Monday, December 31, 2012
2012 - The Year in Review
There were scares and tragedies for others as well. In February, Prince Johan Friso of The Netherlands was buried in an avalanche while skiing in Austria, was nearly killed, and his been mostly comatose ever since. Doctors have hinted to the family to prepare for the worst but at other times seemed more encouraging. Twice during the year HRH Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Italy had to be hospitalized to have cancer removed though thankfully he has bounced back after each procedure. On the other side of the world, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan underwent heart bypass surgery in February, came through it well enough, was released but later had to return to the hospital to have fluid drained from his chest. His duty schedule was shortened as a result with HIH Crown Prince Naruhito happy to take on more work to ease the burden on his father. There was more tragedy for the Imperial Family when the colorful and often out-spoken Prince Tomohito of Mikasa passed away in June.
However, there was happy news as well, thankfully, and for monarchists nothings is better than weddings and coronations. In October HRH Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg was married to Belgian Countess Stephanie de Lannoy, and even the United States got in on the royal wedding scene in September when HIRH Archduke Imre of Austria married Kathleen Walker in Washington DC at a very traditional but low-key traditional Catholic ceremony (“traditional” as in Latin, the language of God and the Caesars). And, on the other side of the world, in April HM Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah of Kedah was (for the second time) formally enthroned as the King of Malaysia or “Yang di-Pertuan Agong” (He Who Is Made Lord) with all appropriate pomp and ceremony. Wedding bells will also soon be ringing again in the Principality of Monaco as in June Andrea Casiraghi (eldest son of Princess Caroline) announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend Tatiana Santo Domingo who later announced her own pregnancy. Okay, so they didn’t get it in the proper order but happy news all the same. Monarchists also smiled when the Prince of Monaco sued French newspapers for libel over their effort to ruin his wedding with their gossip-peddling (good for him) and in some really great news for monarchists, in July the good people of Liechtenstein voted by a margin of over 70% that their Sovereign Prince should retain his power to veto legislation. Hoech! Hoech! Hoech!
And, as always, my thanks to everyone for reading and keeping up with The Mad Monarchist in 2012. I hope you have found it of some benefit and I hope you will all be back next year, though it may be a slow start this time. I appreciate your reading, and your patience and hope you all have a happy new year and the best of 2013.
-The Mad Monarchist
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Royal News Roundup
In Europe, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway was honored for her charity work at a gala in Berlin, Germany for the “A Kind Heart for Children” campaign. HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden held a special dinner for the Nobel Laureates, Prince Carl Philip picked up some Christmas trees and visited the Federation of Swedish Farmers. The Spanish Royal Family got their Christmas cards sent out (mine has not arrived yet) and in Britain the Duchess of Cambridge is said to be recovering from her recent ill-health and the Duchess of York opened a new cancer center for teens in Cambridge. HM the Queen (to her credit) became the first British monarch since Queen Victoria to sit in on a cabinet meeting, which she did on Tuesday. HRH the Princess Royal paid a morale-boosting visit to British troops in Afghanistan, visiting the army base at Camp Bastion, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall helped pass out Christmas goodies and Princess Eugenie helped cheer up patients at the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in Stanmore.
And, finally, on what can only be described as a humorous note, the government of Argentina has filed a formal protest with the UK ambassador over the British government naming the British Antarctica claim “Queen Elizabeth Land” in honor of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. Yawn. Leave it to a republican government to get prissy about the name of a (largely theoretical) British claim to chunk of uninhabitable ice being given a new name as a way to honor a long-serving monarch. The Argentine senate unanimously passed the bill expressing their opposition to the name-change along with cries of “imperialism” because, of course, as the Union Jack is even being hauled down in Belfast and Wales and Scotland each have their own governments, “imperialism” is just the word that comes to mind when one thinks of the modern United Kingdom. What is next, a protest to the UN? Will their be a conflicting territorial claim? Yes, that hunk of ice belongs to Argentina whether the penguins want to be British or not! Still, I envy Argentina that things must be going so well down there that their government has no more pressing business to attend to than this.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Monarch Profile: King Sky Witness of the Snake Kingdom
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Monarch Profile: King Seonjo of Korea
|Korean scholars -at a much later date of course|
Unfortunately, divisions began to arise in the kingdom in the persons of two high officials; Sim Ui-gyeom and Kim Hyowon. Sim was the conservative of the two and Kim the liberal and each gathered their own factions of supporters. Since those supporting Sim lived on the west side of Seoul and those of Kim on the east side, they became known as the eastern and western factions. King Seonjo himself struggled over favoring one side or the other. It was the beginning of a long-running feud that would eventually prove disastrous for the country. Early on, King Seonjo supported the conservative, western faction of Sim who was related to the Queen and had many supporters amongst the aristocracy. However, their slowness to embrace or even opposition to some of the reforms favored by the King gave Kim and the eastern faction a chance to rise to the top and the King moved to their side. This made enacting the reforms easier but, after a period in power, they began to have second thoughts and soon split into two sub-factions. Matters were further complicated when one of those sub-factions split into two even more radical factions of their own. Obviously, this was devastating for the smooth operation of government and became a major source of weakness for Korea.
King Seonjo had to take a chance and he happened to choose incorrectly. The southern threat was the more serious with a major offensive by Japanese forces led by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, known to later westerners as the “Napoleon of Japan”. King Seonjo was also crippled by the factionalism at court. Those who supported concentrating on the northern front downplayed the Japanese threat while their political enemies did the same regarding the Manchurians. Fortunately for the King, whether he knew it or not, he had a winning commander in the naval genius Admiral Yi Sun-sin; known by later generations as the “Nelson of Korea” to confront the “Japanese Napoleon”. However, it was a long and painful process. Following the Japanese invasion of the south there were a string of victories for Japan. King Seonjo tried several commanders who were each defeated as the Japanese pushed north, taking Seoul and Pyongyang where the King and court had relocated to when Seoul became imperiled. Between the Korean withdrawal and the arrival of the Japanese much of Seoul, including the palace, was looted and a great deal was lost. However, the tide began to turn as Admiral Yi Sun-sin devastated the Japanese supply lines, making use of his brilliantly innovative “Turtle Ships” which were forerunners of the armored warships with diverse weaponry of later centuries. Finally, after a stunning victory for Korea at the battle of Hangju the Japanese agreed to talk peace.
|One of the famous, formidable "Turtle Ships"|
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Monarchist Military: The Austro-Hungarian Army of World War I
When war broke out in 1914, the armed forces of Austria-Hungary certainly seemed formidable on paper. With reserves fully mobilized, the Imperial-Royal Army was one of the largest in the world, they looked very smart on parade, had generals of high reputation and some of their weapons (particularly the artillery) were rated as some of the best in the world. Yet, as most know, the simple numbers could be deceiving and Austria-Hungary faced a great many military handicaps. Most of the soldiers lacked experience and they did come from a dizzying array of ethnic backgrounds that caused a linguistic and organizational nightmare. It was a problem, however, despite the impression many have, there were no catastrophic lapses in discipline. This is an important point considering that the nationality problem is often exaggerated to the point that many think the bulk of the Imperial-Royal Army was made up of sullen captives, yet the Hapsburg armed forces experienced nothing like the mutinies that swept the French army which had no such ethnic difficulties to deal with. Despite the best efforts of Count Conrad von Hoetzendorf to modernize the army, it still lacked behind other armies but did have superb artillery and certain groups, such as the Austrian light infantry and Hungarian cavalry were world class.
|An army at prayer|
As to the war itself, it is often forgotten that the initial engagements on the Russian front were Austro-Hungarian victories. The same could not be said of Serbia but then, of course, the bulk of the military force of the empire had to be shifted away from Serbia to meet the greater danger of Russia and so it was a greatly reduced force that advanced into Serbia where the locals had the advantages of fighting a defensive war with the terrain to their advantage and they were also simply a very tough and determined foe. Yet, while much is usually made of the Imperial-Royal forces having to retreat from Serbia, many fail to mention that the Serbs were themselves defeated before Sarajevo and driven back behind their own borders. Likewise, on the Russian front, while there were costly setbacks following initial gains, Austria-Hungary did finally push the Russians back into their country as well. The war did not begin well, certainly, with heavy losses that included many of the best and brightest for little to no gain. However, the empire had been successfully defended from counter-attacks and gains would be made in the future.
Things began to go dangerously wrong in 1916 but even then it was often a problem of logistics and a lack of the basic necessities (due to the Allied blockades) rather than any lack of courage or failure in strategy on the part of the Imperial-Royal military. The South Tyrol Offensive against Italy, for example, ended in failure in large part because supplies were exhausted. In 1917 there was, with German support, the victory over the Italians at Caporetto, however, the privation that Austria-Hungary was suffering from as a whole at that time was still felt. The commandeering of supplies for the offensive meant that large parts of the empire starved and still supplies running out for the fighting men also played a part in that offensive coming to a halt. The winter of 1917/1918 saw strikes and bread riots become a major problem in Austria-Hungary for the first time since the war began. In the years prior, the people had endured a great deal and tremendous losses with stoic determination. Yet, every people has their breaking point and 1918 saw it reached in the lands under the double-eagle. Germany, of course, eventually went through much the same. The last, bungled, offensive planned against Italy was to have been a complex and brilliant maximum effort with army-navy coordination but it began to unravel when the starting date had to be delayed because the troops simply lacked the physical strength, due to malnutrition, to carry it off and the whole thing fell apart.
|Austrian storm troops|
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Favorite Royal Images: A Lovely Russian
HIH Grand Duchess Tatiana of Russia
Probably my favorite picture of her, taken in the Crimea in 1913
Monday, December 17, 2012
A Word on the Tragedy
Anyone who would do something like this will find a way to make it happen, if he has to steal a gun, buy one on the black market or use some more creative means of taking the lives of others. That whole issue is simple for me. The only thing I really don’t understand is why so many of these types kill themselves afterward. Why not just off yourself in the first place and save a whole lot of time and aggravation? It reminds me of a line from a poem that someone (let’s say a doctor) told me once and has stuck in my head ever since, “Good creatures, do you love your lives / and have you ears for sense? / Here is a knife like other knives, / that cost me eighteen pence. / I need but stick it in my heart / and down will come the sky, / and earth’s foundations will depart / and all you folk will die.” It is nearly impossible to stop someone who is bent on destroying themselves and almost as difficult to stop those intent on harming others. There is only so much that “we” can do but, as the increasing number of these tragedies shows, I think it is obvious we could do more. In the aftermath, everyone wonders “why” and “how” such things could happen. I am no more an oracle than anyone else, but one thing does come to mind. Perhaps it is the sort of thing one can only come up with if one has a first-hand grasp of mental disorders. In a word: empathy.
When you see the horror, the pure evil that was done, such actions (to my mind at least, and I know people will call it backward and superstitious) can only be attributed to the Devil. We have become an increasingly godless society and one in which we do not even agree on the most basic difference between “right” and “wrong”. In fact, it seems we are increasingly convinced that such distinctions do not even exist. Obviously, I am not saying that this would not have happened if the murderer had gone to Church or anything like that, but it is just as obvious that this was someone who did not fear divine judgment or have any respect for the law of God, including “Thou shalt not kill”. But, it is bigger than that. I know many people will be upset that I go back to this issue, but I cannot help it, the fact is that we in the United States, legal, law-abiding citizens, have murdered 50 million babies since 1973 and each one of those lives was just as precious and just as innocent as the children murdered in Connecticut. The only difference seems to be that if you kill your own children soon enough we have no problem with it but a dead child is a dead child and by condoning one while condemning the other, it seems to me, is sending an extremely mixed message about the value we place on human life.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
MM Sunday Scripture
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Royal News Roundup
Down in the Low Countries there was happy news this week from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as the Palace announced that HRH Prince Felix is engaged to be married to Miss Claire Lademacher, a native of Germany who spent much of her childhood in Georgia (the one with the peaches, not the one in the Caucasus). We send them our congratulations and best wishes for a long and happy life of wedded bliss. And, in The Netherlands, Princess Mabel made her first foray back into official royal duties on Wednesday since her husband, Friso, was injured in a skiing accident. Mabel joined HM Queen Beatrix and TRH Prince Willem-Alexander and Prince Constantijn (along with their significant others) at the presentation of the Prince Claus Awards. And, in southern Europe, TSH the Prince and Princess of Monaco hosted their traditional Christmas party and Princess Charlene formally opened her own foundation dedicated to promoting sport as a way to change lives, with an emphasis on rugby and swimming, highlighting her own interests. And, in Italy, this week HH Pope Benedict XVI “tweeted” his first message on Twitter. Then the seas began to boil, the stars fell from the sky and the moon started to bleed. I know, I know, I’m hopeless…
Anyway, Princess Charlene is not the only royal fond of sport. HH the Emir of Qatar, speaking at the Doha Goals Forum, said that “Sport has the ability to transcend cultural and ideological barriers and forms of disparity,”. A noble sentiment, but I have a hard time agreeing with that considering how being politically correct seems more important than physical ability in so many cases involving sports these days. There was relief across the border in Saudi Arabia when, on Thursday, HM King Abdullah (age 89) returned from the hospital four weeks after undergoing back surgery. Oil markets are always nervous about the health of the King of Saudi Arabia and there is more to be concerned with lately considering that some of the reforms the King has enacted recently have not been well received in some quarters. In the North African Kingdom of Morocco, an AFP journalist had their accreditation revoked after the reporter wrote that the “Authenticity and Modernity Party” was “close to the palace”. The Prime Minister said this was unacceptable, that the King is totally apart from politics and that no one would be tolerated who tried to connect the King to a particular party. The AFP is pouting about it.
Finally, in the Far East, HIH Crown Princess Masako of Japan celebrated her 49th birthday last Sunday. On that occasion Her Imperial Highness also said that with help from her doctors and the people she is continuing her efforts to recover from the stress-induced illness she has been dealing with for most of the last decade and which has kept her largely out of the public eye. In a statement released by the Imperial Household Agency (shudder in fear!!) the Crown Princess said, “As the treatment has lasted for a long time, I suppose that I have caused so much worry,” which I thought was very touching. She continued saying, “I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the people in the country for their continuous warm support”. She spoke with pride about the accomplishments of her daughter and expressed her solidarity with the earthquake and tsunami victims. The Grand Master of the Crown Princely household said that the Crown Princess is steadily recovering, is taking a small amount of medication and sees doctors as needed.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Mad Rant: Freedom in the Far East
You could say the same thing about the west. How everyone seems to think that before the era of the so-called “Enlightenment” and especially before the revolutionary era, everyone lived in oppression and ignorance. They forget all about the great universities established in the Middle Ages, the tremendous scientific, literary and artistic discoveries of the Renaissance or how, even in feudal times, most Europeans had more holidays from work and paid less to their governments than they do today. But in the east this same ignorant attitude has often also been combined with a disgusting dose of condescension and thinly veiled racism. I will never forget finding an old school book, written sometime in the 1910’s, that spoke with such arrogant, ignorant pride about the 1911 Revolution in China. This was from a contemporary American perspective of course, and the book spoke so smugly about how the Chinese had finally “grown up” and were embracing the idea of the republic which, of course, Americans were “smart” enough to have figures out two centuries earlier. One would think the very concept of “freedom” had only been invented in Philadelphia in 1776!
Human beings the world over had plenty of time to learn what worked and what did not and, unlike today without our collective safety nets, if something didn’t work the consequences could not be ignored. People learned from it, adapted and moved on. When a system was found that worked, they stuck with it until it became sacred tradition. Many attributed foreign influences with the establishment of the Japanese constitutional monarchy in the Meiji Constitution. However, it embodied the same values held by the Japanese going back at least to the Seventeen-Article Constitution released in 604 by Prince Shotoku. This document included such points as being tolerant of disagreement, not to be envious, not to conscript people at times that would prevent them from providing for themselves and that important decisions should be left to one ruler but taken after discussion. Those who believe that government which governs best is that which governs the least might also be surprised to learn that many Chinese came to the same conclusion a thousand years ago. In Imperial China there was the famous saying, implying considerable freedom through benign neglect that, “Heaven is high, and the Emperor is far away”.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Monarch Profile: King Wilhelm I of Württemberg
With Britain gathering Russia and Austria as allies against Napoleon, Baden and Bavaria joined in a counter-alliance with France which Wurttemberg was finally compelled to join as well. If Friedrich were to prove uncooperative, the able Machiavellian Prince Talleyrand had planned a coup to topple the Elector and replace him with Fritz. However, despite their problems, Friedrich Wilhelm would have nothing to do with any scheme to remove his father from the throne and his cordiality toward France cooled considerably after this. Still, he was given little real responsibility in the government of Wurttemberg and instead took the time to broaden his knowledge, undertaking a study of agriculture. In fact, it was after a royal marriage was sought with the House of Wurttemberg to strengthen the French-created Kingdom of Westphalia that Fritz got his father to agree to his own marriage to the Princess of Bavaria. However, it was a political match and there was no real romance between the two at all and Princess Charlotte found herself to be quite a lonely figure as Crown Princess of Wurttemberg.
With the political situation changed, Fritz saw no reason to carry on with his “show” marriage to Princess Charlotte and sought a divorce on the grounds that the marriage had never been consummated. King Maximilian agreed and King Friedrich I made it official, though as Princess Charlotte was Catholic she had to await a ruling from the Pope on the matter. Happily, this came through and she went on to marry no less a figure than Emperor Francis I of Austria. Fritz had said from the very beginning that they were both “victims of politics”. This left the Prince free to marry Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia in St Petersburg in 1816 by whom he had two daughters (the younger of whom later married King Willem III of The Netherlands). He had fallen in love with the Grand Duchess while visiting family in England and it was at least a happier marriage than his first. Both attended the Congress of Vienna and when Napoleon returned to France for one last roll of the dice, Prince Friedrich Wilhelm took to the field again but was not present for the last climactic battle with Imperial France.
1820 saw the King married a third time, to the Duchess Pauline, his cousin, who gave him three more children; two daughters and (the middle child) a son and heir. During the same period, Wurttemberg became a constitutional monarchy, which King Wilhelm I was originally not happy about but he finally approved a document which reserved considerable powers for the monarch. After the 1830 July Revolution in France, liberalism began spreading across Europe and Wurttemberg no less felt the changes with liberals coming to dominate the government, which embittered relations with Prussia and Austria. The King worked to improve relations with Prussia and as the economy continued to improve was able to lower taxes and pay off national debts. However, a bad harvest caused an economy downturn that made Wurttemberg susceptible to the radical leaders of the Revolutions of 1848. King Wilhelm I played his hand carefully, holding back on shutting down the liberal assemblies until it was absolutely necessary and, in the end, Wurttemberg emerged from the crisis in better shape than many others. Once it was all over the King had become all but a confirmed reactionary, referring to elections as a “periodic fever” he did not wish his subjects to fall victim to. His final years saw increased development (such as the first railroad in the country) and a policy of neutrality as well as reestablishing relations with France, by then under Emperor Napoleon III. He died on June 25, 1864 at the age of 82. For all of his personal shortcomings he died a respected leader of considerable ability who accomplished a great deal for his country.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
America and Japan, Who Wanted War?
|The Showa Emperor|
In my book, FDR was one of the worst presidents in American history, partly because of the actions listed here. As for World War II being the “good war” I have no sweeping statement on the subject. Some people think no wars are ever “good” but I am not one of them. However, even World War II was not as clear-cut as some people think. The fight against Hitler meant an alliance with Joseph Stalin (who actually killed more people than Hitler did) and ended with half of Europe being consigned to slavery behind the Soviet “Iron Curtain”. Likewise, in the Far East, it meant the expansion of communism and gave rise to many brutal dictators and many bloody civil wars as well as ending with a nuclear attack that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Roosevelt could have made an argument for U.S. intervention in the war in Europe against Hitler. There were circumstances of course, but Hitler had conquered Poland, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia and Greece so a case could be made that he was a menace to world peace and needed to be stopped. However, Japan was a completely different story.
|President Roosevelt -his own cabinet didn't trust him|
Roosevelt, however, did first involve himself in World War II in Europe but only around the spring and summer of 1941. The summer of 41 was of course when Hitler launched his invasion of the Soviet Union. President Roosevelt had been the first U.S. President to recognize the Soviet Union as a legitimate government by the way. FDR took such measures against Germany that he told the American Ambassador to France that conflict with Germany was “certain” and only waited for Hitler to cause some incident that FDR could point to in order to gain public support for the war. However, Hitler refused to bite and there was not much the President could do to “get at” Hitler directly. However, unlike Germany, Japan was an island nation that depended on resources and raw materials imported from abroad to survive. He could wage an economic war against Japan that would back them into a corner and force them to strike the first blow, allowing FDR to be “forced” to take the U.S. into the war against Germany as well as Japan.
|What it was all about|
There really should be nothing “new” or “controversial” about any of this. Admirers of FDR even praise him for doing this. There is really no room for debate on the point any more that the embargo FDR put on Japan, and he persuaded the British government and the Dutch government-in-exile to do the same, were intended to force Japan to either surrender their national sovereignty and control over their own affairs or to launch an attack on the United States or one of the Allied powers. All of this was undertaken against a country that had made no aggressive move against any foreign power aside from China who they were already fighting and had been for some time. FDR’s soon-to-be ally Joseph Stalin had invaded more foreign countries than Japan had, having occupied Mongolia, attacked Finland, conquered Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and who had joined Hitler in the partition of Poland. None of these facts are in dispute. FDR and members of his cabinet had long advocated the use of sanctions against Japan to thwart their progress and, it must be said, their economic competition with the United States for control of the vast markets of China.
Unfortunately, very few people choose to point these facts out. Today it is largely the libertarians who are isolationist and against any intervention under any circumstances, that will even talk about these facts. Some also make the mistake of attributing it to FDR being an Anglophile. If only that were true! On the contrary, FDR made it perfectly clear that he considered the dismantling of the British Empire a top priority, second only to the defeat of the Axis. It seems to me that if FDR admired anyone that was fighting against Hitler at that time it was Joseph Stalin. FDR was always suspicious of British motives but never of Stalin, famously saying that Stalin was at least “not an imperialist”. By the time the war ended the British Empire was on the road to collapse while the Soviet Union was bigger and more powerful than ever, having been handed all of Eastern Europe and Northeast Asia. It should also be remembered that the entire foreign policy of Japan on the Asian mainland was motivated by anti-communism and their desire to protect themselves from communist expansion. I cannot say that I know for certain what the motivations of Roosevelt were in his intentionally provoking Japan into war. What is certain is that he did it. He wanted war, Japan did not. He could have made a compelling case for intervention in Europe against Germany but he could not have made such a case against Japan. Roosevelt is not an admirable figure, he was certainly not honest with the Japanese, nor was he honest with the British and he was not honest with the American people either.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Favorite Royal Images: A Future Queen
-HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom & Commonwealth
Monday, December 10, 2012
Consort Profile: Queen Carlota Joaquina of Spain
The difficulties between John and Carlota were so widely whispered about, and their physical appearance held up to such ridicule, that when some of their last children were born people judged them too beautiful to have been fathered by John and assumed Carlota had found someone else for the job. It was nonsense of course though their marital relations were pretty much a matter of simple duty and after the birth of their ninth child they decided they had done enough to secure the succession for Portugal and lived apart thereafter. Ugly rumors were spread about her shockingly immoral behavior, which are not worth recounting, that she was plotting to take over the government, that she was an insatiable nymphomaniac and so on. Certainly she was no saint but the worst of such stories have not a shred of evidence to support them and were almost totally due to the fact that she was unpopular for simply being Spanish in most cases. There was no end to the rumors that Carlota was always scheming to do something terrible to the Portuguese Royal Family to enable Spain to take over the country. She certainly spoke up for the interests of Spain, which is hardly shocking, but most of the rumors were simply that and nothing more. In the end, of course, it was not Spain that proved to be the real threat but France. Under the dynamic leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, French troops conquered Spain and soon Portugal as well, forcing the Royal Family to relocate to Brazil in 1807.
Portuguese-Brazilian forces did annex some territory in this region and Carlota had the support of some prominent local leaders such as the Argentine national hero General Manuel Belgrano, however, the powerful viceroys opposed such a change and the British were against the idea as well. It is understandable but also inviting to imagine what might have happened if so large an area of South America had become an independent monarchy still tied by blood to the Spanish Royal Family. There were plans, or at least rumors of plans, for Carlota to assemble an army and march on Buenos Aires and declare herself “Queen of La Plata” but, as we know, nothing finally came of the grand scheme due to a lack of support from the local elites and the opposition of foreign powers. As the Napoleonic Wars ended Carlota would have to content herself with being Queen consort of Portugal. When she returned with the King and the rest of the family in 1821 things in Portugal had changed dramatically and not for the better. Revolutionary ideas had taken root and were spreading unrest throughout the country. A liberal uprising resulted in the proclamation of the first Portuguese constitution which King John VI promised to support.
The King was not pleased though the British finally persuaded him to accept the independence of Brazil in 1825. He died the following year, unattended by his wife as Queen Carlota was becoming increasingly paranoid and was convinced that the Freemasons had poisoned the King as part of the effort by the liberal revolutionaries to take power. When the King died Dom Pedro became King of Portugal but abdicated in favor of his daughter so as to remain in Brazil as Emperor. Queen Carlota might have been expected to act as regent for Queen Maria but was not, probably for fear that she would work to displace her. If that was the thinking, it did no good for her uncle and intended husband, Prince Miguel, was declared King of Portugal by the conservative faction before she arrived back in Europe, setting the stage for a civil war. But there would be no more political intrigues for Queen Carlota who died at Queluz Palace on January 7, 1830 at the age of 54 after a very controversial and colorful life.
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