2nd Mexican empire/background/development/Characteristics

Second Mexican Empire (1863 – 1867)

After the second occupation of France in Mexico, there was a new stage of government, which was called the Second Mexican Empire. This new government came from the French royalty and was led by Fernando Maximiliano José de Habsburgo , of Austrian roots. In a context of political and economic instability, Mexico was involved in a conflict with the great European power, which resulted in a change in the political regime, leading the country to become a monarchy again. 2nd Mexican empire

This fact generates interest due to its particularity, since there was no other great country in Latin America that has followed that path after the independences. It is a complex process, despite spanning a few years; In this article we will analyze the highlights of the Second Mexican Empire .

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When and where did the Second Mexican Empire develop?

Given that the inclination of the French nation exceeded its monetary need, since it not only wanted to recover the capital loaned to the Mexicans, and because the action of the Mexican chancellor persuaded England and Spain to occupy the territory of the Aztec nation, France He persisted in staying in the geographic spaces of Mexico in order to achieve his desire to impose his empire on Mexican lands .

To this end, France faced the Aztec army in an armed conflict called the Battle of Puebla, which is one of the 31 states that together with the state of Mexico constitute the United Mexican States. In this warlike action carried out on May 5, 1862, although France lost at that time, it persevered in the fight and after besieging that nation for another year, it managed to seize power. 2nd Mexican empire

In this way the monarchy of King Napoleon III was then imposed , with which geopolitical power and control was increasing and the French nation also grew in territorial expansion. So, the so-called Second Mexican Empire took place in a period of time that goes from 1864 to 1867 .

Background of the Second Mexican Empire

There are some factors that influenced the European invasion of the Mexican state, including the following:

  • Negative in compliance with the cancellation of debt with the governments of France, Spain and the United Kingdom, contracted by the governments of Juan Álvarez, Benito Juárez and Ignacio Comonfort.
  • Agreement of the aforementioned powers to assert their rights in the collection of the pending debt .
  • Intervention of military forces in Mexico as the execution of coercion measures for the Mexican nation to honor its commitments , but due to the tactical mediation by Mexico through its Foreign Minister Manuel Doblado they convinced the European invaders to withdraw from their territory arguing transience in the interruption in the disbursement for the debt contracted. This was only achieved with Spain and the United Kingdom, since France opposed this agreement and did not withdraw its troops from the Aztec nation.
  • Desire or claim on the part of Napoleon III to install a monarchy in the Mexican state through the Treaty of Miramar in order to dramatically weaken the control of the United States in the region. 2nd Mexican empire
  • Disappointment of the conservative leaders due to the government’s setback in the application of constitutional laws , this contributed to the French monarchy settling in Mexico due to the leverage of the group of conservatives who also agreed with the Emperor Napoleon III and assured their support in this sense.
  • Disagreements in Mexican society, as well as conflicts between conservatives and religious in the fight for the maintenance of their interests and perks against the state troops.
  • Formation of private armies and taking advantage of the Civil War , as well as the intimidation of the presidential troops and also the request for help from the Europeans.

Characteristics of the Second Mexican Empire

The Second Empire that was imposed on the Aztec nation had unique features in different aspects or areas.

In the area of ​​politics:

  • The direction of the government was of liberal inclination , since it was tried to work by means of the participation of other political initiatives were civil, developmentalist or patriotic.
  • He had the full support of the conservative leadership as well as a good part of the wealthy clerical class.
  • It was not endorsed by the liberal party despite being of the same tendency nor by the freemasons , these were people of spiritual inclination based on symbols that were opposed to Catholicism . 2nd Mexican empire

In the social area:

  • Regulation of freedom of worship , which allowed the action of other religious organizations and doctrines, since until now only Catholic doctrine dominated in this sense, which was even part of the Mexican nation.
  • Foundation of the First Civil Registry of the Nation , this motivated the beginning of the inscription for the follow-up of the births, the nuptial links, the deaths and other related acts.
  • Establishment of laws related to the divorce of couples .
  • Emission of laws for the protection of workers and improvement of working conditions.
  • Legislation on pensions and stipulation of improvements in the meritorious salary.

In the economic area:

  • Nationalization of properties , first of all the goods of Catholic Christianity, which finally passed into the hands of the nation, despite the opposition of the Vatican state and the Catholic hegemony of the Habsburgs, since this had previously been established with the French.
  • Establishment of a decimal system of measurements and weights .
  • Increase in Mexican foreign debt approximately three times that of 65 million dollars in 1863.
  • Deepening the pillage and expropriation of the nation‘s mining wealth.
  • Protection and maintenance of the green, white and red colors as the Mexican homeland originally had and was also preserved by the First Empire, located vertically.
  • Replacement of the shield in the central area by a shield that corresponds to that of the French Empire .
  • Addition in each corner of the shield of a golden eagle with a snake in its beak .
  • Decreed the imperial flag of the Nation in 1864, on June 18. 2nd Mexican empire

By official decree made in 1865, specifically on November 1, the new imperial shield is established as the official emblem of the Mexican nation, which has the following characteristics:

  • It had an image very similar to that of the imperial coat of arms of France but with touches of Mexico , this design was personally commissioned by the monarch of the moment.
  • Its shape was oval with a blue area.
  • It contained the Anahuac image of the eagle in the central area, giving the idea in its profile as flying by, with the snake in its beak and its nails placed on a nopal branch that comes out of a large stone that has a water outlet.
  • Its edges were made of gold from which branches of laurel and oak stand out, stamped with the crown of imperial France . He also carried the scepter and the sword surrounded by the necklace of the Mexican Order of the Eagle with the inscription: “Equity in Justice . 

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Some characters that come to light in the period of permanence of the Second Empire in Mexico were:

  • Benito Juárez : man who deserted from the power he held, in May 1863, a little before the occupation by the French began. This character formed other governments in cities such as San Luis de Potosí and Saltillo, he did the same in the towns of Monterrey, Chihuahua and Paso del Norte, which is currently called Ciudad de Juárez. 2nd Mexican empire
  • Napoleon III : He was Emperor of France at the time. This monarch had a fervent desire to extend the French monarchy to other geographical areas and especially to Mexico and to defeat US control in the Mexican region, for which he promoted support for the Civil War to the Confederate States of America who opposed the United States as a nation. ³
  • Fréderic Forey : commander of the invading French troops. This military leader forms a governing board. Its mission was to establish monarchical hegemony by appointing a representative group to lead the Aztec nation.
  • Juan Nepomuceno Almonte : natural son of the famous José María Morelos y Pavón. He was appointed by Commander Fréderic Forey as a member of the New Government Junta in Mexico.
  • Mariano Salas : this character also assumed functions in the new government formed.
  • Pelagio Antonio Labastida : belonged to the Catholic archbishopric, also a member of the board of prominent men.
  • Fernando Maximiliano José de Habsburgo : candidate proposed by King Napoleon III to the Congress of Mexico and who enjoyed great legitimacy compared to the rest of the characters proposed to lead the Mexican nation on behalf of the French monarchy. This gentleman belonged to the Austrian royalty and was retired from his secular work in his Castle of Miramar, on the Adriatic Sea Coast. However, he accepted the proposal, since the conservatives wanted the establishment of the monarchy by means of a personage of the royalty as ruler but who was Catholic and respected the interests of the Mexicans. ⁴
  • José María Gutiérrez de Estrada : served as foreign minister or diplomat and headed the commission sent to make the proposal to Maximiliano I. 2nd Mexican empire

José Pablo Martínez del Río, Antonio Escandón, Tomás Murphy, Adrán Woll, Ignacio Aguilar, Joaquín Velásquez, Francisco Javier Miranda, José Manuel Hidalgo and Ángel Iglesias , among others, were members of the commission sent in search of who would rule the destiny of the Mexicans.


The fact that France withdrew its army from the Mexican nation and stopped endorsing the leadership of Maximiliano I contributed to the decline of the Second Mexican Empire. This was done, of course, with the endorsement of Napoleon III at the end of December 1866 ⁵ due to the war warning by Russia, since it wanted to eliminate or stop French rule in Europe, which is why they needed French troops to defend their own homeland.

Another factor that helped the fading of the Second Empire in Mexico was the lack of support from the Catholic Church, the conservatives and even the liberals themselves who warned of the danger of their private interests, for which they called for the return to the government of Benito Juárez. 2nd Mexican empire

The United States also played an important role in the collapse of the Second Mexican Empire, since it was convenient for this nation that the Republicans remain in power in the Mexican homeland, for which it helped that nation in the recovery of the territories conquered by France. .

It should be noted that Maximiliano I did not respect the Miramar agreement regarding the application of liberal policy measures, ignoring the discontent of the conservative party, which ended the Second Mexican Empire. Likewise, the agreement to keep at least 25,000 soldiers in Mexico to support the empire for a period of six years was violated. The brake on the political participation of the Mexican clergy and the recovery of their privileges also contributed to the failure of the Second Mexican Empire .

Undoubtedly, Maximiliano also failed due to low income received from taxes or tributes . Additionally, Maximilian himself was never the monarch who contributed to the interests of the invading French. His performance was in support of the conquered people, he contributed to the development of Mexico and its inhabitants. So much so that he endorsed the legal reforms carried out by Benito Juárez and even encouraged him to be part of his government and offered him the position of Minister of Justice, but evidently Juárez rejected it. 2nd Mexican empire

Despite the above, King Maximiliano strives to retain the power and control of the Mexican nation and introduces new policies for the advancement in the economic and social area in the specific regions that he ruled, but this does not give him results and finally vanishes. entirely due to the absence of both external and internal support.

Finally, he was tried in absentia, carried out in the Municipal Theater carried out by six captains and an army Colonel. He did not have the right to appeal, as he refused to answer the questions asked. He was sentenced to death by the insurgents. His execution was carried out in a place called “Cerro de las Campanas” in the town of Querétaro, on June 19, 1867. Some members of the conservative party such as Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía also died with him. The charges that were imposed on these men were set forth in the Law of January 25, 1862, which established the death penalty against those who attacked the homeland and its sovereignty. 2nd Mexican empire

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