the throne in favour of his son. These circumstances only contribute to the idea that the last King of Portugal did not want the Miguelist line to succeed him.
Preference for one of the two claims remains either a matter of opinion or a political choice, since there are no absolute legal criteria from which a judgment can be derived. My personal opinion is that both claims are transparent and are based on a reasonably arguable position, but in the end it is for the Portuguese people to decide who has the best claim. Since only about 25% of the Portuguese population wants to return to a monarchy, it is unlikely that the matter will ever be resolved. This is odd because a monarch would create political stability in the country, similar to, for example, The Netherlands. Due to its constant, senseless political quarrels, Portugal saw its credit rating downgraded to junk status. I am certain that this would not have happened when Portugal were a monarchy. In the times of the monarchy, Portugal was an economic super power. Its current status is far from that.
- Legal Assessment of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Portuguese Foreign Office, dated 17 April 2006.
- Brust, H. (n.d.). “I guarded kings”: The memoirs of a political police officer. London: Stanley Paul.
- Brust, H. (1937). In Plain Clothes. Further memoirs of a political police officer … With 12 illustrations. London: Stanley Paul &.
- Official Braganza website: http://www.casarealportuguesa.org
- Official Loulé websites: http://www.casarealdeportugal.com and https://orderofthearrow.weebly.com
- Gothaischer Hof Kalender (Historisch-genealogischer Kalender – Gothaischer Kalender – Gothaischer genealogischer Kalender – Gothaisches genealogisches Taschenbuch – Gothaischer genealogischer Hof-Kalender) … auf das Jahr 1772 (1775, 1776, 1780, 1784, 1785, 1789, 1790, 1792-94, 1796-1811, 1813-37, 1843-45, 1847, 1850, 1854, 1855, 1857, 1858, 1862, 1865, 1871, 1877-79, 1881-98, 1903, 1907, 1909). (1771). Gotha.