The Pastry War

In the early days of Mexican independence, there was an incident that led the new nation to go to war France, all over a Pastry Shop.

1830's Mexico was a time of serious political instability and constant regime change, which led to many inner battles for independence and rebellions against the state. In 1835 the first Centralist Republic of Mexico was established, which lasted for 11 years as the political structure of Mexico. During it's 11 year run, the Centralist republic had nine different presidents, and sixteen changes of president, were the presidency was often swapped back and forth between leaders as they went off to quell rebellions and uprisings.

During the early years of the republic, there was widespread conflict in the Mexican cities for control of certain states, which was exacerbated when Mexican General Santa Anna forcefully removed the Mexican President (Guadalupe Victoria) from power in a bid to instill President Vicente Guerrero. The fighting had led to numerous buildings and properties being ruined in Mexico City.

In 1838, and amidst the carnage at the time, French national (Remontel) had his pastry shop in Mexico City destroyed by Mexican officers, and at the time financial restitution wasn’t being offered to foreigners. With no financial help available, he sought the assistance of the King of France, Louis-Philippe.

France demanded that the large sum of 600,000 pesos be paid in restitution for the damage caused to Remontel's pastry shop, which was exacerbated by the fact the Mexico had already defaulted on their loans from France. The French ambassador issued an ultimatum to Mexico to pay or else France would respond.

When the current Mexican president Anastasio Bustamante refused to give in to the French ultimatum, the French sent in their naval fleet to Mexican waters, and commenced a blockade of Mexican ports. The French commenced a bombardment of the San Juan de Ulua fort and seized the town of Veracruz by force. As Veracruz was Mexico's most important port, Mexico declared war on France in December 1838.

While Mexico was reeling from the lack of access to its ports due to the French blockade, the Mexicans began smuggling operations through the port city of Corpus Christi in the Republic of Texas (the Republic of Texas was an independent nation at the time, having gained independence from Mexico in 1836, until it was annexed and admitted to the United States Union in 1845).

The Texians (as they were known) were fearful that the French would take blockade action against them as well if the smuggling continued, so the Texians established battalions along the Corpus Christi coast to stop the Mexican smugglers. At this time the United States who was observing the situation, sent naval assistance to help the French with their blockade.

Retired Mexican General Santa Anna offered to come out of retirement to aide the Mexicans in reclaiming the city of Veracruz, although at the time he was disgraced by losing the Texas Republic several years earlier. He led the Mexican army in battle against the French and was severely wounded by cannon fire, which led to his leg being amputated (in 1842 Santa Anna exhumed his amputated leg and held a state funeral for his severed limb, buried with full military honours).

The Mexicans once again lost the city and were forced back into negotiations with the French, whose only demand was still the baker's restitution. The United Kingdom at this time offered to come in and mediate the peace accord between Mexico and France. The Mexican president gave in to the French demands and paid the baker his 600,000 pesos.

Once the baker was paid, the French ended the blockade and withdrew all of their forces from the region.