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No, this isn’t about work!

Manet's Execution of Maximillian

On June 19, 1867, Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico was executed by firing squad in the tiny village of Santiago de Queretaro.  He had been emperor for three short years.

While the American Civil War was raging, and the US government could do nothing about it,  Napoleon III of France decided he wanted a puppet empire in the Western Hemisphere. So he decided to put the Arch Duke Maximilian of Austria on the throne of Mexico along with his Belgian wife, Charlotte.

Maximilian was really a brilliant man, and the fact that he fell for this ruse is astonishing.

He studied UP to 55 hours a week with a tutor until he was 17, spoke seven languages fluently, and had a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy.


His brother was the emperor of Austria, and I suppose a crown was something he wanted since he knew he’d never have one at home.

At any rate, it looked attractive, and Nappy back in France assured him that the Mexican people were dying for a European Emperor to come and lead the nation.

Not all of them were.  At that time, Mexico had a duly elected President.  And Benito Juarez, The “Abraham Lincoln” of Mexico, had other plans.  His native armies fought the empire, winning and losing battles right and left.

Max wasn’t all that bad a guy, if you can get past the Divine Right thing.  He was appalled by the living conditions of most of the Mexican people and decided to take action.

He restricted working hours, abolished child labor, cancelled the debts of the peasants over 10 pesos, ended corporal punishment, and broke the monopoly of the Hacienda stores by stopping the selling of workers for their debt.

But, he wasn’t a Mexican, and he wasn’t elected, appointed, named, chosen properly.  His appointment came while the French held Mexico City’s government at gunpoint, forcing them to pick Max!

Finally, Max was captured, put on ‘trial’, and executed by firing squad.

His wife, the beautiful Carlota of Mexico and the only daughter of King Leopold of Belgium, escaped to Europe.  She fared none to well.  Clinically insane, as diagnosed by ‘alienists’, precursors to psychiatrists, the fragile beauty spent the rest of her life in seclusion.     Granted, she had every thing she needed, and the seclusion was a palace on the Adriatic Coast, but it was prison just the same.


Her brother, the new Belgian King, locked her away, took control of her fortune, which was the largest of any woman in Europe at the time, and spent it conquering The Congo.

We could all learn from this.


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