*** Archduke Maximillian/Emperor of Mexico

Austrian Royalty: Archduke Maximillian/Emperor of Mexico (1832-67)

Archduke Maximillian
Figure 1.--German arist Joseph Stieler, working in the Bavarian court, painted this study of Archduke Maximillian at age 6 years old (1838). This would hve been when he began studying under a tutor. He was by all accounts a clever and amnbitious boy. He brideled under the dynastic arrangement in which his older brother Franz Ferdinnd would be Emperor. And he developed more liberal attitudes than eirher of his brothers. His ambition was part of the reason he agreed with the French offer to install him as Emperor of Mexico. And perhaps he thought as many did that his real father was Napoleon II.

Another brother Emperor Franz Josef's brothers was the ill-fated Archduke Maximilian who the French attempted to install as Emperor of Mexico (1863). Maximilian was born in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna (1832). He was baptized the following day as Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph. The first name honored his godfather and paternal uncle, Emperor Ferdinand II, and the second honored his maternal grandfather, Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria. Maximilian was desctibed as clever boy. He acquired a taste for culture and the arts. He also had an interest in science, especially botany. Maximilian's upbringing was closely supervised. A a younger childy, he was cared for by Baroness Louise von Sturmfeder, who was his aja (nurse/nanny). At age 6 years his education was taken over by a tutor. The painting here was done at that time (figure 1). He did not have a carefree childhood. Long hours were devoted to study. The hours per week of classes steadily increased from 32 to 55 by the time he was 17 years old. In the best German tradition, he received a well-rounded education. Many diverse disciplines were covered. His studies included history, geography, law, and technology. Also included in the curuculum was languages, military studies, fencing and diplomacy. At some point as he became aware of his position within the dynasty, Maximilian appears to have been motivated by a desire to surpass his older brother Franz Joseph, apparently to prove that he was qualified to more than second-place status. Given his liberal attitudes, history might have been different if he had been emperor. As a member of the royal family, he began military training and unlike his younger brother, Karl Ludwig, took to it. He trained in the Imperial Austrian Navy. He applied himself enthusiastically and of course aided by his royal satus quickly rose to high command. Archduke Maximilian married his second cousin Charlotte, the daughter of Leopold I of Belgium and Louise of Orléans (1857). They lived in Milan, at the time part of the Astro-Hungarian Empire (1857-59). Emperor Franz Joseph, sisturbed by his brother' liberal policies dismissed him (1859). Soon after, Austria in the Franco-Austrian War lost control of most of its Italian possessions (1859). Maximilian then retired to Trieste which was still in Italin hands. He built Miramare Castle nerarby. They also acquired a converted monastery on the island of Lokrum as a holiday residence. Mazimillian took at interest in the gardens. Rumors abounded that he was actually the son of Napoleon II. Maximilian had a distinguished career as commander-in-chief of the Imperial Austrian Navy, but was intrigued with the idea of becoming emperor of Mexico. At the time, Mexico was defaulting on loans made to European powers. A practice becoming endemic in Latin America. France, Spain and Britain seized Mexican ports to force a settlement. Spain and Britaon reached a settlements and withdrew (1862). Napoleon III had broader ambitions. Napoleon wanted a Mexican colony. Napoleon III offered Maximilian the opportunity to establish a pro-French Mexican monarchy. To what extent the rumors that f Maximilian was the son of Napoleon II was a factor we do not know. The French Army and a group of Conservative Party monarchists hostile to the Liberal Party Government of President Benito Juárez. Maximilian accepted the crown of Mexico (1864). Maximillian and Charlotte styled Carolota were crowned in Mexico City. War with the Mexican Reoublic and Benito Jurarz became im large measure a civil war. When the War began to go badly, Meximillian sent Charlotte back to Austria. Maximillian was executed by Republican forces in 1867 after the Emperor Napoleon III withdrew French forces. Charlotte never fully recovered from the tragedy.


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Created: 3:57 AM 4/26/2021
Last updated: 3:57 AM 4/26/2021