Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian - the fate of the second-born

Who was Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian? Which were his talents and interests? Why did he become the emperor of Mexico? Which woman was by his side? What was his fate?

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian was born on 6 July 1832 in Schönbrunn Palace as the second son of Archduke Franz Karl and Archduchess Sophie. As usual with second-born children, he was ambitious and very talented, according to some biographies, even more than his older brother Franz Joseph.

He was interested in nature, travels and the sea. Thus, he began a career in the Austrian Navy and was appointed in 1854 commander in chief of the Armed Forces at sea and Rear Admiral. On his initiative, the Austrian frigate "Novara" launched a circumnavigation in the years 1857-1859.

In 1857 he was married to the well educated and ambitious Belgian Princess Charlotte and had rebuilt the Castello Miramare in Trieste to the fairy tale castle for both. At the same time Maximilian was appointed governor of Lombardo-Veneto, but in 1959 this part was lost to the Habsburgs by the unification of Italy.

When in 1863 the offer of the French Emperor Napoleon III came to offer the imperial crown of Mexico, this was quite a tempting offer for the young couple. They accepted and left Trieste in 1864, but were not necessarily received by cheering crowds in Mexico.

Maximilian and his wife had landed in the middle of a civil war against the rightful republican government. At that time there were two flags in Mexico: the republican, similar to today's and an imperial with the crowned eagle symbolizing it.

The withdrawal of the French troops also meant the end for Maximilian in Mexico. He was sentenced to death on 19 June 1867 by a court-martial and shot to death in Querétaro at the age of 35.

Maximilian had renounced all sovereignty claims in Austria for the 3-year imperial crown in Mexico and was a victim of French interference in the internal affairs of Mexico.

The Hietzinger Maxingstraße was named after Maximilian, where he had once had built a villa. At Hietzinger Pfarrplatz stands a statue, reminiscent of the heroic short-term emperor of Mexico.

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