Study for “The Execution of Emperor Maximilian”, 1867, Edouard Manet
Mexican republican soldiers after they executed Emperor Maximilian I.
Maximilian I of Mexico’s Embalmed Body After His Execution, 1867
Maximilian I (Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph Maria; 6 July 1832 – 19 June 1867) was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire, the younger brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy as its commander, he accepted an offer by Napoleon III of France to rule Mexico, conditional on a national plebiscite in his favor. France, together with Spain and the United Kingdom, invaded the Mexican Republic in the winter of 1861, ostensibly to collect debts; the Spanish and British both withdrew the following year after negotiating agreements with Mexico’s republican government, while France sought to conquer the country. Seeking to legitimize French rule, Napoleon III invited Maximilian to establish a new pro-French Mexican monarchy. With the support of the French army and a group of conservative Mexican monarchists hostile to the liberal administration of the new Mexican president, Benito Juárez, Maximilian was offered the position of Emperor of Mexico, which he accepted on 10 April 1864
The Empire managed to gain recognition by several European powers including Britain, Austria, and Prussia. The United States, however, continued to recognize Juárez as the legal president of Mexico. Maximilian never completely defeated the Mexican Republic; Republican forces led by President Benito Juárez continued to be active during Maximilian’s rule. With the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the United States (which had been too distracted by its own Civil War to confront the Europeans’ 1861 invasion of what it considered to be its sphere of influence) began more explicit aid of President Juárez’s forces. Matters worsened for Maximilian after French armies withdrew from Mexico in 1866. His self-declared empire collapsed, and he was captured and executed by the Mexican government, which then restored the Mexican Republic.
Mexican republican soldiers after they executed Emperor Maximilian I
Soldiers of the Mexican Republic who were part of the firing squad that executed Emperor Maximilian I, May of 1867.