Maria Leopoldina was raised in a royal court and had the title of Archduchess of Austria, which was the Austrian equivalent of the title of Imperial Princess.
On this day Maria Leopoldina, the first Empress in the history of Brazil, was born. Interestingly, she was born at Schönbrunn Palace as the daughter of Emperor Francis of Habsburg-Lorraine. He was also a grandson of the famous Empress and Queen Maria Theresa, and grandfather of well-known Emperor Francis Joseph.
Maria Leopoldina was raised in a royal court and had a title of Archduchess of Austria, which was the Austrian equivalent of the title of Imperial Princess. She had an older sister named Marie-Louise. That sister married the famous Napoleon Bonaparte after he divorced Josephine, his first wife. Thus Maria Leopoldina became Napoleon’s sister-in-law.
When she was 19, Maria Leopoldina was engaged to Prince Pedro of Portugal. It was an interesting situation because Portugal at that time ruled over vast expanses of Brazil. In fact, the Portuguese court, due to Napoleon’s invasion, physically moved to Brazil, more precisely to Rio de Janeiro. So, Maria Leopoldina had to travel from Vienna all the way to Rio de Janeiro to see Pedro for the first time.
The voyage across the sea lasted 81 days. The wedding was, just in case, performed while she was still in Vienna. This wedding “at a distance” is called per procuram (by proxy), because the bridegroom was represented by her uncle – Archduke Karl of Austria. Maria Leopoldina only met her husband when she arrived in Brazil. Five years later, Pedro became the first Emperor of Brazil and Maria Leopoldina, as his wife, the first Empress Consort of Brazil. Unfortunately, she died only 4 years later in Rio de Janeiro, the capital of the Empire of Brazil. She was only 29.