Maximilian (Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph), archduke of Austria and emperor of Mexico, horn in Vienna. July 6, 1832, shot in Queretaro, Mexico, June 19,1807. He was the second son of the archduke Francis Charles and of the archduchess Sophia, and a brother of the present emperor Francis Joseph. He entered the naval service, and in 1854 became rear admiral and chief of the navy, and in 1857 governor of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom. In the same year he married in Brussels (July 27) the princess Charlotte, daughter of Leopold I. and sister of the present king of the Belgians. On the outbreak of the war of 1859 he retired to Venice, and subsequently to his beautiful chateau of Miramar near Trieste. Here, with the exception of a voyage of scientific exploration to Brazil, he resided until his departure, April 14, 1864, for Mexico, having accepted, at the instance of Napoleon III., the crown of Mexico, under the name of Maximilian L, with the consent of the emperor of Austria and of that portion of the people of Mexico whose sanction could be secured through French influence. He had waived his claim of succession to the throne of Austria in the event of his brother's death, and made farewell visits at the French, Belgian, and English courts; and in Rome he received the pope's blessing.
He landed with his wife at Vera Cruz, May 28, 1864. An auxiliary corps was organized in Austria and Belgium, and a loan was raised in France for the benefit of the new Mexican empire, which was intended by Napoleon to consolidate the power of the Latin race in the new world. One of the first measures of Maximilian, w^ho was childless, was to adopt a son of the emperor Iturbide as his presumptive successor on the throne. He established committees for the regulation of public affairs, promulgated an amnesty, and manifested excellent intentions for the faithful administration of the government; but he soon lost the support of the clergy, who were grievously disappointed by his failure to restore their sequestered estates, and who had been almost his only zealous partisans. Almost from the beginning he found himself confronted by formidable difficulties, which increased in proportion to the determined resistance of President Juarez and of the masses of Mexicans to the FYench invasion and to his usurpation of the throne, a resistance encouraged by the dissatisfaction of the United States with European encroachments upon the American continent.
In 1865, after the close of the civil war in the United States, the attitude of the latter government became more determined; and public opinion in France, and the increasing complications of Napoleon at home and abroad, admonished the latter to abandon the scheme. The empress Charlotte in vain attempted in 1866, in interviews with Napoleon in Paris and with the pope in Rome, to change the current of events. While in Rome her mind gave way under the pressure of anxiety, and she has ever since lingered at the chateau of Laeken hopelessly insane. Napoleon, having formally undertaken to withdraw his troops, despatched Gen. Castelnau to the city of Mexico to reconcile Maximilian to the necessity of abdicating; but the latter would not entertain such an idea, and went to Orizaba to avoid meeting the F>ench envoy. Here in November he assembled his ministers, who were nearly all opposed to his abdication, and on Dec. 5 he called a national congress, by whose decision he promised to abide. But no such assembly could be brought together, owing to the opposition of the great majority of republicans; and the meeting of Jan. 14, 1867, consisted of only 35 notables, all but 10 of whom were opposed to the abdication.
But no practical result could have been achieved under any circumstances, as the authority of Juarez was fully restored excepting in the cities of Mexico, Puebla, Vera Cruz, and Que-retaro. Besides, Maximilian's exchequer was empty, and the withdrawal of the French under Bazaine included even those who had enlisted in his army. Yet, instead of remaining in the capital, to which he had returned, and where there were more adequate means of resistance than anywhere else, he decided on removing to Queretaro with a single corps (Feb. 13), and offering battle to his adversaries, who speedily besieged that place. He made several gallant but unavailing sorties, and he and his soldiers were reduced to the last extremities by the exhaustion of provisions, when he decided to escape through the enemy's line (May 15). But Gen. Escobedo, having gained access to the city in the preceding night through the treachery of Col. Lopez, arrested Maximilian and Gens. Mir anion and Mejia. After a fruitless effort to procure the intervention of the United States in his behalf, he was sentenced to death by court martial, June 13, and shot six days afterward, together with the two generals.
The emperor of Austria sent Vice Admiral Tegetthoff to Mexico to convey his remains to Vienna, where they were interred in the imperial vault, Jan. 18, 1868. - His writings have been published under the title Aus rneinem Leben, Reiseskizsen, Aphorismen, etc. (7 vols., Leipsic, 1867). See also Eugene de Keratry, L'Empereur Maximilien, son elevation et sa chute (Paris, 1867); Hellwald, Maximilian I., Kaiser von Mexico, nebst Abriss tier Geschichte des Kaiserreichs (Vienna, 1869); and Kendall, "Mexico under Maximilian" (London, 1872).