Biography of King of Portugal Fernando II (1816-1885)

King consort of Portugal and Regent of the Kingdom several times, born in Coburg October 29, 1816 and died at the Palace das Necessidades in Lisbon on 15 December 1885. It avoided what could directly participate in national politics, but shown as a generous patron to the Portuguese arts.

Son of the Duke Fernando Jorge Augustus of Saxony Coburg Gotha and Hungarian Princess Doña María Antonia Gabriela, received a fine education and soon demonstrated a precocious artistic talent. In 1835 don Augusto Fernando (such was his name) was chosen to marry the young widow Queen of Portugal, María II. Conducted negotiations for marriage the count of Lavradio, who was the representative of the Queen, being that of don Fernando, the baron of Carlowit. The marriage contract stipulated that don Fernando should renounce the Hungarian heritage of his mother and that I would receive an annual pension in the event of his wife, the Queen, died. Also agreed that don Fernando receives the title of King of Portugal in the case that was born an heir. The marriage by proxy took place on January 1, 1836, and the day following don Fernando was appointed general of the army and honorary Colonel of the 5th battalion of hunters. He came to Lisbon on April 8 and 9 was held the religious link.

Since the beginning the Liberals showed his disgust by the appointment as general of don Fernando, but the Government could not deny her husband of María II such honours, which had already been granted to her former husband. But when in may don Fernando was appointed President of the Royal Academy of Sciences demonstrations began to be violent and the army had to intervene to quell them. On October 25, 1836, founded the Academy of fine arts of Lisbon, of which the Kings were declared protectors. Don Fernando received the title of King with the birth of his eldest son, the Prince don Pedro, on September 16, 1837.

Don Fernando, who had sought to keep clear of politics, he was appointed commander in Chief of the army when the so-called revolution of María da Fonte cause replacement of the Ministry and the liberal Duke of Saldanha received the post of Chief of staff. But after the victory of the chartists of 1851 the Duke of Saldanha revolted against the count of take and King should spearhead a campaign against Coimbra, which ended with the reaffirmation in the power of Saldanha and the humiliating concession of to don Fernando army away from Queen.

Calm returned to the country and in April 1852 the Portuguese royal family began a journey through the Kingdom, visiting Vila Franca de XIra, Alcobaça, Pombal, Leiria, Coimbra and Porto, where they were received with the greatest enthusiasm. On 15 November 1853 died the Queen, with only 34 years of age and the Council of State, met at the palacio das Necessidades, appointed regent Fernando II, as Prince don Luis was minor. Don Fernando confirmed to the Ministry that he was in power at the death of María II, presided over by the Duke of Saldanha, who continued with the regenerating work. During the two years that lasted the Regency, settled in Portugal electrical telegraphs, administrative constituencies were reformed, continued installation of railways throughout the country and were undertaken various public works, such as lighting gas from the city of Porto.

On 16 September 1855 Pedro V came of age and don Fernando handed the Government of the country. The discharge of their responsibilities enabled him to make a trip through the South of Spain between April and June 1856. Don Fernando participated in a charitable manner in the institution of economic soup, during the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged the Kingdom in 1857. King Pedro V died unexpectedly on November 11, 1861 and don Fernando returned to assume the Regency as his son Luis, then heir to the throne, returned to Portugal, despite the fact that a course like that he wasn't picked in the April 1846 Act, which had made it possible to don Fernando be Regent during the minority of don Pedro. The Regency lasted only two days, until Luis I assumed the throne on November 14, but since the typhoid fever epidemic had already claimed the lives of three of the infants, the King promulgated law on February 12, 1862, that don Fernando would return to the Regency in the case of the absence of a King. That same year don Fernando refused an offer to assume the throne of Greece, since a revolution in that country made its monarch is refuge in an English frigate.

Don Fernando made a new trip to Spain between May and October 1863 and between October 1 and December 30, 1865 returned to the Regency of the Kingdom, while Luis I and his wife were visiting Italy. He returned to play the same position in 1867 by the absence of the Kings on the occasion of the universal exhibition of Paris; on this occasion, that was the last, he held the Regency for a month and a half.

When in 1868 the revolution of Spain made that Queen Elizabeth and the Royal family had to flee the country, the provisional Government, which in no way wanted to the installation of the Republic, offered the Spanish Crown to Fernando II, hoping, in addition, consummate the Iberian unit. This officially rejected the offer. But in 1869, don Fernando married the Countess of Edla, Elisa Hensler and the question of the coronation in Spain turned to raise. Don Fernando finally met with the Spanish Ambassador, don Ángel of the Ríos, and accepted the proposal, put as a condition that the Spanish and Portuguese crowns might never be clingy in the same head; as the main reason by which had been considered the nomination of don Fernando was precisely the union of both kingdoms, the issue was settled and other candidates were sought in Spain.

Since then don Fernando took part in various international events on behalf of Portugal and was appointed President of the Commission, which should coordinate the Portuguese participation at the 1873 Vienna Exposition. He visited the exhibition in Paris in 1877 and he departed the initiative for the exhibition of ornamental art of 1881, whose organizing Committee chaired. He frequently traveled to balneario de Royat and spent the last years of her life suffering from a painful disease.

Fernando II has always shown a special predisposition to the arts, which earned him the nickname King artist. He served as President of the Royal Conservatory of Lisbon and was much interested in the development of the performing arts. It was a lavish patron who encouraged studies of art and bought numerous works by Portuguese artists; I would go to all the parties that fostered artistic development and he himself was a skilled baritone who used his voice masterfully. He strove to preserve the Portuguese heritage and acquired important buildings to save them from neglect or vandalism. His will, however, caused a huge disappointment, since it did not leave anything to charity or for the development of the national heritage.


BIRMINGHAM, D. history of Portugal. Cambridge, 1995.

MEDINA, j. (dir.) History of Portugal: two pre-historical tempos aos nossos days. Madrid, 1996.

PAINE, S. brief history of Portugal. Madrid, 1987.

VIANA, H. Luso history chapters. Lisbon, 1968.