Unhinged Facts About Queen Charlotte, The Last Empress Of Mexico

September 25, 2023 | Dancy Mason

Unhinged Facts About Queen Charlotte, The Last Empress Of Mexico

Few things from the annals of history are more bizarre or more tragic than the sordid tale of Empress Charlotte of Mexico. Sent over from colonial Belgium to rule alongside her husband, Charlotte—or Carlota in Mexico—quickly experienced a violent and infamous breakdown. But really, that’s only the beginning of her star-crossed story.

1. She Was A Spoiled Brat

Born Princess Charlotte of Belgium on June 7, 1840, Charlotte didn’t just have a silver spoon in her mouth, she had the whole tea set. Her father was Leopold I, the King of the Belgians, and her mother was the French princess Louise of Orleans. More than that, she was the spoiled only daughter of the family—but adulthood came at her fast.



2. A Tragedy Made Her Grow Up Too Fast

In truth, Charlotte started life under a dark star. Her mother Louise had an extremely difficult pregnancy, and everyone assumed that the baby wasn’t going to make it. Then when she did, she had precious few years of innocence: That's because when she was only 10 years old, Charlotte's mother perished from tuberculosis.

Yet the pain didn’t even end there.

 Carlota of Mexico FactsWikipedia

3. Her Family Abandoned Her

The loss of Charlotte’s mother shocked the palace, and her family’s response was heartbreaking. With the Princess gone, none of the men left in the Belgian royal family felt up to the job of raising a little girl. Thus, the grieving, tiny Charlotte had to move in with a female family friend, all while keeping a household and servants on her own.

This isolation would end up having very, very grave consequences—but the backlash was also immediate.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikipedia

4. She Changed For The Worse

After her mother’s passing, the change in Charlotte’s temperament was sudden and disturbing. Where she was once care-free, she became over-serious and introverted. It didn’t help that her father Leopold insisted on a pedantic and thoroughly monarchist education that left the little princess feeling like she was the right hand of God.

Still, it didn’t take long for Charlotte's icy personal life to heat right up.


 Carlota of Mexico Facts Wikimedia Commons

5. She Had A Secret Weapon

Charlotte’s mother Louise was a famous beauty of her time, and the little girl apparently inherited her dark but delicate looks. As a child, people constantly praised Charlotte's beauty, plus being the only daughter of a king didn't hurt either. The young princess quickly became quite the hot commodity on the marriage market—a little too hot.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

6. She Was The Popular Girl

By the time Charlotte was 15 years old, she had not one but two big-name suitors for her hand, Prince George of Saxony and King Pedro V of Portugal. Charlotte’s reaction was surprising. She might have been a supposedly frivolous teenage girl, but she had her head screwed on very tight. Although she admitted that Pedro’s throne in particular tempted her, she said no to both of them.

Instead, a few months later, she met her true destiny.

Charlotte of Mexico Facts

7. She Met Her Match

Right before her 16th birthday, Charlotte met Archduke Maximilian of Austria, the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. And while, unlike Pedro, Maximilian didn't have much chance at a throne, Charlotte fell for him anyway. In serious and decisive Charlotte fashion, she reportedly said after meeting him, "it will be him that I will marry”.

But if she thought it was going to be a fairy tale, she was quickly proven wrong.

Carlota of Mexico FactsPicryl

8. Her Suitor Had Second Thoughts

Charlotte was all in on Maximilian, but her suitor had much different ideas. Charlotte expressed again and again her desire to marry her perfect man and her conviction that they were destined to be together. Maximilian, conversely, showed hesitation as the marriage negotiations opened, opening by quibbling about the price of her dowry.

That wasn’t all he did, though. It got a lot creepier than that.

Maximilian I Of Mexico factsMaximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

9. Her Fiancé Hated One Of Her Qualities

Austria at the time was an extremely conservative nation, and Maximilian had grown up with even more deranged ideas about women than was usual for the time, which is saying something. Although Maximilian was reportedly clever himself, he didn't like his bride's brains, once saying, “She is very intelligent, which is a bit annoying, but I will undoubtedly get over it".

If you’re wondering if that’s some foreshadowing for poor Charlotte, you’re right. But wait! There's more.



Carlota of Mexico Facts Wikimedia Commons

10. Her Suitor Was More Experienced Than Her

Charlotte was desperately and undoubtedly in love with Maximilian, but his dating history was full of red flags. Before meeting Charlotte, the Archduke had already been engaged before, to Princess Maria Amelia of Brazil. In fact, the engagement had only just ended, and not for happy reasons...

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Wikipedia

11. She Was In Competition With A Dead Woman

Maximilian didn’t walk away from Maria Amelia, far from it. At the tender age of 21, before their wedding could take place, the blushing bride perished from tuberculosis. Many believe that Maria Amelia was the real love of Maximilian's life, and that he never got over her even when he was with Charlotte. Nonetheless, the horror show had to go on.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

12. She Was A Teenage Bride

In July 1857, just weeks after Charlotte turned 17, she finally got what she wanted and married Maximilian in a lavish ceremony in Brussels. Soon after, she moved to the Austrian court in Vienna and buddied up with her new mother-in-law, Sophie of Bavaria. Charlotte was young, in love, and hugely idealistic. She got a harsh dose of reality.

Franz Ferdinand FactsWikimedia Commons

13. She Entered A Viper's Den

As it happened, Sophie absolutely adored Charlotte, naming her as the epitome of grace and class. But not everyone at court took to her the same way. Maximilian’s sister-in-law was the imposing and beloved Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who was considered one of the most beautiful women in the empire. Unfortunately, Elisabeth also became one of Charlotte’s biggest problems.

Historical Villains factsWikimedia Commons

14. She Had An Intense Rivalry

The issues between Charlotte and Elisabeth started early. For one, Sophie of Bavaria blatantly showed favoritism toward Charlotte while openly disparaging Elisabeth, fanning the flames of the enmity. For another, the women were nearly opposite in type; where Charlotte was nice, polite, and pretty, Elisabeth was sharp, rebellious, and icily gorgeous. But that wasn’t the worst part.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria factsWikimedia Commons

15. She Was The Jealous Type

Charlotte had spent most of her betrothal dreaming up the ways that she and Maximilian were perfect for each other, so imagine her horror when she went to Vienna and discovered that Elisabeth and her new husband had a special bond with each other. While it was platonic, the pair still shared similar tastes and were each other’s confidantes.

As such, the new bride spent much of her time looking over her shoulder at Elisabeth. And the intrigue didn’t end there.

Empress Elisabeth of Austria factsWikimedia Commons

16. She Was Useless

Maximilian had some serious middle child issues. In particular, he didn’t have much in the way of royal duties or responsibilities, and no one trusted that he or his bride could do much of the diplomatic heavy lifting. To fix this issue, the palace eventually gave the new couple some light, low-key duties in the now defunct kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, in Italy.

Sounds simple enough...until it turned into a complete mess.

Elisabeth Of Austria FactsWikipedia

17. She Was A Buffoon

From the very beginning of their tenure in their new kingdom, Charlotte and Maximilian made fools of themselves. Reportedly when they entered the city of Milan, they unwisely chose to bedeck their carriages and men in the most ornate livery they could find. As one noble put it, they had “a buffoonish luxury from another time”. Then the wheels really came off.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikipedia

18. Her People Scorned Her

While in Italy, Maximilian and Charlotte really let themselves go, throwing extravagant balls and surrounding themselves with sycophantic entourages. It didn’t take long for this to backfire. Soon, everyone was talking about what spendthrifts they were, and important nobles were mysteriously but consistently skipping out on their parties.

Unfortunately for poor Charlotte, though, that was just the beginning of the trouble.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

19. Her Husband Ignored Her

By 1859, two years after their wedding, many nobles thought Maximilian and Charlotte should have been pregnant by now, but no child was in sight. And Charlotte thought she knew why: Around this time, she began to complain that Maximilian, who had never exactly been head over heels for her, was ignoring her in their private life.

Soon, though, she’d have something much worse to complain about.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

20. She Lost Her Throne

Less than three years into ruling her kingdom, Charlotte’s worst nightmare happened. The people were now fully against her and her husband, and Emperor Franz Joseph could no longer let them play in his royal sandbox. He all but deposed Maximilian from the throne, “asking” him to resign. Charlotte was officially crownless again...but she hadn’t learned her lesson.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Getty Images

21. She Was Extravagant

Charlotte and Maximilian certainly didn’t act ashamed of their failures in Italy. Instead, they dug themselves further into fantasies, building the glorious Miramare Castle, perching it on a cliff in the Gulf of Trieste next to the Adriatic sea. The castle even featured a full-on reproduction of the cabin of Maximilian’s favorite warship.

But the ex-royal couple couldn’t run from their problems forever. Instead, they came back with a vengeance.

Carlote from Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

22. She Was Second Best

During this time, Maximilian pulled even further away from Charlotte. It came to an excruciatingly uncomfortable climax. At one point, the erstwhile rulers went on a funemployment yacht trip and visited Madeira—which just so happened to be where Maximilian’s first (and maybe only) love, Princess Maria Amelia of Brazil, was buried.

As if this wasn’t awkward enough, Maximilian’s next move really showed where his loyalty lay.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Getty Images

23. Her Husband Left Her

Charlotte’s husband was barely spending any time at all with her before his pilgrimage to his lover’s grave, and afterward he practically abandoned her. While she stayed in Europe, Maximilian made a trip overseas to Brazil to visit Maria Amelia’s old kingdom. It may have been one of the lowest points that the marriage ever reached, but they were about to be thrown a major curveball.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Wikipedia

24. She Got A Strange Offer

By 1863, Maximilian was back in Europe with Charlotte, and they were both itching for something to actually do. A “perfect” opportunity fell into their laps. At the time, Emperor Napoleon III was trying to expand the French territories into Mexico, and he wanted Maximilian to become a puppet Emperor, with Charlotte as his puppet Empress.

If that sounds sketchy, that's because it was. For more reasons than one.

Napoleon III FactsWikipédia

25. Her Prospects Were Grim

As dyed-in-the-wool Imperialists, Maximilian and Charlotte should have been overjoyed at the invitation. Instead, they had reason to be terrified. After all, everybody knew the Second Mexican Empire was far from stable—France had only just invaded, barely had a foothold within the borders, and were on dangerous judicial ground with their plans.

As such, the whole Austrian royal family desperately tried to get them to decline. Charlotte, however, was to blame for what happened next.

Maximilian I Of Mexico factsMaximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

26. She Forced Her Husband’s Hand

With everyone around her ambivalent or else straight-up against the idea of an Austrian taking over the Mexican crown, Charlotte’s old high-and-mighty beliefs reared their ugly heads. Certain that becoming a Mexican Empress was God’s divine will for her at last, it was Charlotte who convinced Maximilian to accept the post in the end.

It would be their doom—and the fallout came quick.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

27. She Made A Huge Sacrifice

Charlotte’s misgivings about their acceptance might have started early. See, her new title came with a heartbreakingly high cost. Right after they said yes, the royal family decided Maximilian could never run both Mexico and Austria, so his brother made him give up all their rights to the Austrian throne. It was nothing less than an ambush, and Maximilian did not react well.

Carlota Of Mexico Facts Wikimedia Commons

28. Her Husband Went Through A Breakdown

With just days to go before their departure to Mexico, Maximilian went off the deep end. During a goodbye banquet they held at their lavish palace in Miramare, the new Emperor of Mexico became so overwhelmed that he nearly suffered a nervous breakdown and had to spent the night in his bed. All the while, Charlotte gritted her teeth and smiled for the rest of the banquet guests.

Still, at least she had the Mexican throne to look forward to…right?

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

29. She Wasted Her Time

In mid-April, Charlotte and Maximilian embarked on their lengthy crossing to Mexico. It was a disaster from start to finish. Although the pair had plenty of time to talk through what they wanted their new kingdom to look like politically, the out-of-touch couple actually spent their time compiling a 600-page tome on proper court etiquette instead.

It is any wonder it started going off the rails the minute they landed?

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts

30. She Had A Rough Introduction

Charlotte and Maximilian landed in Veracruz, Mexico on May 29, 1864. The moment they arrived, they faced a harsh reality. The town was a notorious bastion for a free republic of Mexico, and the Liberalist townspeople met their new Emperor and Empress with a very icy welcome wagon. It was Italy deja-vu all over again, and Charlotte had to go WAY overboard to try to make up for it.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

31. She Employed A Bizarre PR Tactic

Although the new Emperor and Empress of Mexico had the French army on their side, brute strength simply wasn’t going to cut it with the angry people of the nation. Instead, the royal couple went for PR tactics, with Charlotte changing her name to “Empress Carlota” in a very cringey bid to blend in. Oh, but these two had even worse ideas up their sleeves.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

32. Her Husband Came Up With A Cold Plot

At this point, Maximilian and Charlotte still didn’t have children—in fact, they didn’t seem to be able to have them, which meant they weren't likely to have an heir. Maximilian was particularly upset about this, and he came up with a disturbing solution. He decided to adopt two Mexican heirs, Agustin and Salvador de Iturbide, who were both grandsons of a previous Emperor of Mexico.

However, there was one enormous issue with his plan.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

33. She Tried To Save The Children

Maximilian saw Agustin and Salvador as the answer to many of his current problems—so he was able to completely ignore the fact that their biological mother was still alive and very much present in their lives. For what it’s worth, Charlotte was completely against the idea, and tried to convince her husband to give it up. In response, he forced her into a cruel act.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

34. She Ripped Children From Their Mothers

When the time came to pick the boys up, Maximilian did the absolutely heartless thing and made Charlotte personally go to rip them from their mother’s arms. To seal the deal and quell any rebellions from either his wife or the nation, he then published the treaty between himself and the House of Iturbide in the papers. But he was just getting warmed up.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

35. She Got Heirs At Last

Almost the entire time the couple was raising Agustin and Salvador, Maximilian continued to make a huge show of naming them as his successors. He gave the boys the titles of “Prince”, and even went so far as to make Agustin the next in line to their stolen throne. But for all this pomp and circumstance, this was all a lie. The truth was scandalous.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

36. Her Sons Were Pawns

In reality, Charlotte’s husband never intended to crown either boy—especially because he saw both children as not “noble” enough to carry on their line. Instead, Maximilian wanted his brother Archduke Karl to send him one of his full-blooded Austrian sons to create as the heir, and was only using the pair as a bargaining chip for this ultimate goal.

Unsurprisingly, the Mexican people knew something like this was going on, and were deeply unhappy with Maximilian's adoption of the boys. That unrest was about to hit incredible proportions.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

37. Her Power Began To Slip Away

Mere months after Charlotte and Maximilian’s coronation, the situation turned sour. Despite all the Sturm und Drang, their benefactor Napoleon III couldn’t manage to actually get his men into Mexico. Even worse, the rebels were now loud, proud, and coming against the new rulers in full force. Faced with this storm of issues, Napoleon III made a fateful and horrific decision.

Napoleon Bonaparte FactsWikipedia

38. She Learned A Brutal Lesson

Mexico was a whole lot more trouble than Napoleon had ever wanted, and eventually the French Emperor decided to cut his losses and completely abandon this whole “Emperor and Empress of Mexico” thing. Yep. He pulled his support, and suddenly Charlotte and Maximilian were alone in a hostile country. This was bad enough, but then Charlotte made it so much worse.

Eugenie Of Montijo factsWikimedia Commons

39. She Made Incredibly Rash Decisions

After hearing that Napoleon III was abandoning them in Mexico, Charlotte performed the first of many desperate acts. Incredibly, she sailed all the way back to Europe with her two boys, intending to meet Napoleon in France and beg him to reconsider. Unfortunately for Charlotte, when she landed, Napoleon’s response was not at all what she was expecting.

Napoleon III factsWikipedia

40. She Defied An Emperor

After hearing the Empress was in town, Napoleon sent her a telegram pleading horrific illness—which was quite possibly the truth—and told her to stay (very) far away. Did this stop Charlotte? Heck no. She booked a room at the lavish Grand Hotel in Paris and settled in for the long-term, forcing Napoleon to pull out a new defense.

Napoleon III FactsWikipedia

41. She Would Do Anything To Stay Empress

Instead of going to the hotel himself, Napoleon sent his wife Eugenie de Montijo to talk to the Empress woman-to-woman. The idea was to convince Charlotte to give up and accept her and her husband’s sad fate. Well, it didn't work. Done with being kind and submissive, Charlotte demanded to speak to Napoleon in person, and miraculously earned not one but three audiences with him.

Unfortunately, these interviews truly couldn't have gone worse.

Romantic Gestures In History FactsFlickr

42. She Suffered A Crushing Disappointment

After Charlotte finally got her hard-won meetings with Napoleon, she arrived to find him completely unsympathetic to her cause. He refused to entertain the idea of supporting her as Empress of Mexico or giving her husband any leeway. Wild with fury and hopelessness, Charlotte’s response was so disturbing, it’s impossible to forget.

Napoléon IIIWikimedia Commons

43. Her Mind Slowly Started To Break

Charlotte simply couldn’t accept the truth: That she and Maximilian had lost Mexico, had lost many of their rights to nobility, had lost everything. Instead, a change began to take place in the Empress. She slowly became unhinged, and began making long, rambling, and unheeded speeches to Napoleon. Yet the further effects of her descent were downright chilling.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikipedia

44. She Couldn’t Keep It Together In Public

Charlotte’s third meeting with Napoleon was her last, but by then it was too late. Full of grief for her beloved husband and her cushy position, the Empress of Mexico was totally deranged. At one point in her second meeting, Charlotte even collapsed into a chair and sobbed for hours, pushed to the brink of sanity. And this was just the beginning of the nightmare.

Napoleon III FactsWikimedia Commons

45. She Displayed Disturbing Behaviors

After finally admitting to herself that she would get no help from Napoleon III, Charlotte went back to her castle in Trieste to regroup and look for new sources of support. But she didn’t even make it there before her insanity worsened. On the way, she spotted a farmer in a field and, sure he was an assassin, screamed at her coachman to drive faster all the way home.

She did, however, think she had one final ace in the hole.

Maximilian I Of Mexico factsMaximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

46. She Stopped At Nothing To Get What She Wanted

In a last ditch effort to save her station, Charlotte planned to go all the way to the top: Pope Pius IX in Rome. She didn't even make it there before her rapidly deteriorating sanity struck again. While travelling to the Vatican, Charlotte informed her companion, straight-faced, that someone spying for Napoleon III was trying to poison her.

Charlotte’s meeting with the Big Man did nothing to help things, either.

Charlota of Mexico FatcsWikimedia Commons

47. The Pope Finally Broke Her

Having apparently never heard of a little something called “Christian charity,” the Pope took the same hard line with Charlotte as Napoleon had: He left the Empress empty-handed. This was the last straw. Totally bereft, Charlotte didn’t leave her hotel room for two days, and refused to eat. After all, she was terrified that “spies” were still after her. But the worst was yet to come.

Abductions FactsWikimedia Commons

48. She Performed Her Most Insane Act In Front Of The Vatican

Still in Rome, Charlotte awoke two days later with an utterly unhinged plan. Eyes red from crying and cheeks sunken from starvation, she dressed herself in black mourning clothes and stomped up to the Vatican again, begging for shelter from her imaginary enemies. She claimed if the Pope wouldn’t let her in, she’d sleep on the stone floor outside.

This led to a strange and novel chain of events.

Abductions FactsWikimedia Commons

49. She Went Where No Woman Had Gone Before

The Pope was understandably worried about the optics of letting a Princess of Belgium camp outside his door like a normie. He relented and set up a bed for the deranged Empress in his library. As a result, in addition to her other dubious claims to fame, Charlotte remains one of the only women in history to ever sleep overnight at the Vatican. Not that she had much time to enjoy that fact.

Abductions FactsWikipedia

50. She Wrote Desperate Farewell Letters

Finally safe and surrounded by the House of God, Charlotte spent her evening in the library still unraveling. She stayed up all night writing scores of farewell letters to her loved ones, and even scrawled out her will. To the Empress, this was the end times. And in many ways, for her it was: Charlotte was never the same. Soon, her family had to make a gut-wrenching decision.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

51. Her Family Staged An Intervention

Inevitably, news got out that the Empress of Mexico was deteriorating before the Pope's own eyes. Before long, her panicked in-laws tracked her down and sent her to recover as best she could at her beloved Castle Miramare...with a team of physicians and an armed Austrian guard. Yet the best doctors in the world couldn’t cure the coming traumas.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsPixabay

52. Rebels Captured Her Husband

While Charlotte had been slowly losing her mind in Europe, she didn't realize that her husband's fate was getting darker by the day. Although Maximilian had tried to hold down the fort in her absence, he failed miserably. More than miserably, in fact. Eventually, Republican Mexican forces captured him—and after enduring months of his inept rule, they did not play nice.

Old engraved portrait of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of AustriaMarzolino, Shutterstock

53. Her Husband Was Guilty

During his time as Emperor of Mexico, Charlotte’s husband had made a lifelong enemy of the rebels. So when it came time for the court-martial, they easily found the erstwhile Emperor of Mexico guilty, then sentenced him to execution—ignoring the cries from across Europe to simply exile him and spare his life. From that point on, the grim fate of Charlotte’s husband was sealed.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

54. Her Husband Faced A Firing Squad

On June 19, 1867, just over three years after Maximilian took on the job of Emperor of Mexico, the guards brought the monarch to the Cerro de las Campanas at the crack of dawn. Maximilian knew he had no more options left except to bravely face down the barrel of a firearm. But just before he did that, he performed a final, heartbreaking act.

Maximilian I Of Mexico facts

55. Her Emperor Had One Last Wish

When Maximilian met the men who were about to shoot him, he gave each of the troopers a gold coin. This wasn’t just idle bribery; it had a much more gut-wrenching meaning. It was payment in advance for not shooting him in the face. Why? Because he wanted his mother Sophie to be able to recognize him when his body went back home.

And while this was somewhat of a snub to his wife Charlotte, there is one tear-jerking indication that he was thinking of her too.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

56. Her Husband’s Last Thoughts Were Of Her

Some of Maximilian’s last words were, "I forgive everyone, and I ask everyone to forgive me”. But his very last words were even more tragic. Some witnesses say that after this public speech, Maximilian had a more personal lament. Just before the bullets rained down on him, he reportedly mumbled “Poor Charlotte”. And back in Europe, Charlotte did need all the thoughts and prayers she could get.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsPicryl

57. Her Family Told Her An Enormous Lie

After her beloved husband’s violent demise, Charlotte’s doctors made a chilling decision: They didn’t tell her about it. They believed that her fragile mental health simply couldn’t withstand the tragedy, so she never knew that she was officially no longer an Empress. Sadly, though, Charlotte’s troubles were just beginning.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikipedia

58. She Was A Princess In A Tower

At Miramare, Charlotte was in the care of her Austrian in-laws, but her blood relatives in Belgium had been desperate to get her back for weeks. In July of 1867, her brother’s wife, Queen Marie Henriette, arrived at the castle to finally take custody of the former Empress of Mexico. But when Charlotte emerged, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

Princess Sophie of Bavaria FactsWikipedia

59. Her Guards Treated Her Horribly

Charlotte had been under the “care” of her doctors and the Austrian armed guard for nearly a year, but this was the day that Queen Marie Henriette discovered the men had been horribly mistreating her. They had acted as if she was their prisoner for nine months, and Charlotte’s mental and physical state had taken another enormous nosedive in the meantime.

Now certain that Charlotte needed to get the heck out of Miramare, Queen Marie Henriette had to think fast—and play dirty.

Empress Charlotte of Mexico Facts

60. Her Sister-In-Law Played A Trick On Her

While Charlotte’s minders simply avoided telling her about her departed husband, Marie Henriette now actively pretended he was alive. In order to get her back to Brussels without doling out the ugly truth, she sent Charlotte a fake telegram from “Maximilian”, telling her she should go back to live with her brother, now King Leopold II of Belgium.

Charlotte dutifully followed, but the damage was done.

Maximilian I Of Mexico factsMaximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

61. She Became A Ghost

For the long years that followed, Charlotte lived a kind of death in life. She actually described herself in letters as “dead”, and although she likely never found out about Maximilian’s fate, she did obsessively keep all of his surviving possessions, making a kind of shrine for him. During this time, she saw almost no one except her two sisters-in-law, Marie Henriette and the Countess of Flanders. It gets more tragic than this, too.

Charlotte of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

62. She Was Utterly Ignorant

Charlotte lived her days trapped in amber, consumed with small daily tasks and barely registering what was going on outside of the walls she lived in. In fact, no one even informed her of the passing of her brother King Leopold II or the Countess of Flanders—partly because she never commented on their absences. Yet just when you thought Charlotte could fall no further, she did.

Evil People Who Made History Quizwikipedia

63. She Experienced Bizarre Hallucinations

As time passed, Charlotte didn’t seem to get better; she only seemed to get worse. When the younger generation of her family would visit their aging aunt, they were struck by her rambling, vague soliloquies. On particularly bad days, she would speak in a host of languages to imaginary listeners. But she could also turn terrifying in the blink of an eye.

Priscilla Presley FactsShutterstock

64. She Could Be Scarily Violent

As lucidity started to elude her permanently, Charlotte would often have violent outbursts and tantrums during her confused states. At these times, she would throw around her plates and tear up the books in her library. She even once tried to get her hounds to attack an unsatisfactory maid. Then, when these fits passed, she would calmly take back up whatever she was doing.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

65. Her Presence Stopped Armies

Even in her later years, people still respected Charlotte for what she represented, if not for the tragic shell of herself that she had become. When fighting erupted during WWI near her home at Bouchout Castle, the German forces deliberately avoided entering the property because she was the widowed sister of the Austrian Emperor.

Charlotte of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

66. She May Have Had A Secret Love Child

There is a persistent rumor that although Charlotte had no children with Maximilian, she did have a secret love child with a Belgian officer. Apparently, she gave birth to a boy, Maxime Weygand, in 1867. Interestingly, Weygand’s parentage was always mysterious, and he also suspiciously refused to ever confirm or deny the rumors about his royal inheritance.

Charlotte of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

67. She Had A Twisted Family Tree

Nobles of the time loved intermarrying each other to strengthen their family lines, and Charlotte’s lineage was no different. Our girl was first cousins not only to Queen Victoria, but also to Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. Some of the maddest monarchs in history were the result of inbreeding, so maybe this had something to do with Charlotte’s sad fate.

Prince Albert FactsWikipedia

68. Her Relationship With Her Father Was Creepy

Spoiled little Charlotte was her father’s absolute favorite child, but Leopold’s affections came with a side of creepy. He had actually named her “Charlotte” in memory of his first wife who had perished in childbirth. Leopold still carried a flame for the elder Charlotte even into his second marriage, and his doting attentions on her probably had a lot to do with his lingering feelings.

Crown Prince Rudolf factsWikipedia

69. Her Mental Illness Might Not Have Been An Accident

Charlotte’s terrifying and infamous mental breakdown has long puzzled historians. Though many attribute it to the emotional stress she was under, some experts have a more sinister explanation. According to them, her “madness” didn’t come on suddenly. Instead, it was carefully orchestrated and started long before she went back to Europe. This gets weirder.

True Crime Cases factsPixabay

70. Her Enemies Got A Vicious Revenge

According to this theory, the rebels of Mexico so hated Charlotte and Maximilian that they began poisoning Charlotte slowly over a period of months. Historian Joan Haslip claims that one of the royal doctors kept slipping bromide into her coffee. Meanwhile, other rumors from the time claimed incognito enemies put psychotropic substances in her food, causing her breakdown.


Maximilian I Of Mexico facts Maximilian of Mexico(2014), Interspot Film

71. She Stole From The House of God

Remember when Charlotte camped out at the Vatican? Well, before she left the Pope’s residence the next day, she performed one final bizarre act. She actually took a goblet from the Pope’s apartments. She then wandered around Rome with the cup, using it to capture water from fountains so she could drink without fear of spies poisoning her supply.

Please, I beg you: Just sit with that image for a second.

Carlota Of Mexico FactsWikimedia Commons

72. Her Last Word Was Chilling

In 1927, the end came for Charlotte at last. At 86 years old, she contracted pnemonia and influenza, and passed in her sleep. But the end was far from peaceful. There are several accounts of her last words, but many of them indicate that the former Empress's past still haunted her. According to one, she said “All that ended without being successful”.

Perhaps most chillingly, one attendant claimed her very last word was: “Mexico”.

Mad Kings and Queens factsWikimedia Commons, Luisalvaz

Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4, , 6, 7, 8

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