Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monarch Profile: Emperor Musa I of Mali

Musa I of Mali is not a widely known monarch today, even amongst those somewhat familiar with African history, but he was a giant figure in his own time, reputed by some to be the lavishly wealthy monarch in the world. He was born sometime around 1280, best we can tell, and was the tenth “King of Kings” of the Malian Empire, an African state that stretched across the modern Republic of Mali as well as much of the territory which had formerly belonged to the Empire of Ghana, another of the great African states that rose and fell long before the time of European colonization. His name is rendered differently in different historical texts, Mansa Musa being the most common. He came to power in 1312 as the King of Kings of Mali, Emir of Melle, Lord of the Mines of Wangara, Conqueror of Ghana, etc and etc. Today this region is mostly thought of in terms of poverty (and poverty and instability are certainly their largest problems) but all those many centuries ago things were quite different. The power of Rome had never penetrated the Sahara and remained concentrated along the coast, however, after the Muslim conquest of North Africa, caravans through the desert began to open up trade with sub-Saharan Africa and the cities that lay astride these trade routes became extremely wealthy, eventually growing to dominate the surrounding tribes to become powerful empires.

According to Arab historians, Musa I was the great-nephew of the founder of the Malian Empire; Mari Djata I (or Sundiata Keita). He served in the position of a ‘deputy-king’ to his predecessor who was lost while trying to find the furthest reaches of the Atlantic Ocean in a flotilla of small boats. Musa I had accompanied one such expedition but returned after the boats sank in a whirlpool at which point the Emperor determined to go himself, making Musa I regent in his absence. The Emperor never returned and Musa I finally took his place as ruler of Mali. Then as now Mali was an Islamic country but which also contained numerous animistic minorities. Emperor Musa I did his best to make his empire as purely Islamic as possible, both because he was personally devout in his faith and because he viewed the Muslim civilization, particularly that centered on the eastern Mediterranean, as the greatest and most advanced in the world and wished the same for his own people. This was important since, although Musa I was one of the most fabulously wealthy monarchs in the world, his realm was not as developed as one might expect. Nonetheless, he was undisputed as the most powerful figure in all of west Africa.

When the Emperor went on pilgrimage to Mecca it was an extremely grand affair, one of the most talked about events of his reign and symbolized to all his magnificence and the centrality of religion in his life. He set out with a retinue of 60,000 men, including 12,000 slaves and with various servants, guards, heralds with staffs made of gold and wearing the finest silks. There were hundreds of animals, some 80 camels being employed simply to carry the sacks of gold dust, ranging from 50 to 300 pounds each, with which the Emperor intended to express his generosity and the greatness of his empire to the cities he passed through on the way. He lavished gifts on the cities of Cairo, Medina and Mecca and brought along sufficient provision to build a new mosque for prayers every Friday of the journey. All along the route people were astounded by the lavish procession and word began to spread faster and faster which resulted in enormous price increases in cities along the way. Quite unintentionally the Emperor proved to be a one-man wrecking ball for the local economies and all items became far too expensive for ordinary people to buy because of the huge influx of gold he brought to the markets.

Inflation was out of control and to address the problem the Emperor had to buy up all the gold in the area, borrowing at extremely high interest rates, to try to reset the system. However, although the locals might have been upset by all this economic instability, back at home, even in his absence, the empire of Mali continued to expand and strengthen. While still on pilgrimage he learned that his forces had captured Gao, itself the seat of an old and formidable trading empire, and he diverted to the city to visit two sons of the Gao king who had been taken as hostages. The boys would later be educated at his court. During his epic pilgrimage Musa I also brought back to Mali numerous Arab scholars, engineers, architects and so on to develop and embellish his realm. It was during this time that many of the most famous mosques and madrasahs of Gao and Timbuktu were built including the Sankore Madrasah as well as the Hall of Audience which was attached to his royal palace. Visitors from around the world marveled at what was being established. The Italian scholar Sergio Domian remarked, “Thus was laid the foundation of an urban civilization. At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated”.

Even at the height of his power, wars with neighboring nations were common and as great as the promise might have been for the civilization Musa I hoped to build, it was not destined to last. The palace at Timbuktu has vanished without a trace as have most of the other monuments to the reign of Musa I, the largest madrasah and mosque being the only two structures remaining. It is not known how or exactly when Emperor Musa I met his end. Some sources say he died 1325, others that it had to have been after 1337. In any event, his reign had witnessed the peak of prestige and splendor for the Malian Empire. After he was gone there was a fairly rapid turnover in monarchs from his son to his brother to a nephew and so on, indicating that there were real and damaging power struggles within the ruling family. Doubtless these internal struggles enabled the deterioration of the empire itself, struggles encouraged by the temptation of the great wealth to be gained from the salt mines, gold mines and the slave trade. Dynasties came and went, most of them short-lived (according to the accounts of Arab historians which are the only sources available) until the empire finally collapsed around or after 1610 with lesser states absorbing the fragments. Had the foundations established by Emperor Musa I been preserved and developed, there is no telling what might have been accomplished and how the course of African history might have been radically different.

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Favorite Savoy Kings

I - King Victor Amadeus III: The third King of Piedmont-Sardinia, Victor Amadeus III was my kind of guy; very conservative, very religious and very pro-military, which was generally the rule rather than the exception in the House of Savoy. He was an adherent of the old adage that, when change is not necessary it is necessary not to change. This meant that he was conservative where it mattered but open to reform areas that needed improvement. These included some bureaucratic changes and infrastructure improvements but his most famous reform was of the army which he did by following the example of the Prussian model; the most efficient and effective army of the day, particularly inspirational for leaders of small countries with small available forces. He even thought of attempting an alliance with Prussia to offset the danger posed by the recent Franco-Austrian alliance, however, when the French Revolution broke out he put all else aside and provided a safe haven to French royalists and refugees. Devotion to the monarchial principle compelled him to go to war with the French Republic even though the odds were clearly hopeless. He was also a good natured and generous man who was popular with his people.

II - King Charles Emmanuel IV: A favorite of mine mostly for his own qualities rather than any great accomplishments on his part, which was no fault of his own but due to the fact that he reigned at a time when Revolutionary France was on the rampage and all neighboring states had been occupied. He spent most of his reign in exile in Sardinia and Rome. He was a dutiful man who never gave up the struggle to return Savoy rule to Turin and he was also a very kind and religious man. He had an arranged marriage to a French princess who was mocked in her own country for being overweight and unattractive and she was never able to give the King any children, yet Charles Emmanuel IV loved her and her alone as long as she lived. He did so, not out of duty, not with any hint of sacrifice (indeed he had nothing but praise for his wife) but because they both shared the same deep, sincere faith. He saw the “inner beauty” of her devout soul and felt himself fortunate to have her. When she died he was absolutely distraught and decided to give himself entirely to the service of God, joining the Society of Jesus for the remainder of his years. In terms of character and spiritual devotion, Charles Emmanuel IV was a great man.

III - King Charles Felix: As someone who is proudly reactionary, I cannot help but admire King Charles Felix. He came to the throne in the midst of a revolutionary uprising during which a more liberal relative (future King Charles Albert) granted a constitution. Well, King Charles Felix was having none of that silliness. He returned to Turin, put a royal smack-down on the dissidents and did away with all of that constitution nonsense. King Charles Felix stands out, even among the Savoy, as an ardent and sincere believer in the sacred nature of monarchy. Memories of the French Revolution still lingered and he was determined to remove every last trace of the imposed revolutionary regime from Piedmont -and he was not kidding about that, he really meant every, single, last trace of it. My favorite illustration of this was the restoration of the aristocratic posts at court. When this resulted in “pageboys” including a number of middle-aged men among the usual early teenagers it made no difference to Charles Felix. Everyone entitled to a place would have it back! He was also a patron of the arts, music and theatre and sent a punitive expedition to Tunisia in 1825, strengthening the future Italian claim to the area.

IV - King Umberto I: Although he was a far from perfect man, King Umberto I took a number of actions that earns him high marks with me. He was a very monarchist monarch, joining in the Triple Alliance with Germany and Italy’s traditional enemy of Austria because of efforts by the French republic to export their kingless form of government to Italy. The French seizure of Tunisia also infuriated the court in Rome. Although more realistic than his father, Umberto I nonetheless had high aspirations for the Kingdom of Italy and supported the policies of his Prime Minister, Francesco Crispi, which saw the establishment of the first Italian colony in East Africa in Eritrea. Hopes for further expansion were dashed by the defeat at Adowa but King Umberto responded well, defending his unjustly maligned general and secretly using his own funds to pay the victorious Africans the money they demanded and to release their Italian prisoners. He had no compunction about swatting socialist revolutionaries and was generous and helpful toward his people. The fact that he was assassinated by a socialist revolutionary also makes me view him as something of a political martyr.

V - King Victor Emmanuel III: The most controversial of course, King Victor Emmanuel III was an imperfect man who certainly made mistakes, however, I have always had a soft spot for him. I detest people who make an issue of his size (as I do with those who do the same for Charles I of Britain and other ‘vertically challenged’ royals) and I detest those who ridicule his decisions without ever proposing alternatives or considering the consequences of those alternatives. Despite the sad ending, his reign accomplished many things his predecessors had long sought but never achieved; return of Italian-populated lands in the northeast, Italian dominance in East Africa, a foothold on the opposite shore of the Adriatic, restored friendship with the Church and greater strides in terms of national development. Circumstances aside, Italy reached her zenith of power under his reign with, for the first time in many, many centuries, Rome again becoming an imperial capital. He was also a good man, a devoted husband and was usually on the right side of issues even if few followed his advice when it mattered most. He usually did the right thing but suffered the consequences of often being a little late in doing so.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Royal News Roundup

The biggest happy news this week is the birth of a future Queen of Sweden. On Thursday morning TRH Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden welcomed their new baby girl into the world; HRH Princess Estelle Silvia Mary, Duchess of Östergötland. Congratulations to the proud parents, the Royal Family and the Kingdom of Sweden! The little princess is set to become the fifth reigning Queen of Sweden, following her mother, Queen Ulrika Eleonora, Queen Christina and Queen Margaret I. In other Swedish royal news, following up on reports from last week, the Royal Court has officially confirmed that HRH Princess Madeleine has indeed been living with her New York boyfriend, financier Chris O’Neill, since November indicating that things are getting quite serious indeed between the two. O’Neill is 37, has a reputation for being something of a high-society playboy and is well known amongst the well-heeled set in the Big Apple. He has accompanied the Princess on at least one official engagement, though without permission (Prince Daniel was not allowed such a privilege until after he and the Crown Princess were engaged) and many are now speculating that wedding plans may be in their future. Hopefully it goes better than the last time though, as usual, I think dear Madeline could do better.

Moving south to much sadder news, things are certainly not looking good for Prince Johan Friso of Orange-Nassau and we can only imagine what worry and heartache the Dutch Royal Family is going through in this difficult time. The Austrian doctors have now said that the Prince, who is still in a coma, likely suffered considerable brain damage and may not survive, may not ever come out of the coma, and if he does may require extensive physical therapy for months or even years before recovering. According to doctors his heart ‘stood still’ for nearly an hour, preventing the flow of oxygen to the brain. An MRI showed extensive damage and caused the pessimistic report from doctors that he may never regain consciousness. The Dutch Royal Family is reportedly now looking for a suitable rehabilitation center where the prince can be moved to, hoping for the best of course. Prince Johan Friso is 43, married to Princess Mabel with whom he has two little girls ages 5 and 6. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Dutch Royal Family and all the Netherlanders in this terrible, difficult time. The only other thing I will say is, for all of you who enjoy winter sports like skiing, for the love of God don’t go off the marked slopes! I’ve never understood the appeal of anything cold myself but I don’t care what enjoyment you get out of it -it’s not worth it.

It has been a busy week for the Princely Family of Monaco. HSH Prince Albert II was on official visits to the African republics of Mali and Burkina Faso this week, talking to government leaders and inspecting facilities made possible by Monegasque government programs and the Prince Albert II Foundation. Although not announced beforehand, HRH Princess Caroline also visited Burkina Faso, inspecting the work of her own charitable organization in that country and other activities. Back in Monaco, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene presided over the Monegasque Red Cross graduation ceremony and later attended a gala at the Yacht Club de Monaco to raise money for “Monaco Disease Power” which aims to help children and adults suffering from mental illness. The proceeds will go to the construction of a new facility in Annot. However, what has probably grabbed the most headlines was Princess Caroline’s son Pierre Casiraghi being socked in the face by a former nightclub owner, Adam Hock, in the Double Seven Club in New York City last Saturday. Pierre was taken to the hospital with some nasty facial wounds and Mr. Hock was arrested. He claims Pierre and his friends started the trouble which the Casiraghi crowd naturally disputes. No doubt there will be some lawyers making a pretty penny from it all. Meanwhile, Charlotte Casiraghi has been in Dubai taking in the Cartier Polo match. Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene also sent an official note of congratulations to the Royal Family of Sweden on the birth of the new princess.

More sad news came this week from the former Royal Family of Portugal. HSH Infanta Maria Adelaide de Bragança departed this life on Friday. Only last month she had celebrated her 100th birthday. The Princess was the daughter of Duke Miguel II of Braganza (Miguelist claimant to the throne of Portugal from 1866 to 1920) and Princess Maria Theresa of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. Her grandfather was King Miguel I and she counted among her many cousins the likes of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary and other royals of Bavaria, Liechtenstein, Bourbon-Parma and others. Born in France she lived in Vienna where she married a Dutch biochemist (later a naturalized citizen of Portugal) with whom she had six children. During World War II she was marked for death because of her participation with anti-Nazi resistance groups but Portuguese leader Antonio de Oliveira Salazar obtained her release. She and her family then lived in Switzerland, moving back to Austria after the war and finally to Portugal in 1949. HRH Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza and claimant to the Portuguese throne is her nephew. Our condolences go out to the Portuguese Royal Family and the loyal monarchists of Portugal. May she rest in peace.

In the Far East, HM the Emperor of Japan thankfully came through his recent heart-bypass surgery successfully. The Emperor is 78-years-old and has suffered a number of health problems in recent years which has naturally led to some concern. The loyal Japanese sent many messages of encouragement and support for their monarch during this time. Also, on Thursday, HIH Crown Prince Naruhito celebrated his 52nd birthday and said at a press conference that, “Considering the Emperor’s age, it is necessary to cut down on his burden,” and that he was ready and willing to help in any way he can by taking on additional imperial duties saying, “I would be more than happy to do anything if I can be of help to him,” and that the Emperor had mentioned having some slight discomfort in the aftermath of his surgery. Considering his age and what he has gone through, that is probably a reflection of the famous reserve and understatement Japanese emperors have been known for. The Crown Prince was not specific about what additional duties he may take on, saying only that “there are various options available” for his children to support him in his recovery. The Crown Prince also expressed his continued concern for the people who suffered the most from the tsunami-earthquake disaster of almost a year ago. He also said that the long-suffering Crown Princess Masako is still being treated for stress but that he hopes her capacity to undertake official duties will expand but added that her recovery is “the top priority”. Their daughter, HIH Princess Aiko, is also doing much better and is now attending school on her own (the Crown Princess had been accompanying her) and has even gone on field trips and is playing in the band which is, of course, very good news to hear.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Consort Profile: Maria Leopoldina of Austria

The legacy of Maria Leopoldina of Austria, the first Empress consort of Brazil, is still seen in South America on a daily basis. It was thanks to her that the basic color scheme of the Brazilian flag, green and yellow, was chosen to illustrate the marriage of the Houses of Braganza and Hapsburg. She was born Maria Leopoldina Josefa Carolina in Vienna on January 22, 1797 to the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II and his second wife Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies. Like any good Hapsburg princess she was given the best education and a very refined and polished upbringing. She spoke six languages fluently and had a great interest in the natural sciences. In 1817 she sailed to Brazil to marry Dom Pedro of Alcântara, heir to the throne of Portugal after breaking off a previous engagement to a Saxon prince. It was an arranged marriage and would not have required such a long journey were it not for the fact that the French armies of Napoleon had conquered Portugal and forced the Royal Family to relocate to their chief colony of Brazil. However, Maria Leopoldina took the trip well, her interest in the natural sciences making Brazil attractive to her and, in fact, she took along a number of biologists and other scientists with her. She was the brainy type, very intellectual and scorning physical beauty as useless vanity.

Dom Pedro had plenty of distraction with the beauties of Brazil (they were around back then too) and had never even seen his bride before. However, the marriage was a great coup for the Portuguese Royal Family since the Archduchess was not only a daughter of the venerable House of Hapsburg but also a sister of Napoleon’s second wife; which was helpful in keeping all bases covered. Arriving toward the end of the year, Dom Pedro had been titled Prince of Beira to have a loftier status when meeting his new wife. He was, evidently not terribly disappointed by the choice as it was very soon after the wedding that the happy news was announced that the new Princess was expecting. However, the drastic change in climate from Austria to Brazil had weakened Maria Leopoldina and, sadly, this first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. However, the new couple were nothing if not persistent and in 1819 their first child, Princess Maria da Gloria of Braganza (future Queen Maria II of Portugal) was born. Two years later the succession was finally secured with the birth of a male heir, Prince Joao, on March 6, 1821.

Not long after Leopoldina’s father-in-law, King Joao VI, returned to Portugal along with most of the royal family. Dom Pedro, however, remained in Brazil (a country he loved and had grown up in) to act as regent for his father. Dom Pedro was happy to stay behind (though the King was initially upset by it) but life was not so entirely happy for Princess Leopoldina. Her husband neglected her (probably an ancestress of Adriana Lima is to blame) and she was extremely worried about the political situation and the future of her family, both in Europe and her own children. Her anguish increased with the death of Prince Joao in 1822 and even the birth of another daughter could not fully lift the spirits of the mourning parents. Dom Pedro was beginning to worry about his brother Dom Miguel replacing him and a son of his own was sorely needed. Unfortunately, when Princess Leopoldina next gave birth in 1823 it was to a third girl, Princess Paula Mariana.

By that time, other political matters had reached a pivotal point as in 1822 Dom Pedro staged something of an in-house royal coup to break Brazil away from Portugal but keep the country under the Braganza Crown. An independence movement had been growing for some time and Dom Pedro was determined to get in front of it even if it meant trouble with Portugal, though naturally the hope was to avoid that. Princess Leopoldina supported her husband in these efforts and alongside him she became the first Empress consort of Brazil on October 12, 1822 once the independence of the Empire of Brazil had been declared. She had been acting as regent when Dom Pedro was away in São Paulo (as no one doubted her education and intelligence) and she famously sent word to him that, “The fruit is ready, it’s time to harvest” when the moment to seize independence came. However, life continued to be rather unhappy for the new Empress. The Emperor was constantly distracted but still hoped for a male heir and so could not completely neglect his wife. Yet, in 1824 the result was another daughter; Princess Francisca Carolina.

The Emperor might have begun to blame his wife for his lack of a son and soon he paid her very little attention at all and the Empress became deeply depressed. Her letters home caused outrage and anger from her father, Austrian Emperor Francis I, in Vienna. Yet, one year later, at long last, Empress Leopoldina gave birth to a son; Prince Pedro Alcantara of Braganza in 1825. She was delighted by this but the years of constant pregnancy and childbirth, on top of an already frail disposition, caused her health to decline rapidly. In 1826, at the death of her father-in-law, her husband succeeded (briefly) to the Portuguese throne, making her simultaneously Empress of Brazil and Queen of Portugal. However, she died that same year in Rio de Janeiro on December 11, 1826 at the age of only 29. She had been a dutiful consort and it is almost tragic to read her tributes to the great natural beauty of Brazil when she first arrived, knowing how much sorrow her life was to entail there. Still, she was a great asset to the Brazilian monarchy as her charitable nature made her extremely popular with the common people and that popularity was great enough to give a lift to her husband and the monarchy as a whole. She was a dutiful Empress who did her best and deserved better than she received.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Obama Says No Monarchy

In a recent interview with Univision U.S. President Obama (again) informed the public that America is not a monarchy and that he is not a king. You'd think the oldest major republic in the world would not have to be constantly reminded of that fact. In this case it was the President making excuses for failing to deliver on a campaign promise to "reform immigration" during his first year in office (Univision is the main Spanish-language American media outlet). Again, he equated monarchy with tyranny but the excuse doesn't hold water Mr. President. In your first year in office your party had control of the entire government; the House, the Senate and the Presidency so, king or not, you could do pretty much whatever you pleased. In fact, in such a position, the President actually had far, far more power than all but a handful of the actual monarchs left in the world. However, if there is one thing the Republicans seem to agree with President Obama on (and it may be the only thing at this point) it is that monarchy is bad. Senator Rick Santorum (again) criticized Obama by comparing him to King George III (a terrible insult to the late king), Mitt Romney has done the same (poor King George) and Ron Paul never passes up an opportunity to pour scorn on the late Shah of Iran (while acting like the current regime is a bunch of innocent victims). So, perhaps we can at least take some small comfort in the fact that both major parties in the U.S. in spite of all the time that has passed since 1776 are still haunted by memories of monarchy. If this lot is so against it, it's bound to be a good thing right?

It's Another Queen for Sweden

A happy day today as the royal court announces that HRH Crown Princess Victoria is lighter a baby girl. At 4:26 this AM TRH Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel welcomed their firstborn into the world, a lovely daughter, coming in at 51cm and 3.2kg at the Karolinska University Hospital. Congratulations to the proud parents! Long live the future Queen of Sweden!

Mad Rant: Republican Uniformity

I may have mentioned this before but, if so, I’m going to mention it again because it really, really aggravates me; I hate uniformity. Small-scale uniformity can be good, it can even be great and sometimes necessary but large-scale uniformity (such as involving entire countries) really, really depresses me. I love the diversity of the different cultures and traditions of the nations of the world. Yet, I find myself often being criticized, for my support of monarchism, by people with left-wing political views who drive cars with “I Heart Diversity” bumper-stickers. These people, frankly, are blind. Okay, blind and partly just plain, old fashioned stupid. Uniformity is at the core of everything the revolutionary, republican crowd pushes for. The only ones who are at least somewhat honest about it are the socialists and communists who admit that their goal is a world where everyone is the same with no inequalities or differences to create jealousy. However, they all do it to one degree or another though most would never admit it and, indeed, may not even realize it because, as I said, they’re stupid. Forgive me if that sounds harsh but any other explanation eludes me. If you think I’m exaggerating, simply look at the world today, a world dominated by republicanism. Never have so many countries all around the world been so boringly the same.

Now, I know what the republicans would say to that. They would say, “But you want every country to be a monarchy, so you’re the one pushing uniformity, just a different kind of uniformity”. No, stupid, you’re wrong again and obviously so. Once upon a time, not all that long ago in fact, the vast majority of the countries of the world were monarchies yet it was a far more diverse world than we have today. To be sure, there were similarities amongst those nations with similar cultures. Even then they were not the same but there were certainly similarities amongst the royal courts of western Europe, eastern Europe, some of the Native American nations and so on. The monarchies of Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia were broadly similar, the court traditions of China and Vietnam or Tibet and Mongolia were similar at least during certain periods of their history. However, in each case, court traditions, court costume, music, symbolism and so on were very different from monarchy to monarchy. Even in the same parts of the world; the court of the Emperor of Japan was very different to that of the Emperor of China, the traditions of the King of Thailand was very different to those of the Sultans of Malaysia. The customs of the Islamic Mughal Emperors of India were totally dissimilar to the Hindu princely states. The Christian kings in Ethiopia were very different from the Zulu kings in southern Africa or even the local Sultans that surrounded them. The royal court in London was very different from Versailles which was very different from Vienna which was seemingly a world apart from Moscow (especially before Peter the Great).

Compare all of this diversity to the modern republican world. Just take titles for example. France had a King, Austria had a Kaiser and Russia had a Tsar. Turkey had a Sultan, Iran had a Shah, the Aztecs in Mexico had an “Elder Speaker”, China had the Lord of 10,000 Years and Mongolia had the Holy Khan. Today France has a President, Austria has a President, Russia has a President, Turkey has a President, Iran has a President (and a Supreme Leader), Mexico has a President, China has a President and Mongolia has a President. See what I mean? And, not only do they all have the same title, for crying out loud, they all even dress alike! Gone are the days when we would see the Emperor of China in his yellow silk brocaded robes receiving a British diplomat in elaborately braided uniform, today everyone has a president and everyone wears a business suit, white shirt and a necktie. I cannot express how this bores me to the level of deep depression. There are the odd exceptions of course but these are very rare. It makes me want to salute those remaining Arab sheiks who will at least combine the quality of gold Swiss timepieces and fine Italian footwear with traditional Bedouin robes and headgear.

This trickles down to the populations at large who, for the most part, wear the same fashions in Argentina, South Africa, China, New Zealand and the United States. In what bizzaro world is this considered diversity? Likewise gone are the days when changes in national leadership were unique and colorful. Here, many monarchies have fallen in line as well (tsk, tsk, tsk) but I still blame the dominance of republics and republican attitudes. All around the world you get a guy in a business suit standing up, usually holding up one hand, swearing an oath of office and that’s it. Gone are the days of the high coronation mass of the Holy Roman Emperors, the King of Hungary sitting on a horse and pointing his sword to the four corners of the compass or the rows of kowtowing mandarins before the enthroned “Son of Heaven” in Vietnam. Nope, we get a pinky-swear from some moron in a suit the world over. Add to that the fact that these world leaders, all with the same titles, have mostly the same organization around them as well with secretaries or ministers for defense, education, the interior and so on. All around the world it is all the same. The same, the same, the same -it’s maddening! They don’t even try to be different. At least the Emperor of Japan puts on a kimono for his enthronement ceremony. Every U.S. President since Kennedy has not even bothered to put on formal wear for his inauguration.

Part of this, it must be said, and it is a very, very big part, is the modern obsession (at least in the western world) with multiculturalism. I have talked about this before. Multiculturalism actually perpetuates uniformity and destroys diversity; the very thing they claim to cherish. Forcing various cultures together with the expectation that everyone be treated the same can only result in one of two outcomes: either the lowest cultural common denominator becomes uniform for all or everyone must forsake their own cultures in order to accept the cultures of others so that, in the end, the outcome is no different, we all end up the same. We can see this in society outside of the government realm as well. Everyone wears the same jeans, tennis shoes, t-shirts and business suits, everyone watches the same mindless reality shows, listens to the same pop music and goes to the same remade sequel of the re-make action flick at the movies. Eventually we will probably all look alike too. Scientists have already calculated the years when there will be no more blondes (natural anyway), no more gingers, no more blue eyes or hazel eyes and so on. Gone will be the days of diverse shapes, features and colors, everyone will probably end up looking like…well…all I can think of is “aliens” with uniformly gray skin and big, black cat eyes. And it will all have been foisted on humanity by those claiming to love multicultural diversity.

The trouble is the pursuit of ever-elusive equality. Personally, as most long-time readers probably know, I put “equality” up there with Santa Claus, leprechauns and the tooth fairy. That does not mean we should just accept things like sexism and racism as inevitable, malicious impulses can and should be always struggled against. It means that no two people on this earth, not even two people of the same gender or the same race, can or ever will be equal. No two plants or animals are ever equal either. However, modern man, to varying degrees, has decided to pursue the revolutionary goal of liberty, equality and stupidity but they never can obtain it because (shock of shocks) people are different. And since as long as every individual is different from every other they are forced to make everyone the same. There is simply no way around it. The only way everyone will be seen the same, be treated the same and live the same is if everyone is forced to be the same. Everything must be uniform. So, we end up with people preaching multiculturalism and driving around with “I Heart Diversity” bumper-stickers while really knowing nothing about any other cultures (or even their own) and pushing for a world where everyone lives in a republic, everyone has a president, everyone has the same rights, has the same material possessions, the same income, the same “values” (or lack thereof), the same rights, wears the same clothes and enjoys the same entertainment. Call it what you will … I call it Hell.

Again, I know some might object to my frequent use of the word “stupid” in this rant but, believe it or not, I’m trying to be kind by doing that. I attribute much of these actions to stupidity out of the hope that the people involved were not being intentionally malicious. After all, what they claim to be for can often sound very nice. It just has a tendency to result in something totally different from what was being reached for. Likewise, there is always a question of degree. For example, no rational person would like to see the various peoples of the world killing each other over their religious differences. However, in the western world at least, the movement toward religious toleration has led to religious indifferentism. I doubt this was what the high-minded advocates of toleration were going for in the beginning. Instead of people of different beliefs living peacefully together we have societies with no beliefs at all. The unintentionally hypocritical results of various campaigns of “tolerance” has been noticed by many besides myself who have noticed the absurdity of a mindset that says, “intolerance will not be tolerated!” It is this sort of thinking that has given us a world where governments proudly assert that they will give people free, democratic republics -whether they like it or not! Where republics have constitutions that guarantee people the right to have the government of their choice but make it illegal to choose monarchy. Where royals are often denied the most basic rights and freedoms anyone else would have while doing away with bowing or curtsying in the name of equality. It is all hypocritical, it is all contradictory and it all makes me a very, very … Mad Monarchist.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Battle of Isandlwana

The battle of Isandlwana was the major opening clash of the Anglo-Zulu War and one of the greatest African victories over European forces in history. Only twice has the scale of the victory at Isandlwana been surpassed on the continent of Africa. It was during the Victorian Era when the British Empire seemed to many to be the most permanent and indestructible force in the world, yet, British forces suffered a stunning if not crushing defeat at the hands of an army of Zulu warriors armed mostly with primitive spears and shields. To this day the battle of Isandlwana ranks as the worst defeat ever suffered by the British army at the hands of a native, indigenous force. The clash had its roots in the efforts of colonial officials to unite, under the banner of the British Empire, the disparate peoples of southern Africa, particularly the Boer Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Zululand. However, British agents met their match in the Zulu King Cetshwayo who, since coming to the throne, had expanded his influence at the expense of the Boers, outwitted British negotiators and enlarged and modernized his army, resurrecting the tried and true methods of the great King Shaka while also starting to provide his warriors with firearms. These were few and largely antiquated but were a start.

King Cetshwayo
British and Boer settlers accused the Zulus of encroaching on their land and when British agents demanded that King Cetshwayo disband his army in response to this the King decided on war to expel the British invaders. As in most of these cases there are two sides to the story. According to the British they launched a military expedition to defend their own and Afrikaner territory from Zulu raids while according to the Zulus the British intentionally provoked a conflict in order to conquer their country and they were doing no more than defending themselves against an invasion. In any event, a British army marched against the Zulus led by Lord Frederic Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford. His plan was for a 3-pronged invasion of Zululand with the largest central column under his own command, numbering 7,800 men. On January 11, 1879 they crossed the Buffalo River into Zulu territory. His force was mostly British troops but also included several hundred men (mostly Zulus themselves) of the Natal Native Contingent under European officers. There were some irregular cavalry, a six gun field artillery battery and a battery of Congreve rockets. It was, by any standard, a formidable force.

However, in their haste, the British had set off during the rainy season and this bogged down the columns, slowing their advance and gave the Zulus amble time to react. The British had hoped the Zulus would be dispersed harvesting their crops but the invasion happened to coincide with a routine muster of the army so that it was possible for the Zulus to react immediately to the oncoming threat. King Cetshwayo was alerted to the British presence and dispatched an army of about 24,000 warriors to intercept them. The Zulu warriors, led by Ntshigwayo kaMahole, greatly outpaced the British and undertook careful screening measures to ensure that they were not sighted by their enemy. In no time at all they were within striking distance of the British column under Lord Chelmsford which had pitched camp at Isandlwana on January 20. Greatly overconfident, the British failed to entrench or take any precautions for an attack. Lord Chelmsford was more concerned with the logistical problem of supplying his army in a vast wilderness than he was with defense.

The British then committed one of the most obvious mistakes in dividing their forces in the face of a numerically superior enemy. When troops of the Natal Native Contingent spotted one of the Zulu scouting parties Lord Chelmsford took about half of his British regulars and hundreds of local troops in pursuing this small band which naturally led them away from the main Zulu army. This left the British camp even weaker, exposed in open country with a large army of confident, determined and experienced Zulu warriors within easy striking distance. The British camp was guarded by only about 1,700 men under Lt. Colonel Henry Pulleine, an officer with no combat experience and with the support of only two artillery pieces.

In contrast, the Zulu princes were quick to recognize that they had caught their enemy at an extreme disadvantage and immediately seized the initiative and gave orders for an attack using classic Zulu tactics. On January 22, 1879 the Zulus came forward using about 10,000 to 15,000 men of their total strength of about 20,000. Colonel Pulleine deployed his few troops into a thin semi-circle to meet the on-rushing Zulus. Some British units, such as the rocket battery, were taken by surprise and overrun almost immediately. The Zulus fanned out in their classic “buffalo” formation and their center was held off for a time, taking considerable casualties due to the rapid, disciplined volley-fire of the British regulars with their modern rifles. However, the “left horn” of the Zulu “buffalo” made a determined and tenacious attack and soon had the British right flank crumbling away. Colonel Anthony Durnford and his men on the right flank had been the first to come under attack and finally his men were forced to retreat in the face of the Zulu onslaught. This allowed the African warriors to get around the fire of other nearby units and overwhelm them. Colonel Pulleine finally ordered his men to fall back to their camp, which the regulars at least accomplished in good order.

In early afternoon there was a solar eclipse but the impressive phenomenon seemed to have no effect on the battle. The Zulus swarmed around the camp, forcing the British troops into an ever tighter formation until they were literally fighting back-to-back. When they ran out of ammunition they met spears and shields with bayonets or swung their rifles like clubs. The British were wiped out, the Union flag was captured though at least one regimental flag was saved when an officer grabbed it and fled on horseback. The Zulus had been given orders to spare any civilians and this saved the life of a few officers who were not wearing the red uniform the Zulus identified with British soldiers. For the rest, there was no mercy, which was traditional in Zulu warfare. Of the 1,700 British and supporting forces engaged only about 400 survived. Most of the men of the Natal Native Contingent who were captured were executed afterwards as traitors by the Zulus. Some bodies were mutilated afterwards, which made for shocking news in Britain, but was simply in keeping with the local custom of taking trophies after a victory. Hard numbers are difficult to obtain on the part of the Zulus involved but it is estimated that about a thousand were killed in the battle with probably twice as many being wounded.

Lord Chelmsford and his force, alerted to the battle, returned late in the day but found nothing left and proceeded on to the mission station at Rorke’s Drift. The battle of Isandlwana was a stunning blow to the pride of the British Empire. The invasion of Zululand was totally defeated and had to be given up entirely. The Zulus had won a great victory and successfully defended their homeland. However, being so isolated, the victory gave them no long-term strategic advantage. It would be only a matter of time before the British attacked again, with more men, more caution and a greater determination to have their revenge. For a time though, after news of the epic Zulu victory spread, British positions throughout South Africa fell into near-panic at the fear that the Zulus might follow-up their success with a large-scale invasion south. However, King Cetshwayo was no fool and gave strict orders to his army against crossing the border. He wanted it made clear that they were fighting a defensive war only and would remain on their own territory. He hoped to avoid a full-scale war with Britain but, though the Disraeli government in London fell, that hope was in vain. The British high command feared that if the defeat at Isandlwana did not go unanswered it might encourage native wars and rebellions in other parts of the British Empire.

The war would go on, Britain would win and though the Zulu kingdom would survive (even to this day) it would never again be an independent, sovereign nation. Still, the battle of Isandlwana had an immense impact on the native peoples of southern Africa. The image of British invincibility had been destroyed and the British gained a healthy respect for the abilities of the Zulu warriors and would never underestimate them or be so careless again. Lord Chelmsford blamed his subordinates for the defeat, though the mistakes were his own, but he was saved from potential disgrace by the favor of Queen Victoria who gave him a chance to redeem himself in the following campaign. As would later be done with the battle of Adowa in East Africa, the battle of Isandlwana would be remembered for generations and used by African nationalists as an illustration of the prowess of their people in their campaign against European colonial rule and in favor of independence. In time, many more Africans other than the Zulus would come to regard the battle of Isandlwana as “their” victory.

Monday, February 20, 2012

France Claims Texas

It was on this day in 1685 that the intrepid French explorer LaSalle established Fort St Louis at Matagorda Bay, claiming Texas for His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XIV of France and Navarre. To this day the fleur-de-lys still flies over Texas in honor of that occasion and our (albeit short-lived) connection to the Kingdom of France. Vive le Roi!

Greece: Burning, Not Learning

Greece has recently seen another upsurge in violence due to the austerity measures enacted by the EU-imposed government. That is nothing new, such protests have been flaming up at fairly regular intervals ever since the Greek economy hit rock bottom. Just as alarming are new statistics showing that more and more Greeks are fleeing their homeland, anxious to go just about anywhere that is not Greece. More tragically there has also been a 40% increase in the suicide rate since this whole sad episode started. None of this should have come as a surprise to, well, anyone with even half a brain really. When a quarter of the population works for the government (meaning at the expense of the other ¾), spending vastly outpaces income and basic state functions are only maintained by massive borrowing anyone should have been able to see this collapse a long way off. The sad thing is that no one seemed to nor have very many people in the rest of Europe awakened to the basic math involved. Ironically, this was a problem the ancient Greeks figured out thousands of years ago. Democracies never have a very long shelf life because sooner or later 51% of the public figures out they can vote themselves money from the other 49% which they then do until, as Lady Thatcher famously said, they “run out of other people’s money” and the whole thing collapses.

A couple days ago, just for kicks and giggles, I checked the feedback statistics on the videos I have on YouTube. Overall, the ones with the most negative responses were those dealing with the Greek monarchy. New readers might ask, ‘well, maybe those videos just stunk’. Regular readers will know that none of my videos are terribly different from any other; they’re slideshows set to music. There is no reason to like one over another except to like or dislike the royal or royals being shown. It is a small sampling I know, but I had to marvel that the Greek Royal Family attracted such a display of unpopularity. I could not help but think to myself, “This is why Greece is in a mess”. Greece kept getting deeper and deeper into debt and yet the public blindly went ahead electing leaders who vowed to spend even more, which meant borrowing even more, to keep giving them more and more subsidies. As the public was drowning in the Aegean, they kept asking for more water. Similarly, even as their republic is collapsing around them, some still look back on the monarchy with scorn and hatred. I have also noticed that, for a time, some republican loser was going to every video I had done on Greece or specific Greek royals and tried commenting that they ‘weren’t really Greek’. My first reaction was, “Yeah, that’s important to point out because the *actual* Greeks who’ve been running the country ever since have done such a brilliant job!”

It seems to me, being “foreign” might not be such a bad selling point these days considering that, as a democratic republic, the Greek leaders, elected by the Greeks from among the Greeks have succeeded only in turning the country into such an economic sinkhole that it is threatening to drag the entire Eurozone down to ruin (for which I would be tempted to thank them were it not for all the suffering that will go along with it). Once again, I, the certified nutcase, marvel at the behavior I see around me that seems totally and utterly insane. That anyone in Greece or observing from abroad can look at the current state of the Greek republic and still say, ‘thank God we got rid of that monarchy and took this path’ seems to me to be either sheer madness or severe mental retardation. Of course, I realize it is probably more a case of years of indoctrination by the media and brainwashing by the school system. Any normal, free thinking person would at least be willing to look at the mess the republic has made of things and at least entertain the speculation that perhaps, maybe, just possibly, getting rid of the monarchy had been a mistake. I, of course, believe it was a mistake but even someone who is not a staunch monarchist should at least look at the ruination around them and consider the question seriously.

Granted, we all know that the Greek monarchy did not have the most solid and peaceful reign in history. King Otto was overthrown and chased out, George I was assassinated, King Alexander was killed by monkeys (no, I’m not joking), King Constantine I abdicated, came back and later had to abdicate again, George II had to leave during World War II and had to appoint a regent because of republican opposition to him, Paul alone managed to have a “normal” reign but then his son King Constantine II was overthrown by a military coup. Obviously, this is not the happy history we like to see and fortunately it is the rare exception rather than the rule. Another reason, perhaps, it is tempting to view the current Greek crisis as nothing new (maybe some people like a constant state of crisis, who knows?) but it is important to look closer. Under King George I the Hellenic kingdom expanded considerably. The republic has certainly done nothing to unite the Greek nation or reclaim ancestral properties. At the current rate it might be forced to sell what it has to some neighboring power. We can also recall that, in a prior period of economic constraint, King Paul willingly cut his own budget and even donated extensive personal properties to the state. Needless to say, subsequent republican leaders have not done likewise.

So, Greeks can complain about the harshness of the feather-weight cuts of Prime Minister Papademos, glow with pride recalling President Papoulias supporting Turkish entry into the European Union or just stare at Eva Kaili but one thing it seems that cannot be done is to question the overall political system that brought Greece to this sad state of affairs. If you do, you might realize that the President was a founder of the socialist movement whose policies drove Greece into debt, that the prime minister came from the same elite international banking background that encouraged Greek dependency and that, for example, King Constantine II had always worked to ensure justice and honesty in government (imagine that) and that the military regime he was blamed for supporting announced their seizure of power to him while surrounding the palace with tanks -yeah, looks like they were best buddies to me… But no, no, no, we hear always the universal cry of the modern masses, from Greece, across Europe and America as well, the impassioned plea, “Don’t confuse me with the facts!”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Royal News Roundup

The royal news has not been very pleasant this week. Starting in the Far East, HM the Emperor is today undergoing heart bypass surgery at the University of Tokyo after a recent exam showed further narrowing in an artery which has been giving the 78-year old monarch trouble since last year. He had already been on medication to treat the problem artery, which carries oxygen to the heart, and this has set off increased worries about the health and longevity of the world’s last Emperor. It is also the latest in a string of health problems which have worried the people of Japan. In 2003 the Emperor underwent surgery to deal with prostate cancer and in 2008 he had to deal with a stress-induced bleeding ulcer and last year was hospitalized during a bout with pneumonia. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the “Heavenly Sovereign” of Japan for a swift and complete recovery. Tenno Haika Banzai!

In Europe the most immediately troubling royal news was when HRH Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands was buried alive in an avalanche in Austria on Friday. The Prince and a group of friends were skiing off the marked path (they are marked for a reason people!) when the avalanche struck. The second-son of HM Queen Beatrix was buried for 15-20 minutes before a rescue team extricated him and had to immediately work to resuscitate him before flying him by emergency helicopter to Innsbruck hospital where he remains in critical condition. The Queen, Princess Mabel (the Prince’s wife) and other members of the Royal Family rushed to Austria to be at the side of the 43-year old prince who renounced his rights to the Dutch throne after marrying Princess Mabel without parliamentary approval. Reports from the hospital have said that the Prince is stable but remains in critical condition. Of course, our thoughts and prayers go out to Prince Johan Friso and his family, the House of Orange and all the people of the Netherlands in this difficult time.

The often over-looked Principality of Liechtenstein is embroiled in another controversy over the powers of their monarch. The Princely Family is threatening to veto the results of a referendum meant to curtail the authority of the Sovereign Prince if the vote goes against them. On Thursday the Princely Family announced via their website that they are “astonished” by this attempt to take from the Prince his ability to veto pending legislation. In 2003 a constitutional referendum gave the Prince veto powers, the authority to dismiss ministers and so on, without which HSH Prince Hans-Adam II threatened to leave the country and retire to his estates in Austria. This may be driven by sour grapes over a recent vote to legalize abortion in Liechtenstein which the Prince-Regent threatened to veto. Thankfully this was not necessary as the people voted down the change in the referendum but I think most countries have seen how relentless pro-abortion campaigners can be. I would not be a bit surprised to find out that was the real motivation behind all of this. It is also worth pointing out that any woman anywhere in Liechtenstein desiring an abortion is only a few minutes drive from several countries in which it is entirely legal.

Up in Scandinavia there is ‘allegedly’ some consternation over HRH Princess Madeleine of Sweden ‘allegedly’ moving in with her American boyfriend, society playboy Christopher O’Neill, in New York City. The Royal Court has already been upset by the Princess bringing O’Neill along to official events. If reports are true HM Queen Silvia is particularly upset as she had hoped the Princess would return to Sweden as the birth of Crown Princess Victoria’s first child approaches so that Princess Madeleine could take over some of the duties of her big sister. However, again, if reports are to be believed, Princess Madeleine is not looking to return to Sweden at all saying that she “…had a life and friends in New York…” and that is where she wishes to stay. The Swedish monarchy has been hard-hit by scandal in recent months due to investigations into the activities and unsavory ties of HM King Carl XVI Gustaf and supposedly there was a great deal of hurt feelings in the family over this with many trying to keep their distance. However, recent major royal events saw the Crown Princess, Prince Carl Philip and the King and Queen all together again. Princess Madeleine remains absent and it seems that is not about to change.

In the United States, tensions remain between the Obama administration and the Roman Catholic Church over mandatory funding of contraception and abortion. HH Pope Benedict XVI has expressed “particular concern” over the issue of religious freedom in the United States. After an uproar by conservatives and numerous Catholic bishops President Obama issued what he called a “compromise” which would force health care companies to pay for contraceptives and abortion-drugs rather than the religious institutions. Many, however, asserted that this was a meaningless compromise as it simply inserts a middle-man into the process. However, numerous Catholic organizations have spoken up in total support of the Obama healthcare plan and the recent compromise, most notably the Catholic Health Association, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (which claims to represent 90% of American women in religious orders) and the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities. Supporters of the administration are quick to point out that some 98% of Catholic women already use contraceptives, contrary to official Catholic teaching, even though this would suggest (one would think) that if so many are already using birth control there would seem to be little need for the government to compel that it be provided.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Monarchist Profile: Charles Sapinaud de la Rairie

Among the ranks of royalist counterrevolutionaries in the world, few hold such esteem as the monarchist rebels of the Vendée uprising. Those who lost their lives are martyrs, both for their faith and in a political sense for their sacrifice in the face of the oppression and terrorism of the French Revolution. Their leaders are among the greatest heroes France has ever produced; which is quite a statement by itself. One of the lesser known leaders in that great cause was Charles Sapinaud de la Rairie. He may not be as famous as the likes of Charette, Rochejaquelein or Stofflet but he was no less committed to the same great cause of ‘God and King’. He was born Charles Henri Félicité Sapinaud de la Rairie on December 30, 1760 in Sourdis castle at La Gaubretière he enlisted as a cadet in the Foix Regiment (later the 83rd Infantry) in 1778. His was peacetime service, doing his duty admirably but lacking any opportunity to prove himself. In 1789, after obtaining a commission as a lieutenant, he resigned from the army and returned home. He was respected enough to be drafted into the political arena, promptly being elected mayor of La Gaubretière.

Sapinaud was greatly disturbed by the outbreak of the Revolution and particularly the increasingly radical and anti-clerical course it was taking. When the Vendée counterrevolution broke out in March of 1793 he willing joined the royalist ranks. Although he did not have such extensive military experience as some, he had more than others and the counterrevolutionaries were desperate for leadership. It is often forgotten (probably intentionally) that the uprising in the Vendée was a spontaneous act of popular rebellion against the Revolution, it was not something organized by aristocrats. It was the common people who rose up and then demanded that their local nobles and people with military experience take leadership. Initially, Sapinaud served under his uncle, Charles Sapinaud de La Verrie who was part of the “Catholic and Royal Army of the Center” under General Charles de Royrand in the eastern Vendée. When his uncle was killed on July 25, 1793 at the battle of Chantonnay Sapinaud succeeded to command his division. A couple months later Sapinaud led his men in the Virée de Galerne campaign through Brittany and Normandy. Overall, the campaign was a disaster for the royalists and the counterrevolutionary army was routed at the battle of Le mans on December 13, 1793 in the course of which Sapinaud was separated from his men and lost. However, he made it back to the Vendée and, like most, was as determined as ever to try again.

Battle of Le Mans
General Royrand had died of complications after being wounded in battle the previous month and Sapinaud took his place as commander of the Army of the Center which he led into battle against the “infernal columns” into 1794. These were particularly vicious republican troops who waged a campaign of absolute terrorism on the royalist population, committing unspeakable acts of cruelty, humiliation, perversion and sacrilege. Needless to say, the royalists fought these beasts with all the strength they could muster. Yet, the “Grand Catholic and Royal Army” was hampered by a lack of unified command. The republicans benefited from being able to fight them separately but this problem was rectified in April of 1794 when Sapinaud joined with other royalist commanders François de Charette, Jean-Nicolas Stofflet and Gaspard de Bernard de Marigny to join forces against their common enemy. However, there were still problems as Charette and Stofflet often quarreled with Marigny. Marigny was, shall we say, one of the more “zealous” counterrevolutionaries who was not averse to being as brutal toward the republicans as they were to the royalists. He was also proud and resented being treated as a subordinate by Charette and Stofflet. Finally a court martial was held and Marigny was condemned to death though Sapinaud was not among those voting for his execution. He went rogue and fought on his own for a while before being arrested by Stofflet’s troops and shot on July 10, 1794. Most of his men who did not give up after that blow joined with Sapinaud’s command.

All of this is added to the brutal truth that the war was not going well for the royalists, for numerous reasons. They were isolated, outnumbered, lacking weapons, lacking in training and discipline and everything else one would expect from an army of peasant soldiers who would often have to leave the army and go home to look after their farms. Finally on February 17, 1795 Charette and Sapinaud sign the Treaty of La Jaunaye with the republicans, putting into effect a cessation of hostilities by which terms the property of the counterrevolutionaries and their freedom of worship was guaranteed. Although far from ideal, the fact that the republicans agreed to the terms that they did shows how successful the counterrevolutionaries had been. Nonetheless, not everyone would agree as many, understandably, refused to come to terms with the republic under any circumstances (particularly after the “infernal columns” had butchered tens of thousands of people). Scattered fighting broke out anew a few months later and Sapinaud was quick to rejoin the fight on October 3, 1795.

However, this was a greatly reduced force all around. In quick order such famous royalist leaders as Stofflet and Charrete were captured and executed by the republicans. Sapinaud continued to resist but was down to only a handful of men and realizing that to continue would result only in the needless deaths of the small band with him he finally agreed to terms of peace at Nantes in late January, 1796. In the aftermath, he tried to carry on with his life and find some measure of domestic happiness, marrying Marie-Louise Charrete the following year. However, the unrest in the Vendée was still far from over. The royalists were simply never going to accept the republican and anti-clerical regime holding power in Paris. On October 15, 1799 fighting breaks out again and Sapinaud returns to command his old army. However, the royalists were thrown into confusion over the Coup of 18 Brumaire by which the Directory was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte, replacing it with the Consulate. The counterrevolutionaries became divided between those who wanted to continue the uprising as before until the old Kingdom of France is restored and those who see an opportunity for an easier success by coming to terms with the new Consul.

Napoleon, not wishing to waste resources diverting men to suppressing royalists in France, lays out peace terms. They cannot have the king back of course, but he was willing to respect their rights, their freedom of religion and exempt them from conscription so that they will not be forced to fight for a cause they do not believe in. Sapinaud decided that it would be wiser to come to terms with Napoleon and he accepts the proposal, signing on to the agreement on January 18, 1800. He watches as a spectator while Napoleon launched his grand campaign of conquest across the continent only to ultimately be defeated by the combined forces of the great powers. To his great joy, after Napoleon was defeated in 1814, the Bourbon monarchy was restored. In appreciation for his service with the counterrevolutionary army, King Louis XVIII commissions Sapinaud a lieutenant general in the revived royal army. When Napoleon returned from exile and restored himself (briefly) to power as Emperor, Sapinaud again took to the field in rebellion in favor of the King in 1815.

Napoleon was forced to divert troops from his most critical campaign in order to put down the latest uprising in the Vendée. Sapinaud briefly became even more significant in the royalist hierarchy following the death of the heroic Rochejaquelein. Sapinaud temporarily took his place A few days later he turned over command to Charles d’Autichamp. The uprising during the Hundred Days is not often remembered and it did end in defeat at the battle of Rocheservière, after which Sapinaud again made his peace with the authorities. However, it was still extremely significant in the final defeat of the First Empire and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. At the most critical point in his career Napoleon had to divert troops to deal with the counterrevolutionaries and had he not done so, if those forces had been present at Waterloo, it is possible that they might have tipped the balance in Napoleon’s favor. Wellington might have been crushed earlier in the day after which Napoleon could have turned and caught the Prussians between himself and Marshal Grouchy. It is speculative of course, but that last uprising in the Vendée just might have made the difference in the final defeat of Napoleon. In any event, overall, Sapinaud lived happily ever after. When the Bourbon monarchy was restored he was again rewarded for his loyalty and service by being made a duke and Pair de France. He died in his hometown of La Gaubretière on August 12, 1829.
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