On July 15, 1889 Dom Pedro II suffered an assassination attempt in Rio de Janeiro. Dom Pedro II, accompanied by his wife, daughter, and eldest grandson, went to the Sant’Anna Theater, now known as the Carlos Gomes Theater, in Rio de Janeiro. At the end of the performance, well past midnight, among the crowd, the Imperial Family made their way towards the exit. The imperial princess led the way, followed by the emperor, who had his arm linked with the empress, and behind them was Prince Pedro Augusto. Everything was going well until the emperors and princes reached the vestibule, where a sudden cry of “Long live the Republic!” erupted.

The assassination attempt on Emperor Dom Pedro II
Engraving in the French newspaper Le Monde illustré about the attack, on September 21, 1889, together with a portrait of Adriano do Valle.

Dom Pedro II abruptly stopped, and a commotion ensued. A large number of people surrounded the monarch, cheering for him and the empire. Amidst the widespread turmoil, the emperor ordered the chief of police to leave the young men from the republican group alone. The disturbance eventually spilled into the street and square, but the emperors and princes managed to reach the awaiting carriage. As the coach passed in front of the crowded Maison Moderne café and restaurant, filled with young people, the sound of a gunshot was heard. The perpetrator of the attack, a 22-year-old Portuguese youth named Adriano Augusto do Vale, was arrested by the police hours later.

The assassination attempt on Emperor Dom Pedro II
Attempt against the life of the Emperor of Brazil, which took place on the night of July 15 to 16, 1889 (Portuguese magazine O Oeste, August 11, 1889).

Not only did Brazilians, including republicans, find the act shocking. In France, President Sadi Carnot, his cabinet, and members of the Institute of France attended the mass that the Brazilian embassy arranged on July 25 to give thanks for the monarch’s life. From England, Queen Victoria sent a telegram of gratitude for the life of her “dear cousin.” Princess Dona Francisca, in France, expressed relief that the perpetrator of the attack was not Brazilian, and the President of Venezuela, Rojas Paúl, assured the Brazilian ambassador that he would thank the heavens that Adriano Augusto do Valle was not born in America. Meanwhile, the government and diplomacy of Portugal, as well as the Portuguese colony in Brazil, showed appreciation for Dom Pedro II. However, he cared little about the attack and did not capitalize on it for himself or for the monarchy. The emperor claimed that the shot had been fired by a madman and that the incident was of no importance.

The insignificance of the case was because he understood that the young man was nothing more than a lunatic, without an agenda, and had acted alone. Dom Pedro II was too intelligent and honorable to play the victim and thereby gain favor with public opinion and maintain the throne.

Reference: Paulo Rezzutti – Escritor, biógrafo e pesquisador. Atentado contra o imperador. Brazil, July 15, 2023. Instagram: Paulo Rezzutti @paulorezzutti. Available in: Paulo Rezzutti (@paulorezzutti) | Instagram. Accessed on: July 16, 2023.

Brazilian History
Matheus Araújo
Founder and Editor at Brazilian History | Website

Matheus is an entrepreneur at Araujo Media, where he serves as CEO and Creative Director. He shares analyses on his personal blog "matheusaraujo.me" and is currently pursuing a degree in Advertising and Propaganda. Moreover, he has a passion for history, particularly that of Brazil, which led him to become the founder and editor of the Brazilian History portal.