Maximilian I, was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire. He was a younger brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he entered into a scheme with Napoleon III of France to rule Mexico. France had invaded Mexico in 1861, with the implicit support and approval of other European powers, as part of the War of the French Intervention. Seeking to legitimize French rule, Napoleon III invited Maximilian to establish a new Mexican monarchy. With the support of the French army and a group of conservative Mexican monarchists, Maximilian traveled to Mexico where he declared himself Emperor of Mexico on 10 April 1864.
Many foreign governments, including that of the United States, refused to recognize his administration. Maximilian's Second Mexican Empire was widely considered a puppet of France. Additionally, the Mexican Republic was never entirely defeated; Liberal forces led by President Benito Juárez continued to be active throughout Maximilian's rule. With the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the United States began to be able to more explicitly aid the democratic forces of Juárez; things became even worse for Maximilian's Empire after the French withdrew their armies in 1866. The Mexican Empire collapsed, and Maximilian was captured and executed in 1867. His wife Charlotte (Carlota) had left for Europe earlier to try to build support for her husband's regime; she suffered an emotional collapse after his death and was declared insane. ...more