Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil - Exile - Later Years

Later Years

The imperial family arrived at Lisbon on 7 December 1889. Three weeks later, Isabel's mother died at Porto, while Isabel and her family were in southern Spain. Back in Portugal, Isabel fainted at her mother's lying in state. Further bad news came from Brazil, as the new government abolished the imperial family's allowances, their only substantial source of income, and declared the family banished. On the back of a large loan from a Portuguese businessman, the imperial family moved into the Hotel Beau Séjour at Cannes.

In early 1890, Isabel and Gaston moved into a private villa, which was far cheaper than the hotel, but their father refused to accompany them and remained at the Beau Séjour. Gaston's father provided them with a monthly allowance. By September, they had taken a villa near Versailles and their sons were enrolled in Parisian schools. Isabel's father died in December 1891, and his property in Brazil was sold with much of the proceeds used to pay off his debts in Europe. Isabel and Gaston purchased a villa in Boulogne-sur-Seine, where they lived an essentially quiet life. Attempts by Brazilian monarchists to restore the crown were unsuccessful, and Isabel lent them only half-hearted support. She thought military action unwise and unwelcome, and correctly assumed that it was unlikely to succeed.

Gaston's father died in 1896, and Gaston's inheritance gave him and Isabel financial security. Their three sons enrolled at a military school in Vienna, and Isabel continued her charitable work associated with the Catholic Church. In 1905, Gaston purchased the château d'Eu in Normandy, the former home of King Louis Philippe I, and the couple furnished it with items received from Brazil in the early 1890s.

By 1908, Isabel's eldest son Pedro wanted to marry an Austro-Hungarian aristocrat Countess Elisabeth Dobržensky de Dobrženicz, but Gaston and Isabel withheld consent because Elizabeth was not a princess. Their consent was only forthcoming when their second son, Luís, who had travelled to Brazil but had been forbidden to land by the authorities, married Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Naples and Pedro renounced his claim to the Brazilian throne in favor of his brother. Luís and his youngest brother Antônio both served in the British army during World War I (as members of the French royal family they were forbidden to serve in the French military). Luís was invalided from active service in 1915, and Antônio died from wounds sustained in an air crash shortly after the armistice. Isabel wrote to Gaston that she "went out of mind" with grief "but the Good Lord restored it." Just three months later, Luís died after a long illness. Isabel's own health was deteriorating, and by 1921 she was barely able to walk. She was too ill to travel to Brazil when the republican government lifted the family's banishment in 1920. Gaston and Pedro revisited Brazil in early 1921, for the reburial of Isabel's parents in Petrópolis Cathedral. Isabel died before the end of the year, and was buried in her husband's family tomb at Dreux. Gaston died the following year. In 1953, the remains of Gaston and Isabel were repatriated to Brazil, and in 1971 they were interred in Petrópolis Cathedral.

Read more about this topic:  Isabel, Princess Imperial Of Brazil, Exile

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