Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico 1832 - 1867
Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, Archduke of Austria, became Emperor of Mexico when Napoleon III sought to extend French imperial power. Assured a French army, and believing that his appointment had a popular base, the idealistic young aristocrat and his wife, Carlota, were crowned in Mexico City on June 10, 1864. Almost immediately, Maximilian's policies antagonized his backers, as he upheld Benito Juarez's land reforms, educated the Indians and the poor, and encouraged Confederates to immigrate to Mexico. Too late, he acknowledged that his government was bankrupt. By the spring of 1865, the venture had failed. But when the French finally left Mexico in March 1867, Maximilian remained behind, refusing to desert "his people" when Juarez and his army returned. Two months later, Maximilian was court-martialed, condemned to death, and executed.
This photograph was made by Brady's operator Andrew Burgess in 1864. Brady had sent Burgess to Mexico that year to record the impending struggle. Burgess remained there for several years, assembling documents of the French occupation as well as portraits of the Emperor and Carlota.