Victory of the Republican Armies over the Second Mexican Empire (1867)

Victory of the Republican Armies over the Second Mexican Empire (1867)

June 21

The second Mexican Empire refers to the reign of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, of the House of Habsburg as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico in 1864. He was the first and only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire.

MaximilliondelegationThe Empire was created by rich and powerful conservatives in the government who pushed through a referendum confirming Maximilian’s coronation. This was supported by Napoleon III of France, the crowns of Belgium and Austria who wished to gain power in the region.

Maximillion receiving the delegation from Mexico

The conservative elite wanted a monarchical system in Mexico. It had previously operated for 300 years of viceroyalty and as an empire under Emperor Agustin I of Mexico. There was tremendous instability under the more liberal government of Benito Juarez.

The empire was troubled from the start as the parallel governments of Juarez centered in Veracruz and the conservatives in Mexico City continued to disagree. Juarez was supported by the US who saw Maximilian as a puppet government and never recognized him as the legitimate leader of the country and backed Juarez after the US Civil war in 1865.

It has been said that Maximilian was too liberal for the conservatives that supported him and to conservative for Benito Juarez and the liberals.

Maximilian was born on 6 July 1832 in Vienna capital of the Austrian Empire. His father was Archduke Franz Karl and his mother was a Bavarian Princess. He was educated and weaned on privilege of the House of Habsburg and entered the Austrian Navy. He was an accomplished leader and rose quickly through the ranks to when at the age of twenty two, he took office as Commander in Chief. He was both politically and militarily successful.

Maximilian as a liberal and was served as viceroy of the Kingdom Lombartdy-Venetia before he married and moved to Mexico. He was greeted with enthusiastic monarch supporting crowds in Veracruz but immediately also felt the resistance from the country’s liberals.

The Empress and Emperor chose the castle at Chapultepec Park as their residence. A wide avenue was built from the city to this then remote location. The street remains to this day. Paseo de la Reforma.

Maximilian began several programs at feeding and helping the poor. He restricted working hours, abolished child labor, cancelled all debts over 10 pesos, and established communal property. He forbade corporal punishment and passed land reforms, religious freedom, and extended the right to vote beyond the landholding class.

While Maximilian was progressive and liberal, Benito Juarez opposed him because he was a monarchist. At the end of the US civil war, the US supplied arms to Juarez and in 1866 Napoleon III withdrew money and troops. Carlota travelled to Europe to raise funds but was unsuccessful.

In 1867, Maximilian was captured, court marshaled and executed on the Cerro de las Campanas near Querétaro. Max paid the executioner to not shoot him in the face to save his mother anguish. He was shot in the head anyway.

He spoke only in Spanish “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!”


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