Monday, June 26, 2017

Monarch Profile: King Tabinshwehti of Burma

The Kingdom of Burma has had a long and colorful history with more than one high point over the centuries. The Burmese, for one relatively short period, even dominated the entire Indochinese peninsula. Although he did not reach that height, one of the most successful and most celebrated monarchs in Burmese history was King Tabinshwehti. His victories were mostly confined to what is Burma today though he also, inadvertently, played a part in uniting the Thais against the power that he represented. He was extremely significant in reuniting his country and laying the foundation for future success and is still quite revered, even worshipped, in Burma today so great was his impact on the public imagination. He certainly ranks among the most famous Burmese kings of all time. He was born on April 16, 1516 at Toungoo Palace (named for the Toungoo Dynasty of which he was a member) to King Mingyi Nyo and his concubine Khin Oo. The King was 56 and was overjoyed to have a son and heir, immediately naming him crown prince and raising his mother from the status of concubine to queen.

King Mingyino of Toungoo
It was a time of intense struggle for Burma as the country had been locked in a seemingly endless series of civil wars for decades. Additionally, a great deal of hope and many aspirations rested on young Tabinshwehti as it was believed he was the fulfillment of a prophecy about his great-great grandfather Crown Prince Minye Kyawswa who was famous warrior predicted to be reborn to lead his people to greatness at a time of great crisis. As Tabinshwehti was believed to be the fulfillment of this prophecy, his education emphasized the martial arts and in 1525 he saw combat for the first time in the (failed) month-long siege of Toungoo. At the time, his state was still a small one but its population was growing rapidly as wars and invasions of Upper Burma caused a great many Burmese refugees to flood into the city, particularly after the fall of Ava to the Shan confederation in 1527. Tabinshwehti succeeded to the throne of Toungoo on November 24, 1530 at the age of 14 upon the death of his father King Mingyi Nyo.

When the Shan captured the city of Prome in 1532, an ally and just across the river from a Toungoo city, King Tabinshwehti decided to go to war to unite Burma under his leadership, beginning with an attack on the Hanthawaddy kingdom south of Toungoo. This was the largest city-state of the many which grew up in the aftermath of the fall of the Pagan Kingdom of Burma and being located on the coast was very wealthy as a center of trade. This made it an attractive target but also a difficult one and the war would last from 1534 to 1541. Initials attacks were unsuccessful so the Toungoo resorted to subterfuge to spread division and distrust in the enemy camp. This tactic was highly successful, causing the Hanthawaddy leadership to turn on each other and many of their most accomplished ministers were executed on suspicion of being disloyal. This sufficiently weakened the Hanthawaddy for the Toungoo forces to win a stunning victory over them at the Battle of Naungyo despite being outnumbered. This gave Toungoo a great deal more wealth and power and caused many of the other leaders of the region to come on side and pledge allegiance to King Tabinshwehti.

Postcard of Toungoo
With most of Lower Burma under his control, King Tabinshwehti sent an ultimatum to the last holdout, Martaban, in 1540. When Martaban refused to submit, Tabinshwehti attacked. Again, the offensive was initially unsuccessful. Martaban was reinforced by Portuguese mercenaries who led the defense of the city and Portuguese ships provided the backbone of the naval defense as well. This was a significant advantage as, in those days, the Portuguese were highly sought after in Southeast Asia for their advanced weapons and military knowledge. Any ruler who wished to be powerful would usually have some Portuguese in his employ. However, after months of frustrated attacks on land, the Toungoo fleet finally broke through the seven Portuguese ships in the harbor and Martaban fell, the city being pillaged for three days. As the defenders had refused to surrender, King Tabinshwehti had them massacred and this caused a great many others in the neighborhood to fall into line rather than risk a similar fate.

All of Lower Burma was now under the control of Tabinshwehti as well as access to the sea, trade routes and the money to employ his own (usually Portuguese) mercenaries and their modern weaponry. At this point, he turned his attention back to Upper Burma and the city of Prome, launching an offensive against it on November 19, 1541 after the end of Buddhist Lent. After pushing the defenders and their allies inside the city walls, the Shan Confederation forces arrived under King Thohanbwa but they were unable to break through the Toungoo lines. More reinforcements were called for but Toungoo forces ambushed them and wiped them out, leaving Prome isolated. Finally, on May 19, 1542 King Minkhaung surrendered Prome to King Tabinshwehti. This victory greatly alarmed the Shan Confederation and they assembled a massive invasion force from across the seven states to crush Toungoo once and for all. Despite having the larger army, they were unable to defeat Tabinshwehti who had a respectable and veteran force of 12,000 troops, a 9,000-man flotilla and Portuguese weapons and mercenaries. After a month of combat, the Shan forces retreated and the Toungoo gave chase, expanding their reach all the way to old Pagan (or Bagan).

Remains of Bagan
With the former capital now his, Tabinshwehti held a formal coronation for himself as the new King of Pagan, effectively, what we would today consider a coronation as King of Burma. He did not control quite all of Upper Burma but the city-states which remained aloof were in no position to challenge him. Instead, he chose to direct his forces against the Kingdom of Mrauk-U, starting with the state of Arakan in 1545. The war would last until 1547. Again, the first attack failed, the second was more successful but Mrauk-U was able to just barely hold on by flooding the area to drive out the invaders. In the end, the two sides agreed to a negotiated end to the war, King Tabinshwehti withdrew his forces and peace prevailed for the next three decades. His attention was already shifting beyond the border to Siam after Tavoy was occupied by the Siamese in early 1547 (in a region claimed by both sides). This resulted in the first Burmese-Siamese War of 1547 to 1549, not long ago brought to the big screen with the Thai film, “The Legend of Suriyothai” in which, of course, King Tabinshwehti is portrayed as the villain.

Unfortunately, for those who like to see a clear moral cause behind every dispute, this conflict depends entirely on which side you are on as to who is in the right and who is in the wrong. For Burma, the Siamese attacked and captured their city of Tavoy and King Tabinshwehti retaliated. For Siam, this city already belonged to them and the Burmese were simply exploiting a time of internal conflict for the Kingdom of Ayutthaya to expand the Toungoo empire. In any event, even with his very talented chief lieutenant Bayinnaung leading the way, this war was not a success for King Tabinshwehti and the Siamese successfully repelled his invasion, Queen Suriyothai famously dying in the climactic battle. It was not, however, a catastrophic defeat for the Burmese and they would be back before too much time had past under Bayinnaung. That, unfortunately for him, would not be a victory that King Tabinshwehti would live to see.

King Tabinshwehti
The King had always lived a very active life, had survived many battles, married many wives and never suffered from much in the way of poor health. Yet, that all changed when a Portuguese mercenary in his employ introduced him to a little thing called alcohol. From his first taste of Portuguese wine, Tabinshwehti was hooked and quickly became an alcoholic and his health rapidly deteriorated. Rather than fighting, the mercenary in question became the King’s exclusive source of wine and the two basically partied all the time. The King stopped going to war, stopped running the country and even gave his wine maker a Burmese court lady as a wife. Government officials tried to get Bayinnaung to step in and take the throne but, because of his great respect for and loyalty to King Tabinshwehti, he would not. He did, however, pay off the mercenary and send him home. Sadly, not everyone was so loyal and on April 30, 1550 the King was beheaded while sleeping in his tent by two assassins. According to his will, the very capable Bayinnaung succeeded him as king but the Toungoo empire quickly fell apart without his leadership. King Bayinnaung would have to start over, putting it back together again, which he did, ultimately leading Burma to its period of greatest territorial expansion in the years to come.

Despite his sorry end, King Tabinshwehti had achieved a great deal for Burma and is still highly revered to this day, regarded as a saint or a sort of god, one of 37 in the Burmese national pantheon. He is famous for being a great leader, a successful warrior, a courageous man who started his campaign of conquest by attacking the strongest rival rather than the weakest. He united almost all of Burma under his leadership and laid the foundation for the even greater victories that would come after him, a period in which Burma would dominate everything between India and Vietnam. Ultimately, King Bayinnaung would accomplish more in terms of territorial expansion, yet none of it would have been possible without the campaigns of King Tabinshwehti. It is thus entirely fitting that he should be a hero of Burmese history and an example of what great heights Burma is capable of achieving.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Tale of Two Interviews

Recently, two royals gave interviews; Britain’s Prince Harry and Princess Marie of Denmark (wife of Prince Joachim). Of course, of the two, the interview with Prince Harry, for Newsweek magazine, got the most attention as any news involving the British Royal Family invariably does; they are playing to a larger audience after all. However, that might not be a bad thing as the interview given by Princess Marie could easily be taken as shockingly outrageous by the oh-so-sensitive “social justice warrior” crowd. Needless to say, I loved it for the very same reasons they would find it offensive. It is probably for the best that fewer people will see it because I can see (knowing how these SJW types think) how it could be used to portray Princess Marie as a horrible person (like me), which she certainly is not. This is, though, the common thread between the two interviews because, as did the son of Albion who sent me the article, I could tell from the headline alone that this would be a gift to the traitorous republicans of Britain and the Commonwealth and I knew exactly how they would (and have) twisted the Prince’s honest observations to fit their agenda.

Starting with Prince Harry (an article on the interview can be found here), the one line that was singled out from the entire interview to plaster all over the headlines was his relating that no one in the House of Windsor really wants the “job” of being monarch. He said, “Is there any one of the Royal Family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.” It is no coincident that this one line was singled out for the most attention rather than the Prince’s follow-up remarks about the dedication to duty the Royal Family has and the importance of the monarchy for people in Britain and across the Commonwealth. No, they seize on the line about no one wanting the top job because it fits in well with a traditional republican narrative, I call it the “nice guy” republican narrative. This is the one that says, ‘see, the royals don’t event want to live the sort of life they do, they have no freedom, so the best thing we could do for them is to abolish the monarchy and set them free from their gilded cage!’ or some such similar nonsense.

This is a typical republican response to monarchies that enjoy high popularity as it allows them to advocate abolishing the monarchy without attacking the monarch but, rather, posing as the ‘saviors’ of the Royal Family. The problem with this is that it is one, rare, republican argument which actually has facts behind it, what is despicable is the completely dishonest and disingenuous way they use it. The truth is that, yes, the royals do not have quite so envious a position as people think. They are constantly under tremendous scrutiny, have obligations they never asked for, have much of their lives planned out months in advance and have less personal freedom than anyone in their country. They have no freedom of movement (for the monarch anyway), no freedom of speech and no right to vote among others. They have all of the stress and scrutiny of a position of authority but none of the power to go along with it. Were they to lose their royal status, they would simply be very wealthy private citizens and could live their lives without a care in the world or any concern for public opinion. I have no doubt it would be quite liberating.

The republicans, however, seldom actually fool anyone with their supposed concern for the happiness and freedom of the royals. They are, after all, a big reason why the royals have so little. However, while what the Prince said was doubtless true, the Crown being an awesome responsibility that no sane person would want if they truly understood the consequences of it, he should not have said what he did as it simply does not play well with the modern public. Thanks to the media, academia and so on, all of which is inundated with Marxist “values” far too many people have been taught to view everything with an envious lens. The last thing the modern masses want to hear is someone complaining about his life who lives in a palace, dates bombshells, skis in the Alps and so on while they live in a council house and eat takeaway. It’s not right, it’s not healthy but that people for you. The idea that common people live poorly because royals live well is a canard that should be obvious yet it has been deployed to some effect at least as far back as the French Revolution, so it should not be discounted.

Most concerning to me was Prince Harry’s expressed desire, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to “modernize” the monarchy when their time does come. I do not like the sound of that, mostly because I am gun-shy about anything involving modernity. In my experience, whenever anyone talks of “modernizing” something the result is usually plainer, uglier, less meaningful and more ridiculous than it was before. However, it is probably not a coincidence that this interview was with an American periodical and if Prince Harry sticks with his current girlfriend he will certainly gain a great deal more attention in the United States and break new ground. If the Prince and Meghan Markle take this all the way, Meghan could become the first mixed-race American actress to become a royal princess. That would certainly please the diversity crowd. However, even then, as with President Obama, I can already predict that, being half Irish-American, there will be some who insist she is not “Black enough” to count. Of course, Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein married a 100% African-American some years ago, giving Europe their first Afro-European prince but, of course, that is Liechtenstein which hardly shows up on the radar, they are not *technically* royal and I am quite confident that more than 99% of Americans have no idea where Liechtenstein is or even what it is.

Anyway, the bottom line is that while Prince Harry would certainly get a great deal of attention if he stuck with his current ‘flavor of the month’ the sort of crowd that would be most impressed by that is the same sort that is never satisfied so pandering to them would be futile. However, it does also provide a tenuous connection with the subject of the second interview, Princess Marie of Denmark (her interview can be read here) who is the second wife of Prince Joachim of Denmark, his first wife being Alexandra Manley, a mixed race woman of Euro-Asian ancestry from Hong Kong who was previously Princess Alexandra, now Countess of Frederiksborg and soon to be no longer on the government payroll. Their breakup was the first royal divorce in Denmark since 1846, so, rather significant. Both have since remarried, Prince Joachim to Marie Cavallier, a native of Paris, France in 2008. Her father-in-law is also French and both converted from Catholicism to the Lutheran Church of Denmark for their marriages.

Princess Marie gave a perfectly pleasant and perfectly frank interview and came off looking like an altogether nice person, open, honest and good natured. I think more highly of her after reading it. However, as stated as the outset, she did say some things that the SJW crowd would be quick to pick apart and pounce on if they were to actually read it (which I doubt any will). Some parts would likely have raised more eyebrows in the past than they would now. Her remark that, coming from France, she had to adjust to how much earlier people start to work in Denmark, would have, in years past, caused some huffing about stereotypes of Gallic laziness versus the Protestant work ethic but I don’t think anyone notices that anymore. What they would, however, surely seize on was her remark that, in explaining how much more trusting Danes seem to be than other people and asked if this had anything to do with the size of the country, “The size probably plays, because the territory is homogeneous. But we must also take into account our very ancient history. We have the oldest monarchy in Europe and are deeply attached to our traditions. At the same time, the country is very modern. Education also plays a great role.”

For those of you fortunate enough not to know how the mind of the fanatic, revolutionary leftist works, saying that a “homogeneous” country is a positive thing is one of the worst things you could possibly do. No, homogeneous societies are bad and only diverse societies are good (at least when it comes to western countries anyway). Princess Marie and any Dane who would say it is a good thing for Denmark to be Danish would certainly get an ear-full from any “social justice warrior” who would berate them as terrible “racists” for such thinking and demand that they acknowledge that Denmark has never been very good and never will be until more Africans, Arabs and Asians are bought in to bring all the benefits of “diversity”. According to these people, Denmark has always been substandard precisely for being so homogeneous. Princess Marie, needless to say, was not thinking of any of this and seems to be an entirely good natured, optimistic type of person. She was, I have no doubt, simply relating what used to be considered common sense; that a small group of people who are alike, share the same values and are generally on the same page will be able to trust each other and get along with each other much easier than if the opposite were true.

Princess Marie was then asked about Prince Joachim, the interviewer pointing out that he is half French. She responded with glowing praise for her hubby, saying that he inherited great qualities from both his parents but emphasizing that, “He’s indeed the perfect Dane…” which I am sure some could find fault with. However, that would be as nothing compared to her answer to a question about the negative portrayals of Denmark, this coming after she related how wonderful she thought Denmark and all things Danish are. The Princess seemed at a loss as to what could possibly be a negative cliché about Denmark so the interviewer proposed the notion that Denmark is a country of Vikings. In an answer that would surely upset the snowflake crowd, Princess Marie brushed this aside, seemingly oblivious to the idea that anyone could possibly consider being associated with the Vikings as a bad thing. She actually agreed with the stereotype but thought it was a positive thing saying, “It’s also true. My husband is never sick. He never goes to the doctor. He’s very tough. He’s quite a Viking. They have very good genetics!”

I really loved this answer. The interviewer was doubtlessly thinking of big, brawny blondes killing and looting as the epitome of what it means to be a Viking. Princess Marie, however, chose to instead take pride in the Vikings as strong, robust people who were very tough, went on to associate her husband with them, in a very positive way, and then just to make sure the SJW types would reach critical mass, praised the genetics of the Vikings, inherently implying that some people have better genes than others. Again, I have no doubt such a thought never entered the Princess’ mind for a moment, but that is just the sort of thing that the people who are constantly on the hunt for something to be offended and outraged over would seize upon as being terribly insensitive, even “racist”. Frankly, I simply found it to be refreshingly positive and very charming that the Princess can be blissfully unaware that such unpleasant and manipulative people exist in the world who might zero in on such innocent remarks. Again, I came away from reading the interview with a higher opinion of Princess Marie than I had previously. I point these examples out simply to show that royals today, in spite of their diminished roles, must tread a very difficult path because their enemies are every watchful, ever deceitful and have no depths they will not stoop to in order to undermine the last vestiges of tradition that exist in the world today.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monarchist Destinations: Virginia's Royal Palace

The British Royal Governor's Palace of Virginia is one of the most prominent structures of colonial Williamsburg. It was the residence of the Royal Governor of Virginia during the colonial period and was home to seven royal governors, starting with Alexander Spotswood and ending with John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore who was forced out of his position during the American War for Independence. The original palace was built starting in 1706 with funds voted by the House of Burgesses at the insistence of Lt. Governor Edward Nott. By 1710 it was sufficiently finished to be the residence of Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood who held power in the absence of the actual Royal Governor, the Earl of Orkney (who as far as we know never actually set foot in Virginia). As such, it was the center of royal authority for the colony until the outbreak of revolution forced the Earl of Dunmore to evacuate in 1775 after the arrival of the Hanover militia under Patrick Henry. Dunmore retreated to the coast and then to a British warship after which he famously promised emancipation for any slave who joined the British cause, resulting in the raising of the short-lived "Ethiopian Regiment". This action turned the Virginia planters zealously against the British cause and, being early in the conflict, left Dunmore and his loyalists and escaped slaves with no military support and they were soon defeated.

Battle of Williamsburg
During the war, Patrick Henry and future President Thomas Jefferson served as governors of Virginia in succession, occupying the residence until the capital was moved to Richmond due to the threat of the British returning which was a constant worry due to the domination of the east coast by the Royal Navy. Toward the end of the conflict, the palace was used as a military hospital during the siege of nearby Yorktown and in 1781 the main building was destroyed by fire. Most of the subsidiary buildings which remained were then destroyed during the Peninsular Campaign of the American Civil War in 1862. The Battle of Williamsburg, fought on May 5, 1862 between the armies of George B. McClellan and Joseph E. Johnston was the first major engagement of the failed effort to capture Richmond by way of an amphibious landing on the Virginia coast. Both armies demolished the remaining buildings of the palace complex to make use of the materials.

At long last, in the early XXth Century, with money gifted from J. D. Rockefeller, the Royal Governor's Palace was rebuilt in its entirety using historical documents and descriptions from the period. It has since been renovated as new information has been uncovered to make it as historically accurate as possible. An exhibition of the palace, outbuildings and grounds was first given to the public in 1934. It is the second largest building in colonial Williamsburg after the capital building itself. Today it is a museum and often part of the whole "living history" experience that is maintained in colonial Williamsburg, making it easier to imagine what it was like back in its day as the center of society and government for the colony of Virginia under the British Crown. More information can be found on the official webpage of the palace here.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Duc de Lauzun, a Life Lesson

The life of Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duc de Lauzun, better known in the Revolutionary period as Biron as he had by then become Duc de Biron, offers a great many lessons even for people today. He was a leading Freemason in France, a known proponent of the values of the “Enlightenment” and was very much a figure of the fashionable left, well known and quite popular with the elite ‘chattering class’ of high society people who loved flattering themselves, competing for radical credentials and discussing revolutionary ideas in their salons. The Duc de Lauzun was born in Paris on April 13, 1747 and grew up as a figure of the anti-traditional aristocracy. He married and was very popular in leftist high society, though it was not known as “the left” at the time of course. Like most of his friends, he still thought very highly of France in an abstract, civic way but spent his time pouring scorn on the traditions of France, never taking into account that, as an aristocrat, his very fate was bound up with those traditions he was undermining. It was, however, in the service of France, that he had his first real profession which was as a soldier.

Soldiers of Lauzun's Legion
In the aftermath of the disastrous French & Indian War (Seven Years’ War for Europeans), the French military was reformed in a major way. All too often historians today ignore how King Louis XVI of France had improved and revitalized the French army which Napoleon was later to lead to so many victories. Training, tactics, weapons and equipment were finally standardized, military academies were established, purchasing commissions was stopped, one light and one heavy company was added to each infantry regiment of the line, Prussian order tactics were adopted and so on. A group of eight new units were created, known as legions, of Volontaires étranger de la Marine for overseas service. These units were made up of Poles, Germans, Hungarians and exiles from Ireland and were combined arms formations with each having two fusilier, one grenadier and one chasseur companies as well as artillery and cavalry (hussars) in their own independent companies. The idea was to have units that could move quickly, pack a punch and be able to respond to any given situation with their own infantry, cavalry and artillery components. The British were set to do the same with such units as the Queen’s Rangers or the British Legion. A more modern example of something similar would be the battle groups of World War II.

Lauzun's Legion
The Duc de Lauzun gained some attention for capturing a British fort in Africa, Fort St Louis in Senegal, in early 1779 but it was the second of these foreign, marine legions that Lauzun raised and was given command of, along with the rank of brigadier in the corps overall. His unit soon became known as Lauzun’s Legion and was included with the French corps under the Comte de Rochambeau which was sent by King Louis XVI to aid the rebel colonists in America, led by George Washington, against the British during the American War for Independence. A lack of sufficient transportation forced Lauzun to leave many of his men behind but he was able to take several hundred infantry, cavalry and gunners who would make something of a name for themselves in the climactic Yorktown, Virginia campaign. A particular moment of glory was the action at Gloucester Point on October 3, 1781 when Lauzun’s Legion met and bested a British force under the fearsome Lt Colonel Banastre Tarleton, probably the best British cavalry officer of the war. Colonel Tarleton and the Duc de Lauzun almost engaged in personal combat but Tarleton was brought down when his horse was wounded and was taken away by some of his own men, narrowly avoiding being captured by the French. It was the largest cavalry engagement of the war and the British had been forced to retreat.

Not surprisingly, the Duc de Lauzun, after the surrender of the British at Yorktown and subsequent recognition of the independence of the United States of America, returned home to great fanfare as a genuine war hero. King Louis XVI promoted Lauzun to maréchal de camp for his exploits. However, Lauzun started on a new career in politics after the King, reluctantly, recalled the Estates-General. The Duc de Lauzun was chosen to be a deputy for the nobility of Quercy and, not surprisingly, became an outspoken advocate of the Revolutionary cause. When the French Revolution began, despite all of its ridiculous egalitarian thundering, the Duc de Lauzun was an ardent supporter. That is important to understand as he was not simply going along to get along as many other cowardly aristocrats did when the disaster came, he was taking his earlier political views to their logical conclusion and was just as devoted to the cause of the Revolution as he was to eradicating any who opposed it. In 1791 he was trusted with taking the oath of the French army of Flanders and was subsequently given command of that army. The following year he was given command of the Army of the Rhine to stand guard against the Austrians.

Badge of the Vendee' royalists
In every way, the Duc de Lauzun was a devoted revolutionary. After one year of watching the Rhine, he was assigned to deal with internal enemies, taking command of the army at La Rochelle in May of 1793. It was in this capacity that he aided in crushing the counter-revolutionaries of the Vendée, the heroic Catholic royalists who had risen up in the name of their faith and their monarchy. Lauzun, or Biron as he was then, was not the most brutal in suppressing these faithful people but he was certainly zealous. He gained credit for taking Saumur (site of a royalist victory in June) and winning the Battle of Parthenay. However, his troops had become increasingly disorderly and his superiors, in their typical revolutionary paranoia, began to have greater fears and suspicions about their accomplished duke. They subjected him to numerous questions, interference in his command and other harassment until he finally resigned his command. In spite of it all, the only thing they could actually accuse Lauzun of was being insufficiently vicious in his treatment of the counterrevolutionaries. He had never shown any lack of support for their cause but the charge that he was too lenient, too soft, on the enemies of the Revolution would haunt him.

The aristocrat, Duc de Lauzun, had sided against his class to support the Revolution but, in the end, he discovered that this would not save him. The barbaric firebrand Jean-Baptiste Carrier accused Lauzun of treason or “lack of civic virtue” in the revolutionary parlance and in July of 1793 he was stripped of all rank and offices and imprisoned. After a quick show trial by the Revolutionary Tribunal he was taken to the guillotine and beheaded on December 31. His wife was also subsequently arrested and she too went to the guillotine the following summer. So it was that the story of the Duc de Lauzun came to a tragic end, yet, it is hard to imagine anyone feeling much sympathy for him. Here was a man who was a traitor to his king, his country, his religion, his class and the entire civilization that birthed these things. In the end, he was also condemned as a traitor by his fellow traitors and that at least provides a valuable lesson, even for people today.

Biron, the revolutionary general
Although the French Revolution is usually portrayed as a mass uprising of the common people against the monarchy and a corrupt, decadent aristocracy, we must remember that, in terms of numbers, it was the common people who suffered the most from it. Whether out of conviction, as seems to have been the case with Lauzun, or mere self-preservation, not a few aristocrats decided to take the side of their natural enemies and join the Revolution. It should also not be forgotten that no small number of clergymen did as well in what was rather like the “liberation theology” of its day. They were, in their own way, no different from many of the so-called conservatives we see today who go along with the liberals either because they are dishonest and are fervent liberals themselves or because they think that the goodwill and cooperation they show the liberals will be returned to them. As we see in the case of the Duc de Lauzun or, to take a more lofty example, the Duc de Orléans, “Philippe Égalité” who voted for the death of his first cousin the King only to ultimately be sent to the guillotine himself also in 1793.

The revolutionary fervor of these men did not save them from being consumed by the flames they helped to fan in the first place. The drivers of the Revolution, with all of their egalitarian rhetoric, were happy to have the help of aristocrats like the Duc de Lauzun to gain power but they turned on them in the end since, no matter what their opinions, words or actions were, *who* they were, the very blood that was in their veins, made them the enemy. The Duc de Lauzun was obviously a man of talent, an aristocrat who, as such, was a natural leader. His military victories show what great deeds he was capable of and yet he could not or would not grasp the simple facts that his own revolutionary cohorts could; that a prince and a peasant are two different things that can never be the same, no less than a Swiss and a Saracen or a man and a woman. Aristocrats like the Duc de Lauzun, clergymen or even princes of the blood would never be more to the revolutionaries than what Stalin referred to as “useful idiots”. Some, like the famous Marquis de Lafayette, were able to survive but revolutions tend to ultimately feed on themselves and the Duc de Lauzun, as with most others who did not manage to escape the country, fell victim to the forces he had helped unleash. One can but wonder if, on his way to the guillotine, he did not have the awareness to regret the terrible path in life he had chosen to take. His life and his death should be a warning to anyone who thinks they can make common cause with the forces of darkness, posing as the forces of “enlightenment”.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Clash of Monarchies: The First War of Italian Independence

The idea of some sort of a unification of the Italian peninsula was one that long predated the series of wars for Italian independence. Indeed, unification and independence were not the same thing and might not necessarily have been linked. After the downfall of Napoleon and the re-drawing of the map of Europe by the Congress of Vienna, most of northern Italy was handed over to the Austrian Empire of the Habsburgs and their cadet branches of the family. Central Italy was restored to the Pope and the south of Italy was returned to the junior branch of the Spanish Royal Family. However, from the very beginning, there was trouble in the south and Austrian troops had to be dispatched to keep the King of the Bourbon Two-Sicilies on his throne. Between the north and the south, this meant that, fairly early on, Austria was forced to maintain a military force of over 100,000 soldiers on the Italian peninsula to maintain the existing power structure.

Metternich
The Austrian statesman, Prince Clemens von Metternich, knew this was unsustainable in the long-term and so proposed to the allies the creation of an Italian federation under the leadership of the King of Lombardy-Venetia, who not coincidentally happened to be the Emperor of Austria. The allies rejected this proposal and the unrest continued, particularly in the south. Metternich feared that this tendency toward rebellion would spread and threaten those areas recently placed under Habsburg rule. In response, he produced the “Troppau Protocols” in 1821 in which Austria, Prussia, France and Russia agreed that any outbreak of revolution would be met by concerted military force to suppress it. It was unlikely that such cooperation was to be forthcoming but Metternich hoped that the statement alone would be enough to convince potential rebels of the hopelessness of their cause and bolster the King in Naples in particular. To his frustration, however, such hopes by Metternich were dashed.

That same year, rebellions broke out in both Piedmont-Sardinia and the Two-Sicilies and Austrian troops were dispatched to both to suppress them. In Turin, the rebels did not try to bring down the monarchy but demanded a constitution, which Prince Carlo Alberto gave them, as he had taken control of the government when King Vitttorio Emanuele I abdicated in favor of his brother King Carlo Felice who was out of the country at the time. King Carlo Felice, with his loyal regiments and the Austrians, regained control of the country and restored the absolute monarchy, exiling Prince Carlo Alberto to France. In Naples, Austrian troops suppressed the rebels and restored King Ferdinando IV to power. This, however, only strengthened the hand of the radicals who argued against constitutional monarchy and in favor of radical republicanism. This faction was led by Giuseppe Mazzini who had no use for kings at all and would make great use in his propaganda for every time a monarch on the Italian peninsula granted a constitution at a time of weakness only to revoke it once they had an Austrian army behind them.

King Carlo Alberto & Kaiser Franz Joseph
This set the stage for the wars of Italian unification and independence. The momentum was toward that goal but the question remained whether it would be the radical republicans or the constitutional monarchists who reached the finish line first. The two most prominent monarchs involved would be the King of Piedmont-Sardinia, firstly King Carlo Alberto who came to the throne in 1831 and the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph who would come to the throne in 1848. King Carlo Alberto, despite his earlier reputation, was a monarch of very traditional leanings and had fought, during his exile, for the legitimist cause in Spain as well as supporting other such legitimist causes elsewhere on the continent. He would give Piedmont-Sardinia (and by extension Italy as a whole in due time) her only monarchial constitution but it would be one that reserved considerable authority to the monarch. Nonetheless, once given, it would not be revoked and that garnered the House of Savoy a great deal of popularity. King Carlo Alberto also had a vision for a united Italy, independent of the Austrians but which would consist of a confederation of Italian princely states under the leadership of the Pope. However, the events of 1848 changed the situation and it became, again, a competition between the Italian nationalists who favored a republic and the Italian nationalists who favored a monarchy. King Carlo Alberto knew that if he did not succeed, Mazzini and his cohorts would.

1834 and 1838 had seen revolutionary outbreaks across Italy but in 1848 revolution began to sweep across multiple countries throughout Europe. In January the Sicilians rose up and overthrew the authority of the king in Naples, by March the Austrian Empire was engulfed in rebellion with uprisings in Milan, Venice, Budapest, Cracow, Prague and even Vienna itself. The regime of Kaiser Ferdinand was suddenly threatened by independence movements by the Hungarians in the east and the Italians in the west. In Milan, after five days of bitter struggle, the Austrian authorities were driven out while at the same time the Austrians were expelled from Venice in an uprising led by Daniele Manin. The Habsburg Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Habsburg Duke of Modena, the Bourbon King of the Two Sicilies and the Bourbon Duke of Parma were all forced by popular uprisings to grant constitutions. Likewise, in Rome, political reforms were demanded of Pope Pius IX who had initially favored the nationalist cause, to the point of liberating from prison and appointing to high office a succession of revolutionaries whom his predecessor, Pope Gregory XVI, had arrested.

Graf Radetzky
In Turin, King Carlo Alberto granted a constitution and was urged to take the lead in supporting the independence movement and driving the Austrians from Italian soil. He was very popular with the nationalists though the radical republicans of Mazzini’s faction naturally opposed him as the last thing they wanted was for a king of the most venerable Italian royal house to be the one to secure the unity and independence of Italy. Meanwhile, in Vienna, the Habsburg government was paralyzed and in need of leadership. Kaiser Ferdinand, handicapped from birth, was simply not up to the challenge. Moreover, the strength of the Austrian military had recently been reduced and now, suddenly, there were disasters in practically every part of the empire that needed to be dealt with so that Austrian military strength was severely overstretched. The one bit of good fortune the Austrians did have was the person of their commander on the ground in Italy; Field Marshal Joseph Graf von Radestky. He may not have been the most brilliant general but he was experienced, extremely competent and, most importantly, unflappable. He kept a cool head in the crisis when panic had gripped everyone around him.

So it was that with only 68,000 troops at his disposal and no immediate prospect for reinforcement for Radetzky that the Italian nationalists saw their chance and men such as Camillo di Cavour, Cesare Balbo and Massimo d’Azeglio urged King Carlo Alberto to take the lead and attack the Austrians before the republicans took control of the uprising. The King agreed and on March 29 led his small but highly proficient army of 28,000 men across the Ticino River with the aim of moving on Milan. With so many of their forces tied down all across Lombardy-Venetia trying to suppress rebellion, for the time being, the Austrian and Piedmontese forces would be about evenly matched. Further, as soon as word came that King Carlo Alberto had crossed the frontier, nationalist support for the Savoy monarchy erupted all across the Italian peninsula. Not wanting King Carlo Alberto to claim all the glory of liberating Italy for himself, Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany and King Ferdinando II of the Two-Sicilies likewise dispatched forces to join him in a joint war-effort against the Austrians. Even Pope Pius IX sent his support. The vision of independence and unification by way of a coalition of the princes of Italy seemed to be coming true.

Uprising in Milan
Brigadier General Guglielmo Pepe, a veteran of the Peninsular War and the Battle of Tolentino, commanded the Neapolitan contingent and, even more surprisingly, the Piedmontese and former Mazzinian General Giovanni Durando was given command of the Papal army by Pius IX. Altogether, a combined force of 100,000 Italian soldiers was moving or set to move against the beleaguered Austrians in the north. With such a force arrayed against them, the Austrian position seemed doomed. Any other commander would likely have lost his nerve but not Graf Radestky. He ordered his subordinates to fall back even as he pulled out of Milan. Yet, this was no disorderly retreat. Austrian commanders threatened horrific retaliation to remote areas of Lombardy-Venetia if any disturbances occurred, frightening most into taking no action. Radestky concentrated his forces in the Quadrilateral, the area within the fortresses of Verona, Mantua, Legnano and Peschiera. This would permit the Italian coalition no weak area to exploit. Thanks to the calm determination of Radetzky, the Austrians would soon discover that their position was not so vulnerable as it seemed.

On March 29, to great public fanfare, King Carlo Alberto entered Milan at the head of his troops. He marched on and his army pushed the Austrian rearguard across the Mincio River. The Austrian withdrawal caused the Piedmontese to push ahead before their allies from the south had arrived. Durando and the Papal Army was still south of the Po, Pepe and the Neapolitans were further north and the division from Tuscany was still on the march. King Carlo Alberto, seeing the Austrians retract, was determined to keep up the pressure on them and push forward, crossing the Mincio in mid-April toward Verona. On April 30 he met the Austrians at the Battle of Pastrengo and won a solid victory. Peschiera was besieged and the King was still pushing forward toward Verona. Graf Radetzky was finally compelled by this to take action and do something to take the initiative away from the Italians. An Austrian contingent was ordered to strike out from the city and on May 6 they administered a sharp sting at Santa Lucia that forced King Carlo Alberto to divert to the southwest of Verona, to Villafranca, to wait for further Piedmontese reinforcements and his allies from the south to join him.

Princely solidarity
At first, pan-Italian support only seemed to grow as the fight was underway. Nationalist sentiment in Parma and Modena forced their dukes to join the war effort. However, at this same critical moment, the expected help from the more significant states began to fall away. Tuscany remained pledged to the Italian cause but seemed unwilling to actually engage. Pope Pius IX suddenly sent an order to Durando forbidding him to cross the Po River, causing considerable bewilderment and likewise the commitment of King Ferdinando II of the Two-Sicilies seemed to fade away as April passed. A republican coup tried to unseat the King in Naples and disrupt the royal coalition. They failed at the first goal but succeeded in the second. King Ferdinando retracted the constitution he had earlier granted and recalled his army. General Pepe refused to go but most of the Neapolitan troops abandoned him. The remainder joined with the forces from Tuscany standing watch around Mantua. As for the Papal Army, General Durando argued with the Pope over his sudden about-face and finally simply disregarded the order and took his army across the Po anyway in an effort to cut off Radetzky from Venice.

Sardinian Grenadiers at Goito
Unfortunately for the Italians, Durando did not coordinate with King Carlo Alberto in these operations but the Austrian response of Graf Radetzky was, by contrast, extremely well coordinated. Field Marshal Lieutenant Count Nugent was dispatched with 16,000 men to stop the Italian advance in Venetia, hitting Durando at Cornuda and forcing him back to Vicenza. Throughout June, Durando and the Papal Army would remain there, surrounded by Austrian forces. This allowed Radetzky freedom to maneuver and while the Piedmontese remained at Villafranca, the Austrians flanked them with a march to Mantua. On May 29 they defeated the small contingent of troops from Tuscany and the 2,000 Neapolitan soldiers who had not abandoned Pepe at Curtatone-Matanara. Radetzky then moved his men from Mantua along the west bank of the Mincio with the aim of cutting off King Carlo Alberto from Piedmont. Unfortunately for the Austrians, King Carlo Alberto spotted this move and immediately grasped the enemy plan. He moved quickly to attack the Austrians while they were on the march and at the Battle of Goito on May 30, the Italians were victorious. Peschiera fell on the same day.

The Savoy star was still shining brightly, however, the situation was far from favorable. What little support that had been available from Tuscany, Naples and the Papal States was now completely gone and even with the many volunteers from across Lombardy and reinforcements from Piedmont, King Carlo Alberto had only 75,000 men which would be insufficient to launch a major offensive into Venetia or to mount a proper siege of the fortress cities of Mantua or Verona. King Carlo Alberto had no option but to remain at Villafranca and watch. At the same time, unflustered as usual, Graf Radetzky was methodically carrying on and was also finally receiving reinforcements from the rest of the Austrian Empire. The window of opportunity of Austrian weakness had closed on the Italians and Radetzky was able to launch a serious offensive of his own, descending on the Italians with two armies at the Battle of Custozza .

Austrian attack at the Battle of Custozza
This was the climactic engagement of the war, 33,000 Austrians against 22,000 Italians and the Italians fought valiantly against superior forces for three days from July 23-25. However, in the end, the Italians were forced to retreat. Yet, it was a fighting retreat, the Italians fell back in good order, continued to give resistance until disengaged, abandoned no equipment or anything of the sort. They had also inflicted considerably higher losses on the Austrians than they had suffered and the Austrians had not been able to decisively destroy the Piedmontese army. All the same, King Carlo Alberto would not waste the lives of his men needlessly and knew that without the whole of Italy standing together, he could not defeat the Austrians who would only grow stronger as his own forces grew weaker. The King had seen a chance but that chance was now gone and on August 9 he agreed to an armistice with the Austrians. In due course the Piedmontese abandoned Lombardy, returning to their own territory and the First War of Italian Independence came to an end. The following year, King Carlo Alberto did, briefly, attempt another effort but it was a short-lived disaster and, proud man that he was, this resulted in his abdication in favor of his son who became King Vittorio Emanuele II.

For the Austrians, the war had been one crisis among many. They had gained a new monarch in the young and determined Kaiser Franz Joseph, more laurels for a genuine war hero in Graf Radetzky and though they had come close enough to disaster to look it directly in the eye, that disaster had been averted and the Austrian Empire would survive, though ultimately concessions would be made to the Hungarians. Nothing of the sort would be forthcoming for the Italians however who continued to be ruled in the same manner that they had been before. The Kaiser even became somewhat cross with his younger brother, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, when, as Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia, he attempted to win over the Italians rather than flog them into submission. There was even talk that the Archduke himself entertained thoughts of uniting the Italian peninsula himself. He was soon put in his place and made no more than a ceremonial figure so that he began to look toward Mexico for a place to prove himself. In short, despite coming so close to defeat, the Austrians were determined to change nothing in regards to Italy.

Abdication of King Carlo Alberto
As for the Italians, the First War of Independence was a major turning point. It represented the one and only time that the monarchs of the existing Italian states, no matter how enthusiastically, came together in common cause as one Italian people. The fact that this fell apart almost as soon as it came together meant that the vision of the more traditional nationalists of an Italian confederation of princely states would not come to be. Going forward, it would be the republicans or the House of Savoy alone who would have to see foreign rule ended on the Italian peninsula. The Savoy would take the lead, initially quite reluctantly, to prevent the republican vision from becoming reality and in the end even many republican nationalists would be swayed to the monarchist side because the Savoy had a record of success and the republicans had only a succession of failures. It would take at least two more wars before Italy was completely independent of foreign rule but the First War of Italian Independence clearly illustrated who would lead them and how they would be fought.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Catholic Saints, Korea and Japan

In 2014 I wrote an article titled, “Assassins, Sainthood and Joan of Arc” in which I commented on the cause for canonization currently underway in the Republic of Korea for Ahn Jung Geun, a Korean Catholic most famous for being the man who assassinated the first Prime Minister of the Empire of Japan, Prince Ito Hirobumi. Not surprisingly, this move raised some eyebrows given that Ahn Jung Geun not only seemed to be rather deranged and perhaps not in full possession of his faculties but particularly because the one act in his life which made him famous was not caring for the unfortunate, giving his life for his faith or converting people to Christianity but was, rather, the murder of an unarmed man and gunning down several others. He has, since his death, been lavished with praise and honor by the governments of South Korea and Communist China while, not surprisingly, being regarded as a terrorist and murderer in Japan. Obviously, there are a great many political implications for the Catholic bishops in South Korea promoting the canonization of this individual.

Mass in Japan
The Japanese have every reason to object to this and it would certainly be an unusual thing for the Catholic Church to do. The Church did not, as I pointed out in 2014, give in to the public call for the canonization of Balthazar Gerard in the 1580’s who had assassinated the Dutch leader Prince Willem “the Silent” of Orange. However, the Roman Catholic Church of today is quite different from that of the Sixteenth Century and in recent years the requirements for canonization have been “streamlined” considerably so that it is much easier to have someone canonized today than in the past when it might take several centuries for someone to be verified as a saint worthy of veneration. In other words, as much as I would oppose the canonization of such an individual, I do not think it beyond the realm of possibility that the Catholic Church today might go along with it, that the Holy See might simply go along with the recommendations of the Korean bishops who are pushing for this assassin to be recognized as a saint. I made my objections clear enough, I think, in that 2014 article but today I want to propose a positive action that the Japanese could take in response to this.

Konishi Yukinaga
The Catholic Church in Japan should, I think, propose a more worthy figure from their own history for canonization. I think the Japanese bishops should start a cause for the canonization of Konishi Yukinaga. For those unfamiliar with his exploits, you can read the story of the conflict he is most famous for in my recent article, “Clash of Monarchies: The Imjin War”. Konishi Yukinaga was a great Japanese warrior, a daimyo and a Catholic. He was also the leader of the vanguard force of the samurai armies of Toyotomi Hideyoshi which invaded Korea in 1592. He led the conquest of Busan, was instrumental in the conquest of the Korean royal capital of Seoul and gained further fame for his defense of the captured city of Pyongyang against the armies of Ming China. After a peaceful interlude he arranged, Yukinaga, who was also known by his baptismal name of Augustine (in Portuguese) Konishi, still played a prominent part in the second invasion of Korea, even fighting alongside a bitter rival of his, the daimyo Kato Kiyomasa who had a vicious hatred of Christians. In the final period of the war, Konishi was most distinguished by his heroic defense of Suncheon Castle against much larger Chinese and Korean forces.

All of that makes, I think, Konishi Yukinaga worthy of being considered one of the best Japanese warriors of his time but, of course, it does not make someone worthy of canonization. That being said, neither does the murder of a foreign dignitary which is what Anh Jung Geun is most known for. Is there anything else that would make Konishi Yukinaga more worthy of being “Saint Augustine Konishi”? I would say, yes. In the first place, his faith was obviously important to him and this is significant as other Japanese Christians of the period are often accused of being insincere in their conversions. It is not uncommon to find Japanese daimyos in particular, Otomo Sorin comes to mind, who are accused of converting simply to gain greater favor and cooperation from the Portuguese and who did not genuinely accept Christianity. Personally, I find such accusations to often be unfair but in any event this would not apply to Konishi Yukinaga. After the war in Korea, following the death of Lord Hideyoshi, the Japanese fought another civil war over who would take charge of the country. Konishi backed Ishida Mitsunari, unfortunately for him, rather than Tokugawa Ieyasu and was defeated at the Battle of Sekigahara. In the aftermath, in keeping with custom, the defeated daimyos committed ritual suicide. Konishi, who was captured by Takenaka Shigekado at Mount Ibuki, refused to kill himself because, as a Christian, this would be a sin and so he was beheaded by his captors.

Konishi Yukinaga
This, I think, is proof enough that Konishi was a sincere Christian. However, more than that, he was also something of a peacemaker and got himself into some trouble over his desire to make peace. The Koreans would no doubt object to the canonization of the conqueror of their capital just as the Japanese object to the idea of canonizing the assassin of their first prime minister but Konishi Yukinaga was no anti-Korean bigot. Before he landed his invasion force, he sent a last message to again urge the Koreans to join with his forces in friendship to fight against their Chinese overlords only to be rebuffed. Then, after China intervened in the war, he and a Chinese envoy arranged a period of peace for several years. This was controversial because it was a peace based on a deception. Konishi and the Chinese envoy both, basically, agreed to tell their masters what they wanted to hear. So, Konishi Yukinaga told Lord Hideyoshi that the Chinese had agreed to surrender and the Chinese envoy told the Ming Emperor that the Japanese had agreed to surrender. For a fear years, the war ended and peace prevailed until Lord Hideyoshi received a message from the Ming Emperor granting him the tributary status of “King of Japan” which caused no small amount of outrage and a great deal of anger directed at Konishi Yukinaga.

Obviously, this was not a successful or very sound effort at peace but it was an effort to make peace nonetheless. “Blessed are the peacemakers” is what Christ said and Konishi Yukinaga had tried, even if not by the best means, to be such a peacemaker. We can also see that Konishi was not an anti-Korean bigot as well as how serious he was about his faith by the fact that he married a Korean woman during the war and she was baptized as a Christian, taking the name of “Julia”. Historians still debate the issue but it is quite possible that the Catholic Japanese samurai were the first Christians to ever come to Korea and if so, Julia would have converted at the time of her marriage which shows that Konishi Yukinaga had no prejudice against Koreans and also that his Christian faith was important enough to him that he insist his wife become Catholic as well so that they would have a proper Catholic family.

Having said all of this, I have no doubt, given the level of knee-jerk anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea, that the Koreans would find a cause for the canonization of Konishi Yukinaga objectionable. Yet, I fail to see how anyone could legitimately say that it is more objectionable that their effort to canonize an assassin. Konishi Yukinaga, though I will grant he is far from the traditional sort of candidate, seems to me to be a far more worthy individual and I think a legitimate case could be made for his consideration for sainthood. Perhaps, if the Japanese hierarchy began to seriously take up this suggestion and begin looking into a cause for the canonization of Konishi Yukinaga, it might make some think twice about the obviously politically motivated effort to canonize Anh Jung Geun. The process is different these days and the more thought I have given this, the more I think it is an idea worth pursuing. Japanese Catholics might try praying for the intercession of Konishi Yukinaga. Perhaps a miracle will be forthcoming. If a formal investigation of his merits were to result in the Korean episcopacy re-thinking their own motivations, that would be something of a miracle itself.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mad Rant: Terror Attacks in Britain

I have been hesitant to say anything about the Islamic terrorist attacks in Britain, mostly because I am at a loss as to what more I can say on this subject. I was puzzling over whether to address the Manchester bombing when the London bridge attack happened. For me, it rather reminded me of the recent NATO leaders meeting in that I have often felt like asking why I should care about any given country if the people of that country themselves no longer care. You have little girls being blown to bits in Manchester, young girls being systematically raped in Rotherham, a young man beheaded on the street in broad daylight, people mowed down on Westminster bridge, people mowed down and stabbed with hunting knives on London bridge and on and on. Yet, instead of any mass public uprising, instead of any mass protests against the people responsible for these atrocities, we see nothing. There has been more public opposition to President Trump visiting Britain than there is about little children being butchered in the streets. What can you say to such cognitive dissonance that will embrace the murderers of your own people in the name of tolerance but become hysterical over someone who used crude language?

Earlier this year, some people in a small Syrian village were gassed (how or by whom is another matter as I have serious doubts, to say the least of it, about the version put out by the media) and this prompted an immediate military response with U.S. warships raining down more than 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a nearby Syrian airbase. Yet, innocent people being butchered in London or Paris causes no acts of retaliation at all, though it did not take long of course before the usual suspects started to again make the idiotic argument that somehow dropping more bombs on the Middle East or overthrowing the leader of Syria would make people in western Europe safer. Yes, there were police raids, the mayor of London, peace be upon him, said security would be more visible on the streets of London for a time but we have been through this before and we know nothing is really going to change. We know because there was immediately more concern about what Katie Hopkins said on Twitter than there was about the murders who went on a stabbing spree. It happens every time.

There are the usual protestations from the status quo about why nothing can or should be done to change things. We heard the usual warning against blaming all Muslims for the actions of the terrorists who just happen to all be Muslims (as if it is as purely coincidental as so many terrorists in the 60’s and 70’s being Irish republicans) and how the vast majority of Muslims in Britain are wonderful people. I would say, if that is so, and I am sure it is, they would be just as wonderful in their country of origin. The terrorists who attacked in London were, not surprisingly, on the “terror watch list” and yet they do not seem to have been watched very closely obviously. When asked why this is, the answer is that there are too many people on the watch list for the government to actually watch. That should be all anyone needs to know. Obviously then, this is not just an isolated few and the fact that there are so many people “of concern” should tell everyone that this is a widespread problem. If the authorities know there is something off about this group of people, it is safe to assume that their friends and neighbors know it too and yet nothing was said to the police to warn of these impending attacks.

Personally, I am at my limit on this subject and I have completely rejected the premise of the current argument. More immigration or less? Is assimilation the answer? What policies would help people assimilate better? No! I reject all of that. It all takes for granted that countries like Europe need, I say *need*, any other people besides their own. To put it mildly, I take exception to that idea. There were no Muslims in Great Britain for many, many centuries and everyone seemed to get along just fine. All the way back in the Middle Ages, King Edward I expelled the Jews from England and England still managed to roll on well enough through the Plantagenet period, the Tudor period and the Stuart period before Oliver Cromwell killed the king and invited the Jews back in. There were bad times in all those centuries of course, the Wars of the Roses were certainly unpleasant, but I doubt the presence of a few thousand Jews would have prevented them. Depending on where they landed, the Jews themselves may well have been better off. Thanks to intolerant King Edward I, after all, they were not around to be blamed for the Black Death hitting English shores as they were in other countries.

Differences cause problems, everyone knows this, and the bigger the differences, the bigger the problems. Trying to pretend that everyone is the same will not make everyone the same. I laughed out loud when one of the terrorists in the latest attack was identified as, “an Italian of Moroccan descent”. No, I’m sorry, being Italian rather requires one to be of *Italian* descent. There were, in the colonial period, French people who lived in Vietnam. There were French families who lived and died in Vietnam for several generations. No one ever called them, “Vietnamese of French descent”. Everyone, the Vietnamese in particular, would have thought the very idea absolutely insane and positively insulting. Similarly, this is why I have no qualms about saying that there is nothing wrong with mass deportations in response to the current situation. As I wrote about earlier this year in “The Double Standard on Deportations” no one thought it was racist or unspeakably wicked when the Dutch were expelled from Indonesia, the French were expelled from Indochina or the British were expelled from India. Everyone simply accepted that Dutch people didn’t belong in Indonesia, that French people had no business being in Vietnam or Algeria and that it was only natural for Indians to want India for themselves and so British, Portuguese or Anglo-Indians had to go.

Today, of course, while any other people could do it, such a thing is considered reprehensible for Europeans to do. It is “racist” for European people to want to keep their own countries for their own people, though it is not considered “racist” for seemingly anyone else. However, race should not even have to come into this issue specifically because this is about dealing with a religion rather than a race. Islam is not uniformly one color but includes Somalis, Bosnians, Afghans, Malays, Circassians, Turks, Arabs, Persians, Sudanese and so on. Still, I will be told that such discrimination cannot be allowed, that it violates the fundamental principle of freedom of religion. This is why President Trump has had so much trouble even putting into effect a minor 90-day pause in travel from a small group of countries, because America’s enrobed high priests of “justice” have determined that this amounts to religious discrimination and what seems to be an inherent human right for everyone in the world to come to the United States as well as, be careful, the fact that America’s laws apply to everyone in every country on the planet. That could get complicated.

None of the protestations of outrage ultimately affect me all that much because I do not accept the original premise these people are coming from. So, saying, “you can’t take action specifically against Muslims because that’s a violation of freedom of religion” prompts my simple reply of, yes I can because I don’t believe in freedom of religion and I don’t think any of our modern, liberal, governments really do either. What about democracy? I don’t believe in that either. News flash: neither do the liberals who prattle about it so ceaselessly. If they did, the SNP would not be talking about a second or third referendum on Scottish independence. If they did, the EU would not be set up the way it is. If they did, issues like abortion or gay “marriage” in the United States would not have been decided by a panel of unelected judges. The whole modern, post-revolutionary liberal-democratic model is simply a system of manipulation to gain public acceptance of the course our ruling class wishes for us to take.

The United Kingdom is, after all, supposed to be an officially Christian monarchy. Certainly England is supposed to be, so, I am merely arguing that the British start to act like it. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an officially Islamic monarchy, their laws are Islamic laws and they do not allow Christianity in their country. Fine, fair enough, I have no problem with that. Likewise, then, I see nothing wrong with an (allegedly) Christian monarchy like Great Britain saying that they will not allow Islam in their country. Easy enough for me as I look back longingly on the days when all of this was taken for granted. In the Middle Ages, there were no Muslims in the Kingdom of England and England somehow managed to survive in spite of their absence. There was also no direct democracy, no idea that “all men are created equal”, no government run health service, no massive political bureaucracy, no political parties and no government welfare state. All of these were positive elements in my book.

Now, is the British government going to ban Islam in Britain? No. Are they going to deport everyone on the terrorist watch list? No. Are they going to do anything terribly different from what they have been doing in recent decades? No. As such, I have no doubt that terrorist attacks will continue, the usual routine of hash tag sympathy, political speeches and accusations of “Islamophobia” will go on as well. Particularly in light of the recent election, the British seem to prefer it that way and that is their choice to make. It does, however, as I said at the outset, make it increasingly difficult for me to have as much sympathy as I used to. The same applies to the continent. The French had a choice, they could have picked Le Pen or Macron and they chose Macron. They will have to live with the consequences of that. Le Pen could not have solved everything of course but I think that election was much more significant than most people think. Ultimately, it will take a spiritual revival to solve this problem. It will take a spiritual revival to make people care more about their own children and their own people than being called names, to then make them wake up to how they are being manipulated and then, finally, reject this liberal-democratic post-revolutionary mentality and bring about a true counter-revolution that will put government back in alignment with reality, with human nature and with the Heavens. That is my firm belief, but, then, I am … The Mad Monarchist.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Movies, Monarchs and a Lesson from Thailand

Recently I have been watching the Thai historical film series “The Legend of King Naresuan” which started rolling out in 2007, the last chapter in 2011. The three films were grouped together for American distribution into two chapters under the name “Kingdom of War”. If the third has ever been made available overseas, I have yet to come across it. These films were written and directed by HSH Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol and tell the story of the famous Siamese monarch King Naresuan the Great of Ayutthaya. They can also be seen as something in the way of a sequel to his earlier lavish epic “The Legend of Suriyothai” which tells the story of Siam’s most famous queen; Queen Suriyothai of Ayutthaya. That film was the largest and most expensive production ever mounted by Thailand and “The Legend of King Naresuan” has gone considerably bigger than that piece. This is not a film review but I would say they are excellent movies though probably will not please everyone, certainly foreign audiences. Each are very epic in scope, no expense spared, visually stunning, engaging and a spectacle to behold. They both also have a huge number of characters, a great deal going on simultaneously so that foreigners in particular will probably have a hard time keeping track of everyone and everything going on, certainly if you are not familiar with the names and places.

What I think other royals could stand to learn from the Thais on this front is making use of film to tell the story of their own most significant ancestors. As stated, these are films made by a member of the Thai Royal Family about two of the most famous monarchs of Siamese history. As such, and because the Thais have not adopted the liberal habit of being too proud to take their own side in a quarrel, they are extremely positive films, not simplistic but certainly films that know what they are about and whose side they are on. As with many Thai historical dramas, the kingdoms of Siam are the “good guys” and the kingdoms of Burma are the “bad guys”. They are spectacles of great royal figures from history who led their people in great struggles and as such are not at all like the historical films that tend to be made in the liberal west where, other than World War II which is, of course, sacrosanct, films often tend to show as much, if not more, sympathy for the “other” side than for the home team. Whether they are the type of thing that would be of interest to readers here or not, the spirit that drives them is one I would very much like to see emulated in the monarchies of Europe.

Lately, I have felt more and more compelled to try and remind people from European countries in particular just how much they have to be proud of and how much greater they are capable of being than simply another province of the European Union. European monarchies have done films that are somewhat in the same vein as these but they often seem to get stuck on certain figures and so we have numerous films about Queen Elizabeth I of England or Napoleon Bonaparte but nothing about others. Many have also been made by people openly hostile to their subject and none have been made by royals or royal relatives themselves. In English history the nearest thing are the films done on Shakespeare’s plays about Henry V but one could make a great epic film about Henry V without re-doing Shakespeare. A film about King Edward III would be magnificent if done properly. King St Louis IX of France, King St Ferdinand III of Castile, Charlemagne, Emperor Otto the Great or Frederick Barbarossa for the Germans would all be excellent topics and highly entertaining I would think.

A World War I film focused on King Albert I of the Belgians seems sorely lacking to me, the colorful history of the Princely Family of Monaco would alone offer numerous potential topics given all of the war, drama and romance that has characterized the House of Grimaldi over the centuries. Yes, there was that recent film about Princess Grace and Prince Ranier but constitutional reform and tensions with France is hardly as entertaining as would be watching Rainier II raiding English shipping in the Channel, ransoming the Isle of Wight and fighting at the Battle of Poitiers. Jean I of Monaco would also make for a very entertaining film with his naval battles, efforts to smuggle a Byzantine emperor, betrayal and the defense of Monaco by his wife Pomelline Fregose while he was held prisoner by the Savoyards. The Dutch could make quite a film about the life of Maurice of Nassau, the Swedes about Charles XII or Gustavus Adolphus. With the Kingdom of Denmark being the oldest monarchy in Europe, it pains me that the only film I’ve seen about a Danish monarch was the one who was dismissed as insane. There is plenty of material to work with!

The point is that there are tremendous tools available to glorify the dynasties of the world and any number of great stories to tell that would fill people with pride and confidence in their royal houses and in their national history. It is no good waiting for others to do it for you. This is also something that has come up recently in Thailand as a Thai historical drama has come under criticism by the Burmese for how they are portrayed which is, in the context of virtually any story about the history of Siam, as the villains. This is silly and a waste of time. Years ago when the very well made but historically atrocious film “The Patriot” came out, I was quick to point out its flaws. However, even I, Tory at heart that I am, was rather annoyed by the criticism from the British about how they were portrayed in the film. Such criticism was certainly not unwarranted, I made it myself, but if you are British, you should not be counting on the Americans to tell your side of the story. There should, rather, have been a British film about the war in America in which the Americans were the “bad guys” and the British were the heroes. Likewise, Burma should not complain about how they are portrayed in Thai television, but make their own television drama showing their side of the story.

Naturally, there will be plenty of excuses as to why this is not possible. Usually it comes down to money and the complaint that no one can match the big budgets of Hollywood productions. I say, that is no excuse. The British Royal Family is not without means and royals on the continent might try asking the Prince of Liechtenstein for a loan. If the Dutch can make a quality historical drama about the republican naval hero Michiel De Ruyter, and they have, there is no reason why they cannot make just as quality a film about one of the Princes of Orange or any Dutch monarch. Where there is a will, there is a way and if the Kingdom of Thailand can do it, I see no reason why any other monarchy cannot do the same. I for one, would certainly like to see it.
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