Archduke Maximilian

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Maximilian I

Archduke Maximilian (1832-1867) was archduke of Austria who was crowned emperor of Mexico on June 10, 1864. He was unaware of the intrigues that placed him on the throne and the Mexican unrest that led to his execution.

Conservative Mexicans cut a deal with the French emperor Napoleon III to oust the liberal President Benito Juarez and replace him with Maximilian. Napoleon III hoped to obtain repayment on money owed France by Mexico, and to advance French imperialism in Mexico. He promised Maximilian support of the French army, and Maximilian moved to Mexico with his wife Carlota, who was the daughter of Belgian King Leopold I.

Maximilian made mistakes once he took power. He continued Juarez's policies, which angered wealthy landowners and the Catholic Church, which expected a return of land seized by Juárez.

When the American Civil War ended in April 1865, the United States demanded that the French withdraw their troops from Mexico based on the Monroe Doctrine. Carlota then went to Europe to plead for help from Napoleon III and Pope Pius IX. They refused. In March 1867 the French troops withdrew from Mexico, but Maximilian insisted on staying and fighting Juarez. Juarez's superior forces overpowered Maximilian and Juarez rejected many European requests that he spare Maximilian's life. Juarez refused the requests and had Maximilian executed on June 19, 1867.

See also

Manet The Execution of Emperor Maximilian.

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