Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Thin White Duke

Today is Shoot The Emperor to Death Day in Quéretaro. While we're in El Norte fellating The Man, please enjoy this Burro Hall Classic from 2010, previously available only to Burro Hall Platinum subscribers.
Today is the 143rd anniversary of the execution of Emperor Maximilian in the hills of Querétaro. While we've long argued that he should have been granted clemency simply for introducing the parted-in-the-middle beard to Latin America, passions were running a little hot at the time, and Benito Juarez wasn't going to let some bitchin' facial hair stand in the way of a good firing squad. In case you were wondering what a recently-murdered 35-year-old inbred Austrian archduke-emperor looks like after a few days in the sizzling queretano sun, behold his embalmed cadaver, courtesy of the book Querétaro: The End of the Second Mexican Empire, by Konrad Ratz:

Max was embalmed by a local gynecologist named Vicente Licea, and legend has it that the glass eyes staring back in the photo above had been plucked from a statue of Saint Ursula. Dr. Licea also may or may not have clipped off parts of that beautiful beard to sell as relics.

After they killed the dumb bastard, no one really had a plan for what to do with him. For a while, his coffin resided under the stairwell in the building at Madero 70 (where it was pulled out once so Juarez could take a peek). Over the summer, it was decided that the body would be sent back to Austria. In early September, it was shipped to Mexico City,, something happened en route. This is where our weak Spanish works against us, but according to the book, the body suffered dos caídas al agua, which we take to mean it fell into water...twice. We'd have a hard time understanding how that was possible if we hadn't lived in Mexico for several years.

Anyway, the three-months-dead body was deemed "unpresentable," and was re-embalmed. Dr Licea had plucked out Max's organs and stored them in lead containers, and these organs were stuffed back into the body cavity just in case the Austrians decided to cut the guy open for a third (fourth?...we're losing track) time and accuse the Mexicans of stealing them to sell. (Six years later, police would discover a preserved heart and some intestines in Dr. Licea's office, and accuse him of having stolen them from Maximilian. The good doctor explained that, no, he had actually stolen them from body of General Tomás Mejía, who was executed next to Max, and who he had embalmed at a house on Calle Independencia, down the street from Burro Hall HQ, and across from Restaurante Bhaji. Please update your guidebooks accordingly.)

Six months after he died, on Jan 18, 1868, Dead Emperor Maximilian arrived home in Austria. His beard was still intact and crisply parted.


Charles Pergiel said...

Stories like this make me wonder if I am really human. Or maybe I'm just missing something. Dead bodies and warm weather just don't seem like an attractive combination.

mexfiles said...

They're not... which accounted for the quickie embalming job. When the cheap-ass Hapsburgs finally got around to paying the export duties and filling out the right forms, Max was in pretty bad shape, and had turned green. They guilded him to give him a sort of vacation suntanned look.