Ferdinand II of Portugal

Ferdinand II

King Ferdinand in 1861
King of Portugal and the Algarves
Reign 16 September 1837 –
15 November 1853
Predecessor Maria II
Successor Pedro V
Co-monarch Maria II
Born (1816-10-29)29 October 1816
Vienna, Austrian Empire
Died 15 December 1885(1885-12-15) (aged 69)
Lisbon, Portugal
Burial Pantheon of the Braganzas
Spouse Maria II of Portugal
(m. 1836; d. 1853)

Elise, Countess von Edla
(m. 1869)
among others...
Pedro V of Portugal
Luís I of Portugal
Infante João, Duke of Beja
Infanta Maria Ana
Infanta Antónia, Princess of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Infante Fernando
Infante Augusto, Duke of Coimbra
House Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry
Father Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Mother Princess Maria Antonia Koháry de Csábrág
Religion Roman Catholicism

Dom Ferdinand II (Portuguese: Fernando II) (29 October 1816 – 15 December 1885) was a German prince of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry, and King of Portugal jure uxoris as the husband of Queen Maria II, from the birth of their son in 1837 to her death in 1853.

In keeping with Portuguese law, only after the birth of his son in 1837 did he acquire the title of king. Ferdinand's reign came to an end with the death of his wife in 1853, but he served as regent for his son and successor, King Pedro V, until 1855. He and Maria founded the House of Braganza-Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which would rule Portugal until 1910.

Early life

Born Ferdinand August Franz Anton in Vienna, he was the eldest son of Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and his wife Princess Maria Antonia Koháry de Csábrág, heiress to the House of Koháry. The younger Ferdinand grew up in several places: the family estates in modern-day Slovakia, the imperial court of Austria, and Germany. He was a nephew of King Leopold I of Belgium, and thus a first cousin to Leopold II of Belgium and Empress Carlota of Mexico, as well as Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Albert.

In 1826, his title changed from Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld to Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, following the re-arrangement of the Saxon duchies.

King of Portugal

Ferdinand II around age 24, standing next to a bust of King Pedro IV, c. 1840

According to Portuguese law, the husband of a queen regnant could only be titled king after the birth of an heir from that marriage; this was the reason Maria II's first husband, Auguste de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg, never acquired the title of king. After the birth of their eldest son and heir, the future Pedro V of Portugal, Ferdinand was proclaimed King Dom Fernando II.

Although it was Maria who reigned by right, the royal couple formed an effective team during their joint reign, with Ferdinand reigning by himself during his wife's pregnancies.

Eventually, Maria II died as a result of the birth of their eleventh child, and Ferdinand II's reign ended. However, he would assume the regency of Portugal from 1853 to 1855, during the minority of his son King Pedro V.

Later life

Portrait by Joseph Layraud, c. 1877.
Exposed at Pena National Palace.

In 1869 he rejected an offer to assume the throne of Spain.

Ferdinand was an intelligent and artistically-minded man with modern and liberal ideas. He was adept at etching, pottery and painting aquarelles. He was the president of the Royal Academy of Sciences and the Arts, lord-protector of the university of Coimbra and Grand-Master of the Rosicrucians.

An elderly Ferdinand

In 1838, he acquired the former Hieronymite monastery of Our Lady of Pena, which had been built by King Manuel I in 1511 on the top of the hill above Sintra and had been left unoccupied since 1834, when the religious orders were suppressed in Portugal. The monastery consisted of the cloister and its outbuildings, the chapel, the sacristy and the bell tower, which today form the northern section of the Pena National Palace (the "Old Palace").

Ferdinand began by making repairs to the former monastery, which, according to the historical sources of that time, was in poor condition. He refurbished the whole of the upper floor, replacing the fourteen cells used by the monks with larger-sized rooms and covering them with the vaulted ceilings that can still be seen today. In 1843, the king decided to enlarge the palace by building a new wing (the New Palace) with even larger rooms (one of them being the Great Hall), ending in a circular tower next to the new kitchens. The building work was directed by the Baron von Eschwege, a wild architectural fantasy in an eclectic style full of symbolism that could be compared with the castle Neuschwanstein of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The palace was built in such a way as to be visible from any point in the park, which consists of a forest and luxuriant gardens with over five hundred different species of trees originating from the four corners of the earth.

Ferdinand would spend his last years in this castle with his second wife, receiving the greatest artists of his time.

Marriages and descendants

In 1836 Ferdinand married Maria II, Queen-regnant of Portugal, the daughter and heiress of King Pedro IV (and also Emperor Pedro I of Brazil). Eleven children were born to the royal couple before Maria died of complications due to childbirth in 1853. Ferdinand was destined to outlive eight of his eleven children. In late 1861, an attack of cholera or typhoid fever struck the royal family and Ferdinand suffered the tragedy of witnessing the death of three of his five surviving sons.

Later in his life, Ferdinand married again in Lisbon on 10 June 1869 to actress Elisa Hensler (Neuchâtel, 22 May 1836 Lisbon, Coração de Jesus, 21 May 1929).[1] Just before the marriage, she was created Gräfin (Countess) von Edla by Ferdinand's cousin Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The couple had no children.[2]

By Maria II of Portugal (4 April 1819 15 November 1853; married on 9 April 1836)
Pedro V16 September 183711 November 1861Succeeded his mother as King of Portugal.
Luís I31 October 183819 October 1889Succeeded his brother Pedro as King of Portugal.
Infanta Maria4 October 18404 October 1840 
Infante João16 March 184227 December 1861Duke of Beja. Died of cholera in 1861.
Infanta Maria Ana21 August 18435 February 1884Married King George of Saxony and was mother of King Frederick August III of Saxony, and grandmother of Charles I, the last Emperor of Austria.
Infanta Antónia17 February 184527 December 1913Married Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern and was the mother of King Ferdinand I of Romania.
Infante Fernando23 July 18466 November 1861Died of cholera in 1861.
Infante Augusto4 November 184726 September 1889Duke of Coimbra.
Infante Leopoldo7 May 18497 May 1849 
Infanta Maria da Glória3 February 18513 February 1851 
Infante Eugénio15 November 185315 November 1853 


Titles, styles and honours

Royal styles of
King Fernando II of Portugal
Reference style His Most Faithful Majesty
Spoken style Your Most Faithful Majesty
Alternative style Sire

Titles and styles




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  1. Daughter of Jean Conrad Hensler (Röschitz, c. 1797 Vienna, 14 April 1872) and wife Josephe Hechelbacher (Wallerstein, c. 1805 aft. 1872), paternal grandchildren of Michael Hensler and wife Katharina Prauneis and maternal grandchildren of Karl Hechelnbacher and wife Theresia Schretzmayer.
  2. By an unknown father she had a daughter named Alice Hensler (Paris, 25 December 1855 Lisbon, Benfica, 18 June 1941), who married in Lisbon, Alcântara, on 30 September 1883 a Portuguese Navy officer from Azores, Manuel de Azevedo Gomes (1848 1907), by whom she had issue.
Ferdinand II of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 13 May 1767 Died: 10 March 1826
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Maria II
as sole monarch
King of Portugal and the Algarves
16 September 1837 – 15 November 1853
with Maria II
Succeeded by
Pedro V
Portuguese royalty
Preceded by
Auguste de Beauharnais
Prince consort of Portugal
9 April 1836 – 16 September 1837
Succeeded by
Stephanie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
as queen consort
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