Charlotte of Belgium – the ambitious wife of emperor Maximilian

From which dynasty was the pretty woman on the side of Emperor Maximilian? Who was she in constant competition with? How many years did she survive her husband and why did she fall into mental derangement?

Charlotte of Belgium (1840-1927) was a daughter of King Leopold I of Belgium. The Belgian royal family was one of the richest families in Europe. They had quickly come to large fortunes through colonial enterprises and were among the newly rich social climbers.

She was extremely intelligent and received a very liberal education. At the age of 16 she was presented to Maximilian and for her it was love at first sight. For him, the high dowry was decisive for the way to the altar.

Charlotte was very ambitious and competed constantly with her sister-in-law Empress Elisabeth at the Viennese court. She did not like to be second ranked. Therefore, the offer to achieve the crown of Mexico came just right and she encouraged her husband to accept it.

On April 28, 1864, the young imperial couple arrived on bord of the frigate "Novara" in Veracruz, Mexico. Napoleon had promised them that the Mexican people would long for an emperor, which was not the case. In addition, the pompous court attitude did not necessarily contribute to popularity among the mexican people.

The tides had turned and the soldiers of Benito Juarez gradually regained their land from the French troops. Maximilian's position in Mexico became more and more threatening. Napoleon recognized the failure of the imperial plans and withdrew his troops from Mexico.

The imperial couple remained alone in the foreign country without any support. The situation came to a head, but a resignation was out of question for both. Maximilian was captured on June 19, 1867 and shot by a military tribunal, while Charlotte vainly sought help in Europe.

When she learned about it, she suffered a nervous breakdown and fell into mental derangement at the age of only 27. She survived her husband by 60 years and lived in seclusion with her family in Belgium. In 1927, she died at the age of 86 and still thought to be the Empress of Mexico.

Only ten years of marriage, including three years as Empress of Mexico, were granted to her with Maximilian. The marriage remained childless.


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