Archduke Maximilian and Princess Charlotte of Belgium, the Emperor and Empress of Mexico
Emperor Napoleon III sent Maximilian to Mexico to establish a satellite monarchy and an outpost across the Atlantic in the 1860’s. Unfortunately for the young Emperor and Empress, the Mexican people did not take kindly to the foreign rulers. After only three years, the regime was toppled by Benito Juarez, and the 33 year old Maximilian was executed by a firing squad in 1867.
His wife Charlotte’s (or Carlota’s) story was also tragic. In 1866 Carlota had traveled to Europe to establish support for Maximilian’s faltering cause. She was already in the early stages of madness that would incapacitate her after her husband’s brutal death, and her audiences with Napoleon and Pope Pius IX did not go well. She delivered an impassioned diatribe against Napoleon for abandoning her husband and then threw herself at the Pope’s knees, screaming that Napoleon was plotting to poison her. When Vatican guards tried to pacify the hysterical woman, she accused them of being agents in Napoleon’s pay who were planning to assassinate her. Carlota’s brother then placed her into the hands of doctors who promptly declared her insane. She spent the rest of her life confined to a castle near Brussels and died in 1927, at the age of 87.