6th june 2018 | Belgium
Princess Charlotte of Belgium or the Empress Carlota of Mexico lived a life of rank but her life after her husband’s death was closer to damnation and such was her own death, a chapter full of mystery
Born as the Princess of Belgium, Charlotte turned into the Empress Carlota of Mexico after marrying Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, the Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. Born on June 7, 1840 at the Castle of Laeken in Belgium, Princess Charlotte of Mexico was the only daughter of Leopold I, King of Belgians.
On the 16th birthday Charlotte had two suitors for her marriage, but she fatefully met Archduke Maximilian of Austria to fall in love with him. The couple soon married on July 27, 1857 at the Royal Palace of Brussels. Soon after the marriage, Maximilian was positioned as the Viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy, which was then the part of Austrian Empire. The couple moved there and built the beautiful Miramare Castle in Trieste. But the days of Viceroy were fewer for Maximilian. His brother, Emperor Franz Joseph, who earlier appointed Maximilian got angered by his liberal policies, resulting in dismissing him from the position in 1859. This step marked as the doom for Austria. In fact it is said that whosoever did not support the Empress Carlota of Mexico or her husband lived a life full of curse, and this was probably the beginning of the curse. As and when Maximilian was rooted from his position, Austria lost possession of almost whole of Italy and the couple moved to their Miramare Castle.
Nevertheless, Maximilian never lacked opportunities. Soon after Maximilian’s brother dismissed him as the Viceroy, the Mexico monarchists came up with a proposal to be the Emperor of Mexico, but it was Maximilian who rejected the opportunity. It was only in 1861 that Maximilian changed his mind after the French invaded Mexico. With the invitation of Napoleon III and a French staged referendum which confirmed the will of people, Maximilian finally accepted the position of the crown. On 10 April 1864, Maximilian was officially informed of the result but it too was covered under conspiracy.
With the confirmed results the couple moved to Veracruz, Mexico on 21 May 1864, but they received a very cold welcome from the people. Although Maximilian always had the support of the Mexican conservatives and Napoleon III, but he constantly received opposition from the liberal town of Veracruz.
Since the beginning Maximilian faced a static problem. It all multiplied when at the end of the American Civil War, the French withdrew their troops due to the pressure from the United States. It then became difficult for Maximilian to hold against the popular Juarez, the former president of the liberal forces. Following the difficulties, Maximilian requested help from Europe but all of it remained unanswered. Charlotte too traveled to Europe asking for help from Pope Pius IX and Napoleon III, but she only received a promise of prayers from the Pope.
The ill-fated man as Maximilian is popularly called started to reach closer to his death, when he decided to stay in Mexico listening to his mother’s letter. On 14 May, 1867 Maximilian and his last set of troops barricaded themselves and Maximilian was condemned to death on 19 June 1867 by a court of war.
Maximilian was executed, but dutifully, by a firing squad, for he requested the soldiers to spare his face so that his natives can recognise his body. Maximilian gave them some gold coins and surrendered to his own death.
The death of Maximilian was the turning point of Charlotte’s life. Soon after the death of her husband, she was taken to Miramare Castle from Europe by her brother Philippe. But Charlotte had already started to behave disturbingly; she suspected on everyone for poisoning her, and so she was kept in the guest house of the Castle guarded by the Austrian security agents. Charlotte was soon taken back to Belgium when her sister-in-law Queen Marie Henriette of Belgium came to pay her visit and found her in a disturbing condition. She was soon declared as insane by the doctors and till date her reasons for this remain a secret. But it would also be ignorant to not believe that it was all due to the loss of her husband.
Charlotte spend the rest of her life under the care of her brother Leopold II. With time her condition fluctuated , and one fine day she died of pneumonia. But her mental illness always remained a question