Some people led extraordinary lives
Our 'King-soldier', Pedro the 'Liberator' , was born in Portugal 219 years ago. When he turned 24 he was proclaimed the first emperor of Brazil, to which he had recently given independence from Portugal. That day was also 12th October, of 1822. These two dates were not too hard for me to memorize because I was also born on 12th of October, though not in 1798!!
Over the course of Pedro's short life he abdicated the throne twice, was father to 19 children and fought many battles for freedom, in two different continents. Pedro's heart is nowadays the most amazing treasure the city of Porto has in its care.
In this post I share a couple more of utterly unbelievable -real- stories about him...!
Pedro, a force of nature, was capable of fist fighting like a villain, of swearing like a trooper and writing the most passionate, intense love and lust letters to his mistresses. On the other hand he could also compose music and be very tender and loving with children. He also suffered from epilepsy, which caused him to seizure regularly, even during official ceremonies. This was something that never limited him. In a sentence: Pedro was a man of violent passions, made of excesses and contradictions.
Pedro grew up in Brazil, as he had fled to Rio de Janeiro from Lisbon in 1807 with the Portuguese royal family, escaping the French Napoleonic troops who invaded the Iberian peninsula. He was his father's favorite son while his brother, Miguel, was his mother's. The two brothers were raised together but turned out having completely different characters and personality. They ended up on opposite sides of the barricades, in a civil war in Portugal, after their mother allegedly ordered for their father João VI to be poisoned.
Before that, when João VI returned to Portugal in 1821, he wisely predicted and told him: " Pedro... soon Brazil will be separated from Portugal. If it happens, please put the crown in your own head before some adventurer tries to grab it ". Many episodes later, Pedro gave independence to Brazil with the so called "grito do Ipiranga", the independence cry heard on the margins of the Ipiranga creek, where nowadays lies the city of S.Paulo. He was later proclaimed the first emperor of Brazil. The day was 12th of October 1822!
While Pedro was given a central spot in Praça da Liberdade ('freedom's square') in Avenida dos Aliados, his father João VI was also offered a great location here in Porto. He's also on his horse, close to the Atlantic, at the very end of Avenida da Boavista. So... two monarchs on horses: this calls for a story. Here's one that shows just how impulsive Pedro IV could be:
Pedro decided to offer his father a beautiful white horse that he cherished. He took perfect care of this horse for months himself. But, when the suspicious João VI saw the animal, he just asked Pedro if it was meant for him to fall off the horse. Absolutely furious by the unexpected question, Pedro snapped and replied "Well, if the horse is not for you, then it will not be for anyone else". And he galloped away on the horse, (fast and) furious, and he rode it until the poor animal died, of hyperthermia.
PORTO'S MOST PRECIOUS TREASURE
In the mayor's desk lies a special key: the one that opens the box where Pedro's heart is kept - the actual organ! Irmandade da Lapa, a religious organization, is responsible for its care and safe storage in Lapa's church, in Porto, where Pedro regularly attended religious ceremonies during the 1832-33's siege.
The siege is also the motive that led Pedro to write his wish down in paper: as an act of appreciation for all the help and love he received from the people of Porto, his heart should be handed to the city. An act full of symbolism from one of our most passionate monarchs...!!
A few months later, Pedro ended up dying of tuberculosis because of the harsh times he had endured during his year fighting alongside the people in Porto. An autopsy revealed multiple health problems that affected almost every organ of his body. His body was later taken to S.Paulo - Brasil, but his strong impulsive heart was handed to the authorities of Porto. It is our most precious treasure, a symbol of hard-earned freedom.
Rui Moreira, Porto's mayor, holding Pedro's heart in 2015, last time it was publicly displayed.
Here's a short video made in 2015 (It's in Portuguese, no subtitles...sorry!)
Sérgio is the founder of PRT, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide since 2015.
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