I've always felt sorry for Maximilian. He was basically a pawn of Napoleon III, who was trying to sneak a new French colony into North America. NIII was doing an end run around the Monroe Doctrine (which President James Monroe of the U.S. enacted decades before, it basically told Europe to stay out the America's, the existing colonies, such as Canada, would be left alone, but no new ones allowed). However, at this time, the U.S. was in the middle of the Civil War, and could not enforce said Doctrine. NIII wanted to turn Mexico into a de facto French colony with Maximilian as his puppet. Of course, poor old Max was dumb enough to go along. Had he told NIII to sod off, he might have enjoyed a ripe old age.