Sunday, April 21, 2024

A Habsburg Archduke on Mexico’s Throne

 From The Hungarian Conservative:

Mexican conservatives approached Maximilian as early as in 1859 with the proposal of making him ruler of their country. He seemed like an ideal candidate: he was unlikely to ever rule Austria, was proven to be a competent administrator of Lombardy, and furthermore, was a royalty from a European nation that was neutral in the conflict between Mexico and the intervening powers. This scheme could finally materialize in 1863, when the French Empire and its Mexican conservative allies gained a foothold in Mexico, after Napoleon III invaded the country in 1861. To lend legitimacy to his enterprise, the French emperor allowed his Mexican allies to invite Maximilian to the throne.

Maximilian arrived at Mexico in 1864 and was subsequently crowned emperor. Despite his title and the name of the new state, Mexican Empire, Maximilian was not in charge of the whole country. Republican rebels, led by Benito Juárez still ruled many regions, especially in the northern areas, along the border with the United States.

As emperor, Maximilian continued his programme of reforms just where he had left off in Lombardy. He affirmed many of Juarez’s reform laws, including freedom of religion, and the secularization of the church landholdings. Maximilian was supported by a small, but influential group of Mexican scientists and scholars, referred to by historians as ‘los imperialistas’. Influenced by Positivist ideas, these progressive minds sought to use the monarchical framework to implement reforms. Their vision was of a centralized liberal autocracy; therefore, these intellectuals strived to reform the administration, the municipality structure, and the legal code of the country. The ‘imperialists’ also supported Maximilian in his quest to expand education and uplift the Indians. (Read more.)


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