Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Worries for the Thai King

After being hospitalized for more than two weeks there are growing fears in Thailand that the aged and frail "Lord of Life" may be nearing the end of his own. The palace has been trying to play down the seriousness of the beloved monarch's condition but as time passes more people are starting to worry. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great was hospitalized for fever and lung inflamation and it now seems that he must have suffered a stroke. Thais have been gathering outside the hospital clasping portraits of the King, chanting Buddhist prayers and wearing pink which, during an earlier illness, a royal astrologer said was a color beneficial to the King's health. In the south of the country the Muslim minority has directed prayers for the King's recovery. As the longest reigning head of state in the world most Thais cannot remember a time when Rama IX was not on the throne and his intervention in times of political crisis as well as his tireless efforts to improve the lot of his people has made him one of the most beloved and revered monarchs in the world; even by the standards of a country whose monarchs have traditionally been considered semi-divine to begin with. The Mad Monarchist joins all Thais and admirers around the world in wishing a swift and full recovery to the "Great King of Siam".

Monarchist Profile: Sir Nicholas Crisp, Bt

One of the more unsung royalists of the English flirtation with republicanism was Sir Nicholas Baronet Crisp. He was born around 1599 to Ellis Crisp, a wealthy merchant and sheriff of London. He first came to prominence for his business in the African trade and in 1632 was awarded a monopoly with five others of the trade on the Guinea coast. Elected to the Long Parliament he was expelled in 1641 for collecting duties on merchandise which he used as security to loan money to the cash-strapped King Charles I without the authorization of Parliament. The King called him, "my good, faithful farmer". Needless to say, when the English Civil War broke out he quickly took the side of his monarch and devoted all his energy and fortune to the royalist cause.

During the war he funded the raising of a regiment of foot and was shortly appointed colonel of a regiment of horse but his most valuable service was the outfitting of a fleet which carried supplies and maintained communications between the royalist forces and continental Europe. The Parliamentarians portrayed him as a pirate patron and painted him as the blackest of villains; which was quite a compliment considering the source. When the war ended in defeat for the King's forces Crisp was totally wiped out and what money he had not spent aiding the royalist cause was quickly taken by the Cromwellian dictatorship. He was forced to flee to France like many others but family connections allowed him to return but his politics had not changed in the least.

He was among those London Royalists who signed the declaration in support of General Monk to restore the Stuart monarchy. Later he was one of the commissioners sent from London to Breda to invite King Charles II back to his throne. Once the monarchy was restored his lot did not improve at once but within three years time he was paid back in part at least for all he had lost defending the Crown. The King also appointed him to a number of prominent offices to make up the defecit. In 1640 he was knighted and in 1665 was awarded a baronetcy. He spent the last years of his life at Hammersmith where he built a handsome mansion before his death in February of 1666 at the age of 67. In 1898 his body was moved to the Hammersmith church but his heart was removed and placed in a statue of his beloved sovereign King Charles I. For some time it was a tradition on the day of his death to remove the organ and refresh it with wine.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New York Goes Red for Communism

Tomorrow the Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world, long a symbol of New York and probably the most famous New York City landmark alongside the Statue of Liberty since the destruction of the World Trade Center will be glowing bright red to honor the victory of the communists in China. I only wish I were joking. The skyscraper will be bathed in red and yellow light to mark the 60th anniversary of when communist dictator (and history's most blood-stained mass murderer ever) stood over the Tianenmen gate to the Forbidden City and proclaimed the birth of the "People's Republic of China"; managing to insult the imposing memory of the greatness that was Imperial China while crowing about his victory over the nationalists of the Kuomintang. Why on earth would New York choose to celebrate this event which heralded the birth of probably the most murderous regime in human history?

Keep in mind that, at the time of the Chinese civil war, the United States supported the Republic of China (the nationalists) against the communists. The Red Chinese were the "bad guys" as far as the U.S. was concerned, and for most of the rest of the "Free World" as well. The same party is still in power today, the same government founded by the same man that the United States opposed in their war against the Kuomintang, the same government that the U.S. fought in North Korea, the same government that gave early support to the communist Vietnamese we were fighting and the same government that was the primary ally of Pol Pot in Cambodia and Kim Il-Sung in North Korea. This is the same government that has brutalized and erradicated entire populations within their own borders, the same government which routinely condemns people to death simply for being in favor of having more than one "choice" in politics, for speaking unfavorably of their regime, for being Christians or being a Tibetan with some pride.

Besides all of this, the red flag of communism is a symbol that should be spurned simply on principle. It is a corrupt, unnatural, blood-soaked ideology that has brought war, ruin and death to hundreds of millions of people from Cuba to Korea. Nazi Germany never managed to wipe out as many human beings as the communists have, yet we trade with Red China, we borrow money from Red China and so we have to kiss-up to the Chairman in Beijing. I am against the whole disgusting relationship but at this point we are in too deep to them to be overtly hostile. However, we do NOT have to honor them and their violent seizure of power by turning the Empire State Building into the world's tallest red light district. Let me compare this to another salute New York gave via the ESB and that was when the lights were turned purple in honor of the jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II. It was a fitting tribute to a great monarch who has shown dignity, courage and devotion to her people for a lifetime as well as a salute to the British kingdom that, in the post 9-11 world and before, had been America's most loyal ally. How on earth, for the love of all the saints and angels in Heaven is this same salute to be given to blood-soaked regime of a bunch of revolutionary communist dictators?!

Words cannot begin to describe my outrage and I can only be grateful that I have nothing at all to do with New York and am very proud to hail from a state where the local Chinese community is still represented by the dragon flag of the Great Qing; the only place in the world as far as I know that the standard of the Chinese Empire still flies. If the ruling elites of New York want to honor some people from the Chinese part of the world and wish to salute their flag I could suggest a couple of options just off the top of my head that might be far more worthy than the blood-red banner of Chinese communism:

I am, dear readers, the VERY, Mad Monarchist.

Battlefield Royal: Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria

The story of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria is one of those which could easily have been simply that of a great tragedy, of noble but ultimately lost causes. Yet, Crown Prince Rupprecht is unique in that his life was on the whole an extremely successful one, despite the fact that he suffered the loss of his future kingdom. Even while Germany fell into defeat, anarchy and ruin Rupprecht himself was victorious in every task he set himself to and remained an extremely popular and beloved figure throughout his life. Indeed, his great talent and the fact that he was held in such deep admiration by so many people only adds to the many possibilities whispered about him in his lifetime, there seeming to be no limit as to what others could dream of him attaining: King of Bavaria certainly, but perhaps even German Emperor, or maybe King of Great Britain? He's an interesting man no doubt.
The Bavarian heir was born in Munich on May 18, 1869 as Rupprecht Maria Luitpold Ferdinand von Wittelsbach and was the godson of the famous Bavarian King Ludwig II. Growing up, he was given a typical royal education, with great emphasis on religion and military training. During World War I, as was customary for royal heirs, SKH Generaloberst Kronprinz Rupprecht von Bayern took command of the German 6th Army on the Western Front. There has been alot of outright lies spread about the royal commanders in the German army being military idiots, but in fact the opposite was true. The Duke Albrecht of Wurttemberg, even Kronprinz Wilhelm of Prussia were actually very capable officers and Crown Prince Rupprecht earned a high reputation as one of the most brilliant commanders of any background during the war. At the start of the war, the Crown Prince performed a brilliant action, luring French armies into a trap and then destroying them. He performed just as solidly all through the conflict. Along with his Bavarian honors, Rupprecht also earned the Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd class, the Austrian Military Merit Medal and the prestigious Prussian Order Pour le Merite with oakleaves. In 1916 he was promoted to General Field Marshal and took command of an army group.
At the end of the war, Crown Prince Rupprecht resigned his command, though he was very much adored by his troops and many in Bavaria remained loyal to their royal family. He continued to be a major force in Bavarian politics until the rise of Adolf Hitler. Some patriotic Bavarians even considered, with the fall of the Prussian Hohenzollerns, that the Wittelsbachs should be raised to the status of German Emperor. In 1919 Rupprecht inherited another position, in the minds of the most die-hard Jacobites, that of "King Robert IV of Scotland and I of England". It was not until 1921 that he inherited the position of King of Bavaria, a throne which he did have at least some chance of restoring. Monarchism was still a powerful force in conservative, Catholic Bavaria and there was enough support for the government to return a great deal of confiscated property to the Bavarian Royal Family.
Crown Prince Rupprecht, or to his Bavarian supporters, "King Rupprecht" (though he never used the title) continued to be the focus of support for conservative Bavarians, however there was an increasing amount of attention being given to the new National Socialist Party. Adolf Hitler, throughout his rise to power, often courted the monarchists, trying to gain their support with promises of royal restorations once he had "restored order". He tried to get the support of the beloved Crown Prince Rupprecht, but the old Catholic prince would have nothing to do with the movement and became an outspoken critic of the Nazi Party and an avowed enemy of Adolf Hitler. As a result of this, when Hitler was elected to power, the Crown Prince was obliged to go into exile in Italy. In 1944, the Nazis tried to arrest Rupprecht, but he managed to avoid them, though the rest of his family were put in concentration camps. He remained an honored figure long after the war and upon his death in 1955, the German government allowed the Bavarian royal regalia to be taken from the museum and used for his funeral service.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wedding of a French Pretender

Henri, Comte de Paris, Orleanist pretender to the French throne had his religious wedding on the 26th to Princess Micaela d'Orleans whom he had married in a civil ceremony in 1984 following his divorce from Maria Teresa of Wurttemberg, Duchess of Montpensier. The religious wedding had to wait until now as it was only last year that the Catholic Church had ruled that his previous marriage had been invalid. The ceremony was held at Arcangues, France and was a very small affair with none of the Prince's children attending. Members of the French and European aristocracy were on hand including, among others, Prince Alexander and Princess Lea of Belgium, Princess Nesrine Tousson, the Duke and the Duchess d’Uzes, the Duchess of Segorbe, the Dowager Duchess of Magenta, the Marquis and the Marchioness of Arcangues, Countess Ariane de Bourbon-Busset and Count Paul de la Panouse. The Count of Paris is head of the Orleans branch of the French Royal Family, that line which tried to come to an understanding with the forces of the Revolution. His claim to the throne is contested by the legitimist branch headed by Prince Luis Alfonso, Duc d'Anjou as well as, for some, the House of Bonaparte though the leaders of this family have openly embraced the republic.

Monarch Profile: Theodosius the Great

Emperor Theodosius I, a native of Spain, was a great statesman and a devout Christian. His father was executed for treason in 375 but Theodosius' talent ensured that he was recalled after the unprecedented Roman defeat by the Visigoths at Adrianople, where Emperor Valens was killed on the field of battle. Theodosius was made a general and sent to defend the border by Emperor Gratian, the Roman Emperor who officially dropped the title "Pontifex Maximus" from the imperial list, surrendering it to the Pope. Theodosius proved himself to be a bold and brilliant commander, firmly defeating the Goths and reestablishing Roman control over the region. Because of his success, Gratian named Theodosius Emperor of the East on January 19, 379. Theodosius finished up the Goths, concluded peace with them and brought greater unity to Eastern Rome by defeating and executing the traitor Magnus Maximus who had usurped the throne of Emperor Gratian.

With this, Theodosius became the sole Emperor of Rome; it would be the last time in history that one man who rule over both the east and the west. He then began a long association with the great Bishop Ambrose of Milan and mutual respect soon grew between them. Their relationship would be the foundation of the Church and State ideal for Christendom. Coming from the east, where the Church tended to be slightly more subservient, and being a Roman Emperor after all, Theodosius and Ambrose soon came into a slight conflict. Once, while at mass, St Ambrose sent a deacon to request that Theodosius stop sitting among the clergy and move in with the congregation saying, in a very brilliant remark, "The Emperor is in the Church, not over it". When the bishop opposed a policy, the Emperor was insulted and for a time refused to deal with St Ambrose at all.

However, Emperor Theodosius was nothing if not a zealous son of the Church, in fact it was his methods rather than his principles which most often brought him into controversy with the Bishop of Milan. He was a Roman Emperor, lifted from the field of battle to assume the purple, and he knew one way of dealing with enemies: harsh severity. In 390 the action occured which caused the event for which Emperor Theodosius is most famous. The capital city of Macedonia, Thessalonica, one of the greatest cities in the Roman world, rose up in rebellion against the Emperor. Their was a riot, mobs stormed government buildings and the Roman commandant was stoned to death. The Emperor was enraged, St Ambrose tried to calm him and advise forgiveness, but this was not the way Roman soldiers were used to acting. Traitors had to be made example of. Emperor Theodosius issued his order for a reprisal, but after wrestling with his conscience, recalled the command. Alas, it was too late, and the order was carried out. All of the people of Thessalonica were invited to the stadium for games, a sign of reconciliation perhaps. Once inside however, the exits were sealed and imperial troops stormed in and for the next three hours massacred 7,000 Thessalonians, men, women and children.
In an act many modern bishops could learn from, St Ambrose sent Theodosius a confidential letter informing him that this act of cruelty had caused him to be excommunicated and that he should not present himself for communion. He reminded the emperor about the holy King David, who had also sinned but repented and was restored to God's favor. Until Theodosius did the same, he was cut off from the Most Blessed Sacrament. St Ambrose wrote to him, "I dare not offer the sacrifice, if you determine to attend. For can it possibly be right, after the slaughter of so many, to do what may not be done after the blood of only one innocent person has been shed?" The Emperor was torn by this; he felt great saddness and remorse, yet it went against centuries of Roman tradition for the Emperor to lower himself before any man or confess to an error of any kind. He passed a new law that punishment must wait 30 days after one is condemned, but still the bishop insisted that the Emperor do public penance before being reconciled fully with the Church. Finally, in an unprecedented and truly historical event, Theodosius, the exalted Caesar, Emperor of Rome, came to the basilica, solemnly removed all of his imperial regalia and symbols of rank, knelt before the simple bishop and confessed his sin before all present. He did penance from October until December showing full humility and repentance before he was totally reconciled with the Church and allowed to recieve Holy Communion. It was an important act that set the precedent for the final superiority of the Church in spiritual matters, even outranking the Emperor himself.

The event seems to have quite an impact on Theodosius. He said later that, "I know of no except Ambrose who deserves the name of bishop". In 391 Emperor Theodosius officially made Rome a Christian Empire, closing down all of the remaining pagan temples, outlawing pagan worship and making Catholicism the official state church. His official declaration stated that the religion of Rome would be that, "which Holy Peter delivered to the Romans...and as the Pontiff Damasus manifestly observes it." The following year there was another rebellion, this one backed by the promise of a pagan emperor, which Theodosius was able to put down. He also insisted on Catholic orthodoxy, being a strong opponant of the spread of Arianism. He passed laws against heresy and saught with all of his power to make Rome a strictly orthdox, Catholic state, united by one Church and one Emperor. However, he was never again harsh with his enemies. According to the historian Sozomen, "He did not desire to punish, but only to frighten his people, that they might ponder, as he did, Divine matters". As part of his effort to ensure true religious teaching throughout the empire, earlier in 381 he had called the Council of Constantinople, the fisrt since Constantine's Council of Nicaea. It's main purpose was to show the error of the Arian heresy.

Emperor Theodosius the Great died in 395. He left a legacy matched by few others in Roman history. The Empire had been reunited, internal subversion suppressed, external enemies repelled, paganism abolished, and religious unity through the Catholic Church. Rome was united, strong and religiously sound. At his funeral, St Ambrose delivered the oration, a brilliant tribute to a great Christian Emperor called "De obitu Theodosii".

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Consort Profile: Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria

Princess Augusta Viktoria von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg was born in 1858 to Duke Frederick VIII of Schleswig-Holstein and in 1881 married Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, later to become German Kaiser Wilhelm II. The two had a very strong and lasting connection from the very start and enjoyed a happy marriage. She was a source of both stability and pampering to her husband who, it was said, could not survive without a woman to fuss over him. For her part, she adored her husband as probably no one else in the world. She had more artistic interests than he did but they both shared a very conservative political outlook and a very deep Christian faith. She had to endure a rough start to her married life because of her in-laws. Her sister-in-law Charlotte viewed her as of too humble in rank to marry the future German Emperor and her mother-in-law Victoria found her as unacceptable as she found virtually everything in Germany other than her beloved Fritz.

When "Dona", as she was called in family circles, became German Empress she threw herself into the traditional duties of a consort, hosting foreign guests, presiding at parties and working with the Red Cross and numerous charities; which she thoroughly enjoyed. Relations between her and her mother-in-law warmed somewhat though she was careful to guard her children from Vicky's ever-staunch liberalism. However, she was right beside Vicky when she died in 1901 and from that moment was the uncontested "first lady" of Germany. She was probably as close to a perfect match for Wilhelm II as possible. The Kaiser, with his notoriously stressed and eratic personality, could always find calm and comfort with Dona who would attend to his every need and invite him to pray with her. Sometimes this meant that she neglected herself. It was commented on that when the Kaiser would take his meals she would spend most of the time attending to him rather than eating herself and by the time she started her husband would be finished and call for her to walk with him, which she would, leaving many to wonder how she was able to keep from going hungry.

Dona certainly did her duty in securing the succession as well, giving Wilhelm 6 sons and 1 daughter. She was most attached to her youngest boy, Prince Joachim, whom she constantly worried over as he was born early following a fiery argument the Kaiserin had with Princess Sophie after she told Dona she would be converting to Greek Orthodoxy to marry the Crown Prince of the Hellenes. A very devout and committed Evangelical, Dona told her she would go to hell if she did so and the confrontation went down-hill from there. Amongst the German people Dona was adored as no one else in the Imperial family, even more consistently than the Kaiser. The war was a terrible strain on her, probably more so because of the strain it put on her husband. For the Kaiser, the chaos of a losing war put added stress on a structure that wasn't exactly up to code to start with. Nonetheless, she did all she could to give aid and comfort to her family, the soldiers and the German people.

Dona's health had started to fail even before the revolutions that brought down the German monarchy and she followed her husband into exile in the Netherlands but everyone noticed that all the upheaval had taken their toll on her. She was weak enough when word came of the suicide of her beloved Prince Joachim and most pointed to that event as being the last straw for her. She died on April 11, 1921. Her body was sent back to Germany for burial, the Kaiser having to say his last farewell at the Dutch border and even in the new republican Germany her loss was an occasion of great mourning and displays of monarchist sentiment.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

MM Video: "Bloody Mary"


Monarchist Destinations: The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan

The intrepid monarchist visitor to China will find many destinations worthy of visiting from the monumental imperial tombs, the massive Forbidden City, the vivid Summer Palace and so on. Less known, however, is the tomb of Genghis Khan in Inner Mongolia autonomous region. The first point to address is that the great conqueror is not actually buried there. Upon his death, Genghis Khan was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia, but for such a hugely significant figure, it was inevitable that some lasting monument of this sort would be built. Few would have guessed that it would be done by the communist People's Republic of China. The mausoleum was built from 1954 and 1956 to contain important relics of the Khan, items of his and eventually the remains of members of his family. This was part of a concerted effort by the Red Chinese to co-opt the legacy of Genghis Khan from the Mongols and claim him as some sort of pan-Chinese champion; something which would have likely baffled Genghis Khan himself.

As can be seen the mausoleum was built in the style of Mongol gers linked by a central hallway. A monument to Genghis Khan sits in the center and the complex is surrounded by gardens. The Mongols outside of China, in Outer Mongolia, had very mixed feelings about the mausoleum; pleased on the one hand with the monument to their national hero, but angry about the Chinese effort to claim him as their own. They could clearly see the mentality behind it as a threat to their independence. Make no mistake about it, the Communist Chinese have never forgotten that all of Mongolia was once under the rule of the Great Qing Empire and in candid moments will admit that after Taiwan is retaken they intend to see Outer Mongolia ruled from Beijing as well. However, the mausoleum was almost destroyed by the Chinese themselves.

During the "Cultural Revolution" Red Guards, whipped into a communist frenzy against all remnants of China's monarchist past, looted and nearly destroyed the mausoleum which had been completed not too long before. Many priceless artifacts were lost forever before the country finally settled down and the Chinese government began to rebuild and restore the mausoleum. Sadly, many of the original relics and artifacts had to be replaced with reproductions. Today the Chinese government is back on track, using the mausoleum as they had first intended, but not all who gather there or visit agree with their goals. Ceremonies are held several times a year in honor of Genghis Khan, sometimes even attended by dignitaries from independent Mongolia. Regardless of the intent behind it, it is a stunning monument and well worth visiting for those who are drawn to the more remote corners of the world.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Monarchist Profile: Sir Reginald F. Johnston

Sir Reginald Fleming Johnston is not an extremely well known figure but many have heard of him thanks to two sources; his memoir "Twilight in the Forbidden City" and the award-winning film "The Last Emperor" in which he was portrayed by Peter O'Toole. He was a committed monarchist and endured much because of this, particularly because of his staunch loyalty to his pupil and friend HIM Emperor Xuantong aka "Henry PuYi". Johnston was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and in 1898 entered the British colonial service working in Hong Kong and Weihaiwei, China. A noted scholar he was known for his extensive studies of China; the language, history, culture and customs. In 1919, as part of an effort to build ties with the British by the Imperial Household Department, Johnston was employed as tutor to the 13-year-old Manchu Emperor.

Johnston and his pupil soon became fast friends and Johnston was one of only 2 foreigners to live so closely to the Emperor in the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. He was given a number of honors and could be seen wearing a Chinese gown and being carried in a sedan chair like a Qing dynasty official. The Emperor appreciated his candor and his extensive knowledge of the outside world he knew so little about. He also saw him as a true friend, devoted to him personally and not trying to use him to advance himself as so many others clearly were. Johnston appreciated the Emperor's idealism, curiosity and desire to enact reforms and become a modern monarch. Both of them maintained hope that the Qing monarchy could be restored.

The two remained very close until the Emperor was expelled from the Forbidden City in 1924. A few years later Johnston was assigned as Commissioner of Weihaiwei which post he held until the Republic of China took control of the region in 1930. The following year he became Professor of Chinese at the University of London but still kept in touch with his old pupil and was hopeful that the move to Manchuria and the creation of the Empire of Manchukuo would be the dawn of a new era for the Qing monarch. The last Emperor wrote the forward for his book "Twilight in the Forbidden City" and Johnston wrote of the move to Manchuria,"in the earnest hope that, after the passing of the twilight and the long night, the dawn of a new and happier day for himself, and also for his people on both sides of the Great Wall, is now breaking."

Johnston retired from teaching in 1937 and moved to the island of Eilean Righ which he had purchased and where he built a Chinese garden and kept his Chinese robes, honors, documents and artifacts in a special Chinese-style room. He attracted quite a bit of criticism during the days after the oubreak of World War II in Asia for continuing to fly the Manchukuo flag over his island, a display not of any political approval of Japanese actions but of his unfailing loyalty to his friend the Emperor and his continued belief in his potential to be a good monarch for China. He never married but was engaged at the time of his death the following year in 1938.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ottoman Heir Passes Away

The BBC reports on the death of HIH Ertugrul Osman at the age of 97. Had not the Turkish monarchy been abolished he would have been the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and Caliph of Islam. His wife, who survives him, is a relative of the late King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan.

Papal Profile: Pope Lucius II

Pope Lucius II has the distinction of being the only pontiff to die from wounds received in battle and his reign is an example of what a perilous position the papacy was in during this period. He was born Gherardo Caccianemici and hailed from Bologna. After taking holy orders he became a canon in his native Bologna and was eventually elevated to the rank of Cardinal Priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Later he served as Church treasurer and Pope Honorius II appointed him papal legate to King Lothar III of Germany, a post he also held under Pope Innocent II before becoming his chancellor and librarian. It was he who urged Lothar to mount two expeditions into Italy to defend Innocent II from the antipope Anacletus II. With such a record of service he easily made the list of the papabile. On March 12, 1144 he was elected to the See of Peter as Pope Lucius II. He succeeded Pope Celestine II who had clashed with the Norman King Roger of Sicily.

Lucius II also faced immediate troubles with Roger II of Sicily. He met the Norman king at Ceprano to try to impress upon Roger the importance of his duties to the Church, but the powerful king would have none of it and responded with demands of his own on the Pope. Lucius II, together with the other bishops, found these demands unacceptable and eventually Roger sent an army under General Robert of Selby to invade the Papal States and force the Pope's hand. Lucius II, however, was faced with bigger problems closer to home than the south of Italy and he worried that he might need Norman support in dealing with this new threat, a threat which rose up specifically at this time of danger for the independence of the Holy See.

That threat was a secularist republican movement which had arisen in Rome and came to power under Innocent II. When Lucius dissolved the Senate the republican leaders formed a Commune under the control of Giordano Pierleoni who was the brother of the antipope Anacletus II. The same year that Lucius II was consecrated the Commune had adopted a new constitution and had begun discussing the complete removal of the Pope as sovereign of the city of Rome, in effect deposing him from his temporal power as local monarch. Obviously, this commanded the Pope's attention and he called for help from both Roger II of Sicily and the Roman nobility which had been displaced by the Commune. Roger sent no help but did at least refrain from attacking the Pope while he dealt with the Commune. During this time Portugal also submitted to the Holy See but was of little practical help in the present crisis.

With no help coming from the Normans, Lucius turned to Germany and Kaiser Konrad III who had brought the Hohenstaufen dynasty to the imperial throne. He had also been excommunicated by Pope Honorius II who had supported Lothar III for emperor. The Kaiser was cordial to Lucius' delegation but was also just as cordial to the republican delegation which came to ask him to kindly stay out of Roman affairs. Despite the obligations of his position as Holy Roman Emperor Konrad would give no help to the Pope and was content to see how things played out before deciding where the most benefit for himself could be found.

This left Lucius II with no other option but to deal with the problem himself; and that he did. With only a relative handful of his loyal Roman militia, Pope Lucius strapped on his armor, took up his sword and personally led an attack on the republican position on the Capitol. The Communards put up stiff resistance and pelted the papal troops with stones from their positions. During this deadly onslaught, Lucius II was struck in the head and severely injured. His wounds were so serious that an election for his successor was convened the same day as the disasterous attack, so he obviously was not expected to survive. The Frangipani took him to the monastery of St George where died from his wounds on February 15, 1145. He was buried in the Lateran, the only pope in history to die from wounds sustained in battle.

Cinema Royals: Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Queen of Scots in the 1971 film Mary Queen of Scots. Vanessa Redgrave certainly has illustrious Tudor film credentials. Aside from Queen Mary she appeared as Anne Boleyn in the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons (which she did voluntarily without salary) and she was Alice More in the made for TV version of the same film alongside Charleton Heston. This film version of the story of the last Catholic Queen of Scots is not the most sympathetic and it forced her to share screen time and story importance with Queen Elizabeth I of England. However, Vanessa Redgrave gives an excellent performance of the Scottish queen as a well meaning woman, a woman of strength and one plagued by misfortune. It is the emphasis of the film though that Mary was more woman than Queen, however, she convincingly portrays Mary as a woman not naive in politics, though certainly so in romance at least concerns Lord Henry Darnley. My favorite scene by far is her triumphal ride into recently conquered Dunbar, riding side saddle, breastplate fastened on, royal banner and crosses of St Andrew fluttering around her and bagpipes skirling. She enjoyed few such happy occasions in her life or in this film.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Empress Dowager

I might have forgotten had not The Royal Forums reminded me, but today is the 95th birthday of HIM Empress Dowager Leonida Georgievna, mother of HIM Maria Vladimirovna the rightful Empress of Russia. The Empress-Dowager and the leaders of the Romanov family deserve a great deal of credit for carrying on under some of the most difficult circumstances. The Mad Monarchist wishes the Empress Dowager a happy birthday and many more to come. God save the Czarina!

MM Video: Monarchs of Modern France

Mad Rant: Of Fish and Humans

Viewers of the Fox News Channel at least will be aware of the plight of the farmers of the San Joaquin Valley in California. Environmentalist radicals in the government have succeeded in cutting off the irrigation to the valley to save the delta smelt, a tiny fish about two inches long. This, combined with a recent drought, has forced this breadbasket of America to all but shut down. It has become a desert with many farmers forced to sell out and many farm laborers reduced to surviving on food relief from the state government; waiting in line for hours to receive their ration of food just to survive another day. People are suffering, people are going hungry but the environmentalists do not care so long as the precious delta smelt is saved.

This is yet another glaring example of the hypocrisy of the ultra-environmentalist movement. I say ultra because there is nothing wrong with a little good, healthy environmentalism. We would all, I think, like to see the earth survive, prefer clean air and water and abundant wildlife. However, when taken to extremes as so many these days do we see this result in humans suffering to save the most insignificant forms of animal life. Many species go extinct every single day through no action of our own. It is a part of nature; old species die and new species emerge. Yet, environmentalist nuts seem obsessed with saving all animals at the expense of human beings. Think I’m going too far?

Stop for a moment then and consider all of the international treaties, agreements, accords and what have you to protect the environment and animal species from extinction. Have you ever heard of any such thing about the extinction of human beings? No, of course not, you are probably thinking, because humanity is in no danger of extinction. True, just as the animal kingdom at large is in no danger of extinction and yet there are certain ethnic groups among the mass of humanity which are in just as much, if not more, danger of eradication than the delta smelt and precious few seem to care. For example, the Manchurian people of northeast China are virtually extinct. Their language is all but dead and although many Chinese today have Manchu blood in their veins the Manchurian people have virtually disappeared from the earth. Their fall was stunningly swift considering that at the start of the last century they ruled the most heavily populated empire on earth.

Many other ethnic groups in China are set to go the way of the Manchurians as Han colonization drowns out various ethnicities from the Uyghur to the Tibetans. However, if that does not hit close enough to home consider the plight of a larger ethnic group: the Europeans. Not only is the number of native Europeans living on European soil getting smaller, many demographic experts look at the numbers and have written off Europe as a corpse; that they have passed the point of no return and at this point it is not only frightening possible but inevitable that in the not-to-distant future native Europeans living on European soil will be extinct. The various ethnicities might hang on for a time in America and Australia but even there the numbers are not looking good.

So why are so many obsessed with saving the whales but not the Europeans? Probably because you would sound like a racist if you dared mention such a thing. So, what about the Manchurians? Pick a non-European people and the same point can be made. Members of my family have been greatly concerned by the vanishing Native American (Indian, Amerind etc) population which once dominated the Americas. In Japan the death rate is higher than the birthrate. In some ways I can understand some of the environmentalist reaction. We all do seem to be effected by a sort of collective sub-conscious feeling of impending doom; a spiritual alarm clock is going off in the minds of people all over the world giving the sense that we are nearing some great climax and people try to explain this by pointing to environmental catastrophe, a meteor, a New World Order or ancient prophecies. But that does not explain or certainly justify everything. Why do we seem more concerned with rare animals disappearing from the earth and not rare human beings with languages, histories and cultures of their own? Maybe you have to be a bubble off to even think of such a thing. Well, I am a bubble off, maybe a few, and I am … The Mad Monarchist.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blog Milestone Reached

Checking the numbers today I am glad to report that with 51 followers and 74 subscribers the total number of listed members has reached 125 since moving to the present location! I would, of course, prefer the two numbers were the same but it is much better than I had expected since the yahoo! to google crossover didn't work so well and so many of the old followers from yahoo! haven't been able to post. There's also been nearly 4,000 page hits thus far so I cannot complain there. Once again, my thanks to all followers, subscribers and casual readers alike for 'embracing their nutty side' here with The Mad Monarchist. You're only encouraging me ...... 8-o

Monarch Profile: Kublai Khan

Although overshadowed by his famous grandfather Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan could probably be considered one of the great monarchs of world history. He came to power in 1260 upon the death of his older brother Mongke Khan as ruler of the vast Mongol empire. He is probably most famous for completing the conquest of China (making him the only foreigner to ever conquer all of China) and founding the Yuan dynasty which ruled Imperial China from 1271 to 1368. Although the realm under his actual control was 'limited' to roughly what is now China, Mongolia and southeast Siberia, as the Great Khan of the Mongols he was the titular but influential ruler of the largest land empire in history, covering one-fifth of the earth's surface. He learned the ropes of statesmanship as viceroy of northern China and through the influence of his wise and formidable mother adopted the policies there that he would later use to great success in the governing of his vast realm.

Kublai's mother was Sorghaghtani Beki, a Nestorian Christian, and it was she who ensured that he grew up to be religiously tolerant, learned in administration as well as military conquest and that he would work within the Chinese framework of government rather than trying to rule through occupation and plunder. Trade and agruculture would yield a better long-term economy than the traditional method of simple plundering. Kublai Khan emerged victorious from a small civil war for leadership and in a brilliant campaign completed the conquest of China and laid out the modern capital of Beijing. Kublai protected Confucian scholars and kept Confucianism as the ideal civic model as well as making use of Chinese talent. However, his was also a famously cosmopolitan empire and he employed many foreign experts and advisors. Christianity, Islam, Daoism and Buddhism were all fairly widespread and he entertained envoys from Venice, Flanders, France, Papal Rome and Persia. He improved communications and the agricultural infrastructure in China as well as extending the famously efficient Mongol postal system across the whole country.

Trade, traditionally a despised profession in China, became widespread and resulted in a new, prosperous middle class as well as greater ties with far flung countries. Tibetan Buddhism also experienced a period of growth through the influence of Kublai's favorite wife Chabi, who was herself quite an exceptional woman. Over time Kublai began to suffer the ill-effects of good living and became extremely overweight and suffered many health problems because of it. When Chabi and her son, Kublai's heir, died in 1285 the Khan fell into a dark mood that never left him. He lashed out in efforts to conquer Japan and Vietnam but these were defeated and his health and grown so bad that when he had to confront an uprising in Mongolia he could no longer walk (though the campaign was successful). He died in 1294 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Mongolia as was the custom.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Consort Profile: Frederica of Baden

Born in Karlsruhe in 1781, Frederica of Baden was the daughter of Karl Ludwig of Baden and sister to the Czarina Elizabeth, consort of Czar Alexander I of Russia. In 1797, in Stockholm, she married King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden because of her family ties to the Russian court and because of her beauty. The reign of Gustav IV Adolf brought about a return to autocracy and a new attitude for Sweden in terms of foreign relations including a new, friendlier, relationship with Denmark. Queen Frederica was treated well by her mother-in-law, Sophia Magdalena of Denmark, who wanted her to have a better experience at the Swedish court than she had. Many in Sweden saw her as prudish and unfriendly. She viewed the court as excessively immoral and wondered whether she was the only woman there who was not having a number of affairs. The King was extremely taken with her, perhaps more so than she would have liked, and she complained of being -shall we say- "overworked" by her husband.

Nonetheless, the King took care to maintain her innocence and after producing an heir in 1799 she was formally crowned Queen of Sweden the following year. Her marriage further improved after a tour of Finland and a visit to her sister in Russia and visits back to her homeland of Baden were always enjoyable. Gustav IV Adolf took a very dim view of the changes in revolutionary France and of their rising champion Napoleon Bonaparte. However, Queen Frederica was influenced by her sister Czarina Elizabeth to try to convince her husband to make peace with France. The King saw this as tantamount to pushing for friendship with Napoleon and he rejected it absoutely as well as resenting the efforts of his wife to influence policy.

The King was soon drawn into a disastrous war with France and later with Russia when the Russians tried to force him into the continental system, which resulted in the loss of Finland. The British arrived to assist but the King could not abide the British commander and sent them packing. Soon after, in 1809, a coup overthrew the King and Queen Frederica was sent with the children to house arrest in Haga. Everyone was impressed by the calm dignity with which Queen Frederica endured her misfortunes. Queen Hedwig, consort of the new monarch King Carl XIII, befriended Frederica and even offered to help ensure the succession of her son Prince Gustav of Vasa. However, Queen Frederica refused to participate in putting her son on a throne that rightly belonged to her husband and instead offered to give up the rights of her son in return for being reunited with her husband.

When a group of Swedish military officers approached her with a similar offer, to put her son on the throne with Queen Frederica as regent, she again refused. She said it was her duty to share the misfortunes of her husband and as long as he remained in exile so would she. The family was reunited and sent into exile in Baden where their marriage, for all intents and purposes ended. She refused to have marital relations with her husband because she did not want to give birth in exile. She also desired a more regal lifestyle than Gustav IV who would have been just as happy living a simple family life. In 1812 the couple was formally divorced but Frederica continued to secretly support her husband financially. She remained interested in Sweden while spurning all proposals of foreign intervention on her behalf and finally died of heart disease in 1826.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monarchist Profile: Louis d'Elbee

Louis d'Elbee was born in Dresden, Germany in 1752. In 1777 he moved to France, became a naturalised Frenchman and joined the French royal army, rising to the rank of lieutenant before 1793 when he married and retired to an estate in Anjou. He was soon back in action though, as a soldier of fortune in the army of the Prince-Elector of Saxony. As such, he missed the outbreak of the French Revolution but returned when a law was passed ordering all emigrants back to the homeland. He was as known for his royalist loyalty as he was for his military skill and when the people of Beaupréau rose up as part of the counterrevolution that erupted in the Vendee and Brittany they chose d'Elbee to lead them. The French Revolution is often portrayed as a popular uprising by the common people against corrupt aristocrats and yet the army d'Elbee and his troops joined was led by a peddler (Jacques Cathelineau) and a gamekeeper (Jean-Nicolas Stofflet).

Louis d'Elbee showed his skill and valor for the start in the great struggle for religion and monarchy. Soon, he was the top subordinate to Jacques Cathelineau, commander of the 'Catholic and Royal Army'. When Cathelineau was shot down in Nantes it was Louis d'Elbee who was chosen to succeed him as generalissimo of the counterrevolutionary forces. Once in charge d'Elbee led his gallant forces to victory at Coron and Beaulieu but was then defeated at Lucon. However, though it was a terrible defeat, d'Elbee displayed cool leadership and was able to withdraw his troops in good order, avoiding a route and the total destruction of his army. Sadly, the Catholic and Royal Army was hopelessly outmatched by the revolutionaries who used the most cruel and vicious methods to stamp out resistance. On October 17, 1793 d'Elbee and his forces were defeated at the battle of Cholet.

It was the end for d'Elbee but he went down like a lion, being badly wounded in combat before being overrun and taken prisoner. He was given a show trial three months later for daring to oppose the revolution and was put to death at Noirmoutier on January 6, 1794 still so badly suffering from his wounds that he had to face the republican firing squad sitting in a chair. Louis d'Elbee had not finally been victorious, but he displayed great moral courage in opposing the satanic Jacobins in the first place, showed great skill in winning a number of victories against the revolutionary forces and he went down in noble defeat for a righteous cause and earned the right to be included among the pantheon of great monarchist heroes of the French counterrevolution.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Battlefield Royal: Archduke Charles of Austria

Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen was the younger brother of Emperor Francis I of Austria and one of the primary antagonists of Napoleon Bonaparte. Although not quite as well known as Wellington or Bluecher, Archduke Charles was one of Napoleon's most capable adversaries. Although he suffered from epilepsy he showed great promise as a young officer while serving in Belgium. He gained fame as one of the greatest generals in Europe for his campaign in Germany in 1796 in which he defeated the French revolutionary armies of Jourdan and Moreau in turn. In 1799 he defeated Jourdan again in Germany, invaded Switzerland to defeat another French army and then succeeded in driving the French across the Rhine.
He refused the honors offered to him by the Austrian government and in 1806 was made commander-in-chief of the Imperial Austrian Army as he was the only figure to have defeated French Napoleonic forces which had seemed so unstoppable. However, he did meet his share of defeats when he went up against the French again, commanded by Napoleon, who had a much better army than in the past and who had him considerably outnumbered. Some criticized him as being overly cautious, too attached to defensive fighting and Clausewitz was dismissive of his attachment to the importance of strategic positions rather than the total destruction of an enemy force. Nonetheless, he was considered one of the preeminent soldiers of his time, possibly the greatest continental foe Napoleon had and later generations have judged his 1796 campaign in particular as practically flawless.
Archduke Charles retired from active duty in 1812 and in 1815 married Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg by whom he had five children, the oldest of whom went on to become Queen of the Two Sicilies. He died in Vienna in 1847 at the age of 75, one of the most admired and respected Austrian heroes of the Napoleonic Wars.

Mad Rant: Clerics and Healthcare

Roman Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento were recently in Washington DC lobbying Congress in support of universal healthcare and demanding that illegal aliens be included. Who knew that lobbying congress on proposed medical bills was part of the duties of bishops? Archbishop Gomez did also mention that such a bill should not include coverage for abortion but that he took President Obama at his word that this would not be the case. Really?! With all due respect to the Archbishop, is it really all that wise to take the word of a politician with the most pro-abortion record in history, with the absolute support of the pro-abortion community that he will leave this out of his socialized healthcare plan? Pardon me but I would sooner trust a scorpion not to sting me if I picked him up and petted him. I intend no disrespect to any members of any religious hierarchy (the same for any monarchy, as is my policy) but that does not mean I will not voice my disagreement.

History, distant and recent, as well as a simple look around the world today will show that countries wherein socialism dominates secularism and atheism do as well. The explanation is simple; because true religion is replaced by the worship of the government: the great, all-power benefactor from whom all welfare comes. Let not the small streak of grey in my beard fool you, I am a young man still and yet even I can remember when religious leaders (be they Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or what have you) were conservative (gasp!). Today everything seems a muddle and it all comes down to the insidious infiltration of the revolutionary mentality into most or all of the religious communities of the world. Traditional leaders are paid lip service to but routinely ignored or are not allowed to exercise their legitimate authority. Look at the state of the Church of England today and ask yourself if you really think HM Queen Elizabeth II approves of all that is and has been going on? Look at the positions being advocated by Catholic bishops on socialist policies and ask yourself if Pope Benedict XVI (who surely knows the difference that still remains between West and East Germany) if you really think he approves of or even considers socialist policies beneficial?

Let me be clear, charity is wonderful but government programs that forcibly take money from one group of people to give to another group of people, wasting half in the process, is not charity and I fail to see how it does anyone any good in spiritual or temporal terms. The US is not a rich country, it is in debt up to its eyeballs and I see no moral difference in our country giving free healthcare to illegal aliens and a father giving to charity while his own family is about to have their home repossessed. Socialism ultimately results in nothing more than bringing a population down to its lowest common denominator and socialist regimes have never been favorably inclined towards religion or traditional authority; certainly not Christianity and monarchy. I'm not trying to be picky here and I'm not trying to be disrespectful toward the bishops, I am trying to be ...... The Mad Monarchist.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Queen Anne

Today is the birthday of Queen Anne of Romania, consort to King Michael I, formerly a princess of the Bourbon-Parma dynasty. Queen Anne has had quite an eventful life and her marriage to the King of Romania was itself quite a struggle. Pope Pius XII refused a dispensation for her to marry the Orthodox monarch because the King would not promise to raise their children Catholic. As a result, the Bourbon-Parmas boycotted the Orthodox ceremony, however, the couple were later married in 1966 with Catholic rites in the Principality of Monaco. The Mad Monarchist wishes the lawful Queen consort of Romania a happy birthday.

Monarchist Destinations: The Forbidden City of Hue

This is the first post of a new series on some of my favorite places of monarchial interest, generally out-of-the-way, off the beaten path or relatively unknown alongside the likes of Buckingham Palace, Versailles or Schoenbrunn. Today, I start with the capital city of the last Vietnamese imperial dynasty: Hue. Of the many monarchial sites in Vietnam the city of Hue is definitely at the top of the list because of the majestic Holy Citadel, the grand and tragic Forbidden City within its massive walls and the hauntingly beautiful imperial tombs in the valley up river. The Forbidden City of Hue was built by the founder of the Nguyen dynasty, Emperor Gia Long, in 1804 and was built to be a more humble version of the massive Forbidden Purple City in Peking. However, the citadel also shows the early French influences as it is clearly built in the style of Vauban, at least as far as the fortifications go. True, it cannot match it's Chinese counterpart in sheer size, but I find the Forbidden City of Hue more intoxicating because of the way it was laid out to be in humble harmony with the surrounding mountains and natural beauty rather than trying to surpass them.

Sadly, most of the innermost city, where the Emperor actually lived, was destroyed in the Tet Offensive of 68. However, there is still more than enough to see. Particular favorites are the Thai Hoa Dien or Palace of Ultimate Peace which remains untouched and houses the Golden Dragon Throne. It is the first building you will see upon crossing the moat and passing through the imposing Ngo Mon Gate. Another interior building which cannot fail to impress is the temple of the emperors where large altars still stand for the veneration of 10 of the 13 Nguyen emperors. Ceremonies are still held here, and almost always have been, in the old days by the faithful few, nowadays with official assistance as a tourist attraction (don't get me started). Hue abounds with magnificent monuments and temples of the imperial past and the tombs (where all but two emperors now rest) cannot be missed.

The tombs of Emperors Minh Mang and Tu Duc are usually upheld as the most beautiful and the most perfect in terms of the traditional Asian style. I also must point to the unique tomb of the much-maligned Emperor Khai Dinh whose tomb is, I think, a very striking combination of French and Asian styles, blended together in a way that comes out very well in my opinion. The intricate detail and masterful craftsmanship that went into these buildings and continues in their maintainence is awesome. Sadly, much was allowed to decay following the communist takeover though it still had a haunting, majestic beauty to the place. Today tourism is helping in repairs but also increases a disgusting commercialism in my view. Call me a stick in the mud but I hate things and places once held sacred being treated as mundane for the sake of t-shirt wearing, gum popping tourists even if my own countrymen are among them. Nonetheless, if you ever happen to be in the area, a visit to Hue will not disappoint. The mystery and majesty still remains. I can think of no better description than that which the old Vietnamese gave to Hue hundreds of years ago. The city of Hue has the grace, serenity and beauty of a sleeping princess.

Shameless Plug

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pope Honors Grand Duke Henri

Monarch Profile: Emperor Thanh Thai

To some he is remembered as a great patriot, a poetic artist who tricked his enemies in an effort to pursue his own goals for the independence of his country. To others, he is a mad man, a Vietnamese Caligula more famous for the stories of his bizarre behavior than for anything else. He was born HIH Prince Buu Lan, son of the "3-day king" Nguyen Duc Duc. He did not immediately succeed his father but upon the death of Emperor Dong Khanh (whose own son was not allowed to immediately succeed him) in 1889 the young boy was plucked from poverty, taken to the "Great Within", scrubbed up, dressed in yellow dragon robes and enthroned as the Emperor of Vietnam with the reign name "Thanh Thai". Even at 10 he was observed to be very active and intelligent, curious and creative. However, in retrospect some judged that he had been flung from rags to riches and into a 'well stocked' harem too suddenly and early in life.

As he grew older the stories of his bizarre, perverse and at times cruel behavior behind the walls of the Forbidden City became legendary. Some maintain though that this was all an act, and point to his very well written poetry and political opinions as proof, that he was simply "playing the fool" to have greater freedom and divert attention. If so, he was an extremely gifted actor and the French were content to let him remain on the throne as a curiosity; a sort of tourist-attraction, while they ruled the country themselves. However, the reign of Emperor Thanh Thai was innovative in many ways. He was the first Vietnamese monarch to cut his hair short, drive a car and wear western clothes as well as the first to be extensively photographed. This did not endear him to the very traditional court but many people were impressed by his concern for them. He would slip out of the Great Within disguised as a common peasant to speak to his people and hear their complaints and concerns.

At one point the stories of eunuchs being beaten half to death, female servants found covered in bite marks or being forced to drink then flogged for drunkenness that the Imperial court had Thanh Thai sent away for a "vacation" by the French. They were not too concerned though, even when he paraded through the streets escorted by his personal army of women cavalry. It was only when it was discovered that he had been attempting to contact the royalist independence forces led by the exiled prince Cuong De that the French decided to depose him on the grounds of insanity. In 1907 he was reduced in rank to duke, exiled to Vung Tau island and replaced by his young son Emperor Duy Tan. However, he continued to cause controversy with his debts, odd behavior and caused considerable outrage at the outbreak of World War I when he discarded his French decorations and ostentatiously purchased only German made goods.

In 1916, when his son attempted to lead an uprising against the French, the opportunity was taken to be rid of them both. The throne went to Emperor Khai Dinh (now deemed good enough to succeed his father Dong Khanh) and Thanh Thai and Duy Tan were shipped off to La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Thanh Thai still caused scandal, his own son calling on the French to intervene but to no avail. After the Vietnamese declaration of independence in 1945 he was allowed to return home but was mostly kept under house arrest on Vung Tau, though on one occasion he did meet his cousin, the reigning Emperor Bao Dai. He died on March 24, 1954 in Saigon and was buried in the tomb of his father in Hue. His record remains a mixed one. Most dismiss him as a lunatic, others however, maintain that the stories are overblown and that it was all a charade by a patriotic monarch who was trying to distract his captors to plan for the independence of his country.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16: Mexican "Independence"

Last night at midnight President Felipe Calderon, reenacted the Grito de Dolores from the National Palace in Mexico City, ringing in September 16 in the fashion of Father Miguel Hidalgo the "Father of Independence" in 1810 when the long series of revolutions against Spain began. Watch the media and you will undoubtedly hear this referred to as Mexican Independence Day, but of course, that is a bit misleading considering that Padre Hidalgo uttered his cry in 1810 and Mexico did not become independent until more than ten years later in 1821 under the leadership of Don Agustin de Iturbide who became the first Emperor of Mexico. There is doubt as to whether or not Hidalgo even called for independence on September 16, 1810 though it is mostly agreed that he called for "death to the Spaniards".

Hidalgo, just to make the record clear, sparked a racial war when he called for the death of all people of European blood in Mexico. He was a Catholic priest who embraced the "Enlightenement" movement, denied the authority of the Pope, the virgin birth of Christ and clerical celibacy (he fathered 5 illegitimate children by two different women). When the bloodbath he unleashed provoked fear and retaliation on the part of Spain and the conservatives of Mexico he and his peasant army were defeated, Hidalgo was hauled before the inquisition, defrocked and he was executed by a Spanish firing squad. Contrast that with General Iturbide whose independence movement in 1820/21 was based on the three guarantees of "unity, independence and religion". Yet, as a monarchist, Emperor Iturbide has been considered politically incorrect throughout most of Mexican history and has been largely ignored by the general public while the more accepted radical Hidalgo is lionized and the date of his cry is the preeminent national holiday.

Most, however, have accepted this as one of the little quirks of Mexico and upon his arrival in Mexico even Emperor Maximilian reenacted the Grito de Dolores on September 16. Nonetheless, a few diehard monarchist conservatives in Mexico still let the day pass uncelebrated and wait until September 27 to have their own fiestas in recognition of the day that General Iturbide rode in triumph into Mexico City where he was hailed as Emperor.

Consort Profile: Jane Seymour

Queen Jane Seymour could well be regarded as the most successful of all the wives of Henry VIII. She was popular with the people and gave Henry his only male heir which instantly made her his favorite as can be seen by his request to buried next to her. She seemed the ideal wife and queen, but she brought with her a family that was to have quite an impact on English life long after Jane had left the scene. She was a small and quiet woman, but a woman with a devoted and courageous heart within her tiny frame. Jane was born around 1505 and when she was old enough she secured a position as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. She was very impressed by Queen Catherine and adored her for her kindness and piety. Described as fair, pale, modest, even-tempered and of rather petite build she had the physical appearance Henry liked most and the gentle and reserved nature considered most desirable in a woman of Tudor times.

Jane first caught the eye of the King in September of 1535. By early the following year the King was obviously smitten with her, but Jane would not consent to being a mistress and made it clear that she was not the sort to return his advances unless Henry intended to marry her. The King was impressed by her modesty and morals and had to play the part of the gentleman caller, even having to put up with his meetings with Jane being chaperoned. Nonetheless, as Queen Anne was being tried for adultery things with Jane proceeded at a fairly quick pace. In fact, Anne was not even cold in the ground when Henry VIII and Jane Seymour were engaged the very next day after Anne was executed and were married less than two weeks later on May 30, 1536. Jane was the first of Henry's queens who was not crowned, but she quickly adapted to the role of queen consort and by the start of 1537 she was pregnant.

Quite unlike the demanding Anne, Jane took as her motto "Bound to Obey and Serve". All of the frivolity and extravagance of Anne was replaced with a more modest, strict and conservative household by Queen Jane. She banned all of the more immodest French fashions Anne had brought in and had all of her ladies dress in traditional, English fashions which were less revealing. Perhaps also remembering how Henry had a tendency to fall for the ladies around the Queen, she made sure that her maids of honor would not draw attention to themselves. Queen Jane was also hopeful that she could heal the religious rift in the country and her time as Queen coincided with the “Pilgrimage of Grace”. This was an uprising of northern Catholics intend on undoing the recent religious changes Henry had enacted. These people loved Queen Jane, and had more than enough strength to have overthrown Henry VIII had they desired it. However, Henry VIII used treachery to overcome them, and even used the name of Queen Jane in his deceit. He pretended to agree to all of the demands of the Pilgrims and even promised to give Jane a special role as Queen of the Catholic northern part of the country. He had no intention of doing any of this of course and as soon as the Catholics laid down their weapons he crushed them ruthlessly.

Queen Jane also hoped to bring about reconciliation in the Royal Family by having Princess Mary (daughter of Catherine of Aragon) brought back to court. Previously, Henry had declared Mary illegitimate and had subjected her to horrible humiliations and punishments and when the moment came for reconciliation, the will of young Mary finally broke. Henry changed none of his positions and Mary grudgingly recognized the King as Supreme Head of the Church, an act for which she would never forgive herself. Henry made it clear that he would never reverse himself on the religious question and he warned Queen Jane to stop meddling in politics or she would risk suffering the same fate as her predecessor. Queen Jane, ever the faithful wife, accepted this and determined to bear her sufferings in silence with only her sister Elizabeth Seymour and her sister-in-law Anne Stanhope to be her confidants.

All in all, 1536 was a year of great disappointment for Jane but everyone knew the key element was her pregnancy, which could decide her entire fate. The King did whatever he could to comfort her in her condition so desperate was her for a smooth pregnancy ending in the birth of a son. Jane gained a lot of weight and Henry even had quail brought in from Calais in France and from Flanders to feed her cravings. About a month later, on October 12, 1537 the long sought after dream of Henry VIII came true when Queen Jane gave birth to a son, the future King Edward VI of England. Henry was overjoyed and again Jane was the perfect woman in his eyes, the wife who had given him what he wanted most and what none of his others had been able to: a son and heir. Yet, the jubilation, sadly, was not to last long. Queen Jane, weakened by the birth, contracted puerperal fever and died a short time after on October 24 in her palace at Hampton Court. Henry VIII mourned her as he had no other. Despite her foray into politics, she had been his ideal woman, the one who had made everything right. He had her buried in Windsor Castle in a magnificent tomb he had built for the two of them there, and where he would one day join her.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Harry!

HRH Prince Henry of Wales celebrates his 25th birthday today. He has had a bit of a controversial reputation over the years but his late mother warned us from day one that the "spare" was the wild one of the pair. I also give Prince Harry alot of credit for his military service. While politicians cast votes sending the sons and daughters of others off to war Prince Harry was one of those who went, put his backside in the line of fire and roughed it with everyone else while most of the offspring of the elites would have none of it. Say what you will about him the Prince has served in the hardest occupation in the world with no special treatment because his grandmother happens to be the Queen. The Mad Monarchist joins all the loyalists of Britain and the Commonwealth in wishing Prince Harry a happy birthday.

Monarchist Profile: Fabrizio Cardinal Ruffo

One of southern Italy's great counterrevolutionary heroes was Fabrizio Cardinal Ruffo. The period of the French Revolution was a time of great turmoil, not only for France, but for the rest of Europe as well. Intoxicated by the blood they filled the streets of Paris with, the revolutionary leaders soon began to strike out against every side. One of the first areas to come under attack was the states of Italy. Napoleon Bonaparte conquered and exploited northern Italy and took the aging Pope Pius VI prisoner. However, after 1799 Austrian and Russian troops liberated much of the French puppet state in Italy and a counterrevolutionary uprising broke out in Tuscany, Naples and the Papal States. Liberty Trees went down and the Christian cross went up as devout Italians, following the same heroic example as the French of the Vendee, fought to drive out the French revolutionary forces and restore the freedom of the Church.

This movement came to a head in the formation of the Congregation of the Holy Faith, more commonly known as the Sanfedisti under the leadership of Fabrizio, Cardinal Ruffo. A zealous defender of the Church and traditional authority, Cardinal Ruffo also created a branch within the congregation to face the enemy in battle; the Army of the Holy Faith. They certainly could not have been inspiring in appearance, armed with little more than shotguns and farming tools, but they fought with the fervor of people defending the throne of God. Their army soon swelled from hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands.

With Cardinal Ruffo leading the campaign, the Sanfedisti captured Altamura. Before their arrival, the French had chained together 48 priests and lay persons and tossed them into a deep ditch. Only three priests lived to be rescued. Next, Cardinal Ruffo marched on Naples, which he hoped to capture through peaceful negotiations. After promising generous and merciful terms the French garrison surrendered in mid-June, 1799. British Admiral Horatio Nelson arrived to take command of all opposition forces and ridiculed Cardinal Ruffo for being so lenient toward the Naples garrison. Some Italians accused Nelson of coming to fix the barn door after the horses had already come home.

In all, the Congregation of the Holy Faith under Cardinal Ruffo had liberated the cities of Naples, Rome and Florence, destroying the revolutionary, republican and anti-clerical regimes established there. Their actions also proved that the revolution was not welcomed with open arms by the oppressed common masses. Here was an army of peasant farmers and untried civilians of every sort who, out of devotion to the Church, had risked their lives to drive out the liberal influence from Italy. They had hoped to come to the rescue of Pope Pius VI, but he died on August 22, 1799 before any arrangements could be made.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Sad Anniversary for Monaco

Twenty-seven years ago today the Principality of Monaco, the United States and many people around the world suffered a terrible loss.

Cinema Royals: Emilia Fox as Jane Seymour

Today's Cinema Royal is Emilia Fox as Jane Seymour in the 2003 HBO-ITV movie Henry VIII. There should be no doubt that Emilia Fox would be good at her job since this kickboxing London girl has acting in her veins being the daughter of Sir Edward Fox OBE. She was very believable in her part and I think presented an image of Jane Seymour that is not often considered. In this film, Jane Seymour, a devoted wife, is also a faithful woman with strong opinions and firm principles. Emilia manages to strike the right balance I think between pushing for what she believes in and being a good Tudor-era wife, which is what the real Jane Seymour had to do. She comes across as a good, devout woman, a faithful Catholic who wants to see reconciliation in the Tudor family as well as between England and Rome. She brings down the wrath of her husband because she feels so strongly about this and yet Emilia is believable as a wife who cares about the soul of her husband and wants him to see the error of his ways and return to the embrace of the Church. Her best scenes are the pride in her face as Mary is brought back to court and she tells her how the King has changed and has agreed to the restoration of the old Church and when Henry VIII blows up at her for interfering, the second time becoming violent at which point she goes into labor. Her talent definitely shows in those moments. Some have dismissed the idea that Henry ever struck Jane, but I don't think it totally impossible as he had already beheaded his last wife and threatened (though we don't know how seriously) Jane with a similar threat if she continued to try to advise him on political and religious matters. Emilia is a lovely Jane.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Monarch Profile: Catherine the Great

She was born Sophia Augusta Fredericka of Anhalt-Zerbst in Germany but is better known to the world as Catherine the Great, one of those liberal-minded yet still autocratic monarchs known to history as the “Enlightened Despots”. She is loved by some, loathed by others but impossible for any to ignore. She was liberal, tyrannical, reformist, repressive and many other contradictory things at the same time. Yet, from 1762 to 1796 she was ‘large and in charge’ of the Russian Empire. Few other monarchs left such a lasting impression, for good or ill, as Catherine the Great.

Born on May 2, 1729 she was married to the future Czar Peter III in 1745 However, a match made in heaven it definitely was not. In 1762, after only 6 months on the throne Catherine masterminded a coup that overthrew Czar Peter III who was later murdered though whether or not Catherine was involved has been long debated. She rewarded her supporters, instituted military and economic reforms and secularized the properties of the Russian Orthodox Church. She enacted reforms to improve public health and encouraged immigration to Russia. Catherine, although an absolutist, enacted new legislative reforms to strengthen this and the collection of deputies she gathered were praised by her admirer Voltaire though the serfs were given no representation. This, as well as her swift and brutal suppression of peasant uprisings led many to regard her liberalism as hypocritical while others still viewed her as an ‘Enlightened Despot’.

In foreign relations Catherine’s religious interference in Poland resulted in rebellion and this, in turn, led to a renewed war with the Ottoman Turks. In the end Russia was victorious and the national territory enlarged. She made new provinces answerable to her and charged the police with not only enforcing the law but public hygiene and morality as well. In her private life Catherine was scandalous and became notorious in her own time for her long succession of lovers whom she picked up and discarded regularly though was usually generous to them once their tour of duty was over. She continued her campaign of reform in the government, justice system and education. To further secure Russia against the Turkish threat she cultivated an alliance with her fellow “Enlightened Despot” the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II.

When the American War for Independence broke out Catherine remained neutral and refused a request from King George III to provide 20,000 troops to serve in America. Her neutrality, especially in terms of the League of Armed Neutrality, was to the benefit of the American rebels but Catherine also said she would have killed herself rather than recognize US independence as George III eventually did and Russia did not establish relations with the USA until 1809. Another war with Turkey was long and costly even with Austrian assistance and another war with Sweden ended in stalemate. Catherine was too preoccupied with problems in Poland to participate in the first coalition against revolutionary France and her crushing of Poland eventually led to partition and the total loss of an independent Poland. She sent a military expedition against Persia and was finally organizing to aid in the war against France when she died in 1796, her final years marked by policies more reactionary than enlightened, so perhaps her hard experiences had taught her a thing or two. The throne then passed to her son who became Czar Paul I.
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