Monday, August 31, 2009

Belgian Marriage Celebrations

Celebrations have been in full swing in the Kingdom of Belgium to mark four royal wedding anniversaries; their majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola (50 years), their highnesses Prince Philippe and Pincess Mathilde (10 years), Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz (25 years) and Prince Laurent and Princess Claire (6 years). The Mad Monarchist joins all patriotic Belgians in wishing all four couples many more years of wedded bliss.

MM Video: Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg

Monarchist Profile: Leonardo Marquez

Perhaps the most loathed member of the military high command of the 2nd Empire of Mexico was General Leonardo Marquez. He entered the era of the empire with an already fearsome reputation and ended it with one close to being treasonous. He was born probably sometime in 1820 and as a young officer fought against the revolution of General Paredes and captured the guerilla chief Jarauta near Guanajuato in 1848. Like many in the army he was disgusted by the liberal government and declared his support for Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna against President Herrera. His army deserted him and he was eventually arrested and then freed in a general amnesty. In the ongoing liberal-conservative civil war he backed the conservative General Zuloaga and took Zacatecas from the liberals on his behalf in 1858. He joined the forces of the young General Miguel Miramon in opposition to the liberal self-styled President Benito Juarez.

Marquez proved instrumental in this campaign, doomed though it was. When liberal troops under Santos Degollado marched against Mexico City, Marquez intercepted and totally defeated them at Tacubaya on April 11, 1859. However, the public was shocked when following the victory General Marquez executed the majority of his prisoners as well as six medical students who had come to treat the enemy wounded. Marquez claimed to have been ordered to do this by General Miramon, but throughout his career Marquez never showed any hesitation about dealing brutally with his enemies. Because of this incident he was known forever after by his nickname, the "Tiger of Tacubaya". In spite of this blot, General Marquez was celebrated when he and his men returned to Mexico City the next day. A group of leading ladies gave him a silk sash which read, "To virtue and valor, a token of the gratitude of the daughters of Mexico."

During the offensive into Michoacan Marquez won a number of victories In a raid on Tepic he executed a number of prominent liberals and carrying back 20 loads of bar-silver. On his way back, General Marquez moved against Guanajuato but was attacked by the forces of General Jose Maria Arteaga. Nonetheless, Marquez got round Artega, surprised his rear guard and routed the enemy army. Still, Marquez was not always popular. He had fallen out of favor with General Miramon and in November of 1859 Miramon ordered his arrest for taking $600,000 in silver in Guadalajara. However, circumstances saved Marquez as the conservative defeat at Silao on August 10, 1860 forced Miramon, who needed every experienced commander he had, to release Marquez.

Later overwhelmed and defeated by the liberals Marquez was forced to flee to Mexico City where he was besieged by Juarez' army. With no money, and desperate for resources to mount a defense, Marquez controversially raided the British legation of $620,000 on November 17, 1860. He joined with Miramon again for the last campaign of the war but the conservative cause was defeated at Calpulalpam. Marquez, however, refused to admit defeat and took to the mountains of Michoacan where he raided and harassed surrounding liberal forces, sometimes in conjunction with fellow conservative general Tomas Mejia. When the pair defeated and captured the liberal General Escobedo in Rio Verde, Marquez did his best to have him executed, but Mejia refused to allow it. Ultimately, Escobedo would greatly trouble their cause again and this may have fuelled a desire in Marquez to show no mercy to his enemies. In March of 1861, Marquez publicly decreed that anyone who served the government of Benito Juarez was a traitor to Mexico and if taken by his forces would be summarily put to death.

He continued his guerilla war against the liberal regime and Juarez put a $10,000 bounty on his head. In subsequent raids Marquez also captured, shot and hung General Leandro Valles. When the French became involved in Mexico, he cooperated with their operations and lead the vanguard of General Louis Forey's army in 1863. He supported the enthronement of Emperor Maximilian and was rewarded with the position of commander on the Pacific coast. In 1865 he fought with the French General Douay and was wounded in the eye after which Maximilian dispatched him as envoy to the Ottoman Empire.

As French support began to fade, Maximilian recalled Marquez and he returned to Mexico in November of 1866. He was given command of the troops in Mexico City but when General Miramon was defeated at San Jacinto on February 1, 1867 Marquez took his 4,000 men and joined Emperor Maximilian at Queretaro. Marquez was later dispatched with orders to organize a relief effort against the forces of General Escobedo that were besieging Queretaro. Instead, Marquez tried to relieve Puebla, which was besieged by General Porfirio Diaz. He failed to prevent the fall of Puebla and was himself defeated by Diaz at San Lorenzo on April 10. Marquez retreated to Mexico where he shook down the populace for all the money he could get his hands on and was soon besieged by General Diaz. Marquez tried to suppress news of the defeat of the Emperor at Queretaro, but ultimately Mexico City fell to the forces of Benito Juarez. Hiding himself in a grave and escaping through a secret tunnel General Marquez went into exile in Cuba where he lived for many years. Only able to return after a general amnesty and when years and other civil wars and revolutions had made him a distant memory he returned to Mexico to live out the rest of his life, by that time, according to some reports, a devoutly religious man.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cinema Royals: Annabelle Dowler

Annabelle Dowler as Queen Catherine of Aragon in the Channel 4 documentary "The Wives of Henry VIII" was a fast favorite with me. Dr. David Starkey presented this documentary based on his work on the Tudor women around Henry VIII and the filmmakers struck gold in casting Annabelle Dowler as Catherine of Aragon. Having studied Spanish and lived in Madrid for two years, she was able to be totally convincing as a Spanish princess brought to England. She also brought youth and beauty to a role that is usually seen as one of a rather plain, older woman who simply fusses and prays. Dowler shows us the real Catherine of Aragon, a strong and faithful woman who stood up to immense challenges. Dowler herself has quite a job in the film, meeting a variety of acting challenges. In the small scenes inherent in a documentary she effectively portrays the giddy excitement of a young girl about to be married, depression on the death of loved ones, coupled with shame when one loss is that of the child Henry so desperately wants, a proud mother instructing her daughter, a pious Catholic in prayer, an in-control Queen ruling England in the absence of her husband during a time of crisis and fighting for her marriage and her daughter when Henry tries to cast her aside. There are so many various emotions and situations she has to master and she does them all very well. Because of how her life with Henry VIII ended people too often view Catherine as generally unappealing, but Annabelle Dowler shows her as I have always seen her: the ideal woman, wife and queen.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Swashbuckling Lords of Monaco

In the mood for adventure? Read about the high seas exploits of Lord Rainier I and his son Lord Charles I at Mad for Monaco.

Being Fair to President Obama

I have been accused of being too critical in some of my rants on the current US President Barack Obama. Well, I cannot help it -I do not like the man, I do not like his policies and I do not like his background or way of thinking. However, I shall endeavor to be fair. Some have accused Obama of betraying the very spirit of the Founding Fathers of the United States in his efforts to, in his words, transform America. That, I have considered, may be a bit unfair because Obama does have some things in common with the American Founding Fathers. There are a number of similarities. For instance, Barack Obama is the first Black President of the US; George Washington was the first White President of the US. Obama is somewhat similar to Benjamin Franklin; both threw their own relatives under the bus in pursuit of their political goals and both think nothing of leaving close relatives in poverty while they live the high life. Like Alexander Hamilton, Obama believes in centralizing power in a strong federal government and like Thomas Jefferson our current President has Black children. Obama is also like John Adams in that he also would like to make it illegal to criticize the government. Just like John Jay Obama has sold out America’s allies to make peace with America’s enemies. Obama has some similarities to James Madison in that he supports government involvement in the economy and detests Great Britain. Finally, like all of the original Presidents of the United States, Obama was not born a U.S. citizen either (I know, I know, poked it, prodded it, pushed it right off the cliff & killed it…)

Monarch Profile: King Mutara III of Rwanda

Mutara III, also known as Rudahigwa was the Mwami or King of Rwanda from 1931 to 1959. To understand his reign it is necessary to go back a bit to the First World War (from whence so many problems originated). The area that is now Rwanda had been part of the colony of German East Africa where it was left in relative seclusion, being on the far frontier of the colony. During World War I the colonial army of the Belgian Congo cooperated in an Allied offensive against German East Africa, eventually taking the prized outer capital of Tabora. After the defeat of Germany Rwanda and Burundi were given to Belgium while the rest of German East Africa went to Britain.

Mutara III was probably born sometime in 1912 though information on his origins are scarce. Mutara III was a member of the ruling Tutsi tribe known for their great height (he was himself 6ft 8in tall) and the Belgians ruled the colony through the Tutsi. The Belgians are often blamed for inventing the artificial division of the people into the categories of Tutsis and Hutus but these were mere labels to social divisions that already existed and the Germans had previously governed in the exact same fashion; through the Tutsi. Yuhi IV had been the King of Rwanda and was known for his open and friendly collaboration with the Germans. This did nothing to endear him to the Belgians who he was totally uncooperative with. Unlike the Germans the Belgians were active in missionary work and Yuhi IV was opposed to this as well, refusing to convert and scorning the Catholic missionaries. He also refused to work with the subordinate tribal chieftains which made administration vastly more difficult.

As a result of all of this, in 1931 the Belgians deposed Yuhi IV and replaced him with his son Mutara III. The new monarch was very friendly with the Belgians and favored Christianity. He set an example when he converted to Catholicism taking the name of Charles Leon Pierre and hence is sometimes referred to as Charles Rudahigwa Mutara III. He saw Belgian colonial rule as a benevolent force for the development of Rwanda and gave thanks, in his words, to, “Christ the King to have given Rwanda the divine light of Belgian colonial administration along with its science of good government”. His reign was a period of peace between the colonial regime and the native population as missionary work increased and coffee was brought in to cultivate as a cash crop. He consecrated Rwanda to Christ the King, ended feudalism, corporal punishment and forced labor in the country and was widely popular with his people, the criticism not coming until after his death as is often the case.

In 1946 the League of Nations mandate dissolved and Rwanda became a UN Trust Territory and the Belgians were charged with preparing the area for eventual independence. Education was expanded, the economy diversified and there were many other benefits that are often overlooked in an era too often glossed over with a black brush. The reign of King Mutara III came to an end with his death on July 25, 1959 after being vaccinated by a Belgian doctor in Bujumbura after attending a meeting with Belgian officials. Many in Rwanda have since claimed that he was assassinated, however, this flies in the face of the criticism, often from the very same corners, that Mutara III was too friendly and subservient toward the Belgians. They criticize the king for being cooperative with the Belgians yet also claim that they had him killed without bothering to answer what motivation the Belgians could possibly have for doing such a thing. He was succeeded by his younger brother Kigeli V who was and remains very proud about his opposition to the Belgians so one would be hard pressed to describe how the death of Mutara III was good for the colonial regime. After the loss of Mutara III his wife, Queen dowager Rosalie Gicanda, remained in Rwanda and on April 22, 1994 was killed in the Rwandan Genocide.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mad Rant: Socialist Ted

Today the memorials are in full swing for the late Senator Ted Kennedy with his funeral mass to be held tomorrow. The tributes and glowing accounts of this hypocritical, socialist blowhard are almost too much for my damaged mind to handle. His legacy is that of one of the most hard-core leftists in the US government as well as that of one who rode to power on his brother's coattails & family connections, a drunkard, a playboy and a hypocrit who used his religion to advance his own agenda and disregarded it when it interfered with his hold on power. This man was not a hero. This was a man who had numerous affairs, but worse than that, got drunk, drove off a bridge and drowned a girl then went home, talked with his family and sobered up a bit before even calling the police and emergency services. This was a man who waved his Catholicism as a flag to push for socialist policies and illegal immigration but totally ignored his Church when it came to things like the homosexual agenda, stem cell research and abortion (or taking communion while in a state of mortal sin). This was a man who campaigned against Governor-appointed short-term 'substitute senators' when his Governor was a Republican but in his last days campaigned for that very policy when his Governor is a Democrat and his party's agenda was in danger. But what about more fundamental political philosophy?

Virtually every political movement can be traced back to the French Revolution (actually much earlier but space is limited). There is the side of God, King and Country and there is the side of an engineered society, socialism, enforced uniformity (they call it "equality") and an end to inherited wealth, inherited position and vested rights. That last bit alone should convince anyone that there can be no common ground between monarchists and socialists/communists of any stripe. Kennedy is no exception. He supported his liberal brother in opposing the French and the government of the last Vietnamese Emperor in Congress. He later supported surrendering the country and all of Indochina to inevitable communist takeover. He opposed the restoration of the Emir of Kuwait when his country was taken over by the republican dictator Saddam Hussein and he supported the Clinton administration's policy of allowing no royal restorations in eastern Europe after the fall of the USSR. He was a critic of the monarchist regime in Iran and he accused the British of turning Northern Ireland into another "Vietnam" and had close ties with many radical leftist Irish republican leaders. He never seemed to tire of calling for disarmament and opposed any effort by the US to fight communist subversion in Asia, Africa or Central America. His lending of the Kennedy family name to Obama was also instrumental in securing his nomination by the party for President; thus ushering in a new administration that is filled to the brim with avowed leftists, socialists and even admitted admirers of Marx, Lenin and Mao.

To bad there are others as bad and worse to take his place but I will certainly be crying no rivers of tears on his departure from this mortal coil. Wheverever he is now he will have a lot to answer for and the US Senate is at least a little less revolutionary red since he is gone. Am I cold? Am I heartless? Maybe so, maybe not, but I am ... The Mad Monarchist.

MM Video: Carl and Silvia

Papal Profile: Pope Pius VII

Pope Pius VII could be called one of the Church's most glorious disappointments. Considered at the time of his election to be a "compromise candidate" who would not cause trouble with the Emperor Napoleon who was wreaking havoc across Europe, Pius VII turned out to be exactly the opposite. He was a tireless defender of the freedom of the Church and a stubborn enemy of Napoleon's ambitious schemes. He came from a noble background in Cesena and was born Luigi Barnaba Chiaramonte on April 14, 1742. A Benedictine monk, he served as Bishop of Imola before being elected to the See of Peter on March 14, 1800. Although he would not prove to be the passive and neutral figure many hoped, he did make an honest effort to secure peaceful relations with France after the depths they had sunk to in the Revolution.

Pius VII, and his Secretary of State Cardinal Consalvi, negotiated concordats with France and the Roman Republic and in 1804 the Pope was invited to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon as Emperor of the French. In the interest of keeping peace, the Pope attended but he was spared having to crown Napoleon by the Emperor's own ambition as he snatched the crown from the Pope's hands and crowned himself. The show of friendship made by Pius VII was not appreciated by Napoleon however. He began to insist again on state control of the Church, huge concessions from the Church, papal support for his wars of conquest and even the removal of the papacy to France. Thwarted by Britain at sea, Napoleon tried to close off Europe from British trade, but Pope Pius VII refused to close papal ports to England. When Napoleon went back on many of his promises, even occupying the Papal States, Pius VII excommunicated Napoleon. In response, as with Pope Pius VI, Napoleon had Pius VII taken prisoner.

What followed was an excellent example of the working of the Holy Spirit through the See of Peter. Like all men, Pius VII had a breaking point and it seemed that he had reached it. He agreed with many of the humiliating demands of Napoleon to gain control of the Church, however, God's grace strengthened the Pope in this hour of trial and only two months later he repudiated the agreement, much to Napoleon's aggrevation. Pope Pius VII thus remained a prisoner throughout the rest of Napoleon's hold on power after which he was welcomed back to Rome by a grateful public that admired his bold stand and heroic suffering. It is noteworthy though that Pius VII did not hold a grudge against his French enemy and even sent a chaplain to attend to the former Emperor on his deathbed in exile. Because of his stand against the feared French Emperor, Pius VII gained the respect and admiration of Europe, even winning praise from staunchly Protestant countries who now began to see the Catholic Church as a real force for good in the world or at the very least a check on dangerous elements.

With Napoleon gone and the kings and princes of Europe being returned to their thrones, Pius VII began putting the Church back in order. The Papal States were restored to his rule by the Congress of Vienna, he restored the Society of Jesus, the Index of Forbidden Works, the Holy Office of the Inquisition and negotiated concordats with Prussia and Russia. He also reafirmed Church doctrine and teaching, denouncing Protestant Bible Societies, the Freemason cult and to ensure the re-evangelization of Europe in 1817 he founded the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. He also showed his compassion by offering exiled members of the Bonaparte family refuge in Rome. He died on August 20, 1823 as one of the most beloved and respected popes in recent memory after reigning for over 23 years. Napoleon had once boasted that he would destroy the Catholic Church, but thanks to the actions of Pope Pius VII and the grace of God over his Church, Catholicism and the Papacy continued to go strong long after Napoleon and his Empire were a distant memory.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Consort Profile: Empress Dowager Tu Du

One of the most long-term influential figures in the history of the Nguyen dynasty of Vietnam was the Grand Empress Dowager Tu Du. She was born Pham Thi Hang at Ben Tre on June 20, 1810 to Justice Minister Pham Dang Hung. In 1824 she became the second wife of Emperor Theiu Tri whose first wife, Dinh Thi Hanh, was her aunt. She was raised to the status of Empress Dowager in 1847 when her son became Emperor Tu Duc. Tu Duc was the longest reigning Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty (1847-1883) and as in all Confucian societies Empress Tu Du was the most powerful woman at court during that time but her influence would only grow with time due to the fact that Tu Duc was unable to have children because of a childhood bout with smallpox. So, despite of having 103 of the most beautiful women in Vietnam for his wives and concubines he had to adopt 3 nephews to be his successors. Still, a crisis ensued after his death.

Empress Tu Duc oversaw the selection of Nguyen Duc Duc as heir to the throne but after a symbolic reign of only 3 days he was removed and later killed. This made many understandably reluctant to assume the Golden Throne but Empress Tu Du persuaded Hiep Hoa to become the next Emperor. However, he was caught between the French on one side and the regents on the other. He gave in to the French only to be forced to kill himself by the regents only 3 months after ascending the throne. She oversaw the short-reign of his successor Kien Phuc who was likely also poisoned at which time the throne passed to Emperor Ham Nghi. In 1885 the regents took the young Ham Nghi to lead an anti-French uprising in the mountains. Tu Du and the other dowager queens first accompanied the group but stopped not far from Hue and in a crucial decision decided to return and see Dong Khanh enthroned as the new Emperor.

Empress Dowager Tu Du remained a powerful force inside the Forbidden City during the short reign of Dong Khanh who was often ill. Upon his death it was decided by the French that the throne should not pass to his son but to Emperor Thanh Thai (son of Nguyen Duc Duc). Despite being 80-years-old the Grand Empress Dowager Tu Du was still the most powerful person inside the "Great Within" and it was she who dealt with the French when Thanh Thai began to exhibit increasingly bizarre behavior in an attempt to keep him in line. When things became serious enough for the Emperor to go on an "enforced vacation" it was Tu Du who held the reigns of power in his absence. Her unqiue and unprecedented life came to an end on May 22, 1901 in the Forbidden City. It is safe to say that no other woman in modern Vietnamese history has had as much influence for so long a period as Grand Empress Dowager Tu Du.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Royal News & Events


First, the Mad Monarchist joins all others in wishing a happy 21st birthday to Princess Maria Laura of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este, currently 8th in line to the Belgian throne.

Today, HSH Hans Adam II celebrates the anniversary of his enthronement as Sovereign Prince of Liechtenstein. Congratulations to him and may he enjoy many more years on the throne.

TM King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are on the last day of their 2-day trip to the neighboring Republic of Finland to join in the commemoration of the Swedish-Finnish Bicentennial.

Monarchist Profile: General Vang Pao

I wonder how many monarchists are aware that there is a loyal defender of his king and country enduring legal persecution in the United States? Well, there is; retired Major General Vang Pao of the Royal Lao Army. Vang Pao was born in 1931 in northeast Laos, a member of the Hmong people who populate areas of northern Laos, Thailand and southern China. Like most he worked as a farmer before joining the French military resistance to the Japanese occupation of Laos (the country was then part of the French Union of Indochina with Vietnam and Cambodia). He proved himself such an adept soldier in the Free French guerilla war against the Japanese that after World War II he was recruited by the French military in their war against the communist-led VietMinh. In time Vang Pao became a general in the Royal Lao Army and he was always a symbol of Hmong pride and loyalty to the King of Laos, Savang Vathana.

During America's war in Vietnam Laos was officially neutral but was effectively divided into three camps; those who supported the communists, those who supported the Americans and those who tried to remain on the sidelines. General Vang Pao was given command of the CIA-trained Secret Army which struggled to defend the Kingdom of Laos from the communist revolutionary forces of the Pathet Lao and the People's Army of Laos who were propped up by the Communist North Vietnamese. Unfortunately, though the Hmong, unofficial US personnel and hired Thai mercenaries waged a brilliant war against the communists, when the US pulled out of South Vietnam the ultimate success of the Pathet Lao was assured. The Kingdom of Laos was doomed.

When the communists took over Vang Pao moved to the United States and became a leading figure in the Hmong community of immigrants in America. Vang Pao never relented in his loyalty to the Lao monarchy or his opposition to communism. He rallied the Hmong community to pressure the UN into halting the forced repatriation of Hmong refugees in Thailand to Laos where they faced brutal treatment. General Vang Pao also raised awareness and rallied opposition to the human rights abuses and tyrannical policies of the communist government in Laos. However, after 2001 he did advocate the normalization of relations between Laos and the United States in the hope that this would improve conditions inside the country.

Nonetheless, in 2007 Vang Pao and 9 others were arrested on charges of plotting the overthrow of the red regime in Laos; a violation of the Neutrality Act. It was not lost on many that the elderly general was being persecuted by the US government on accusations of doing exactly what that same government had once armed and trained him to do. Hundreds of federal agents harassed numerous figures in the Lao and Hmong community and claim that the group in question was planning to obtain weapons, ship them in secret to Thailand and smuggle them to resistance groups in Laos. One of those arrested was a former officer in the US Army who was charged with recruiting US veterans for the operation.

The group was later indicted and more arrests followed with General Vang Pao being denied bail. Many, many people from across the Southeast Asian community in the US and Vietnam vets rallied to his defense, pleading with the Governor of California to intervene. A school that was to be named after the general changed its plan following the government raids and the arrest of Vang Pao. Finally, the massive campaign in support of Vang Pao obtained his release on a $1.5 million bond for which his family had to put up their own property. The General has been back in court this year though nothing has been settled yet and his next court appearance should be sometime next month.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An Emperor's End

It was on this day in 1945 that the last Emperor of Vietnam abdicated his throne, handing power over to the representatives of the "Democratic Republic of Vietnam". The communist-led VietMinh had already taken effective control of the country before presenting their demand for the Emperor's abdication. The Allied powers had already ignored the Emperor's declaration of independence and with the VietMinh holding all the cards he had little choice in the matter. It was suggested he might flee to the imperial tombs and try to hold out and bide his time, but the Emperor, educated in France, recalled what fate befell Louis XVI for his effort to flee the forces of revolution. Others suggested using the Japanese to defend the "Great Within" as they were still on hand and had yet to be disarmed. This too Bao Dai refused saying he could not use a foreign army to spill the blood of his people. He only asked for a formal ceremony that would be in keeping with the dignity of the Nguyen dynasty. On August 25 he dressed in his formal dragon robes and stood on the balcony over the Ngo Mon Gate to the Forbidden City and read out his abdication. He handed over the imperial sword and seal to the envoys of the new government and the Nguyen dynasty flag was lowered from the "King's Knight" tower and replaced by the red banner. With that, thousands of years of royal history were cast aside and for the first time since the founding of the nation by the Hung kings in 2879 BC Vietnam, the Great South, the Land of the Ascending Dragon, was without a monarch.

Monday, August 24, 2009

MM Video: Danish Royals

Royal Profile: Princess Hiro Saga

The lady Hiro Saga was born on April 16, 1914 in Tokyo to the Marquis Saga who was a distant relative of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito. Educated in a prestigious girls' school she was first introduced to her future husband, HIH Prince Pu-Chieh of China, in 1937. The Prince was the younger brother of the last Emperor of China and the Japanese were adamant that, as the Emperor had no children, his brother should marry a Japanese girl of appropriate rank with some relation to the Imperial Family. Pu-Chieh chose Hiro Saga from a set of photos the Japanese had given him to look over while the Prince was in Japan undergoing military training.

The couple were engaged at the Tokyo embassy of the Empire of Manchukuo on February 2, 1938 and were married at the Kudanzaka Imperial Army Hall in Tokyo on April 3. In October they moved to Manchukuo. Despite it being an arranged marriage of sorts (and the second for Pu-Chieh) the marriage was a happy one with Princess Hiro Saga working very hard to support her husband in what was an extremely difficult time and place for himself and his brother. In 1939 Hiro Saga gave birth to the couple's first child, Princess Huisheng. In 1941 she gave birth to their second child Princess Yunsheng. However, it was an extremely difficult time and place to be in with the war, political opposition to Manchukuo and considerable tension between the Chinese and Japanese in the palace. Princess Hiro Saga never tried to influence her husband but made his interests her own. She was his faithful wife even before she was Japanese. It was a heart-wrenching moment in 1945 when the Soviet invasion of Manchuria forced them to go their seperate ways, not knowing that it would be many, many years before they would meet again.

Princess Hiro Saga, Princess Yunsheng and Empress Wan Jung tried to reach Korea by train but were captured by Chinese communist bandits. After being shuttled back and forth from one prison to the next she was finally sent to Shanghai from which she was eventually allowed to return to Japan. Her husband remained in a Red Chinese prison until 1961 and it must have been a great comfort to him, for a man whose entire world had been destroyed at least twice, to find his faithful wife still waiting for him when he emerged. Princess Hiro Saga left the security and freedom of Japan to rejoin her long absent husband and, with the permission of premier Zhou En-lai, they made a home for themselves in Beijing, falling back into their roles as devoted husband and wife as if no time had elapsed at all. Princess Hiro Saga remained there at her husband's side until her death on June 20, 1987.

In 2003 a Japanese tv-movie told the story of her life and it is one of my sentimental favorites:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monarch Profile: Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany

Effectively, though not officially, Leopold II was the last Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was born in Florence on October 3, 1787 to Grand Duke Ferdinand III and Princess Luisa Maria Amelia Teresa of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. He had a normal childhood and in 1817 married Princess Maria Anna of Saxony by whom he had 3 daughters. He succeeded his father as Grand Duke on June 18, 1824. Always popular amongst his people, Italy was in the throws of revolutionary, nationalist agitation yet even the liberals had to regard Leopold II as the most benign of the monarchs of the Italian princely states. He was very hard working and allowed a measure of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and allowed political exiles to return. Nonetheless, he could not keep revolutionary fervor out of Tuscany altogether.

Tragedy struck in 1832 when Grand Duchess Luisa died and the following year the Grand Duke married Princess Maria Antoinetta of the Two-Sicilies by whom he had a further 10 children. Leopold II showed himself willing to work with the liberal elements in enacting constitutional government after the kingdoms of Piedmont and the Two-Sicilies did the same. He showed himself to be an Italian nationalist by supporting the war by Piedmont against Austria in Lombardy but despite the Tuscan troops fighting well the overall campaign was a failure. Riots broke out and the Grand Duke had to call in moderate liberals to form a government in the hopes of keeping the revolutionary republicans at bay. The situation seemed to be falling out of control with the republicans gaining strength, the Austrians victorious and even the Pope being forced out of Rome by revolutionary mobs. Leopold II finally left Florence in 1849 saying that after hearing from the Pope he could not agree to the demand for a constituent assembly.

Anarchy prevailed in Florence and a republic was declared. A dictatorship was set up but even this could not keep order following the defeat of King Carlo Alberto of Piedmont by the Austrians. The public, which largely never stopped holding Leopold II in high regard, called on their Grand Duke to return to establish a liberal, constitutional monarchy and prevent a foreign invasion. However, Leopold II had already made agreements with the Austrians who were marching on Tuscany. On May 25 the Austrians entered Florence. Three days later Leopold II returned with a new outlook on life. To put it bluntly, there would be no more ‘mister nice guy’.

In April the following year he agreed to the indefinite occupation of Tuscany by 10,000 Austrians and that fall he dissolved parliament and signed a new, very pro-Church concordat. When he asked the Austrians if the constitution might be maintained the Austrian prime minister grimly advised him to ask the opinion of the Pope, the King of Naples and the dukes of Parma and Modena; all of whom had been deposed after giving to calls for constitutional rule. In 1852 the constitution was formally revoked and a crackdown ensued on all liberal, revolutionary elements. Some continued to cling to a constitutional monarchy under an Italian nationalist grand duke while others insisted that Leopold II had to go and be replaced by republican rule.

Things began to come to a head again in 1859 when France and Piedmont-Sardinia went to war against Austria. Leopold II was powerless to prevent a considerable number of Tuscans from volunteering to join the fight against Austria. A political coalition finally demanded the Grand Duke to enter the war against Austria yet again. Leopold II first felt he had no option but to go along but then came new demands for his abdication in favor of his son, an alliance with Piedmont-Sardinia and promises of some vague notion of cooperation with a new organization of Italy. Leopold II rejected the demands on by late April the Italian tricolor was appearing all over Florence. The soldiers kept order but Leopold could see where things were going and left with his family for Bologna. With no bloodshed a provisional government was set up which quickly called for union with the rest of Italy. Leopold II abdicated in favor of his son on July 21 who then became Grand Duke Ferdinand IV of Tuscany but he never reigned or ruled at all, his sole official act being to issue a formal protest from Dresden in 1860. Leopold II spent the rest of his life in Austria and died in Rome on January 29, 1870.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Consort Profile: Philippa of Hainault

Philippa of Hainault was born on June 24, 1311 in what is now Flanders but which was then part of France. Her father was the Count of Hainault and her grandfather was King Philip III of France. When she was 16 she married the famous English King Edward III on January 24, 1328 at York Minster less than a year after he came to the throne. In cases like this the standard procedure was for a foreign consort to come to a new country, understandably trying to bring as much of her homeland along as possible, was instantly unpopular and would have to work very hard over time to win the love of her people. Queen Philippa is an example, however, of when this did not happen. She did not bring a small army of French attendants with her when she came to England and French officials would never be an especially large presence in the court of Edward III. As such, she enjoyed a great deal of popularity right away which was increased when she gave birth to an heir to the throne (another Prince Edward) nine days before she turned 19. In short, she got off on the right foot and was off to a great start.

Queen Philippa was a very devoted wife and was known for her kindness and compassion, her gentle care for all those around her. Yet, she was also quite a tough lady and when her husband went on his military campaigns, whether in Scotland or Flanders, she went along with him. When she did not go with him she proved a capable regent, ruling in his absence. She was an excellent counter-balance to her fierce husband, famous as a warrior king. When he besieged and captured the city of Calai he first intended to have the leading merchants executed as an example to the populace but Queen Philippa interceded for them and convinced her husband to spend their lives. It was probably the most famous example of her influence of compassion.

To the people of England she was a mother to the country, not especially beautiful as time went on, but always adored for her care and concern for their welfare and for her motherly role in her own family. Over the years she gave Edward III 14 children and sadly outlived all but 9 of them. She lost 2 during the Black Death which was a terrible time in which her own special character was of great value. Edward was not always as good a husband as he should have been, but that made Queen Philippa all the more popular that in spite of the occasional adversity she remained a faithful, loving and supportive wife and mother and as a result their marriage of 40 years was, by all accounts, a very happy and successful one. Queen Philippa died on August 15, 1369 in Windsor Castle and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

MM Video: Kingdom of Hawaii

It was on this day in 1959 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order proclaiming Hawaii the 50th state of the Union. Given that, it is fitting to look back on the era of monarchial glory that was the independent Kingdom of Hawaii.


Queen Rania Backs Universal Education

Here is an example of royalty at their best doing their primary 'unofficial' job: supporting worthy causes by their own status and notoriety. HM Queen Rania of Jordan has put her support behind the new campaign called 1GOAL: Education for All, joining with the leadership of FIFA, the world soccer (football to all but the US) authority to strive for educational opportunities for all children. The campaign will be working hand in hand with the World Cup next year in South Africa. Their states goal is to ensure that the 75 million African children not currently in school will be given the chance to have an education, providing teachers and classrooms in the poorest areas; hopefully breaking them out of the circle of poverty.

This is a truly noble goal, one that I would think all people could get behind, and best of all it is not some coerced, government mandated social program; rather a humanitarian effort of one group of people striving to help another. Queen Rania put it rather well saying, "I’m proud to support 1GOAL; it isn’t asking for money, it’s asking for your name, your commitment to fair play for future generations,". Speaking of the importance of education to society as a whole the Queen added, "When children are denied an education, society as a whole loses out. It’s the best investment you can make to help people lift themselves out of poverty, the one investment you can make that will never shrink in value." Queen Rania has done great work along the lines throughout her entire royal "career" and this is a prime example of the sort of work many, many royals do quite regularly but don't often get as much attention for compared to the occasional minor embarassment.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Monarchist Profile: Tran Trong Kim

Today, Tran Trong Kim is known mostly for two things: his historical writing and for being the Prime Minister of the short-lived independent Empire of Vietnam that existed in 1945 under Japanese patronage. Kim was born in 1883 in the Ha Tinh province of Annam (as the central region was called when the French divided Vietnam). He worked in France for a time before coming home and becoming known as an educator and education administrator. He also wrote extensively on Confucianism, Buddhism and Vietnamese history. He was a major figure in the neo-Confucian movement that was trying to re-solidify traditional Asian values, including loyalty to the Emperor. Eventually he was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French.

However, when the French became alarmed at his visits and meetings with the Japanese he was forced to go into exile in Singapore under Japanese protection. Kim said the Japanese had only asked him questions about Vietnamese history and culture. However, many, many people at the time were impressed by Japan for her victories over western colonial powers and for being able to become a modern, powerful country while retaining her monarchy and traditional values. When the Japanese determined to work with Vietnamese nationalists in declaring the independence of a unified Vietnam under Emperor Bao Dai their first choice for Prime Minister was the Catholic mandarin, well known nationalist with monarchist credentials Ngo Dinh Diem. However, Diem did not accept the post and so Tran Trong Kim was called from Saigon to Hue to meet with the Emperor who asked him to form a government.

Kim did not feel qualified to be PM but nonetheless did as his Emperor wished and formed a government following the Emperor's declaration of independence and repudiation of the former treaties with France. However, Kim's government had very little time to get anything done, being in existence for only 5 and 1/2 months. They issued numerous good and well-meaning reforms to finance, education and the justice system as well as attempting to deal with the horrible famine that befallen the north but in most cases the infrastructure did not exist to make these plans a reality and it became increasingly clear that time was running out and their future would not be at all certain in the event of Japan's defeat. The press was free to vent anti-French frustration and the Emperor and government expressed their thanks to Japan for their liberation and their goal of working with the Empire of Japan in a greater Asia dominated by traditional values and traditional monarchies. The government also spoke of tearing down the walls that had kept the Emperor and his subjects apart and of creating a new style of monarchy in which the voice of the people would be represented.

However, none of it was finally to come to be. The communist-led August Revolution broke out under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh and the Tran Trong Kim government began to slowly melt away. Even when VietMinh sympathizers tore down the imperial flag to replace it with their own in front of the Forbidden City the Imperial Guards simply stood by and watched. As the situation fell apart so did the government. Kim stayed on at the request of the Emperor to oversee things during the crisis but within a few days both the PM and Emperor were out of a job. Tran Trong Kim simply went back to his academic writing and finally died in 1953.

MM Video: Catherine the Great

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Memory of Bob Novak

Yesterday the United States lost one of its great conservatives; Mr Robert Novak. Though it might be a touch out of place, I think he deserves a mention. Bob Novak came from a Jewish family and he did have some monarchist ancestry as his family patriarch was an officer in the Imperial Russian Army. An only child, and perhaps a bit spoiled, his girl cousins took to calling him the little baby Jesus because of the way he was fussed over. His goal in life was to be a great reporter and he certainly accomplished that. From his days writing for Evans & Novak to his time on the pundit shows he always remained a great reporter who delivered the facts; without spin or editorializing. He was, however, a great conservative. He became a passionate supporter of the pro-life movement and when he decided to start taking religion seriously he looked for the most pro-life, anti-abortion church in DC he could find. He converted and became a Roman Catholic, keeping on his desk in every office a picture of St Thomas More. If some may be inclined against Mr Novak, let me just say that anyone who could work a flaming liberal like the "Ragin' Cajun" James Carville into such a foaming frenzy on a daily basis is worthy of some respect for that alone. Novak pulled no punches and played no favorites even when that meant falling out with the GOP establishment from time to time such as when he adamantly opposed the latest war in Iraq. In any event, I will not go on, Bob Novak was a great reporter, a great traditional conservative and he will be missed. RIP Bob Novak.

Royal Servants: The Eunuchs

For centuries in all parts of the world, great rulers were looked after by a court of castrated men known as eunuchs. Throughout the life of the Ottoman Empire eunuchs were employed to guard the harem and the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great was known for favoring being waited on by eunuchs. However, none were as importnant or influential as the eunuchs of the Far East. In China they became particularly influential during the Ming dynasty, but even more than a decade after the abdication of the last Qing Emperor there were still an estimated 1,200 eunuchs living in the Forbidden City at the time of their expulsion.

Like the Chinese emperor who resided inside the "Great Within" in Peking, Vietnam also employed eunuchs as the chief servants and aides to the "Son of Heaven". Eunuchs were the only men allowed to stay in the Forbidden Purple City of Hue along with the Emperor, his wives and concubines. Confucian tradition had always demanded that the rulers of the nation maintain the highest moral standards and the eunuchs were ideal for watching over the Emperor's wives to ensure that all children were the Emperor's. The eunuchs were also thought to be more loyal since they would be considered the lowliest of people in the outside world as well as the most trust worthy to surround the Emperor since they could have no sons to pass power to and so had no reason to gain prestige for themselves (again, at least according to Confucian morality which stressed filial piety above all). Nevertheless, the eunuchs of the Forbidden City were highly regarded simply because of their closeness to the Emperor.

Young eunuchs were raised in the Binh An Du'o'ng, where they were educated before being allowed to join the imperial household. Early on the eunuchs were not subject to any real regulations and became quite powerful, however they never became as corrupt as those in China due to an imperial decree issued by Emperor Minh Mang which limited their favors and defined their role as servants only, no eunuch could be given a title or become a mandarin. Their primary duty was to simply convey orders and wait on the Son of Heaven. He also gave them their own ranking system which determined their pay in rice.

Over time the use of eunuchs became less and less, particularly after the arrival of the French. By the reign of Emperor Thanh Thai, only 15 eunuchs remained; 5 cared for the tombs, 2 served the Queen Mother and and the rest served the Emperor. During the reign of Emperor Duy Tan, in 1914, the use of eunuchs was abolished though those who remained were kept at the palace to serve out the rest of their lives since they had no means of survival outside of the Forbidden City.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Battle of Medina, Texas

It was on this day in 1813 that the bloodiest battle ever fought on Texas soil occurred. Often overlooked, it was a fight between republicans and royalists and was the climax of what is often known as the Magee-Gutierrez Expedition, an unholy alliance of Mexican republican revolutionaries led by Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara and a filibuster (land pirate) army led by a disgruntled former US Army lieutenant named Augustus Magee. Flying a solid green flag (possibly the design of Magee who was an Irish Protestant) they invaded Texas with their grandly named Republican Army of the North. However, American filibusters and Mexican revolutionaries made a poor team and their alliance did not finally go very smoothly. Nacogdoches was taken easily enough but a four month siege of the presidio at Goliad ended in disaster when Spanish troops directed by the Royal Governor of Texas, Manuel Maria de Salcedo, defeated the republicans and relieved the fort.

Magee was dead by that time, replaced by Samuel Kemper, who led the republicans toward San Antonio. Near Mission San Francisco de Espada they defeated the Spanish garrison at the battle of Rosillo and captured the capital. However, an outraged Kemper parted company with the revolutionaries when they took the Royal Governor and all Spanish officials out of town and massacred them after they had surrendered on promises of fair treatment. That act ensured that the subsequent Spanish counter-attack would be unabashedly merciless. Gutierrez likewise did not see the effort through as he was overthrown in a coup by Jose Alvarez de Toledo y Dubois. Nonetheless, with the defeat of the Spanish garrison the republicans thought they had won the day as New Spain was being racked by unrest while the homeland was under the enforced reign of King Jose Bonaparte.

Nonetheless, the Spanish soon struck back with a royalist army of some 1,830 men under the command of the Commandant-General of the Interior Provinces Joaquin de Arredondo. By early August the royalists were assembled in Laredo and marching north to San Antonio. Toledo gathered his own motley force of 1,400 republicans and moved south of town to meet the Spanish column. He camped six miles from the royalist camp between the Atascosa and Medina rivers on August 17. Toledo planned to ambush them as they marched up the Laredo road toward the capital. However, royalist scouts spotted the republicans and lured them into an ambush in a thick oak forest. Acting without orders the republicans trudged after the Spanish cavalry thinking it to be the main army in flight. Meanwhile, General Arredondo prepared his defenses and planned a brilliant strategy.

Arredondo arranged his army in a V formation and lured the republicans in to attack him. Hot, tired and thirsty they came within 40 paces of the Spanish line before the royalists opened fire, devastating their ranks. The battle was joined with cavalry charges, infantry exchanging volleys and canon thundering overhead. For four hours the struggle went on and Arredondo began to fear that he would be overwhelmed and was about to order a retreat when he learned that the republicans were beaten and falling back in a disorganized retreat. The General rallied his troops and ordered them to charge. The order was passed down the ranks -take no prisoners. The last bit of fighting and summary executions went on for some time and ultimately less than 100 republicans managed to survive, those not killed in battle being executed trying to escape.

The royalist army lost only 55 men and these were given a proper Catholic burial whereas the republican dead were left where they were. One young officer with Arredondo who took his lesson on how to deal with rebels and land pirates was the future dictator of Mexico Lt. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. For the time being the authority of the King of Spain had been restored across Texas and would continue until 1821 with the birth of the short-lived Mexican Empire.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Liechtenstein, Germany, Banks and Jews

HSH Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein is none too happy with German efforts to meddle with banking policy and he is invoking memories of World War II to make his point.

Birthday of a Blessed Emperor

It was on this day in 1887 that HIRH Charles Francis Joseph Louis Hubert George Mary of Habsburg-Lothringen was born to Archduke Otto and Archduchess Maria Josepha in Lower Austria. At the time few probably imagined that he would one day become heir to the throne, much less that he would have the sad distinction of being the last Hapsburg Emperor from that ancient and widely respected dynasty. It is well enough that he had such a happy marriage and family life and that he was able to take such consolation in his deep Catholic faith for his life was a succession of tragedies from end to end. He is often relegated to a foot note in the history books dealing with the Great War, yet he should be praised and held up as an example for all others to follow for he was one of only a literal handful of European leaders who actually tried to end that disastrous and suicidal conflict peacefully. He inherited the thrones of Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary upon the death of the esteemed Emperor Francis Joseph but by 1918 the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary was falling apart around him, he was deposed and forced into exile. Yet, Charles was a monarchists' monarch and he tried twice to regain his throne in Hungary as a prelude to a further restoration of the Hapsburg dominions but it was not to be. His greatness in terms of his honor, dignity, piety and devotion to duty is impossible to ignore and cannot be overstated. Thankfully, he is more well known now that he might have been for one man who did not forget him was the late Pope John Paul II who beatified him in 2004; pointing especially to his example of trying to stop the Great War peacefully.

MM Video: The Hapsburgs of Austria

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Son of Heaven a Prisoner of Atheists

It was on this day in 1945 that the last Emperor of China, "Henry" Pu-Yi, lately Emperor Kang Teh of Manchukuo, his brother Prince Pu-Chieh and his attendants were arrested by troops of the Soviet Red Army as they attempted to fly to Japan in order to surrender to the forces of the United States. After being called as a witness at the Tokyo war crimes trials he would spend five years in Soviet captivity before being handed over to the Chinese communist government in an effort by the dictator Joseph Stalin to improve relations with Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The Emperor's recent abdication was actually his third. His first had been in 1912 when the Empress Dowager Longyu abdicated on his behalf to the Chinese republic. He abdicated again in 1917 after a brief restoration effected by the Qing loyalist Chang Hsun. His 1945 abdication as Emperor of Manchukuo would be his last.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game...

Last month, the Japanese Imperial Crown Princely family took in a baseball game. It's been a while since catching a glimpse of them, especially HIH Princess Aiko, who is becoming quite the adorable young lady. Looks like the spitting image of the Crown Prince to me. In related news, those pushing to bring the Olympic games to Tokyo in 2016 have said they hope to have Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako on hand at the IOC general meeting in Copenhagen. The Japan Times says the Olympic committee is talking to the Imperial Household Agency about this issue.

Monarch Profile: The XIV Dalai Lama

One of the most well known and admired figures in the world is His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet and yet relatively few people recognize him as an exiled monarch as well as a religious leader. He was born on July 6, 1935, the 4th of 16 children on the Tibetan frontier. When he was only two years old he was recognized as the reincarnation of the late XIII Dalai Lama. He was taken to the Potala Palace in the holy city of Lhasa and proclaimed the Dalai Lama, roughly translated as "Ocean of Wisdom", the bodhisattva of the Buddha of compassion. He was then renamed "Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso", titled "Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom". Most refer to him as "Kundun" or "the presence".

He was raised in the traditional fashion for a Buddhist monk and trained for his role as the supreme temporal and religious leader of the theocratic Kingdom of Tibet. However, he was a very outgoing and curious child and like his predecessor was greatly interested in the outside world and never tired of learning as much as he could about it from the few foreigners to visit Tibet. However, that outside world was rushing toward the peaceful and isolated kingdom of Tibet in a brutal way with the onset of World War II and the resulting rise to power of the communists in China. As soon as they seized power the communists were intent on the swift conquest and assimilation of Tibet which had previously been an independent tributary of the Chinese Empire. Because of this crisis, and at the request of his people, in 1950 the teenage Dalai Lama was declared to have reached his majority early in order that he could be officially installed as the ruling sovereign of Tibet.

However, the coming contest would be extremely one-sided. The devout Buddhists of Tibet were a peaceful people with only a tiny army with virtually no modern weapons nor any idea of how to fight a modern, total, technological war. They were no match for the massive and recently victorious "People's Liberation Army" of Red China. They were also crippled by a lack of foreign support and treason from within. The Red Chinese occupied Tibet, slaughtering multitudes of people, sacking villages, looting temples and destroying religious icons. The Tibetans had put their faith in their religious and the spiritual strength of their "Living Buddha" but it was to no avail against the world's largest army. At first, the Chinese pretended to try to work with the Dalai Lama, inviting him to Beijing to be courted by the communist government. It almost worked but at the end of the visit Chairman Mao Zedong made his famous statement to the Dalai Lama that "all religion is poison". The young monarch knew it had all been a charade.

In 1959 the Tibetans rose up against their Red Chinese conquerors and the result was a great slaughter and increased rumors that the Reds would have the Dalai Lama killed. As a result, he was forced to disguise himself as a soldier and escape into exile in India where he has remained ever since. Over the years since that time the Dalai Lama has become a widely respected figure for his spiritual, social and political teachings. The Red Chinese continue to view him as a reactionary, a dangerous counterrevolutionary and disident leader in spite of the fact that he has only ever called for peaceful opposition and has even dropped his calls for independence and asks only for genuine autonomy for Tibet so that Tibetan culture and religion can be preserved. He also continues to teach extensively on the Gelugpa school of Buddhism. In recent years he has semi-retired from his political role with the Tibetan government-in-exile but admits that he could never truly abdicate his role as the Dalai Lama. The Red Chinese government continues to vilify him and to punish and threaten any government that deals with him.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Consort Profile: Queen Alia of Jordan

Queen Alia al-Hussein of Jordan was the 3rd wife of King Hussein of Jordan and remains a much beloved figure there. She was from a Palestinian family in Jordan though she was born in Cairo, Egypt as her father was a very distinguished Jordanian diplomat; at one point serving as the ambassador to the Court of St James. Because of her father's work Alia moved around alot as a child living in Egypt, Great Britain, Turkey, Italy and the United States. As a girl she loved sports, especially skiing. She thought of following in her father's footsteps as a diplomat but fate was to have a very different future for Alia. In 1971 she moved back to Jordan and took a job with the Royal Jordanian Airlines. She worked to promote tourism to Jordan and was later chosen to oversee preparations for the international water skiing competition at Aqaba.

It was there that she met King Hussein who was quite smitten with the young beauty. Within three months the pair married in a private ceremony on December 24, 1972 at which time she was formally titled Queen Alia al-Hussein of Jordan. She set a standard for being a working mother in the Jordanian Royal Family. King Hussein and Queen Alia had two children together and adopted a third, a Palestinian orphan girl. At the same time Queen Alia set the standard for a modern royal consort in Jordan. She set up her own office and undertook her own activities for various causes and in support of her husband. Every Queen of Jordan since owes Queen Alia alot for blazing the trail that they have all followed.

On her own, Queen Alia supported a number of causes and initiatives with a special focus on women and children. One of her efforts was to push for women's political rights and to be able to stand for election in Parliament. She was a great champion of education as well as the arts and supported many cultural and artistic programs in the schools. She supported and set up organizations to support the history, culture and folk traditions of Jordan. For all of her work she was soon given the nickname, "Mother of the Poor". Sadly, her life was cut all too short when she died in a helicopter crash in Amman on February 9, 1977. The national airport was renamed the "Queen Alia International Airport". There is also a very long list of charitable organizations and cultural, education, artistic and humanitarian organizations which bear her name and are a testament to the great compassion and sense of duty of Queen Alia of Jordan.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Queen Sirikit!


Today, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand celebrated her 77th birthday. It was in 1950 that she married His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great of Thailand, the longest reigning monarch in the world today. In recent years as his age has caused the revered king to withdraw more and more from royal affairs it has been Queen Sirikit who has taken up the slack, supported her husband and effectively been the driving force behind the Thai monarchy though not in a way that draws attention to herself but keeps the focus on her beloved husband who certainly deserves the affection, respect and widespread devotion which the vast majority of his subjects feel for him. Her birthday is a national holiday in the Kingdom of Thailand and doubles as Mother's Day in her honor as well. The Mad Monarchist joins with all loyal Thais and all fans of the venerable Thai monarchy in wishing Her Majesty a very happy birthday with more to come!

A New, Rare Addition to the Blogosphere

I'm sure everyone knows how unkind history has been to the noble island nation of Ireland and as monarchy has been mostly associated with Britain and republicanism with independence, patriotic Irish monarchists are about as rare as watering holes in the Gobi desert. However, there is a new blog devoted to just such a notion at Irish Monarchist which will you will also find on the blogroll and of which your correspondent of questionable sanity is the first follower. I hope all goes well for this new addition and I would encourage all monarchists to visit and show this young man some support for striking out on a path so out of the ordinary for his time and place. Even British monarchists *should* be supportive, both out of solidarity to the monarchist cause and because Irish independence is a fact, the past cannot be changed and surely they would rather have their closest neighbor be a monarchy rather than a republic. Real Irish monarchism is a rarity these days so please show your support and let us hope all goes well.
Erin Go Bragh!

Press Conference in St Petersburg

The Russian Monarchist's Blog reports on a press conference in St Petersburg concerning the Romanov dynasty and plans for a potential restoration (the Grand Duchess is for it, just not right away).

Monarchist Profile: Miguel Miramon

Miguel Miramon was probably the preeminent leader in the conservative, pro-Church forces before and during the restoration of the monarchy in Mexico. He was born Miguel Gregorio de la Luz Atenogenes Miramon y Tarelo on November 17, 1831. His family was of French origin and he joined the military at an early age, seeing action in the Mexican-American War at the age of 15. He was captured by U.S. troops while defending Chapultapec Castle with the corps of cadets. These young boys, los ninos, became the defining symbol of the war for the Mexicans. After the war he finished his training and entered the army in 1852 where he rose rapidly in rank, through both his considerable military talents and his winning personality. He also established himself earlier on as a leader of the conservative, pro-Church faction in Mexican politics.

He put down rebellions against the government until his foe General Juan Alvarez decided to back the Plan of Ayutla 1854. The following year Miramon was promoted to colonel, but when his old enemy Alvarez became president he joined the resistance against him, captured Alvarez and occupied the city of Puebla. He participated in the establishment of an opposition government but Puebla was retaken in 1856 and Miramon was imprisoned before escaping and defending Puebla a second time for 43 days against the forces of the liberal President Ignacio Comonfort. Before the city fell Miramon escaped and led guerilla raids with his loyal troops, taking Toluca in 1857. He was captured again, but escaped again rallied his forces in the south where he took Cuernavaea. When Zuloaga declared against Comonfort at Tacubaya in December Miramon rushed to join him and in January of 1858 Comonfort was removed from power.

Felix Maria Zuloaga became President of Mexico and promoted Miramon to the rank of brigadier general. Miramon soon became the leading conservative in the country and set about uniting the various traditional, conservative, pro-Church factions in the country. As a military leader he defeated the liberal forces in battles at Ahualuleo, Atequiza and San Joaquin. When Zuloaga was overthrown a council of notables led by General Robles Pezuela Miramon President of Mexico in 1859. At 25 years old he was the youngest president in Mexican history. However, Miramon was ever a loyalist and when he returned to Mexico City on January 21, 1859 he promptly reinstated President Zuloaga. However, Zuloaga had seen what a challenge the job could be and he turned the office back over to Miramon.

Always a fighter, one of the first things Miramon did was to challenge the liberals at Vera Cruz. Here he met defeat, but joined with General Leonardo Marquez for the victory at Tacubaya in April. The conservative cause was rapidly becoming destitute of funds thanks to the land seizures of the liberal government but Miramon fought on. Joining with General Mejia he defeated the liberal army of General Santos Degollado at Estaneia de las Vacas on November 13, 1859 and followed this up with a victory over General Rocha at Tonila on December 23. He made another attempt to take Vera Cruz in March of 1860, but although the fighting was fierce, he was again unsuccessful. In May he defeated and captured General Uruaga at Guadalajara but was defeated at Silao in August. When General Marquez was routed at the battled of Tolotlan in November, the conservative cause seemed lost. Miramon did manage to soften the blow somewhat by successes at San Bartolo and Toluca in December before his final defeat at Calpulalpam by General Gonzalez Ortega on December 22.

Like many leading conservatives, Miramon went into exile, taking a French ship to Europe. He lobbied on behalf of foreign intervention and the restoration of the empire with other Mexican monarchists in Europe. He attempted to return to Mexico when European forces occupied Vera Cruz in 1862 but was not allowed and went to Cuba. After the French set up the regency under General Juan Almonte, Miramon came back to Mexico through America in July of 1863. A definite policy had still not been agreed upon and again he was sent away until 1864 when Emperor Maximilian ascended the Mexican throne and, conscious of the fact that Miramon had been the leader of the conservative faction, gave him the rank of Grand Marshal of the Imperial Army and then dispatched him to Berlin to study military tactics.

After the French abandoned Mexico, Miramon returned in November of 1866 along with General Marquez. Miramon was sent to Mexico City where he took command of a division which he marched toward Zacatecas. He was defeated by General Escobedo at San Jacinto on February 1, 1867 and went with his remaining forces to join Emperor Maximilian, who was being besieged at Queretaro, arriving on February 19. In the ensuing battle Miramon took command of the infantry and appointed General Mejia to command the cavalry. It was a gallant defense, but after three months of siege and with the help of Colonel Miguel Lopez the republican forces infiltrated the city and forced Maximilian to surrender. Miramon had been badly wounded but still advocated fighting to the death. Nonetheless, the end had come and on June 19, 1867 Emperor Maximilian, General Mejia and General Miramon faced a firing squad on the Hill of Bells. Maximilian was in the middle, but gave Miramon his place, saying that he deserved the place of honor in their final moments. On orders from Benito Juarez, the Emperor and his loyal generals were both shot.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

MM Video: Madeleine of Sweden

In honor of her recent engagement

Royal Regalia: Scotland

The royal regalia of Scotland includes the Crown of Scotland, the royal Sceptre and the Sword of State. The crown was created from an older version for James V King of Scots in 1540. It was used to crown all subsequent kings of Scotland until Charles II. After the overthrow of the British Monarchy by Oliver Cromwell the republican dictator intended to destroy the Scottish crown jewels just as he had the English, but some loyal Scots hid them away and thus they survived to crown Charles II. The royal sceptre was gift to James IV King of Scots by HH Pope Alexander VI in 1494. It includes numerous specifically Catholic Scottish symbols such as the Virgin Mary and St Andrew. The Sword of State was a gift to the same Scottish king by HH Pope Julius II in 1507 and displays images of Sts Peter and Paul. The Scottish royal regalia was displayed at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II but not actually used. The items are kept in Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Princess Madeleine Engaged to Wed!

The hearts of young men are breaking around the world today as it was announced that HRH Princess Madeleine of Sweden is engaged to marry her longtime boyfriend Jonas Bergstrom. The Mad Monarchist joins all others in wishing the Princess and her fiance heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for a happy marriage.

MM Video: Portuguese Monarchs

Shameless Plug


Monarch Profile: King Sigismund III of Poland


The reign of King Sigismund III of Poland is often spoken of as the beginning of the end of Polish greatness. In terms of worldly success he certainly met with many defeats and setbacks. Yet, he was also one of the great Catholic champions of Europe and his reign can also be seen as one of many opportunities for an even greater Poland had things gone just a little differently. He was also a man of principle who would follow the hard but upright path rather than compromise his values for a more sure chance at success. As a monarch who reigned during the Catholic Reformation (also called the counterreformation) he constantly worked to see the restoration of all of his subjects to the true faith embodied in the Church of Rome. Oddly enough for such a staunchly Catholic monarch his story begins in the staunchly Protestant Kingdom of Sweden.

Sigismund was born on June 20, 1566 to Katarzyna (Catherine) Jagiellonka and King John III of Sweden at Gripsholm. His parents, at the time, were being held prisoner by King Eric XIV but despite the Protestant domination of Sweden young Sigismund was raised as a Catholic. Regaining the throne of Sweden would be one of the primary driving forces in his life. His Polish connection came through his mother who was the daughter of Sigismund the Old and the Jagiellonka family had been the royal family of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth since King Wladyslaw II obtained the crown in 1386 through his Angevin wife. In 1587 Sigismund stood for election to the Polish throne after the death of King Stefan Batory. He was supported by Chancellor Jan Zamoyski, the dowager Queen Anna and the nobles loyal to the Zborowski family. With this network behind him he was duly elected King of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth on August 19, 1587 with the blessings of the primate of Poland Stanislaw Karnkowski. From that time his official name and title became Sigismund III, by the grace of God, king of Poland, grand duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia and also hereditary king of the Swedes, Goths and Wends; the later titles being in reference to the claims of his father to the Swedish throne.

However, as was often the case with the Polish electoral monarchy, the outcome was strongly contested by the losers who backed the Emperor Maximilian III for King of Poland. Upon hearing of his election King Sigismund slipped through the clutches of the Protestants in Sweden and landed in Poland on October 7 and quickly agreed to give up some royal powers to the parliament of the commonwealth in the hope of wining over some of his enemies and settling the disputed election. He was proclaimed by the Lesser Prussian Treasurer Jan Dulski as king on behalf of the Crown Marshal Andrzej Opalinski and after journeying to Krakow he was crowned on December 27. It would have seemed that the issue of who would be King of Poland had been settled by Emperor Maximilian III invaded at the head of his army to claim his crown. Thankfully, hostilities did not last too long as hetman Jan Zamojski at the head of a Polish army loyal to King Sigismund met and defeated the Austrians at the battle of Byczyna and took Maximilian III prisoner. However, at the request of Pope Sixtus V, King Sigismund III released Maximilian who surrendered his claim to the Polish commonwealth in 1589. King Sigismund also tried to maintain peace with his powerful neighbor by marrying Archduchess Anna of Austria in 1592. His was always his intention to be allied with Catholic Austria against the Protestant forces that were tearing Christendom apart.

When his father died King Sigismund III requested from his parliament that he be allowed to claim his inheritance as the rightful King of Sweden. The Poles had no objection and when he promised to respect Lutheranism as the official religion of Sweden the Swedes went along with the idea as well and Sigismund was crowned King of Sweden in 1594. He appointed his uncle, Duke Charles, to rule as regent on his behalf in Sweden while he remained in Poland since the Swedes and the Commonwealth were not united politically but simply had a personal union by sharing one monarch. However, tensions grew quickly with Sweden as despite the legal guarantees, King Sigismund was a devout Catholic and this made the Swedes nervous. The Protestant firebrands warned that Sigismund had the ultimate goal of making Sweden Catholic again. As proof they pointed to the Union of Brest Sigismund set up in 1596 which brought many Eastern Orthodox into the Catholic fold and led to the modern day Ukrainian Catholic Church, to his friendship with Catholic Austria and his support for the Catholic Reformation, particularly the Jesuit order, which was spreading out to refute Protestantism and regain lost spiritual ground for Rome.

Combating heresy and giving Poland, long a politically chaotic country, a strong and stable government were the primary goals of King Sigismund. Toward this end he moved the royal palace from Krakow to Warsaw and oversaw the arrival of the Jesuits who set up many schools throughout Poland and became chaplains and confessors to many families. The Catholic Church in Poland rebounded strongly during the early years of the reign of King Sigismund III. Their preaching was very well received by the public and along with their staunch defense of the faith they also reminded Poles of their crucial role as the first line of defense for Catholic Christendom against the Russians and the Turks. However, trouble was never far away for King Sigismund and 1598 was a particularly painful year. His wife Anna died (he later married her sister Constance of Austria in 1605) and he saw the outbreak of rebellion in Sweden led by his own uncle and regent who portrayed himself as the Protestant champion of Sweden fighting against their Polish Catholic monarch. King Sigismund moved against him which a combined Swedish and Polish army. He won some early victories but the climax came at the battle of Stangebro in which his 8,000 strong army was defeated by the 12,000 men of Duke Charles. The Swedish loyalists were executed by the Protestant government and after the King returned to Poland he was declared deposed and his uncle was proclaimed King Charles IX of Sweden in 1600. A number of Swedish Polish wars resulted but the personal union was never to be recovered despite the many persistent efforts of King Sigismund.

Trouble was also plentiful on the southern border where Poland was drawn into the wars of local nobles and the Austrian Hapsburgs against the Muslim Tartars and Turks. King Sigismund was anxious to help Austria and was promised territorial gains for Poland in return for his assistance. He sent in a mercenary army fresh from the wars in Russia to Moldavia but in 1620 the Polish forces were defeated and Sigismund was forced to renounce his claim to the principality. It was a setback but resulted in a negotiated peace and was no stunning victory for the Muslims who had vowed to destroy the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth and in this aim they certainly failed. Almost at the same time as these troubles, and those with Sweden, Sigismund was fighting a war with Russia. Those who remember the World War II era of Polish wars against Germany and Russia should set any preconceptions aside because in the time of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth it was the Poles that were a force to be reckoned with, especially their elite heavy, winged, hussars. The Russians had been fighting amongst themselves and King Sigismund got involved, as did Sweden though they were never firmly on one side or the other. At one point the Russians invited the son of King Sigismund to become their Tsar but Sigismund would not allow it. He though he himself might become the master of Russia and though this did not happen the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth did win a number of victories and gained more territory. At one point Polish troops even captured Moscow as astounding as that might seem today. On the downside the whole conflict meant that any lasting union between the Commonwealth and Russia was out of the question.

Throughout all of these constant wars King Sigismund also tried to stabilize and streamline the Commonwealth government. The electoral monarchy in Poland had created a nobility with rather too extensive powers and a great deal of division. Sigismund worked to gain more power for the king as well as to allow government business to pass with a majority of votes of the parliament rather than unanimity which was extremely hard to achieve and men that things often did not get done. All these actions led to a rebellion but the King was ultimately victorious and despite what his many detractors might say his reign marked a period of Polish greatness the likes of which has not often been seen. He made the Commonwealth very much the dominant power of Eastern Europe and just as importantly ensured that Poland remained a solidly Catholic country in the face of Protestant incursions. He was a brave man, a talented monarch and something of a renaissance man as is evidenced by his devout faith and his artistic talent as a painter and goldsmith. Had things gone just a little bit different he might have been the father of a Catholic dynasty that stretched across Sweden, Poland-Lithuania, Moldavia and Russia. It did not happen, but that should not detract from his greatness as one of the royal champions of the Catholic Reformation period. King Sigismund III died on April 30, 1632 at the age of 65 in his castle at Warsaw and was succeeded by his son King Wladyslaw IV.
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