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Luís Filipe Gastão de Orléans: Wikis


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Gaston d´Orléans
Comte d´Eu
Gaston d´Orléans, count of Eu
Count of Eu
Reign 28 April 1842 – 28 August 1922
(&0000000000000080.00000080 years, &0000000000000122.000000122 days)
Successor Foulques, Duke of Aumale
Emperor consort of Brazil
Pretendence 5 December 1891 – 14 November 1921
(&0000000000000029.00000029 years, &0000000000000344.000000344 days)
Predecessor Theresa Christina of the Two Sicilies
Successor Princess Maria of Bavaria
Spouse Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil
Pedro, Prince of Grão Para
Luís, Prince Imperial of Brazil
Antônio Gastão, Prince of Orléans-Braganza
House House of Orléans
Father Louis, Duke of Nemours
Mother Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary
Born 28 April 1842(1842-04-28)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Died 28 August 1922 (aged 80)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Gaston d´Orléans (28 April 1842 – 28 August 1922), was a French prince and military commander who fought in the Spanish-Moroccan War and the War of the Triple Alliance and was husband to Isabel heiress to the Brazilian imperial throne. His name in full was Louis Philippe Marie Ferdinand Gaston d'Orléans.

When anglicised, his name would be Gaston of Orléans, full name Louis Philip Marie Ferdinand Gaston of Orléans.

He was born on 28 April 1842 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, the first son of Louis, the Duke of Nemours and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary.


Early years

Gaston was born on 28 April 1842 in Neully, France, the eldest son of Louis, the Duke of Nemours and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary. His paternal grandparents were Louis-Philippe, king of the French and Maria Amalia of the Two Sicilies, while his maternal grandparents were Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Antonie of Kohary.

Gaston d'Orléans, Count of Eu, age five.

As a member of the Royal House of France, Gaston was part of the House of Orléans, a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon, that in turn belonged to the Capetian Dynasty. As a French prince by birth, he was entitled comte d´Eu (in English: Count of Eu).

The prince received a refined education thanks to Julio Gauthier and the historian Auguste Trognon and came to learn several languages, including Latin, English, German, Portuguese and French, his native tongue.

His grandfather king Louis-Philippe was ousted from his throne by the Revolution of 1848. Only five years old at the time Gaston left in exile for Great Britain with the remainder of his family and would only return to his native land in 1878. His family soon established itself in an old mansion called Claremont, in the southern region of England, where they would live for some years.

In 1855, at the age of thirteen, he initiated his military career in an artillery course and would conclude it in the Military School of Segovia, Spain, where he became a captain. He moved to Spain after following his uncle Antoine, the Duke of Montpensier´s orientation, as he lived there since his marriage to the princess Luisa Fernanda, sister of Isabella II, queen of Spain. His mother, Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Koháry, of the House of Wettin, a cousin of Victoria of the United Kingdom and also sister of Ferdinand II, king-consort of Portugal, who was married to Maria II, elder sister of the emperor Pedro II, who died in 1857.

Adult life

After long years with problems on the border with Morocco caused by constant attacks on Spanish cities by Moroccan outlaws, Spain decided to declare war on the neighboring country in 1859. The young Gaston was sent as a subordinate officer to participate in the conflict on the side of the Spanish forces that consisted of more than 40,000 soldiers, against the Moroccan troops, who in turn had about 140,000 men.

Gaston d'Orléans, 1865.

The comte d´Eu participated in all battles and after the end of the conflict in 1860 he returned to Spain with a certain military reputation. A few years later, he was contacted by his uncle Ferdinand II that stimulated him to think on the possibility of a marriage to one of the two daughters of Pedro II of Brazil.

He declared that he would accept the proposal but only after meeting them. Pedro II's sister, princess Francisca who was married to François d'Orléans, prince of Joinville (uncle of Gaston), described the comte d´Eu in a letter to the Brazilian emperor: “If you could grab this one for one of your daughters it would be excellent. He is robust, high, handsome, good natured, very amiable, much instructed, studious, and in addition, he possesss now a small military fame” .

The count disembarked in Rio de Janeiro on 2 September 1864 in the company of his cousin, Ludwig August, the duke of Saxe and went directly to the Palace of São Cristóvão to meet the Brazilian imperial family. However, Gaston was not enthusiastic about the two princesses, whom he considered “ugly” . At the beginning, the young comte d´Eu was promised to Leopoldina and his cousin to Isabel but after knowing them better, emperor Pedro II decided to invert the pairs. So Gaston became attached to Isabel instead of to Leopoldina. Their marriage occurred on 15 October 1864. A little before that, Gaston was awarded the Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Southern Cross and a few days later accepted as the honorary president of the Brazilian Geographic and Historical Institute.

Decades later in 1892, Alfredo d' Escragnolle, the viscount of Taunay, would give his opinion regarding the two cousins when they first arrived in Brazil. He said that the duke of Saxe “had only interest in spending his life in a lazy and amusing way, he liked a lot of hunting and appreciated a lot the many joys that existed in Europe, while the comte d´Eu with all the defects that I can point at him, cared sincerely and a lot for Brazil and, believe it or not, he still loves it today with intensity and no second intention”.

War of the Triple Alliance

Gaston and Isabel were travelling in Europe on their honeymoon when paraguayan forces had invaded the Brazilian provinces of Mato Grosso and Rio Grande Do Sul. Pedro II sent a letter to the couple in 1865 demanding Gaston's presence in Brazil telling that he had already had gone to the city of Uruguaiana in the southern region of the country and asked to meet him, the duke of Saxe and the brazlian army there. Uruguaiana had been conquered by the paraguayan army and was under siege by Brazilian, Argentine and Uruguayan troops (both countries had allied with Brazil), waiting either the surrender or the defeat in battle of the enemy force. Of this moment, the viscount of Taunay (he himself a veteran of the War of the Triple Alliance) would write in his memoirs that while Gaston “showed in all occasions a great interest for the things of Brazil, observing, asking, visiting all the places and going after correct and accurate information, while the other [August Luis, duke of Saxe] did not show anything except for indifference and lack of ambition”. He was later nominated general commander of the artillery and president of the Commission of Improvements of the Army in 19 November 1865.

Gaston d'Orléans, Count of Eu, age twenty eight.

On two different occasions throughout the conflict, Gaston sent requests to Pedro II asking him to authorize his joining the war against Paraguay, but on both occasions, and to his great disillusionment, the Council of State voted against his desire on going to war. The reason for the refusal was, firstly, to prevent other countries from seeing the presence of a prince in the conflict as a desire to conquer their countries's territories and, second, it was felt not acceptable that the husband of the heiress of the throne would subordinate to a Brazilian military officer - in this case, Luis Alves de Lima and Silva, the marquis of Caxias, the just-nominated allied commander-in-chief. However, by being an officer of high rank with enough prestige and well-known capacity, Gaston was convoked to lead as commander-in-chief of the allied armies in 1869 after the marquis of Caxias renounced that position. The comte d´Eu didn't have the same will to leave the theater of operations, not for cowardice, but in the belief that the conflict was futile and unnecessary to continue the hunt of Francisco Solano López the Paraguayan dictator, an opinion shared by a great number of Brazilians at that time. Even so the choice of Gaston in 22 March 1869 as the new commander-in-chief, at the age of 27, brought joy to the Brazilian public. When he arrived at Paraguay he reorganized the Brazilian army and fired the officers accused of pillage in enemy territory.

The comte d´Eu decided to use diversified tactics to deceive the paraguayan army about how and where the allied army would carry its attacks. In the opinion of the visconde of Taunay, Gaston showed “great strategical ability, cool temper, patience of an experienced leader and unquestionable courage”. He also participated actively in the battles that occurred, as in Acosta Ñu, where he suffered great risk of life[1]. It was his idea to definitively extinguish slavery in Paraguay which had approximately 25,000 slaves, many of whom were obliged to fight in the war against the Triple Alliance[2].

However, Gaston suffered heavy criticism after he discovered that the brigadier João Manuel Mena Barreto had died in the battle that resulted in the conquest of the village of Peribuí. He ordered the decapitation of colonel Pablo Caballero and the head politician of the village, Patricio Marecos[1]. In September, the comte d´Eu became greatly depressed (mainly because he felt digusted with so many deaths caused by the conflict) and practically left the conduct of the allied army until the end of the war on 1 March 1870.[1]. When he returned to Brazil on 29 April 1870, he was received as a war hero with great popular manifestation, and was also nominated as a member of the Council of State on 6 July of the same year.


Modern critics to Gaston d´Orléans in the war

The revisionist historians that appeared after the 1960s have portrayed the comte d´Eu as a bloodthirsty mass murderer.[3] Some historians, like Júlio Jose Chiavenato accuse him of having committed war crimes and being the most interested in engaging in war if only to pursue López. Revisionist historians accuse Gaston of having ordered fire set to the grass to asphyxiate wounded paraguayan soldiers who were still in the field after the battle of Acosta Ñu. Chiavenato uses as a source the memoirs of the viscount of Taunay. But recently, it has been found that the memoirs say something completely different: “there were bullets that still blew up in the field because of the fire in the grass that was started in the beginning of the battle by the paraguayans to occult their tactical movement”.[4][5] Also, there is a mention of an episode where Gaston ordered the troops to set fire in a hospital full of wounded paraguayan soldiers that resulted in the death of more than a hundred victims. However, it is most likely that the hospital has burnt as a result of collateral damage caused by allied bombardment at the beginning of the battle directed on the paraguayan military defense and not as the result of a deliberate desire of killing defenseless people.[1]


Although initially disillusioned with the seeming lack of beauty of his wife, Gaston would come to love her until the last days of his life, a feeling corresponded by Isabel. The birth of Pedro in 15 October 1875 would be a reason for much happiness for the couple who after more than ten years of marriage, weren't able to conceive children. It also served to brighten up the pain caused by the loss of their first child, Luisa Victoria, that passed away after complications of childbirth on 28 July 1874.[1]

From left to right: Gaston, Pedro, Antonio, Isabel and Luís.

The count always treated his wife with much patience, pleasantness and determination to help her pass through the depression caused by Pedro's birth. Although crippled by a defect in the left arm caused by problems in childbirth, Pedro was a very healthy child and would be affectionately called “Baby” even as a young adult by his parents.[1] The Count's happiness became visible in the letter he wrote to his father soon after the birth of his third child:

“[...] and we are really happy, grateful and glad. Having two healthy children after so many misfortunes that made me lose any hope of becoming a father, exceeds what I dared myself to expect”.

The third one was a boy who was born on 26 January 1878 and was named after Gaston's father: Luís (and that would become Isabel's heir years later after his elder brother's renunciation to the succession of the throne).
The fourth and last son to be born would be Antonio, who would come to be nicknamed “Totó” by his family. The birth occurred on 9 August 1881 in Paris, France, where the couple lived for three years. The count was a very simple person and tried to pass this characteristic on to his children. He had a complete aversion to the lifestyle of European nobility and royalty which he called “futile” and “stupid”.[1]

In 1882 Gaston chose as an educator to his children teacher Benjamin Franklin Ramiz Galvão, a professor at the School of Medicine of Rio de Janeiro and headmaster of the National Library. The prince didn’t´care that Benjamin was a republican as he recognized the professor's merit. Besides, the princely couple looked to provide their children a simple education, allowing them to study at the father Moreira's school in Petropolis and later at the school Pedro II.[1]

Life as Prince-Consort

After his marriage to Isabel, Gaston tried to participate actively in the Brazilian government, making commentaries and advising about the development of the country. The idea of living as a mere shadow to his wife deeply dissatisfied him. However, Pedro II never allowed either Gaston nor Isabel to participate in the decisions of the government and not even talked with the couple about any subject related to state matters. This situation created serious divergences with his father-in-law and almost reached the point of disruption had not Isabel interceded. She tried at all cost to lighten up the misunderstandings between the emperor and her husband. As time passed, Gaston got used to the idea of not having any power and the first time he dealt with politics with Pedro II was in 1889.[1]

Gaston d´Orléans, the count of Eu, surrounded by a crowd on his arrival to the northern region of Brazil.

As he saw himself excluded from politics of the Brazilian State he looked after other activities. He and his wife turned their attention toward charity and supported several philanthropics and social institutions.[1] José Avelino, who would come to participate in the first Brazilian republican constituent, years after the end of the monarchy he would say about the count of Eu:[6]

Whatever was possible to make him earn the title of Brazilian he made it: regulations, projects of law for better organization of the Army and perfectioning of its material of war; schools, libraries, orphanage for the abandoned children; everything that could help the unproctected or the diverse groups of the society, he planned or executed for the most part.

He visited almost all the provinces of the country, more than any other member of the Imperial Family. He travelled to the southern region, as well as the northeast and the far north of Brazil. By the end of the Empire he made a great trip to the north of Brazil being very well received by all, showing that the monarchy was still popular.[1] After he returned from the War of the Triple Alliance as Marshal-of-the-Army, he became a member of several foreign and Brazilian associations. He was decorated with the medal of the Surrender of Uruguaiana, the Military Merit, the Campaign of Africa and the grand-crosses of Ernest Pious of Saxony, the Orders of the Tower and Sword of the Value, Loyalty and Merit, of Christ, and of Saint Bento of Avis of Portugal, the order of Leopold of Belgium, the Order of the Red Eagle of Mexico and was made a knight of the Order of Saint Fernando of Spain.[1]

Later life

When the Brazilian monarchy was overthrown in 1889, the emperor went into exile with his family to Europe. But in 1922, as part of the commemoration of the first centennial of the country's independence, the Brazilian government rescinded the exile law imposed by the then new republican government in 1889 and allowed the imperial family to return. Isabel was only just deceased, and her husband Gaston, having embarked on a ship to Brazil, died onboard. A few years before, Isabel as imperial princess, had abolished slavery in Brazil, for which cause and legacy she is referred in the world's civilized societies.

Isabel and Gaston's children and issue use the name Orléans-Braganza, and are the claimants to the Brazilian imperial throne.

Currently, the dynastic Head of the Imperial House of Brazil is Prince Luiz of Orleans-Braganza, Gaston's great-grandson.

Another of his great-grandsons, Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza is the current presumptive heir to the throne of Portugal.

His grandson Pedro Gastão of Orléans-Braganza claimed the imperial Brazilian throne (despite his father's renunciation due to morganatic marriage), and could also have been a claimant to the Portuguese throne, as his father apparently never renounced such rights.


  • BARMAN, Roderick J.. Princesa Isabel do Brasil: gênero e poder no século XIX. São Paulo: UNESP, 2005. (In Portuguese)
  • DORATIOTO, Francisco. Maldita Guerra: nova história da Guerra do Paraguai. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2002 (In Portuguese)
  • LYRA, Heitor. História de Dom Pedro II: Ascensão. v.1. Belo Horizonte: Itatiaia, 1979 (In Portuguese)
  • PLÁ, Josefina. Hermano Negro: la esclavitud en el Paraguay. 1972 (In Spanish)
  • VAINFAS, Ronaldo. Dicionário do Brasil Imperial. São Paulo: Objetiva, 2002 (In Portuguese)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l DORATIOTO, Francisco, Maldita Guerra, Companhia das Letras, 2002
  2. ^ PLÁ, Josefina. Hermano Negro: la Esclavitud em el Paraguay. Madri: Ed. Paraninfa, 1972
  3. ^ Leuchars, Chris: To the bitter end: Paraguay and the War of the Triple Alliance, Westport (CT) 2002, p. 215-218.
  4. ^ Cf. Ricardo Bonalume Neto em: Novas lições do Paraguai. Consulted in 15 September 2008.
  5. ^ Cf. Ricardo Bonalume Neto em: Novas lições do Paraguai. Consulted in 15 September 2008.
  6. ^ LYRA, Heitor. História de Dom Pedro II: Ascenção. v.1. São Paulo: UNESP, 1979


Royal styles of
Prince Gaston of Brazil

Blason France moderne.svg

Reference style His Imperial and Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Imperial and Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir


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