Second Mexican Empire: Wikis


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Imperio Mexicano
Mexican Empire

Flag Coat of arms
Equidad en la Justicia
(Spanish for "Equity in Justice")
Territory of the Second Mexican Empire upon establishment
Capital Mexico City
Language(s) Spanish
Government Constitutional monarchy
 - 1864-1867 Maximiliano I
 - French Intervention 1861
 - Maximilian I accepts the crown April 10, 1864
 - Emperor executed June 19, 1867

The Second Mexican Empire was the name of Mexico under the regime established from 1864 to 1867. For the earlier monarchy in Mexico in 1821-1823 see First Mexican Empire article.

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. The military intervention put Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria on the Mexican Throne as Maximilian I of Mexico. It was promoted and installed by the French, with some support from the Austrian and Spanish Crowns, in order to create a European-style monarchical system in Mexico.

The French also had support from conservative elements within Mexico, such as the Mexican nobility, who were looking for a way to promote stability and end the constant cycle of unrest and revolution.



The Offering of the Mexican Crown by a Mexican delegation, Miramare, 1863.

The rule of Emperor Maximiliano was blemished by constant conflict. On his arrival in 1864 with his wife, Empress Carlota of Mexico, daughter of King Léopold I of the Belgians, he found himself in the middle of a political struggle between the Liberals, headed by Benito Juárez, and the Conservatives that backed him. The two factions had set up parallel governments; the Conservatives in Mexico City controlling central Mexico and the Liberals in Veracruz. The Conservatives received funding from Europe, especially from Isabella II of Spain and Napoleon III of France; the Liberals found backing from United States Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, after they had finished their own Civil War in 1865.

Because some viewed Emperor Maximilian as a French puppet, he was not regarded as the legitimate leader of Mexico by them, including the U.S. government. However, many Mexicans did view him favorably and backed his government.

In 1867, Maximilian was publicly executed at the orders of Benito Juárez, in the Cerro de las Campanas near Queretaro.

Maximilian proved to be too liberal for the conservatives, and too conservative for the liberals. He regarded Mexico as his destiny and made many contributions. Before his death, Maximilian adopted the grandsons of the first Mexican emperor, Agustín de Iturbide. Today, Maximilian von Götzen-Itúrbide is the pretender to the throne of Mexico.

Territorial division

The departments of the Second Mexican Empire.

The Empire was divided into 50 departments (departamentos):


The Role of France

History of Mexico
Coat of Arms of Mexico
This article is part of a series
Pre-Columbian Mexico
Spanish conquest
Colonial period
War of Independence
First Empire
First Republic
War with Texas
Pastry War
Mexican–American War
The Reform
Reform War
French intervention
Second Empire
Restored Republic
La decena trágica
Plan of Guadalupe
Tampico Affair
Occupation of Veracruz
Petroleum Nationalization
Mexican miracle
Mexico 68
La Década Perdida
1982 economic crisis
Zapatista Insurgency
1994 economic crisis
The end of PRI's hegemony

Mexico Portal
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Napoleon III had more ambitious goals in mind than merely the of recovery of France's debts. Napoleon III heavily influenced by his wife the Empress Eugenie, was bent of reviving the Mexican monarchy. He wanted to place a monarch on the throne who would promote the interests of France. Prior to 1861 any interference in the affairs of Mexico by any of the European powers would have been viewed as a challenge to the United States and no one wanted to provoke a conflict with them. However by 1861 the USA was embroiled in its own bloody conflict, the Civil War. The war at home made the government in Washington powerless to intervene. Encouraged by the Empress Eugenie, who saw herself as the champion of the emasculated Catholic Church in Mexico, Napoleon III took advantage of the situation.

Napoleon III saw the opportunity to make France the great civilizing influence in the Western Hemisphere as well as enabling her to capture the South American markets. To give him further encouragement, there was his half brother, the Duc de Morny, who was the largest single holder of Mexican bonds.


  • 1832: Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian born on 6 July, the second son of Archduke Franz Karl and his wife Sophie in Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna.
  • 1851: Begins career in the Imperial and Royal Navy with the rank of lieutenant.
  • 1856: The construction of his castle of Miramar near the Adriatic port of Trieste began.
  • 1857: Ferdinand Max appointed the governor-general of the northern Italian provinces of Lombardy-Venetia. On the 27th July marries the Princess Charlotte of Belgium in Brussels.
  • 1859: On the 19th April relieved of his post as governor-general. War breaks out between France and Piedmont-Sardinia.
  • 1861: Napoleon III suggests Maximilian as a candidate for the throne of Mexico.
  • 1863: In October a Mexican delegation arrives at Miramar to offer Maximilian and Charlotte the crown. Maximilian makes his acceptance conditional on a national plebiscite in his favour.
  • 1864: On the 14th April Maximilian and Charlotte leave Miramar on board the Austrian ship NOVARA to sail to Mexico.
  • 1865: End of the American civil war. Pressure on France to respect the Monroe Doctrine.
  • 1865: Maximilian adopts Don Agustin and Don Salvador.
  • 1866: Napoleon III orders the withdrawal of French troops from Mexico. The Emperor Maximilian refuses to desert his Mexican supporters. Charlotte sails to Europe to plead for help, growing persecution mania robs her of her senses. Republican troops on the advance in Mexico.
  • 1867: Maximilian and his Imperial troops besieged in the town of Querétaro. The town falls through betrayal after 72 days. On 19 June the Emperor Maximilian and two loyalist generals executed by a republican firing-squad on the Hill of the Bells.
  • 1868: On the18th January the body of Maximilian laid to rest among his ancestors in the Imperial Crypt of the Capuchin Church in Vienna.

Popular culture

The 1970 film Two Mules for Sister Sara was set in Mexico during the years of the Second Mexican Empire. The two main characters, played by Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine, aided a Mexican resistance force and ultimately led them to overpower a French garrison.

The 1969 film The Undefeated starring John Wayne and Rock Hudson portrays events during the French Intervention in Mexico and was also loosely based on General Sterling Price's escape to Mexico after the American Civil War and his attempt to join with Maximilian's forces.

The 1954 film Vera Cruz was also set in Mexico and has an appearance of Maximilian having a target shooting competition with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster's character at Chapultepec Castle.

The 1939 film Juarez featured Paul Muni and Bette Davis playing the role of Carlota. It was based, in part, on Bertita Harding's novel The Phantom Crown (1937).

In Mexican popular culture, there have been soap operas like "El Carruaje" (1967), plays, films, and historical novels such as Fernando del Paso's Noticias del Imperio (1987). Biographies, memoirs, and novels have been published since the 1860s, and among the most recent have been Prince Michael of Greece's The Empress of Farewells, available in various languages.


Barker, Nancy N. : The Factor of 'Race' in the French Experience in Mexico, 1821-1861", in: HAHR, no. 59:1, pp. 64-80.

Blumbeg. Arnold: The Diplomacy of the Mexican Empire, 1863-1867. Florida: Krueger, 1987.

Corti, Egon Caesar: Maximilian and Charlotte of Mexico, translated from the German by Catherine Alison Phillips. 2 Volumes. New York: Knopf, 1928.

Pani, Erika: "Dreaming of a Mexican Empire: The Political Projects of the 'Imperialist'", in: HAHR, no. 65:1, pp. 19-49.

See also

External links


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