Latin American Monarchical Orders
Although all Latin American governments today are republics, the region produced three empires in the nineteenth century: Brazil, Haiti, and Mexico.
When the Portuguese royal family returned to Portugal in 1821 after self-imposed exile in Brazil during the Napoleonic wars, one of the king’s sons remained as regent. Pedro I (r. 1822–1831) declared independence in 1822 and was crowned emperor shortly thereafter. His son Pedro II (r. 1831–1889) was Brazil’s second and last emperor, forced to abdicate by a military coup. Pedro I retained the ancient Portuguese religious military orders (Christ, Avis, and the Cross), although he never assumed the title of grand master. He instituted two new ones: the Order of Pedro I and the Order of the Rose.
Faustin-Élie Soulouque (c. 1782–1867), born a slave in Haiti, participated in the revolt that expelled the French from that country in 1803. He was named president in 1847, proclaimed himself emperor in 1849, and ruled for ten years. Faustin I tried unsuccessfully to create a Haitian nobility with traditional royal titles, but he did institute four monarchical orders designed to promote loyalty to himself within the country’s military and elite families. These orders are extremely rare.
Mexico’s first president, Agustín de Iturbide (1783–1824) , proclaimed himself emperor in 1822 after he failed to attract European royalty into accepting the Mexican throne. He was removed from office after one year. Iturbide instituted one order, the Order of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was rescinded after he was deposed.In 1864, to aid his imperial ambitions and the conservative Mexicans who wished to overturn the liberal government of President Benito Juárez (1806–1872), Napoleon III (1808–1873) of France installed a Hapsburg prince, Maximilian (1832–1867), as emperor of Mexico. Maximilian recreated the Order of Our Lady of Guadalupe and created two new orders: the Order of the Mexican Eagle and the Imperial Order of Saint Charles, which was awarded to women. Following the withdrawal of the French army from Mexico and the return of Juárez, Maximilian was captured and executed in 1867. The three orders he instituted ceased to exist.