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About this collection

The Second Mexican Empire under Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico marked a period of intense European intervention in the Americas.

 

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph of Austria, a member of the House of Habsburg, was first offered the Mexican crown by monarchists aligned with Napoleon III in 1859. He accepted in 1863 and moved to Mexico City the following year with his wife Carlota, the former Princess Charlotte of Belgium. The new Emperor of Mexico was not welcomed by Mexican President Benito Juaréz, a liberal, and he faced opposition from conservative landowners. His brief and unstable regime came to an end in 1867 when he was captured by Republican forces and executed.

 

Carlota had returned to Europe in 1866 to advocate for her husband’s regime. She suffered a profound mental collapse and remained in Europe where she lived in seclusion, refusing to acknowledge Maximilian’s death. She died in Belgium in 1927, having survived her husband by 60 years.

 

The Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico collection includes approximately 400 letters exchanged by Maximilian and his consort the Empress Carlota. The letters commence during the couple's engagement and end shortly before Maximilian's execution in Querétaro, Mexico, in 1867, providing insight into the political situation in Mexico, the precariousness of the Empire under Maximilian, and controversies concerning the church, Mexican landowners, and the Juárez revolution.

 

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