Maximilian of Austria, emperor of Mexico

BORN 6 Jul 1832, Wien - DIED 19 Jun 1867, Queretaro
BIRTH NAME Ferdinand Maximiliaan von Habsburg
CAUSE OF DEATH executed by firing squad
GRAVE LOCATION Wien: Kapuzinergruft, Tegetthoffstraße 2

Maximilian was a younger brother of emperor Francis Joseph of Austria. In 1857 his brother made him governor of Lombardy and Venice. In the same year he married the Belgian princess Charlotte, the daughter of king Leopold I. He lived with her at Miramar, near Trieste.

In 1864 emperor Napoleon III offered Maximilian the crown of Mexico. He accepted and left for Mexico in 1864. But the opposition against the monarchy was worse than expected and Maximilian was completely dependent on the French army under Bazaine. Napoleon III decided to withdraw his troops and Maximilian was advised to abdicate.

He decided not to do so and in 1866 Charlotte went to Europe to look for support. After Napoleon III refused to let the French troops stay in Mexico she was showing sings of madness and didn't return to Mexico. In February, 1867 the French troops left Mexico City. Maximilian remarked that he was glad that he was 'finally free', but three months later he was imprisoned by the rebels. On June 19th he was executed.

Napoleon III burst into tears when he heard the news on June 30th and Francis Joseph immediately returned to Vienna from a holiday in Bavaria. The new Mexican government would only release Maximilian's body if it was recognized by Austria. On November 26th his remains were finally given to admiral Tegetthoff who brought them back to Austria on the Navara, the same ship that had taken Maximilian to Mexico in 1864.

Maximilian's remains reached the Südbahnhof in Vienna on January 17th, 1868. The entire imperial family was present, except for empress Elisabeth. On January 18th he was laid to rest in the Kapuzinergruft, next to the Duke of Reichstadt.

• Mother: Sophie von Bayern
• Wife: Charlotte, empress of Mexico, princess of Belgium (1857-1867)
• Brother: Franz Joseph von Habsburg, Emperor of Austria
• Brother: Ludwig Viktor, Erzherzog von Österreich

Related persons
• has a connection with Bazaine, François Achille
• was pupil to Clairmont, Charles Gaulis
• has a connection with Salm-Salm, Agnes zu
• employed Salm-Salm, Felix zu
• was painted by Winterhalter, Franz Xaver

30/6/1867Napoleon III bursts out in tears after hearing of Maximilian's death. Maximilian of Austria, emperor of Mexico, was executed on 19 June 1867. The news reached France by telegram from Washington. The young Count of Gontaut-Biron received the message and gave it to Napoleon, who burst out in tears. Eugénie had seen it coming but took it badly as well, because she felt responsible. The news was kept silent for the moment because the closing ceremony for the Exhibition Universelle was planned for the next day and Paris was full of festivities. [Napoleon III Bonaparte]
18/1/1868Maximilian of Austria is buried in Vienna. On 17 January his body had arrived at the Südbahnhof (Southern Railway Station) in Vienna. Apart from the empress Elisabeth the entire imperial family was there. The next day he was buried in the Kapuzinergruft, where he was laid to rest next to the Duke of Reichstadt, Napoleon's son. Because it was cold in Vienna and it was carnival, the service at the Hofburg on the 17th had received little visitors. Maximilian's mother Sophia insisted on accompanying the body to the Kapuzinergruft through the cold. [Franz Joseph von Habsburg, Emperor of Austria][Sophie von Bayern]


The coffin of Maximilian of Austria, emperor of Mexico, at the Kapuzinergruft, Vienna.
Picture by Androom (13 Aug 1995)


Statue of Maximilian, emperor of Mexico, in Hietzing, Vienna.
Picture by androom (15 Aug 2006)


• Vincent, Benjamin, Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, and Universal Information, Ward, Lock & Co, London, 1906
• Haslip, Joan, Imperial Adventurer: Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, and his Empress, Cardinal, London, 1974

May, Karl

Published: 20 May 2007
Last update: 25 Apr 2022