Thursday, September 30, 2010

Does Hollywood Have It In Them?

It is hard to believe today's Hollywood would make an updated version of the 1985 classic RED DAWN but that's the word.

Monarch Profile: Emperor Bahadur Shah II of India

Bahadur Shah II has the distinction of being the last emperor of the Mughal rulers of India. At one time the Mughal Empire stretched across almost the entire Indian subcontinent and was a successor of the massive central Asian empire of Tamerlane or Timur the Lane, a descendant of Genghis Khan. Starting with Babur who first took control from the old Sultan of Delhi, the Timurid dynasty of the Mughal Empire reached its peak under Emperor Akbar the Great. Shah Jahan was one of his descendants, his most lasting legacy being the Taj Mahal which he built as a mausoleum for his beloved wife. The Taj Mahal remains the most famous Mughal monument though many of the most famous landmarks in India, Pakistan and elsewhere such as the Agra Fort and the Badshahi Mosque were also built by the Mughals. The centuries, however, had taken their toll by the time Bahadur Shah II succeeded his father, Akbar Shah II, the Mughal Empire was confined mostly to the environs of Delhi and little else.

The British East India Company had first gained influence working through native leaders and in 1803 they took control of Delhi from the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II who had already suffered numerous personal disasters. He was forced to become a pensioner of the East India Company and place himself under the protection of the British. At first the British maintained some respect for the nominal monarch but in 1835 the company had become strong enough that it stopped even the nominal position they had previously held as lieutenant of the Emperor, by this time Akbar Shah II. Thus, on September 28, 1838 he inherited a throne which wielded only nominal power and even then it reached only to the area around Delhi. The British East India Company paid the Emperor a pension so long as he gave them no trouble and allowed him to remain inside the Red Fort palace, the walls of which marked the boundaries of his little actual authority. It was a far cry from the Mughal Empire that once stretched across most of India, Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan and Persia. Now there was no doubt that the glories of the empire were in the past and Bahadur Shah had been informed by the Company that his imperial title would die with him.

Bahadur Shah had witnessed much of this change in his own lifetime. When he was born in 1775 the British East India Company was only a minor force on the coast with a few factories and outposts in the major cities but by the time he came to the throne at the age of 63 the company dominated the subcontinent. Zafar, his well known pen name, was not an ambitious or a warlike man, yet what he represented was to prove vital to the nationalists of India who desired to throw off the East India Company and restore Indian independence. His reign also saw the last great cultural flowering of the old India and the remnant of the Mughal Empire. Zafar himself was quite famous for his poetry and the new innovations and modern ideas for the west were which had just been introduced were discussed at great length as well as how these new ideas could impact the traditional Islamic and Hindu beliefs of the Indian people. It is ironic that this cultural renaissance came when the empire was effectively on its death bed. That death was to be hastened by the great Indian Mutiny of 1857.

Bahadur Shah was hardly in a position to be an effective rebel leader. He was an 82-year-old mystic and poet and certainly not a military commander by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, as the Mughal Emperor, the ruler of the last dynasty which had reigned over a united and powerful India he was naturally the one most people turned to for leadership, even if only symbolic. The Indian Mutiny had been brewing for some time as more and more people became fed up with the rule of the East India Company. The famous spark which ignited the conflict was when Sepoy troops employed by the company for the Bengal army were issued Enfield rifles with paper cartridges greased in animal fat that the soldier had to bite off with his teeth to load the rifle. The Muslim and Hindu soldiers refused as pig fat was considered unclean by the Muslims and cows were sacred to the Hindus and this was the straw that broke the camels back. They feared a conspiracy on the part of the company to convert the entire population to Christianity and a military revolt flared up which quickly spread to the civilian population.

The revolt reached Delhi on the morning of May 11, 1857 and the rebels immediately went to the Red Fort palace and clustered under the windows to the apartments of the Emperor and called on him to lead them. Many in the palace immediately joined the rebels but the Emperor took no immediate action. An unambitious man by nature he was sympathetic to the cause of the rebels but rather horrified by the horrific violence that had erupted. He remained rather hesitant the next day when he held his first formal audience in many years to meet with the sepoys and hear their petition. The scene was chaotic and somewhat unnerved the aged monarch but the rebels were adamant that they needed him to take charge of their movement as the only possible figure who could unite all India in the fight for independence. Although greatly troubled by the violence that had already occurred and which was sure to follow Zafar felt it was his duty to comply with their demands and accept their allegiance. In quick order the rebels proclaimed Bahadur Shah II Emperor of Hindustan.

When news of this event reached the countryside it caused more Indians to rally to the rebel cause. The European communities went into a siege mentality and many Muslim clerics began calling for a holy war against the British. The Emperor, however, firmly rejected such a move because he feared that to stir up such religious violence would only lead to internal conflict between the Muslims and Hindus of India. Once again the nobles and all sections of society swore allegiance to the Emperor and coins were issued in his name. Nonetheless, some claimed early on that the sepoys had coerced Zafar into allowing himself to be placed at the head of the rebellion. Additionally, his support did not make rebellion more popular with everyone in India. The Sikhs, for instance, turned against the mutiny and supported the British when Muslim rulers endorsed the emperor for fear (probably unjust) that the result would be an Islamic Indian empire. The rebels also had to rely on a rather shaky command structure since events were moving so rapidly. Although the Emperor was the symbolic leader in whose name all fought he did not have absolute control over the forces under his nominal command.

To command the army Zafar chose one of his sons who had petitioned him to lead the rebellion, Mirza Mughal, who had no real military experience. He set about his duties with zeal and tried to make a formal military out of the disparate band of freedom fighters and provide billeting, provisions and a structured command system. However, enthusiasm is no match for experience and when Bakht Khan arrived; who was a veteran of the British forces, the Emperor placed him in command and gave Mirza the post of quartermaster general. All of this had to be done quickly because the Indian rebels were about to feel the full military might of an alarmed British Empire, fresh from victory in the Crimean War. Troops poured in from all directions; from Great Britain, across Persia from the Crimea and diverted from China and naturally Delhi was a major prize for both practical and symbolic reasons. The British also took particular aim at the Emperor and were determined that their counter-attack would bring a final end to the Mughal Empire which had stood for so many centuries.

When the British forces arrived they cut a bloody swath through India as they marched on Delhi, arriving on July 1. The East India Company had a relatively small force to besiege the city with but they had the advantages common to the proud military tradition of Great Britain: experience, training and discipline. For nearly three months the siege dragged on and as more Indian rebel troops arrived they made some attacks on the British but the company forces had little difficulty in driving them off. One of the British officers wounded in such an attack was a young Neville Chamberlain. The lack of any real success despite a significant numerical advantage worried the Emperor and he began refusing offers of help. His own control over the city was rather weak; the rebel forces did not have a great deal of discipline and despite the odds it looked like it was only a matter of time before the British re-took the city.

Disease and privation seemed to be doing the British more harm than the sepoys and as other rebellions, such as in the Punjab, were put down more Company forces arrived to reinforce the siege of Delhi. The rebels began sending out peace feelers in August but the company considered their demands unreasonable. The Indians might have regarded the war as a fight for independence but from the British point of view it was a rebellion and those taking part were traitors who could expect little in the way of mercy. Major General Archdale Wilson commanded the British forces and by the end of the first week of September his artillery train arrived and in quick order the British mortars and heavy artillery knocked out the rebel defenses. The rebels were running out of ammunition (all of which had been captured from Company stores) and on September 14 the British launched their assault. The British broke through at the Kashmiri Gate and suffered heavy losses but struggled forward in a week of hard fighting street to street and house to house before reaching the magnificent Red Fort.

By that time the Emperor and his entourage had fled to the Humayun tomb. The British thought he was planning a last stand there and took a cautious approach. However, Captain William Hodson took his native irregular cavalry and rode to the tomb where he demanded that the Emperor surrender. Bahadur Shah first asked if things could not go back to the way they had been before (he had not, after all, instigated the rebellion) but Hodson assured him such an idea was ludicrous but did promise that he would be fairly treated and suffer no indignities if he surrendered immediately. The Emperor agreed and turned over his jewel-encrusted swords to the captain and rode out with great dignity into British custody. The captain remarked later about how regal the procession was and what a calming presence the mere sight of the Emperor had on the public. However, despite the promises made, there was to be no happy ending for the last Mughal imperial family. Bahadur Shah was put on trial by the British who tried to blame the entire uprising on him and paint him as some sort of scheming mastermind who orchestrated the whole mutiny. His three sons, including Mirza Mughal, who were captured with him, were all summarily shot by Captain Hodson who then looted their bodies. Bahadur Shah, after his trial, was found guilty, deposed and exiled to Rangoon in Burma where he lived until his death in 1862.

When the last Mughal Emperor passed away his body was thrown into an unmarked grave and the soil was carefully replaced so that in a couple of months there would be no trace as to where his remains were located. Nonetheless, a shrine of sorts stands nearby to this day in his honor as modern India considers him something of an early Indian nationalist and champion of Indian independence. Indians travel to his resting place as if on pilgrimage to the shrine of a saint and there are many public buildings and institutions in India named in his honor. It was a campaign, effectively, to reverse the British portrayal of him after the mutiny as an arch villain. The real Bahadur Shah was probably somewhere between the two extremes. I tend to think he was something of a genuine Indian nationalist. He certainly did not have a great deal to lose at that point and an awful lot to gain. However, he was also a realist who knew a victory over the British would be close to miraculous and as a peaceful poet I think he was horrified by the idea of a bloody war and was undoubtedly disgusted by the actions of even his own nominal followers. He was a victim of circumstances beyond his control from beginning to end, as often seems to be the fate of last emperors and the best that can be said about him is that he had no hand in the worse aspects of the mutiny but a genuine love for his country and was a dutiful monarch even in the worst of circumstances.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mad Rant: US Politics

Sorry folks, but I must move away from the standard fare and vent a little on the current state of politics in the USA. As those who follow along will know the GOP recently came out with their “pledge” covering all the things they promise, promise, pinky-swear to do if they are elected to power in the upcoming congressional elections. Most expect that the Republicans will gain seats and the Democrats will lose them, many think the Republicans will take control of the House and a few think even a GOP-majority Senate is a possibility. Forgive me if I do not wet myself with excitement. As anyone who has read this weblog for any length of time will know, I positively despise the liberal-revolutionary-pinko-commie regime of Barack Hussein Obama, Senate leader Dirty Harry and Speaker Pelosi who is still upset that someone dropped a house on her sister. I would love for anyone, even the tan wonder, to send her packing and nothing would please me more than to never have to hear the sickening, oily voice of Dirty Harry ever again.

All that being said, I am still feeling the pain from being burned by the GOP under Bush. Here was a guy who had been almost ideal as Governor of Texas; he had done virtually nothing -always a good thing. He runs for office promising to be a Reagan conservative, a small government politician who would cut spending, give tax refunds and would not police the world. As we know, he then went on to grow government more than any president since FDR, spent more money than any of his predecessors and still more less acted like he was trying to police the world. Now the GOP has their new agenda out which promises to cut spending back to “2008 levels”. Oh, excuse me while I swoon with gratitude. In case no one noticed the spending levels of 2008 are a big part of our problem. Bush was no fiscal conservative, he spent money more lavishly than any president before him not to be outdone until the current regime surpassed even his record of financial stupidity. They could change their ways of course, but the chances of that are slim to none and slim just left town.

I know that the GOP talking point on the subject is that they have learned their lesson. Well, frankly, I do not believe them. Their actions have done nothing to inspire me with confidence that they had a collective ‘come to Jesus’ moment. On the contrary, the actions of the GOP elite in the numerous primaries around the country have given me the distinct impression that they still care more about the Republican Party and their own interests rather than those of the country. I just do not believe them. Republicans always get more conservative around election time. Which is of course not to say that the Democrats are to be preferred (I will be properly thrilled to see them go) but like politicians the world over we see in America two parties paying lip service to their respective sides only to be ruled by an elite that seems to differ only in the degree to which they pursue virtually the same agenda. The modern world may crow that monarchy and aristocracy has been left behind but, as the GOP primaries show, there is still very much a ruling class and a ruled class and the likes of Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich get very upset when voters, even their own voters, defy them. The Democrats are the same, perhaps even more open about it, as is seen by their use of “super delegates” to ensure the continuity of the ruling class at election time when the regular delegates fail to make the ‘proper’ choice.

All of this has left me more apathetic about mainstream politics than I have probably ever been, though, again, that does not mean my views on the subject are not adamant and strongly held. In Texas, we are on the verge of reelecting a Governor who has held office longer than any other in history being challenged by a Democrat desperately trying to seem as conservative as possible. He is, of course, being completely dishonest. The Governor is likewise dishonest as he promises to get the “important” work done that seems to have slipped his mind during his better than a decade in office. When he was running in the primary he was an ultra-Republican talking about state sovereignty, nullification and even hinting of threats of secession. Now both candidates oppose stricter immigration enforcement even though most Texans support it and both oppose ending birthright citizenship even though polls show most Texans support it (not that one state no matter how large could accomplish that). It all serves to remind me of how much I despise party politics and especially politicians, why absolute monarchies of those dark, feudal days of the past seem so romantic to me and why I remain … The Mad Monarchist.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MM Video: Classical Monaco

A classic time in the Principality of Monaco focused on the late reign of Prince Louis II, his daughter Princess Charlotte, her husband Prince Pierre, their children Antoinette and Rainier and finally the early days of the reign of Prince Rainier III and his marriage to Grace Kelly. Those were the days......

Shameless Plug

Monday, September 27, 2010

Actual Mexican Independence Day

This is the day that, in the past (and perhaps a handfull of loyal souls today) Mexican monarchists celebrated their independence. It was on this day in 1821 that the "Army of the Three Guarantees" led by General Don Agustin de Iturbide rode in triumph into Mexico City. By happy coincidence this was also the birthday of the Libertador Iturbide. Victory arches were erected to celebrate the arrival of the army, pledged to unity, independence and religion. The following day the independence of the first Mexican Empire was declared and in due course General Iturbide became Emperor Agustin I, the first head of state of an independent Mexico. Although the memory of the great Mexican who actually delivered the independence so many others talked and squabbled about may be largely ignored or even sneered at today, he is a far more worthy champion to celebrate than the majority of others who are, most of whom were driven by hatred, foreign influences, jealousy and ambition. In honor of the occasion I offer my own alternative Grito somewhat different from that offered by President Calderon on 16 September.
Viva Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe!
Viva Independencia!
Viva Iturbide!
Viva el Gran Emperador!
Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico!

Consort Profile: Queen Roxane

Queen Roxane, wife and royal consort to a monarch who managed to conquer virtually the entire world as he knew it, might be thought to have lived a very full and lavish life. However, Roxane, wife of none other than Alexander the Great, actually had a pretty rough time of it. No one can say when exactly she was born, only that it was sometime before the year 343 BC. She was the daughter of King Oxyartes of Bactria, an area located in what is now Afghanistan. Her name, also rendered as Roxana, came from a Persian term meaning “Little Star”. The Bactrian court secluded itself in the fortress of Sogdian Rock, an imposing defensive position surrounded by a seemingly insurmountable sheer cliff. When word came that the forces of Alexander the Great, which had conquered Greece and the Middle East, the King of Bactria remained confident that, come what may, no force on earth could ever reach his rocky retreat. He had, of course, underestimated his opponent.

In 327 BC the Macedonian king approached Sogdian Rock and determined that he would, yet again, accomplish the impossible. He picked 300 of his most agile and athletic climbers from the ranks of his army and sent them to scale the cliff in the middle of the night. A stunned King Oxyartes woke the next morning to find the soldiers in his palace and bringing him breakfast! The king was so shocked and crestfallen that his impenetrable fortress had been breached that he surrendered to Alexander immediately and without a struggle. Moreover, he also offered the hand of his daughter Roxane in marriage to Alexander the Great. According to Plutarch the meeting of Alexander and Roxane was love at first sight, though today doubt has been cast on this idea in preference for the narrative that Alexander, at that point, was already infatuated with his right-hand-man Hephaestion.

Whether Hephaestion was simply good friend or ‘long time companion’ can be debated but he stood by Alexander when he and Roxane were married. The marriage was done in the local Bactrian custom as Alexander was always careful to insinuate himself into the local culture rather than imposing a totally new one on conquered peoples. He later married Stateira, daughter of King Darius III of Persia for the same reason. However, the contemporary accounts state that Alexander and Roxane were devoted to each other and she was certainly devoted to him. She even accompanied him on his final campaign to conquer India; a land beyond the frontiers most knew at that time, shrouded in mystery and greatly feared. In the end, India proved to be the one campaign the unbeatable Alexander could not win and Roxane suffered alongside him as he left the subcontinent in defeat. However, things became even worse when Hephaestion died in 324 BC.

After this tragedy Alexander was continuously depressed and never seemed quite the same man that he had been before. It was thus, perhaps, not so great a shock that only a few months later Alexander himself died in Babylon, leaving Roxane a widow and pregnant with his child. A son was born to Queen Roxane and named Alexander IV Aegus. Because her son was a potential heir and successor to the world empire built by Alexander the Great, mother and son became the primary targets of a number of intrigues and plots. Given the ruthless methods used against her, Roxane was forced to be equally ruthless in order to survive and she managed the murder of Alexander’s other wife Stateira. Roxane felt she had finally gained a measure of security when she was supported and protected by her mother-in-law Olympias. However, Cassander, formerly one of Alexander’s generals, moved against Olympias, defeated her and executed her. Hoping to claim power for himself he could not allow Roxane and her son to remain. In about 309 BC Queen Roxane and her 12-year-old son were both killed by Cassander, wiping out the seed of Alexander the Great forever.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Monarchist Music: Kimigayo

This time, another national anthem and one of my favorites. "Kimigayo" is the oldest national anthem in the world. The name translates to "His Majesty's Reign" or "Imperial Reign" and is a typically Japanese song of tribute to their Emperor; simple and elegant. This rendition is sung by 15-year-old Matsuura Aya before a baseball game in Taiwan.

The song translates:

May your reign

Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations,

Until the pebbles

Grow into boulders

Lush with moss

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Royal News Roundup

Starting off with the House of Windsor, on Sunday HRH the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William were at Westminster Abbey along with PM David “Call me Dave” Cameron and leaders of the RAF to commemorate the pivotal World War II “Battle of Britain” wherein the British Isles were saved from German invasion by their heroic and close run defeat of the Nazi air force. The important part played by the RAF in Afghanistan was also highlighted. However, the British Royal Family has also taken a beating in the press this week when it was admitted that staff at Buckingham Palace had looked into using the Poverty Fund to find money to heat the palace. The republican-traitor crowd was quick to jump on this admittedly stupid move by the palace staff to portray the Queen as an uncaring, wealthy elitist looking to take money from the poor to save herself a few pounds. It is, of course, entirely false. For one thing, they simply looked into it (which was stupid) and nothing at all came of it. For another, the heating bill at Buckingham Palace is not peanuts but about a million pounds for the gas and electric, going up, at the same time that the allowance given the Queen has been stagnant despite rising costs of every kind. Of course, the palace staff should have known better and it is the British monarchy that is currently suffering in the press for their mistake.

In the Low Countries the pomp and ceremony was on full display for Netherlanders as HM Queen Beatrix opened the Dutch Parliament, despite ongoing disputes between the parties trying to form a government. There was some excitement when an elderly man threw a candlestick at the royal coach and was tackled by policemen but the Queen seemed undisturbed. In her speech from the throne Her Majesty called for fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget and tolerance between the feuding parties, whom she gently chastised for failing to form a government for the better part of a year now. She said public spending would be decreased and that the Dutch people would have to be innovative and work hard to remain competitive in the tougher global marketplace of today. Meanwhile, the Prince and Princess of Orange have been stateside speaking to the UN on the Millennium Development Goals project. Also speaking at the UN MDG summit was Sheikha Moza, wife of the Emir of Qatar.

Another subject much talked about at the UN enjoys some royal support from HM Queen Rania of Jordan, who with each passing year seems to become a bigger celebrity in the leftist community. Moving beyond her appearances on Oprah the Queen of Jordan was recently given a leadership award by Sarah Brown, wife of former British Labour PM Gordon Brown and noted leftist advocate Arianna Huffington. It was also on this occasion that Queen Rania, supported by the leaders of Belgium, France and Japan, advocated a little global redistribution of wealth in the form of a worldwide “Robin Hood” tax on all currency transactions to combat income inequality across the globe. The Queen also spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative, founded by former Democrat President Bill Clinton. Personally, I wish the Queen of Jordan would keep better company than the likes of Huffington and Brown but when it comes to politics it seems ‘Che is chic’ these days and few are those in elite circles who wish to stand apart from the crowd.

This week HH the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet visited Poland with the theme of his trip being “solidarity” (something that hits home with Poles obviously). The exiled Tibetan monarch met with students, journalists, the mayor of Wroclaw, and others, visiting a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Solidarity movement that eventually aided in ending Soviet rule over Eastern Europe. The Dalai Lama said his three life commitments in terms of solidarity were human values, mutual understanding among religions and solidarity among the peoples of Asia with of course special concern for the people of Tibet. The Dalai Lama also visited Germany and was given a red carpet reception in Hungary where he addressed the parliament. Before leaving Poland the Buddhist leader met with representatives of the other religious groups of the country to express their own solidarity.

In the Balkans, Their Royal Highnesses the Crown Prince and Princess of Serbia were in Belgrade Friday and Sunday to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary (25 years). The event turned into quite the gathering of the formerly-crowned heads of the Balkans with HM King Michael I, Crown Princess Margarita and Prince Radu of Romania; Their Majesties King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes and Their Majesties King Simeon II and Queen Margarita of Bulgaria all attending. The reigning families of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein were also represented. I have often commented here that HRH Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia is the hardest working un-crowned royal out there in his tireless efforts to restore the Serbian monarchy. The Mad Monarchist wishes the Serbian royal couple all the best and many more years of marital happiness.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On the Subject of Saudi Arabia

Yesterday was the national holiday of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, marking the unification of the country in 1932. What does this especially matter to me for? Well, these days, tell someone you are a monarchist and they will ask you about Saudi Arabia. After all, monarchies like Britain, Holland, Sweden or Norway are pretty tame but Saudi Arabia is known all over the world as an absolute monarchy and to many the image of the worst sort of state imaginable. This, of course, is not true. There are a number of monarchies in the world that are absolute, not just Saudi Arabia, and while they may not fit the modern standard of a liberal democracy they are surely not the worst out there. Many refer to Saudi Arabia as a dictatorship. While it is true that one person, the King, is ultimately in charge of everything, I would defy anyone to say the state of the people of Saudi Arabia is anywhere even close to being as horrible as that of North Korea. In spite of their laws, brutal by western standards, they have nowhere near the blood on their hands as our “good friends” the communist Chinese. So, let us try to keep a little bit of perspective on this issue.

I will state up front that there is a great deal I do not like about Saudi Arabia, a great deal I find distasteful and a great deal I disapprove of. My reasons involve not only the actions of the country today, their policies and so on, but going right back to the founding of the current kingdom by the Saud dynasty. However, for all of the terrible things that go on there (again, by western standards and even in my opinion) I sometimes feel there is a tendency to ‘pile on’ Saudi Arabia. Say what you will of the country, they do not pretend to be something they are not. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, proudly so, with Islam as the official religion and Islamic law is the law of the land. Even the national motto is the Shahada (“there is no god but Allah and Mohammad is His Prophet”). If you are not Muslim, you are generally neither wanted nor welcome. For this, many westerners condemn Saudi Arabia for being so intolerant but expecting western countries to tolerate them.

In this case, again, I think people are too hard on Saudi Arabia. They are, after all, living as they always have. They did not first demand tolerance from the West, it was the West that offered it. It is not the fault of Saudi Arabia that western nations have largely abandoned their own religion and, in most countries, emphatically stated in law that they have no religion. Western nations could be just as staunchly Christian (they once were) as Saudi Arabia is Muslim and it is not the fault of Saudi Arabia or any other country that they are not. Saudi Arabia is Muslim, officially and legally and they are not welcoming of non-Muslims and do not pretend to be anything else. Yet in the west many countries have no official religion or are not religiously exclusive and so have little room, as I see it, to complain that others do. What concern is it of anyone else what policies Saudi Arabia enacts in its own territory? If you don’t like it, don’t go there. Why do so many obsess over Saudi Arabia but not other equally less “free” or even worse countries around the world?

Where I think Saudi Arabia is to blame is in trying to play both sides of the fence and some of their actions truly baffle me. One is their funding and promotion of schools which teach a very fundamentalist brand of Islam out of which quite a few terrorists have come. What puzzles me about this, aside from any moral issues, is the fact that these people are generally not supporters of the Saudi monarchy. Osama bin Laden himself is an example. Many of those who condemn Saudi Arabia might be surprised to know that Osama bin Laden fully agrees with them. He is, of course, not upset about the lack of equal rights for women or thieves getting their hands cut off. He is upset that Saudi Arabia allows U.S. military bases on its soil, that the Saudi Royal Family is friendly with western powers and lives a rather different lifestyle quite often while abroad than when they are at home.

This, finally, is the most important reason why, despite my opposition to so much that goes on in Saudi Arabia, I remain at least a nominal supporter of the monarchy there. There is no doubt in my mind that if the House of Saud falls it will be a man like Osama bin Laden who replaces them. The change, I am convinced, would be one to make the change from Shah to Ayatollah in Iran seem miniscule in comparison. That is because the enemies of the Saudi monarchy, on the scene, do not oppose it for the same reason that the liberal-minded west does but rather because they do not view them as strict enough. It is also true that the Saudi monarchy has recently, slowly, been moving more toward the moderate direction. The King recently placed certain restrictions on religious leaders and, for the first time, appointed a woman to a government post. If this is the right policy only time will tell but despite outward appearances Saudi Arabia is far from secure. Already most of the oil industry is run by imported foreign workers while the native population to a considerable degree lives off the largesse of the Saudi monarchy. Aside from the radical religious opposition they are going to be in a very tight spot if the “green” movement succeeds in eliminating “our” dependence on oil. If that day ever comes the high standard of living in Saudi Arabia today will be gone and the people will be left with nothing but a giant sandbox and a population of angry, unemployed and religiously motivated young people. Mind your step Saudi Arabia.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gathering of Balkan Kings

The Radical Royalist reports on the recent gathering of the former crowned heads of the Balkan monarchies. As you can see, on hand were HM King Simeon II of Bulgaria, HRH Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia, HM King Michael I of Romania and HM King Constantine II of Greece. Other royal and religious leaders joined them later, follow the link for all the details. I love it when monarchs get together.

Monarchist Profile: Henry Hamilton

The American Revolutionary War, mostly thought of in terms of Boston, New York and that area, was actually a world war and even restricting ourselves to the North American continent saw battles as far flung as Quebec and Florida. The war also reached the western frontier, at that time the area of modern Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan. In this region the most commanding figure of the Crown forces was Henry Hamilton. During the course of the war he would become the chief antagonist of the colonial revolutionary forces and gain infamy in the colonies as “Hamilton the Hair Buyer”. Through his careful cultivation of friendship with the Native American Indians he tried to accomplish a lot with a little on a frontier far from civilization.

Henry Hamilton was born sometime around 1734, probably in Dublin, Ireland. His father was an Irish MP and young Henry was raised in County Cork before joining the British army as a captain in the 15th Foot during the French and Indian War. He served honorably at the assault on Ft Louisbourg and at the battle of Quebec. Hamilton won the friendship of Guy Carleton, Lieutenant-Governor of Canada and Carleton helped arrange a promotion for Hamilton to brigade major. Nonetheless, in 1775 Hamilton sold his army commission and decided to enter politics. That same year he was appointed Lieutenant Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Fort Detroit, Michigan. This area was had been placed under the administrative jurisdiction of Quebec which was itself one of the things the colonial agitators railed against. The American Revolutionary War had already broken out when Hamilton arrived at Ft Detroit to take command and thus, despite entering civilian life, was forced into assuming a military role.

With few British regulars on hand and a population of Indians and French Canadians who had traditionally been hostile to Great Britain, holding onto this Northwest Territory was a daunting challenge for Governor Hamilton. However, he proved himself equal to the task and immediately saw that an alliance with the American Indians was essential to his success. Britain had been initially reluctant to so treat with the Indians but it was a move that made sense. American colonists were already moving farther west and settling on Indian lands and the Indians had every reason to oppose them and support the British whose King had recognized their rights to the land and who had tried to stop further westward expansion on the part of the colonists. So, in 1777, when the war was really heating up, Governor Hamilton received instructions to encourage Indian raids on colonial settlements on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia; colonies which had already made extensive claims on Indian land.

Hamilton had already established friendly relations with the Indians and did as he was told, which quickly earned him an infamous reputation amongst the revolutionary colonials. Their propaganda portrayed the Indians (as usual) as uncivilized, bloodthirsty savages carrying out the worst atrocities against soldiers and civilians, women and children and with Governor Hamilton as the wicked British mastermind of all the devastation. As Indian raids hit settlements across Kentucky the revolutionaries gave the Governor his notorious nickname, “Hamilton the Hair Buyer”. This was the result of a much circulated story that Hamilton paid Indian warriors for every colonist scalp they brought him. This was, of course, a complete fabrication. There is no evidence Hamilton ever did such a thing, nor would it have made sense for him to do so since all scalps tend to look alike such an offer would have been just as dangerous for loyalists as it would have been to the revolutionaries.

Quite to the contrary, Governor Hamilton tried to limit civilian casualties as much as possible by sending British officers and at times Canadian militiamen along with the Indian raiding parties to ensure there were no atrocities. Of course, this could not be done all the time and methods of making war were simply different for Native Americans and many hundreds of settlers in Kentucky and western Pennsylvania were scalped and killed (American troops on punitive raids against the Indians were also quite adept at showing no mercy as well). Refugees poured in from the west and the revolutionary officials determined to take action.

So it was that the now famous expedition of Colonel George Rogers Clark was dispatched in 1778 by the Virginia authorities. Moving into what was then called the “Illinois Country” Colonel Clark and his men captured the thinly defended British outposts at Fort Sackville and Vincennes with the ultimate aim of taking Detroit. Not the sort to sit and wait to be attacked, Lt. Governor Hamilton responded by assembling his handful of British soldiers and what Indian allies he could and marching south from Ft Detroit to meet Clark and retake the lost outposts. Hamilton left on October 7, 1778 and gathered more Native American allies along the way. On December 17 he reoccupied Vincennes and then captured Ft Sackville in February of 1779. His counter-offensive had been a complete success but the wind of fortune changed direction when Clark returned. With many of his Indian braves gone Hamilton was isolated with only a tiny garrison at the fort and after a spirited attack he was forced to surrender himself and his post to Clark on February 25, 1779.

The colonial press claimed a great victory but this was true only in the limited, tactical sphere. Clark had failed in his ultimate aim of taking Ft Detroit while Hamilton had succeeded in driving out most of the American presence in the region, forcing the revolutionaries onto the defensive and forcing them to divert forces to the frontier to deal with the Indian raids. Lt. Governor Hamilton was clapped in irons and sent to Williamsburg, Virginia where many, inflamed by revolutionary propaganda, wanted him hanged as a war criminal. In the end, however, Governor Thomas Jefferson paroled Hamilton on orders from General George Washington. After being properly exchanged he was sent back to London in 1781. The following year Hamilton returned to Canada as Lt. Governor and later served as Deputy Governor of Quebec. Later he was appointed Governor of Bermuda and then Governor of Dominica. He married a woman named Elizabeth Lee with whom he had one daughter before he died on September 29, 1796 on Antigua still most remembered for his role as the primary antagonist to the revolutionaries on the western frontier.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Papal Profile: Pope Pius II

Pope Pius II was born Enea Silvio Piccolomini on October 18, 1405 into an impoverished noble family at Corsignano. He went to school in Sienna and Florence and, while certainly not a bad guy, lived a very worldly life by all accounts, serving as secretary to a number of bishops but not reforming his life until undertaking a mission to Scotland. On the way his ship ran into heavy weather and, fearing he would drown, the future pontiff promised to go on pilgrimage if God would save him. He survived and proved to be as good as his word. However, his reform still did not fully take effect. He fathered two illegitimate children and remained in the secular fear where his gifts for writing made him a valued poet and secretary at the court of Emperor Frederick III. He wrote a rather risqué novel, essays, poems and some history as well as his memoirs.

Finally, at the age of 40 and following a serious illness Piccolomini entered the Church, became a priest and after taking his vows he kept them. When he was 51 he was given the red hat of a cardinal and distinguished himself by his diplomatic and literary talents. A short time later, on August 19, 1458, he was elected to the See of Peter to succeed the formidable Borgia pope Calistus III. Taking the name Pius II he picked up where his predecessor left off and was consumed with the desire to inspire a Crusade against the Turks who had, by this time, taken Constantinople and were rampaging across southern Europe. However, he was thwarted in his efforts to raise a new monastic-military order as the rulers of Western Europe were more concerned with their own differences than making war to rescue Eastern Christians. Pope Pius II was drawn into such a conflict in the Kingdom of Naples which was contested by the French House of Anjou and the Spanish House of Aragon.

Pope Pius II responded with considerable zeal for a man of his years. He backed the Spanish rather than the French whose power was extensive enough to cause concern about upsetting the balance of power in Europe and he took stern measures to suppress the rise in banditry in the Papal States. He also reasserted papal supremacy over Christendom; councils and kings alike, and pressed for spiritual reform and a unity of purpose. When war broke out between the Poles and the Prussian Teutonic Knights he tried to arrange peace between them and placed spiritual sanctions on them both when they refused to reconcile. In 1461 he canonized St Catherine of Siena and the following year wrote a condemnation of slavery. However, the overriding desire to halt Muslim expansion in the east remained his greatest cause.

Although, like any good Renaissance prince, Pius II was a patron to artists, musicians and scholars, he was extremely frugal and lived very simply. When his appeals to the crowned heads of Europe for a crusade went unheeded he raised funds himself but drastically cutting back papal expenses. With the military option still seemingly out of reach he wrote a letter, as only he could, to the Turkish Sultan entreating him to abandon Islam and become a Catholic. Pius II told the Sultan that if he would join the Christian faith he would immediately be recognized as the new Emperor of the East and together the men would usher in a new era of a revitalized Roman Christendom, west and east standing together. Of course, nothing came of it and there is doubt that the letter ever even reached the eyes of the Sultan.

Aging and ailing Pius II refused to give up on his goal. He stripped the papal apartments to fund his crusade and sent letters across Europe trying to convince the Christian princes to send forces to stop the Turks who had overrun Serbia. Yet, as usual, no help was forthcoming. Throwing caution to the wind Pope Pius II gathered his own meager forces, confident that God would provide others, took the pledge of the Crusaders and set out from Rome to Ancona on the Adriatic; determined to go and fight the Turks himself if no one else would lend assistance. It was a move rich in courage and faith but was pushing his frail frame beyond the limits of human endurance. After arriving at Ancona where ships from Venice were to ferry his troops across to the Balkan battlefield Pope Pius II died on August 14, 1464.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Sad, Sad Day

It was on this day in 1792 that the National Convention officially abolished the monarchy and made France a republic, after stripping the monarchy of most of its powers, ending over a thousand years of uniterrupted royal rule and tradition. For all generations past and all generations to come this was, possibly, the greatest act of murder of what was to be a very murderous regime. For France, 'Eldest Daughter of the Church', the abolition of the monarchy was a crime of the highest order, tearing out the beating heart of the embodiment of French history, values and culture. Subsequent generations would know war, terror, chaos, unspeakable cruelty and a succession of governments that would live and die by the same disease that brought down the ancien regime. Despite efforts at restoration, some successful for a time, this remains a crime that has yet to be put right. The flame of hope that it might remains burning, as it always has, though the prospects for success remain dim. Let us hope that one day the facts will be looked at in the face, that the horrors of revolutionary republicanism will be rejected for the evil they are and that France will one day return to its rightful and most noble state. Vive l'Roi!

MM Video: Kings of Iraq

The Kings of Iraq, Hashemite dynasty. The Kingdom of Iraq existed from 1932 to 1958. Previously Iraq had been a British Mandate after the division of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. When independence was granted Faisal I became king. He was succeeded by King Ghazi who later died in a car accident in 1939. A regent ruled on behalf of King Faisal II until he came of age. However, his reign was cut short by a coup in 1958 in which the King and almost the entire royal family were brutally massacred. The chaos this caused eventually allowed the Bathist party to dominate the country in 1963, later coming under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Today in African History

It was today in 1979 that the self-proclaimed Emperor Bokassa I of Central Africa was overthrown in a French-backed coup after a reign of just under three years. This would-be Napoleon of Africa still has his supporters but many more detractors due to the corruption and extravegance of his government (which of course is far from unique in Africa then or now). Yet, no matter your opinion most everyone can agree that he made life "interesting" in Central Africa for a few years and stands out as the only internationally recognized (that I know of) self-proclaimed emperor of the 20th Century.

Libertarianism and Medieval Monarchy

What could a modern libertarian possibly have in common with a monarchist who looks longingly back on Christendom of the Middle Ages? Probably a lot more than one might think if they would open their minds only slightly. For one thing, it must be remembered that libertarians are not, by their very nature, a unified bloc. People from the most opposite extremes of social liberals and social conservatives identify themselves as libertarians. Probably the most dominant philosophical figure, in recent years at least, for libertarians is Ayn Rand who was a staunch atheist who viewed religious belief as a psychological weakness. Yet, many libertarians and even many of those who are admirers of Ayn Rand are religious people. That is because that religion and social values are not the dominant features of libertarian thought as much as the inviolability of private property rights and individual liberty. Ayn Rand herself said repeatedly that, as much as she disapproved of religion, she would never support any ban on religion or effort to eradicate it by force. She was also, unlike many libertarians today, not a relativist of any sort and certainly believed in her own moral absolutes and looked with contempt on those who advocated tolerance of everything and every idea for fear of labeling anyone or anything good or evil.

It must also be kept in mind that the religious basis of Medieval Christendom was quite different, at the very least outwardly, from the religious mainstream of today. For example, HH Pope John Paul I said, in one of his few public addresses, that private property was not an absolute right. However, in the Middle Ages, the Church and most everyone else viewed private property and vested rights as absolutely inviolable. Most religions today (certainly most religious leaders in the west) are against the death penalty whereas in the Middle Ages this was viewed by all as perfectly acceptable and necessary. Democracy is today advocated by most religious leaders and yet, again, in the Middle Ages such an idea would have been viewed as absurd. Once again, however, there are still some religious people, even if a minority, who still hold the same beliefs and values that their ancestors of the Middle Ages did regarding religion, politics, social norms and so on. Many if not most churches today support the idea of government playing a role in regulating morality and providing for the public welfare, both of which were the responsibilities of the Church rather than the state in the Middle Ages.

This, however, explains why most religious libertarians are Protestant Christians rather than Catholic or Orthodox Christians. Yet, it can at least be argued that the libertarian ideal (which has never existed) in many ways came closest to existence in the pre-Protestant Christendom of the Middle Ages. In many ways (certainly from the perspective of this monarchist) the Middle Ages were right in areas where libertarians and objectivists are wrong; such as in recognizing that truth and moral absolutes exist and that humanity is more than a machine, is fallible and not always rational and has an inherent need for spiritual as well as physical fulfillment. However, consider the extent to which government as we know it today did not exist in Medieval Christendom. This is where the similarities between the facts of history and the libertarian ideal become most noticeable and yet are most often ignored because the post-revolutionary world has viewed the Medieval period as one of blanket ignorance, intolerance and royalist absolutism. There is some truth in that, but, like rat poison, just enough misinformation to give the wrong impression.

Were the Middle Ages intolerant? Yes, they were intolerant of that which they viewed as wrong. Were they ignorant? For many people yes, the majority were uneducated though probably still more educated than is generally thought but there was also a minority of very highly educated people and many of the scientific theories and discoveries that are attributed to later thinkers actually originated in the Middle Ages. St Thomas Aquinas was certainly no intellectual featherweight! But, finally, what about royal absolutism? Monarchs in Medieval times were “absolute” but they were far from arbitrary. They did not rule through brute force but through what were essential free contracts between parties that were to their mutual benefit. This was the basis of the feudal relationship; security and the use of land provided in exchange for certain goods or services.

Not only was there no “government” as we would recognize it today, but even the monarchies were decentralized into subsidiary monarchies. This sort of relationship reached upward to the King, the Holy Roman Emperor and (for some) the Pope while also reaching downward to the princes, dukes, barons and free commoners. Yet, no one, not even bound serfs, could be forced to provide any good or service. It was, in many ways, the sort of privatized society that libertarians uphold as the ideal. Taxes were low, in some cases even nonexistent and only collected temporarily in times of necessity. At each level these “monarchies” were autonomous, entering freely into contracts with each other for support, profit and protection. Whether a prince or a landowning commoner, what you possessed was truly your own and no one could arbitrarily take it from you or tell you what to do with it; hence the old saying that, “an Englishman’s home is his castle”.

How could society exist like this without government regulations or the government welfare state you may ask? For much the same reason that libertarians say their system would work today if any would try it. Services were provided privately. A king might provide a few national “royal roads” to facilitate travel but for the most part the landowners built roads themselves, maintained them and could charge for their use (and if you think the roads we drive on today are “free” because they are public just look at how high the taxes at the pump are next time you fill up). Everything was not completely libertarian of course (nor am I convinced that such would be a good thing) but there was no government regulation of economics. Such regulations as existed were enacted by the individual trade guilds. As for social welfare, the government left that to the Church which provided the most widespread and successful system of *private* social welfare in history, providing education, hospitals, care for the poor, homes for orphans and support for widows. All of this was done with relatively few taxes, even very little currency circulation, was based more often than not on trading goods or services and relied, not on arbitrary force, but legal contracts freely entered into.

Even in the most basic functions of government the monarchies of the Middle Ages were nowhere near as expansive as even the most limited models of today. The national monarch did provide for the national defense but a considerable portion and indeed often the bulk of his armies were made up of privately raised military forces led by the aristocracy who recognized that their own self-interest depended on coming together to support each other and their king in times of crisis. The monarch may have had the strongest military force (though not always as there were times when a monarch could have less wealth than his nobles) but he did not have the only military force which no doubt contributed to the fact that while he ruled absolutely he could not rule arbitrarily.

The monarch provided a legal system, certainly inasmuch as he was the highest secular authority in the land, but each group also had their own legal system. The Church governed itself and had courts of canon law for its members and jurisdiction and even the common peasants had their own courts by which they settled certain disputes among themselves. A village court would be presided over by a representative of the local noble lord but he had no more power than any of the other judges have (there were usually 12) to rule on a matter. These local courts, called halimotes, regulated themselves, devising, enacting and enforcing their own rules without any interference from the far-away King in Paris or London. This was a system, despite the seemingly powerful symbol of the “absolute monarch” in which power was decentralized, decisions made on the local level, in which each group looked after itself independently and where virtually all services were privately run and based on self-interest cooperation rather than arbitrary force. In many ways, quite libertarian and enough to make one wonder why objectivists would shudder so at the thought of the Middle Ages.

This was all underpinned by religion, these were the “Ages of Faith” after all, which many libertarians and certainly objectivists would recoil at, but these were also times in which people were guided by self-interest, mutually beneficial agreements. If the lack of freedom of religion seems intolerable, keep in mind this was when receiving communion was only absolutely required once a year and with all of the holy days people at the time actually received more “vacation” time than most people do even today. There was no “thought police” and because private property rights were so sacrosanct, as long as one did not try to influence others a person could think, believe or behave pretty much as they wished in the privacy of their own home or on their own lands. That, of course, is not to say that society was as liberal then as it is now -certainly not. Nor, at that time, was religion considered the sort of subjective, personal, private thing that most in the west regard it as today. However, as most should know by now, people did not live in fear of Church authorities or constantly quake with terror whenever the Inquisition was called. Even the Spanish Inquisition executed fewer people than the state of Texas in its time.

One of the problems with any political formula or ideology is that human beings do not easily fit into neat little categories, respond in expected ways or follow set patterns uniformly. The Medieval Ages were certainly not what your average libertarian or objectivist would dream of. Libertarians not turned off by the monarchy would probably be turned off by the moral absolutes and objectivists would dismiss them both as witchdoctors and Attilas. However, probably at no other time was the western libertarian ideal so close to reality. Never before, or since, was “government” so small or power more decentralized. Private property rights were of paramount importance, which libertarians would agree with, and what are issues of hereditary privilege but private property rights at heart? If something belongs to you, be it lands, a castle or a crown, you have the right to pass it on to your descendants without interference. Loyalty was pledged to superiors in the hierarchy of monarchies, not out of fear of force, but willingly for mutual benefit; a system at heart very much like the ideal of objectivists and libertarians even today. Far from offending them, this should give them comfort that at least some of their ideas have worked in the past and it should make all others think about the misconceptions they may hold about what life in the Middle Ages, the Ages of Faith, monarchial Christendom etc, was really like.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monarchist Music: God Save the Queen

One of the best known and for good reason

Favorite Royal Images: Queen and Popes

HM the Queen, HH Bl. Pope John XXIII and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh

HH Pope John Paul II visiting HM the Queen

HM the Queen visiting HH Pope John Paul II in the Vatican

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, HM the Queen and HH Pope Benedict XVI reviewing the Royal Company of Archers at Holyroodhouse

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Royal News Roundup

The big news in Great Britain has of course been the state visit by HH Pope Benedict XVI. The Pontiff was met at the airport by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh before going on to meet the Queen at Holyroodhouse, saluted by the Queen’s special Scottish guard the Royal Company of Archers. The Queen thanked the Pope for the part played by the Catholic Church in promoting peace in Northern Ireland as well as the efforts of the Pontiff in promoting peace and fighting poverty. She also commented on how “old tensions” had been replaced by mutual trust. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the deep Christian roots of Great Britain, the heroic role of the country in opposing the Nazis of his native Germany and pointed to Nazi Germany as an example of what ills befall a society that rejects God, religion and virtue.

Later the Pope visited Lambeth Palace to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both spoke of the good relations between the Anglican and Catholic Churches. The Pope visited Westminster Hall, where St Thomas More was condemned to death for opposing King Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy centuries ago, to meet with British politicians and intellectuals including former prime ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He stressed that politicians had no part in correcting religious problems but that religious values should play a part in advising public policy, pointing to the British abolition of the slave trade as an example. In other news HRH Prince William graduated from RAF Valley in Wales as a qualified search and rescue pilot.

Other royal headlines across Europe include Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands traveling to Japan to speak at an environmental forum on the subject of water and sanitation. The Prince of Orange also met with the Emperor and Empress while in the country. Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium was in Mexico this week attending the festivities in honor of the 200th anniversary of Father Miguel Hidalgo’s call to arms that sparked the series of revolutions that led to Mexican independence. Their Royal Highnesses Prince Joachim and Princess Marie visited Brazil to promote Danish business interests in Sao Paolo. In France, the ever-controversial Clotilde Courau, wife of Prince Emmanuel Filiberto of Italy caused heads to turn by appearing in a burlesque show which includes some very revealing costumes, suggestive dancing and songs with lyrics that are frankly unprintable. In Spain, HM King Juan Carlos met with the President of the Seychelles on Tuesday at the Zarzuela Palace to discuss cooperation in military issues, fishing rights and combating piracy. It was also recently announced that the Spanish government will be cutting the salary of the King of Spain starting next year.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Anti-Catholicism Alive in Britain

There has been a great deal of talk, for quite some time, about the current visit of HH Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain. In Britain’s first televised prime ministerial debate the candidates were asked if they would even receive the Pope due to his “outrageous” position on moral issues like homosexuality and birth control. Then there were the insulting comments directed against the Pope from employees of the Foreign Office. Recently, a survey by the Theos think tank found that an overwhelming majority of Britons, some 77%, are against the British government paying for the state visit. I have often been told by friendly Britons, usually when defending some law or custom aimed against Catholics, that modern Great Britain is a very religiously tolerant country where anti-Catholicism is a thing of the past. Frankly, the facts are mounting and I am finding it more and more difficult to be reassured that anti-Catholic bigotry is confined to the history books.

I am sure it did not escape the notice of Catholics in the British Isles that earlier this year Ian Paisley, the man who publicly called Pope John Paul II the anti-Christ, was made a life peer, given the title of baron and a seat in the House of Lords (he also personally attacked his Queen but that seems no impediment to advancement these days either). There were also legal challenges made and threats that these groups would attempt to have the Pope arrested. Given all of that, were I in the Pope’s shoes I think I would have called off the state visit, thanked the Queen for her kind invitation and simply marveled at how much more gracious she is than the majority of her subjects. The Pope, of course, would never do that and even if he did it would surely be counted as a victory for the secularist forces in the U.K. because, no doubt about it, they are the ones behind this even if they stir up Protestant passions among an anti-Catholic but largely irreligious population.

Recent events have convinced me at least that the U.K. is still a largely anti-Catholic country and that I should not have been swayed by those who tried to convince me otherwise. Of course the Pope is being treated well and he was very kindly received by Her Majesty the Queen (this is a state visit of one monarch to another after all) who sometimes seems like the last person in her country to still regard England as the ‘land of good manners’. As many know, this is not a new phenomenon. Anti-Catholic hysteria goes back many centuries with lurid tales of priest-assassins, Catholic plots to “take over” the country, the “Gunpowder Plot”, Titus Oates and so on. Such paranoia helped bring about the English Civil War and later brought down the House of Stuart from their British thrones. Of course, in most of these cases, attacking or destroying Catholicism was not finally the point but was rather a useful tool to stir up popular support for the accomplishment of some ulterior motive such as wealth redistribution, promoting unwanted foreign wars, stripping power from the monarchy and finally changing the dynasty and bringing about an almost purely ceremonial monarchy.

To me it has never made much sense that so many ardent British patriots are so anti-Catholic. Yet, I have heard it time and time again; how in the past monarchs were slaves to their papal master, how cruel and viscous Catholic rulers were and then of course there was the Armada (which I swear is brought up more often than Guy Fawkes -one would think there would be less angst about a battle the Protestants won). I may be deranged but I cannot picture any sensible person looking at the likes of King Richard I, King Henry V or King Edward III and regarding them subservient tools of the Pope in Rome. The supposedly infamous Queen Mary I was often at odds with the Pope (her husband was even excommunicated), James II ignored the advice of the Pope and was even opposed by him in the political sphere. Likewise, there has never been any priestly assassins, the Titus Oates episode was proven a lie and even the suspect Gunpowder Plot” was foiled because of a Catholic tipping off the government.

Moreover in all the time since the “Glorious Revolution” and the Jacobite Uprisings the British Empire was allied with Catholic powers in opposition to the French Revolution and in that glorious period of reactionary resurgence the supporters of the British monarchy and the supporters of the Pope looked upon each other as Allies in the defense of the traditional Europe and in suppressing revolutionary forces. Why can we not have that attitude back again?
*Update - I just saw on the news that five men (Algerian nationals according to the BBC) were arrested for plotting to murder the Pope during his visit. Welcome to the U.K. Your Holiness...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy Malaysia Day!

Today the southeast Asian Kingdom of Malaysia celebrates the anniversary of the establishment of the Malaysian federation in 1963 when Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore came together to form the modern nation of Malaysia after Malaya, Singapore and North Borneo declared their independence from the British Empire. The UN stepped in to ensure all was done according to the democratic process and Malaysian King Putra of Perlis gave his consent after the bill was passed through parliament. The UN involvement came mostly as a result of the opposition of Indonesia and the Philippines to the unification. Today the Kingdom of Malaysia stands out in the southeast Asian region as a relatively prosperous, peaceful and stable country although this year there is some royal discord accompanying the Malaysia Day festivities. In the state of Kelantan the new Sultan has been involved in a dispute with his brother after taking the throne from their father after he suffered a stroke. It remains to be seen how that will play out but, in any event, a happy Malaysia Day to all the loyal monarchists of the Kingdom of Malaysia and best wishes to their current sovereign King Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu!

16 September

Today Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence -but not quite. A liberal holiday for Mexican republicans in general, this is not the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence but rather the 200th anniversary of a call to arms by a revolutionary, heretical priest (Father Miguel Hidalgo) who *might* have called for independence while inciting a race war in colonial Mexico which launched a failed effort to kill off the European-blood population. The man who actually secured Mexican independence, a conservative former Spanish loyalist who later became Mexico's first emperor, is largely ignored in Mexico. Father Hidalgo left behind no plan, no political manifesto and did not specifically call for independence or the overthrow of the Spanish monarchy in Mexico, which is often assumed, but rather simply incited a race-war in which he was unsuccessful and led to him being defrocked and declared a heretic by the Inquisition, declared a traitor by the state and ended in his execution by a Spanish firing squad. His cry, the 'Grito de Dolores' nonetheless became an established tradition, reenacted by Mexican leaders ever since. After coming to Mexico even Emperor Maximilian carried on the tradition. Nonetheless, monarchist Mexicans will have to wait until September 27 for their own, unrecognized, holiday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Death of the "Mad Baron"

It was on this day in 1921 that the former White Russian general, liberator of Mongolia and pan-monarchist Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg was executed by firing squad after a short show trial in Novosibirsk. Like everything involving the Baron's life, his trial and execution were rather odd. After his capture he was paraded across Siberia like an exhibition in a circus freak show. Crowds gathered at the train stations to gawk at the last White Russian commander leading troops in the field, who the Soviets had made out to be the most inhuman monster. Yet, unlike other real or alleged war criminals in similar circumstances, Baron von Ungern answered all questions calmly and frankly. He denied nothing and openly confessed to almost every charge made against him (he was adamant that he had never been guilty of treason against Holy Russia). The first Soviets to examine him concluded that he was, at the very least not 'psychologically healthy' if not absolutely insane.

It was as well that he should have been so cooperative. Before the trial even started a telegram came from Vladimir Lenin that he should quickly be found guilty and shot. In fact, the New York Times reported his death four days in advance. However, while it was the Baron that sat before the Soviet judges, it was clear from the very start that they considered religion their real enemy and the root cause of the Baron's "crimes". The official word from the first was that he had been, "infected by mysticism" which was no doubt helped by the fact that his prosecutor, a Siberian Jew named Eme'lian Iaroslavskii, was a violent enemy of all religion and would go on to lead the "League of Militant Atheists". In his questioning he went to great lengths to make the Baron the image of Christian hypocrisy. However, the Baron was not allowed to present any evidence on his own behalf, absolutely no witnesses were called and the whole trial lasted a scant five hours and twenty minutes. Resigned to his fate, von Ungern declined to make a final statement.

It was 5:15 pm when he was condemned and he was immediately taken out to be executed. Many stories surround his death. He chewed up his St George Cross to keep it out of the hands of the godless Bolsheviks and how one of the bullets hit one of the amulets around his neck and a piece flew back and injured one of the Red soldiers. In any event, the Baron faced his killers calmly and bravely and his death was swift. Lenin and his fellow travellers could sleep a little more soundly at night knowing that the terrifying bogey-man of the Far East was safely in his grave. The Soviet press crowed their victory and inept Bolshevik scientists dissected the Baron's brain in an effort to find some explanation for his behavior. When the news reached Mongolia HH the Bogd Khan, once again a virtual prisoner in his own palace, ordered prayers said for their fallen liberator in all the Buddhist temples and monasteries of Mongolia. His reputation remains a black one even in Mongolia today, yet, few could deny that Mongolia would not exist as an independent country today had it not been for the actions of the Baron. He had restored the Mongol monarchy even if only temporarily before going down in defeat. His ultimate goal of restoring the Russian Empire remains yet to be accomplished. The life of Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg had been violent, mysterious, terrifying, exciting and rather short but it all ended before a Bolshevik firing squad 89 years ago today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Sad Anniversary

It was on this day in 1982 that HSH Princess Grace of Monaco departed this mortal coil after suffering a car crash with her youngest daughter Princess Stephanie. People mourned all over the world but none more so than in the United States and Monaco. Still the ideal princess consort in the eyes of millions she will never be forgotten.
Video tribute at Mad for Monaco

MM Video: Emperor Charles V

The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, King Carlos I of Spain aka Carlos Quinto, House of Hapsburg, was the first to have an empire upon which it was said the sun never set. His dominions stretched from the New World, across Spain, the Low Countries, Germany and parts of Italy and north Africa. Considered a champion of Catholic Christendom he was constantly at war with the French in Italy, the Turks in the Mediterranean and Protestant rebels in Germany. Probably his most famous victory was the battle of Pavia in which he defeated the French and captured King Francis I.

Shameless Plug

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monarchist Music: The Maple Leaf Forever

This is the original version of this song (not the one most Canadians today are probably familiar with) which has a much more monarchist flavor than the current style.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pretender Profile: Prince Christian Frederick

Most are aware that the Kingdom of Norway has an ancient history, however it was not until 1807 that Norwegian nationalism triumphed to the extent of gaining their own government separate from Denmark with whom they were then united. However, after Denmark supported Napoleon the Allied powers took Norway from Denmark and passed the country to Sweden (which had lost Finland to Russia) in the Treaty of Kiel of January 14, 1814. HM King Frederick VI of Denmark agreed to these changes in order to join the Allied coalition but he neglected to consult the government in Norway itself. The Norwegians rebelled and on May 17, 1814 declared their own constitution.

The Danish Royal Family, however, had not completely forgotten about Norway and Prince Christian Frederick had been sent as Governor of Norway to strengthen ties between the Norwegian people and the Danish monarchy prior to the country being ceded over to Sweden. To be fair, some Norwegians were favorable toward the Swedish union but Prince Christian Frederick put himself at the head of those pushing for complete independence, from Denmark and Sweden, for the Kingdom of Norway. So, it seemed only natural that when the Norwegian assembly signed their constitution they elected Prince Christian Frederick to be the King of Norway. The Allies immediately demanded that the new King of Norway abide by the treaties they had signed and submit to the union with Sweden. However, King Christian Frederick stated that, as a constitutional monarch, he could not take such action on his own authority without the approval of the Norwegian government.

Naturally, the newly established Bernadotte Crown Prince of Sweden was none too pleased with these developments and promptly launched an invasion of Norway, resulting in a little war lasting about two weeks. Christian Frederick demanded that Sweden withdraw their soldiers before he would assemble the Norwegian government to discuss and vote on the possibility of political union. However, the Swedish army defeated the Norwegians who were also hampered by internal divisions with some members of the nobility opposing Christian Frederick. No countries ever recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Norway though most were also not too keen on a total war between Sweden and Norway. However, the clashes that had occurred did not give much confidence that Norway could have survived such a conflict in any event and so another convention was called.

The short-reigning King Christian Frederick of Norway abdicated his throne to the national government which agreed to a new treaty and union with Sweden. Prince Christian Frederick returned home to Denmark where he was treated with suspicion by many for his perceived liberalism. Nonetheless, although his effort to become King of Norway failed, lest anyone feel too sorry for him, he did succeed to the throne as King of Denmark in 1839 as King Christian VIII, reigning until his death in 1848.
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