Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beware Democracy

Recently, the British Parliament formally legalized gay “marriage” in the United Kingdom. The change was met with fairly widespread support, however, there was a very, very limited number of people who were outraged by it. Not enough to be noteworthy here were it not for the fact that this particular group claimed to be monarchists and directed their anger not at the politicians who drew up the bill, the people who voted for them or the public that supported it but rather toward HM the Queen who signed the bill into law. Even that is a debatable point as the monarch does not actually do that anymore in a literal sense as Royal Assent is so taken for granted these days as a mere formality. Royal Assent is simply assumed given that it has been hundreds of years since it was last withheld. Yours truly finds this rather baffling, especially after seeing one or two people saying this has changed their entire attitude, causing them to withdraw their support for the Queen and even monarchy in general. I do not doubt some people can be that hysterical, I am simply amazed that nothing prompted it before given how fragile the loyalty of these people obviously is. The Queen nominally assenting to things like abortion or membership in the European Union was acceptable but gay “marriage” is the intolerable thing? Makes no sense to this observer. It should be obvious to anyone that the real culprit in this case is not the Queen but “democracy”.

It can seem more than a bit odd that democracy is still given so much lip-service and treated with such reverence while so many seem to be very familiar with the shortcomings and failures of the system. After all, democracy is not so widespread as people think. Many traitors in Britain who favor the U.K. becoming a republic because the monarchy is un-democratic also support the European Union in which absolutely no one with any real power at all is elected by the public. Many people in the United States scoffed at the recent attention paid to the British Royal Family, bemoaning how un-democratic it is to have a monarchy. They seem to forget that, while it usually comes to the same thing, the President of the United States is not chosen by popular vote but by the Electoral College. If the popular vote was the decisive factor the events of September 11, 2001 would have occurred on the watch of “President Al Gore” and they would probably be referred to today as the greatest act of eco-terrorism in American history. Today, the People’s Republic of China seems to have no shortage of admirers in the western world, despite the fact that in that country “democracy” means voting for the Communist Party candidate of your choice. Which is obviously completely different from free countries where you have two or sometimes even three people to choose from.

I would wager that everyone reading this, at some point, have heard someone complain about politicians who have no principles, who are totally self-serving and who engage in pandering. They mean, of course, that politicians want to get reelected and will do whatever is popular at the moment rather than doing what is best. Whether they realize it or not, these people are actually criticizing, not the politician, but the democratic process itself. After all, what is a “pandering politician” doing but exactly what he or she is expected to do; following the will of the people, doing what the public wants them to do so that a satisfied electorate will allow them to keep their job. When someone agrees with a politician doing this, he is being receptive to his constituents, listening to the people and upholding the principles of democracy. However, to someone who disagrees, that same politician is engaged in political pandering, putting his own political interests before the common good and generally being a self-serving jerk. Well, which is it democrats? The answer is, of course, that the problem is the voting public rather than the politician (though the vast majority of politicians are plenty bad, don’t get me wrong). And, as stated previously, everyone seems to realize that but only at certain times. When the majority agrees with you, democracy is great. When it does not, well, then it is time to remind everyone that the majority gets it wrong sometimes (meaning, when they disagree with you).

Believe it or not, some people have tried to place yours truly in that category because I have, at times, cited poll numbers for monarchs and monarchies that are greatly beloved by their people. However, I plead “not guilty” to such a charge because I am not a democrat and while I am perfectly pleased to have a majority do what I think is right, I am not a believer in democracy who holds that the majority can do no wrong because what is “right” is defined as whatever the majority wants. This is usually rank hypocrisy as well because, as stated, virtually no major political system in the world today is truly democratic anyway. It is a highly orchestrated act of political theatre with just enough democratic participation to obtain the pacification of the public and keep them safely in the hands of the political elite who hold real power. As Goethe accurately said, “There are none more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”. It is, at this point, a spiritual affliction so acute that most do not even realize it, let alone question it. Democracy would be wrong even if it were being adhered to honestly (which it is not) because it is spiritually wrong. Right and wrong exist independently of the ever shifting view of 51% of the adult public. Loyalty, real loyalty and allegiance of every people to their ancient line of chieftains is a sacred thing and today hardly anyone even understands it anymore. Today, everything is conditional and this system has made people more selfish and self-serving than ever while, ironically, at the same time making them less independent and less truly free than at any other time in history.

Democracy takes hold because it works really well in the promotion of apathy for a public that is driven by fashionable trends that come and go, feigned outrage that jumps from subject to subject, sound-bites and easy to remember slogans that mean nothing but sound really ‘cool’. It gives people the illusion of power, feeds their arrogant pride but is actually nothing less than a satanic delusion. The delusion of the person who thinks they have freedom when they do whatever their bestial desires dictate while they are actually shackled spiritually to damnation. It also causes relativism which causes division and confusion and everyone should know who the “author of confusion” is. God never endorsed democracy. On the contrary, God revealed that the majority will usually do what is easy and wrong while only a few will do what is righteous. Does anyone remember the Biblical passage about when everyone did “what was right in their own eyes”? Suffice it to say, that was not something positive. This should not be taken as God being oppressive because every command God ever gave was for the ultimate good of his people. This should be obvious if anyone would open their eyes to see it. We have seen societies embrace things like abortion, contraception and unnatural sexual “lifestyles” and we have seen the same societies depopulate themselves. Soon they will have died out completely but they continue to march down the road to self-destruction, patting themselves on the back for being so “selfless” and broadminded when they are actually being so selfish that they cannot even be bothered to take the effort to survive. But, they think they’re happy, they think they’re doing the right thing because it is what most people want, what most people approve of and, of course, if it is the will of the majority (and we are told it is), then it cannot be wrong.

We should be different. We should be living examples that the bonds of personal loyalty have not been surrendered and will not be broken. If mistakes have been made, and certainly they have been, these should not be compounded with the errors of disloyalty and treason. Blaming a monarch for the unnatural desires of the majority of the unthinking public is not only ignorant, it is harmful as it ignores the real root of the problem. And people should ask themselves; if the monarchs of the world are part of the problem, why is there still a movement to remove them? In virtually every remaining monarchy in the world there is an effort, large or small, to remove them from their legitimate place. Ask yourself why the political elites, the liars on television and all the rest, still sneer at the very idea of monarchy. The answer is, because no matter what they do, no matter how little influence they have, even if they seem to be agreeable, they stand for something that is completely opposed to their real world view and they know that so long as a monarchy remains, there is always the chance that what they have taken centuries to destroy could someday be built back up -and that is a chance they are not prepared to take.

There are enemies of tradition, of right, of justice, of life and the very existence of the divine and there are a lot of them. The system that exists today is corrupting people, the lies are being spread all over the world day and night, that every “last” monarch in history was a traitor, not the disloyal mobs that turned against them and criticizing the monarchs of the world today for not working miracles it is no different than joining the treasonous mobs just for a different reason than most people. That’s like turning against King Louis XVI of France because he was forced to sign the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. It doesn’t solve anything, it doesn’t put the world back where it needs to be, it just puts you in the same camp as the enemy. You might have taken a different road to get there, but you ended up in the exact same place as the enemies of all that is righteous and sacred in the world.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Favorite Royal Images: A Southern Empress

HIM Empress Nam Phuong of Viet-Nam
A great and lovely lady, taken from us all too soon.

Re: Pope Francis; Calm Down

Okay, so the media has been going soda crackers over HH Pope Francis turning centuries of Catholic teaching and Christian tradition on its head. Suddenly, homosexuality is okay and women really need to start taking charge of the Catholic Church. Pretty shocking, except that is not what the Pope said. He said that it was wrong to judge homosexual priests (who are supposed to be celibate) and that women should have a more prominent role in the Church but that this did not mean they could or would join the priesthood. If you look at what Pope Francis actually said, it amounts to nothing earth-shattering at all. At most he may be going back on Pope Benedict XVI's rule against homosexuals joining the priesthood at all and that he may be trying to encourage more lay women to manage things in the Church. That is about the most that could be construed from his remarks unless you are the liberal-dominated mainstream media that reads into these things exactly what you want to hear. He also said he wants the Church to be poor and messy but, confusing as that might be, it doesn't grab the headlines like anything involving gays or feminists. The truth is that Pope Francis said nothing outrageous or even anything really new at all. However, I could not honestly say I did not wince a little when I first heard what the Pope said (it is starting to become a habit). I would prefer he had not said such a thing at all which, again, is nothing new and should not be controversial.

"Should not" is the problem though. Anyone could see that it would be and I would have preferred it not to be said just because there are so many so-called "Catholics" out there who will purposely twist his words to their own advantage as they push a very anti-Catholic and anti-Christian agenda. It will provide more cover to those corrupt politicians who claim to be Catholics while pushing for things like gay "marriage" and abortion and all the rest because they will dishonestly edit the Pope's words just enough to make it sound as though he agrees with them and that makes it all okay. I can hear the interviews now, "Of course I can be Catholic and take this position! Didn't you hear that even the Pope said we are not supposed to judge homosexuals? That's a private matter." You know it is going to happen. However, people should not condemn the Pope for saying something he did not actually say nor should anyone twist and pervert his words in a way he did not intend. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure they will. I certainly have not agreed with everything Pope Francis has done or said but this is media storm is grossly unfair. The Pope said nothing that contradicts Church teaching and certainly nothing that changes it. Just calm down people.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Royal Regalia: Italy

The story of the royal regalia of the Kingdom of Italy can be a little confusing. There were, actually, two crowns, the most prominently featured of which was destroyed before the formation of the modern Kingdom of Italy while the other, which did and does still exist, was never used. The crown most people probably think of in relation to the Kingdom of Italy is the crown featured on the royal Italian coat-of-arms and the arms of the House of Savoy. This crown, along with the Savoy knot, was also used as the royal badge of the Kingdom of Italy. This was, however, properly speaking, a crown that existed only on paper and in artistic renderings during the life of the Kingdom of Italy. Usually known as the Savoy Crown, it was made when the House of Savoy first achieved royal status as the official crown of the Kingdom of Sardinia or Piedmont-Sardinia. It was the primary piece of a collection of crown jewels that were, sadly, destroyed during the war with France when Napoleon invaded Piedmont and captured Turin, forcing the House of Savoy to relocate to Sardinia. Since that time the Savoy Crown has never been replaced or replicated and no coronations were held for Savoy monarchs after that. However, the image of Savoy Crown continued to be used throughout the life of the Kingdom of Italy.

The other crown most associated with Italy is the very ancient and very sacred Iron Crown of Lombardy which was used by the medieval Kingdom of Italy. As stated elsewhere, it was used by Napoleon when he conquered northern Italy and later used by the Hapsburg Emperors of Austria as the crown of their Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. When the Austrians were forced out of northern Italy they took the Iron Crown with them to Vienna but, in a subsequent peace treaty after another war, it was turned over to the House of Savoy and placed back in its traditional resting place in Milan. It is noteworthy that all official documents from the Italian royal court refer to there being two crowns, the Crown of Savoy and the Iron Crown which was always referred to as the “crown of Italy”. No King of Italy ever had a coronation though there was some discussion about it. If it had been done, the Iron Crown of Lombardy would have been used. Unfortunately, because of the “Roman Question” the Pope had excommunicated King Victor Emmanuel II (along with everyone else who had anything to do with unification) and neither King Victor Emmanuel II nor King Umberto I wished to make use of the Iron Crown, which is a holy relic, while their status with the Church was in question.

Reproduction of the Iron Crown on the tomb of Umberto I
The excommunication of King Victor Emmanuel II was lifted just before his death and King Umberto I considered making use of the Iron Crown later in his life but never did so before his tragic assassination. The Iron Crown was carried, however, in his funeral procession. Talk about a coronation for King Victor Emmanuel III was quickly stopped. Because of the stand-off with the Church, any cleric who performed such a coronation would be putting his career in jeopardy. King Victor Emmanuel III was also far too disturbed by the terrible and unnatural death of his father to plan such a grand occasion and he was simply the type who was not inclined to grand displays of pomp and ceremony anyway, never being comfortable at large, public events. All of that had changed by the time King Umberto II formally came to the throne. The “Roman Question” had been settled and the Church was furiously backpedaling in the face of the upcoming referendum on a republic, trying to encourage the public to support the monarchy. It would have been perfectly acceptable for King Umberto II to have been crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy but, unfortunately, his reign was cut so short by the fraudulent referendum that made Italy a republic that there was never time to even consider such a ceremony.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Saintly Royals Sunday

St Balthilde
Queen consort of King Clovis II of Burgundy,
known for her humility, kindness and charity

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Royal News Roundup

The big news this week, well, unless you have been living under a rock you might have heard that the House of Windsor-Mountbatten has gained another prince. On Monday HRH the Duchess of Cambridge was delivered of a healthy baby boy and future King, HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. Everyone has been perfectly thrilled with the news. This blessed event also comes at a time when the monarchy in Britain has been riding a wave of increased popular support with immense admiration for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and with HM the Queen enjoying a 90% approval rating. It would be nice if the idea of monarchy as the backbone of the country were so entrenched no one would ever need report on such a thing, but since public perception matters these days, that is something to be thankful for. Most expect the new royal birth will help that trend to continue. The birth of a boy might also cause more Commonwealth Realms to decide that changing the laws of succession to base inheritance solely on age rather than gender as we know that, regardless of the law being changed, the next three British and Commonwealth monarchs will be kings. And may God save them all in their time.

On the continent, King Philippe of the Belgians is settling into his new position and has received pretty uniform praise for striking the right note upon taking the throne, emphasizing ‘unity in diversity’. These days, of course, no one likes to talk about tradition unless it is being broken and so there were a couple of breaks in tradition surrounding the inauguration of King Philippe. For one, for the first time since Belgium has existed, the royal swearing-in ceremony was followed by two anthems instead of one; the Belgian national anthem and the European Union anthem. Most talking heads in the media seemed to think this was great, showing how Belgium is committed to surging ahead on the whole united Europe idea (something yours truly is not so wild about), however they seemed rather less impressed with the other break with tradition by King Philippe who has decided not to announce a general amnesty for Belgian prisoners as has been done in times past. Not to sound contrary but that seems like the better break with tradition to me. Among the other crowned heads of Europe, HM King Willem-Alexander took his family on a short vacation this week, HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden met with some Boy Scouts and HM King Juan Carlos of Spain met with survivors of the horrific train wreck in northern Spain.

In other news we go to the Americas where HH Pope Francis made the first overseas visit of his reign when he traveled to Brazil for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro where he was met with a hugely enthusiastic welcome. On his way, Pope Francis said he was most concerned about the poor young people and those without jobs. In his message to the gathered young people the Pontiff said, “What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!…I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!” The Pope also caused a stir by not riding in a protected vehicle and by going off the planned course, away from the barricades and police security, to drive amongst the crowd. Problems surrounding the papal visit have caused some to express doubts about the ability of the country to handle the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Local officials, however, say such problems are unavoidable with Youth Day and that these other events will be handled fine.

Friday, July 26, 2013

MM Mini View: The Savoy Kings (Part II)

King Charles Albert: Born in 1798 in Turin he succeeded King Charles Felix as King of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1831. During his reign he would lay the foundations for the creation of the unified Kingdom of Italy. More of a mixed bag for me, I find myself defending him more often than criticizing him simply because he seems to have more critics today than defenders. Charles Albert presided over some very good things and some very bad things during his reign. He suppressed republicanism in his kingdom, knowing that it would create divisions detrimental to their professed goal of national unification, which he shared -which was a good thing. He made his kingdom the most modern and forward-thinking on the Italian peninsula (not always so good, especially as it concerned the Church) and in 1848 granted a constitution that was to survive long after he was gone as the framework of the future Kingdom of Italy. His aspirations for Italian unity were, at the time, widely shared. Yet, when he declared war on Austria in the First War of Italian Independence, he alienated many of his neighbors but he was determined to see an end to Austrian control over northern Italy, territory they obtained only by a deal with the French revolutionaries. Unfortunately for him, he was defeated but accepted full responsibility, abdicated in 1849 and went into exile in Portugal. He died there a short time later. It was not a glorious start, but it was a start.

King Victor Emmanuel II: Born in 1820 he succeeded his father as King of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1849, making peace with Austria and reestablishing order in his country. He joined in the Crimean War alongside France and Britain, defeating the Russians in 1856. After making an alliance with France he went to war against Austria and won the region of Lombardy. When revolution broke out in the central Italian duchies he moved in to restore order and the states voted to join Piedmont-Sardinia in the movement for Italian unification. After Garibaldi and his red shirts attacked the Two-Sicilies he moved his army south, taking command of the war effort and was handed control of the southern half of the peninsula. Much of these disturbances arose when local monarchs granted constitutions in times of crisis only to revoke them later. Victor Emmanuel II was the only monarch to maintain the constitution his people have and it is for that reason that he was known as the “Honest King” -so that has to be seen in context. To his enemies he was the “Thief King” and to his friends as the “Gentleman King” for his affable personality. Today many are inclined to criticize him but there was hardly a case in which he advanced his cause where the only other alternative was not a socialistic republic. His victory was certainly preferable to that alternative. In 1861 he was declared the first King of Italy, the first monarch to reign over the whole Italian peninsula since the time of ancient Rome. After the Third War of Independence he won Venetia and the Iron Crown of Lombardy. Rome was united to Italy in 1870 but he died with still greater aspirations in 1878. The biggest problem with his reign was the start of the “Roman Question” which both sides should have done more to avoid. His character left something to be desired but, on the other hand, I do admire those who ‘think big’.

King Umberto I: Born in 1844, Umberto I succeeded his father as King of Italy in 1878 and quickly went about the work of consolidation and making a place for Italy on the world stage as one of the regional powers of Europe -and I salute him for that. Since the old ally France had gone republican and was attempting to spread their influence in Italy, King Umberto I signed on to the Triple Alliance with the empires of Germany and Austria-Hungary. This is often misunderstood as it was not so much a political alliance of countries but a dynastic alliance of monarchies for the purpose of creating solidarity against subversion rather than any international agenda for or against other powers. He made sure, for example, to keep good relations with Great Britain. He successfully suppressed socialist revolutionaries (and anyone who shoots down socialist mobs is okay in my book) and supported expansion into Africa with the establishment of the first Italian colonies in Eritrea and Somalia. Victories were won against terrorist forces in the southern Sudan region but Italian forces met a shocking setback at the hands of the Emperor of Ethiopia (who Italy had helped place on the throne) at the battle of Adowa in 1896. A generous man at home, though often secretly, most did not know that King Umberto likewise secretly paid the ransoms the Ethiopians demanded for the return of his captured soldiers. After seeing off an expedition to China he was assassinated in 1900. Known as “Umberto the Good” or the “Good King”, he was that.

King Victor Emmanuel III: Born in 1869, Victor Emmanuel III became King of Italy upon the death of his father in 1900. His reign would see the height of power for the Kingdom of Italy as well as its darkest moments. For most people he will probably always be the most controversial Italian monarch, even though he presided over a string of national successes -at least until World War II. In 1911 Italy won Libya and the Dodecanese Islands from the Ottoman Turks. In 1915 the King led Italy into World War I on the side of Britain, France and the Allies. With their victory Italy gained some Austrian territory but hardly any of what she had been promised by the other powers. He was criticized (later) for not using the army to stop the Fascist march on Rome in 1922 but these were the same sort of people who criticized his father for calling out the army to stop socialists. So, shooting down socialists in the streets is bad but shooting down fascists in the streets would have been fine. Got it. Peace was finally made with the Church in 1929 and in 1936 Italian forces conquered Ethiopia, making Victor Emmanuel III an Emperor. Immediately after, Italian troops were sent to Spain to aid in the victory of the nationalists over the communists. In 1939 Victor Emmanuel III became King of Albania and despite his objections Mussolini took the country into World War II in 1940. When Sicily was invaded the King dismissed Mussolini and arrested him. Crushed between the Axis and the Allies, the King finally abdicated in 1946 and died in exile in Egypt in 1947. I have a soft spot for VE3. He was a much smarter man than he often gets credit for, he had his priorities in order and he really cared about the monarchy as an institution. There were many things he should have done differently but I despise the way so much of the criticism directed at him came from people who blamed him for not doing the things they could have done but lacked the courage to do.

King Umberto II: Born in 1904, Umberto II was the last King of Italy, reigning for 34 days from May 9th to June 12th. Trained as a soldier like all Savoy princes, he had presided over the Italian invasion of France in 1940 which lasted only a few days before the French surrender. He was excluded from most high level positions and discussions because of his opposition to the Fascists and their Nazi allies. Mussolini greatly distrusted him and kept him under scrutiny at all times. After the Fascists were removed from power his father handed him the effective role of regent as Lieutenant General of the Realm and in that role he won the respect of many Allied leaders. In 1946, mostly for the month of May, he became King of Italy but was forced to accept a referendum on the future of the monarchy. The vote was highly irregular and clearly fraudulent but came back in favor of a republic. The King accepted exile and died in Switzerland in 1983. A great deal of slander has been spread about Umberto II, mostly from the left but, ironically, largely coming from stories invented originally by the Fascists. He was a good man who cared about his country, his people and the Royal Family and both his enemies at home and the Allied leadership should have given him an honest chance. He deserved so much better than what happened to him. The only thing I can fault him for was not being more unequivocal concerning the royal succession which might have saved loyal Italian monarchists a great deal of trouble.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

MM Mini View: The Savoy Kings (Part I)

King Victor Amadeus II: The first Savoy to obtain the royal crown, he was born in Turin in 1666 and succeeded his father, Charles Emmanuel III, as Duke of Savoy in 1675. By marriage he allied with France and took measures to enforce Catholic unity in his lands, suppressing Protestants and any heretical beliefs. He enacted sweeping reforms of the government, land and tax systems throughout his reign. In the 9 Years War he allied with the Holy Roman Empire and he supported the Hapsburgs in the War of Spanish Succession. He fought heroically against long odds with little help from his allies but at the siege of Turin the arrival of his relative, the great Eugene of Savoy, saved the situation. In 1713 at the end of the war the Treaty of Utrecht made Victor Amadeus II the King of Sicily but later he had to exchange this for the Kingdom of Sardinia. That action caused the union of Piedmont-Sardinia. In 1730 he abdicated but a year later tried to restore himself, which he did not do and he died in 1732. Many of the internal improvements he made were modeled on France but wariness of French power kept him on the side of the Empire. He also left behind many magnificent buildings and parks. All in all, a good, intelligent and successful monarch, popular with everyone but the Protestants.

King Charles Emmanuel III: Born in Turin in 1701, he succeeded his father, Victor Amadeus II, in 1730 as King of Piedmont-Sardinia. His father abdicated but later returned to reclaim power but was not successful and Charles Emmanuel continued to rule. An ambitious and military-minded man, he was one of the earliest Savoy to have larger “Italian” aspirations in his foreign policy. In the War of Polish Succession he allied with France and Poland against Russia and Austria. He led the army that captured Lombardy from Austria but was obliged to give up the territory in the peace settlement in exchange for other areas. In the War of Austrian Succession, however, he allied with Maria Theresa of Austria and was immediately attacked by vastly superior French forces. Yet, he won a great victory over France at the battle of Assietta which saved his country in spite of having only 7,000 men to the 40,000 men opposing him. In the peace settlement he regained Nice and Savoy as well as other areas and restored friendly relations with Spain. That stupendous victory alone would earn him a place as one of the greatest kings of the House of Savoy and it was not his only accomplishment. He then improved the defenses of his country, replenished the army and improved education in Sardinia before his death in 1773. He was a great king who exuded a sense of grandeur that made everyone around him feel a little grander by association.

King Victor Amadeus III: Born in Turin in 1726, he succeeded his father, Charles Emanuel III, as King of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1773. He was a conservative and religious man devoted to the army, and that makes anyone alright in my book. The people too loved him for his good nature and generosity. He enacted administrative reforms and improvements to the national infrastructure but was generally suspicious of change. He founded the Gold Medal of Military Valor and also improved and expanded higher education in his country. Impressed by the successes of the late Frederick the Great (who wouldn’t be?), his military reforms aimed at following the Prussian model and he hoped to ally with Prussia to offset the Austrian alliance with France. But, his devotion to the cause of monarchy and sacred authority came before political considerations and when the French Revolution broke out he dropped his prior suspicions and gave sanctuary to fleeing Bourbon royals and despite the uneven odds declared war on republican France because of his natural revulsion of such traitors and because it was the right thing to do, even if all but hopeless. In spite of the improvements he made to the army, his forces were outmatched and defeated. He died of an apoplexy in Moncalieri in 1796. His reign did not end on a successful note but he is still to be admired for going down in a righteous cause.

King Charles Emmanuel IV: Born in Turin in 1751, he succeeded his father Victor Amadeus III as King of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1796. From the beginning he was forced to make concessions to the French revolutionary forces and was finally forced to go into exile by the French occupation. He withdrew with his family to Sardinia to continue the struggle to reclaim his lost territory. Charles Emmanuel IV was a very conservative, traditional man of deep religious faith. The death of his beloved wife almost destroyed him and he abdicated in 1802 in favor of his brother. In fact, it was probably as a husband that I admire him most, for the way he defended and sincerely adored his wife who so many others were fond of mocking for her appearance. He was really a man of great character. He was also close friends with Cardinal York of the Stuart royal house, his cousin, and when the Cardinal died in 1807 his followers recognized Charles Emmanuel as “King Charles IV of England, Scotland, Ireland and France” though he made no claim on those countries. In 1815, still troubled by the loss of his wife, he took vows with the Society of Jesus and spent the rest of his life in a religious house in Rome. In political terms he was not able to accomplish much, though not for lack of trying, but he is still one of my favorites. Not a successful monarch perhaps, but a very great man without doubt.

King Victor Emmanuel I: Born in Turin in 1759 he succeeded his brother, King Charles Emmanuel IV, in 1802 as King of Piedmont-Sardinia. From the start he showed an admirable determination to rebuilt the military and take back what was rightfully his. During that time Piedmont was occupied by French revolutionary forces and Victor Emmanuel I ruled Sardinia from Cagliari for the first 12 years of his reign after participating in the failed War of the Third Coalition. Not discouraged and determined to fight on, during this time he established the famous Carabinieri gendarme corps. He also restored the Guards as the famous “Grenadiers of Sardinia”. A great many of the most cherished military traditions of modern Italy are owed to King Victor Emmanuel I, even if the republic has done everything possible to purge his memory from the ranks. After France was defeated the Savoy Crown gained Genoa and Victor Emmanuel I restored the pre-revolutionary system with a favored place for the Church in society and education and opposed the spread of non-Catholic doctrines. All good and admirable things, especially considering what the country had just been exposed to. In 1819 Jacobite legitimists from Britain recognized him as King of Great Britain but nothing came of it. He did desire expansion into Lombardy but abdicated in 1821 after the outbreak of revolutionary riots in the country rather than grant a constitution.

King Charles Felix: Born in Turin in 1765 he succeeded King Victor Emmanuel I in 1821 as King of Piedmont-Sardinia. The Carbonari were rebelling in Turin when he succeeded to the throne but as he was in Modena, Charles Albert acted in his place as regent and granted a constitution, being somewhat sympathetic to the views of the liberals. Charles Felix, a conservative by nature who regarded monarchy as sacred, was having none of that nonsense and revoked this constitution as soon as he returned and also sought to remove the last traces of the revolutionary period from the legal system. And he was awesomely fanatic about that. No matter how odd it might look (40-year old page boys etc) he was determined to have everything back *exactly* like it was. And I applaud him for it. Quiet and ascetic, he loved cultural interests like the theater and music more than politics and was a great patron of the arts. However, he also improved the navy but was careful to keep the peace with his powerful neighbors. The only major military action of his reign was a naval expedition to Tunisia in 1825 after the local ruler imprisoned some Genoese merchants. It was not a major operation but would add later to the Italian case for colonizing Tunisia (which they never did as France grabbed it first). He died, married but childless in 1831 worried about the liberal tendencies of his successor. Again, not a conquering hero, but one of my favorites for being so awesomely reactionary.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Royal History of Texas

Royal Standard of Texas (my own design anyway)

The royal history of Texas begins with reign of King Carlos I of Spain, better known as Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of the German nation. It was in his name that Alonso Alvarez de Pineda first claimed Texas in 1519. However, he was simply exploring the Gulf of Mexico and though the map he made is the first document in Texas history it would be some time longer before Spain ever got really serious about the land of Texas. In 1528 Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca became the first Christian to set foot on Texas soil. He was shipwrecked on the Texas coast, washed ashore and was the first to make contact with the natives of Texas. It is rather surprising that he survived given how fierce the natives of the Texas coast were, particularly the cannibalistic Karankawas, however, he did so and eventually made it back to civilization to report on his travels. So, Carlos I, Felipe II, Felipe III and Felipe IV all reigned over Texas but throughout all that time most of Texas remained devoid of non-native inhabitants. In about 1541, during the reign of King Felipe II, Francisco Coronado explored north Texas during his epic trek through the northern reaches of New Spain. I 1598 near what is now the west Texas town of El Paso, explorer Juan de Onate (not many months before the death of Felipe II) celebrated the first Thanksgiving in Texas when he had the Franciscan missionaries with him say a mass of thanksgiving for their finding a place of abundant food and water during what had been a harsh overland march.

The big push for Spanish settlement in Texas came as a result of another claim on Texas by the Kingdom of France and it was one made by accident. The intrepid explorer Rene Robert Cavalier de La Salle missed Louisiana and crashed onto the Texas coast in 1685 on the shores of Lavaca Bay. He claimed the land for His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XIV and established Fort St Louis. Eventually, a party determined to set out on foot for New France (which means they intended to walk to Canada) but there was a mutiny and La Salle was killed. Eventually, most of the remainder were killed by the Karankawas (the first to eat French cuisine in Texas) and this French incursion prompted Spain to take action. A Spanish expedition was dispatched to expel the invaders though when they arrived they found only the ruins of the old fort. The largely nominal reign of the King of France over Texas ended in 1690 but it was still very important in lighting a fire under the Spanish. Just the French being in Louisiana, between Spanish Texas and Florida, was considered a threat to Spanish trade and interests in the region. So, the Council of War of King Carlos II (the last Hapsburg to reign over Texas) recommended that action be taken to fortify the frontier.

1690, under King Carlos II, was when things really got moving in Texas. A string of stone forts and missions (which often doubled as forts) were established across the eastern half of Texas in a line running down from the border with Louisiana (which was disputed), near the coast down to south Texas. Famous examples of these beautiful structures can be seen in the missions of San Antonio or the presidio La Bahia in Goliad, Texas and mass is still said in all of them. The most famous mission, of course, is the Mission San Antonio de Valero, even though it was never finished, named after St Anthony of Padua and the Viceroy of New Spain but better known as the Alamo. The idea was to establish a network of fortified bases to discourage any French attacks coming out of Louisiana as well as to convert the natives to Christianity, protect those engaged in farming from those engaged in pillaging and to settle and civilize the area. However, the inhabitants of what is today Mexico proved very reluctant to move to Texas so settlers were often brought in from great distances. Most of the original settlers of San Antonio, for example, were from the Canary Islands. It was not until 1715, for example, that the first Spanish women arrived in Texas as part of colonization efforts undertaken by King Felipe V, the Bourbon prince who had come to the Spanish throne after the death of the unfortunate Carlos II.

courtyard of the Spanish Royal Governor's Palace 
The Bourbon reign was an era of centralization of power in Spain and in the colonies of New Spain. A Royal Governor of Texas established himself in San Antonio. The Royal Governor's Palace in San Antonio is the only surviving residence from that era and it is a bit uncertain when exactly it was built. Some sources place it as early as 1722, however, the royal arms on the capstone over the main door (though displaying the Hapsburg eagle still) bear the date of 1749 and the initials of King Fernando VI. Efforts to defend Texas and try to encourage more settlement and investment continued throughout the reigns of Kings Carlos III and Carlos IV. Trouble, however, came with the reign of King Fernando VII. During the course of the Napoleonic Wars he was overthrown by the French conquest of Spain and replaced with Napoleon's brother who reigned as King Jose I.

The Spanish colonies refused to recognize the legitimacy of King Jose I whose nominal reign lasted from 1808 to 1813. However, the lack of a strong government in Spain that everyone was loyal to caused rebellion to break out in many parts of the Spanish empire. Foreign filibusters also took advantage of the chaos to try to to grab Texas away from Spain. It was the rough start to what would later be known as the first Mexican Revolution. One of the biggest threats to royal authority in Texas was the Magee-Gutierrez Expedition, made up of a combination of American filibusters and Mexican revolutionaries. They invaded and took control of much of Texas in 1812-13. However, a Spanish royalist army under General Joaquin de Arredondo marched up from the south and defeated the republican army at the battle of Medina, the largest battle ever fought on Texas soil. The reign of King Fernando VII over Texas had been saved but only for the time being.

Eventually, the policies coming out of Madrid alienated the conservatives in New Spain and they began to join the independence movement. The leader of the new coalition was Don Agustin de Iturbide. He wanted New Spain, which is to say Mexico and Central America, to be independent but still under the Spanish Crown. However, King Fernando VII refused and forbid any of his family to accept the crown of Mexico. Nonetheless, independence could not be stopped and in 1821, by popular acclaim, General Iturbide became Emperor Agustin I of Mexico, which of course included Texas at that time. In fact, it was under the reign of Emperor Agustin I that the first steps were taken toward the Anglo colonization of Texas by the "Father of Texas" Stephen F. Austin. His father had received a land grant from the Spanish in 1820 but it was Stephen F. Austin who led the first official Anglo colonization of Texas, giving birth to Texas as we know it today in late 1821. The change in government threw things into confusion and Austin had to go to Mexico City to sort it all out but his plan was ultimately approved by the Emperor. Unfortunately, things had hardly had time to settle when Emperor Agustin was overthrown in 1823 by liberal republicans led by a man who would later become infamous in Texas history, one Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Mexico became a republic and Texas became an independent Republic in 1836 making Emperor Agustin the last man to reign over Texas as monarch.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Favorite Royal Images: The Late King

HM King Baudouin of the Belgians, who I have no doubt sits now with the angels and is looking down with pride on his nephew and successor whom he helped prepare for this very occasion.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's a Boy!

A new prince for the House of Windsor was born at 4:24 PM (local time) weighing in at 8lbs 6oz. The Duchess of Cambridge is doing fine but will be kept overnight for observation and, as expected, Prince William was by her side throughout it all. Our warmest congratulations to the new proud parents. Long live the Prince!

The New Belgian King and Queen

As Belgium now has a new King and Queen, it might be appropriate to give those unfamiliar with the new Royal Family a little background information. The new king was born Prince Philippe Leopold Louis Marie of Belgium on April 15, 1960 to the future King Albert II and Queen Paola. His godparents were King Leopold III and Luisa Princess Ruffo of Calabria. He was educated at the Belgian Royal Military Academy, Trinity College at Oxford and obtained a masters in political science at Stanford in California. Back in Belgium he trained as a commando and paratrooper and became a certified pilot, rising to the rank of colonel in the Belgian Royal Air Force. Hence, he is often seen in an Air Force uniform though he was later promoted to major general in the army and air force as well as rear admiral in the navy in preparation for his future role as commander-in-chief. He has long been known as the shy and quiet type, more like his uncle King Baudouin than his more flamboyant father, who was known for his love of fast cars and pretty girls in his youth. In fact, he was so much like his very serious and religious uncle that many expected King Baudouin to name Prince Philippe as his heir, skipping over his fun-loving little brother. Such rumors were undoubtedly encouraged by how close King Baudouin and Prince Philippe were.

However, as we know, that did not happen and expectations that it would were rather misguided. King Baudouin was a very traditional man and despite having very different personalities, he was not about to disinherit his younger brother. Furthermore, this would have required changes in the law which no one in the government was willing to make. Some simply didn’t wish to bother and others were worried by how devoutly religious Prince Philippe has always been (he was once shamefully mocked for introducing a bill in the Belgian senate to outlaw pornography). The government had just gone through a constitutional headache because the very religious King Baudouin refused to sign a bill legalizing abortion and the last thing these politicians wanted was another monarch who would cause similar problems. When King Baudouin passed away and King Albert II came to the throne in 1993, Prince Philippe was given the title Duke of Brabant. Over the years, the Duke was subject to a great deal of disgraceful mockery and ridicule for his shy and conservative nature as well as being ‘out of step with the times’ or, in other words, having too many principles. There were also many unkind rumors that stemmed from his extended bachelorhood. However, Prince Philippe was simply taking the time to find just the right woman, which he eventually did.

In 1999 the Duke of Brabant married Mathilde Marie Christiane Ghislaine d’Udekem d’Acoz. Born on January 20, 1973 she is the first Belgian Queen consort to be a native Belgian. She grew up in Bastogne, the daughter of a count and granddaughter of a baron. In her education she specialized in speech therapy, graduating with high honors and worked as a speech therapist in Brussels before obtaining a masters degree in psychology, graduating with honors. Her courtship by the Duke of Brabant was very low-key and it came as a surprise when their engagement was announced. Unlike her reserved husband, Princess Mathilde soon became known for her engaging and outgoing personality. From 2001 to 2008 the couple had four children; Princess Elisabeth Therese (now heir to the throne), Prince Gabriel Baudouin, Prince Emmanuel Leopold and Princess Eleonore Fabiola. Princess Elisabeth has won over the public with her cute dimples and serious manners, always trying to get things just right. Prince Gabriel and Prince Emmanuel have that adorably mischievous look common to so many little boys and tiny Princess Eleonore has always seemed the least impressed with her royal surroundings.

In recent years, Prince Philippe was charged by his father and the Belgian government with promoting Belgian business interests abroad which saw the couple go on many overseas trips from the United States to Vietnam. Princess Mathilde has also devoted a great deal of time to her extensive charity work for Unicef, the World Health Organization, the Princess Mathilde Fund and others. Parenting has also been a priority as both are very affectionate and hands-on parents. When with their children even the normally reserved Prince Philippe gains a youthful demeanor and an adoring light in his eyes as he plays with his children. Both are also very devoted to their faith and both have knighthoods in the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem from the Vatican. Belgium could not ask for a better Royal Family and with their devotion, kindness, intelligence and firm principles King Philippe and Queen Mathilde will certainly do their country proud. God bless the new King and Queen and God bless Belgium!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Royal News Roundup

Not much “new” in the news this week, other events tending to drown out royal activities and, on the monarchy front, the impending birth in Great Britain has taken center stage. The media besieged the hospital where the blessed event is expected to take place (St Mary), though one paper decided it would be humorous to send a couple of ‘look-alikes’ to the hospital for a few laughs. Then, after some confusing movements, some in the media began to wonder if the royals, particularly Prince William, might be trying to pull one over on them and have the Duchess of Cambridge have the baby somewhere else. Panic! Media outlets had to divide their forces to cover every possible avenue of escape. Even without what happened to his mother, is it any wonder, given the invasions of privacy the Cambridge couple have already faced, that Prince William and Duchess Catherine might be inclined to have a rather hostile attitude toward the media? On the one hand, everyone really should just calm down a bit. It will happen and it will not be kept secret. The public will be informed. Let the family have their private, family time and the public will be told everything in due time. Having said that, it is also heartening that so many people are interested in what is a happy occasion. It is a time of joyful unity, or at least it should be. And, as usual, in America at least, the media is once again talking about how much they don’t want to talk about the impending royal birth. They love to put on their ‘holier-than-thou’ pants and moan and groan about how silly it all is -and yet they still cover it and still talk about it. Fewer people are talking about royal granddaughter Zara Phillips, who is also pregnant but who has slipped under the radar thanks to the Cambridge baby feeding frenzy. She called a halt to her equestrian jumping this week because of her advancing state of pregnancy. We wish both mothers all the best of course.

On the continent, the Kingdom of Belgium continues to prepare for the abdication of King Albert II and the swearing-in of “King Philippe”. This week the outgoing King of the Belgians took a last tour of his small country, saying goodbye during his last week on the Belgian throne. Crowds came out to see the monarch who has reigned over them since the early 90’s though in Ghent at least there were some loud traitors of the Flemish-separatist variety of republicans making noise and waving flags. The Royal Family also met for a meal with government leaders in preparation for the change in royal leadership. The event will be very low-key according to the government, due to the less than ideal economic situation and the hyper-sensitivity some people seem to have about any pomp and ceremony when it comes to the monarchy. Some have been surprised that no foreign royalty have been invited, having just seen the large number of royals who turned up for the swearing-in of King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands, but this is typical for Belgium. They like to keep it a purely Belgian affair and the government said there would not be time to invite foreign royals anyway, it is too short notice to make plans and would be an added expense. Signing some papers, swearing the oath, an artillery salute and waving from the balcony may be expected but not much more than that.

Finally, down in Spain, the monarchy continues to have a rough time at the hands of rude, treasonous rabble-rousers. HM Queen Sofia was recently booed while presiding at the opening of a new hotel, which is rather alarming considering in what high regard the Queen has traditionally been held and the fact that I can well remember the days when no Spanish media outlet ever criticized the monarchy nor would have been tolerated if they had spoken of the King or Queen in less than respectful terms. The campaign of misdirection on the part of the socialist politicians seems to be working well thanks to the useful idiots on the Iberian peninsula. The signs are not encouraging. This week embattled royal son-in-law Urdangarin had to run a gauntlet of insult-spewing traitors on his way in and out of court, many of them waving republican red-yellow-purple flags and carrying signs denouncing the Royal Family. The King himself, however, was not in Spain to see it all this week. His Catholic Majesty was on a visit to the neighboring north African Kingdom of Morocco to strength Spanish-Moroccan ties. During this, mostly symbolic, visit, the King of Spain called the Kingdom of Morocco “an example of openness” and visited the Mohammed V mausoleum in Rabat, the resting place of the former kings Mohammed V and Hassan II.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Monarchist Quote

"I prefer to lose everything and to go down with honor; rather than that I allow myself to enter into this commerce of thieves."

-Emperor Francis Joseph I

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Monarch Profile: Emperor Caligula

The young Caesar known as Caligula has the reputation of being the most infamous, twisted and depraved Emperor of Rome; which is quite a statement. There are one or two others that might provide some stiff competition but, there is no doubt that Caligula, in his short reign, would be grossly excessive and set a standard for depravity that few, if any, could hope to match. He became so notorious that despite the fact that he lived 2,000 years ago, reigned for only a few years and despite the fact that the Romans themselves tried to obliterate his memory the name of Caligula is synonymous with insanity, sadism and debauchery to this very day. How many of all the lurid tales are true is open to speculation. That makes any coverage of Caligula rather difficult. There are really only around a couple of sources historians have to go on concerning Caligula and these may well be biased against him. However, the fact alone that so little information about him survived is at least some proof that not all the tales of his wickedness were invented or exaggerated. Still, it is important to keep in mind that we have very little to go on concerning Caligula, what we do have was written by political enemies and may well have been embellished. Everyone should also keep in mind that this was a real man, not a caricature and very little that we know about him can be verified.

Caligula was born on August 31, in the year 12 and his real name was Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus. His father was the very popular Germanicus, who was the adopted grandson of Augustus Caesar and a potential heir to the throne. Caligula was, unlike his predecessor Emperor Tiberius, a blood descendant of Augustus and Julius Caesar as well as Mark Antony and his uncle was the future Emperor Claudius. He earned his nickname while accompanying his parents on military campaigns in Germany where he was adopted as the mascot of the army. His mother would often dress him in a little military uniform which, of course, included the sandals or boots that the soldiers wore and he was soon dubbed Caligula or Little Boots and the name stuck. It should also be pointed out that Caligula always hated that nickname and in later life would inflict the severest punishment on anyone who called him that. To make things more complicated he was not particularly fond of his real name, Gaius, either. Anyway, from an early age he was exposed to the violent intrigues that had long been a part of Roman political life.

It was believed that Germanicus was the heir to the throne that Augustus preferred though, since he was too young, Augustus adopted Tiberius with the understanding that Tiberius would adopt Germanicus as his heir. Not long after becoming emperor, however, Germanicus died and Tiberius took care to keep Caligula isolated and under his control. He spent many years in what can be described as rather comfortable imprisonment and isolation with only the company of his sisters Agrippina the Younger, Julia Livilla and Drusilla. In time, Caligula would have incestuous relations with all three of them but mostly a long standing affair with his most beloved sister Drusilla. In fact, many believe that his sister Drusilla was the only person Caligula ever truly loved in his life. With this background, Emperor Tiberius summoned Caligula to the island of Capri where Tiberius spent the last ten years of his life and where he was rumored to have become quite nasty and certainly very paranoid. His condition may be explained by the absence of those who had previously moderated him such as his best friend Nerva and his brother Drusus. He wanted Caligula near him both because he feared him desiring to assume the purple early and to prevent anyone else from influencing his adopted grandson and heir.

Caligula was flattering and submissive to his adopted grandfather though he later admitted nearly killing Tiberius himself but kept up his charade of being the loyal grandson because it was in his interest to do so. Tiberius, it seems, was not so totally fooled by this as Caligula might have believed. Some have suggested that he made Caligula his heir specifically because he expected him to prove such a monster that his own reputation would shine in comparison and he is alleged to have once referred to Caligula as a python he was nursing in the bosom of Rome. Certainly many believed that Tiberius would have preferred his heir to be his young natural grandson Gemellus. However, as the son of Germanicus, many believed that Caligula had a legitimate right to the throne and were anxious to see the purple return to the bloodline of Augustus and Julius Caesar, especially as Tiberius had become so unpopular for having so many senators executed. However, in private, the personal sadism of Caligula could be seen by his role in helping Tiberius carry out his duties on Capri. He was known to show great enjoyment at having slaves tortured and executed and gloried in the bloody gladiatorial games that were popular at that time.

Today, looking back, we often wonder how anyone could have actually looked forward to the reign of Caligula; but of course, we have the benefit of hindsight. To the general public of the Roman Empire he seemed like a perfectly normal young man. Many saw him in a sympathetic light because of the death of the death of the rest of his family. Tiberius was unpopular (rather unjustly so) and by then was 78 years old and preparing to die. Hoping that his favored grandson Gemellus might succeed him eventually he named him his heir alongside Caligula in his will. Poor, young Gemellus was likely doomed at any rate but this order certainly sealed his fate. The hour of destiny for Caligula came on March 16, 37 AD when the Emperor Tiberius died. Many believed that Caligula had a hand in his passing though the deed was probably done by Naevius Sutorius Macro, the Prefect of Praetorian Guard who allegedly smothered Tiberius to hasten the accession of Caligula. If reports are true and Macro did murder Tiberius, it did nothing to diminish the popularity of Caligula who the people cheered for ending the life of the man they viewed as a tyrant. With the backing of Macro and the Praetorian Guard Caligula was immediately declared heir to Tiberius and Gemellus was cast aside on the grounds that the late Caesar had been insane when he included Gemellus in his will. That may have been true but it was certainly not the legitimate reason Gemellus was cast aside in favor of Caligula.

Even more so than Caligula this was a moment of triumph for Prefect Macro who had been planning this for some time and that in itself adds credence to his murder of Tiberius. Three years earlier he had been putting himself in a position to befriend and possibly dominate Caligula by encouraging his wife, Ennia, into an affair with the young prince. He had been responsible for the downfall of the previous Praetorian Prefect Sejanus who had been the power behind the throne, so to speak, under Tiberius. Macro had supplanted him in that position and using the sexual talents of his wife now planned to hold the same favored status under the new, young, Emperor Caligula. On March 28, 37 AD the Roman Senate officially voted Caligula to the office of Princeps or First Citizen amidst much rejoicing by the public who greeted their new emperor with cheers. Caligula was also quick to put the vast treasury left by Tiberius to good use in winning greater popularity for himself. He gave the Praetorian Guard a hefty bonus, distributed money to the common people and declared a general amnesty to free all of those imprisoned by the paranoia of Tiberius. Celebrations were held constantly with hundreds of thousands of animals sacrificed in thanksgiving of the accession of the young Caesar the people called their star and their baby. They could not have known that amongst the inner circle of imperial power Caligula already had a reputation for being a great servant but a terrible master.

Nonetheless, the reign of Caligula Caesar was off to a glorious start. The empire was wealthy and at peace, their seemed to be a forgive and forget air about the city and a general feeling that the days of fear and repression were over and a new period of prosperity and kindness at the hands of their handsome, young and generous Caesar lay ahead. And, indeed it was so for the first half year more or less of the reign of Caligula. The people loved him wildly and, indeed, he was to remain very popular amongst the common people of Rome throughout all but the very end of his rather short reign. Caligula, it is often forgotten, was very politically astute and he knew that public image was important; at least as important if not more so than the support of the elite senatorial class. He did his best to appear as the ideal ruler, giving generously to those who had been taxed into poverty, expelling sexual criminals, setting aside the air of fear and paranoia that had preceded him and trying to maintain a closeness with the people through imperial pageantry and ceremony. Free elections were revived to give the people more say in government and gladiatorial games were held regularly to keep them entertained. In short, he did everything that a good Roman emperor was expected to do in order to be popular with the people.

However, Caligula could not hide his more egocentric and vindictive side totally, even at this early date. One of the fortune tellers employed by Tiberius had once said that Caligula had no more chance of becoming Emperor of Rome that he did of riding a horse across the Bay of Baiae. Caligula never forgot this and upon ascending the purple he had a massive pontoon bridge built across the bay, over two miles long, from Baiae to Puteoli. He then mounted his beloved, and soon to be famous, horse Incitatus and donned the breastplate of Alexander the Great and rode across the temporary bridge in order to show his defiance and triumph over the false prophecy that had been made of him. This should have been something of an alarm bell, but the public reacted to it with applause. They loved their Caesar, gloried in his accession and paid no attention to the rather sinister emotions that were behind this act for Caligula. It was a spectacle after all, something to entertain them, a bit outlandish perhaps, but all was well and it was a nice and rather humorous diversion.

Caligula was certainly enjoying himself as emperor. He had survived, he had beaten the odds, he was popular, his throne was secure and he was enjoying the favors of his sister Drusilla whom he totally adored as well as others such as his ongoing mistress Ennia. He adored Drusilla as he adored no other and would have liked nothing better than to marry her. In his increasingly egocentric way he viewed his sister, a blood relative, as being the only person worthy to be his wife and give him children. Obviously impossible and illegal Drusilla herself tried to discourage him as much as she did love him and there is little dispute that she did. Caligula felt safe with Drusilla and she was possibly the only consistent, moderating influence he ever had on his life. However, the blissful days of his early months on the throne came to an end in October of 37 AD. Most likely as a result of his constant swimming, drunkenness and debauchery Caligula fell extremely ill. It was so severe that he thought he would die and the Roman public was overcome with grief and fear that their beloved, young champion might be taken from them so soon.

Of course, Caligula did not die, but any inhibitions he may have had certainly seemed to. When he recovered those in his inner circle especially were to see a different and extremely horrifying Gaius Caligula than they had seen before. The mercy and generosity Caligula had earlier displayed were replaced by extremes of lust and cruelty after he recovered. One of his actions, in 38 AD, was to dismiss and execute his supposed friend Macro who had assured his accession to the throne. He began spending lavishly on wild parties and bizarre expeditions to glorify himself. He built two massive ships; one being a floating temple to the goddess Diana and the other a luxurious palace for himself. In an effort to outshine his deified ancestor Julius Caesar he embarked on an expedition to conquer Britain but got no farther than the English Channel. He then had his troops collect sea shells as spoils of his great victory and demanded a triumph upon his return to Rome. The senate refused on the grounds that he had won no victories and had conquered nothing. Caligula saw this as no excuse and held his own celebration with his subjects dressed as barbarian captives and forcing senators to run alongside his chariot. This was only the beginning of a long list of humiliations he would inflict on the senate as well as every other established institution and tradition in Rome.

His life at court went from bad to worse. He had the boy Gemellus put to death even though he had gone through the formality of adopting him as his heir. In his drive to have an heir Caligula realized he would have to be married and much as he might wish to marry his sister Drusilla, that was simply out of the question. He married and divorced three Roman noblewomen in quick succession before becoming infatuated with Milonia Caesonia, a notorious prostitute and the illegitimate daughter of another prostitute. She was, reputedly, no great beauty and she already had three daughters of her own but her moral laxity and bedroom antics impressed Caligula at several of his notorious parties and orgies and he would have no other. Many Roman nobles were outraged that the Emperor would marry a woman who was not only a commoner, but illegitimate and a prostitute. Caligula had his mind made up though and the marriage went through. Caligula delighted in shocking Rome with his personal whore and would have her parade around naked in front of his soldiers and pick out favorites for herself. He promised that he would make her empress but only if she gave him a son and heir.

Disaster struck Caligula on June 10, 38 AD when his beloved sister Drusilla died of fever that was rampant in the city. Caligula was heartbroken and went mad with grief. He declared a state of mourning for Rome and gave his sister the funeral of an empress with himself standing in the place of widower. Shortly thereafter he had her deified as the Divine Drusilla, a living representation of the goddess Venus. When, a short time later, Caesonia gave birth to a daughter Caligula named her Julia Drusilla in honor of his sister. One thing that is certain is that without the influence of his sister Caligula became even more unhinged. Human life seemed to stop having any meaning for him and he saw and used people as objects for his own amusement and nothing more. The senatorial class suffered most from his insanity. He set up and tore down consuls without consulting them. He flagrantly raped their daughters and sons and would likewise take their own wives for himself while at public parties. After having his fill of the woman in question he would return to the party and tell her husband and the other guests how she had performed in bed.

Caligula also seemed to have a rather unnatural attachment to his favorite horse Incitatus. In another humiliation for the upper class he would order the senators to hail his horse as they would a superior. He built a palace for his horse with a marble stable and a gold manger and lavished all sorts of jewels and fine garments on the animal. Most famously he once threatened to make Incitatus a Consul of Rome, however, this was not actually a serious suggestion but just another way Caligula had to humiliate the senators and denigrate them by suggesting that even his horse could do their job. This was nothing compared to his most degenerate act of defiance toward the senate. Due to his extravagance the rich treasury left behind by Tiberius was soon exhausted and in order to make money Caligula opened an imperial brothel in his palace and forced the wives of the Roman senators to employ themselves there. Were not the upper classes in utter fear for their lives this would never have worked but Caligula made it so and anyone with enough money could come to the palace and enjoy a few minutes with the wife of a Roman senator. He also levied taxes on marriage, prostitution, use of the courts and other things which began to erode his popularity among the common people of Rome.

Having trampled on such institutions as the family, the military and the republic it is no wonder that religion soon became a target of the maniacal Caesar as well. Whereas Julius Caesar and Augustus had been deified by the senate after their deaths (Tiberius specifically stated he did not want the same treatment) Caligula broke all precedent by demanding that the senate declare him a god while he was alive. The cowering senate did so and Caligula went to great lengths to emphasize his new, divine status. He insisted on the most groveling submission to his person and had the heads of the statues of the various gods in the temples replaced with his own likeness. This brought him into particular trouble with his Jewish subjects who refused to worship him and who had earlier been excused from the cult of the emperor because of their belief in monotheism and spurning of graven images. This led to some rebellions which were bloodily suppressed. Caligula was so enraged by this that he ordered a statue of himself erected in the Temple in Jerusalem, which would certainly have caused a revolution but he was eventually dissuaded after the matter was delayed for a time. Eventually, Caligula would claim that he conversed with the other gods and that he was, in fact, greater than them all, even the king of the Roman gods; Jupiter. Caligula also famously roamed the halls of his palace at night commanding the sun to rise.

By this time most people had little doubt that Caligula, the Emperor of Rome, the commander of all the Roman legions and absolute ruler of virtually the entire known world was completely insane. His orgies and debauchery became notorious and his cruelty and executions of so many nobles had the upper echelons of Roman society quaking with fear and close to their breaking point. The reign of Caligula was no longer the open and tolerant style he had started with but he had now surpassed even his feared predecessor with his tortures and the numbers of those executed for treason; real or imagined. Caligula once famously remarked that he wished all the Roman people had one neck so he could cut off all the heads with one blow. When told that he was becoming hated by his own people who had once loved him, Caligula replied, "Let them hate me, so long as they fear me". And, that they certainly did. He enriched himself by confiscating the property of anyone arrested for treason and when in need of funds he might charge any wealthy Roman with treason. He even made it law that all those who died had to leave something for him in their will. Obviously, this situation could not go on forever and many men in high places began plotting against Caligula so that his reign of terror might come to an end.

It was, remember, the Praetorian Guard which had helped ensure his succession and they had protected him from several previous plots against him but finally his erratic behavior became too much and the Praetorian itself determined to end the life of Gaius Caligula. In particular the plot was the work of Cassius Chaerea (appropriately named) who was the leader of the Praetorian Guard. Their only real opposition was the Germanic Guard who were the personal troops of Caligula and fanatically loyal to him. Otherwise, the Emperor had few friends by this time and many of the nobles, generals, equestrians and senators of Rome were well aware of the plot and supported it though of course they were too afraid to be actively involved. The end for Caligula came on January 24, 41 AD while Caligula was berating a group of actors set to perform in a celebration for the Divine Emperor Augustus. Chaerea and the other soldiers fell upon him as he cried for help, stabbing him some thirty times. This was not mere assassination however, the Praetorian intended to wipe the seed of Caligula from the earth forever and troops were dispatched to kill his wife Caesonia and his young daughter Julia Drusilla who allegedly inherited the viciousness of her father and bit and clawed at the soldiers before they smashed her head against a wall. The Germanic Guard arrived too late to save their master though they went on an enraged, murderous rampage after that killing anyone they came across, the guilty and innocent alike. With that last act of savagery, the reign of Caligula Caesar had come to an end.

The Praetorian Guard then elevated Caligula's uncle Claudius as the next Emperor of Rome as he was literally the only male member of the imperial family left alive at this point. He had been overlooked for so long because most everyone considered him a simple idiot, yet, he soon became Claudius Caesar and was a quite successful Roman emperor. As for Caligula, the Romans did their best to eradicate his memory from all public view. His statues were defaced or destroyed completely and many materials from his reign were destroyed. The nightmare was over and everyone wanted to forget as quickly and as completely as possible. Yet, in spite of the concerted effort to erase Caligula from public memory, his story remains infamous to this very day. Try as they might the world has never forgotten the bloody, perverse reign of the Emperor known as Little Boots nor is it very likely to. His misdeeds are world famous, yet he was still popular among some of the common people even at the time of his death. He is known for his madness, excess and insanity yet he was also known to be very persuasive, logical and even quite eloquent at times. More is unknown about him that what is known and that also adds to the interest there has always been concerning Caligula. Was his story a case of absolute power corrupting absolutely or was he driven insane by the deaths of so many of his loved ones? We will never know these answers but if anything is certain it is that the world will never forget the bizarre and depraved life of Gaius Caligula.
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