Maximilian of Mexico - My Way of Telling History

Emperor Maximilian

Maximilian of Mexico


The second son of Archduke Franz Karl and the Archduchess Sophie was born in the palace of Schönbrunn on the 6th July 1832.
Maximilian loved the sea and the Adriatic coast and so decided to build the romantic palace of Miramar just outside the port of Trieste.
In 1857, Franz Joseph appointed his brother Governor General in the Austrian held provinces of northern Italy, the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia but Maximilian's liberalism aroused less enthusiasm in Vienna and he was increasingly seen as being in opposition to his brother's government. In 1859, Franz Joseph relieved his brother of his office and installed a military government.


Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth arriving in Miramar (Miramare).
Empress Elisabeth (in black) is being greeted by Charlotte (in pink).
Emperor Franz Joseph is leaving the boat followed by his brother Archduke Maximilian.

At the same time, a short military intervention of the Spanish, English and French troops in Mexico was launched to enforce the payment of the huge foreign debts of the Mexican republic but the Spanish and English soon withdrew, leaving the French troops of Napoleon III alone in their attempt to establish a pro-French regime.
The French decided to re-establish a monarchy and offered the crown to the “Habsburg” archduke Maximilian of Austria and a continuation “reincarnation” of Habsburg rule in Mexico. Although the United States were very much against the political moves in Mexico, the civil war then disrupting the internal situation of the Union prevented any action being taken.

Maximilian receiving the Mexican delegation,
being offered the crown of Mexico.


In October 1863, a Mexican delegation left Paris and travelled via Vienna to Miramar (Miramare), near Trieste, to offer the Crown of Mexico to the Archduke Maximilian. The delegation was headed by Don Gutierrez de Estrada.
They arrived in Miramar and were received by Archduke Maximilian in gala dress.

The Archduke,replied to the offer and said:

"I am deeply moved by the wishes of the Mexican assembly. It is most flattering to our house that their choice should have fallen on a descendant of Charles V. Yet noble and lofty a mission as it is to establish the welfare and independence of Mexico, I agree with Emperor Napoleon that the monarchy can be restored on a firm and stable basis only by the free consent of the people.

My acceptance of the throne is therefore dependent upon a plebiscite of the whole country.

On the other hand, it shall be my duty to secure the guarantees are indispensable to secure Mexico against the dangers which threaten her integrity and necessary to protect Mexico from the dangers that menace her honour and her liberties.

Should these guarantees be obtained, and the vote of the people be in my favour, then I shall be ready, with the consent of my Imperial brother, to accept the crown.
Should Providence call me to this high mission, I must declare that it is my firm intention, after the pacification of the country, to open the way for progress by granting a constitution and make this fundamental law permanent by an oath.
By such means only can a new and truly national policy be created, by means of which all parties, forgetting their differences, may work with me to lift Mexico to a prominent place among nations.

Bring back this declaration to your fellow-citizens and ascertain what form of government they desire."

Emperor Maximilian and Empress Charlotte

The Archduke Maximilian accepted the Imperial crown on the 10th April 1864 and set sail together with his wife for their new “homeland” as Emperor and Empress of Mexico.
The civil war in Mexico was under control at this time and the French had achieved the upper hand but the republicans under Benito Juárez were still fighting for a Mexican republic.
Maximilian saw the welfare of all his subjects as his first concern and hoped that his liberalism would enable reconciliation with the republican opposition.
As the American Civil War came to an end, the United States put the French Emperor Napoleon III under massive pressure to withdraw his troops from Mexico and the political situation for Maximilian became more and more difficult as time went by. In 1866, Maximilian's wife, Charlotte, returned to Europe in a desperate attempt to ensure that Napoleon III would keep his written promises made to Maximilian. Napoleon rejected all of her pleas and the desperation of failure plunged the young Empress into insanity.
On the 13th February 1867, the Emperor Maximilian left Mexico City with the National Guard and assembled his army in the town of Querétaro some 100 miles to the north but the advancing republican armies soon surrounded his troops.
On the 15th May one of his military commanders, Colonel López betrayed the town to the Republicans. Maximilian and his loyal generals fell into the hands of the Republicans and were brought before a military tribunal and condemned to death.

At dawn on the 19th June 1867, Maximilian was executed by firing squad.
Maximilian's body was returned to Austria and brought to the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.



The Mexican Emperor, refused to be blindfolded and gave a gold coin to each member
of the firing squad before
pointing to his heart whilst saying,
"Muchachos, aim well, and aim right here."
Maximilian's last words were:

….. persons of my rank and origin are destined by God either to be benefactors of the people or martyrs.

Called by a great part of you, I came for the good of the country.

Ambition did not bring me here.

I came with the best of intentions and sincerest wishes for the future of my adopted country and for that of my soldiers, whom I thank before my death for the sacrifices which they have made for me.

Mexicans! …..

May my blood be the last which shall be spilled for the welfare of the country and if it should be necessary that its sons should still shed theirs, may it flow for its good, never by treason…..

Long live Independence…..

Long live Mexico!