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Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XLII
MAXIMILIAN AND CARLOTTA

THE Chateau de Bouchont was silent. All Brussels was silent as the sun rose on the 18th morning of January, 1927,--an Empress was dead. Marie Charlotte Amelia, the daughter of King Leopold the First of Belgium, the wife of Maximilian, "Emperor of Mexico," after eighty-seven years had found rest and peace at last. King Albert, her dutiful nephew, called at the chateau at nine, but it was too late.1 It was just seventy years before that the young brother of Emperor Francis Joseph had led her to the altar and a tragic fate.2 She went to live with him at Miramar, but the Hapsburg Court brought her no happiness. She was only seventeen, she was the daughter of a king, she was ambitious,--but how glorious if she could be an Empress. The prospect in Austria did not seem promising.

Her young husband had gracious manners, he cultivated botany, liberal ideas and a profuse blonde beard. When rumors of an empire in Mexico came floating down to him at Miramar,3 he listened at first without enthusiasm. In Carlotta's active mind, however, gay visions of a trans-Atlantic throne were dancing. The same dreams had animated Louis Napoleon twenty-three years before in his captivity at Ham,--they were enticing him again. As early as 1859 Labastida, one time Archbishop of Mexico, and then a cleric refugee in Paris, had interested both the Empress Eugenie and her husband in the cause of a centralized monarchy and the church. A vision of the Archduke Maximilian as the ruler of the Mexicans danced fitfully before them.4 But there was the Monroe Doctrine, and the United States were not yet torn by civil strife! The year 1861 seemed more propitious. With the Jecker claims as a pretext, the Emperor of the French prepared to intervene. And he interested others. England

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