Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from everyone here at The Mad Monarchist
First is our annual Halloween dance...

...then we all pile into the bus and head for the border to see if we can get a part in one of those snuff films all the kids are talking about. Good times...

 Alright, in truth, at the last minute I raided my first-aid kit and slapped together an "Invisible Man" costume to scare the trick-or-treaters. I usually try to get into the 'spirit' of things, but where I live, you might get trick-or-treaters and you might not -and they have to call ahead to make sure you will be home and have the front gates open. I didn't think anyone would be coming this year but, surprise, there were and I had only about ten minutes to come up with a costume. I put on a jacket and tie, a big black hat, my sun glasses and wrapped my head in bandages, put on some gloves and -presto- a five minute Halloween costume. I tried working on sounding like Claude Rains but the less said about that the better. However, I'm so stuck in my own little backwards-looking world most of the time it never occurred to me that kids today will probably not be familiar with a movie 'monster' from 1933. My oldest neice is the only one who recognized me as the Invisible Man and I'm sure that was only because she had seen a book in my library about the film. Anyway, we all had fun and that's what it's all about right. If you're not too scared, tell all what you were for Halloween in the box below.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Favorite Royal Images: Swedish Princess

The newly engaged Princess Madeleine of Sweden

Monarchist Quote

"Those whom God has chosen to be kings and to be at the head of the destiny of a country do not have any other choice than to start to understand the importance and the special characteristics of the position, because one can say that they start to become adults long before other boys of their age. If in this life it is as important to form and strengthen character enough to permit us to lead, it is not any less to know how to obey. In spite of the high positions that we hold in life, it will always be vital to know we also have duties to perform and obedience always involves real honor [...] We have to build a closely united family, without fissures or contradictions, we must not forget that on all and on each one of us are fixed the eyes of Spaniards whom we should serve with body and soul. I do not want to prolong my first letter any more in order not to tire you, but I would hope that this as well as the succeeding ones I send you leave a profound impression on you and are read calmly and thought about seriously."
-HM King Juan Carlos I to Prince Felipe of the Asturias, 1984

Monday, October 29, 2012

Beware of the Mob

The protesters have been out in force lately. Recently we have seen an awful lot of this. The Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, the riots in Greece, protest marches in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, the “Occupy” movement in the U.S. and Canada and protests in the U.K. about one thing or another. Monarchists should still remember the Prince of Wales having his car attacked in London, which was bad enough but he should thank God he wasn’t in France or his car might have been set on fire as opposed to having eggs thrown at it. There were even riots in China but the ones that got the most coverage were those aimed at the Japanese embassy which anyone with half a brain knows were state-approved riots (very little happens in the PRC that is not state-approved). Personally, whenever it comes to the “mob” taking to the streets I immediately become paranoid and hostile (okay, okay, *more* paranoid and hostile) and start wishing for a little police brutality. For all such complaints these days we really don’t see anything like the Peterloo Massacre anymore (those were the days…). What disturbs me though is the number of people (thankfully comparatively small) who otherwise appear to have some sense and yet sympathize with these raucous mobs.

It is usually safe to say that, for a monarchist, any sort of mob action usually means trouble. I don’t think anyone could make much of an argument from history of mobs restoring or strengthening monarchies. Usually it is quite dramatically the reverse. There are though, some people who I think are right on at least a few things who seem to be swept along by it, like how the “Occupy Wall street” demonstration, in New York at least, included a few libertarians railing about the “corporatism” of government being “in bed” with big business (and I can’t tell you how sick I am of that expression). Obviously, these people were not reflective of the majority of the group which was made up of Marxists, anarchists and the odd radical environmentalist. Some are taken in, but I fail to grasp how it is possible. In almost every case, these people are not exactly being subtle about where their true sympathies lay. Canadian-American commentator Steven Crowder went “undercover” at one of these protests, wearing a red shirt with the hammer and sickle symbol on it and he said the creepiest thing about his excursion was the number of people saying, “I love your shirt”.

Now, keeping in mind that communism has led to the deaths of about a hundred million people in the world (number one in the death toll by far) and ask yourself if anyone, monarchist or otherwise, would sympathize with a group that said the same things about someone with a swastika on their shirt? I doubt it. You can tell a great deal about these groups by how they present themselves. Consider the last time you saw a march/protest by organized labor. Take the recent teachers strike in Chicago for example; everyone was wearing red shirts. That is not an accident folks. At least one even had on one of those oh-so-chic Che Guevara t-shirts that all the hip young commies are wearing these days (which I’m sure they bought from some company that believes in ‘profit sharing’ so it’s totally cool a’right!). Does that seem like anything close to a pro-tradition crowd to anyone? Anyone at all? Turning to the news of marches and protests from Europe and I see a lot of red shirts on display there too. Again -not an accident. Although at least in Europe they are a little more honest about it; their socialists are not ashamed to call themselves socialists in most cases.

A couple of other things about these many protests should cause alarm amongst monarchists. First is the pervasiveness of those damn “Guy Fawkes” masks. Now, I have a rather more complicated view of Guy Fawkes than most people (I think it might have been an inside job and he was left ‘holding the fuse’) but still, these are not a group of people fighting against big, oppressive government. These are people who want the government to do MORE -not less. That doesn’t really fit in with narrative from the movie that popularized those masks (which didn’t make sense anyway, just for the record) but at the end of the day -listen up monarchists- according to official accounts these people are wearing the face of an attempted regicide. Given the above context, what monarchist would be okay with that? The second, and more blatant (at least being more recent, as in the last century as opposed to many) can be seen in Spain. It seems like every time I see a protest in Spain I see the mob carrying the flags of the former second Spanish republic. That would tend to tell me that these are not the “loyal opposition” types.

Do we need a history lesson? For those of you who don’t know, there have been two republics in Spanish history. The first came after the abdication of King Amedeo I, did not last long and was too disorganized to even cause much damage. Then, after the overthrow of King Alfonso XIII, Spain was treated to her second republic -a leftist, Soviet-backed nightmare that saw hordes of people massacred (particularly the religious). To put it in a way the mainstream might find more impressive, in the first few *months* that the second republic existed, more people were put to death than during all the *centuries* that the Spanish Inquisition was in full swing. Their war on religion, tradition and Spanish history so divided and radicalized the country that it came down to a gruesome civil war between the republicans on one side (backed by Stalin and international communist volunteers) and the nationalists on the other (backed by Mussolini and, to a lesser degree, Hitler). Then nationalist leader Francisco Franco was in charge for the rest of his life, and despite his popular image today (and you can check the numbers on this), his dictatorship was practically paradise compared to the orgy of violence that was the republic. It was only after the restoration of the monarchy that people in Spain gained the freedom to have idiotic protests aimed against the idiotic governments that they voted into office time and time again.

It is no exaggeration to say that the second Spanish republic was the darkest and most barbaric period in Spanish history. Yet, we see these idiot protesters carrying Spanish republican flags to all of their public temper-tantrums. This is a clear and unequivocal signal to monarchists. These people are not about order, tradition or upholding timeless values. These are people who have voted idiots into office who passed idiotic policies and now they don’t want to face up to the consequences of their actions. And for anyone who would still applaud them just out of shared hatred for who they are against, remember, the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend. The western democracies believed that in World War II regarding Stalin and the result was the Cold War.

Beware of the mob.
They are not our friends.
Good things do not come from them.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

MM Sunday Scripture

O thou king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty and glory and honor. -Daniel 5:18

(added for the benefit of those who think God gives kingdoms only to people who think like 'you' do)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Royal News Roundup

In the Far East, Cambodians are still dealing with the death of King-Father Norodom Sihanouk. Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy has formally requested permission from the ruling Prime Minister/dictator Hun Sen to come back to Cambodia to pay his respects to the late monarch. Rainsy was charged with a number of crimes, many consider politically motivated, and has been in exile in Paris for the last three years. A letter was sent to HM King Norodom Sihamoni but his office stated it was a government matter and not something the King could intervene in, however, they also stated that an amnesty for all political prisoners would be a good way to honor the late King-Father. Sam Rainsy was originally a leading member of the royalist Funcinpec party but broke away after disagreements with royalist leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh and his (then) co-Prime Minister Hun Sen of the Cambodian People’s Party. Since that time he has led the opposition Sam Rainsy party which opposed Hun Sen (first put in power by the Vietnamese communists after their invasion of the country) as well as the royalists who have cooperated with his government. Also in Cambodia, a Chinese merchant woman will be deported from the country after desecrating a picture of the late King-Father. She had shouted abuse about the late monarch and destroyed a portrait of him when she was grabbed by authorities and an angry mob that forced her to burn incense at a recently erected shrine to the late King. In Phnom Penh, some 2,000 Buddhist monks gathered for prayers and 20 minutes of silent meditation at the Royal Palace in honor of King-Father Norodom Sihanouk last Saturday.

Last Saturday, Her Majesty the Empress of Japan celebrated her seventy-eighth birthday and the Imperial Household Agency released some new portraits of the Empress, videos and a press conference with Her Majesty about the occasion. The Empress spoke about the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Olympics, the loss of HIH Prince Tomohito, the global economic crisis, natural disasters and even the new yokozuna (honestly, that surprised me). Her Majesty also talked about the two hospitalizations of His Majesty the Emperor, meeting HM Queen Elizabeth II at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and how she is beginning to feel her age. Of course, we send Her Majesty the Empress congratulations on her 78 years and hope for many, many more to come. In other Asian royal news, the growing and increasingly energy-hungry republic of India has been reaching out to the oil-rich Sultanate of Brunei to meet their growing need for oil and liquefied natural gas. India is currently the third best customer of the Brunei, ruled by the world’s wealthiest monarch, coming in behind South Korea and Japan. Brunei has also been becoming friendlier with India as India has become an increasingly powerful country in economic and military terms. The Sultanate of Brunei hopes to invest in the hospitality industry in India.

In the Middle East, a documentary on the making of a film by the Egyptian Royal Family about the downfall of a monarchy shortly before their own overthrow debuted at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. It featured members of the old Egyptian aristocracy, chronicled the coup that brought down the Egyptian monarchy, the events outside the palace, the British officials who supported the King and the American officials who supported the coup. In Bahrain the 10-year jail terms for two dissident Shiite teachers have been reduced by half and in Kuwait, after violent clashes in the streets, the authorities have now banned all large-scale demonstrations in an attempt to restore calm and normality. In Oman, eleven dissidents who were sentenced to a year in jail for insulting the Sultan have appealed their case. The big royal news from the region though was the visit of the Emir of Qatar to the Gaza Strip, making him the first head of state to visit the Palestinian-held territory since Hamas came to power in 2007 (which the west considers a terrorist group but they wanted there to be elections so…). The Emir called for Palestinian unity between Hamas and Fatah (the faction of the Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas). The leader of Hamas called the Emir’s visit a “victory”.

European has seen some good and not so good news this week. HRH Felipe Prince of the Asturias came under criticism for (gasp!) shaking the hand of a poor woman while leaving a Church where he was attending the funeral mass of a friend. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, she was holding her hand out for money, not for a royal greeting and rabble-rousers are trying to cite this as an example of the monarchy being “out of touch” with the suffering of ordinary people. Only royals can be accused of being out of touch with the people for actually touching one of their people. Go figure. In better news, the Prince and Princess of Monaco were in New York City for the thirtieth anniversary of the Princess Grace Awards to encourage the advancement of performing arts. However, it was bad news in Belgium where a new book has leveled all sorts of ridiculous accusations against the Royal Family. And I do mean *ridiculous* such as the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Brabant being an arranged sham just for appearances (and all their children being the products of IVF) and Queen Paola (yes, Queen Paola, not the King) being guilty of a number of affairs. Ridiculous. In a statement from the palace the King of the Belgians said he feels deeply insulted by the allegations. Extracts from the book were first leaked by Flemish news outlets but the author is Francophone, a television journalist but his employer, the public broadcaster RTBF has now banned him from appearing on-screen for a month and sought to distance itself from the book.

Lastly, we have probably the “biggest” news of the week insofar as coverage goes and that is the official announcement of the engagement of HRH Princess Madeleine of Sweden to New York high society playboy, I mean serious businessman Chris O’Neill. He was born in London, was educated in Switzerland, Boston and New York and has dual U.S.-British citizenship. His official job is financier and he is currently a partner at Noster Capital (which has branches in London and New York). He formerly held positions at Steinberg Asset Management and NM Rothschild and Sons. His religion is Roman Catholic but, given his reputation, I doubt he is regularly at mass on Sunday (though I could be wrong). Princess Madeleine effectively moved to New York after her last engagement was broken off when pictures surfaced showing her husband-to-be frolicking with a snow bunny. The Princess is 30, O’Neill is 38 and Princess Madeleine seems quite happy about this turn of events, calling O’Neill her “soul mate”. The wedding will likely be held next summer and the Princess said that, for now, they will continue to live in New York City. Also “thrilled” is the German mother-in-law to be, a thrice divorced former “girlfriend” of the Prince of Wales (he was still married to Diana at the time). That is according to her at least, St James’s Palace denies the relationship. I will admit, I’m not terribly thrilled about this news. I think the Princess could do better and, though I could be completely wrong, I’ve just never had a good feeling about O’Neill. Nonetheless, I wish them nothing but the best, I hope it all works out and they have a lifetime of happiness together. Truly and sincerely.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Unification of Germany Part II

(continued from Part I)

Otto Von Bismarck
It is usual to see the final years before German unification as being totally masterminded by Bismarck. This is not entirely true. Certainly, Bismarck had a gift at turning events to his advantage, and so that of Prussia, but he was often reacting to events that he had nothing to do with instigating. For example, for Prussia to dominate the process of unification, it was clear that the two countries which stood to lose would be Austria and France. Prussia, despite a strong army that had recently been modernized and improved yet again thanks to the brilliant minds of Graf von Molte and Graf von Roon, would stand little chance of victory against France and Austria together. It was simply good fortune for Bismarck that France and Austria each took steps to isolate themselves. To the horror of Prince Metternich, Austria allowed herself to be provoked into making the first aggressive move in a war against France in Italy. Later, when Austria could have used help in dealing with Prussia, France would remain neutral just as Austria would remain neutral when the French had their turn at a war against Prussia (in that case, one in which it was France that allowed herself to be provoked into making the first aggressive move). Bismarck engineered none of this but took full advantage of such events which allowed Prussia to take on only one major enemy at a time.

Prussia proved how modern and efficient her military forces were in a war against Denmark alongside the other members of the German Confederation, including Austria, in 1864. This area would provide the excuse for Prussia finally going to war with Austria only a few years later in 1866. It seems more likely that Bismarck was at least largely responsible for orchestrating this, possibly after being less than impressed with the capability of the Austrian army when compared to that of Prussia. By this time, the great Austrian commanders of 1848 were gone and the penny-pinching government in Vienna had failed to keep the Austrian military modernized and up-to-date whereas the Prussian forces were positively state-of-the-art. Once again, events conspired to keep Austria largely isolated in this conflict. Although most of the south German states allied with Austria, other than Saxony they proved to be of little consequence and no outside help came for a number of reasons. France still bore ill-will against Austria and, in any event, did not expect Austria to have any trouble defeating the Prussians. Italy allied with Prussia over continued Austrian rule of Venice and Russia, previously helpful to Austria, remained neutral due to resentment over Austrian neutrality during the Crimean War (something Russia was especially touchy about considering that they had come to the rescue of Austria during the Hungarian rebellion in 1848).

Kronprinz Friedrich at the battle of Koeniggraetz
The final course of German unification was therefore decided by a seven week conflict which determined that Prussia would dominate the German nationalist movement and Austria would be excluded. Prussian advances in weaponry and logistics made short work of the Austrians and soon Austria sued for peace. Prussia was not overly demanding in reaching a settlement, anxious to avoid having an embittered Austria as a future enemy. There was also little Austria had that Prussia wanted, they simply wanted Austria out of the way in the drive for German unification under Prussian leadership. Austria was excluded from German affairs and the old German Confederation was officially abolished, replaced by the short-lived North German Confederation which was simply a stepping stone to the united Germany. France helped negotiate the peace and one cannot help but wonder if Emperor Napoleon III realized that he was next on the Prussian menu. He was confident that his forces could defeat Prussia alone but he hoped Austria could keep the south German states from joining in. Again, however, events far beyond the control of Prussia worked together to isolate France.

Bismarck, naturally, did his best to encourage this by playing up French interest in certain south German territories but for the most part it was French policy which ensured they would remain friendless in the next war. An alliance was proposed consisting of France, Italy and Austria to contain Prussian expansion and, on the surface, it seemed easy enough to accomplish. The Austrians were eager take back pride of place from Prussia and Emperor Francis Joseph agreed to the demands of the Hungarians, thus creating the Dual-Empire of Austria-Hungary in the hope that this would quiet unrest and allow him to concentrate on the Prussian enemy. As tensions increased between France and Prussia, Napoleon III certainly seemed open to the alliance but it fell apart over the situation in Italy. King Victor Emmanuel II expressed support for the alliance (eager to nullify the threat of Austria) but the public remained adamantly opposed so long as French troops remained on Italian soil, referring to the garrison Napoleon III kept in Rome to maintain Papal rule over the city. So long as the French remained in Rome, Italy would not ally with France and if Italy would not ally with France, Austria would not risk taking her eye off of them and so would not ally with France either. Napoleon was stuck. He had gained little from garrisoning Rome but he did not want to risk Catholic anger by withdrawing his soldiers without the consent of the Pope and the Pope was not about to consent to such a thing as the presence of French bayonets were the only thing maintaining his authority over the Eternal City. The Austria-Hungary settlement also did not work out quite as planned for Emperor Francis Joseph as the Prime Minister of Hungary opposed any intervention with France against Prussia.

Austrian Kaiser Franz Joseph
The southern German states had also, over the course of the wars with Denmark and Austria, come to see Prussia as the rising star in Europe. If they had to be the friend or enemy of Prussia, they would prefer to be friends. There were also worries that they could lose a great deal in any peace settlement between Napoleon and Bismarck if they held aloof. So, despite the hopes of Napoleon, when war came in 1870 the southern states joined with Prussia in invading France. This, of course, was after the doctoring of the famous Ems Telegram by which Bismarck tweaked the Napoleonic nose, provoking France into making the first aggressive move. The war was a triumph for Prussia and the other German states and a stunning defeat for France, ending with the collapse of the Second French Empire, riots, revolution and widespread suffering. However, Prussia achieved the goal of establishing the united Germany in the way the conservative faction wanted (and, happily, France rebounded rather quickly anyway).

At the famous Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, King Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed the first “German Emperor”. This was significant. He was not “Emperor of Germany” (though many mistakenly use the term) but rather “German Emperor” which was a distinction to calm the fears of the other German monarchs that their rights might be violated. In some cases it took some effort but the German princes who had mostly opposed unification in the past, under Prussian leadership decided to get out in front of the nationalist movement rather than fighting against it. Despite his reluctance, Wilhelm I was persuaded to accept the crown of Kaiser because it came about in a way that was far removed from what had been offered to his elder brother or even what his son would have favored. German unity was not achieved by a popular vote or government legislation. It was achieved by the German princes coming together and agreeing to unification on their own terms with the imperial crown going to Prussia which had led the way. No one lost their throne over it (other than Napoleon III and that was ultimately due to his own people) and the united Germany was one of united monarchies as well as united people. Not every non-Prussian monarch was always happy with what came after but the structure established that was known as the German Empire endured until the disaster that was the First World War and no doubt would have continued had not that conflict intervened.

Wilhelm I proclaimed German Emperor at Versailles
The deeper question though, is whether or not this was the best way for German unity to be achieved or should it have been achieved at all? The second question is taken for granted. The united Germany achieved a great level of success it had never known before. As to the first, the way Germany was united was certainly preferable to the sort of unity which had been earlier sought by the Frankfurt Assembly, based on the consent of the German monarchs rather than abstract, liberal ideals and passing trends. Perhaps a more difficult question is whether Prussian leadership was preferable to Austrian in this movement toward unification? We cannot, of course, ever know the answer for certain. I am, admittedly, partial to the House of Hapsburg but I do not think I am being unreasonable to say that history might have unfolded for the better if German unity had been achieved based on the historical legacy of the House of Hapsburg rather than the military might of the unquestionably superb Prussian army. True, one could point to later examples of Austrian adventures as a source of trouble, but all of these came about after Austria had been excluded from German affairs and was forced to focus on the problematic Balkans to find a new place in the world for herself. It is a debatable point and we cannot know the answer. Hapsburg leadership seems to have been the better option to me, but that’s just one monarchists’ opinion.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Unification of Germany Part I

When it comes to the unification of major European states that were or were perceived by some as ‘nation-states’ one will most likely think of the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Germany. Some had an easier time achieving unification than others. In the United Kingdom, it was not especially difficult but achieving it occurred over a fairly long period of time. Wales was subdued by England, Ireland became a vassal of England (conquering the whole island took quite a while) and then there was Scotland. Ultimately, England and Scotland came together as a result of the English queen passing to her reward with no children of her own and England and Scotland came into personal union under King James I. Much later still, under Queen Anne, all three kingdoms became united under one government, though still not without some political and economic pressure being brought to bear. All of this came about over quite a stretch of centuries. The unification of Spain was, in a way, the most “natural” of them all, being finally achieved by the marriage of the King of Aragon and the Queen of Castile. Italy probably had the most difficult unification of all since large parts of the country were held by two originally non-Italian royal families, there was the Pope right in the middle of it all and those pushing for unification were divided between republicans and royalists. Then there was Germany.

Although not without a degree of ‘storm and stress’ the unification of Germany was surprisingly easy. There are many reasons why it could have been much, much more difficult. Like Italy there were powerful foreign countries which opposed German unification and there were differences in language (or at least dialect) from one region to another. Yet, unlike Italy, the area that became Germany was much more politically divided with three Free Cities, seven Principalities, five Duchies, six Grand Duchies and four Kingdoms. Nor was there religious unity. The large majority were Protestants (mostly Lutheran) but there was a sizeable minority of Catholics and a smaller Jewish minority as well. Germany also did not have any ancient history of unity to look back on for inspiration. Spain had the Visigoth Kingdom of Spain that existed prior to the Muslim conquest and Italy had Imperial Rome but the area that became Germany had never been firmly under one government at any point in history. The closest was the Holy Roman Empire but for the vast majority of time that it existed, actual central control was only temporary and for the most part the constituent states ruled themselves and bargained with the Emperor rather than submitting to his authority unconditionally. Besides which, though the legacy of the Holy Roman Empire would at times be claimed, the memory of the “First Reich” was a rather problematic one.

From the earliest days of the first steps toward unification a rivalry could be seen between the Austrian Empire (whose first Kaiser was the last Holy Roman Emperor) and the rising power of the Kingdom of Prussia. In 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, it was Emperor Francis I of Austria who became the first President of the German Confederation undoubtedly because of his prestige as the last Holy Roman Emperor. Then, it was Prussia that pushed the customs union that united the German-speaking states economically in 1818. This was also when the black-red-gold flag first appeared as the colors of the German Confederation. Many mistakenly believe the flag only appeared during the revolutions of 1848. Austria, however, was at a bit of a disadvantage because of her own past success. The Napoleonic Wars helped give rise to nationalist movements in both Italy and Germany. The Germans, after being defeated and dominated by the French, shared a common enemy and were united in their common misfortune. Austria, however, was always seen as something somewhat different since the Hapsburg dominion included so many non-German peoples. The Austrian Empire was a major enough force that not as many felt the need to band together as people in the smaller German states did.

Tensions between Austria and Prussia long predated the movement for national unification and, from the very beginning, it was usually Austria that lost and Prussia that gained. In the days of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the unity was more symbolic than factual and especially toward the end, no one even pretended that the Emperor in Vienna actually ruled the Empire beyond the borders of Austria and Hungary. The Prussians had first challenged imperial authority simply by claiming royal status. First the local monarch became “King IN Prussia” and in a later concession “King OF Prussia” and at times Prussians and Austrians went to war such as during the conflict between Emperor Joseph II and King Frederick the Great of Prussia. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars gave them someone else to fight but the old tensions remained. Also as a result of Napoleon (whether by agreements with him or conflicts against him) each made gains but Prussia gained amongst the German people whereas Austrian gains were mostly amongst non-German peoples, mostly Italians and also some Slavs by gaining Tarnopol from Russia. This, combined with the already sizeable Magyar and Slavic populations within the Austrian Empire further served to set Austria apart from the rest of the German-speaking world. However, Hapsburg preeminence remained due to the size of the Austrian Empire and the historic legacy of the House of Hapsburg.

Early on, the movement for German unification (as in other countries) was largely led by liberals, the young, the professorial class and more radical republican revolutionaries. This was seen most dramatically in the revolutions of 1848 when liberal German nationalists rose up, under the black-red-gold flag, demanding a parliament, a constitution, universal male suffrage and the unification of all Germans under the leadership of the King of Prussia. The result was the short-lived Frankfurt Assembly of 1848-49 and the St Paul’s Church constitution which offered the German crown to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. However, the nationalists were far from being in control of the whole of the German-speaking states and the King of Prussia, who was somewhat more liberal than his predecessor and who had shown some favor to the goal of unification, refused to accept leadership of the movement, famously saying that he would not accept, “a crown from the gutter”. One sticking point was the reluctance of the King of Prussia to accept a state which would cut off the other German monarchs whose support the King wanted to have under a constitution that would restrict royal authority. He did, however, go along with some tentative steps toward unity of the German states outside of Austria but later abandoned the idea when Austrian opposition proved resolute. In the end, the 1848 revolutions were suppressed, the German princes reasserted control and the liberal nationalist drive for unification was put to rest but only for the time being.

Things began to change in a big way after the accession of King Wilhelm I of Prussia and the rise of Otto von Bismarck to political supremacy in Berlin. More conservative Prussians were coming around to the idea of German unification, provided it was under Prussian leadership. Considering that Prussia had a strong economy and, arguably, man-for-man the strongest army in Europe, that might not have seemed too tall an order. However, there were obstacles. One was the King himself. Wilhelm I was quite content being the King of Prussia who owed his throne to God and had no interest in becoming an Emperor of Germany who would owe his throne to a political agreement or elected assembly. Another problem was the Austrians whose emperors continued to serve as presidents of the German Confederation and who had the benefit of legitimacy when it came to pan-German leadership from their history as Holy Roman Emperors. Austria would be sure to resist any effort to unite Germany under Prussian leadership (just as Prussia would likely have resisted any similar effort under Austrian leadership). Another problem was the south German states which were more Catholic, closer to Austria and whose royal families owed their “royal” status to Napoleonic France and thus could be problematic for Prussia. There was also the “problem” of the House of Hohenzollern itself and how unification would be achieved and what sort of a united Germany it would be.

King Wilhelm I, a traditional, old-fashioned sort of monarch (God bless him) was certainly not keen on the idea of German unification. Bismarck was adamantly pushing for Prussia to take charge of the movement, but King Wilhelm I did not really want to be an Emperor. After all, the Austrian Emperor was “the” Emperor and Wilhelm I did not want to appear as a sort of ambitious usurper of the rank and title that had traditionally belonged to the House of Hapsburg and which was bound up in the memory of the very Catholic Holy Roman Empire. Crown Prince Friedrich, however, was another story. He greatly favored unification and was eager to be Emperor of Germany. However, while Bismarck shared this ambition, the sort of united Germany the Crown Prince wanted was definitely not the sort that Bismarck wanted. Crown Prince Friedrich and his wife the Princess Royal Victoria of Great Britain, were rather liberal compared to the Chancellor and wanted to reign over a united Germany that was a democratic, limited, constitutional monarchy similar to what existed in Victorian Britain. Bismarck thought this would be a disaster and would set the German princes against Prussia and lead to nothing but trouble. However, Bismarck pushed ahead with his plan, supported at times by the Crown Prince even as he urged the King to keep his son with his liberal ideas on a short leash.

To be concluded in Part II

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Soldier of Monarchy: Prince Felix zu Salm-Salm

It would be hard to imagine many other soldiers in the service of the Mexican Emperor having a more colorful career that Prince Felix zu Salm-Salm. Throughout his career he was to fight for the King of Prussia, the Emperor of Austria, the President of the United States and the Emperor of Mexico. He was born Felix Constantin Alexander Johann Nepomuk Prinz zu Salm-Salm at Schloss Anholt in Westphalia on December 25, 1828; the youngest son of Prince Florentin zu Salm-Salm. His first military service commenced on April 2, 1846 when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Prussian cavalry, first with a Guards Kurassier regiment and then with the 11th Hussar regiment. He saw action for the first time during the Prussian-Danish War at the battle of Aarhuus on May 18, 1849. Although only an ordinance officer, Prince Felix took a handful of hussars and attacked a powerful troop of Danish dragoons on his own authority. This wild act of bravado left him wounded, a prisoner of the Danes and on the bad side of his superiors.

In 1854 Prince Felix left the Prussian army for the Austrian Imperial Army and fought in the Franco-Austrian War in 1859 in Italy. Afterwards, he made the mistake of running up huge gambling debts, a fault which the conservative Emperor Francis Joseph found particularly aggravating and he was dismissed from the army for conduct unbecoming an officer. While his father dealt with his debts Prince Felix decided to see what opportunities lay open in the New World and he sailed to the United States, arriving just in time for the outbreak of the Civil War. During the course of the war Prince Felix was to gain two very valuable things; a better reputation and a devoted wife. He met the German General Louis Blenker who gave him the rank of colonel and made him his chief of staff. He also fell in love with a beautiful and spirited redhead named Agnes LeClerq, the daughter of a Canadian colonel. The two married in secret on August 30, 1862 because her Puritan family did not approve of a Catholic wedding, but the new Princess Agnes was totally devoted to her husband and hated being apart from him.

The following month Prince Felix was given command of the 8th New York Infantry regiment, which he led into combat at the brutal battle of Anteitam, the bloodiest day in American history. Princess Agnes could not bear the situation and rode across the northern Virginia battlefields to join her husband, teaching herself to be a nurse to care for the wounded soldiers. Throughout the rest of the war she hardly left her husband's side and her zeal, courage and ingenuity eventually led to her being given the honorary rank of Captain in the Union army. Prince Felix, for his part, had more than enough opportunity to make up for his less than honorable reputation in Europe and by the end of the war he had been promoted to the rank of brevet brigadier general. When the war ended in 1865 he was briefly the commander of the North Georgia military district, but he had no taste for peacetime army life. He and his wife both dreamed of bigger things and Mexico seemed to be a place of great opportunity. With the war against the republicans under Benito Juarez there was a need for experienced military men, and with his princely German background they would have almost been assured a prominent place in the glamorous society around the Mexican Imperial Couple. Princess Agnes was at first against such a sudden move, but they set out for Mexico in the summer of 1866.

Prince Felix met Emperor Maximilian while on his way to Mexico City and the Emperor was impressed enough to give him the rank of colonel in the Imperial Mexican Army and make him his personal adjutant. By this time, most of the foreign units had gone back to Europe and it was comforting to Maximilian to have a German at his side to talk to. Prince Felix accompanied Emperor Maximilian to Queretaro where ensued the climactic siege which decided the fate of the Mexican Empire. Prince Felix proved his bravery on numerous occasions, leading forays against the republican lines that did considerable damage to the enemy considering the handful of men who took part. Nonetheless, Queretaro was ultimately doomed and Prince Felix was taken prisoner, held with the Emperor and his generals in the convent of Santa Brigida. Other than the Minister of War and Jose Luis Blasio, the Emperor's secretary, Prince Felix was the only non-general held in the convent. Later on, some would mistakenly think he had been a general in the Mexican army since he used a borrowed generals uniform to pose for a photograph.

When President Benito Juarez had Emperor Maximilian executed along with his top generals Miramon and Mejia, there was an international outcry against the Mexican republicans. Juarez defended his inhuman killing of the Emperor, but the backlash was enough to save the lives of other men, like Prince Felix, who had also been sentenced to death. The ruling was commuted to seven years in a Mexican military prison for the dashing German officer. Fortunately for Prince Felix, he had a wife like Agnes on his side. She braved Mexican bandits and Juaristas to go to the aid of her husband, pleaded with Juarez on his behalf and shook down almost every foreign ambassador in Mexico for money to bribe Mexican officials. Finally, the determination of Princess Agnes paid off and wishing to be rid of both of them the Mexican government changed his sentence to permanent exile from Mexico, which was happily accepted.

The couple headed for Europe where Prince Felix tried to rejoin the Austro-Hungarian Army but his unsavory reputation had not gone away during his adventures in the U.S. and Mexico. Instead, he once again joined the Prussian army in 1868 though with less rank than he held in America. He fought valiantly in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and died from wounds received at the battle of Gravelotte-St.Privat on August 18. Princess Agnes had continued her humanitarian work with the army alongside her husband as she had in America and was honored with the Prussian Medal of Honor. She died in 1912 in Germany. Prince Felix of Salm-Salm had served in four armies; Prussian, Austrian, American and Mexican; and had fought in five wars and was twice a prisoner of war. His story, as well as the equally colorful life of his wife, is proof that real life stories can sometimes be far more dramatic than any work of fiction.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Monarchist Quote

“In a Democracy, the real rulers are the dexterous manipulators of votes, with their placemen, the mechanics who so skillfully operate the hidden springs which move the puppets in the arena of democratic elections. Men of this kind are ever ready with loud speeches lauding equality; in reality, they rule the people as any despot or military dictator might rule it.”

-Konstantin Pobedonostsev

Favorite Royal Images: A Blessed Emperor

S.K.u.K.M. Kaiser-Kiraly Karl I, the last Emperor of Austria-Hungary
a man of great faith, integrity and moral courage
-and who understood that when it comes to headgear, there's no such thing as too many feathers!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Soldier of Monarchy: Captain-General Giovanni Giustiniani

The fall of Constantinople must rank as one of the most tragic events in the history of Western Civilization and, contrarily, there were few if any greater and more symbolic victories for the forces of the Ottoman Empire. On the Christian side, the most famous defender of the city was, of course, the great Emperor Constantine XI. However, the commander of his army which defended the last citadel of the old East Roman Empire was an Italian, and from a republic no less; a condottiero from Genoa named Giovanni Giustiniani Longo. It is not known exactly when he was born but he was the son of one of the most prominent Genoese families, related to the famous Doria family. When Constantinople was imperiled by the Ottoman forces of Sultan Mehmed II, Giovanni Giustiniani used his own fortune to recruit and equip some 700 soldiers and a naval armada to carry them. When he arrived at Constantinople, he so impressed the Emperor that Constantine XI named him commander of his land forces. It was a wise decision given that, we are told, Giustiniani was an expert at siege warfare and the defense of fortified places.

His were not the only non-Greek forces to arrive to help. About 3/5 of the defenders of Constantinople were westerners, most of them Italians. Alvise Diedo was the commander of the Venetian naval forces and he and his men decided that they would stay and help defend the city. Another was the Venetian ambassador Girolamo Minotto who was determined, in his diplomatic capacity, to maintain the neutrality of the Republic of Venice yet, in his personal capacity, he was no less determined to prevent the Turkish capture of Constantinople and fought on the walls alongside the other defenders of the city. Cardinal Metropolitan Isidore of Kiev, the Papal Legate, also recruited about 200 soldiers in Naples, with funds provided by the Pope, to aid in the defense of Constantinople. There were also numerous other brave individuals who participated such as Maurizio Cattaneo and the Bocchiardo brothers, Paolo, Antonio and Troilo. All of these men were ultimately under the command of Giovanni Giustiniani and, not surprisingly, he had to prove himself an able diplomat as well as a soldier in prevailing upon the Greeks and the Italians to work together in their common goal of repelling the Turks. Even getting the Italians alone to cooperate was not always easy given the long-standing rivalry between Venice and Genoa at that time.

The courage of Giustiniani and his skill at the art of siege warfare were instrumental in Constantinople holding out as long as it did against the hopelessly large odds against them. When the final attack came on May 29, 1453 Giustiniani was wounded while fighting on the wall to repel the invaders. The exact circumstances remain unknown and sources differ as to whether he was wounded by a crossbow bolt or debris from a cannon shot as well as whether his wound was in the arm, leg or torso but whatever the case may be it was sufficient to put him out of action. This caused morale to drop among the hard-pressed soldiers on the wall and eventually panic began to set in. Giustiniani was helped out of the combat area and as the men began to waver following his absence, Sultan Mehmed II took notice and ordered an all-out assault. The defenders were finally overwhelmed, Emperor Constantine XI falling in the attack as he rushed headlong into the Turkish column pouring into the city. Cardinal Isidore of Kiev was able to escape only by dressing a dead man in red robes and he watched as the Turks decapitated the corpse and carried the severed head through the streets thinking they had killed the Churchman.

Meanwhile, Giustiniani was helped back to his ship by a handful of his men who had survived but he died of his wounds at sea sometime early the next month. His loyal troops took his body back to the island of Chios (a Greek island which then belonged to Genoa) and buried him in the village of Pirgi. Giustiniani and his men were among the most well armed, trained and disciplined that the small garrison had and most were posted at the St Romanos Gate. He, and those with him, played a critical part in the historic battle that saw the city of Constantine, the Roman Emperor who envisioned a great capital city there on the banks of the Bosporus, fall to a non-European foe; irretrievably so it seems. Given east-west tensions, men like Giustiniani and his soldiers who fought to defend Constantinople often seem forgotten. They should not be and deserve to be remembered for their courage and sacrifice alongside Emperor Constantine XI and the thousands of others who lost their lives in the battle for the last citadel of Eastern Rome.

*Note: I have been unable to find any pictures of Giustiniani, those above are images of Condottieri of roughly the same period.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MM Sunday Scripture

And Samuel said unto all the people, See ye whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted and said, God Save the King.
-I Samuel 10:24

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Royal News Roundup

The first of the two biggest royal news stories this week came from the Far East where HM the “King-Father” Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia died in a hospital in Peking after years of deteriorating health. The King presided over Cambodian independence from France before trying to remain neutral in the war engulfing Vietnam. Overthrown in a US-backed coup by one his generals (while out of the country) the King was kept under house arrest for the most part during Pol Pot’s reign of terror. In the aftermath of the Vietnamese invasion that expelled the dictator the King was restored in a UN-backed referendum. He was the only Southeast Asian royal to regain his throne once it was lost and the last surviving leader from the decades of conflict that gripped Indochina. The body of the late King was escorted to the Royal Palace with all of the pomp and ceremony Cambodia could muster and will remain there for the next three months before his burial ceremony. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great of neighboring Thailand, himself in increasingly poor health, sent his condolences to the Cambodian people on this sad occasion. Virtually no one in Cambodia has known a world without King Sihanouk in it.

Happier news prevailed in India with a low-key royal wedding by a couple better known for their celebrity status than royal origins. On Tuesday HH Prince Saif Ali Khan of Pataudi married his girlfriend of five years Kareena Kapoor in Bombay. It is the second marriage for Prince Khan who inherited the title of Nawab of Pataudi upon the death of his father (a famous cricket champion) last year. Kapoor may not be from a princely family but she is from ‘Bollywood royalty’ with a family that has long been famous in the film and entertainment industry.

Finally, in Europe, the biggest royal story of the week was also the best kind; a happy royal romance with the wedding of HRH Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg and Countess Stephanie de Lannoy. It was a fairly casual and low key affair, starting at the Grand Ducal Palace and then, in a small but smart procession the dashing duke and his cute countess moved on to the Grande Threatre de la Ville de Luxembourg for their civil wedding ceremony. Among the royal guests besides the immediate Grand Ducal family of Luxembourg were Her Majesty Queen Fabiola of Belgium, still serene and stately even in a wheelchair, along with other royals from Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Romania. Britain was represented by Prince Edward and Countess Sophie and there were royals from beyond European shores from Morocco, Jordan, Japan and elsewhere further afield. With the wedding made official, the Hereditary Grand Duke became the last European royal heir to marry and the Countess became Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie of Luxembourg, becoming a citizen of Luxembourg as well as her native Belgium. We join all those loyal subjects of the Grand Duke and all the other fans of the House of Luxembourg in sending congratulations to the happy couple and wishing them all the best in their life together. The religious ceremony is being held this morning and there will be many more celebrations, fireworks and all the best that Luxembourg can boast on this most happy occasion.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Christian Empire

In my humble opinion, one reason why Christianity has suffered so in recent years is due to the lack of a safe and established "home base" as it were. People once described the western and near eastern world as "The Mohammedan World" and "Christendom". Sadly, while the Mohammedan world remains in tact (though perverted beyond what it was under the Sultans) Christendom has vanished from the globe. It would be hard to say exactly when the Christian Empire started and ended but God has almost always had a nation which was His religion's primary guardian on earth. In the Old Testament this was Israel, after the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine there was at least the beginning of a Christian Empire, but the old Rome was not destined to last much longer. Decadence, poor economic decisions, short-sighted foreign policy mistakes and political in-fighting (sound familiar) all worked together to bring down the original Roman Empire. It fell first in the west and although for a short time it seemed the stalwart east would see it restored, it did not happen and though the Eastern Empire lingered, it was increasingly fragmented, plagued by in-fighting and managing a slow decline.

In 800 AD history was made when Pope St Leo III crowned the Frankish king Charlemagne Emperor of the Romans. The new Holy Roman Empire had been born although most of its life would be left to the German half of Charlemagne's dominion following the death of the great Christian monarch. Part of the reason for this, it must be said, was papal fear of the barbarian tribes and an inability to reconcile with the Roman Emperor in Constantinople. However, relations between the Pope and the Kaiser in the west were not always cozy either but, by and large, it was the Church that always prevailed. The Kaiser derived his authority from God only through the Church but the Pope received his authority from God directly through the succession of Peter. At the height of Christendom, during the reign of His Holiness Pope Innocent III, virtually all of Europe was united in the Christian Faith under the guidance of kings and the Holy Roman Emperor who all answered to the Pope. The Empire was instrumental in guarding the Church from such things as the Muslim invasion, providing leadership in the Crusades and generally a safe haven for the Papal States (always a top priority for the popes).

Today it would be hard to even comprehend a country in which the entire society was based on Christianity, Papal authority and divine investiture, or even the Divine Rights of Kings. However, the Holy Roman Empire was no centralized autocracy, despite what the enemies of traditional monarchy may say. The princes were autonomous rulers, the Emperor had authority only in the areas of defense and foreign relations, in addition to having the Pope as a moral policeman and check against arbitrary tyranny. Most day to day authority was done on the local level and included a diverse group of leaders, military, noble and religious. The feudal system was at its height during the early period of the Empire. Today people are critical of feudalism because it forced the serfs to work for a lord indefinitely, yet without the protection of the lord the serf would probably not have survived at all. The Holy Roman Empire established by Charlemagne brought Western Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the great era of the High Middle Ages. All Christians were united by one Faith with one spiritual ruler (the Pope) and one temporal ruler (the Kaiser). Since the Pope had crowned Charlemagne and successive Holy Roman Emperors the people also knew that their own king was not the ultimate authority but that God and the Church with their moral truth, were at the heart of their civilization.

The eastern half of Christendom had an altogether more difficult time (if that is possible) with a seemingly endless parade of one crisis after another, coupled with endless squabbles for the imperial throne. Powerful enemy forces included the Persians, the Arabs and finally the Turks as well as intermittent warfare with European neighbors and (unfortunately) the Latin west. After the disastrous battle of Manzikert, the Byzantine Empire was never quite the same and, on more than one occasion, Byzantine rulers seemed adept at always choosing the worse of two evils. However, even after the fall of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian world was not without hope. The rising power of Imperial Russia picked up the mantle of leadership in the east and accepted the responsibility of being the strongest protector of the Orthodox faith. As in the west, church-state relations were not always peaceful, but with almost all that had been the East Roman Empire in Muslim hands, there is no telling what would have become of Orthodoxy had it not been for the Russian Empire which stood firm on the Orthodox faith and protected it from harm.

For a time, many in the east might have looked to the west and marveled at the (fairly) consistent level of unity maintained by the Pope and the Emperor. Though, if they did, they did not for very long as the Catholic west soon suffered a split that ran far deeper than the national divisions of Eastern Orthodoxy. Despite many attacks by foreign powers it was an internal problem that proved most damaging to the Holy Roman Empire: the birth of the Protestant movement. Luther was harbored by princes wishing to have more power and who did not take kindly to submitting themselves to the moral authority of an Italian cleric in Rome. Divisions arose and Catholics and Protestants became locked in ideological as well as physical combat. Of course, some Protestants had perfectly noble intentions and even at the time many Catholics admitted that the Church was in bad need of reform. Unfortunately, that was not the result and things might have turned out very differently had it not been for the great Hapsburg ruler Emperor Charles V. Despite having what seemed to be the entire world arrayed against him, and faced with self-serving rulers on every side, Charles V managed to fight the Protestants to a draw, make peace with them and defeat a Turkish invasion. Without his imperial leadership Christendom or at least Catholic Christendom would likely have died then and there.

The next great enemy to arise was the liberalism of the so-called "Age of Reason". Ideas such as “every man his own priest” and a focus on individual interpretation of the Bible quickly led to a myriad of contradictory “truths” which caused many people to shrug off religion entirely in favor of the uncontestable “truths” of science and reason. This led to an arrogant thirst for uniformity and regimentation that spelled doom for a body like the Empire, which was made up of many autonomous countries with diverse cultures. The world also found out that there were none so bloodthirsty as the advocates of enlightenment and reason. The French Revolution destroyed the traditional monarchy in France, the tragic Queen Marie Antoinette was in fact the sister of the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. Christians were persecuted, royalists were murdered in the streets and even the Pope himself was arrested. As revolutionary armies marched across Europe they spread the liberal ideas of government by sacred, secular documents and one-size-fits-all political ideologies. It all meant a grim future for Christendom, east and west, and it also meant that the Holy Roman Emperor had to go. After his defeat at Austerlitz Kaiser Franz II felt he had no choice but to give up his crown and the Holy Roman Empire officially came to an end.

In the aftermath, the forces of the counter-revolution did make something of a come-back but the damage that had been done seemed impossible to undo. Without a central stronghold for Christendom, the west became increasingly skeptical, increasingly secular and increasingly republican -even before the monarchies began to fall. Only the east, in Imperial Russia, seemed immune. There the old legacy remained, there was an empire with no political formulas, no written constitution and no political parties; just the faith, the Tsar and the family. However, perhaps because of this, the Russian Empire seemed deliberately targeted and when that second great eastern empire fell, it fell not just to people of a different faith or no faith but to people intent on eradicating all faith entirely. It had all the horrors of the French Revolution, only worse. Such a vicious regime based on such artificial fancies could not and did not endure but in neither east nor west has that central empire been restored. It can hardly be considered a coincidence that the faith continues to struggle as well. All those who claim to be devout Christian people should take an honest look at history and the world around them and accept the fact that the “walls of separation” so many cherish have not been used to protect but to divide and conquer; destroying the empires and then destroying the faith.

Think about it. -MM

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cries for Secession

There has been a great deal of talk lately about rising support for secessionist movements in several European countries, most of them monarchies. To get the republic out of the way first, there was recently some buzz around the drive for an independent Republic of Venice in northeast Italy and, for some time, there has been a sizeable minority in northern Italy generally advocating the break-up of that country. Personally, I mourn the loss of the Kingdom of Italy and regard it as unfortunate enough that there is one Italian republic, I certainly would not want there to be two or three. In the monarchies of Europe there are advanced secessionist movements in the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of Spain and I suppose I should hop over to America and mention the Dominion of Canada. Belgium has had probably the most long-standing secessionist movement with the nationalists in Flanders constantly keeping the world guessing as to whether or not Belgium is about to split in two. In Belgium, and outside the English-speaking world this seems to be a pattern, it is a case of a more economically prosperous region trying to break away from a country that is less successful overall. Honestly, I can fully understand where this kind of attitude is coming from.

Flanders has, for most of recent memory, been more prosperous than Wallonia. I am sure some of the more racist Flemish nationalists (and there are plenty of them) would likely attribute this to the natural superiority of the more Germanic Flemings over the more Latin Walloons. Actually, in racial terms, there is hardly any difference between the two and the real reason is that Flanders has followed a more intelligent economic policy compared to Wallonia which has long been dominated by the socialists and has an economy that shows this. I can completely understand the Flemings being upset that their hard-earned tax euros get shoveled over to the Walloons to compensate for their bad economic decisions. However, the answer to that problem does not require independence, it only requires getting the socialists out of Wallonia and a good way to start would be to see them cut off from outside help so they would be forced to face the economic reality that socialism simply does not work. If the Red Chinese can figure it out, so can the Walloons. Ignoring the huge problem that would be Brussels, there is also the problem of what to do with the two halves of the former Belgium if Flanders declared independence.

Contrary to what some think, the area of modern Belgium has been a distinct political area for quite some time before the declaration of independence in 1830. It was distinct during the period it was united to The Netherlands after the Napoleonic Wars and before that it had long been the westernmost outpost of the Hapsburg empire. Wallonia as a part of the French Republic holds no romance for me and would be an odd fit; the similarities of language aside. However, Wallonia is not the driving force behind this but rather Flanders. What would become of Flanders? There are two options: either Flanders remains independent or joins their fellow Dutch speakers in a “Greater Netherlands”. Neither option appeals to this monarchist. First of all, let there be no confusion on this point: an independent Flanders would be a republic. Period. Without doubt. So, in that scenario, Europe loses a monarchy and is cursed with another republic. In the second case; Flanders being annexed by The Netherlands, no new republics are created (assuming Wallonia joins France as is most likely) but Europe is still down one monarchy. Not good. Furthermore, I do not believe Flanders would be happy in The Netherlands anyway. They have too much of a regional mindset and are too used to being treated as something special for me to believe that they would be content to be just another Dutch province. So, I say “no” to a Flemish republic and “yes” to the Kingdom of Belgium (which, lest we forget, has been a country longer than Germany, Italy, Poland and a number of others).

Moving south to the Kingdom of Spain, Catalonia is likewise one of the more prosperous areas of Spain (though granted that is not much of an achievement these days) and has been increasingly threatening to secede. Here again, the real solution should be to have the whole of Spain make better economic decisions but there are also plenty of other reasons to be against Catalan independence anyway. Unlike some areas, Catalonia has never really been independent and the glory days of the Catalans of old was attained as part of the Kingdom of Aragon prior to the unification of Spain. Catalonia, again, would undoubtedly be a republic if Catalan independence is ever achieved. One more republic is not something I would like to see. It would also be possible that there would be more than one republic emerge as there are other nationalist groups in Spain that are pushing for the same thing. There are also a number of misconceptions about the Catalan region in particular with some people being under the mistaken impression that this is some sort of monarchist stronghold because of past Catalan support for the Carlist faction in the civil wars. However, that would be a gross over-simplification. Like the Basques and some other groups, many Catalans fought for Don Carlos, not because of their support for the traditional, absolute Catholic monarchy, but because they feared that the liberal monarchist faction, which favored greater uniformity, would take away the special privileges Catalonia had traditionally enjoyed under the old system.

It was not long after the First Carlist War, still during the reign of Queen Isabella II, that republicanism began to be a major force in Catalonia and, for the most part, it has only grown stronger since then. Today the Catalan nationalist movement is almost totally dominated by republicans and more often than not, republicans of a very radical stripe. It is also true that the Spanish government, in the past, bent over backwards to please Catalonia, which has long been the industrial heartland of Spain, such as in placing tariffs on imported goods that benefited greatly Catalan industry but which hurt the poorer, more rural areas of Spain. Since that time the local politics have grown ever more radical. Most were on the side of the republicans in the Spanish Civil War (and the Second Republic had made numerous concessions to them) and they regard it as the darkest period when Generalissimo Francisco Franco emerged victorious and reunited Spain under a central government that abolished all special privileges for individual regions. Today, an independent Catalonia would still join the European Union and would solve none of her economic woes based on the voting pattern of the populace that supports the nationalist parties and it would be a cause for potential trouble within Europe because the most ardent Catalan nationalists also claim territory that is currently within the borders of France. So what would be the result of Catalan independence? Another leftist republic, possibly the loss of a monarchy and even more republics, as well as potential danger over territorial claims. On every front the only answer is “no”.

Turning back north again we have the case of the increasingly dis-United Kingdom in which there is already a Welsh Assembly, a Scottish Parliament, a Northern Ireland Assembly and the British Parliament at Westminster. I cannot help but marvel that one island and a bit of leftovers requires more government assemblies than the whole of the Roman Empire did at the height of expansion but, of course, that is a common thing these days. Depending on who you talk to Northern Ireland is already an independent country, and there are murmurings from the Welsh but, of course, it is Scotland that commands most of the attention for threatening to secede from the United Kingdom. In fact, the Scottish National Party has managed to, it seems, win a promise for a 2014 referendum on the independence of Scotland from the current coalition government. Scotland is a unique case and worth taking a closer look at. The Kingdom of Scotland was, of course, a very old and long-established independent country prior to the union with England and, over the long process of the two halves of Britannia coming together, it could seem at certain points that it was Scotland dominating England rather than the other way around.

Personally, I cannot help but have a bit of nostalgia for the old, feudal Kingdom of Scotland and had I been alive at the time I would probably have favored the later Stuart policy of three kingdoms in personal union under the Crown rather than under one centralized government in London. The Scots would seem to have a good case to argue when it comes to demanding independence. After all, England did use some rather coercive tactics to gain their consent to it, England had been extremely brutal in the aftermath of the 1745 Uprising and the English had executed two Scottish monarchs in the past. However, many Scots have a selective memory when it comes to these outrages. The Scots had actually been the first to rebel against King Charles I long before the civil wars that brought about his eventual execution and Mary Queen of Scots was only in England to be executed because her own Scottish subjects had chased her out of the country with English support. Likewise, in the 1745 Uprising, although the highland clans are the most remembered, at least a third of Scotland was staunchly on the side of England and King George II (just as some Englishmen were for the Stuarts). So things are not always as simple as they seem by those who look at everything as “us” versus “them”. Even going back to the romantic days of Sir William Wallace, it is often forgotten that King Edward I of England only became involved in Scotland in the first place because the Scots themselves could not settle on a monarch and asked for his arbitration (big mistake).

All of that, however, is only of secondary importance to me. What I look at is how Scotland has fared since the union as compared to before. When England, Scotland and even Ireland were all playing on the same “team” (some, admittedly, more willingly than others) the result was the largest and most successful empire that had ever existed in the history of the world. Nor was this, at any point, an Anglos only club. The Gaelic Irish might have been excluded from the halls of power but the Scots most certainly were not. Scottish politicians pulled considerable weight in the government and, even in the eighteenth century, Scottish officers so dominated the British army one could be forgiven for thinking some sort of conspiracy might have been underfoot (though there wasn’t of course). What seems to make Scotland stand out today, as far as separatist movements go, is the fact that I see less going from Scotland to England and more going from England to Scotland. Again, partly because of the economic policies Scotland has embraced in the past. I know many Scottish nationalists will say that there is oil in them thar North Seas and that will allow them to all live like kings and laugh at the misfortune of poor, impoverished England. However, I have a hard time believing such a rosy picture considering that Scotland just doesn’t look like a very prosperous country these days. Most of the Scots seemed to have moved to England (or if they have the money of 007 to Bermuda). People do not tend to flee states that are economically strong.

Of course, I could be wrong, but the Scottish Nationalist Party is not doing a very good job of reassuring me by their reluctance for a total and complete break with England or their continued devotion to the European Union. That is one of the biggest problems I have with most of these independence movements is that it seems like everyone these days has completely forgotten what the word “independence” means. It means you have no one above you, you are utterly free and unattached, you are making it on your own Mary Richards. Today it seems more like a teenager telling their mom and dad that want to be treated like an adult but still want to live at home rent-free without paying utilities and instead of having their parents boss them around (never stand for that), will instead allow the parents down the street to boss them around at will. They seem to want to keep most of the benefits of United Kingdom membership while at the same time rejecting “rule from London” while openly embracing rule from Brussels. That may make sense to some people but I am certainly not among them. It also seems to me that when you want to extend the franchise to 16-year-olds you have pretty much admitted that you are not counting on rational, reasoned decision-making by the populace when referendum time comes.

At the end of the day, declaring “independence” while remaining in the EU is not to declare independence at all and certainly the Scots have more in common with the English than they do with the French, Germans, Poles, Belgians etc. Not only are there probably more Scots in England than in Scotland but most people have, by now, both Scottish and English (and Irish) blood in their veins who live in most any populated section of Britain. And, of course, there is the monarchy. The SNP, as far as I can tell, do not claim to be officially republican -which is a far cry from claiming to be officially monarchist. Their official position is that HM the Queen would remain their monarch after independence. However, balanced against that is the torrent of abuse I have seen myself leveled against the Queen and the monarchy from SNP supporters. Certainly most of the members that I have heard from in articles and interviews have been ardent republicans. True, one can still find the occasional, frustrated Jacobite who supports Scottish independence in the hope that the Queen will be given her walking papers and the Duke of Bavaria will be invited to take up residence in Edinburgh but there is about as much chance of that happening as there is of the Chinese Communist Party offering to kowtow to the Emperor of Japan. From all I have seen there is not a doubt in my mind that an independent Scotland would become just another minor leftist republic in the European Union. Under different circumstances I would have no problem with a reversion to simply a personal union as existed prior to the reign of Queen Anne, but that is not what is on offer today and that is why the only answer to the Scottish independence question is “no”.

Finally, though I am reluctant to even mention it, there is Canada (yes Canadians, you are a monarchy) and the issue of the secession of Quebec. I am hesitant to mention it because, frankly, I cannot take the Quebec separatists seriously. I mean, seriously … it’s Canada we’re talking about here. All they need do is ask nicely and they could leave anytime they wished. If Quebec was really serious about wanting to leave the rest of Canada, I think they would have done it by now. It’s not like the United States, they can leave whenever they want to. But though they have never done it, they keep bringing it up over and over again and so always remain the “special” Canadian province. Quebec, of course, has never been an independent country before and they are not really much more fond of the French than they are of the British or their fellow Canadians. The tensions between Quebec and the rest of Canada really make no sense whatsoever. Of course, no one would be happy with being conquered and at the outset they had real reason to worry but then along came a man named Guy Carleton. He was Governor-General of Canada just before and during the American Revolution. He helped get the Quebec Act passed which allowed Quebec to keep French as their language, maintain their French legal system, maintain their own territorial claims and exempted them from the British anti-Catholic laws. The British knew that being oppressive would only give the French Canadians a reason to rebel against them, so they didn’t do that.

For the most part, this system worked. Some still sympathized with the Americans, but even most of them did nothing about it and the local leadership and the Catholic Church firmly supported the Crown in the Revolutionary War because they realized that they enjoyed a special status as part of the British Empire that they would certainly not enjoy under the United States government. It is worth looking at areas like Louisiana in the U.S. and comparing that state to the province of Quebec. French is still the spoken language in Quebec but practically no one in Louisiana speaks French anymore. A large majority in Quebec are still (nominally) Catholic whereas in Louisiana, where, while the Catholic Church is the largest single religious group, the majority of the population is Protestant. No matter how you look at it, the fact is that Quebec has remained unique and distinctive within British North America and later Canada whereas otherwise they would be just like Louisiana; different but not in any dramatic way.

And, of course, the bottom line for me is the monarchy and the Quebec separatists make no secret of their hatred for the monarchy and pretty much for anything associated with Britain or English-speaking Canada. Likewise, they too don’t really want true independence but want a status in which they still receive all the benefits of being a Canadian province without any of the obligations. North America does not need another republic and no matter what language they speak those who push for independence as a republic are simply traitors to HM the Queen of Canada and nothing more. I cannot even give them the slightest minimum of respect I might if these were French nationalists longing for reunion with the French motherland. They seem whiny (and you don’t have to forget something to get beyond it), spoiled (special privileges no one else has and it’s never enough), disloyal and additionally, unserious. Again, what they want is not real independence anyway and if they really wanted it, they would have it by now. The only answer for any monarchist to the secession of Quebec is a resounding “no”. Am I against secession on principle? No. Have I been against every act of secession in history? No. However, I am a monarchist first and foremost (when it comes to politics) and none of the secessionist movements going today are ones that I, as a monarchist, could ever support. Not every secessionist movement in history has been bad for monarchy but, from where I sit, all of those agitating now certainly are.

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