- Charlotte of Belgium
Charlotte of Belgium Empress consort of Mexico Tenure 10 April 1864 – 15 May 1867 Spouse Maximilian I of Mexico Issue Prince Augustine (adoptive)
Prince Salvador (adoptive)
Full name Marie Charlotte Amélie Augustine Victoire Clémentine Léopoldine
María Carlota Amelia Agustina Victoria Clementina Leopoldina
House House of Habsburg-Lorraine
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Father Leopold I of Belgium Mother Louise-Marie of France Born 7 June 1840
Laeken, Brussels, Belgium
Died 19 January 1927(aged 86)
Charlotte of Belgium (Princess Marie Charlotte Amélie Augustine Victoire Clémentine Léopoldine of Belgium) (7 June 1840 – 19 January 1927) is remembered today as Carlota of Mexico as empress consort of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, ex-Archduke of Austria.
Princess of Belgium
The only daughter of Leopold I, King of the Belgians (1790–1865) by his second wife, Louise-Marie, Princess of France (1812–1850), Charlotte was born at the Royal Castle of Laeken in Laeken, Brussels, Belgium. Charlotte had three brothers: Louis-Philippe, who died in infancy, Leopold, who on the death of their father became Leopold II of Belgium and Philippe, Count of Flanders. She was also a first cousin to both Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her husband, Prince Albert, as well as Ferdinand II of Portugal. She belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Her favorite grandparent Maria Amalia of the Two Sicilies, Queen of France, was the consort of Louis-Philippe of France, and a niece of Marie Antoinette. Maria Amalia was Charlotte's close confidante, and on her wedding day in 1857, she wore a bracelet with a miniature portrait of her. They regularly corresponded, especially later while Charlotte was in Mexico.
When Charlotte was ten years old, her mother, Louise-Marie, died of tuberculosis and Charlotte was entrusted to the Countess of Hulste, a close family friend. Although young, the princess had her own household; but for a few weeks out of the year, Charlotte stayed in Claremont with Maria Amalia and the rest of her mother's family in exile.
Archduchess of Austria
On 27 July 1857 in Brussels, Charlotte married her second cousin Archduke Maximilian of Austria, the idealistic younger brother of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria. In the Court of Vienna she was much prized by her mother-in-law, who saw in her the perfect example of a wife to an Austrian Archduke. Charlotte disliked Empress Elizabeth (also known as Sissi, Franz Josef's wife). It is said that the archduchess disliked the deep connection that existed between the empress and Maximilian, who were confidantes and shared the same tastes for many things, especially because her sister-in-law was universally admired for her beauty and charms.
Charlotte spent several relatively happy years in Italy as Maximilian's wife while the archduke served as governor of the provinces of Lombardy and Venetia. Although Lombardy and Venetia were then under the rule of the Austrian Empire, neither Maximilian nor Charlotte held real power, and both were fatally eager for more challenging roles in life.
Empress of Mexico
In the early 1860s, the ambitious Napoleon III initiated the French intervention in Mexico. France, eager to turn Mexico into a satellite state, searched for a suitable figurehead to serve as the nominal emperor of Mexico. Maximilian accepted the Mexican crown and the couple sailed for the New World. The imperial couple were crowned at the Catedral Metropolitana in 1864 and chose as their seat Mexico City, making their home in the Neoclassical Castillo de Chapultepec. As Empress, Charlotte took the name of Carlota (Spanish for Charlotte). Carlota tried to take her imperial duties seriously, and even undertook a tour of the remote Yucatán frontier, visiting the ruins of Uxmal.
Only months after the coronation, however, Napoleon III began signaling his abandonment of Maximilian, and the French began to withdraw their troops from Mexico. This strategic pullback was a potentially fatal blow to the infant Mexican monarchy. The situation was exacerbated by a United States blockade that prevented French reinforcements from landing. In a desperate attempt to save her husband's throne, Charlotte returned to Europe, seeking assistance for her husband in Paris, Vienna, and finally in Rome from Pope Pius IX. Her efforts failed; she manifested symptoms of paranoia, suffered a profound cognitive and emotional collapse, and never returned to Mexico.
Charlotte and Maximilian had no children, but in 1865 the imperial couple adopted Agustín de Iturbide y Green and Salvador de Iturbide y de Marzán – grandsons of Agustín de Iturbide y Arámburu, an earlier emperor of Mexico (r. 1822-23). They gave two-year-old Agustín the title of "His Highness, The Prince of Iturbide" —similar imperial titles were accorded to various members of the child's extended family—and intended to groom him as heir to the throne. The explosive events of 1867, however, dashed such hopes, and after he grew to adulthood, Agustín renounced all rights to the Mexican throne, served in the Mexican army, and eventually established himself as a professor at Georgetown University.
Rumors persist that, in 1866, Charlotte was having an affair with Belgian officer Colonel Alfred van der Smissen and that she gave birth to a son, Maxime Weygand, in Brussels on 21 January 1867. Weygand refused to confirm or deny the persistent rumor and his parentage remains uncertain. Weygand was a French military commander in both World War I and II.1
The empress dowager
President Benito Juárez of the Republic of Mexico oversaw the execution of Maximilian in 1867. (His last words were reportedly of his absent wife: "Poor Carlota!"). The empire had collapsed after only three years. Carlota's mental state continued to be poor. Her brother Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, had her examined by alienists (psychiatrists), who pronounced her insane. She spent the rest of her life in seclusion, first at Miramar Castle near Trieste, Italy, and then at the Castle of Bouchout in Meise, Belgium. During World War I, her Belgian estate was surrounded by the occupying German army, but the estate itself was sacrosanct because Austria was one of Germany's chief allies and she was the widowed sister-in-law of the Austrian emperor.
As Charlotte's illness progressed, her paranoia faded. She remained deeply in love with her husband. After his death, she cherished all of the surviving possessions they had enjoyed in common. The bias of the historiography of the time makes it difficult to assess to what extent she suffered from alleged mental conditions such as psychosis, paranoia and monomania. Her considerable fortune as one of the richest women of Europe was administered by baron de Goffinet, a servant of King Leopold II, who ensured that the money was used for his personal colonization of the Congo.
Titles and styles
- 7 June 1840 – 27 July 1857: Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Belgium, Princess of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Duchess in Saxony
- 27 July 1857 – 10 April 1864: Her Imperial & Royal Highness Archduchess Charlotte of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia
- 10 April 1864 – 15 May 1867: Her Imperial Majesty The Empress of Mexico
- 15 May 1867– 19 January 1927: Her Imperial Majesty Empress Charlotte of Mexico
Carlota de Mexico in Chapultepec Castle
In popular culture
Bette Davis portrayed the tragic empress in the 1939 film Juarez, directed by William Dieterle. So did Medea de Novara in the four Mexican productions directed by Miguel Contreras Torres, Juárez y Maximiliano (1933), La Paloma (1937), The Mad Empress (1940) and Caballería del Imperio (1942).
Charlotte is also referenced in the first season of The Dick Van Dyke Show in an episode titled "Empress Carlotta's Necklace."
American film production company Two M Films, has announced a project entitled 'Bringing Back Charlotte'. The company gained exclusive access to the archives of the Belgian royal palace, and were allowed to read the letters the empress had written to her father and brothers, while being in Mexico. Belgian born writer/director Maxime Brulein is said to direct the film, which he wrote the screenplay for.
The musical Carlota, a serpentine crown (2009) by composer and scenarist Marcel Wick portrays Charlotte as a woman driven by ambition towards inevitable disaster.
- Prince Michael of Greece; The Empress of Farewells - The Story of Charlotte, Empress of Mexico, New York 1998.
- del Paso,Fernando: Noticias del Imperio. México 1987
- Bibesco, Princesse Marthe: Charlotte et Maximilien. París 1962.
- Castelot, André: Maximiliano y Carlota. La Tragedia de la Ambición. México 1985.
- Corti, Conte Egon Caesar: Maximilian und Charlotte von Mexiko. Nach dem bisher unveröffentlichten Geheimarchive des Kaisers Maximilian und sonstigen unbekannten Quellen. 2 Vols. Zurich, Leipzig, Viena 1924.
- Corti, Conte Egon Caesar: Maximilian von Mexiko. Die Tragödie eines Kaisers. Francfort del Meno 1953.
- Desternes, Suzanne; Chandet, Henriette: Maximilien et Charlotte. París 1964.
- Gómez Tepexicuapan, Amparo: "Carlota en México." En: Igler, Susanne; Spiller, Roland (eds.): Más nuevas del imperio. Estudios interdisciplinarios acerca de Carlota de México. Francfort del Meno 2001. (=Erlanger Lateinamerika-Studien. 45). p. 27-40.
- Miguel de Grecia: La Emperatriz del Adiós. El trágico destino del emperador Maximiliano y su mujer Carlota. Barcelona 2000.
- Harding, Bertita: Phantom Crown. The story of Maximilian and Carlota of Mexico. New York 1934.
- Haslip, Joan: The Crown of Mexico: Maximilian and his Empress Carlota. 2a edición. Nueva York 1972.
- Hyde, Montgomery H.: Mexican Empire. The history of Maximilian and Carlota of Mexico. Londres 1946.
- Igler, Susanne: Carlota de México. México 2002. (=Grandes Protagonistas de la Historia Mexicana) [segunda edición: 2006].
- Igler, Susanne: De la intrusa infame a la loca del castillo: Carlota de México en la literatura de su 'patria adoptiva'. Frankfurt: Peter Lang 2007 (Studien und Dokumente zur Geschichte der Romanischen Literaturen, 58).
- Kerckvoorde, Mia: Charlotte. La passion et la fatalité. París 1981.
- Maria y Campos, Armando: Carlota de Bélgica. La infortunada Emperatriz de México. México 1944.
- Praviel, Armand: La vida trágica de la emperatriz Carlota. Buenos Aires 1937.
- Jasper Ridley: Maximilian & Juarez. Phoenix Press, London 2001
Charlotte of BelgiumCadet branch of the House of WettinBorn: June 1840 Died: 19 January 1927
- Imperial House of Mexico
- Biography of Charlotte of Belgium (1840-1927)
- Find-A-Grave profile for Carlotta Empress of Mexico
- 1923 Newspaper Interview with one of Carlota's Ladies (in Spanish)
- C.M. Mayo's blog for researchers of Mexico's Second Empire, a period also known as the French Intervention"
- An Account of the French Intervention and the 2nd Mexican Empire, 1862-1867.
Mexican royalty VacantTitle last held byAna María de Huarte y Muñiz Empress Consort of Mexico
10 April 1864 – 15 May 1867
Monarchy abolished Titles in pretence VacantTitle last held byAna María de Huarte y Muñiz — TITULAR —
Empress Consort of Mexico
15 May 1867 – 19 June 1867
VacantTitle next held byLucy Eleanor Jackson Belgian princesses 1st generationCharlotte, Empress of Mexico 2nd generationLouise Marie, Princess of Kohary · Stéphanie, Crown Princess of Austria · Clémentine, Princess Napoléon · Princess Joséphine Marie · Henriette, Duchess of Vendôme · Joséphine Caroline, Princess Karl Anton of Hohenzollern 3rd generation 4th generation 5th generation 6th generation*created princess of Belgium by Royal Decree of 2 December 1991 Princesses (by birth) of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, duchesses in Saxony 1st generationnone 2nd generationVictoria, Duchess of Nemours · Charlotte, Empress of Mexico* 3rd generationVictoria, German Empress** · Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine** · Helena, Princess Christian of Scheswig-Holstein** · Louise, Duchess of Argyll** · Beatrice, Princess Henry of Battenberg** · Clotilde, Archduchess Joseph Karl of Austria · Amalie, Duchess Maximilian Emanuel in Bavaria · Louise-Marie, Princess of Kohary* · Stéphanie, Crown Princess of Austria* · Henriette, Duchess of Vendôme* · Princess Joséphine-Marie* · Clémentine, Princess Napoléon* · Joséphine-Caroline, Princess Karl Anton of Hohenzollern* 4th generationLouise, Duchess of Fife** · Princess Victoria** · Maud, Queen of Norway** · Marie, Queen of Romania** · Victoria Melita, Grand Duchess Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia** · Alexandra, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg** · Beatrice, Duchess of Galliera** · Margaret, Crown Princess of Sweden** · Lady Patricia Ramsay** · Alice, Countess of Athlone** · Dorothea, Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg · Marie-José, Queen of Italy* 5th generationMary, Countess of Harewood** · Sibylla, Duchess of Västerbotten** · Caroline Mathilde, Countess of Castell-Rüdenhausen** · Princess Clementine, Mrs. Edward von Heller · Princess Maria Caroline · Theresia, Freifrau von Taxis di Bordogna e Valnigra · Princess Leopoldine · Princess Maria Immaculata · Josephine, Freifrau von Baratta-Dragono 6th generationPrincess Claudia, Mrs. Gion Schäfer · Beatrice Charlotte, Princess of Saxe-Meiningen 7th generationPrincess Stephanie · Princess Felicitas Franziska, Mrs. Sergei Trotzki 1st generation 2nd generation 3rd generationInfanta Isabella of Portugal · Anne of Bohemia and Hungary 4th generation 5th generation 6th generation 7th generationArchduchess Margaret Theresa of Austria^ · Archduchess Claudia Felicitas of Austria^ · Countess Palatine Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg 8th generationPrincess Wilhelmina Amalia of Brunswick-Lüneburg · Princess Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel 9th generationnone 10th generation 11th generationDuchess Elisabeth of Württemberg** · Princess Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily** · Princess Luisa of Naples and Sicily** · Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg** · Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna of Russia** · Princess Hermine of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym** · Duchess Maria Dorothea of Württemberg** · Princess Elisabeth of Savoy** · Princess Maria Beatrice of Savoy*** 12th generation 13th generationPrincess Charlotte of Belgium · Princess Margaretha of Saxony · Princess Maria Annunciata of the Two Sicilies · Infanta Maria Theresa of Portugal · Princess Anna of Saxony** · Princess Alice of Parma** · Princess Maria Immaculata of the Two Sicilies** · Princess Isabella of Croÿ · Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria^ · Princess Auguste Maria of Bavaria 14th generation 15th generationPrincess Zita of Parma · Princess Franziska of Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst · Princess Dorothea of Bavaria** · Countess Marie Valerie of Waldburg-Zeil-Hohenems** · Princess Ileana of Romania** · Princess Rosemary of Salm-Salm** · Countess Maria Theresa of Waldburg-Zeil** · Princess Maria of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg · Princess Christina of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg 16th generationPrincess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen · Princess Margherita of Savoy · Princess Anne Eugénie of Arenberg · Princess Yolande of Ligne · Countess Xenia Czernicheva-Besobrasova · Princess Anna Gabriele of Wrede · Countess Helena of Toerring-Jettenbach · Countess Ludmilla of Gallen · Princess Laetitia of Arenberg** · Countess Margaret Kálnoky von Köröspatak** · Maria Espinosa de los Monteros^^** · Countess Valerie of Podstatzky-Lichtenstein** · Freiin Eva Antonia von Hofmann** · Princess Anna Amelie of Schönburg-Waldenburg** · Countess Hedwig of Lichem-Löwenburg** · Freiin Edith von Sternbach** · Princess Margaret of Hohenberg · Countess Marie Christine of Hatzfeldt-Dönhoff · Eugenia de Calonge^^ · Freiin Maria Theresia von Gudenus 17th generationFreiin Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon et Impérfalva · Duchess Eilika of Oldenburg · Princess Astrid of Belgium*** · Princess Katharina of Isenburg-Birstein*** · Bettine Götz^^ · Paola de Temesváry^^ · Baroness Marie Hélène de Villenfagne de Vogelsanck · Princess Marie Astrid of Luxembourg · Princess Alexandra of Wrede · Princess María of the Two Sicilies · Sara Maya Al-Askari^^ · Mayasuni Heath^^ · Countess Katharina of Hardenberg · Ashmita Goswami^^ · Elyssa Edmonstone^^** · Countess Marie Gabrielle of Waldstein** 18th generationEstelle de Saint-Romain^^*also an infanta of Spain by marriage
**also a princess of Tuscany by marriage
***also a princess of Modena by marriage
^also an archduchess of Austria in her own right
^^did not have a royal or noble title by birth
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