Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico

Overview

In this new telling of Mexico’s Second Empire and Louis Napoléon’s installation of Maximilian von Habsburg and his wife, Carlota of Belgium, as the emperor and empress of Mexico, Maximilian and Carlota brings the dramatic, interesting, and tragic time of this six-year-siege to life.

From 1861 to 1866, the French incorporated the armies of Austria, Belgium—including forces from Crimea to Egypt—to fight and subdue the regime of Mexico’s Benito Juárez during the time of the U.S. ...

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Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico

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Overview

In this new telling of Mexico’s Second Empire and Louis Napoléon’s installation of Maximilian von Habsburg and his wife, Carlota of Belgium, as the emperor and empress of Mexico, Maximilian and Carlota brings the dramatic, interesting, and tragic time of this six-year-siege to life.

From 1861 to 1866, the French incorporated the armies of Austria, Belgium—including forces from Crimea to Egypt—to fight and subdue the regime of Mexico’s Benito Juárez during the time of the U.S. Civil War. France viewed this as a chance to seize Mexican territory in a moment they were convinced the Confederacy would prevail and take over Mexico. With both sides distracted in the U.S., this was their opportunity to seize territory in North America. In 1867, with aid from the United States, this movement came to a disastrous end both for the royals and for France while ushering in a new era for Mexico.

In a bid to oust Juárez, Mexican conservatives appealed to European leaders to select a monarch to run their country. Maximilian and Carlota’s reign, from 1864 to 1867, was marked from the start by extravagance and ambition and ended with the execution of Maximilian by firing squad, with Carlota on the brink of madness. This epoch moment in the arc of French colonial rule, which spans North American and European history at a critical juncture on both continents, shows how Napoleon III’s failure to save Maximilian disgusted Europeans and sealed his own fate.

Maximilian and Carlota offers a vivid portrait of the unusual marriage of Maximilian and Carlota and of international high society and politics at this critical nineteenth-century juncture. This largely unknown era in the history of the Americas comes to life through this colorful telling of the couple’s tragic reign.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/25/2013
On the 150th anniversary of the installation of Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian von Habsburg as emperor of Mexico , McAllen (I Would Rather Sleep in Texas) offers an authoritative, detailed, and engrossing account of the rise and fall of Mexico’s Second Empire. New republican president Benito Juárez had defeated conservative factions in Mexico’s bloody War of Reform. However, French Emperor Napoleon III, seeking to enrich his country while curtailing the regional influence of a U.S. distracted by Civil War, invaded Mexico in 1861 under “the pretext of claiming unpaid bond debt.” In the wake of a decisive French victory at the Second Battle of Puebla in 1863, Juárez abandoned Mexico City for the northern desert. Mexico’s Assembly of Notables voted to reconstruct the Mexican government as an empire, and the crown was offered to Maximilian. Despite their charm and education, the new emperor and his wife Carlota became “victims of Napoleonic greed, their own desires, and Mexican pride,” alienating their base by upholding Juárez’s nationalization reforms. By early1866, after the U.S. threatened to enact trade sanctions against its neighbor to the south and also hinted at a possible alliance with Prussia, a country at odds with French regime, Napoleon withdrew his troops and funding; after the republicans vanquished the imperialists in battle, Maximilian was executed, while Carlota had already returned to Europe. McAllen ably demonstrates how the Second Empire’s collapse was one of the most spectacular personal tragedies and political failures of the 19th century. Illus. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"On the 150th anniversary of the installation of Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian von Habsburg as emperor of Mexico, McAllen offers an authoritative, detailed, and engrossing account of the rise and fall of Mexico’s Second Empire... McAllen ably demonstrates how the Second Empire’s collapse was one of the most spectacular personal tragedies and political failures of the 19th century." — Publishers Weekly

“Meticulously researched and filled with colorful narrative, Maximilian and Carlota is an absorbing read for both amateur historians and students of the human condition.” — San Antonio Current

"McAllen's book offers a fascinating and meticulously researched glimpse at Maximilian's doomed empire." — Santa Fe New Mexican

“McAllen has forged a multifaceted jewel of narrative history, sweeping and cinematic, delving into one of the more fascinating and tragically misguided episodes in Mexico's history.” — Houston Chronicle

"This is a thorough, complete history of Mexico’s second empire. The author leaves nothing untouched."
William H. Beezley, professor of history at the University of Arizona

"Maximilian and Carlota is a deeply researched book about a period of Mexican history that, while vital for understanding modern Mexico and its relations with the United States and Europe, is of perhaps unparalleled cultural, political, and military complexity for such a short period."
C. M. Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire

“Mexican history offers a phantasmagoria that beggars the imagination. Most writers seem to focus on three distinct eras: Conquest, Independence, and Revolution. But perhaps the most surreal, tragic, yet oddly comedic era in Mexico has gone largely unexamined, until now. M. M. McAllen has written an important book that not only reads like a novel of fantastic inventions but is key to understanding the soul of Mexico today. ” — Luis Albertio Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter

“Examines the short reign of a married Austrian archduke and Belgian princess appointed by France's emperor Napoleon III to rule Mexico.” — Chronicle of Higher Education

“With rich texture and apposite detail, McAllen ably recounts the events of Maximilian’s short and disastrous reign.” — Booklist

“With the 150th anniversary in mind (April 10, 1864), Maximilian and Carlota details Louis Napoléon’s intrepid scheme to install Maximilian von Habsburg and his wife as emperor and empress, but also details the intrigues and incongruities that occurred while nineteenth-century European leaders sought to remake the New World in their vision.” — Foreword Reviews

“Enthralling, exhaustively researched and fresh.... A big multi-layered story — cinematic, nightmarish and poignant.” — Austin American-Statesman

“McAllen has produced a much-needed fresh look at an often neglected and misunderstood period in North American history.”—The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History

“A highly readable and accessible narrative.”—Hispanic American Historical Review

From the Publisher

“This is a thorough, complete history of Mexico’s second empire. The author leaves nothing untouched.”
William H. Beezley, professor of history at the University of Arizona

“Maximilian and Carlota is a deeply researched book about a period of Mexican history that, while vital for understanding modern Mexico and its relations with the United States and Europe, is of perhaps unparalleled cultural, political, and military complexity for such a short period.”
C. M. Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595341839
  • Publisher: Trinity University Press
  • Publication date: 1/14/2014
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 688,176
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

M. M. McAllen writes about the history of the Southwest and Mexico. Her other books include I Would Rather Sleep in Texas: A History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the People of the Santa Anita Land Grant, depicting the blending cultures against the backdrop of the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and border upheavals; and A Brave Boy and a Good Soldier: John C. C. Hill and the Texas Expedition to Mier, which tells the 1842 biography of thirteen-year-old Texan John C. C. Hill, captured in battle and adopted by Antonio López de Santa Anna.

McAllen regularly provides information for television documentaries filmed by BBC, PBS, and local and public stations in Texas, and she has written numerous articles for magazines and journals. She lives in San Antonio, TX.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Prologue
Introduction. Mexicans, You Have Desired My Presence
1. The Right of Kings
2. Sooner or Later, War Will Have to Be Declared
3. The Red Avenger
4. The Siege of Puebla
5. Honor of the House of Habsburg
6. What Would You Think of Me
7. The Future Will Be Splendid
8. A Task Worthy of the Damned
9. Our Daily Bread
10. A Premonitory Symptom
11. Every Drop of My Blood Is Mexican
12. Like a Lost Soul
13. The French Repatriation
14. The Empire Is Nothing Without the Emperor
15. Beware of the French
16. Someone Is Intent on Poisoning Me
17. Getting Out of the Toils of the French
18. Liberator I Will Be
19. War Is War
20. The Enemy Is Here
21. I Have Cared for You All
22. ¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva el Emperador!
Epilogue
Selected Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Credits

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