Maximilian I was the Emperor of Mexico from his arrival to Mexico in 1864 to his death in 1902.
Maximilian was born in 1832, his father was Archduke Franz Karl, the second surviving son of Francis II Austria who would in 1866 become the King of the Rhineland and his mother was Princess Sophie of Bavaria, the fifth daughter of King Maximilian I of Bavaria. Maximilian would not have a very good relationship with his older brother Franz Joseph and was horrified by his brutality when stomping out rebellions after becoming the Emperor of Austria in 1848.
Maximilian entered the Austrian navy and quickly rose through the ranks, being appointed commander in chief in 1854 and holding the position until 1861. He was married to Princess Charlotte of Belgium in 1857. Maximilian was seen as having liberal views and was therefore appointed Viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia to appease the population in 1857. He was dismissed in 1859.
Emperor of Mexico
Offer of the Mexican Crown
Maximilian was approached in 1859 by members of the Mexican aristocracy with a proposal to become the Emperor of Mexico. Maximilian did not accept at first, but changed his mind after the French intervention in Mexico. After Mexico City was taken by the French and a referendum was held in Mexico that confirmed of the new Emperor, Maximilian accepted the crown in 1863, which made his wife Charlotte Empress Carlotta of Mexico.
Uncertainty in Mexico.
Maximilian arrived in Veracruz, Mexico in May 1864. Maximilian's government and the French forces were embroiled in fighting with Mexican republicans and his rule was unsecure. As Maximilian and Carlotta had no children they adopted the cousins Agustín de Iturbide y Green and Salvador de Iturbide y Marzán, grandsons of Augustín de Iturbide who had reigned as Emperor of Mexico in the 1820's. Although Augustin was groomed as heir he was never supposed to succeed to the throne. The adaption was a charade directed against his brother Karl Ludwig who he hoped would give him one of his sons as heir. After the end of the American Civil War the American government began supplying the republicans and pressuring Napoleon III to withdraw from Mexico. Maximilian allowed ex-Confederates to establish settlements in Mexico and also invited settlers from any other countries. In October 1865 Maximilian issued the Black Decree which said that anyone that was part of any type of armed groups should be court martialed and executed. French aid dissapeared for a few months in 1886 because of the War of 1866, during this time it seemed that Maximilian's defeat was inevitable. The French however returned in early 1867 together with Austrian and other German forces and drove the back the advancing republicans. The republican side was constantly defeated in the next few years and finally died with its leader Benito Juárez in 1872.
The royal family had not been able to be crowned due to the instability in the country, but with the republicans defeated and their rule secure they were crowned at the Catedral Metropolitana in 1872.
The Mexican heir
When it was clear that Maximilian was going to stay the Emperor, his brother King Carol Ludwig of Romania agreed to let his youngest son travel to Mexico to become the royal heir. Archduke Ferdinand Karl arrived in Mexico and was adopted by Maximilian in 1873. The former heir's Salvador and Augustin Iturbide were placed after Ferdinand in the line of succession.
Maximilian reign would prove to be rather uneventful, apart from the constant tensions with the United States.
Maximilian was determined to attend the wedding between François, Prince Imperial of the French and Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria, despite his old age of 69. Maximilian and his adopted son Ferdinand Karl arrived in Paris where he would meet his brothers that he had not seen for many years. Maximilian collapsed after the wedding and was pronounced dead the day after. The death of the Emperor and the absence of the Crown Prince led to Augustín de Iturbide, who had been the heir before Ferdinand, to declare himself the regent of Mexico during the Iturbide Rebellion.