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Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza : biography

23 September 1907 - 24 December 1976

Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza (Duarte Nuno Fernando Maria Miguel Gabriel Rafael Francisco Xavier Raimundo António de Bragança; 23 September 1907 – 24 December 1976; ) was a claimant to the defunct throne of Portugal from 1920 until his death.

Return to Portugal

On 27 May 1950 the National Assembly repealed the laws of exile of 19 December 1834 and 15 October 1910. Duarte Nuno, however, did not return to Portugal until 1952 on account of a car accident in Thionville in which he was seriously injured. He was presented with a residence in Portugal by the Fundação Casa de Bragança.

Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar thought about restoring the monarchy in 1951, after the death of President Óscar Carmona, but he chose instead to maintain the post of republican Head of State as it had appeared in the Constitution of 1933.

In 1974, Duarte Nuno handed over his residence, the Palácio de São Marcos, to the University of Coimbra. From then until his death two years later, he lived in southern Portugal with his unmarried sister, the Infanta Filippa. American author Walter J. P. Curley interviewed Duarte Nuno near the end of his life, and his book Monarchs in Waiting describes Duarte Nuno as suffering from "nervous depression" since the death of his wife.

Duarte Nuno was Grand Master of the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa and Sovereign of the Order of Saint Isabel. He was a Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a Knight of the (Austrian) Order of the Golden Fleece.

Duarte Nuno is buried in the Augustinian monastery in Vila Viçosa, the traditional burial place of the dukes of Braganza.


Duarte Nuno’s first tutors were two Portuguese ladies, Maria Luisa Castelo and Maria das Dores de Sousa Prego. Later he was taught by the Benedictine monk Frei Estevao from the monastery of Cucujaes. Duarte Nuno attended school at the Abbey of Ettal in Bavaria and the Abbey of Clairvaux in France and then completed his secondary education in Regensburg. He received a degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Toulouse. Although forbidden entry to Portugal by the law of exile against the descendants of Miguel I, he visited the country in secret in 1929.

Marriage and children

On 15 October 1942, in the cathedral of Petropolis in Brazil, Duarte Nuno married Princess Maria Francisca of Orleans-Braganza (8 September 1914 - 15 January 1968), daughter of Pedro de Alcântara, Prince of Grão Para. The marriage was particularly popular since Maria Francisca was the great-granddaughter of Pedro II of Brazil, the younger brother of Queen Maria II. The marriage thus united the two rival lines of the Portuguese royal family. Maria Francisca and her family were also viewed as representatives of a liberal monarchy as opposed to the traditional conservatism of Duarte Nuno's family.

Duarte Nuno and Maria Francisca had three sons:

  • Duarte Pio, current Duke of Braganza (born 1945).
  • Miguel, 7th Duke of Viseu (born 1946).
  • Henrique, 4th Duke of Coimbra (born 1949).

Succession as Miguelist claimant

Duarte Nuno’s second brother, Prince Francis Joseph of Braganza, died in 1919, and on 21 July 1920 his eldest brother, Prince Miguel, Duke of Viseu, renounced his succession rights. Ten days later on 31 July 1920 Duarte Nuno’s father, Miguel II, abdicated his claim to the Portuguese throne in favour of Duarte Nuno. Henceforth the Miguelists recognised Duarte Nuno as King Duarte II of Portugal, even though Portugal had become a republic in 1910 when Maria II’s great-grandson, King Manuel II (who was still living in 1920), was sent into exile. Duarte Nuno used Duke of Braganza as a title of pretense.

Since Duarte Nuno was only twelve years old when he succeeded as Miguelist claimant to the Portuguese throne, his aunt, Infanta Adelgundes, Duchess of Guimarães, acted as regent for him until he attained his majority. In 1921, she issued a manifesto outlining the family’s goals for the restoration of the monarchy.

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