The French Experience in Mexico, 1821-1861: A History of Constant Misunderstanding

The French Experience in Mexico, 1821-1861: A History of Constant Misunderstanding

The French Experience in Mexico, 1821-1861: A History of Constant Misunderstanding

The French Experience in Mexico, 1821-1861: A History of Constant Misunderstanding

Synopsis

This is the first scholarly appraisal of relations between France and Mexico from the time Mexico achieved independence until Emperor Napoleon III decided to intervene and place Maximilian on the Mexican throne. Barker shows that economic, political, demographic, and behavioral factors led to chronic friction between the two countries and contributed to the buildup of an ideology of intervention.

Originally published in 1979.

Excerpt

[France is a] versatile, vain, rich and powerful nation; she desires to have relations with us, but on her own terms, and our policy must attempt to bring her to yield to the imperious voice of justice. --Rocafuerte to the Mexican foreign minister, 11 April 1826

France, Spain, and Mexico: The French Dilemma

Unquestionably it was unfortunate for the future of Franco-Mexican relations that Mexico achieved its independence from Spain while France was under the rule of the Bourbon monarchy. Louis XVIII, King of France, was a blood relation of King Ferdinand VII of Spain. The two monarchies had been allied ever since Louis XIV had placed his grandson on the Spanish throne in 1700. The Bourbon Family Compact of 1761, declaring that whosoever attacked one crown attacked the other, had given formal expression to their united defense of their possessions. According to its terms, the monarchs could call on each other in perpetuity for military and naval aid. The ensuing revolutionary and Napoleonic upheavals, during which the Bourbons in both countries lost their thrones, had interrupted this supposedly permanent arrangement and had lent a strong impetus to the movement for independence in Mexico. In 1814 the traditional alliance between France and Spain was revived with the Bourbon restorations in the persons of Louis and Ferdinand. Under the rule of Louis, France could be expected to deny recognition of Mexican independence as long as Spain still claimed possession of her colony.

Louis had additional reason to oppose the revolt in Mexico. As a Bourbon, as king "by the grace of God," he personified the principle of legitimacy. The younger brother of the unfortunate Louis XVI . . .

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