The empire was a failure from the start. Maximilian, who had no real understanding of Mexico, found most of the country hostile to him and loyal to Benito Jurez. He alienated the conservatives by his liberal tendencies and others of his supporters by his decree (1865) ordering the summary execution of all followers of Jurez. Indeed, Maximilian's tenure rested solely on French soldiers, who drove Jurez and his liberal army to the north. The European monarchs, except Napoleon III, were lukewarm. The United States, irked by this violation of the Monroe Doctrine, was frankly hostile and was prevented from interfering only by the American Civil War.
When affairs in France and the cessation of the Civil War impelled Napoleon III to withdraw (1866?67) the French troops from Mexico, the flimsy fabric of the empire dissolved. For a time Maximilian considered abdication, but he was irresolute. In 1866, Empress Carlotta went to Europe and vainly sought aid from Napoleon III and the pope. Maximilian, in desperation, assumed personal command of his forces, then mostly concentrated at Quertaro. There, after a siege (March?May, 1867), he was captured and shot. He wrote Aus meinem Leben (1865, tr. Recollections of My Life, 1868).
See J. Musser, The Establishment of Maximilian's Empire in Mexico (1918, repr. 1976); E. Corti, Maximilian and Charlotte of Mexico (1928, repr. 1968); Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico: Memoirs of His Private Secretary, Jos Luis Blasio (tr. and ed. by R. H. Murray, 1934).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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