Maximilian I of Mexico
Overview
Maximilian I was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire
Second Mexican Empire
The Second Mexican Empire was the name of Mexico under the regime established from 1864 to 1867. It was created by Napoleon III of France, who attempted to use the Mexican adventure to recapture some of the grandeur of earlier Napoleonic times...

.

After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico
Emperor of Mexico
The Emperor of Mexico was the head of state and ruler of Mexico on two non-consecutive occasions in the 19th century....

 on April 10, 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III of France and a group of Mexican monarchists
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 who sought to revive the Mexican monarchy
Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire or rarely Gran Mexico was the name of modern Mexico on two brief occasions in the 19th century when it was ruled by an emperor. With the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire from Spain in 1821, Mexico became an independent monarchy, but was soon replaced with the...

. Many foreign governments, including that of the United States, refused to recognize his administration. This helped to ensure the success of Republican forces led by Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

, and Maximilian was captured and executed in 1867.

Though criticised as naive and indecisive, Maximilian is often praised by historians due to his liberal reforms, his genuine desire to help the people of Mexico, his refusal to desert his loyal followers, and his personal bravery during the siege of Querétaro.
Encyclopedia
Maximilian I was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire
Second Mexican Empire
The Second Mexican Empire was the name of Mexico under the regime established from 1864 to 1867. It was created by Napoleon III of France, who attempted to use the Mexican adventure to recapture some of the grandeur of earlier Napoleonic times...

.

After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico
Emperor of Mexico
The Emperor of Mexico was the head of state and ruler of Mexico on two non-consecutive occasions in the 19th century....

 on April 10, 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III of France and a group of Mexican monarchists
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 who sought to revive the Mexican monarchy
Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire or rarely Gran Mexico was the name of modern Mexico on two brief occasions in the 19th century when it was ruled by an emperor. With the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire from Spain in 1821, Mexico became an independent monarchy, but was soon replaced with the...

. Many foreign governments, including that of the United States, refused to recognize his administration. This helped to ensure the success of Republican forces led by Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

, and Maximilian was captured and executed in 1867.

Though criticised as naive and indecisive, Maximilian is often praised by historians due to his liberal reforms, his genuine desire to help the people of Mexico, his refusal to desert his loyal followers, and his personal bravery during the siege of Querétaro. He has been highly praised even by historians who believe he had no business becoming involved in Mexican affairs. In Mexico, he and his consort are known as Maximiliano and Carlota
Charlotte of Belgium
Charlotte of Belgium is remembered today as Carlota of Mexico as empress consort of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, ex-Archduke of Austria.-Princess of Belgium:The only daughter of Leopold I, King of the Belgians by his second wife,...

.

Birth

Maximilian was born on 6 July 1832 in the Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial 1,441-room Rococo summer residence in Vienna, Austria. One of the most important cultural monuments in the country, since the 1960s it has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna...

, located in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, capital of the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

. He was baptized the following day and given the full name Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph. The first name honored his godfather and paternal uncle, the future Emperor Ferdinand I
Ferdinand I of Austria
Ferdinand I was Emperor of Austria, President of the German Confederation, King of Hungary and Bohemia , as well as associated dominions from the death of his father, Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, until his abdication after the Revolutions of 1848.He married Maria Anna of Savoy, the sixth child...

 and the second honored his maternal grandfather, King Maximilian I of the Kingdom of Bavaria
Kingdom of Bavaria
The Kingdom of Bavaria was a German state that existed from 1806 to 1918. The Bavarian Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of the House of Wittelsbach became the first King of Bavaria in 1806 as Maximilian I Joseph. The monarchy would remain held by the Wittelsbachs until the kingdom's dissolution in 1918...

.

His father was Archduke Franz Karl
Archduke Franz Karl of Austria
Archduke Franz Karl Joseph of Austria from the House of Habsburg was father of two emperors as well as the grandfather of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, whose assassination sparked the hostilities that led to the outbreak of World War I, and the greatgrandfather of the last Habsburg...

, the second surviving male child of the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 Franz II
Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Empire after the disastrous defeat of the Third Coalition by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz...

 (after 1804, ruling the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 as Franz I). Maximilian was thus a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine
House of Lorraine
The House of Lorraine, the main and now only remaining line known as Habsburg-Lorraine, is one of the most important and was one of the longest-reigning royal houses in the history of Europe...

, a female-line cadet branch of the House of Habsburg. His mother was Sophie
Princess Sophie of Bavaria
Sophie Friederike Dorothee Wilhelmine, Princess of Bavaria was born to King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and his second wife Karoline of Baden. She was the identical twin sister of Princess Maria Anna of Bavaria, Queen of Saxony as wife of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony...

, a Bavarian princess of the House of Wittelsbach. Intelligent, ambitious and strong-willed, Sophie had little in common with her husband, who historian Richard O'Conner characterized as "an amiably dim fellow whose main interest in life was consuming bowls of dumplings drenched in gravy." Despite their different personalities, the marriage was fruitful, and after four miscarriages, four sons—including Maximilian—would reach adulthood.

Malicious gossips at the court stated that Maximilian was in fact the product of an extramarital affair between his mother and his first cousin Napoleon II
Napoleon II of France
Napoléon II , after 1818 known as Franz, Duke of Reichstadt, was the son of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, and his second wife, Marie Louise of Austria...

 (then known as the Duke of Reichstadt), the son and heir of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French Empire
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

, and his second wife, Archduchess Marie Louise
Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma
Marie Louise of Austria was the second wife of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French and later Duchess of Parma...

 (daughter of Franz II). The existence of an illicit affair between Sophie and Napoleon II, and any possibility that Maximilian was conceived from such a union, are widely dismissed by historians.

Education

Adhering to traditions inherited from the Spanish court during Habsburg rule, Maximilian's upbringing was supervised by an aja (governess
Governess
A governess is a girl or woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny or a babysitter, she concentrates on teaching children, not on meeting their physical needs...

) until his sixth birthday. Afterwards, his education was entrusted to a tutor. Archduke Franz Karl was kind and loving toward his sons, but he could not serve as a model of princely authority or deportment. Sophie turned to Prince von Metternich, the power behind the Austrian throne, to aid in her children's upbringing. Metternich chose tutors with close ties to himself as educators for the princes.

Most of Maximilian's day was spent in study. The thirty-two hours per week of classes at age 7 steadily grew until it reached fifty-five hours per week by the time he was 17. The disciplines were diverse: ranging from history, geography, law and technology, to languages, military studies, fencing and diplomacy. In addition to his native German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, he eventually learned to speak Hungarian
Hungarian language
Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

, Slavonic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

, English, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 and Spanish. From an early age, Maximilian tried to surpass his older brother Franz Joseph
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

 (Francis Joseph) in everything; attempting to prove to all that he was the better qualified and deserving of more than second place status.

The highly restrictive environment of the Austrian court was not enough to repress Maximilian's natural openness. He was joyful, highly charismatic and able to captivate those around him with ease. Although he was a charming boy, he was also undisciplined. He mocked his teachers and was often the instigator of pranks—even including his imbecile uncle, Emperor Ferdinand I
Ferdinand I of Austria
Ferdinand I was Emperor of Austria, President of the German Confederation, King of Hungary and Bohemia , as well as associated dominions from the death of his father, Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, until his abdication after the Revolutions of 1848.He married Maria Anna of Savoy, the sixth child...

, among his victims. Nonetheless Maximilian was very popular. His attempts to outshine his older brother and ability to charm opened a rift with the aloof and self-contained Franz Joseph that would widen as years passed, and the times when both were close friends in childhood would be all but forgotten.

In 1848, revolutions erupted across Europe
Revolutions of 1848
The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, Springtime of the Peoples or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It was the first Europe-wide collapse of traditional authority, but within a year reactionary...

. In face of protests and riots, Emperor Ferdinand I abdicated in favor of Franz Joseph. Maximilian accompanied his brother on campaigns to put down rebellions throughout the Empire. Only in 1849 would the revolution be stamped out in Austria, with hundreds of rebels executed and thousands imprisoned. Maximilian was horrified at what he regarded as senseless brutality and openly complained about it. He would later remark: "We call our age the Age of Enlightement, but there are cities in Europe where, in the future, men will look back in horror and amazement at the injustice of tribunals, which in a spirit of vengeance condemned to death those whose only crime lay in wanting something different to the arbitrary rule of governments which placed themselves above the law."

Travels

Ferdinand Max was a particularly clever boy who displayed considerable culture in his taste for the arts, and he demonstrated an early interest in science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, especially botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

. When he entered military service, he was trained in the Austrian Navy
Austro-Hungarian Navy
The Austro-Hungarian Navy was the naval force of Austria-Hungary. Its official name in German was Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine , abbreviated as k.u.k. Kriegsmarine....

. He threw himself into this career with so much zeal that he quickly rose to high command.

At the age of twenty-two, Archduke Ferdinand Max took office as Commander-in-Chief of the Austrian Navy in 1854. Like Archduke Friedrich (1821–1847) before him, Ferdinand Max had a keen private interest in the fleet, and with him the Austrian naval force gained an influential supporter from the ranks of the Imperial Family. This was crucial as sea power was never a priority of the Austrian foreign policy and the navy itself was relatively little known or supported by the public. It was only able to draw significant public attention and funds when it was actively supported by an imperial prince. As Commander-in-Chief, Ferdinand Max carried out many reforms to modernise the naval forces, and was instrumental in creating the naval port at Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

 and Pola, now Pula
Pula
Pula is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia, situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula, with a population of 62,080 .Like the rest of the region, it is known for its mild climate, smooth sea, and unspoiled nature. The city has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing,...

 as well as the battle fleet with which admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff
Wilhelm von Tegetthoff
Wilhelm von Tegetthoff was an Austrian admiral. Considered one of the prominent naval commanders of the 19th century, Tegetthoff was known for his innovative tactics as well as his inspirational leadership....

 would later secure his victories. He also initiated a large-scale scientific expedition (1857–1859) during which the frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

 SMS Novara
SMS Novara (1850)
SMS Novara was a sail frigate of the Austro-Hungarian Navy most noted for sailing the globe for the Novara Expedition of 1857–1859 and, later for carrying Archduke Maximilian and wife Carlota to Vera Cruz in May 1864 to become Emperor and Empress of Mexico.-Service :The SMS Novara was a frigate...

became the first Austrian warship to circumnavigate
Circumnavigation
Circumnavigation – literally, "navigation of a circumference" – refers to travelling all the way around an island, a continent, or the entire planet Earth.- Global circumnavigation :...

 the globe.

Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia

In his political views, Archduke Ferdinand Max was very much influenced by the progressive ideas in vogue at the time. He had a reputation as a liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

, and this led, in February 1857, to his appointment as viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.

On 27 July 1857, in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 (Belgium) Archduke Ferdinand Max married his second cousin, Princess Charlotte of Belgium
Charlotte of Belgium
Charlotte of Belgium is remembered today as Carlota of Mexico as empress consort of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, ex-Archduke of Austria.-Princess of Belgium:The only daughter of Leopold I, King of the Belgians by his second wife,...

 (later known as Empress Carlota of Mexico), the daughter of Leopold I, King of the Belgians
Leopold I of Belgium
Leopold I was from 21 July 1831 the first King of the Belgians, following Belgium's independence from the Netherlands. He was the founder of the Belgian line of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

 and Louise-Marie of France. She was first cousin to both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
Prince Albert
Prince Albert was the husband and consort of Queen Victoria.Prince Albert may also refer to:-Royalty:*Prince Albert Edward or Edward VII of the United Kingdom , son of Albert and Victoria...

. Ferdinand Max and Charlotte had no children together.

They lived as the Austrian regents in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 or Viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

s of Lombardy-Venetia from 1857 until 1859, when Emperor Franz Josef dismissed Ferdinand Max from this post. The emperor was angered by the liberal policies pursued by his brother in Italy. Shortly after his dismissal, Austria lost control of most of its Italian possessions. Ferdinand Max then retired to Trieste, near which he built the castle, Miramare
Miramare
The Miramare Castle is a 19th century castle on the Gulf of Trieste near Trieste, northeastern Italy. It was built from 1856 to 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, later Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota of Mexico, to a design by Carl...

.

Offer of a Mexican crown

In 1859, Ferdinand Maximilian was first approached by Mexican monarchists — members of the Mexican aristocracy
Mexican nobility
Mexican nobility refers to the titled nobles and untitled gentry families of Mexico. Most of the descendants of these families still live in Mexico today, but some can be found in Europe and other countries....

, led by local nobleman José Pablo Martínez del Río
Martinez del Rio
-The Martinez del Rio Family:The Martinez del Rio family is one of the leading patrician families, prominent in entrepreneurship and cultural circles. The family has helped to shape Mexico's politics, economy and society from the time of Mexican independence from Spain, until the present day...

 — with a proposal to become the Emperor of Mexico. He did not accept at first, but sought to satisfy his restless desire for adventure with a botanical expedition to the tropical forests
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests , also known as tropical moist forests, are a tropical and subtropical forest biome....

 of Brazil. However, after the French intervention in Mexico
French intervention in Mexico
The French intervention in Mexico , also known as The Maximilian Affair, War of the French Intervention, and The Franco-Mexican War, was an invasion of Mexico by an expeditionary force sent by the Second French Empire, supported in the beginning by the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain...

, under pressure from Napoleon III and after General Élie-Frédéric Forey's capture of Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 and the plebiscite which confirmed his proclamation of the empire, he consented to accept the crown in October 1863 (Ferdinand Maximilian was not told of the dubious nature of the plebiscite, which was held while French troops were occupying most of the territory). His decision involved the loss of all his nobility rights in Austria, though he was not informed of this until just before he left. Archduchess Charlotte was thereafter known as "Her Imperial Majesty Empress Carlota".

Reign as Maximilian Ruler of Mexico

In April 1864, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian conceded his duties as Commander-in-Chief of the Austrian Navy. He traveled from Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

 aboard the SMS Novara
SMS Novara (1850)
SMS Novara was a sail frigate of the Austro-Hungarian Navy most noted for sailing the globe for the Novara Expedition of 1857–1859 and, later for carrying Archduke Maximilian and wife Carlota to Vera Cruz in May 1864 to become Emperor and Empress of Mexico.-Service :The SMS Novara was a frigate...

, escorted by the frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

s (Austrian) and Themis (French), and the Imperial yacht Phantasie led the warship procession from his palace at Miramare
Miramare
The Miramare Castle is a 19th century castle on the Gulf of Trieste near Trieste, northeastern Italy. It was built from 1856 to 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, later Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota of Mexico, to a design by Carl...

 out to sea. They received a blessing from Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

, and Queen Victoria ordered the Gibraltar garrison to fire a salute for Maximilian's passing ship.

The new emperor of Mexico landed at Veracruz on 21 May 1864 to wild enthusiasm from the crowds. He had the backing of Mexican conservatives and Napoleon III, but from the very outset he found himself involved in serious difficulties since the Liberal forces led by President Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

 refused to recognize his rule. There was continuous warfare between his French troops and the Republicans.
The Imperial couple chose as their seat Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

. The Emperor and Empress set up their residence at Chapultepec Castle, located on the top of a hill formerly at the outskirts of Mexico City that had been a retreat of Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 emperors. Maximilian ordered a wide avenue cut through the city from Chapultepec
Chapultepec
Chapultepec Park, more commonly called the "Bosque de Chapultepec" in Mexico City, is the largest city park in Latin America, measuring in total just over 686 hectares. Centered on a rock formation called Chapultepec Hill, one of the park's main functions is to be an ecological space in the vast...

 to the city center; originally named Paseo de la Emperatriz, it is today Mexico City's famous boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma
Paseo de la Reforma
Paseo de la Reforma is a wide avenue that runs in a straight line, cutting diagonally across Mexico City. It was designed by Ferdinand von Rosenzweig in the 1860s and modeled after the great boulevards of Europe, such as Vienna's Ringstrasse or the Champs-Élysées in Paris...

. He also acquired a country retreat at Cuernavaca. The royal couple made plans to be crowned at the Catedral Metropolitana
Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City is the largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. It is situated atop the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor on the northern side of the Plaza de la...

 but, due to the constant instability of the regime, the coronation was never carried out. Maximilian was shocked by the living conditions of the poor in contrast to the magnificent haciendas of the upper class. Empress Carlota began holding parties for the wealthy Mexicans to raise money for poor houses. One of Maximilian's first acts as Emperor was to restrict working hours and abolish child labour. He cancelled all debts for peasants over 10 pesos, restored communal property and forbade all forms of corporal punishment. He also broke the monopoly of the Hacienda stores and decreed that henceforth peons could no longer be bought and sold for the price of their debt.

As Maximilian and Carlota had no children, they adopted Agustín de Iturbide y Green
Agustín de Iturbide y Green
Don Agustín de Iturbide y Green, Prince of Iturbide was the grandson of Agustín de Iturbide, the first emperor of independent Mexico, and his consort Empress Ana María...

 and his cousin Salvador de Iturbide y de Marzán
Salvador de Iturbide y de Marzán
Don Salvador, Prince of Iturbide, also named Salvador de Iturbide y Marzán . was the second adopted son of Maximilian I of Mexico.-Family:...

, both grandsons of Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín Cosme Damián de Iturbide y Aramburu , also known as Augustine I of Mexico, was a Mexican army general who built a successful political and military coalition that was able to march into Mexico City on 27 September 1821, decisively ending the Mexican War of Independence...

, who had briefly reigned as Emperor of Mexico in the 1820s. They gave young Agustín the title of "His Highness, the Prince of Iturbide" and intended to groom him as heir to the throne.

To the dismay of his conservative allies, Maximilian upheld several liberal policies proposed by the Juárez administration – such as land reforms, religious freedom, and extending the right to vote beyond the landholding class. At first, Maximilian offered Juárez an amnesty if he would swear allegiance to the crown, even offering the post as Prime Minister, which Juárez refused. Later, Maximilian ordered all captured followers of Juárez to be shot, in response to the Republican practice of executing anyone who was a supporter of the Empire. In the end, it proved to be a tactical mistake that only exacerbated opposition to his regime.

After the end of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the United States began supplying partisans of Juárez and his ally Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

 by "losing" arms depots for them at El Paso del Norte
Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez , officially known today as Heroica Ciudad Juárez, but abbreviated Juárez and formerly known as El Paso del Norte, is a city and seat of the municipality of Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Juárez's estimated population is 1.5 million people. The city lies on the Rio Grande...

at the Mexican border. The prospect of an US invasion to reinstate Juarez, and the inevitable bloodthirsty reprisals that Juarez was so famous for, caused a large number of Maximilian's loyal adherents to abandon the cause and leave the capital. Meanwhile, Maximilian invited ex-Confederates to move to Mexico in a series of settlements called the "Carlota Colony" and the New Virginia Colony
New Virginia Colony
The New Virginia Colony was a colonization plan in central Mexico, to resettle ex-Confederates and any other immigrants from any nation. and other Americans after the American Civil War...

 with a dozen others being considered, a plan conceived by the internationally renowned U.S. Navy oceanographer and inventor Matthew Fontaine Maury
Matthew Fontaine Maury
Matthew Fontaine Maury , United States Navy was an American astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator....

. Maximilian also invited settlers from "any country" including Austria and the other German states.

Nevertheless, by 1866, the imminence of Maximilian's abdication
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 seemed apparent to almost everyone outside Mexico. That year, Napoleon III withdrew his troops in the face of Mexican resistance and U.S. opposition under the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

, as well as increasing his military contingent at home to face the ever growing Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n military and Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

. Carlota travelled to Europe, seeking assistance for her husband's regime in Paris and Vienna and, finally, in Rome from Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

. Her efforts failed, and she suffered a deep emotional collapse and never went back to Mexico. After her husband was executed by Republicans the following year, she spent the rest of her life in seclusion, never admitting her husband's death, first at Miramare Castle near Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

, Italy, and then at Bouchout Castle
Bouchout Castle
Bouchout Castle is a castle in the Flemish town of Meise, Belgium. In the 12th century, this territory of the young Duchy of Brabant was strategically positioned between the County of Flanders and the Berthout family, lords of Grimbergen...

 in Meise
Meise
Meise is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. The municipality comprises the towns of Meise proper and Wolvertem , and, several smaller villages like Sint-Brixius-Rode, Oppem, Meusegem, Impde/Imde, Rossem, Westrode and quarters as Bouchout, Nerom and Slozen. As of...

, Belgium, where she died on 19 January 1927.

Downfall

Though urged to abandon Mexico by Napoleon III himself, whose troop withdrawal from Mexico was a great blow to the Mexican Imperial cause, Maximilian refused to desert his followers. Maximilian allowed his followers to determine whether or not he abdicated. Faithful generals such as Miguel Miramon
Miguel Miramón
Miguel Gregorio de la Luz Atenógenes Miramón y Tarelo was a Mexican conservative general. He served as unconstitutional interim conservative president of Mexico .Miramón was born in Mexico City into a family of French heritage...

, Leonardo Márquez
Leonardo Marquez
Leonardo Márquez was a Mexican general. He fought against the United States in the Intervention of 1846-1848 and was a prominent supporter of Antonio López de Santa Anna in the revolutionary movement of 1849...

, and Tomás Mejía
Tomás Mejía
Tomás Mejía was a Mexican soldier, born in Pinal de Amoles, Sierra Gorda, Querétaro. He fought as a Cavalry General on the side of Maximilian I of Mexico during the war between Monarchists and Republicans following the French intervention in 1862 and rise of the Second Mexican Empire in...

 vowed to raise an army that would challenge the invading Republicans. Maximilian fought on with his army of 8,000 Mexican loyalists. Withdrawing, in February 1867, to Santiago de Querétaro
Santiago de Querétaro
Santiago de Querétaro is the capital and largest city of the state of Querétaro, located in central Mexico. It is located 213 km northwest of Mexico City, 96 km southeast of San Miguel de Allende and 200 km south of San Luis Potosí...

, he sustained a siege for several weeks, but on May 11 resolved to attempt an escape through the enemy lines. This plan was sabotaged by Colonel Miguel López who was bribed by the Republicans to open a gate and lead a raiding party though with the agreement that Maximilian would be allowed to escape.

The city fell on 15 May 1867 and Maximilian was captured the next morning after the failure of a courageous attempt to break through Republican lines by a loyal hussar
Hussar
Hussar refers to a number of types of light cavalry which originated in Hungary in the 14th century, tracing its roots from Serbian medieval cavalry tradition, brought to Hungary in the course of the Serb migrations, which began in the late 14th century....

 cavalry brigade led by Felix Salm-Salm
Felix Salm-Salm
-Life:Felix Constantin Alexander Johan Nepomuk, prince Salm Salm, was born in Anholt, Prussia, 25 December 1828. Felix was the son of the reigning Prince zu Salm Salm. He grew up training to be a soldier at a cadet-school in Berlin, Germany and soon became an officer in the Prussian cavalry...

. Following a court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

, he was sentenced to death. Many of the crowned heads of Europe and other prominent figures (including the eminent liberals Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

 and Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure. In his twenties, he joined the Carbonari Italian patriot revolutionaries, and fled Italy after a failed insurrection. Garibaldi took part in the War of the Farrapos and the Uruguayan Civil War leading the Italian Legion, and...

) sent telegrams and letters to Mexico pleading for the Emperor's life to be spared. Although he liked Maximilian on a personal level, Juárez refused to commute the sentence in view of the Mexicans who had been killed fighting against Maximilian's forces, and because he believed it was necessary to send a message that Mexico would not tolerate any government imposed by foreign powers. The sentence was carried out in the Cerro de las Campanas on the morning of June 19, 1867 when Maximilian, along with Generals Miramón and Mejía, was executed by a firing squad. He spoke only in Spanish and gave his executioners a portion of gold not to shoot him in the head so that his mother could see his face. His last words were, "I forgive everyone, and I ask everyone to forgive me. May my blood which is about to be shed, be for the good of the country. Viva Mexico, viva la independencia!" Despite having taken the money, the Juarista firing squad shot him in the face. The two Mexican generals shot after him both died shouting, "Long live the Emperor."

Burial

After his execution, Maximilian's body was embalmed and displayed in Mexico. Early the following year, the Austrian admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff
Wilhelm von Tegetthoff
Wilhelm von Tegetthoff was an Austrian admiral. Considered one of the prominent naval commanders of the 19th century, Tegetthoff was known for his innovative tactics as well as his inspirational leadership....

 was sent to Mexico aboard the SMS Novara
SMS Novara (1850)
SMS Novara was a sail frigate of the Austro-Hungarian Navy most noted for sailing the globe for the Novara Expedition of 1857–1859 and, later for carrying Archduke Maximilian and wife Carlota to Vera Cruz in May 1864 to become Emperor and Empress of Mexico.-Service :The SMS Novara was a frigate...

to take the former emperor's body back to Austria. After arriving in Trieste, the coffin was taken to Vienna and buried in the Imperial Crypt on 18 January 1868.

Legacy

In Mexico today Maximilian is generally seen neither as a hero nor as a villain, but rather a man who tried to do his best for the people despite having no business involving himself in Mexican affairs. Early in his rule he began to lose the backing of his principal supporter Napoleon III, while in general Maximilian proved to be much too liberal for his Mexican conservative allies.

Titles and honors

Titles and styles

  • 6 July 1832 – 10 April 1864: His Imperial and Royal Highness The Serene Prince and Lord Ferdinand Maximilian Josef, Archduke and Imperial Prince of Austria, Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, Count of Habsburg, Prince of Lorraine, etc.
  • 10 April 1864 – 19 June 1867: His Imperial Majesty The Emperor


The Emperor's full style and title were "His Imperial Majesty Don Maximiliano I, by the grace of God and will of the people, Emperor of Mexico".

Honors

Emperor Maximilian I was Grand Master
Grand Master (order)
Grand Master is the typical title of the supreme head of various orders of knighthood, including various military orders, religious orders and civil orders such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Orange Order...

 of the following Mexican Orders:
  • Order of the Mexican Eagle
  • Order of Saint Charles
  • Order of Guadalupe


He was a recipient of the following foreign honors:
  • Grand Cross of the Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross
    Order of the Southern Cross
    The National Order of the Southern Cross is a Brazilian order of chivalry founded by Emperor Pedro I on 1 December 1822. This order was intended to commemorate the independence of Brazil and the coronation of Pedro I...

    .
  • Grand Cross of the Portuguese Order of the Tower and Sword
    Order of the Tower and Sword
    The Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit is a Portuguese order of knighthood and the pinnacle of the Portuguese honours system. It was created by King Afonso V in 1459....

    .
  • Grand Cross (First Class) of the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle
    Order of the Red Eagle
    The Order of the Red Eagle was an order of chivalry of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was awarded to both military personnel and civilians, to recognize valor in combat, excellence in military leadership, long and faithful service to the kingdom, or other achievements...

    .
  • Grand Cross of the Hanoverian Royal Guelphic Order
    Royal Guelphic Order
    The Royal Guelphic Order, sometimes also referred to as the Hanoverian Guelphic Order, is a Hanoverian order of chivalry instituted on 28 April 1815 by the Prince Regent . It has not been conferred by the British Crown since the death of King William IV in 1837, when the personal union of the...

    .
  • Grand Cross of the Dutch Order of the Netherlands Lion.
  • Grand Cross of the Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen
    Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary
    The Royal Hungarian Order of Saint StephenThe Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary, the royal Hungarian order, founded in 1764 by the empress Maria Theresa of Austria, consisted of the grand master , 20 knights grand cross, 30 knights commanders and 50 knights...

    .
  • Grand Cross of the French Légion d'honneur
    Légion d'honneur
    The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

    .
  • Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of Saint Ferdinand and of Merit.
  • Grand Cordon (military) of the Belgian Order of Leopold.
  • Grand Cross of the Greek Order of the Redeemer
    Order of the Redeemer
    The Order of the Redeemer , also known as the Order of the Savior, is an order of Greece. The Order of the Redeemer is the oldest and highest decoration awarded by the modern Greek state.- History :...

    .
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Joseph
    Order of Saint Joseph
    The Order of Saint Joseph was instituted in 1807 by Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany during his reign as Grand Duke of Würzburg. It was transformed into a Tuscan Dynastic Order in 1817....

     of Tuscany.
  • Grand Cross of the House Order of Henry the Lion of Brunswick.
  • Grand Cross of the Philip the Magnanimous of Hesse.
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Malta.
  • Knight of the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle
    Order of the Black Eagle
    The Order of the Black Eagle was the highest order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Prussia. The order was founded on 17 January 1701 by Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg . In his Dutch exile after WWI, deposed Emperor Wilhelm II continued to award the order to his family...

    .
  • Knight of the Sicilian Order of Saint Januarius.
  • Knight of the House Order of Fidelity of Baden.
  • Knight of the Bavarian Order of Saint Hubert
    Order of Saint Hubert (Bavarian)
    The Bavarian Order of Saint Hubert was founded in 1444 or 1445 by Gerhard V, Duke of Jülich and Count of Ravensberg. He sought to commemorate his victory over the House of Egmond at the Battle of Linnich on 3 November, which is Saint Hubert's day....

    .
  • Knight (with collar) of the Swedish Royal Order of the Seraphim.
  • Knight of the Austrian Order of the Golden Fleece.
  • Knight of the Saxonian Order of the Rue Crown.
  • Knight of the Hanoverian Order of St. George
    Order of St. George (Hanover)
    The Order of St. George , was founded by King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, on 23 April 1839. In the statutes establishing the order it was designated as the House Order of the Crown of Hanover...

    .
  • Knight of the Russian Order of St. Alexander Nevsky
    Order of St. Alexander Nevsky
    The Imperial Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was an order of chivalry of the Russian Empire.-History:The introduction of the Imperial Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was planned by Emperor Peter I of Russia...

    .
  • Knight (First Class) of the Russian Order of Saint Stanislaus
    Order of Saint Stanislaus
    The Order of Saint Stanislaus , also spelled Stanislas, was an Order in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and The Kingdom of Poland between 1765 and 1831 and of Russian Empire from 1831 to 1917.-History of the Order of Saint Stanislaus:Stanisław August Poniatowski, King of Poland, established the...

    .
  • Knight of the Russian Order of the White Eagle.
  • Knight of the Russian Order of St. Andrew
    Order of St. Andrew
    The Order of St. Andrew the First-Called is the first and the highest order of chivalry of the Russian Empire.- Russian Empire :The Order was established in 1698 by Tsar Peter the Great, in honour of Saint Andrew, the first apostle of Jesus and patron saint of Russia...

    .
  • Knight (First Class) of the Russian Order of St. Anna
    Order of St. Anna
    The Order of St. Anna ) is a Holstein and then Russian Imperial order of chivalry established by Karl Friedrich, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp on 14 February 1735, in honour of his wife Anna Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great of Russia...

    .
  • Knight (with collar) of the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle
    Order of the Black Eagle
    The Order of the Black Eagle was the highest order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Prussia. The order was founded on 17 January 1701 by Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg . In his Dutch exile after WWI, deposed Emperor Wilhelm II continued to award the order to his family...

    .

Ancestry



Endnotes


  1. "Such an easy assumption of an improbable sexual relationship", said Alan Palmer, "fails to understand the nature of the attachment binding" Sophie and Reichstadt, who saw themselves as alien misfits stranded in a foreign court. To Palmer, their "confidences were those of a brother and elder sister rather than of lovers." "There is no documentary evidence to suggest that she and the Duke of Reichstadt were ever lovers", according to Joan Haslip. "Whether the young Napoleon was actually the father of Maximilian could only be the subject of fascinating conjecture, something for courtiers and servants to gossip about on the long winter nights in the Hofburg [Palace]", said Richard O'Connor. "There is not a shred of evidence to support the rumors", affirmed Jasper Ridley. "It was said that Sophie confessed", continued Ridley, "in a letter to her father confessor, that Maximilian was the son of Napoleon, and that the letter was found and destroyed in 1859, but there is no reason to believe this story ... would she have had a sexual relationship with a boy whom she regarded as a child and a younger brother?" The birth of two more sons after the death of Reichstadt in 1832 lessened even more the credibility of these claims.



External links


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