Pastry War

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Pastry War

Pastry War, a conflict between Mexico and France in 1838–1839. Throughout the 1820s and 1830s, Mexico experienced political turmoil and constant rebellions by dissident army officers. Many people, including British, Spanish, U.S., and French residents, suffered losses and damage to their properties and businesses during these revolts and in other incidents of civil disorder. Claims for compensation were made by diplomatic representatives, but with the Mexican treasury virtually empty, no agreement was reached. On 6 February 1838, a French squadron arrived off the coast of Veracruz, and on 26 February, Baron Deffaudis, senior French diplomat in Mexico, issued an ultimatum to the Mexican government that, among other things, demanded 600,000 pesos in partial settlement of the claims of his compatriots. Included in this demand was one from a pastry chef who claimed the enormous sum of 60,000 pesos for alleged damage to his business. The Mexican cabinet rejected the ultimatum, and on 16 April the French responded by breaking off diplomatic relations and blockading the port of Veracruz. Talks between the two sides failed, and on 27 November the French fleet began to bombard Veracruz. The Mexican government declared war three days later.

Veracruz soon fell to the French, and the intermittent skirmishing during the next few weeks was insignificant except for one incident that became notorious in the career of Mexico's leading general, Antonio López de Santa Anna. On 5 December, he suffered a serious leg wound that required amputation. The severed leg was preserved and later placed in a mausoleum, a site of obligatory reverence as long as he was in power but later destroyed.

On 9 March 1839, two treaties were agreed with the French after mediation by British diplomats. These accepted arbitration of several outstanding issues and the payment by Mexico of 600,000 pesos in compensation.

See alsoFrench-Latin American Relations .


See Nancy Barker, The French Experience in Mexico, 1821–1861 (1979)

Additional Bibliography

Aquino Sánchez, Faustino A. Intervención francesa, 1838–1839: La diplomacia mexicana y el imperialismo del librecambio. México, D. F.: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1997.

                              Michael P. Costeloe