or: The Phantom Crown.

The Second Mexican Empire
Mexican Adventure: The Second Mexican Empire
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Second Mexican Empire was the name of Mexico under the regime established from 1864 to 1867. It was created by Napoleon III of France, who attempted to use the Mexican adventure to recapture some of the grandeur of earlier Napoleonic times. The military intervention put Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria on the Mexican Throne as Maximilian I of Mexico.

Promoted and installed by the French, with some support from the Austrian and Spanish Crowns, the intervention attempted to re-create a European-style monarchical system in Mexico. The French also had support from conservative elements within Mexico, such as the Mexican nobility, who aimed to promote stability and end the constant cycle of unrest and revolution.


The Offering of the Mexican Crown by
a Mexican delegation. Miramare, 1863.

The rule of Emperor Maximiliano was blemished by constant conflict. On his arrival in 1864 with his wife, Empress Carlota of Mexico, daughter of King Léopold I of the Belgians, he found himself in the middle of a political struggle between the Conservatives that backed him and the opposing Liberals, headed by Benito Juárez. The two factions had set up parallel governments; the Conservatives in Mexico City controlling central Mexico and the Liberals in Veracruz. The Conservatives received funding from Europe, especially from Isabella II of Spain and Napoleon III of France; the Liberals found backing from United States Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, after they had finished their own Civil War in 1865.

Because some viewed Emperor Maximilian as a French puppet, he was not regarded as the legitimate leader of Mexico by them, including the U.S. government. However, many Mexicans did view him favorably and backed his government.

In 1867, Maximilian faced the firing squad at the orders of Benito Juárez, in the Cerro de las Campanas near Querétaro.

Maximilian proved to be too liberal for the conservatives, and too conservative for the liberals. He regarded Mexico as his destiny and made many contributions.

Territorial division

The Empire was divided into 50 departments (departamentos):

  • Acapulco
  • Aguascalientes
  • Álamos
  • Arizona
  • Autlán
  • Batopilas
  • California
  • Campeche
  • Chiapas
  • Chihuahua
  • Coahuila
  • Coalcomán
  • Colima
  • Durango
  • Ejutla
  • El Potosí
  • Fresnillo
  • Guanajuato
  • Guerrero
  • Huejuquilla
  • Iturbide
  • Jalisco
  • La Laguna
  • Mapimí
  • Matamoros
  • Matehuala
  • Mazatlán
  • Michoacán
  • Nayarit
  • Nazas
  • Nuevo León
  • Oaxaca
  • Puebla
  • Querétaro
  • Sinaloa
  • Sonora
  • Tabasco
  • Tamaulipas
  • Tancítaro
  • Tehuantepec
  • Teposcolula
  • Tlaxcala
  • Toluca
  • Tula
  • Tulancingo
  • Tuxpan
  • Valle de México
  • Veracruz
  • Yucatán
  • Zacatecas

The departments of the Second Mexican Empire

The Role of France

Napoleon III had more ambitious goals in mind than merely the recovery of France's debts. Napoleon III, heavily influenced by his wife the Empress Eugenie, was bent on reviving the Mexican monarchy. He wanted to place a monarch on the throne who would promote the interests of France. Prior to 1861 any interference in the affairs of Mexico by any of the European powers would have been viewed as a challenge to the United States and no one wanted to provoke a conflict with them. However by 1861 the USA was embroiled in its own bloody conflict, the American Civil War, which made the government in Washington powerless to intervene. Encouraged by the Empress Eugenie, who saw herself as the champion of the emasculated Catholic Church in Mexico, Napoleon III took advantage of the situation.

Napoleon III saw the opportunity to make France the great modernizing influence in the Western Hemisphere as well as enabling her to capture the South American markets. To give him further encouragement, there was his half brother, the Duc de Morny, who was the largest single holder of Mexican bonds.



Last Updated on August 20, 2010 by Tim Peterson