Augustine Iturbide and his collaborators had terrible timing. Ferdinand VII successfully suppressed the opposition in Spain and no European monarch would take the chance of going to Mexico. Likewise, squabbling over the implementation of the new government led to animosity between Iturbide and Congress. Even so, the people of Mexico elected Iturbide as emperor in May 1822 despite his reluctance to take the throne. He was crowned on July 21, 1822 in the Cathedral of Mexico City.
Republicans hated this turn of events. At the same time, Mexicans hoping for a European monarch felt as though Iturbide had engineered a coup. When Congress voiced its opposition to Emperor Augustine I and claimed supreme authority over the nation, the Iturbide dissolved that body. He also soundly rejected US overtures to purchase the largely empty northern territories of Mexico including Texas, New Mexico, and California.
The Mexican Empire began to unravel quickly. Iturbide’s associates from the Army of the Three Guarantees abandoned the emperor and prepared for active armed opposition. At the same time, other nations remained reluctant to recognize the new government to avoid antagonizing Spain. Iturbide’s economic policies also proved disastrous. Soon he could not even pay his army.
In December 1822, the opposition coalesced under the leadership of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Vicente Guerrero, Nicolas Bravo and Guadalupe Victoria. Iturbide ordered his remaining loyal troops to suppress these insurgents, which they did, decisively. Victorious, Iturbide’s officers turned on him and issued the Plan de Casa Mata, which called for the creation of a new congress although with the emperor still on his throne. The new plan also demanded greater sovereignty in the provinces, a key Republican issue. Iturbide dawdled while considering how to react.
Santa Anna used this to to rally an army from his stronghold in Veracruz and then marched on Mexico City to implement the Plan de Casa Mata. Imperial troops sent to intercept him changed loyalties and instead swelled Santa Anna’s numbers. Iturbide abdicated the throne in March 1823. A junta of generals Victoria, Bravo, and Pedro Celestino Negrete assumed temporary powers. Iturbide went into exile, first in Tuscany then later to England.