Thursday, July 30, 2015
Monarch Profile: King Ferdinand I of the Two-Sicilies
Due to this, King Ferdinand IV was more adept at sports and other pleasurable pursuits than he was at administration by the time he reached his majority in 1767. As an absolute monarch, Ferdinand IV could rule as he wished but he still kept Tanucci on his council. His first action as King of Naples and Sicily was to expel the Jesuits from his domain, an act which undoubtedly pleased Tanucci greatly. His second priority was to find a suitable wife to ensure that the Bourbon reign would continue. The choice ultimately fell on Archduchess Maria Carolina, the daughter of Empress Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary (making her, of course the sister of Emperor Joseph II and Queen Marie Antoinette). More like her brother than her mother, Queen Maria Carolina was also receptive to the new ideas of the “Enlightenment” and favored what would become known in monarchial history as “enlightened despotism”. She was like her mother in that she was strong-willed and assertive. In 1768 she and King Ferdinand were married as part of an Austro-Spanish alliance and by the terms of the treaty the Queen was given a place on the governing council where she made her wishes known. This caused a clash with Tanucci, who was used to being in charge, but the Queen emerged triumphant over the old courtier.
All of this caused a great deal of bad feelings amongst the Spanish Royal Family. The Queen had appointed an Englishman to power at around the same time King Charles III was going to war against Britain alongside France and the fledgling United States. Ties with Austria and Britain increased to the extent that one could easily wonder which country really held power over Naples. For the average Neapolitan, however, none of this might have mattered. They were used to doing things their own way and would ‘keep calm and carry on’ no matter which foreign dynasty happened to be ruling them at the moment. However, the experiments with the philosophy of the “Enlightenment” undermined traditional reverence for the monarchy. In some countries, this had no immediate effect so long as the country was well governed. Unfortunately, under King Ferdinand IV, Naples was not being well-governed. The Queen’s English favorite had actually done considerable harm to the administration of the country. So it was that a perfect storm was brewing in Naples when word came of the outbreak of the French Revolution, culminating in the horrific regicide of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.
Once ensconced in Palermo, King Ferdinand showed his fangs and began massacring any suspected republican he could get his hands on. However, back in Naples, the middle and upper classes that had supported him had been left to the bloodthirsty mob and so quickly called on the French for help. The result was the occupation of southern Italy by French forces and the establishment of the ridiculous contrivance known as the Parthenopaean Republic. In response to this outrage, and in an illustration of how far he had back-peddled from his “Enlightenment” days, King Ferdinand turned to one of the most dashing and fascinating characters of Italian history, the rich, religious, royalist reactionary Ruffo, that is His Eminence Fabrizio Cardinal Ruffo. I must admit here to my partiality as Cardinal Ruffo and his exploits have always been a favorite of mine. The Italian cleric landed in Calabria and raised a counterrevolutionary force of irregulars he dubbed the ‘Army of the Holy Faith’ (they were commonly known as the Sanfedisti). With artillery from Britain and some additional support from Russia, Cardinal Ruffo went after the revolutionaries Old Testament style and his cohorts of religious royalists soon had the whole of southern Italy in an uproar and eventually forced the French to agree to an armistice and wash their hands of the region. It was a glorious and unexpectedly successful operation that was also a colorful adventure, with pious as well as gruesome elements to it.
During this time, the Bourbon King and Queen had been having problems of their own in Sicily. The British had given them a subsidy and a garrison to guard them and naturally expected no small amount of influence to coincide with this protection. They tried to steer the country in the direction of a Burkean constitutional monarchy, to encourage popular support for the establishment by having people invested in it rather than for fear of being shot. King Ferdinand was more of the “better dead than red” persuasion and ultimately this resulted in the Queen being exiled and the King forced to issue a classical liberal constitution and make his son regent. However, once Napoleon was defeated and the British had pulled out, King Ferdinand reversed all of that, went back to absolute monarchy, enlisted the help of Austria in regaining his throne in Naples and had Murat shot when he made a bid to restore himself.
Monday, July 27, 2015
An Example of Injustice for an Imperial Army
|Second Philippine Republic|
When the Japanese invaded The Philippines on December 10, 1941 the man who led the ultimately successful invasion was General Masaharu Homma. He was an outstanding general in every way. The Philippines was, without question, the most difficult military operation Japan undertook in the opening offensive throughout Southeast Asia. While it was still caught unawares, The Philippines was much more prepared than Malaysia, Hong Kong or Singapore given that Britain’s focus was understandably on the German air attacks on their homeland and the Italo-German offensive aimed at the Suez Canal. Likewise, the Dutch East Indies had limited defenses to begin with and, at the time of the Japanese attack, the Netherlands had already been conquered and was under German occupation with the Queen’s government-in-exile operating out of London. The Philippines therefore represented the only Japanese target that was not already being pushed to the limit in a war for national survival on the other side of the world. It was the campaign that would take the longest and be the most hotly contested. Also, in overall command was General Douglas MacArthur, widely considered one of the greatest generals in American military history.
|General Homma Masaharu|
Some in the Japanese high command complained that Homma’s conquest of The Philippines was taking too long and that this was proof that he “lacked aggressiveness”. Pure nonsense. General Homma, as stated, faced a more difficult task than any other Japanese commander at the time and was being cautious, trying to conserve the lives of his troops where possible for the long and arduous war against a much stronger adversary that stood before his country. He was being smart. Any American or Filipino who faced his forces could testify with first-hand experience that General Homma was certainly not lacking in “aggressiveness”. However, this was a mere excuse. The problem was that there were others in powerful positions in the Imperial Army who had a real problem with how General Homma treated the Americans and even the Filipinos. They would issue orders for executions and other atrocities in his name, which the general would revoke as soon as he found out about it and one of the most infamous culprits of this was a certain officer, very famous in his time and place but largely forgotten now, named Colonel Masanobu Tsuji. In the persons of General Homma and Colonel Tsuji you had examples of the opposite extremes that existed in the Imperial Japanese Army.
|Col. Tsuji Masanobu|
General Homma had forbid his troops to rape or pillage, ordered them to respect the customs and traditions of the Filipinos and when others bristled at this, pointed out that he was simply following the instructions of the Emperor, which no one could openly argue with. He made an enemy in his superior, Field Marshal Terauchi, for refusing to distribute a propaganda pamphlet that spoke of the Americans as being terrible oppressors and exploiters of The Philippines on the simple grounds that this was absolutely untrue. General Homma disputed this with Terauchi in person, arguing in regards to the Americans that, “They administered a very benevolent supervision over the Philippines. Japan should establish an even better and more enlightened supervision.” Colonel Tsuji, on the other hand, viewed the Filipinos as race-traitors and deserving of the most cruel punishment and he was able to influence others to his way of thinking. An example of this presented itself in the order to execute the Filipino Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos. Two days after the surrender of U.S. and Filipino forces, Major General Kiyotake Kawaguchi stormed into General Homma’s office and demanded to know why he had ordered the execution.
|Gen. Kawaguchi Kiyotake|
Roxas and a local governor were both taken by Colonel Jimbo to be executed but the governor pleaded for his life and Colonel Jimbo determined that he could not and would not execute the two men. He went personally to General Ikuta to urge him to spare the two men, order or no order as to execute them would be barbaric. General Ikuta agreed and had the prisoners hidden away. However, an officer soon arrived from Manila demanding that the executions be carried out and that Colonel Jimbo be court-martialed for his efforts to save their lives. Colonel Jimbo was still not prepared to give up and traveled to Manila himself to confront General Homma directly. He was not in his office when Jimbo arrived but spoke to Homma’s chief of staff who could not believe that the general would give such an order. Jimbo handed him the document which the Chief of Staff suspended and immediately confronted General Hayashi, assuming he was responsible after the Santos affair.
|Gen. Manuel Roxas & Colonel Jimbo Nobuhiko|
The upright Colonel Nobuhiko Jimbo almost suffered a similar fate. He had been transferred to China (a common sort of subtle punishment) and was himself arrested at the end of the conflict as a potential war criminal. In 1946, Filipino President Roxas, however, learned that Colonel Jimbo was being held in prison in northern China awaiting trial and he acted to return the favor the colonel had done in saving his life. Roxas wrote personally to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, explaining the situation and asking that Colonel Jimbo be given amnesty. The Chinese leader agreed and the following year Colonel Jimbo was released and returned to Japan. He had survived but only because of the timely intervention of the man whose life he had saved. If Roxas had not found out about Jimbo in time, he mostly likely would have been executed in the wave of anti-Japanese hysteria in China in the aftermath of the war.
|General Homma Masaharu|
Colonel Jimbo had received mercy but for General Homma and Colonel Tsuji, both are examples of the many injustices that followed the Second World War; General Homma an example of the injustice by the punishment given to an innocent man and Colonel Tsuji an example of the injustice of a guilty man escaping retribution and being praised by many after it was over. And, make no mistake about it, it was Tsuji and those influenced by him who committed the crimes for which the noble and upright General Homma and the honorable General Kawaguchi were declared “war criminals” and executed and for which Colonel Jimbo almost suffered a similar fate for trying to stop. They are the men that deserve to be honored and remembered. They are also names that should be remembered in the controversy over the names enrolled at Yasakuni Shrine. Not all of those convicted of war crimes were actually war criminals, some were actually the exact opposite of that, while others who were guilty of heinous acts are not included on that list at all.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Justifying the Japanese War
It would, thus, be impossible to admit that the war should not have happened without condemning those who had taken Japan into the conflict and many have never been prepared to do that. The Empire of Japan, after all, had not just lost a war the way that other countries have lost wars. Japan lost badly. Many people fail to realize how badly. Allow the fact to sink in that, after the initial Japanese offensive throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific at the end of 1941 and early 1942, Japan was never victorious in any major operation again. This would be like the Germans never winning a battle after the fall of France. When the Allied counter-attack came, after the pivotal Battle of Midway in the summer of 1942, the story of the war for Japan was one defeat after another. None of the island outposts in the Pacific ever repelled a single American attack and, in southeast Asia, after the defeat of the invasion of India, Japanese forces were rapidly pushed back by the Allies, their defenses effectively collapsed and few reinforcements could be spared due to the need to maintain so many troops in China. Much depended on the imperial naval and air forces and these were crippled at Midway in 1942 and practically annihilated as an effective fighting force at the Philippine Sea in 1944. And, keep in mind, this was all while the bulk of U.S. military strength was being focused on the other side of the world in north Africa and Europe. Even under the best of circumstances, the Japanese knew that they could never hope for an outright victory over the United States, so vast was the American superiority in resources, manpower and industrial output. Their only hope was that the Americans would simply give up at some point and quit the war after suffering heavy losses, yet, in all but one engagement, Japanese losses throughout the war were invariably far greater than American losses. It was, all in all, a disaster and one that could have been foreseen.
The most popular attempt at justification finally came with the help of the Allies themselves with the period of de-colonization and a wave of liberal guilt that swept the western world. A justification for the war was found and quickly seized upon: Japan had been fighting the war for purely altruistic reasons; to liberate their Asian brethren from the colonial domination of racist White people. This has taken on such dimensions that some today claim that the Empire of Japan had never been a colonial power at all on the grounds that Korea and Formosa were incorporated into Japan itself which would be rather like Britain claiming that Ireland was not a colony because it was made part of the United Kingdom or France claiming that Algeria was not a colony because it was incorporated into metropolitan France or for the U.S. to claim that there was nothing “colonial” about the acquisition of Hawaii because it later became a state in the union. However, Japan has been aided in this tactic simply because of the self-shaming adopted by the western colonial powers in regards to their own former empires. It is easy to attack a system that very few will bother to defend.
In the first place, setting aside the notion that ruling over the long-established, preexisting country of Korea should “not count” as colonialism, it is obvious that Japan had no animosity toward the idea of colonialism itself because it clearly had no objection to the institution beyond East Asia. For example, even before Japan was a member of the Tripartite Pact, Japan had no problem with the openly colonial ambitions of other countries Tokyo was in sympathy with. When the Kingdom of Italy (already a colonial power) launched the invasion of Ethiopia, never making any secret of the fact that Mussolini intended to retain control of the area, the Ethiopian government called on Japan to join in condemning the Italians. Mind you, the Ethiopians were not asking for any sort of support or material assistance of any kind, they knew that would be expecting too much of a country so far removed from Africa, but simply that the Japanese express their displeasure at Mussolini’s invasion. Japan refused to issue such a condemnation or to reproach Italy in any way. If Italy had not objected to the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, how could Japan object to the Italian occupation of Ethiopia? Obviously, there was no problem from Japan with the principle of colonialism itself.
The fact is that Japanese support for independence movements did exist but was clearly secondary to the national interests of Japan and the Japanese war effort. For example, French Indochina was occupied by Japanese forces prior to the outbreak of hostilities and yet Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia remained under French colonial rule for all but the final few months of the conflict. Japan left the colonial regime untouched and for most of the war the French population in Indochina was the only group of “White” people in the whole of the area occupied by Japanese forces that were not immediately put in concentration camps. This made sense for Japan as it meant that they could focus on the war effort while the French continued to handle administration, internal security and all of that. This cozy relationship only changed when the Vichy regime fell, France was occupied entirely by Germany and so it was 1945, when there could be no doubt about the eventual outcome of the war, that Japan acted to support the declarations of independence by the Kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia and the Empire of Vietnam. For almost the entirety of the conflict, Japan made no effort to “liberate” the peoples of Indochina from the colonial rule of France at all. However, after the war was over, there was enough support to carry on fighting against any “White” presence in Asia for about 600 Japanese troops in Indochina to join the communist-led VietMinh but that should hardly be seen as something to boast about given the horrid excesses of that regime, even perpetrated against the very government Japan had, for a few months in 1945, supported.
Finally, there is also the case of the Dutch East Indies where the colonial rule of The Netherlands was ended (along with brutal treatment for the local Dutch or partly Dutch population) but no immediate granting of independence such as was nominally the case in The Philippines and Burma. Sukarno was released from prison and he was happy to collaborate with the Japanese and urge his countrymen to learn the Japanese language and assist in the Japanese war effort but Japan was not about to relinquish control of the vast resources of the archipelago which Japan desperately needed. Prime Minister Tojo himself admitted as much, saying of the Indonesians that they were not prepared to handle the vast mineral wealth their country possessed. As it was, Japan did finally support an Indonesian declaration of independence but only after they had already lost the war. In fact, the atomic bombing of Japan had already happened when Sukarno was brought to Japan to be wined and dined and told that the time had finally come for Indonesia to be given independence. Japan concealed the true state of affairs from Sukarno during this time and he only learned of the atomic bombing after returning to Indonesia and hearing an Allied broadcast from a secret radio.
For the Empire of Japan, justifying World War II is like trying to justify an earthquake. Japan was not motivated by a selfless concern for others anymore than any other of the combatants were. Japan entered the war due to a combination of pride, a wish to expand as well as economic pressure from other powers and provocations from the United States that wanted to get into the war but needed one of the Axis powers to shoot first. Roosevelt wasn’t able to get Hitler or Mussolini to shoot first but he was ultimately successful in goading Japan into doing so. The result was disastrous and for Japan in particular. Had the Japanese endured the provocations of other powers and simply sat out the war, the Empire of Japan would have survived, there would have been a better chance of the British Empire surviving but more importantly for Japan, given the post-war expansion of the Soviet Union and the onset of the Cold War, the same Anglo-American forces that had been more antagonistic toward Japan would have been forced by the international situation to not only drop their unfriendly attitude but support Japan as a regional bulwark against communist expansion. Things might have been much better for everyone if Japan had missed that bus.
Japan had been treated unfairly and could rightly ask why countries in Europe or America took exception to their actions when they never meddled in European or American affairs. They could rightly ask why there was a Monroe Doctrine for the Americas but an Open Door Policy in East Asia. The leadership in Tokyo was not, despite what Allied propaganda later claimed, out to conquer the world. They were motivated by a fear, irrational in retrospect, that their empire, despite being at the height of its power, teetered on the brink of success or failure and they undoubtedly wished to be the dominant regional power in East Asia. Achieving that did not necessitate the war that followed and that war was certainly not a selfless effort to eradicate colonialism. To a degree, it was a totally justifiable reaction to pressure and antagonism from foreign powers. Beyond that, it was an ultimately disastrous mistake. The move south, which came so close to never happening at all, was a gamble taken at a time when an Axis victory in Europe seemed certain. In that regard, Japan gambled and lost. The extent of that loss cannot be justified.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Mad Rant: Calling the British Royals Nazis
Another complication was the presence of the Queen’s uncle King Edward VIII (at the time the Prince of Wales and later the Duke of Windsor after his abdication). He seems to be the one showing the little group how to do the salute properly. His presence, of course, makes the issue all the stickier because we all know how King Edward VIII, fairly or not, has been labeled for some time as the primary Nazi sympathizer in the British Royal Family. Personally, I think that is going too far. However, there is no doubt that his views would put him on the ‘naughty list’ for acceptable society today. He opposed the League of Nations, had no problem with Mussolini invading Ethiopia and thought it would be a terrible idea for the British Empire to fight another world war with Germany. It is probably also fair to say that he viewed the Nazi regime as an improvement over the Weimar Republic as far as Germany was concerned. But this also points back to a greater problem that is inevitable when one picks out an 82-year old video and looks at in with the popular perception of today rather than in the context of 1933.
The really infuriating thing though is that none of this should be taken seriously in the first place. Anyone who has seen the video can clearly see that the group is just playing around, acting silly. Trying to make an issue out of this old home movie is not just ridiculous, it is slanderous. Look beyond the horsing around to what really matters. What really matters are the facts and the fact is that the Queen Mother was denouncing the Nazis before denouncing the Nazis was cool. Hitler called her “the most dangerous woman in Europe”. No love lost there. The Queen and Prince Philip both served in World War II, Prince Philip at the front in the Royal Navy and the Queen at home with what we would call the supply and logistics side of military operations. To try to cast them as being among the ranks of the enemy is treasonous slander of the first order. As for opening the archives; what would that accomplish? I doubt there is anything there that most royal historians do not already know. There were German relatives who held positions in Nazi Germany, we already know that. There were times when the British royals met and talked with such relatives, we know that. Many in Britain had great reservations about going into another world war with Germany and we know that too. It was the conflict that cost Britain her empire and it is no wonder that not everyone would view it as joyous event, regardless of how much they might despise any of the Axis countries.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Japan, China and the Legacy of World War II
If everyone were completely honest about their actions in and leading up to wartime, most would come out looking more duplicitous and underhanded than they would like to admit. However, most are not as fixated on the subject as mainland China, Korea and Japan. In this part of the world, probably more than any other, World War II is not just an historical event but a political tool and the legacy of the war is used for political purposes, to one degree or another, by every side. This is certainly true for China and Japan. One can see it most clearly in the stark difference between how The People’s Republic of China, on the mainland, and the Republic of China, on Taiwan, deal with the Japanese. It was the Republic of China, after all, that fought the war against Japan and it was the Republic of China that suffered the most from Japanese occupation and acts of retaliation. Yet, Taiwan rarely makes much of a fuss about issues relating to World War II and generally has very good relations with Japan today. This is because Taiwan has been under constant threat and is anxious for friendship from any quarter. They are more concerned with today than yesterday.
|General Matsui reviewing troops in Nanking|
It is also usually China that makes the most of World War II in general for propaganda purposes, though more frequently these days Russia is joining in as well in order to, as they call it, “defend the post-World War II world order”. China loves to bring up the war and the Nanking controversy because it sets the context to Axis vs. Allies and thus China=good guys and Japan=bad guys even though neither regime is what it was during the war. It is all about casting certain countries in general as villains or victims and both sides want to be the victims these days. Did the Japanese do some terrible things in China? Yes. Did the Chinese help start the war? Yes. Were war crimes committed at Nanking? Yes. Have the Chinese grossly exaggerated the crimes for political purposes? Yes. It is also true that even if one takes the most extreme Chinese accusations at face value, the Japanese still were not guilty of killing anywhere near as many Chinese people as the Chinese republican government itself has (either one in fact and certainly the communists by far). However, framing everything in relation to World War II is something China always does because it is always to their benefit, rather like how, in the west, advocates of military intervention always see every tin-pot dictator as the next Hitler and accuse everyone of being an “isolationist” or an “appeaser” or another Chamberlain who opposes military intervention. Everyone does it because Allies=good and Axis=evil often seems like the only thing that the vast majority of people on this planet actually agree on.
|Poster showing the Japanese saving China from the|
communists who are puppets of the 'White' devil
If the communist bandits ruling in Peking really had no political agenda of their own in all of this, they could literally just withdraw from the entire argument and allow the Japanese radicals to make Japan look bad on their own. These types would win no small amount of hostility from the rest of the world by pointing to facts which they are quite proud of; that Japan conquered a greater surface area of the earth than Germany and Italy combined and that Japan was fighting with a more explicitly racist mentality than even Hitler had been. That’s not what the enemies of Japan say but what the Japanese apologists themselves claim. But the Chinese People’s Kleptocracy doesn’t do that because they really do not care in the least about history or who killed who or how many people was brutalized during the war. What they care about is trying to keep Japan as militarily weak and diplomatically isolated as possible in the present day. They must see no other viable option. How else can they have such expansionist policies and the largest military on earth and still try to make people alarmed by Japan, a country with a tiny self-defense force, only a single official ally and an aging, rapidly shrinking population? The only way they can cause alarm is by trying to convince the world that the Japan of today is always just one step away from being the Empire of Japan of the 1930’s and 40’s, right on the precipice of invading over a dozen countries.
|The Goliad Massacre|
The same could be true for China and Japan if both sides wished it to be so. As far as Japan is concerned, in my experience, most people today do wish it were so but the Chinese do not. Likewise, there will be, for the foreseeable future, that element in Japan that will view any criticism of Japan in the past as unwarranted and totally unjustified no matter what it is. I have heard many people, both Japanese and foreigners sympathetic to Japan, who ask, in exasperation, when China will ever “get over it”. Will China ever “get over” Nanking? Probably not. China will “get over” Nanking perhaps when Japan decides to “get over” Hiroshima or the fire-bombing of Tokyo. In other words, not likely. People these days, the world over, like to view everything in the context of victims and victimizers and everyone wants to be a victim. China wants to be perceived as the victim of Japanese aggression and Japan wants to be perceived as the victim of Chinese deception and misinformation. And both of them want to be perceived as the victims of western imperialism. So, in the end, both the Chinese communists and the Japanese nationalists can at least agree on their shared hatred of “White” people. Perhaps there is hope for reconciliation after all.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Monarch Profile: King Alfonso XIII of Spain
Queen Maria Christina, ruled as regent on his behalf until he came of age in 1902. However, his earliest years as the official, if nominal, King of Spain were eventful ones for his country. At home, divisions remained between the two feuding factions of royalists and the troublesome republican minority but these were less serious than they had been after the successes of his father’s reign. The economy was not in great shape but seemed to be on the mend. However, there were problems overseas in the last remnants of the once mighty Spanish empire. There was trouble in The Philippines but few took much notice of it but the ongoing rebellion in Cuba was gaining a great deal of attention, particularly from the United States.
The boy king was blissfully un-involved when, in 1898, the Kingdom of Spain fought and lost a 10-week war with the United States as a result of which Spain lost her last colonies in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Had he been older, and able to rule, it is doubtful it would have made any difference. His mother was a strong woman with a good head on her shoulders and there simply was not much Spain could possibly have done in the face of the American media that whipped the public in the U.S. into hysteria for a war against Spain. The loss, combined with a deteriorating situation at home, probably motivated the Spanish government to push for King Alfonso XIII to take up his duties as soon as possible and he was declared of age and given his full constitutional powers in 1902 at the age of sixteen. Many hopes were pinned on the young man as the event was celebrated with parties, patriotic demonstrations and bullfights in the traditional fashion. However, King Alfonso XIII was under no illusions about the daunting task that stood before him. There was fighting in north Africa, a worsening economy, social and political divisions at home and widespread corruption amongst public officials.
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, King Edward’s Scottish-born niece. There seemed to be a spark between the two and King Alfonso inquired about marrying her. There was immediately some objections from both countries. The British had long been taught to have a negative view of the Spanish and did not relish the thought of a British, Protestant princess having to convert to Catholicism. Likewise, in Spain, Queen Mother Maria Christina had hoped that her son would marry a Hapsburg princess like his father or at least a Catholic princess from a more prestigious family. It was also known that Princess Victoria’s brother Leopold was afflicted with hemophilia and thus she could be a carrier of the hereditary disease. However, King Alfonso seemed adamant. Princess Victoria said she would be willing to become Catholic and as far as the hemophilia threat was concerned, there was just as much chance that she would not be a carrier as there was that such would be the case.
On May 31, 1906 Alfonso and Victoria were married in Madrid at the Royal Monastery of San Jeronimo, Victoria having converted to Catholicism two months before. It was a grand affair but the enemies of the monarchy were determined to ruin it. A Catalan anarchist tried to assassinate the royal couple with a bomb. Thankfully, they survived but sadly several bystanders were killed or wounded in the attack. It was an ugly scar on what was otherwise a happy occasion. At the start of their married life, King Alfonso and Queen Victoria Eugenia seemed the ideal, happy, devoted couple. However, things began to change after the birth of their first child, Prince Alfonso of the Asturias. He was born with hemophilia, proving that Victoria had been a carrier after all. Two subsequent daughters and a son were born without the disease but, sadly, their last child and third son was afflicted as well. Despite knowing the facts from the beginning, human nature is what it is and King Alfonso tended to blame his wife for the disease that kept his sons in constant danger and from that time on he became increasingly distant from his wife. After 1914 he then had a succession of mistresses by whom he had six illegitimate children.
In 1923 the Captain-General of Catalonia, Miguel Primo de Rivera, seized power in a military coup, at the head of an indignant Spanish army and endorsed by King Alfonso XIII who named him to the post of prime minister (after the general had taken power). General Primo de Rivera became, effectively, dictator of Spain but told the public it was only a temporary measure to clean up the mess created by the corrupt and feuding political class. He set up a military junta, called the Directory, and when government ministers complained to the King, Alfonso dismissed them. The dictator established martial law and began cracking down on the regional separatists. In cooperation with the French, he restored order to north Africa and began extensive infrastructure upgrades in Spain. Unemployment all but vanished but massive loans were required for all of these government expenditures. Primo de Rivera assured the public that these would be paid back by the increase in tax revenues from the business his changes would stimulate. However, as he tried to establish an entirely new political system for Spain, economic prosperity remained unseen and opposition to the dictator began to increase. King Alfonso was fully aware of who was running the country and introduced the general to King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy as, “my Mussolini”.
In 1931 the republicans won a massive electoral victory and General Jose Sanjurjo warned the King that the army was no longer loyal to him (the son of a Carlist, Sanjurjo would later pledge loyalty to the republic, join in an attempted Carlist plot that failed, disavow the Carlists and proclaim his support for the republic only to then join in the national coup against the republic at the start of the civil war). King Alfonso XIII was finally persuaded by his closest friends to leave the country for his own safety. When he departed, he defiantly pledged to triumph over all those who opposed the monarchy but that he would not be the cause of a fratricidal war. He refused to abdicate but went into exile in Rome where he was given sanctuary by King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy. In Spain, the radicals seized power and immediately proclaimed the Second Spanish Republic that became increasingly socialistic and then communistic until it was effectively a client state of the Soviet Union in all but name.
It is too bad that such divisions continued to plague the Spanish royalist cause particularly as, in the same year that the civil war began, the senior Carlist line died out and King Alfonso XIII thus became the legitimate monarch according to the rationale of the original Carlists though, as we know, most who remained opposed by that time would remain opposed no matter what the circumstances. The Spanish Civil War was a brutal affair and came to be seen as something of a dress-rehearsal for World War II. The Soviets and socialist governments from France to Mexico as well as leftist volunteers from various countries supported the republic while Franco and the nationalists received most of their support from Nazi Germany and especially Fascist Italy. In the end, the nationalists were victorious and Franco became dictator of Spain by 1939. He was a monarchist but his success depended on keeping the support of more republican minded nationalists among the Falange movement as well as the two opposing royalist factions so, while everyone expected a restoration of the monarchy, Franco refused to commit himself too much on the subject.
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