Ferdinand II of Portugal

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Ferdinand II
File:Ferdinand II, King Consort of Portugal 1861.jpg
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
Prime Ministers
Prince consort of Portugal
Tenure 1 January 1836 – 16 September 1837
Born (1816-10-29)29 October 1816
Vienna, Austria
Died 15 December 1885(1885-12-15) (aged 69)
Lisbon, Portugal
Burial Pantheon of the Braganzas
Spouse Maria II of Portugal
Elise, Countess of Edla
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 House of Saxe-Coburg-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 King of Portugal jure uxoris as 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. His reign came to end with the death of his wife in 1853, but he was regent for his son and successor, King Pedro V, to 1855. He was born a German prince of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Early life

File:Dom Fernando II of Portugal by Sendim.jpg
Ferdinand II around age 24 standing next to a bust of King Pedro IV, c. 1840

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

King of Portugal

According to Portuguese law, the husband of a queen regnant could only be titled king after the birth of a child from that marriage (that was the reason the Queen's first husband, Auguste, Duke of Leuchtenberg, never earned title of king). After the birth of the future Dom Pedro V of Portugal, Ferdinand was proclaimed King Dom Fernando II.

Although it was Maria II to whom the ruling power belonged, the royal couple formed a good team and together resolved many problems in Maria II's reign. The king played a very important part in Portuguese political history, reigning by himself during his wife's pregnancies.

Eventually, Maria II died as a result of the birth of their eleventh child. Fernando II's reign ended, but he assumed the regency of Portugal in the years 1853–1855 during the minority of his son King Pedro V.

Later life

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

Late in his life Fernando II married the opera singer Elisa Hensler, Countess of Edla.[1]

Fernando II 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.

In 1838, King Ferdinand II 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, or the Old Palace as it is known.

King Ferdinand began by making repairs to the former monastery, which, according to the historical sources of that time, was in very bad 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 roughly 1843, the king decided to enlarge the palace by building a new wing (the New Palace) with even larger rooms (the Great Hall is a good example of this), ending in a circular tower next to the new kitchens. The building work was directed by the Baron of 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. He spent his last years in this castle with his second wife, receiving the greatest artists of his time.

Marriages and descendants

Fernando II married Dona Maria II, Queen-regnant of Portugal, daughter of King Dom Pedro IV (and also Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil). Later in his life, after the death of Maria, he married in Lisbon on 10 June 1869 actress Elisa Hensler[2] (Neuchâtel, 22 May 1836 – Lisbon, Coração de Jesus, 21 May 1929), created Gräfin von Edla, without issue.[3]

He outlived eight of his eleven children.

Name Birth Death Notes
By Maria II of Portugal (4 April 1819 – 15 November 1853; married on 9 April 1836)
Pedro V 16 September 1837 11 November 1861 Who succeeded his mother as Pedro V, the King of Portugal.
Luís I 31 October 1838 19 October 1889 Who succeeded his brother Pedro as the King of Portugal.
Infanta Maria 4 October 1840 4 October 1840  
Infante João 16 March 1842 27 December 1861 Duke of Beja. Died of cholera in 1861.
Infanta Maria Ana 21 August 1843 5 February 1884 Married 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 Antónia 17 February 1845 27 December 1913 Married Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Singmaringen and was the mother of King Ferdinand I of Romania.
Infante Fernando 23 July 1846 6 November 1861 Died of cholera in 1861.
Infante Augusto 4 November 1847 26 September 1889 Duke of Coimbra.
Infante Leopoldo 7 May 1849 7 May 1849  
Infanta Maria da Glória 3 February 1851 3 February 1851  
Infante Eugénio 15 November 1853 15 November 1853  


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


  1. Just before the mariage, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a cousin of King Ferdinand and the Head of the House of Saxe-Coburg, granted to Elise the title of Countess of Edla
  2. Sister of Anton Hensler, children 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.
  3. She had a daughter by an unknown father named Alice Hensler (Paris, 25 December 1855 – Lisbon, Benfica, 18 June 1941), who married in Lisbon, Alcântara, on 30 September 1883 Portuguese Navy Officer Azorian Manuel de Azevedo Gomes (Pico, São Roque do Pico, Santo Amaro, 19 October 1848 – Cascais, São Domingos de Rana, Casa das Pedras, 14 July 1907), by whom she had issue.
Ferdinand II of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Aviz
Born: 13 May 1767 Died: 10 March 1826
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Maria II
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