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Friday, December 13, 2013

Civil War Photo Friday: The tomb of the Emperor Maximilian

On last week's trip to Vienna I visited several sites of historical interest. One of them was the Imperial Crypt of the Hapsburg dynasty, including this grave for the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. He was the younger brother of Franz Joseph, the Hapsburg who would later be ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and draw his country into World War One.

As a younger brother, it seemed unlikely that Maximilian would ever sit on the throne, so when France extended its influence into Mexico in the 1860s and was looking for a European monarch, Maximilian was the man for the job. He took over as Emperor of Mexico in 1864. The United States didn't recognize him as the rightful ruler of Mexico, but was too busy with its own Civil War to do anything about it.

Maximilian was a liberal ruler, granting extra rights to the peasants and taking steps towards land reform, but that couldn't stop the revolutionaries who were fighting to make Mexico into something closer to a democracy. Once the Civil War was over in 1865, the U.S. government started arming the revolutionaries and Maximilian's position became precarious.

He got a bit of help from former Confederates who fled to Mexico after the war. This included many Missouri figures such as Confederate Generals Sterling Price and J.O. Shelby. They couldn't tip the scales, however, and when France pulled out its army in 1866 Maximilian's days were numbered. He was defeated and executed in 1867. He now lies back home in Vienna. Note that someone put a little Mexican sombrero on his tomb. He still has his admirers in Mexico.

1 comment:

  1. Considering the way some dictators and kings rule, he wasn't that bad of a leader. Just wrong country, wrong time.


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