Sunday, September 30, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
In Southeast Asia, royal physicians in Bangkok have announced that the health of HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand has greatly improved, with her appetite, sleep routine and mobility being almost back to normal. The Queen will continue to undergo physical therapy for the immediate future. The Thai queen consort was found to be suffering from a slight shortage of blood to the brain in July after almost falling while attending to the King who also remains in hospital. Nearby, HM King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia began a 3-day visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to strengthen Viet-Cambodian relations. The King has already met with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi. The Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, was originally put in power by Hanoi following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in which Pol Pot was driven from power and which provoked the last Chinese invasion of Vietnam (didn’t work out so good for China). Over in the Middle East, Queen Rania of Jordan joined charity foundation presidents, politicians, three other royals and executives from The World Bank, Wal-Mart and the United Nations at the Clinton Global Initiative where she said, “We need another revolution in the Arab world. We need an education revolution”. Meanwhile, HH the Emir of Qatar has called for Arab countries to intervene in Syria and enact a no-fly zone over the country to protect Syrians from the government forces of Bashar Al-Assad. In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, just back from a medical leave of absence, launched a new project to expand the Prophet’s mosque in the Muslim holy city of Medina.
In Europe, Prince Friso of The Netherlands remains in grim condition. South African Bishop Desmond Tutu reported that, recently, the Queen’s son opened his eyes and moved slightly before slipping back into the comatose state he has remained in since his skiing accident in Austria in which he was caught in an avalanche seven months ago. The Prince turned 44 on Tuesday and in The Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal, debate has started to emerge about when he should be taken off of all life support. And, just to add to the pain of the House of Orange, the Prime Minister had been under increased pressure to publicize royal expenses and the Queen has been criticized for saying that she sees “no reason” to reduce the royal allowance. So far the PM is sticking to his guns saying that to make the expenses public would be a violation of the privacy of the Royal Family. On a happier note, to the south in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, new photos have been released of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Countess Stephanie in preparation for their upcoming wedding. Though, there too, there is murmuring about the expense of the wedding to the Luxembourg state. Such concerns over spending taxpayer euros would carry a lot more weight if those raising them were not constantly throwing away so much money on projects that have nothing at all to do with Luxembourg or the people of Luxembourg in any way whatsoever.
In Britain, the traitor-group “Republic” has announced a new campaign to abolish the Duchy of Cornwall (a title belonging to the Prince of Wales) on the grounds that this will make the monarchy “more accountable”. How exactly getting rid of the Duchy of Cornwall will accomplish this they did not say. However, they have also announced their intention to press for the legal invasion of the privacy of the Royal Family and to abolish the Queen’s royal veto which, of course, is a very pressing issue considering that no British monarch has actually used the royal veto since the reign of Queen Anne. On a happier note, despite his recent stays in the hospital, and being 91-years old, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh is still doing his part for Queen and country with no less than 37 official functions scheduled for the next two months. God bless Prince Philip, you can’t keep a good Duke down. The Queen also recently purchased a set of portraits of herself by the artist Andy Warhol to feature them in a special Diamond Jubilee exhibition at Windsor Castle called “The Queen: Portraits of a Monarch” which will start on November 23 and run until June, 2013.
Friday, September 28, 2012
In 1848, starting in Palermo, the Sicilians rose up in revolt against the House of Bourbon. The nobles of Sicily had, during the Napoleonic Wars, (with British encouragement) forced King Ferdinando III of Sicily and IV of Naples to enact a constitution which gave the Kingdom of Sicily a more British-style government. However, this constitution was later revoked and discontent had spread. On January 11, 1848 rebellion erupted again and in a more violent fashion. The old constitution was restored, establishing a representative government with the central role being given to an elected parliament. Rebel forces took control of almost the whole island (not the Bourbon bastion of Messina) and even talked of establishing a pan-Italian confederation. They also began looking around for an appropriate prince to be the new sovereign of their new constitutional monarchy and, given the leadership shown by King Carlo Alberto in Piedmont-Sardinia, quickly turned to his son the Duke of Genoa. Knowing his temperament and background, the representatives of the British government were pleased with such a choice and encouraged the Duke to accept the offer, with the British ambassador in Turin promising that Britain would immediately recognize Sicilian independence once he did so.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
á n Corté s entered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519, eventually taking Montezuma II prisoner. The Emperor died, whether at the hands of the Spanish or a mob of his own people remains hotly debated to this day. Cortes fought his way out of the city in a brutal battle known in Mexico as la noche triste (“night of sorrow”) and during his absence one of his lieutenants carried out a massacre, inciting the Aztecs to rise up in revolt.
Still, if things continued, a Spanish victory was inevitable so, on August 13, 1521, Cuauhtémoc sent out messengers to the surrounding tribes summoning them to help fight the Spanish and defend (or soon retake) Tenochtitlan. Unfortunately, the Aztecs were not known for being the most kind of masters or benevolent of overlords and few of their fellow natives were distressed to see them facing total defeat. Indeed, the Spanish victories thus far would not have been possible if so many of the indigenous people they encountered had not been so eager to throw off the Aztec yoke that they would willingly join anyone who offered them a change. In the end, only the people of Tlatelolco (the sister-city of Tenochtitlan, also built on an island on lake Texcoco) remained loyal to the Aztec Emperor. It was not enough and soon Cuauhtémoc had no choice but to abandon the great city, with his family and a small entourage, in disguise.
In truth, there was nothing Cuauhtémoc could have done as it seems factual that no such treasure existed. Indeed, the Aztecs themselves did not view gold as being particularly valuable, other than, perhaps, as a decoration and certain bird feathers worked much better, being more colorful and considerably lighter and easier to wear. Cortes, when confronted with the horrific scene of his fallen foe having his feet burned, was ashamed and ordered his immediate release. Some gold was found, scattered about the city in various temples or the homes of leading aristocrats, but nothing like the vast quantities that were expected. Cortes had given Cuauhtémoc his life, but still did not trust him and when he set off to conquer Central America for the Spanish Crown, he took the fallen monarch with him for fear that he might lead another revolt if left in Tenochtitlan. It was during this expedition on February 28, 1525 that Cortes had Cuauhtémoc put to death after discovering that he and several other Aztec noblemen were plotting his assassination. However, Cuauhtémoc protested to the last that he had been unjustly accused and afterward Cortes was genuinely anxious about whether or not he had killed an innocent man.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Things became more intense when her brother-in-law Francis, Dauphin of France, died in 1536 making her husband Henri heir to the throne. As Dauphine of France, the pressure was greater than ever for Catherine to have a son. Nothing seemed to work and many advised the King to have his son divorce Catherine and find another wife. This drove Catherine to desperate measures, everything from prayers, fasting and pilgrimages to some truly disgusting home remedies said to increase fertility. For quite a while, nothing seemed to work but then, it all changed. Most attribute this to the inexplicable ways of nature, others to the advice of her doctor who told her and the Dauphin how to ’do things’ properly but still others say that Catherine turned to witchcraft and became a Devil-worshiper and it was after that point that she finally became pregnant in 1544 and had roughly a child every year thereafter. Be it the doc or the devil, Catherine was finally a mother, her position was secured and the means by which she would frequently be the effective ruler of France established. In 1547 she was crowned Queen consort alongside her husband who became King Henri II. However, he still lived mostly apart from her and generally treated his favorite mistress better than Queen Catherine.
The Queen first tried to bring the Protestant and Catholic leaders together to work out a peace but was unsuccessful and soon the infamous Wars of Religion were raging across France. The Queen tried to appease the Protestants by enacting religious toleration and ‘toning down’ Catholic practices they found most objectionable (with the approval of the Pope) but it was not enough to stop each side from attacking the other. She also pressed the Church for more money to keep the Protestants in check and even tried to make a deal with the Ottoman Sultan to relocate French and German Protestants to Eastern Europe but the Sultan declined the offer. More powers became engulfed in the conflict. When the Protestant brought in German mercenaries to continue the fight, Queen Catherine brought in the Swiss but no side seemed strong enough to totally defeat the other two. Queen Catherine was, officially, on the Catholic side but stuck to trying to make peace and even allowed Protestants to hold high places at court and marry into the Royal Family. Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant, soon became the top advisor to King Charles IX and he wanted to invade The Netherlands to fight the Spanish. The Catholics, naturally, opposed this and Catherine saw Coligny replacing her as the primary influence on the King. Coligny had to go. An assassination plot was arranged but Coligny survived and the Protestants were infuriated.
Prior to this, some Protestants had viewed Catherine de Medici as the reasonable member of the Royal Family, the voice of peace and moderation. After St Bartholomew’s Day she was portrayed by the Protestants as the “wicked Italian Queen” who conducted her affairs in the style of Machiavelli, callous, cruel and unprincipled. Less than two years later King Charles IX died and his brother became King Henri III (a rather odd fellow if ever there was one) with the Queen mother Catherine again named as regent. This was only because he was, at the time, serving as King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth but he was soon back in France. Henri was Catherine’s favorite son but he did little right in her eyes. Still, he followed her course of reconciliation and made numerous concessions to the Protestants but the wars continued. This is what is sometimes known as the war of the three Henrys; King Henri III, Henri of Guise for the Catholics and Henri Navarre of the Protestants. King Henri III had Hanri of Guise killed and Queen Catherine was horrified and died on January 5, 1589 sorrowful and asking for prayers for her misguided son. She could not have a traditional royal burial as Paris was in the hands of her enemies and later, during the French Revolution, her remains were tossed in a mass grave with other royals. She had been called the most powerful woman in the world of her time and her time in power has been called the ‘Age of Catherine de’ Medici’ yet few, then or now, have a kind word for her.
Forced into a loveless marriage she did not want, she was constantly being ridiculed, pushed aside and truly treated as nothing more than a ‘baby machine’ and not a terribly reliable one at that. She was faced with a divided country and a 3-way division which is the worst kind as no faction is hardly ever strong enough to defeat the other two. She also grew up in a time and place where political survival was a cut-throat business. Her earliest years were spent in a ‘kill or be killed’ environment where you got the other guy before the other guy got you. She had a husband who never loved her, traumatic pregnancies and children which were a constant source of sorrow and seemed all to have been ill-fated. Francis was dead at 16, Isabel (consort to Philip II of Spain) died in her early 20’s, Claude who was born crippled and died at 27, Louis, Jean and Victor all dead within a year of their birth, Charles, mentally unwell and dead at 24, Hercule who was deformed at died at 30, Marguerite who was said to have been the most beautiful woman in the world but who lived a rather immoral life and was never able to have children and finally Henri who caused such grief who was assassinated at age 38.
Certainly then, Catherine endured a great deal of anguish herself. There is no doubt, based on the evidence of her own hand, that she was capable of dealing mercilessly with any enemies, real or perceived. Yet, she was also thrust into a situation not of her own making, at least initially, and few doubt that without her, the House of Valois would have come to an earlier end. Especially today it seems odd to find so many who are critical of a queen whose overriding policy was always one of negotiating a peace, yet it is hard to dispute that those efforts prolonged the conflict by granting concessions in return for bad behavior and never hesitating to resort to underhanded measures when negotiating proved fruitless. Given her patronage of the arts, to glorify the monarchy and solidify the shaky House of Valois, she may have had good intentions and there should be no doubt that she was obsessed with securing the position and future success of her children, even if they often disappointed her. However, if she was only self-serving and utterly malicious through and through, it seems that God saw to her punishment and her children with her. Usually I feel almost compelled to sympathize with anyone who is disliked by everyone else, but in this case …
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
In fact, Capel was the first MP to deliver a county petition protesting royal actions and he voted in favor of the execution of the Earl of Strafford. In that case, however, he seems to have had misgivings as he stated later that he regretted it for the rest of his life. By the summer of 1641 Capel had begun to be alarmed at the radical direction Parliament was taking. He had protested against certain things the King had done, but he saw Parliament increasingly setting itself against the King himself and this he found deeply disturbing. King Charles I was, by that time, in need of friends and someone with the wealth of Capel would be a valuable ally indeed. As he already seemed to be drifting away from the Parliamentarians, the King made a friendly overture to him in August of 1641 by raising him to the peerage as Baron Capel of Hadham, giving him a seat in the House of Lords. Lord Capel was seen to be firmly on the royalist side when he voted against the Militia Ordinance which was effectively an effort by Parliament to take control of the armed forces away from the King. When the First English Civil War broke out, Lord Capel put his money where his mouth was and raised and outfitted a cavalry regiment. In October of 1642 he fought in the Battle of Edgehill as a member of the King’s lifeguard.
Even though Lord Capel had absolutely no military experience prior to Edgehill, his standing earned him an appointment to command all royalist troops in north Wales, Cheshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire with the rank of lieutenant general though at least Sir Michael Woodhouse, an experienced veteran, was sent along with him. Lord Capel was certainly not lacking in bravery, audacity or devotion to his cause but he had the misfortune to be up against some of the better commanders of the Parliamentary forces. Capel came under attack by Sir William Brereton and despite some daring maneuvers and bold attacks, Capel was checked at every turn and became the object of some ridicule in the area, at least among those predisposed toward the forces of Parliament. Finally, at the urging of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Lord Capel was replaced by Lord Byron in December of 1643. He spent most of the next year at court with King Charles I before next being assigned to the commission that discussed the Uxbridge Treaty of 1645 proposed by the Parliamentarians and the Covenanters of Scotland. There was little chance of this being accepted and it was not so Lord Capel moved on to serve on the Council of the Prince of Wales at Bristol where he formed two regiments, one of infantry and the other of cavalry, to serve as the Prince’s lifeguards.
When the western royalist forces surrendered in 1646 Lord Capel went with the Prince into exile on Scilly and then Jersey but the two parted company when the Prince of Wales went to France to join his mother Queen Henrietta Maria. Lord Capel had been invited to go along of course, but did not because he was uncomfortable around the very Catholic entourage of the Queen (not an uncommon sentiment at the time). In 1647 he returned to England and waited on the King who was being held prisoner at Hampton Court. All the while, Lord Capel, along with other royalists, was constantly involved in the effort to gain support for the King and especially to get the Scots to come on side for another effort at defeating the forces of Parliament. Ultimately, this led to the outbreak of the Second Civil War. In 1648 Lord Capel was charged with leading the royalist uprising in East Anglia. He joined with the troops loyal to the King at Chelmsford in Essex in June but they were pounced on by the Parliamentarians under General Fairfax who chased them to Colchester. Lord Capel commanded the rearguard that held off rebel attacks while the army fell back to the city.
Following the siege of Colchester, the city surrendered in August and Lord Capel was taken prisoner. Confined first at Windsor Castle and later the Tower of London to await trial, the intrepid Baron accomplished the remarkable feat of escaping from the Tower. He hid out for several days but was finally betrayed by a boatman hired to take him to a royalist safe house in Lambeth. In February of 1649, with four other prominent royalists, Lord Capel was taken before the “High Court of Justice” and sentenced to death as a “traitor” for remaining loyal to his King and country. Alongside the Duke of Hamilton and the Earl of Holland he was beheaded outside Westminster Hall on March 8, 1649. He had paid the ultimate price for his heroic loyalty but, in time, his sacrifice was recognized. After the restoration of the monarchy, King Charles II restored all confiscated lands to his family and made his eldest son Earl of Essex.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
This one does not reference monarchy directly but it bears repeating, especially for those who say that the verses concerning monarchy no longer apply or that it is an outdated institution. -MM
Saturday, September 22, 2012
|Bride and groom in Borneo|
|The Queen of The Netherlands|
|The Duchess of Cambridge|
Friday, September 21, 2012
When the forces of the French Revolution swept into northern Italy in 1797 they were determined to spread revolutionary republics as they went. Soon, the green-white-red tricolor first appeared on Italian soil with the creation of the Cisalpine Republic which, some may be surprised to know, Cardinal Chiaramonti called for loyal submission to. The aristocratic cardinal preached in his Christmas sermon that Christ advocated for equality and that the Catholic Church was not opposed to democracy, indeed that Christians would be the best democrats. Of course, the French did not stop there but invaded neutral Venice and the Papal States where clerical rule was overthrown and the Roman Republic declared. Pope Pius VI was effectively taken prisoner by the French and died in captivity in 1799 which a triumphant republican newspaper in Paris called, “a seal on the glory of philosophy in modern times”. Because of this, there was some doubt as to whether there would be a new pope at all. However, a conclave was finally arranged and held in Venice under the protection of the Emperor of Austria, who hoped this would ensure the election of the candidate of his choice.
By that time, it had become clear that the republics planted in Italy by France were not all taking root very well and, for a variety of reasons, the Austrian Emperor invited Pope Pius VII to reside in Vienna. Was it out of genuine concern for his safety, an effort to make up for the setting of the coronation or an effort to solidify the Austrian position in northern Italy and influence Church administration? It did not matter. Pius VII realized that, regardless of what actually happened, to go to Vienna would be to be seen as the chaplain of the Hapsburg Emperor and to lose any chance of making amends with France. He also knew that, as the Bishop of Rome, his place was the See of Rome and that is where he had to go, regardless of the danger. So, on a very austere and rickety Austrian ship the new Pope was sent to Pesaro, the rough passage taking nearly two weeks, and from there on to Rome. Once back, the French-sponsored Roman Republic had been overthrown by King Ferdinand of Naples, one his first acts was to appoint the brilliant Ercole Consalvi to the rank of cardinal and make him Secretary of State. His first duty was to negotiate a concordat with the French Republic. This would have seemed an impossible task given how virulently anti-Catholic the French Republic had been, however, Pius VII was determined that some understanding be reached and, by the time he attained the papacy, the more radical revolutionary leadership had given way to the Consulate of First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte, a much more pragmatic and realistic man than his predecessors.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
The next year, on July 26, 1920, Prince Bounkhong died and Prince Phetsarath succeeded his father as the uparaja or ouphat, effectively the Vice-King of Laos, also sometimes westernized to “Viceroy”. In that capacity he worked tirelessly for the development of the country. He reformed or, indeed, instituted in the first place, the Lao Consultative Assembly, streamlined the advisory council of the King, made the civil service more fair and results-driven by establishing a clear system of ranks and requirements for promotion that ended a great deal of corruption. In Laos, “Church and State” went hand-in-hand and Prince Phetsarath also reformed the administrative system of the Buddhist temples and set down new guidelines for the education of Buddhist priests. The first modern legal code in the Kingdom of Laos was the invention of Prince Phetsarath and he founded the Institute of Law and Administration to train competent civil servants who would not owe their position to the granting of special favors. Not only did all of this greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Lao government, but it also displayed to the people of Laos that they themselves were capable of holding positions and making improvements which were previously the domain of the colonial authorities alone. As such, even many who were not ill-disposed toward the French began to see them as being rather unnecessary.
In January of 1941, in reaction to all of this, Prince Phetsarath formed the “Movement for National Renovation” to stand up for Lao territorial integrity. It was not an anti-French organization and some French officials in Laos supported it but these were generally those more in line with the “Free French” loyal to General Charles DeGaulle in London. The French colonial leadership in Hanoi which was loyal to the Vichy government opposed the organization. At one point, in 1944, Prince Phetsarath sent Lao troops to attack Thailand and regain the lost territory but nothing came of the attempted campaign. Laos remained in almost a state of limbo in terms of the wider world war until the liberation of France by the Allies in 1944. With France shifting back to the Allied camp, the Japanese reacted by taking control of Indochina themselves, starting with Vietnam. Some French officials fled to Laos and the Japanese moved in to pursue them and to detain King Sisavang Vong in the hope that he would declare independence from France and join the Japanese-sponsored “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” as the Emperor of Vietnam and King of Cambodia had done or would do. The King and Crown Prince refused to turn against France but Prince Phetsarath took a different view. As he saw it, their relationship with France had been based on the French pledge to protect Laos and as they had failed to do so, Laos should declare independence and if this could only be done with the support of Japan, so be it.
Within days the French were reasserting control over Indochina and Prince Phetsarath was a marked man for his cooperation with the Japanese. Still at the head of his “Free Laos” government, he had no choice but to escape across the border into Thailand in 1946. He was gone but not forgotten and during the more than ten years Prince Phetsarath spent in exile, his reputation grew and grew in Laos until he attained godlike status. People had come to believe that the Prince possessed supernatural powers and would often call on him to bless their villages and drive out evil spirits. After the return of French forces, his reputation as “Father of Independence” took on a new importance among the populace. People said that he could fly and had turned himself into various animals to speed his work in struggling for their freedom. Part of the origins for these beliefs were also the seemingly miraculous way the Prince had survived numerous accidents in his life, and tales of this eventually reached the point where he was considered invincible, a khon kong or half-god, half-royal.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Similarly, many of those who cited the existence of the terrorist prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba under George W. Bush as being at fault for making people hate the USA are now quiet as church mice after President Obama failed to make good on his oft-repeated promise to close the facility. The blame now must reside elsewhere I suppose. Likewise, it is almost funny to see the leadership of the European Union congratulate the people of North Africa on achieving democracy when they are so adamantly opposed to submitting themselves to the democratic will of their own peoples. However, the Muslim community, and particularly the Arab Muslim community, are no less adept at these blame games than the western and (hardly even nominally these days) Christian countries. I find it particularly strange to see so many disgruntled Arab Muslims shouting abuse at the west and calling for Islamic unity and the creation of a new Islamic caliphate considering that, during World War I, it was Arab Muslims who fought alongside the Christian Allied powers in bringing about the destruction of the last, legitimate Caliph of Islam who was the Turkish Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Just to be clear, for anyone new to this game, I am not among those who think it so. I do not pretend it was all good, but I think it was more positive than not and, while I speak only for myself in this, I find it a little absurd that anyone in the Americas in particular would decry colonialism considering that none of the countries and most of the people of the Americas today would not exist without it. That being my mentality, I am particularly sensitive to colonialism being the modern whipping boy for every problem in the contemporary Third World, to say nothing of the Middle East and North Africa. Of course, everything that is today is based to some degree on all that has been but when it comes to colonialism I think the negative aspects are being exaggerated. I think this is particularly true considering North Africa and the Middle East which were under European colonial rule for a period of time that amounts to a mere speck on the world history timeline when compared to the length of time the region was under the colonial rule of the non-Christian, non-western and non-European Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Now, it should be obvious but I will point it out just to be on the safe side, this does not mean I think the Middle East and North Africa should instead blame modern Turkey for their current problems instead of “the west” (which Turkey is trying to join, but that’s another story). As mentioned, if anything, the Turks would have more reason to blame their problems on the Arabs for turning on their Muslim brethren in the First World War to fight alongside Britain, France and Italy in bringing down the Ottoman Empire. Even after the Turkish Sultan, the Caliph of Islam, called upon all Muslims to unite in a jihad against the Allied powers, Muslims from the Empire of India to the Arabian peninsula and French Algeria disregarded this call and did their part to bring down the Islamic Ottoman Empire -along with her own allies which were Orthodox Bulgaria, Roman Catholic Austria-Hungary and the Protestant and Catholic Empire of Germany. The Arabs have no room to blame the Turks for their present situation and the western powers should not attempt it either. Today the western world complains endlessly about the conflicts and civil wars and unrest in the Middle East, conveniently forgetting that before their predecessors brought down the Ottoman Empire, this was a fairly pacific region and when there were troubles it was the Turks who had to deal with it, not the French, British or Americans. As with any empire, critics can point to examples in the Ottoman Empire that were not so nice but then there was no Assad regime in Syria, no Saddam Hussein in Iraq and no Gaddafi in Libya under either the Turks or the Italians.
The Ottoman Empire is a good example again. Their big mistake was getting involved in World War I. If it makes the Turks feel any better, that was a common mistake at the time as it was a mistake for everyone who got involved in the Great War who had a choice in the matter (I say for the benefit of the Belgians) even if they were on the winning side. Everyone says that the Ottoman Empire was in decline and doomed to inevitable collapse. True, compared to periods in the past, Ottoman Turkey was in decline but, again, that was based on choices and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire was not inevitable. This is something people seem to like to say to avoid having to think about real problems and their consequences. They said the same thing about Austria-Hungary; that it was doomed to collapse and there was nothing anyone could do about it, war or no war. As we have talked about before, that was nonsense. Had it not been for the war, it is entirely possible Austria-Hungary would have gone on and might still be with us today. Similarly, the Ottoman Empire was in pretty bad shape but they were making changes, they were developing, updating, making some poor decisions but some wise ones as well. The Ottoman government had control of its own territory, maintained law and order, was in the process of developing a modern infrastructure and when war came managed to threaten the Suez Canal, force the biggest surrender of British forces since the siege of Yorktown in America, had troops in southern Russia and drove the Allies off of Gallipoli. They didn’t win, but that is a respectable list of accomplishments for an empire in decline, supposedly on the doorstep of “inevitable” collapse.
|The last Sultan|