Maximilian's wife Charlotte
Leopold I, King of Belgium with his wife Louise and their children.
Empress Charlotte (Carlota) of Mexico
Charlotte of Belgium was born on the 7th June 1840.
Charlotte belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and was the daughter of King Leopold I, of Belgium and Louise of Orléans.
Leopold I, King of Belgium
Princess Charlotte belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Charlotte was the daughter of Leopold I, King of Belgium, and Louise of France.
The young princess was very dignified, intelligent, charming, and beautiful.
Charlotte’s brother Leopold married in 1853 to the Habsburg Princess Marie Henriette and during the summer of 1856 the Habsburg Archduke Maximilian visited Brussels.
During his first and second visit the young sixteen-year-old Charlotte fell in love with Maximilian and was fascinated by his charm and the stories of his travels to exotic places and drawings of Miramar Castle which Maximilian was having built near Trieste.
In February 1857, Maximilian was appointed Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia.
The Archduke asked the King for the hand of his daughter and on the 27th July 1857 the then 17-year-old Princess Charlotte married Maximilian in Brussels.
The young couple then travelled to Milan.
The beautiful city of Venice and the idea of her husband’s future role as Viceroy seemed to make up for the cold reception that the young couple had received on arrival.
During the following two years Maximilian and Charlotte lived in Milan as Viceroys of Lombardy-Venetia.
In 1859, Emperor Franz Josef dismissed his brother from this post.
The Emperor was upset about the liberal policies which his brother favoured.
Maximilian stayed in his castle at Miramar.
The marriage between Maximilian and Charlotte was not that what it seemed to be.
Maximilian spent a lot of his time in Vienna and travelled to Brazil and enjoyed the joys of life as they came.
Charlotte stayed in Miramar during his absence and carried on pretending to be happily married.
Maximilian’s way of life made things get worse after Charlotte had been infected with venereal disease which made it impossible for her to have children.
The couple thereafter slept in separate bedrooms but continued to show themselves together in public and did not display any problems openly.
In 1863, Napoleon III of France offered the Crown of Mexico to Maximilian.
Maximilian was not sure and hesitated.
Charlotte was very interested and was in favour of the offer.
Napoleon III wanted to conquer Mexico for France and at the same time weaken the United States by supporting the Confederate States. The French were at first defeated at the Battle of Puebla but tried again and managed to take control of Mexico City.
A group of pro-French Mexican monarchists were interested in establishing a monarchy, and Maximilian was selected as the possible Emperor.
Napoleon III promised that the French would support the Mexican Empire and Maximilian finally agreed to accept the Imperial Crown of Mexico.
In 1864, Maximilian and Charlotte left Trieste and sailed to Mexico where they received yet another cold reception and very little enthusiasm.
Maximilian and Charlotte leaving Trieste