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🏝️ Vance 🏜️ @MyLatinLife
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👑🇲🇽 The Last Emperor of Mexico 👑🇲🇽


Vienna, Austria. 1840.

Two boys born into Austrian royalty: Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph and his older brother, Franz Joseph.

Franz takes the throne, and Max joins the navy.
In 1856, Franz sends Max to Paris to congratulate Napoleon III on the birth of his heir/to ease tensions due to Napoleon's ambitions to expand his empire.

Maximilian then heads off to Belgium and marries the Belgian Princess, Charlotte (his second cousin!)
Max and Charlotte begin to build a life together in the southern part of the Austrian empire, where Maximilian spends his days relaxing, commissioning artwork and looking at the ocean.

A 19th century NEET.
Fast forward.

Paris. 1861.

Napoleon III wants to expand his empire. He's eying Mexico. It owes a lot of money to France, England and Spain, but Mexican President Benito Juarez won't pay his debts.

Together, the three countries strike Mexico.
Napoleon writes to Franz requesting Maximilian, seeing him as a good fit to rule Mexico.

For the next two years, Napoleon wages war in Mexico and sends updates to Maximilian.
Spain and England pull out. Now, it's France against Mexico. Napoleon is pressuring Max to go to Mexico, talking 'bout how much power he'll have, but Maximilian is doubtful.
Max suggests the Mexican people vote. A referendum is held suggesting that the Mexican people are supportive of a European monarchy, and Maximilian finally agrees to go.

However, what ole naive Maximilian doesn't know is that many votes have been obtained by force.
Down in Mexico, a civil war is raging. Mexican President Benito Juarez wants a Mexico for Mexicans. No foreign elements.

By 1864, Napoleon has pushed Juarez north, where he established a government in exile.
Now-Emperor Maximilian arrives at the southern port of Veracruz, Mexico. He's met with crumbling walls and silence. No cheering crowds.

Nobody appears to care.
From Mexico City, Maximilian explores Central Mexico, a part of the country that has been pacified by Napoleon's troops. He meets indigenous groups, and tries to learn their languages.
To protect these Indigenous workers, Maximilian passes sweeping labour laws - many of which are ahead of their time - like free public schooling.
A year and a half after Maximilian's arrival, things are looking even worse for Napoleon. The French troops are retreating and the Juaristas (the guerrilla group that supports Juarez) are now receiving aid from the USA.

The Americans want the French the fuck outta Mexico.
Maximilian has to act. His troops are getting battered. He issues the Black Decree: armed supporters of Juarez will be executed without trial.

Thousands are killed.
French troops continue to get beat down. They simply can't get the Mexican people on their side.

Napoleon has had enough. He wants out. He withdraws his troops and demands that Maximilian abdicates.
But Max's wife Charlotte won't have it. She's pissed off, you see. After all, her grandfather gave up the French throne to Napoleon III. She's not going down so easy. She sails to Paris to change Napoleon's mind. dice.
Maximilian takes off to a small hacienda, to get away from it all.

He finds comfort in his Mexican mistress, the gardener's daughter

(many such cases!).
Maximilian is just chilling in Mexico. And Juarez is approaching. In secrecy, Max flees Mexico City for Orizaba on the coast. He plans to leave and go to Europe to be with his wife once and for all.

BUT, right as he's about to leave, a letter arrives from his mother...
She urges him to stay. Indecisive Maximilian passes the choice to his ministers.

As the ministers debate this important decision, Max spends his time studying...bugs.

The local Mexican press finds out and relentlessly makes fun of him, nicknaming him "the great dreamer".
The decision comes down from the ministers: Maximilian will stay.

Benito Juarez sees Maximilian as both a butterfly-catching fool AND a colonial aggressor.

The latter is unforgivable.

He vows to send a clear message about imperialism.
Max retreats to Queretaro, one of the only cities still loyal to him.

April 1867.

Juarez's army surrounds Queretaro. One of Maximilian's generals betrays him, and allows the army to break through a city wall. Queretaro falls on May 15th, 1867.

Maximilian surrenders.
Juarez orders a military tribunal.

Decision: Maximilian will be executed by firing squad.

Benito Juarez arrives to town to see Maximilian's body, the first time face to face.

Juarez's only comment?

"I thought he was taller".
Back in Europe, Maximilian's wife Charlotte goes crazy, and lives in near isolation for another 60 years.
In Mexico, Max is seen as a fool and an aggressor; someone who was responsible for many deaths. His reforms largely remained on paper during his reign and, although they'd serve as the basis for some of Mexico's more progressive laws, for that he receives little credit.
Just one of many chapters in Mexico's blood-soaked past.

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