Pastry takes the Cake

Humans don’t need a reason to boink.

And they don’t really need a reason to fight.

But sometimes excuses give a veneer of validity.

Like the time France invaded Mexico.

During the early years of the new Mexican republic there was widespread civil disorder as factions competed for control of the country. The fighting often resulted in the destruction or looting of private property.

A French-born pastry chef Remontel had a bakery near Mexico City. In 1862, a mob looted it.

Remontel first approached the Mexican government for compensation. Having been rebuffed, he took his case to the French King Louis-Philippe.

The French government was already angry at Mexico over unpaid debts that had been incurred during the Texas Revolution of 1836. The French demanded compensation of 600,000 pesos, including an astronomical 60,000 pesos for Remontel’s pastry shop.

When the Mexican Congress rejected the ultimatum, the French navy began a blockade of key seaports along the Gulf of Mexico. The United States, perpetually anti-Mexico, sent a schooner to assist in the blockade.

The stalemate dragged on until November 27, 1838, when French warships bombarded the island fortress of San Juan de Ulua that guarded the port city of Veracruz. Mexico declared war on France, and its president ordered the conscription of all men who could bear arms. Within days, French marines raided the city and captured nearly the entire Mexican navy.

Desperate to repel the invaders, Mexico turned to grizzled warrior Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the former president and military general. He left his Veracruz hacienda and organized a makeshift army that drove the French forces from the city and back to their ships. As Santa Anna galloped after the invaders, however, grapeshot fired from a cannon took out the horse from under him and severely wounded one of his legs. Doctors determined the limb could not be saved. His leg was amputated and buried with full military honors.

The French forces withdrew on 9 March 1839 after a peace treaty was signed. British diplomats brokered a peace agreement in which Mexico agreed to pay France’s demand of 600,000 pesos, including the cost of Remontel’s pastry shop. French forces withdrew from the country on March 9, 1839.

However, this amount was never paid and that was later used as one of the justifications for the second French invasion of Mexico in 1861.

You know what happens when the French get involved in a war?

That’s right!

The Mexicans won the war in 1867. The French empire collapsed in 1870.

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