Friday, August 31, 2012

Monarchist Profile: Reinhold Wulle

Reinhold Wulle was a Pomeranian politician, a searching man who became an ardent Prussian monarchist and one of many such victims of the Nazi regime in Germany that is seldom, if ever, remembered today. He was born in Falkenberg on August 1, 1882 and went to school in Halle and Zerbst. After finishing his preliminary education in 1902 he studied German literature, history and theology in Halle, Jena and Berlin. After graduating in 1908 he worked for a number of different newspapers in Dresden, Chemnitz and Essen until 1918. From that time until entering politics in 1920 he served as the chief editor for the newspaper of the Pan-German League, a nationalist movement founded in the 19th Century to promote German colonial expansion, the unity of German minorities in other countries into an all-German nation-state and which, during World War I, opposed any expansion of democracy and supported the policy of unrestricted submarine warfare against Great Britain. By the time Wulle was serving as their chief editor many war leaders associated themselves with the League and they were at the forefront in placing blame for the German defeat on socialists and democracy advocates.

Wulle first moved into politics in 1920 when he co-founded, along with Arnold Ruge and Richard Kunze the ‘German People’s Workers Ring Berlin’ but this did not last long as during the summer months it was absorbed into the larger “German National People’s Party” (DNVP) which included many monarchists and looked back with nostalgia on the glories of the recently replaced German Empire. It was, originally, a specifically monarchist party intent on restoring the ‘Kaiserreich’ but over time became more inclined toward a simplistic, military dictatorship. Wulle, whose political views were not quite fully developed, quickly came to be recognized as the unofficial leader of the more populist wing of the DNVP. In 1922 Wulle collaborated with Wilhelm Henning and Albrecht von Graefe in establishing the ‘German Populist Freedom Party’ (DVFP), a minor party known for its ardent nationalism and anti-Semitism due to the Jews being not only non-Germans but linked with the socialist and communist revolutionary movements (a widespread belief at the time). Rumors also quickly sprang up that they were collaborating with secretive forces within the army intent on the re-armament of Germany in spite of the Versailles Treaty. Wulle, however, maintained that he had no association with this group.

It is not surprising, given their nationalism, suspicion of Jews and communists as well as their hatred of the Versailles Treaty that the DVFP under Wulle would come to see the still fledgling Nazi Party as potential allies and for a time, such as in his reelection to the Reichstag in 1924, this was the case, however, Wulle had considerable problems with the Nazis from the very beginning. He opposed their egalitarian rhetoric, their embrace of socialism and use of ‘class warfare’ to rally the workers of Germany against the elite leadership of the Weimar Republic. Within a year he had broken from the Nazis and reformed his old party and became well known amongst those on the right of the political spectrum opposed to the rising power of the Nazis. Wulle had also, over time, become more and more convinced that monarchy was the only form of government natural to Germany, especially the line of kings who had long guided the destiny of Prussia as well as presiding over the Prussian-led unification of the German states. In spite of his problems with the Nazis, he remained, therefore, an ever avowed enemy of the failed Weimar Republic and he continued to advocate for the rejection of Versailles and the union of all Germans within a single state.

In the contentious election between Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler, Wulle preferred the Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm though his father the Kaiser forbid him to run for office as it would necessitate his swearing allegiance to the republic. As we know, Hindenburg won the election but by 1933 Adolf Hitler had, by various means, gathered sufficient support to become overall leader of Germany. Like many at the time, Wulle tried to look at the bright side. The Weimar Republic was finally gone, the national pride of the German people had been reawakened and he hoped that the dictatorship of Hitler would only be a temporary stepping stone to the restoration of the Prussian monarchy. That same year, Wulle began to organize his supporters around a new organization, the monarchist ‘German Freedom Society’ His work was focused on Prussia and he concentrated his efforts there to build a movement that would renew feelings of loyalty toward the House of Hohenzollern and lead ultimately to the return of the monarchy.

At first, the Nazi authorities took little notice but over time Wulle gained enough support for the brown-shirts to become concerned. In 1938 he was arrested for violating the law which banned all parties and organizations besides the Nazi Party and he, of course, lost his seat in the Reich Chamber. Originally confined to a prison in Berlin, after the start of World War II he was moved to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1940. In this he was more fortunate than some as Sachsenhausen was exclusively for political prisoners and, as concentration camps went, others were much worse. He would also occasionally receive gifts of cigars from Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm, as a show of his moral support. Wulle survived the war and in 1945 moved to Gronau where he picked up his old cause and carried on as before, forming the ‘German Construction Party’ with Joachim Ostau to push for Prussian-style conservatism, Christianity, German nationalism and, of course, the restoration of the monarchy. He looked back on the Nazi period as a time when the soul of Germany had come under attack and that the country needed to return to its monarchial roots and reject the revolutionary politics that had ruined it. A year later this party merged with the German conservative party and Reinhold Wulle remained a notable figure on the right in German politics until his death on July 16, 1950.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Enemy of Monarchy: Charles James Fox

Many British politicians today still hold the late Foreign Secretary and MP Charles James Fox in high regard. Traditionally it was the liberals who did so, but today it is just as likely to be conservatives since old fashioned Whigs are today insufficiently radical for the socialists of the modern left. However, Fox was a man that absolutely no proud or even halfway decent Briton should view with anything other than utter contempt. He was a contemptible antagonist opposed to everything that the United Kingdom, at least then, was based on and never passed up an opportunity to take the side of an enemy against his own King and country. There is no better evidence of just how far from being any kind of absolute or tyrannical state was Great Britain during the reign of King George III than that Fox was never hauled away and executed as a traitor. He was a man of limited and simplistic thoughts. Unlike Cromwell, who strove to overthrow the King and rule as he pleased, Fox condemned the King for any exercise of power, yet when his turn came, he had little idea of what to actually do with it. He was all for championing the downfall of great monarchies but, like many republicans today, had little idea of what to replace them with.

Charles James Fox was born in London on January 24, 1749 to fairly well-to-do parents. His father was a baron and his mother was the daughter of the Duke of Richmond. As a boy he was sent to a prestigious private school, then to Eton and when, as a teenager, his father took him on his first trip to Europe he taught him how to gamble and paid for his visit to a prostitute. He was only nineteen when his father bought him a seat in the House of Commons, representing Midhurst. Today his admirers speak only of his great gift for making speeches but little of his actual conduct. He was a thoroughly dissolute young man who was handed several high offices only to resign them when things did not go entirely to please him. Thoroughly selfish, he took the exact opposite of his later position because it served his own ends and only fell out with the statesman Lord North when his family were passed over for a promotion in the peerage. He only began to espouse any sort of coherent ideology after being taken under the wing of the towering Whig politician Edmund Burke and this was particularly seen after the move towards and outbreak of the revolutionary war in America.

Fox's enemy: King George III
It was during the conflict with the American colonies that Fox’s treasonous streak was first on full display. Yet, despite his growing ideological bent, a large part of his public positions remained personal. He simply disliked King George III, never passing up an opportunity to denounce him as a tyrant who was working all the time toward the goal of restoring royal absolutism in Britain, and the feeling was mutual. In Fox, the King, quite correctly, saw a spoiled young man who never took his government duties seriously, was totally untrustworthy, who never appreciated any of the favors which had brought him to the top of his career and who lived a scandalously immoral life. This was all completely true, from his shockingly indulgent childhood to his dissolute private life, Fox was a thoroughly disgusting individual. His drunkenness was legendary, he was known to lose tens of thousands of pounds gambling at one sitting (which kept him constantly in debt), he seldom washed, dressed slovenly, was known for spitting on the carpets and was utterly treasonous in his comments about the King. He did not limit himself to condemning the policies favored by the King but would refer to the monarch himself as “Satan” and on numerous occasions hoped for his death. He was an utterly vile man who even his own political allies could seldom tolerate.

When the war in America broke out, Fox was outlandish in his support for the enemies of his country. He was pen pals with Thomas Jefferson, met Benjamin Franklin in Paris, doing his best to boost the morale of the rebel public by saying that Britain could not go on fighting much longer and, most famously, he and his friends took to wearing the blue and buff colors of the Continental Army, celebrating every colonial victory and mourning every British success. All too often people today look at this as being rather comical and indeed at the time Fox seemed to regard the whole thing as a purely political debate over some grand game of chess. However, even if he had not a shred of loyalty to his King and country, these rebels he cheered so enthusiastically were killing his own countrymen, making new widows and orphans and ruined families for each redcoat they shot down. And he was best pleased when as many of his own countrymen were slaughtered as possible to give the colonials victory. The fact that he remained free and at large, even holding government office while carrying on in this fashion should have been ample evidence enough that the King he was living under was no arbitrary tyrant. Certainly those loyalists in America who dared to oppose the revolutionary government were not tolerated in the same way but assaulted, driven from their homes, imprisoned, their property taken and oftentimes even killed.

This, of course, put Fox even further at odds with the King who was the most ardent of his countrymen that the war in America had to be pursued to the utmost until final victory was achieved. He was, sadly, joined in his antagonism toward the King by the Prince of Wales and this furthered the personal animosity between the two as the King blamed Fox for influencing his son toward his lifestyle of excess. The Prince actually needed little encouragement but the King was not without cause in blaming Fox for the corruption of his eldest. It was then with the greatest reluctance that the King countenanced a coalition government, formed out of necessity, between the bitter enemies Lord North and Charles Fox. It didn’t last long and despite his claim to be a popular champion it was the people who largely opposed Fox for his determination to interfere with the prerogatives of the King and the British constitutional monarchy as it was established. As usual, Fox had few original ideas of his own and it says something that he would come to be seen as the father of radical liberalism in Britain as he was seemingly always against everything and for nothing.

The King was finally able to be done with North and Fox and replaced his old enemy with William Pitt who henceforth became the primary target of Fox’s limitless wrath. Of course, his contempt for his monarch never slackened and it is no wonder that when King George III began to go “mad” (suffering from porphyria) that many believed Fox had poisoned the monarch in order to replace him with the Prince of Wales who he regarded as his creature. Fox, of course, lacked the courage to take such drastic action himself, despite his having railed against the monarchy for so long in favor of “popular sovereignty” such as existed in the new United States. However, Fox was nothing if not consistent in always doing what was in his own best interests at the time and when news came that the King was incapacitated, he immediately became the biggest champion of royal power in London because he assumed that once the Prince of Wales had taken over things it was he would become the real ruler of Britain. Fortunately, Pitt was able to drag the legal debate out long enough for the King to recover and put to rest any talk of his throne being usurped by his son and Mr. Fox.

Not surprisingly, when the French Revolution broke out, Fox rejoiced against at the violence, bloodshed and rebellion. Again, like so many utopians, he seemed to totally disregard the ramifications and intense human suffering that accompanied the ideology he so championed. It was also during this period that he showed his hypocrisy again in taking up the cause of, among other things, Catholic emancipation. This in spite of the fact that, during the war in America, he had sympathized with the mob in the Gordon Riots which flared up as a result of easing the legal discrimination against Catholics. But, of course, Fox had proven throughout his career that there was no cause he would not hesitate to betray and no policy he condemned which he would not later champion if it served his purpose in opposing the Crown and the King’s government. And, even when the French Revolution degenerated into the orgy of murder known as the Reign of Terror, he still defended the blood-soaked republic as preferable to the monarchy that preceded it, setting a course still followed by republican historians to this day.

Fox as the serpent on the Tree of Liberty
Fox did finally rise to a place in the government, owing to the tolerance of the monarch he so often portrayed as a tyrant. Although the King had once vowed never to accept Fox even if it meant civil war, when presented with the situation, he agreed with sorrow and reluctance. Fox, by championing the French Revolution with all its disastrous consequences, opposing any kindness showed to French royalists, and so on finally caused a popular clamor against him with cartoonists portraying him as a British Jacobin and people finally denouncing him as a traitor. However, his own unpopularity and the great and growing popularity of the King may have had an effect on Fox as once he became Foreign Secretary he became much more conciliatory and declined to take up any measures that were sure to annoy his sovereign. King George III lived long enough to see his lifelong enemy in his grave, though he took no pleasure in it, as Fox died on September 13, 1806 still as opposed as ever to monarchy and religion, though he agreed to have prayers said at his bedside simply to please his wife. Today, many carefully pick their facts about Charles James Fox to portray him in the most positive light possible as a champion of liberty. However, throughout his life he was contradictory, arguing for the rights of Parliament and then against them as it suited his interests. Even the plaudits he is given for opposing slavery seems rather unfair when, at the same time, his King was portrayed as a pinchpenny for boycotting sugar over his disgust at the slave trade. Taken as a whole, Fox was simply a horrible man; a man of disgusting habits, gross immorality, arrogance, selfishness and who never missed an opportunity to take the side of the enemies of his own country. That so many republicans today regard him as a hero says a great deal about the cause they champion.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Favorite Royal Images: A Touching Moment

It's the little things...

The 'Heavenly Sovereign' 天皇

FYI: The "Images" page has been updated, as promised, and I would also draw readers attention to the "walls" page for those who like more than one portrait at a time. Those are large images and a pain to load so keep checking in as I finish putting them all up. -MM

Monday, August 27, 2012

Freedom from Speech in Russia

This story has been bothering me for a while but I hated to bring it up just because talking about it tends to turn me into a rather unpleasant character. I refer to the group of Russian feminists (I shall not lower myself to using their stage name, and they need no publicity from me) who recently desecrated a church in Moscow and have been sent to prison for it. Well, at least two went to prison for what they are claiming was an expression of “free speech” aimed against Vladimir Putin. Two others must not have had quite the same liberal martyr-complex as the two jailbirds as they fled the country rather than face the consequences for their actions. Since the escapade, the group has become the “flavor of the month” of mindless celebrities who like to pretend like they are “edgy” and “political” and all that “fighting the man” nonsense. They have saluted the group in concerts and called on President Putin to release the two culprits from prison. Sorry folks, but the President of Russia cannot just decide to not enforce certain laws for certain people, he’s not the President of the United States after all. However, no one should be having any sympathy for these horrible, horrible, attention-seeking little potty mouths.

No one should be giving any support to anyone who has any sympathy for these miscreants and if I ever see a roadside protest with people holding “Free -their name here-” it will be very hard for me to fight the urge not to veer off the road and see how many I can take out. There, you see: unpleasant character, it’s happening already. This is just such a frustrating story! First of all, from what these girls did and said, there was almost nothing to do with Vladimir Putin, just a sacrilegious tirade. Now, let me say for the record that I am not a huge fan of Putin, though were I in Russia I would probably say he was better than the alternatives, but I am certainly no adoring sycophant of his and, frankly, I get a little uncomfortable when I Orthodox churchmen praising him so highly. That sort of praise should be reserved for the Orthodox Tsar and no Russian government will ever have my full and enthusiastic support until the Romanovs enjoy their own again. If these girls had gone out into Red Square and held up “Putin Sucks” signs I would not have been bothered at all and probably would have even felt at least a little sorry for them if they had been carted off to prison for that. But, that wasn’t the case here.

To me, this has nothing to do with freedom of speech but rather, freedom from speech. These malcontents can think what they like and say what they like but when they decided to barge into Moscow’s main cathedral and spew their sacrilege on holy ground, I have a very, VERY big problem with that and were I in charge they would have received some corporal punishment in addition to their prison sentence for acting like foul-mouthed spoiled children. Freedom from speech can be just as important as freedom of speech, otherwise it tramples on the basic freedom of everyone else to choose exactly what they wish to listen to. Your freedom of speech does not extend to a right to harass people who want nothing to do with you, nor does it give you a “right” to desecrate holy places. And this was not just something offensive, it was not just a slight annoyance, it was an invasion; an attack. I have heard some people compare this to the “Mohammed cartoons”. They are not even in the same ball park. A cartoon can be ignored (Christians already ignore tons of insulting cartoons all the time) but a group of attention-whores barging into your place of worship, interrupting you in your worship and screaming blasphemes is something you cannot ignore; that is something you have to deal with because they are robbing you of your freedom to live your own life and forcing you to listen to them and deal with them. Alright, fine -the Russian authorities dealt with them; at least the ones who didn’t run away, leaving their comrades high and dry.

Freedom of speech is fine, for the most part, it is one of those freedoms that should be so taken for granted there is no need to list it. However, this incident shows just how warped it has become. That what these feminazis did could be considered by anyone to be an expression of “free speech” proves that ignorance is alive and well (as if more proof were needed). Your freedom of speech means you can say what you like, it does not mean you can come into my place of worship and force me to listen to you. Put your rant on a CD or write it in a book and those who want to hear it or read it can do so, but what these vile creatures did was not that, not simply expressing an opinion, it was an attack, it was a sacrilegious assault on both the church and the senses. Besides which, they didn’t even say anything terribly opinionated if you look at the filth they actually spewed. Putin was hardly even mentioned in their so-called “poem”, mostly just a lot of swear words directed at the church. Any dispassionate observer could not fail to come to the conclusion that this was more an attack on Russian Orthodoxy than on the Russian presidency.

The fact that anyone would even think of claiming this had anything to do with free speech shows how the meaning of the phrase has been twisted out of all recognition. Today if you say the wrong thing about the wrong group of people the authorities will cart you off in handcuffs because that does not count as “freedom of speech” and yet desecrating a church or having readily available pornographic channels on TV, yes, that, THAT is protected as “freedom of speech”. This is the only time when I think President George W. Bush was right when he said, ‘they hate us for our freedom’. Well, if by freedom you mean the freedom to sell smut and insult religion, yes, the people in question probably do hate that. This latest incident in Russia, however, has nothing to do with free speech really. Again, if these miscreants wanted to make a political statement about how much they dislike Vladimir Putin they could have done so by recording a disc, writing a book, wearing placards and marching up and down the street and, in my book, it would have been fine. Again, no government in Russia will ever have my full support until the Romanovs are put back. What happened here was an invasion and nothing political about it, only the most vulgar and despicable sacrilege in one of the holiest places in Russia in a simple effort to gain fame and notoriety. It is positively sickening.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

MM Sunday Scripture

By me kings reign and princes decree justice, by me princes rule and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. -Proverbs 8:15-16

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Images Page Update

Yes, there is a word of warning this time. During next week, probably Tuesday if I can remember to, the images page will be refreshed again and this time, since the news has kept it mind lately, the subject will be the Emperors of Japan, the "Land of the Rising Sun" and the oldest monarchy still reigning in the world today. Today, as in the past, it seems to me that Japan is often treated unfairly, condemned for doing what other nations have done (by those nations themselves often enough) and today being criticized for past misdeeds by Communist China whose misdeeds are far, far greater than anything Japan has ever even been accused of doing. I don't know of any other country that has changed so radically (twice) in such a short time as Japan without the horror of a revolution and through it all it has been the emperors who have kept everyone calm, confident and devoted to excellence for their country while maintaining the best of Japanese culture.

Royal News: A Prince in the State of Nature

Everyone in the world knows by now. I don’t doubt that everyone from natives in the Fiji Islands to pygmies in darkest Africa have heard about Prince Harry and a mystery girl frolicking in the nude in a hotel room in Las Vegas. It has even made primetime news in the United States though why exactly any American citizen should be concerned about what Prince Harry does on his vacations is quite beyond me. That is the real story as far as I am concerned; why on earth is this a story at all? Perhaps someone can explain it to me because the more I think about it the more I am utterly baffled as to why this is newsworthy at all. Even those who simply wish to look at naked bodies will be disappointed, the Prince did cover his ‘naughty bits’ so, in that regard, a number of royals have been caught at greater disadvantage. He was not photographed actually engaged in any sort of “activity”. So, what is all the fuss about really? A game of strip pool? Wild parties with women of questionable integrity? I’m sorry folks, but there really isn’t much reason to be in Las Vegas at all if these sorts of things bother you and no one seemed to have a problem with the Prince visiting “Sin City” before. And if you’re going to get naked, isn’t your hotel room a perfectly acceptable place to do that? It’s not as if he was letting it all hang out in public or bothering anyone else. The cohort of co-eds who have been making the rounds of the news shows in America seemed perfectly thrilled to be there.

So, what exactly is it that people (mostly the media) have a problem with about this? Is taking your clothes off in your hotel room a crime? I hope not, or I’m in trouble myself. Is it the fact that there was a girl present, likewise in her birthday suite? I have pretty “old fashioned” views when it comes to this sort of stuff but I didn’t think so many other people did, particularly the news media. It cannot be that shocking that the Prince could be engaging in sexual behavior before marriage, after all, does anyone honestly think that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were sleeping in separate beds all that time they were living together up in Balmoral before their wedding? Does the Church of England even consider premarital sex a sin these days? I have to ask that sincerely because, if they do, it would seem rather hypocritical considering what they DO consider perfectly acceptable behavior in other areas. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not a big fan of what Prince Harry did here. Not the strip pool part, that could be perfectly innocent, but he went to a “Wet Republic” party and I absolutely oppose any prince of the blood attending any function with the word “republic” in its name.

No, my problem here is that the same people who claim that royals are no better than anyone else, that they should not be treated differently than anyone else and that they shouldn’t even be royals at all are the same ones who hold them to an entirely different standard and who expect them to embody values their society as a whole abandoned a long time ago. I object to the invasion of privacy and I object to the oh-so-phony pretended “outrage” of people in the media over this. And I just don’t understand why people act like this is news! Prince Harry has been to Las Vegas before, I’ve been to Las Vegas before and let me tell you: *this is what happens there*. It probably happened last time but no one got a picture of it. And let me assure everyone that even if the Prince had not been in Las Vegas, even if he had not been partying, even if there had not been one slutty chick in sight, the media is going to run with any picture of an unclothed royal they can get their grubby little hands on. The circumstances do not matter. This happens fairly often actually, you just don’t seem to get the tons of fake shock and horror that you do when a Windsor is involved.

Take another royal (princely but whatever) family near to my heart. Shall we tabulate the number of times we have seen pictures of members of the House of Grimaldi with their ‘naughty bits’ showing? So what is the difference? Well, none were at wild parties in Vegas but were either on the beach or the family yacht, but there is more to it than that. In Monaco and the south of France, flashing flesh at the beach or on your yacht is not a big deal, everyone does it, nobody really cares and nobody pretends that it is outrageous. Every time I have seen the story of Prince Harry mentioned on the news I have to wonder, do people in Britain just have no idea what Las Vegas is all about and what goes on there? Because this is happening in Vegas every day of the week. You might want to sit down for this but (brace yourselves) there are people getting drunk, gambling, going to strip clubs, “hooking up” or employing call girls in Las Vegas at this very moment! Yes, it’s true! And for the most part, that is why people go there. If you want to snort crack off the belly of a hooker, you go to Las Vegas, it’s a place where anything goes. I thought this was common knowledge and compared to what often goes on in “Sin City” (you might think the nickname would give it away) a little game of strip pool in the “privacy” of your own hotel suite is pretty darn tame.

So, given all of that, why does the media suddenly sound like Claude Rains in “Casablanca”? Did these people really think that, during his time off, Prince Harry sat around drinking tea and reading his prayer book? Maybe I’m out of touch but I thought Prince Harry was pretty well known for being the wild, hard-drinking, girl-grabbing party animal of the family? This is not news! And what would happen if the opposite were true? For myself, I’m fairly certain that if Prince Harry were championing traditional values and going to church every Sunday, these same media morons would be criticizing him for being old-fashioned, out of touch and too Christian for the modern, multicultural, multi-religious Britain of today. He might even be called “intolerant” though he would probably have to change denominations for that to stick since the only commandment of the C of E these days seems to be “we tolerate everything”. Should the prince have known better? Yes, no matter how nice the friendly girl who just showed you her dairy department seems, she will sell pictures of you to the tabloids for a quick buck. Do I approve of his behavior? No, but I don’t need to, it’s none of my business. I feel bad for any embarrassment this might have caused the Queen but when I look at modern society, modern schools and universities and certainly (in Britain) the modern established Church, I cannot be surprised that anyone would behave like this no matter who they are.

For me, that is the bottom line. Given my worldview and my moral code, I can see why I think what Prince Harry did was wrong. What I cannot see is why the modern mainstream media or the vast majority of society would even consider it newsworthy at all. This only proves that even while we may have very low standards these days, we are still capable of having double-standards as well. It isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense to me but, it must be said, that is the situation and Prince Harry should know that. He is a nearly 30-year-old man, an officer in the British army and he should know that if he behaves like this it will inevitably be made public, embarrass the Royal Family (or the Queen at least) and it will be used by republicans to attack the monarchy. All the uproar is uncalled for but the Prince should have known better too, especially given his own track record. It may not be anything really, really terrible, but it’s not necessary either. It may not matter much today, but it just might in the future. Royals who live a libertine lifestyle may be loved by many people but they are seldom respected in the same way that someone like the Queen is and, personally, I suspect the Queen never felt she was entitled to have fun -at least not the sort of fun others (even Princess Margaret) had. The Queen has maintained the monarchy because she has never given an inch to the republicans, never shown one moment of weakness for them to exploit. She has lived her life for her country and not for herself. Prince Harry, and all other royals, would do well to remember that.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Soldier of Monarchy: Field Marshal Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf

The military forces of Austria-Hungary are often dismissed as a whole. This is unfair as they actually performed quite heroically given the myriad disadvantages they faced but it has also been extended to include the high command. While many will hesitate to criticize the common soldiers of any power, few will ever hesitate to criticize the generals and overall the generals of the First World War are often portrayed in a negative light, often unfairly so. One man whose reputation has seen extreme highs and lows in terms of how history has judged him is Count Conrad von Hötzendorf, for much of the war, the top commander of the armies of Austria-Hungary. He was born in the outskirts of Vienna, Austria on November 11, 1852 into a military family (his father was a colonel in the hussars) and entered military training at an early age, being commissioned a lieutenant at 19. He underwent further training, served with the General Staff Corps and saw his first active service in the occupation of Bosnia and the suppression of a rebellion in Dalmatia. By 1888 he was teaching tactics at the war academy in Vienna and later commanded a regiment, then a brigade, then a division. In 1906 he was appointed chief of staff of the Imperial-Royal army and was a highly regarded officer.

In this position, Hötzendorf was known for his extremely aggressive approach. Preemptive warfare seemed to be his “default” position. Only a year after his appointment he proposed a preemptive war against the Kingdom of Italy. Later though it would be the Kingdom of Serbia that became his primary target. He viewed it as inevitable that Austria-Hungary and Serbia would come to blows and, to his mind, the sooner this was done with the better. He saw this as part of a great contest of survival between the German and Slavic peoples and he was definitely a German-centered member of the “Greater Austria” school of thought. Hötzendorf distrusted the Hungarians and the power they wielded within the empire, viewing them as simply a source of division and potential rebellion. His arguments for a greater centralization of power in Austrian hands and new military deployments were invariably frustrated by Emperor Francis Joseph who opposed any sort of changes. The Emperor had seen what rash military behavior had reaped in the past and took a “wait and see” attitude about most things. Archduke Francis Ferdinand provided a more willing ear but this too tended to be frowned upon by the Emperor.

Conrad von Hötzendorf formally proposed a preemptive attack on Serbia no less than twenty-five times prior to the First World War. This aggressive stance impressed the high command in Germany and there is no denying that he gained an impeccable reputation amongst military circles prior to the war. “The most brilliant strategist in Central Europe” he was called. Others declared him to be the most gifted general the Hapsburg empire had known since the great Prince Eugene of Savoy. Even after the many disastrous defeats Austria-Hungary suffered in the early days of the war many in the German high command (a notoriously tough crowd) lamented that the Austrian chief of staff ‘deserved a better army’. Undoubtedly his pristine reputation suffered after the onset of hostilities in 1914. Von Hötzendorf was known for his aggressive strategies, which has led him to be hailed as “bold” by some and “reckless” by others. The initial Austro-Hungarian advance into Serbia turned into a bloody mess and the initial clashes against Russia were little better. However, given the long-held assurance that Austria-Hungary could crush Serbia easily meant that the defeat there stung the most.

In defense of the chief-of-staff, the intervention of Russia had forced him to drastically reduce the strength of the army sent into Serbia considering that Russia was by far the more dangerous opponent. However, the entry of Russia was not unexpected and should have been better taken into account. In fact, so confident were the military authorities in Vienna in the first days of the war, it was assumed that Austria-Hungary, rather than Germany, would play the major part in the war on the eastern front with the German forces only along in a supporting role. That was certainly not the case as Austro-Hungarian casualties were so devastating in the first years of the war that Germany came to dominate the eastern front and had to supply reinforcements in Serbia and eventually against Italy as well. As the man in charge of the planning of these operations, Conrad von Hötzendorf must accept most of the responsibility for these considerable setbacks.

It is also true though that von Hötzendorf had long advocated much-needed improvements to the military but was thwarted by an overall aversion to change of any kind and a refusal by the parliament to spend the money required. It is also true that much of the German operations on the eastern front were adapted from the original plans von Hötzendorf had drawn up and these were extremely successful. Given that, it would be hard to argue that, as a strategist, his was not a brilliant military mind. Yet, it is also true that he never managed to effectively put these brilliant plans into effect. At the start of the war with Serbia, for instance, after having advocated for a quick and crushing invasion again and again for many years, when the opportunity finally came, he repeatedly delayed. Further, if the Imperial-Royal forces lacked the cohesion to carry out his grand, large-scale strategies, this is something an effective planner should have taken into account. Nonetheless, the worst criticism of von Hötzendorf often goes too far. His was a gifted military mind, at least when it came to the conception phase of warfare, and under his leadership the Austro-Hungarian forces were at least holding their own against Russia, Serbia and Italy, with German support to be sure, but against more enemies on more fronts than most other commanders had to deal with.

The effective end of his career came with the accession of Emperor Charles I (Kaiser Karl) to the throne of the Dual Monarchy. Charles had long been opposed to Conrad von Hötzendorf and his strident, aggressive ideas. To keep up appearances he was promoted to Field Marshal but soon after was replaced and sidelined. He accepted a minor command on the Italian front but when the offensive there ended in failure, he was finally dismissed. Like other old soldiers, Conrad von Hötzendorf faded away, but he did not go gracefully. He seemed rather indifferent to the collapse of Austria-Hungary, taking the attitude that if only he had been listened to and his military improvements adopted it would never have happened. He was, naturally, less than devoted to Emperor Charles who sacked him and when it came to his own record on managing the war he attempted to shift most of the blame to the Hapsburg Archduke Friedrich of Austria, nominally supreme commander of the army from 1914-1917. Most recognize this as being quite unfair given that the Archduke was quite an elderly man and von Hötzendorf had always enjoyed almost complete freedom in his duties as chief of staff. It was simply an unworthy effort to shirk responsibility for the many setbacks he had presided over.

After the war, the former field marshal did little to redeem himself. His explanations of the war mostly focused on how disasters were the fault of others rather than himself and having formerly been a proponent of the “Greater Austria” he became an ardent supporter of a “Greater Germany” which would unite German-Austria with Germany itself. He died in Germany but was buried in Vienna, his funeral attracting quite a crowd. In the aftermath of World War II, the Republic of Austria tried to develop its own sort of national, patriotic pride and seized on Graf von Hötzendorf as a hero, a gifted military leader, who might have accomplished great things if only others had listened to him. He fit into this role quite well as he had been an ardent Austrian nationalist and had ended on less than friendly terms with the House of Hapsburg, making him acceptable to the republicans. His later attachment to union with Germany was brushed under the rug. Later, however, when any sort of national pride came to be seen as a bad thing, and the old Austria-Hungary as absolutely deplorable along with anyone associated with it, the reputation of Conrad von Hötzendorf underwent a dramatic change. The brilliant, strategic genius of yesterday was the bumbling incompetent of today.

The truth, of course, is not so simplistic. In the basic sense, Conrad von Hötzendorf was a genius when it came to broad military strategy but it is also true that he was anything but that when it came to putting his plans into effect. He often ignored vital factors such as available resources, the weather and the terrain and his grand offensives were almost always out of all proportion to what his forces were capable of achieving. Such flaws might have been forgiven had he possessed a more humble nature but his egocentric attitude and petulant criticism of the monarchy he served for so long leaves the impartial observer with a negative overall view of the man.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Monarch Profile: Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia

The last Emperor of Ethiopia was born Lij Tafari Makonnen on July 23, 1892 in Ejersa Goro, Ethiopia to Ras Makonnen Woldemikael Gudessa and Weyziro Yeshimebet Ali Abajifar. His father was the governor of Harar province and he was related to the royal line through his maternal grandmother through whom he would base his future claim to the throne. At the time of his birth Ethiopia was still only a loosely organized collection of tribal states ruled by local feudal chieftains with the “King of Kings” holding the supreme place of honor more than anything else. At the time of his birth the “King of Kings” or Emperor was Menelik II who himself had taken the throne against the wishes of the previous emperor who had named one of his many “natural” sons as his heir. For the most part, power resided amongst the powerful chieftains and influential clerics of the country with some emperors having more direct control than others depending on how well they were able to suppress their enemies or win the allegiance of those on the ground. At the time of his birth there was no thought of Lij Tafari ever ascending the throne but his father, Ras Makonnen, was an important man and a major figure in the First Italo-Abyssinian War who played a key role in the crucial victory over the Italian colonial army at Adowa.

In 1906 his father died and in that year Ras Tafari (“Ras” being a title of leadership) became governor of the minor province of Selale. Around 1910 he was given the more prestigious governorship of Harar after the previous overseer proved incompetent. In 1911 he married Menen Asfaw of Ambassel, niece of the heir to the throne Lij Iyasu, later Emperor Iyasu V. During World War I the Emperor, who had long had a difficult relationship with the local chieftains, did something dramatic which opened a way to national power for Ras Tafari. The Emperor converted to Islam and made an alliance with the renegade Somali leader Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd Allah Assan (aka the “Mad Mullah”) who had been waging a guerilla war against the British and Italians on the coast. He was supported by the Turks and Iyasu V also hoped for such an alliance and offered to place Ethiopia under the spiritual authority of the Ottoman Sultan who was also the Caliph of Islam. The Coptic clerics declared him excommunicated for this and his throne forfeit and many believed he had gone insane. However, it is more probable that this was not entirely genuine but an effort to unite the Somalis and the Muslim Galla tribes of eastern Ethiopia in crushing the power of the nobles, solidly unifying the country under his control and driving out the European elements on the coast to dominate East Africa with the help of Turkish forces in southern Arabia and German troops in what is now Tanzania.

Whatever his true motives, it was an opportunity for Ras Tafari who led a powerful coalition of local rases to topple the emperor in September of 1916. However, the whole coup was not well organized and turned into a bloody mess with the deposed emperor escaping to join his allies and civil war broke out. In a move that was to have long-lasting consequences, during the ensuing chaos Ras Tafari took his personal army to Harar and massacred most of the Muslim population, which included many Somalis, as all were seen as actual or potential supporters of the deposed Iyasu V. Although not realized at the time, the bitterness and resentment this created would come back to haunt Ras Tafari in the future. In the end, the Christian chieftains were victorious but, at the age of 25, Ras Tafari was considered too young to take the throne himself and so the daughter of Emperor Menelik II, Zauditu, was proclaimed Empress with Ras Tafari as her ‘heir apparent’ and regent. Although they held nominal power in the capital, the chieftains held actual control in the provinces but in this Ras Tafari was ahead of most. He was ambitious, forward-thinking and determined to modernize as his father before him had been.

After World War I, Ras Tafari traveled extensively across Europe and the Middle East as his position in Ethiopia was relatively weak. He lacked funds and other chieftains had more powerful forces than his own. However, he worked to remedy this by making many agreements with European powers to develop his country, equip at least his own troops with the latest weaponry and put Ethiopia on the international stage. Initially Italy supported him in this and was the sponsor for Ethiopia entering the League of Nations in 1923 which was allowed after Ras Tafari promised to end slavery in his country. However, this was something virtually every emperor had promised to do, going back to the nineteenth century but without effect, mostly because power remained in the hands of the local chieftains who had no desire to get rid of the practice. Ras Tafari, however, was determined to change all that by centralizing power. But, he did not yet have that power and a civil war broke out in the northern province of Tigre as the nobles rebelled against the program of modernization and centralization Ras Tafari was implementing. Those opposed to the new order took the side of Empress Zauditu but refused to submit to Ras Tafari. This civil war, effectively between Ras Tafari and his Empress, went on for many years but Ras Tafari had the better organized and better-armed forces and by 1928 he was victorious and the Empress was forced to crown him King, cementing his place as her successor though effectively it meant that Ethiopia had two monarchs; one held the nominal position of Empress but her nominal vassal the King held the real power.

There was one further rebellion by the consort of the Empress and other allied nobles but these were crushed in 1930 and immediately thereafter the Empress died. So it was that on November 2, 1930 Ras Tafari was crowned Haile Selassie I (“Holy Trinity”) the “Elect of God, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah and King of Kings of Ethiopia”. The coronation was an extremely lavish affair, attended by dignitaries from around the world and the following year Emperor Haile Selassie put his modernizing attitudes into effect with the first written constitution in Ethiopian history, establishing the framework for democracy but initially putting power directly in the hands of the Emperor. Haile Selassie also limited the succession to his own descendants, which angered many of the other princes of the previous imperial lines but these were easily controlled. In 1932 the Kingdom of Jimma was easily occupied and annexed to Ethiopia and the country was developing rapidly. Military experts were brought in from various countries to train and modernize the Ethiopian army, starting with the Imperial Guard. Many foreign countries participated but the Emperor made a point of excluding Italy, wishing to keep them at a distance.

Tensions came to a head after a clash at a small oasis called Walwal in 1934. The following year, after a build-up of forces, Mussolini ordered the invasion of Ethiopia and Emperor Haile Selassie ordered all able-bodied men and boys to mobilize to defend their country. The initial Italian advance was successful but slow and the Emperor hoped that he could amass overwhelming numbers to defeat the Italians. However, his great “Christmas Offensive”, while it succeeded in putting the Italians on the defensive, did not destroy them. Fascist amateurs were replaced by Royal Army professionals and the Italians renewed their attack with greater speed and success. Native forces in the Italian colonial contingents, particularly the Somali Muslims, were eager for revenge and fought with great tenacity while many Christian natives in the Italian colonial units abandoned them to fight for Ethiopia. However, this was not a religious conflict. One of the most effective commanders on the Ethiopian side was a Turkish general who was anxious to fight Europeans wherever he found them. Ultimately, the weapons, tactics and discipline of the Italians proved decisive and within seven months the Ethiopian armies were destroyed and the country brought entirely under Italian control.

Emperor Haile Selassie left for Djibouti (a French colony) and was given transport by the British to Jerusalem. After visiting the Holy places, Haile Selassie went to Europe where he made his famous appeal to the League of Nations at Geneva. He spoke in his native tongue, reprimanding the League for their failure to take aggressive action against Italy and calling upon the principle of collective security to protect the underdeveloped nations of the world, arguing that without such international military action, treaties were meaningless. Although he was a defeated and deposed monarch, with that speech, Haile Selassie I became world famous and a living symbol of all who opposed Fascism. His speech and his example were invoked by many in the future to counter those who argued against going to war. The Emperor himself settled into a comfortable life of exile in England though he always considered it a temporary relocation and he was justified by events in doing so. Although his appeals for action by the League of Nations continued to be ignored, after the outbreak of World War II, Italian East Africa was invaded by the Allies and Emperor Haile Selassie issued an appeal calling upon the Ethiopians to rise up and fight. British Imperial forces, Free French troops and forces from the Belgian Congo along with Ethiopian irregulars played a part in defeating the cut-off Italian forces and on May 5, 1941 Emperor Haile Selassie I returned in triumph to his palace in Addis Ababa after five years of exile.

This was the high point in the reign of Haile Selassie who was never so revered by his own people and so widely respected around the world. The following year he ordered the abolition of slavery and after World War II, in the re-drawing of the map by the Allies, Ethiopia was awarded the Ogaden region (which had been claimed by Somalia) as well as Eritrea as an autonomous protectorate. Still, the local nobility blocked some of his efforts such as forcing the Emperor to enact a flat tax rather than the progressive tax system he preferred. Efforts to increase taxation on the nobility were usually passed on to the peasantry. Nonetheless, modernization efforts went forward as the Emperor was at the height of his personal prestige. Through his efforts the Ethiopian Orthodox Church gained independence from the Patriarch of Egypt, clerics were made subject to secular law for the first time and Church properties were subject to taxation like all others. The Emperor remained a firm believer in collective security (though he had certainly had ample reason to give up on the idea) and sent a battalion of Ethiopian troops to fight in the Korean War.

In 1955, as part of the festivities surrounding his Silver Jubilee, constitutional amendments were passed which increased democracy while still upholding the “indisputable power of the monarch”. Funds from the United Nations poured into the country and new schools were established, making education more widely available and greatly improving the infrastructure of the country. In the aftermath of World War II, Emperor Haile Selassie also became a vocal champion of African unity and a leading figure and powerful symbol of the anti-colonial movement in Africa. However, many of these anti-colonial groups were or contained communist factions and in the modernization of the country, revolutionary ideas began to spread amongst the student population and many educators. In 1960 this led to an attempted coup by the Imperial Guard which was not supported by the people and was relatively easily suppressed. To keep the military and police firmly on side a land reform act was passed which granted property to these groups. The anti-colonial movement also had an effect on Ethiopia itself which in 1961 saw the beginning of the decades long guerilla war for the independence of Eritrea. The Emperor responded to the outbreak of violence by closing down the Eritrean government and formally annexing the region to Ethiopia in 1962.

None of this, however, dampened his desire for African unity and in 1963 the revered Emperor oversaw the creation of the Organization for African Unity (later the African Union) and he was the first to propose all of the peoples of the continent coming together to create a “United States of Africa”. As the leader of the oldest, continuously independent African state, and one which had shaken off European rule, there was certainly no better qualified candidate to make such a case. The Emperor also remained a prominent figure on the international stage and in 1963 addressed the United Nations General Assembly, calling to mind his earlier appeal to the League of Nations and he spoke of the UN as “the best, perhaps the last, hope for the peaceful survival of mankind”. Admired all around the world, Emperor Haile Selassie continued to have trouble at home though. In 1966 he finally obtained the progressive tax he had long sought but the enforcement of it was discontinued when it sparked a rebellion in Gojjam province. Communism also began to increasingly spread its poison web of unrest and disloyalty to everything Ethiopia was based on, primarily the monarchy and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Communist infiltration and communist subversion grew in the following decades, preventing the Emperor from enacting all the changes he wished and forcing him to suppress radical leftist groups. His opposition to these far-left ideas which were becoming increasingly popular around the world and the actions taken to suppress agitators, began to erode the widespread popularity of the Emperor. Much of domestic policy was left in the hands of the prime minister while the Emperor, always a man of “big ideas” focused on “big picture” issues but the insidious influence of the traitors continued to spread. Discontent was greatly aggravated by a devastating famine in the north of the country that cost tens of thousands of lives. Foreign aid poured in but corrupt local officials often prevented it from reaching those most in need and the Soviet Union itself began to spread slanderous propaganda about the Emperor, eager to make a communist Ethiopia one of their puppet regimes in Africa. The 1973 oil crisis also hit Ethiopia hard and the communists were always reliable in portraying the Emperor as the cause of every misfortune in the country. Finally, in February of 1974, revolution broke out with much of the army turning against the monarchy. No amount of concessions from the Emperor were able to pacify the revolutionary frenzy and on September 12, Emperor Haile Selassie I was deposed and arrested by rebel military forces. The fallen monarch died the following year in captivity on August 27, 1975, allegedly from complications following a surgery though most believed the communists simply killed him.

Those who believed the propaganda that abolishing the monarchy and deposing the Emperor would bring prosperity to Ethiopia learned the hard way how they had been deceived. A brutal communist dictatorship was established which presided over a period of intense poverty, starvation and oppression for decades afterward. Decades later the communist regime did finally come down but overall there has still been relatively little improvement. The same social democratic coalition party has held power ever since that time. A costly war with Eritrea further weakened the economy and international observers have often dismissed the elections as blatantly fraudulent. These are often violent affairs and those who oppose the government are frequently arrested. Few countries have suffered so much from the loss of their monarchy as Ethiopia has.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Consort Profile: Queen Louise Marie of Orleans

Louise of Orleans, first Queen consort of the Belgians, was born HRH Princess Louise Marie Therese Charlotte Isabelle in Palermo, Sicily on April 3, 1812 to the future “Citizen King” of the French, Louis Philippe I and Princess Maria Amalia of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In her formative years and education her primary influences were her pious mother and her aunt Princess Adelaide of Orleans who also had a great influence on persuading her father to accept the French crown. Princess Louise was a lovely young lady of eighteen when Louis Philippe became “King of the French” and she greatly adored her father, though she spent more time with her mother who had a much greater impact on her life. She was a somewhat shy girl with a charming personality and friendly and compassionate disposition. Pomp and splendor had little appeal to her, she had a humble attitude and preferred to spend her time exercising her artistic talents, reading and writing letters. Still, she always enjoyed a good party and for such a petite woman was an accomplished equestrian. From her mother she inherited a heartfelt devotion to the Catholic Church and there was, perhaps, something of her father in some of her more benign liberal views, wishing to see people free and happy rather than oppressed and downtrodden. She was not entirely thrilled when her father became King, an act which caused a split in the French Royal Family.

The Princess was only twenty-years-old when she was told that everything had been arranged for her to marry King Leopold I of the Belgians. The idea of marrying a stranger, and a German Protestant on top of that, was not attractive to her and there were many tears. But, royals are born to duty and she went ahead with the marriage to a man who seemed as opposite from her as two people could possibly be. She was quiet, retiring and innocent while he was experienced in the ways of the world, calculating and domineering. He was a Lutheran, she was a Catholic, he was an experienced, veteran soldier and she was a compassionate creature who abhorred bloodshed for any reason. He was tall, dark and handsome while she was small, blonde and, in her own eyes at least, far from a beauty. Nonetheless, she had been carefully chosen to be the first Queen of the Belgians. Friendly relations with France were important to maintain and Belgium was a Catholic country and it would make things easier on the Protestant monarch to have a Catholic consort and Catholic heirs to succeed him. On August 9, 1832 the Princess of Orleans and the King of the Belgians were married, in a civil ceremony, a Protestant ceremony and a Catholic ceremony to cover all bases.

The Belgians were soon won over by their charming and caring young new queen. Despite their differences she came to love and adore King Leopold and although he did not feel sufficiently the same to remain an always faithful husband, he did feel great affection for his wife and even greater respect for her talents and intelligence. Coming from France, she was quick to judge her new country, and the Belgians themselves, in the areas she deemed them to not be measuring up and her easy honesty at times got her into trouble by those who thought she was being entirely too critical. However, she had winning ways and proved invaluable to her husband in acting as a go-between in the recurring feuds between the liberals and more conservative Catholics in the new Kingdom of Belgium. Queen Louise had a great gift for being able to be appealing to both sides. She was also helpful in foreign relations, in regards to the Kingdom of France this goes without saying but she also won-over Britain’s Queen Victoria who she often sent gifts in the form of the latest fashions.

She also did her duty by the Kingdom of Belgium, producing four children; the short-lived Prince Louis-Philippe in 1833, the future King Leopold II in 1835, Prince Philippe Count of Flanders in 1837 and finally Princess Charlotte, the future Empress Carlota of Mexico, in 1840. All of her children took something from their mother. King Leopold II inherited her prominent nose though little of her winning personality other than, perhaps, a reluctance to have people executed (difficult as many may find that to believe). Prince Philippe was probably the most like his mother, being very withdrawn and very religious. Queen Louise was so uncomfortable in public that she rarely showed herself when not absolutely necessary and hated being in the public glare. Princess Charlotte inherited a great love of learning and a kind heart from her mother though she was always the favorite of her father. And Queen Louise was definitely known for her great compassion and generosity. When Flanders was struck by famine, the Queen was quick to help and there are innumerable accounts of her spontaneous acts of individual charity whenever she was struck by the plight of someone in need. For the ordinary people she came to be seen as an angel of mercy.

If anything, Queen Louise was too kind-hearted for her own good. Her concern for everyone around her caused her to worry quite a bit which may have had a harmful effect on her health. Her greatest stress and worry came with the Revolutions of 1848 and the downfall of the “July Monarchy” in France as for some time she had no idea whether her parents were even alive. As the years went by she became more religious and worried about the soul of her Protestant husband and she worried about how her son, Leopold II, would reign when the throne came to him due to his withdrawn nature and, shall we say, ‘inability to play well with others’. Weighted down by such worries, all too soon, her health began to fail and she became increasingly frail and delicate. Ultimately, she contracted tuberculosis and died in Ostend on October 11, 1850. The Kingdom of Belgium went into deep mourning at her death and King Leopold I was first in this, showing how deeply he had cared for his wife, saying she had died in as saintly a way as she had always lived her live, directing all sympathy toward her to her husband and children. She was a great and lovely lady and queen, a dutiful wife, caring mother and compassionate queen who sent the standard for royal charity in Belgium.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monarchist Profile: Augustin-Joseph de Mailly

Augustin-Joseph Comte de Mailly, marquis d’Haucourt and baron of Saint-Amand was born on April 5, 1708 in Villaines-sous-Luce into a very old noble family. Always close to the monarchy he served as a page boy to the King when he was very young and decided on a military career early in life. In 1726 he began his service as a musketeer before transferring to the gendarmerie and rose rapidly in rank. In 1743 he was promoted to brigadier general, in 1745 to marechal de camp and in 1748 to lieutenant general. The following year he was appointed inspector general of cavalry and dragoons and later director-general of all the armies of France. He fought with the Chevalier de Belle-Isle in the War of Austrian Succession and helped fend off Provence from invasion. He gave valuable service at the battles of Pavia, Piacenza and Tidon. In 1749 he was made governor of Roussillon and in this capacity held to more precisely define the Franco-Spanish border, though, like many elites of his time he was a member of the Freemasons and played a large part in the advancement of Freemasonry in Catalan. He also greatly developed the area of Roussillon with the building of factories, hospitals, churches, a military academy and a restoration of the local university.

When King Louis XVI succeeded to the French throne, he wished to restore French naval power and foreign trade. Toward that end, the Comte de Mailly oversaw the construction of a new port to be a center of trade with far corners of the world and a base for warships to defend against the Barbary pirates. This was Port-Vendres which Mailly wanted to incorporate all of his “Enlightenment” ideas to be what has been described as a model “Masonic” city (as horrible as that sounds) and, of course, it included the first great monument to King Louis XVI. Unfortunately, it was not all great achievements for Comte de Mailly. His feuding with Marshal de Noailles resulted in his command being revoked in 1753 and the following month Jean-Baptiste de Machault Arnouville persuaded the King to have him exiled. Part of this involved his mistress and her husband speaking out against the King and this pair was also expelled.

However, this did not dampen the loyalty or patriotism of the count and when the Seven Years War broke out he rejoined the army to lead French troops in the campaign in Germany. He was badly wounded by a sword blow to the head at the battle of Hastenbeck in 1757 which left him unconscious. He was then captured and held prisoner by his fellow “Enlightenment” enthusiast King Frederick the Great, the two becoming good friends. After two years as a “guest” of the Prussians he was released and returned home something of a war hero. He went on to lead other, more successful campaigns, and the past unpleasantness was forgotten. The end of hostilities brought an end to his military career but he was once again placed in command of Roussillon and in 1771 was given command of the French forces guarding the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean coast. The count received a number of honors for his services, including the Order of the Holy Spirit and in 1783 the King awarded him the supreme rank of Marshal of France. He had reached the pinnacle of military accomplishment and his civilian work was also recognized by his admittance to the Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts of Amiens.

In many ways, the old Marshal was typical of many of the French aristocracy of his time, a firm believer in the old order but one who liked to dabble in what were, frankly, dangerous ideas. When the Revolution began to come to a boil he was horrified by the very idea of a France where the nobility and clergy were to be effectively kicked off the national stage, and the King as well were he to make any trouble. Because he was so opposed to the new direction France was taking, some advised him to emigrate but this he adamantly refused to do, having shed his blood and shed the blood of others in defense of France, he would never abandon it. Although he was quite advanced in age by this time, good loyal men were hard to find and in 1790 King Louis XVI appointed him to command one of the four new armies organized by the National Assembly. However, when the Assembly demanded that the old Marshal take an oath to defend the principles of their new regime he refused and instead offered his resignation.

As ever the faithful old soldier, loyal to his King, when the Marshal heard that King Louis and Queen Marie Antoinette were being threatened at the Tuileries Palace, he went there immediately to defend their personal safety himself if necessary. The King was touched by this display of loyalty and he appointed Mailly to command his royal guard, the Swiss guard, and it was he who was in command the next fateful day, August 10, 1792, when the mobs attacked and stormed the Tuileries. Unfortunately, the King had held back his troops from taking necessary precautions out of his loathing to shed the blood of his own subjects. The result was that the palace was overrun and the brave Swiss guards were massacred. The Marshal himself only escaped the same fate with outside help but he did not remain at liberty for long. He was quickly denounced by the revolutionaries only a few days later and sent to l’Abbaye prison. Had he not been known as such a champion of the “Enlightenment” and had liberal friends then in relatively high places he likely would have met his demise in the September massacres. As it was, he was released and returned with his family to his estate near Abbeville. Yet, with the Revolution turning more radical and bloodthirsty by the day, again, he did not remain at liberty for long. He was again arrested, with his family and was finally sent to the guillotine at Arras on March 25, 1794 at the age of 87. His last words before his execution, shouted out, were, “I remain faithful to my king, as my ancestors have always been”.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

MM Sunday Scripture

For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved.
-Psalms 21:7

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Royal News Roundup

In the Far East, Red China, South Korea and Japan are in the midst of another territorial dispute over islands that (like most of these cases) everyone recently discovered that they had always owned. And, just like every other time there is a dispute between China and Japan, the memory of World War II is being used as a diplomatic club against the Japanese. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has sent messages urging two Japanese cabinet ministers not to visit a shrine dedicated to the Japanese war dead. The shrine includes all war dead and thus also those who were found guilty of war crimes by the Allies. The Prime Minister of Japan has urged against visiting the shrine for this very reason but that pesky freedom of religion law prevents him from actually stopping them. Red China is (again) demanding that Japan give an unequivocal apology for World War II (most Japanese feel they have already done so -numerous times) and recently this call was taken up by the President of South Korea who took it to the very top, saying that the Emperor of Japan himself should apologize and that he should not consider visiting South Korea until he does so. The President said for the Emperor to use the word “regret” would not be enough and that he should not come to Korea unless he uses the correct wording to apologize. Of course, the past is the past, what is done is done and these continued calls for apologies, always at times of international tension, do no more than strengthen the hand of the nationalists who can say, not without justification, that this is more proof that no apologies will ever be sufficient and only a return to a policy of strength will secure the future of Japan.

In the Middle East, nineteen U.S. Congressman have sent an appeal to HM the King of Bahrain calling for the release of the now famous human rights activist Nabeel Rajab who was sentenced to three months in jail in the small Gulf state for putting out messages on Twitter against the monarchy and government of Bahrain. Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. It is worth pointing out that Bahrain, under King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has (like many other monarchies in the Islamic world) has been introducing reforms and a deliberate pace. Meanwhile in nearby Kuwait the reigning Emir has been calling for greater national unity against the agitators of the so-called “Arab Spring” and instability in the elected government. In an address to mark the last 10 days of Ramadan HH the Emir said, “We will not tolerate wrong political practices that stall the nation’s development process”. He reaffirmed freedom of opinion and expression but said, “this does not mean that it can be abused to spread incitement or undermine our national unity or tear at our social fabric that has been woven by our fathers and forefathers”. There was also some stir this week when (again) the Reuters news website was hacked and a false story was posted claiming that the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, had died. Like a noted American author, the report of his death was exaggerated.

In southern Europe, HM King Juan Carlos of Spain suffered a minor fall during a military visit in Madrid but the rest of the Royal Family was at the Olympics to cheer on the Spanish athletes. HM Queen Sofia and the Prince and Princess of the Asturias were on hand for the Spanish basketball team which took the silver to the USA’s gold after a very close and hard fought game. Meanwhile the Spanish Prime Minister came to visit the King during some time off on the island of Mallorca. Over in Monaco, HSH Princess Charlene flew back to her native South Africa to surprise her grandmother on her 91st birthday. While back home she also took the opportunity to congratulate South African swimmer, gold medalist and new international star Chad Le Clos. The Princess hosted the South African Olympic swim team (of which she was once a member) in Monaco and was one of their most vocal supporters during the games.

In northern Europe the big news was Prince Carl Philip of Sweden getting into a little scuffle (looked like a lot of slapping to me) at a nightclub in France after one of the patrons made some remarks to his girlfriend. The Prince was not hurt at the court has said they want the incident handled privately. In Norway, HM Queen Sonja opened a new coastal train on the island of Vannoya and in Denmark Princess Marie visited the National Association for Autism, visiting the children there and taking the initiative in asking the staff if she could be the royal patron of the organization. Needless to say, they were only to happy to accept the Princess’ help -and well done for her highness in adopting such a great cause. Finally, in Great Britain, the aftermath of the Olympics is still being felt. 70% of respondents to a recent poll said that their opinion of the Royal Family had gone up because of the games, which is certainly good to see (though I still think the parachute-play was somewhat disrespectful). However, there was bad news this week as HRH the Duke of Edinburgh was taken to hospital for concerns over another bladder infection. Of course we wish His Royal Highness a speedy recovery.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Papal Profile: Pope Leo XII

Pope Leo XII had a relatively short reign (five years) and is often overlooked, coming between the more prominent pontiffs Pius VII and Gregory XVI (his successor Pius VIII reigning only a little over a year). He was born Annibale Sermattei della Genga near Spoleto on August 22, 1760. He came from an aristocratic background, was born and raised in the family castle and he studied in Rome at the Academy of Nobles after deciding on an ecclesiastical career. His rise in the Church hierarchy was rapid under Pius VII and he would always hold that pontiff in very high regard. He served as papal nuncio in Cologne, in Bavaria and in Paris before the conclave of 1823 to elect a successor to Pius VII. Cardinal della Genga was the favorite of neither of the primary factions. However, the candidate of the conservative faction was blocked by the threat of the Austrian veto by Prince Metternich as he opposed any outside intervention in Italian affairs. The candidate of the other faction was seen as being too much under the total control of Austria to be acceptable and so della Genga was decided upon as a compromise candidate. He was elected on September 28, 1823 at the age of 63, taking the name of Leo XII.

Pope Leo XII was seen at the time of his election as the man who would take the papacy in a more pastoral and less political direction. He saw his role as putting back what had been lost during the years of French rule and carrying on with the policies of his predecessor. As was fairly common, there were unkind rumors spread about him at the time of his election, and many of his actions to restore everything as it had been before the revolution led to some unpopularity. He had gates shut around the public houses and “adventurers” could drink wine there but had to stand out in the street and have it poured through the gates. He enlarged the ghettos and re-confined the Jews of Rome to them, which did some damage to the economy, and he stopped the vaccination of Roman children for smallpox which was quite unpopular (he viewed smallpox as the judgment of God and vaccinations as an affront to Heaven). Surveillance was greatly increased throughout the Papal States and the long arm of papal law was swift and heavy. Many people who were members of or affiliated with the Carbonari were sent to the guillotine and a man found guilty of murdering a priest was executed with an axe -the last such execution in the Papal States, the guillotine being used exclusively until the end of temporal papal power under Pius IX. Fines were also common for secular or moral minor crimes and the eyes of Leo XII seemed to be everywhere.

Because of all of this, and the fact that Leo XII was rarely seen, being in poor health from the time of his election, caused the Pope to become quite unpopular amongst his own subjects. However, his action in religious matters were perfectly admirable. He encouraged the strengthening of the Society of Jesus and restored their educational system to them and he reiterated the condemnations of his predecessor against Freemasonry, tolerance and the idea that religious differences should be considered of little importance. He declared 1825 a Holy Year which shut down many businesses in Rome but attracted a large number of pilgrims. There were though some problems when it came to dealing with members of the Carbonari or other revolutionary organizations who came as pilgrims to Rome. When it came to religious affairs, there is no doubt that Leo XII took a very conservative and traditional stance. In terms of his own domestic rule he was downright reactionary but, it is important to note, this did not extent to his foreign policy. In this area he depended a great deal on the talents of Cardinal Consalvi whose opinions on religious matters he consistently ignored. Yet, when it came to dealing with other powers Pope Leo XII had a very practical and realistic approach.

He maintained friendly relations with Protestant as well as Catholic countries but was also very supportive of any effort to end anti-Catholic discrimination in Protestant lands such as Great Britain where he strongly backed the Catholic emancipation movement. However, his time seemed to pass quickly and his health had always been frail. He had received the last rites for the first time on the day of his coronation when it seemed that the long and arduous ceremonies had been too much for him. His end finally came on February 10, 1829 and, truthfully, he was not very greatly mourned by most of his Roman subjects. However, Pope Leo XII had always tried to do the right thing. Putting things back to the way they used to be was seen as an absolute good, even if that meant doing away with things most people generally considered beneficial. He was accused of being tyrannical but often this was only because he refused to tolerate what he regarded as evil, specifically those who spread political views that would ultimately undermine the foundations of the Papal States. Had his health been better he may have been able to accomplish more of his noble goal to see a religious revival across Europe, the abandonment of materialistic doctrines and a return to faith and obedience to God.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Royal Profile: Louise of Savoy

Princess Louise of Savoy was one of the most formidable royal women in France who never held the position of Queen-consort. She was born on September 11, 1476 at Pont-d’Ain to Duke Philip II of Savoy and Princess Margaret of Bourbon. From early in life she learned how cruel the world could be and that she would have to be made of tough stuff to make her way in it. At the tender age of seven she lost her mother and was sent to Anne de Beaujeau to be raised. Anne, at that time, was ruling France as regent for her brother King Charles VIII. For Princess Louise, her life was mapped out for her almost as soon as she could be aware of it. Only a few years later, at the age of eleven, she was married to Charles of Orleans, Count of Angouleme on February 16, 1488. This was not uncommon at the time and the two did not live together as man and wife until Louise was fifteen years old. Although he was not a faithful husband, Charles and Louise had a mostly happy marriage, both had a love of learning and deep-seated attachment to each other even if “true love” was not to be found. In 1492 Louise gave birth to their first child, Marguerite d’Angouleme and in 1494 to a son, the future King of France, Francois d’Angouleme. Charles also had two illegitimate daughters; Jeanne and Madeleine, who were raised alongside his own children by Princess Louise.

Despite his infidelities, Princess Louise was truly distraught when Charles fell ill and died in 1495, having caught a chill while out riding. She had faithfully nursed him in his final days and when he died Louise was left a widow at only nineteen years old. For others, this might have been the end of the story, but Princess Louise had a much sharper mind than most supposed and she was determined to do the best she could for her children. After King Louis XII came to the throne, she took her children and relocated to the court and made sure that her children received the very best education, benefiting from the latest flowering of the Italian Renaissance. She was herself very interested in the latest discoveries and took care to keep herself well informed about politics, the diplomatic situation and all the events at court. She was aided in this by her confessor, an Italian Franciscan named Christopher Numar of Forli, who would go on to great fame himself in the Catholic Church, being raised to the Sacred College (against his protests) by Pope Leo X. As her son grew to adulthood, Louise made sure that he remained close to the King. Francis became such a favorite of the King that he arranged the marriage of the boy to his daughter Claude in 1514. It all worked out as had been hoped and King Louis XII chose Francis to be his heir with his wife and Princess Louise as regents.

The following year King Louis XII died and King Francis I came to the throne but, for the moment, it was Princess Louise, mother of the king, who held the most power. Eventually she was given the titles of Duchess of Angouleme and later Duchess of Anjou but one of her first legal battles was over the inheritance of the Duchy of Bourbon which she claimed as did Duke Charles III of Bourbon. In an effort to settle the dispute she offered to marry the Duke who disparagingly refused her. The old saying that, “Hell hath no fury…” was never more true as Louise of Savoy turned her wrath against the Duke, using every bit of influence she had to destroy him and she effectively did. He was exiled, punished for rebellion against the King, lost his lands and titles and was never able to recover them while Louise of Savoy gained all she had claimed. The Duchess of Anjou displayed a great talent in political affairs, an astute understanding of the diplomatic situation and in general a great talent in all areas save the person of her son, King Francis, concerning whom she had a noticeable ‘blind spot’ which should not be considered surprising. She ruled as regent while he son was off leading his armies and it was Louise of Savoy who arranged the magnificent display for the visiting King of England at the “Field of the Cloth of Gold”. It was also Louise of Savoy who managed to scrape up the money for her son to stand for election for Holy Roman Emperor, even though (wisely as it turned out) she thought the effort was a waste.

As, effectively, the most powerful woman in France, Princess Louise tried to secure strong allies for the kingdom. Her attempt to make peace with England in 1524 was not immediately successful but she had more success in reaching out to the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. She asked for Turkish assistance in freeing her son (King Francis had been defeated by the Hapsburg Emperor Charles V and was being held prisoner in Spain) and for the Turks to launch an attack on the Hapsburg empire in the east to take pressure off of France. In 1529 she succeeded in making peace between France and the Holy Roman Empire as the primary French negotiator of the Treaty of Cambrai (aka the Ladies’ Peace) opposite her sister-in-law Margaret of Austria acting for the Empire. Not long after, the formidable mother of the King died on September 22, 1531. Still sharp and active to the very end she had been studying a comet when she caught cold and eventually passed away. Her valuable properties were left to the French Crown, which would be valuable future assets. Louise of Savoy may not be one of the best known royal figures in French history but she was one of the most astute and formidable women ever to hold a leading position in the Kingdom of France.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...