Dona Teresa Cristina last Empress of Brazil Signed Letter to Cardinal Bonaparte 1886 Palace of Rio de Janiero


Rare signed letter written in Portuguese from the last Empress of Brazil Dona Teresa Cristina (1822-1889), to Lucien Louis Joseph Napoleon Cardinal Bonaparte, 4th Prince of Canino and Musignano (1828-1895). The letter is signed "Imperatriz" and is dated 26th June 1886, three years before being sent into exile. Written from the Palace of Rio de Janeiro she thanks the Cardinal for his Christmas good wishes.

"Most illustrious and reverend in Christ Father Cardinal S. Bonaparte, my dearly beloved brother, I Dona Theresa Christina Maria, Empress of Brazil, send you warm greetings as one whom I esteem and value. I recieved the letter you sent me last year for the festival of Holy Christmas. Thanking you for wishing my happiness, i am pleased to renew to you the expressions of my esteem and the high regard in which I hold your person and your virtues. Most illustrious and reverend in Christ Father Cardinal  S. Bonaparte, may Our Lord be your Holy Guard. Written in the Palace of Rio de Janeiro on June 26, 1886.


She was nicknamed "the Mother of the Brazilians", was the Empress consort of Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, who reigned from 1831 to 1889. Born a Princess of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in present-day southern Italy, she was the daughter of King Don Francesco I (Francis I) of the Italian branch of the House of Bourbon and his wife Maria Isabel (Maria Isabella). It was long believed by historians that the Princess was raised in an ultra-conservative, intolerant atmosphere which resulted in a timid and unassertive character in public and an ability to be contented with very little materially or emotionally. Recent studies revealed a more complex character, who despite having respected the social norms of the era, was able to assert a limited independence due to her strongly opinionated personality as well as her interest in learning, sciences and culture.

The Princess was married by proxy to Pedro II in 1843. Her spouse's expectations had been raised when a portrait was presented that depicted Teresa Cristina as an idealized beauty, but he was displeased by his bride's plain looks upon their first meeting later that year. Despite a cold beginning, the couple's relationship improved as time passed, due primarily to Teresa Cristina's patience, kindness, generosity and simplicity. These traits also helped her win the hearts of the Brazilian people, and her distance from political controversies shielded her from criticism. She also sponsored archaeological studies in Italy and Italian immigration to Brazil.

The marriage between Teresa Cristina and Pedro II never became passionately romantic, although a bond based upon family, mutual respect and fondness did develop. The Empress was a dutiful spouse and unfailingly supported the Emperor's positions and never interposed with her own views in public. She remained silent on the topic of his suspected extra-marital relationships—including a liaison with her daughters' governess. In turn, she was treated with unfailing respect and her position at Court and home was always secure. Of the four children Teresa Cristina bore him, two boys died in infancy and a daughter of typhoid fever at the early age of 24.

She, along with the remaining members of the Imperial Family, was sent into exile after a coup d'état staged by a clique of army officers in 1889. Being cast from her beloved adopted land had a devastating effect on Teresa Cristina's spirit and health. Grieving and ill, she died of respiratory failure leading to cardiac arrest little more than a month after the monarchy's collapse. She was greatly loved by her subjects, both during her lifetime and afterwards. She was even respected by the Republicans who overthrew the Empire. Despite having had no direct impact on Brazil's political history, Teresa Cristina is well regarded by historians not only for her character and irreproachable behavior, but also for her sponsorship of Brazilian culture.

Lucien was a French cardinal. He was born in Rome, the son of Charles Lucien Bonaparte and his wife Zénaïde Bonaparte.

His paternal grandparents were Lucien Bonaparte and his second wife Alexandrine de Bleschamp. His maternal grandparents were Joseph Bonaparte and Julie Clary. His godfather was the future Napoleon III, first cousin to both his parents.

Cardinal Bonaparte was ordained to the priesthood on 13 December 1856 by Pope Pius IX, giving up his Italian title. He served at numerous posts both in France and in Italy. He was created Cardinal of Santa Pudenziana in 1868. In 1879, he was given the additional title of Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina. Cardinal Bonaparte participated in the First Vatican Council. He also was one of the voting cardinals that elected Gioacchino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi Cardinal Pecci, as Pope Leo XIII. He died in 1895 and was buried in Rome.

Size: 29 x 24 cm approx

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