The childhood of the princes and princesses of Brazil

Cover image for “Little Princesses and Little Princes of Brazil” | Photo: Disclosure

“But I don’t want to be a prince, I want to be a monk…” John muttered.

At ten years old, the Infant – title given to the princes and princesses of Portugal and Spain who are not heirs to the throne – delighted with religious life, would not have imagined that his elder brother, Dom José, would die prematurely. at the age of 27, leaving the throne to the youngest, who will become Prince Regent of the Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.

We know that the monarch who had to face an unprecedented intercontinental journey to protect the Portuguese Empire from the Napoleonic invasions was afraid of thunderstorms. Expect little John to feel the same; and that a Brazilian child who becomes aware of the experiences that marked the childhood of the figures that permeate school textbooks feels well represented.

It is with this proposal that the historian Paulo Rezzutti, author of biographies of three members of the Brazilian royal family – Dom Pedro I, Dom Pedro II and Empress Leopoldina – and winner of the Jabuti Prize for his “D. Pedro – The untold story “wrote” Princesinhas e Principezinhos do Brasil “(Pingo de Ouro edition), which hit bookstores last October.

With illustrations by Gisèle Daminelli, winner of a competition in which more than 200 artists participated, the book presents children’s stories about historical figures of the country, based on real events. The three biographies of Rezzutti, as well as their relatives, are present, as well as unknown characters like the Congolese princess Aqualtune, who would be the grandmother of Zumbi dos Palmares, and the princess Paraguaçu, daughter of a Tupinambá chief who will become l one of the first natives to officially marry a Portuguese and spread devotion to Our Lady in Brazil.

The idea of ​​looking at the childhood of these personalities, according to Rezzutti, came for the first time during a trip to Petrópolis, in Rio de Janeiro, in the company of his godson. “He must have been 8, 9 years old and would run after me to hear me tell the stories of the place. His name is João Pedro and I first thought of a book about a João and two Pedro, ”says the author, in an interview with Gazeta do Povo.

“Until in 2019, when I launched the biography of Dom Pedro II, I started noticing children in the autograph lines, as well as their parents, and they always wanted to know something about the princes. and princesses of Brazil. There were 10-year-old boys who told us that they had already read the biography, others bragged about having memorized the names of the princes, and I realized that there was a lack of material for this audience ” .

With mini-biographies of the real characters on the final pages, the book pulls together tasty details chained into short fictional stories with real settings. Young readers will see Princess Leopoldine preoccupied with her stone collection as her family prepared to flee amid the Napoleonic invasion of Austria; Dona Carlota Joaquina too lazy to wake up and angry at having to go to mass, Dom Pedro I taking a club on the head while playing war and Paraguaçu speaking Portuguese.

Regarding research on the childhood of these characters, Rezzutti highlights a difficulty: “The most difficult stories were those of blacks and natives, because there are few testimonies. I had to turn to anthropology to learn about paintings, children’s behavior or what was expected of a chef’s daughter, for example. When it comes to royalty, everything is on record, as they belonged to the literate elite. There are letters from Carlota Joaquina’s maid to her mother, telling her that she didn’t like getting up early or changing to go to mass ”.

The author, who says he has always been “addicted” to the boy Dom Pedro I – “he was a kid, he was always doing nothing good, he knew how to have fun”, he says – rejoices when he sees entire families taking an interest in work. “It’s very difficult to produce something that touches so many generations, in the midst of so many stimuli,” says Rezzutti. On the eve of the bicentenary of Independence, “Princesinhas e Principezinhos do Brasil” is a suggestion for parents who want to instill in their children an interest and a passion for national culture, in all its richness.

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