Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Maximilian I, Kaiser von Mexiko

The March/April issue of Austrian Information, published by the Austrian Embassy Press and Information Service in the US, has a sketch of the unlucky career of Maximilian I von Mexiko, shown in the protrait above on the way to his execution in 1867: Maximilian I of Mexico: The Vestiges of the Habsburgs in Mexico and the Southwest by Peter Pabisch. 

Napoleon III of France took advantage of the US Civil War, in which the Confederate revolt seriously weakened the United States against potential European enemies, to install the Habsburg Archduke Maximilian as Emperor (Kaiser in German) of Mexico.

Things didn't work out very well.

The Peter Pabisch article recounts an intriguing but apparently entirely frivolous "mystery" about the late Kaiser:

The historical record shows that Ferdinand Maximilian was executed by Benito Juárez and the rightful Mexican government. To further add to the mystery surrounding his final days, a recent account by Johann Georg Lughofer claims that Maximilian was not killed, but because the bullets were blank, he survived, fled to San Salvador under a pseudonym and enjoyed a long life. His freemason “brother,” Benito Juárez, was supposed to have made his escape possible. There is, however, no serious proof to verify this amazing story. [Johann Georg Lughofer, “Des Kaisers neues Leben. Der Fall Maximilian von Mexiko.” Vienna: Carl Ueberreuter, 2002.]

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