The future Maria II of Portugal was born on 4 April 1819 as the daughter of Pedro I of Brazil and IV of Portugal and Maria Leopoldina of Austria. She was the eldest of 7 siblings and one half-sibling. She also had six illegitimate half-siblings.
Her grandfather, King John VI died in March VI, and his death sparked a succession crisis. His male heir was Pedro, her father, but he had proclaimed the independence of Brazil in 1822, where he was now emperor. Her uncle Miguel was also a possible contender, but he was exiled after leading a rebellion against his father. King John VI nominated his daughter, Isabel Maria as regent until “the legitimate heir returned to the Kingdom”. He failed to specify who the legitimate heir was. Pedro had to most supporters, but Brazil and Portugal did not wish to be united under a single throne, so Pedro decided to abdicate in favour of his daughter Maria. She was then to marry her uncle Miguel, to appease his supporters. Maria was just seven years old at the time. Miguel would act as regent until she became of age. Miguel pretended to accept this arrangement, but he immediately deposed Maria and proclaimed himself King. Maria was left to wander to the courts of Europe in search of support.
Pedro abdicated the Brazilian throne in favour of Maria’s brother, now Pedro II in 1831 and he joined his sister in support against Miguel. Miguel was forced to abdicate in 1834, and his betrothal to Maria was annulled.
Now that Maria was on the throne, it was time to search for a suitable husband, and one was found in the form of Auguste, Duke of Leuchtenberg. They married on 26 January 1835, but he died just two months later on 28 March 1835. A replacement was found in Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, whom she married on 1 January 1836. He became King Consort upon the birth of their son, Peter. They would have a total of 11 children, though just six would live to adulthood.
Due to her frequent pregnancies, doctors had warned Maria of the dangers to her health. She ignored the risks, despite her mother having died after a miscarriage at the age of 29. She reportedly told the doctors, “If I die, I die at my post.”
She would indeed die at her post. She died on 15 November 1853, shortly after giving birth to her 11th child, who also died a few hours later. She was remembered as a kind woman and received the nickname “The Good Mother.”
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