"...Maximilian consulted his brother first; unsurprisingly, Franz Josef was firmly opposed to the idea. The brothers were cordial but politically had seldom seen eye to eye; for all his conservatism and hatred of liberal ideals (it was, after all, what had cost Maximilian his viceregal post in Milan), the Emperor was skeptical enough of what the monarchist Conservative junta in Mexico had to offer that he advised his brother not to accept what was now their third attempt to foist a hypothetical Mexican crown upon him. Besides, Mexico was a war-ridden backwater, while in Europe Maximilian was second in line to the oldest, most prestigious dynasty on the continent. Their clashing visions of the old ways and the new would carry over to views of the potential of the New World against the secure reality of the Old.
But events had of course changed on the ground. The previous offers of the crown had come at times in the War of Reform when the Conservatives needed a unifying figure to unite their disparate cause as they went through a musical chairs of caudillo presidents, spending as much time fighting amongst themselves as they spent fighting Juarez, Lerdo and Diaz and the other Republicans. France had seized Mexico City within two weeks of the intervention, however, marching rapidly up the plateaus between Veracruz and the capital, doling out disproportionate casualties and scattering Juarez's armies so fast the President had no time to flee and was hung by Lorencez's forces on the Zocalo. The Republican stronghold of Tampico had been shelled and seized earlier in August; Diaz had vanished into the vast, wild north of Mexico after it was untenable to stay in native Oaxaca, and Lerdo had fled Mexico entirely, slipping away from the siege of Guadalajara just begun by a young, talented conservative general named Miguel Miramon (a man who's fate would be intertwined with that of Maximilian and Carlota for decades to come). All it would take to get local caudillos to fall in line was a symbolic figure to rally around; Maximilian could be that man, and he could use Mexico as the fertile ground for this ambitions of governance that Europe would never provide.
It was perhaps no accident that Maximilian returned to Miramare to tell Carlota he had decided to take the Mexican crown shortly after news arrived of Giuseppe Garibaldi's death at the hands of the Kingdom of Italy at Aspromonte. The battle, though inflaming Italian public opinion, only seemed to suggest that Italian nationalism was here to stay, and that Lombardy would never return to Vienna's hands. There was only an idle future left in Europe, while the new world promised a new challenge, one Maximilian knew would be dangerous and strange but also exciting. And so he and Carlota wrote to accept the offer, and set off - and what an adventure it would be..."
- Maximilian of Mexico