Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Monarch Profile: King Gustav I of Sweden

In the Sweden of today, King Gustav I may not be as much remembered as he is no doubt quite politically incorrect, however, once upon a time, not so long ago, he was regarded as the “father” of his country. He was the founding monarch of the Vasa dynasty, something of a liberator and the man who took Sweden from the Roman Catholic to the Protestant camp in the division of Christendom that was going on at the time. For this reason he is sometimes referred to as the “Henry VIII of Sweden” though, not surprisingly, such a description will anger as many as it satisfies. He was, in any event, a giant figure in Swedish history, a man who changed the course of history in Sweden and thus, to receding degrees, that of the rest of Europe as well. In the long national story of the Swedish people, King Gustav I is one of those monarchs you absolutely have to know something about. If you understand Gustav Vasa, you will know what a formidable power the Swedish nation is capable of being.

Gustav Eriksson Vasa was born on May 12, 1496 to Erik Johansson Vasa and his wife Cecilia in his father’s castle northeast of Stockholm. This was during the period when Sweden was, along with Norway, under the Crown of the Kingdom of Denmark at the time ruled by King Christian II. It is no coincidence that this same monarch, a formidable figure in his own right, came to be known as “Christian the Tyrant” to the Swedes. This personal union of the crowns of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, known as the Kolmar Union, had been on rather shaky ground for a while and the Swedes were becoming increasingly restive. One of the leaders of the independence movement was Gustav’s father, though he was not the primary leader. Naturally, his son Gustav supported him and supported the struggle for Swedish independence from Denmark. At one point, Gustav was captured but escaped and maintained his resistance to Danish rule.

King Christian II of Denmark launched an attack on the pro-independence faction in 1520 and was successful. However, his victory was followed up by the mass execution of 80 to 90 nobles and clergymen who had been invited to the palace after his coronation as King of Sweden. Some were executed for treason, some on charges of heresy, though Christian II did try to play a bit of a double game on this point, apologizing to the Pope for having cut the heads off several Catholic bishops while telling the public that they had been heretical and that the Pope was about to place Sweden under the interdict if he had not taken such drastic action. In any event, this became known as the “Stockholm Bloodbath” and one of the most infamous events in Swedish history. Most pertinent to Gustav Vasa was that his father was numbered among the massacred. He had opposed Danish rule before, now Christian II had made it personal. Accusations of heresy being tossed around, as well as the story that this was done to assuage the Pope, combined with the fact that the King of Denmark had married the sister of Emperor Charles V of Germany and King of Spain, certainly made for “bad optics” as we would say today for the Roman Catholic Church in Sweden.

For the moment, however, Christian II was in charge and Gustav had to flee for his life, ultimately all the way to Norway. This period later became legendary in Sweden with all sorts of tales springing up about Gustav’s adventures in trying to arouse the national spirit of the Swedish peasants while dodging the authorities of the King of Denmark. Ultimately, he did manage to gather together a small but growing rebel army under his command and in April of 1520 won a smashing little victory over the pro-Danish forces after which support for his cause came pouring in. Shortly thereafter the local nobles elected him regent of the Kingdom of Sweden, causing many more Swedish nobles to abandon the Danish cause and rally to his banner. Those who did not fortified themselves in their castles but these began to fall to Gustav one by one.

By 1522 much of Sweden, though not Stockholm, was under his control and more support began to come in from the German city-states of the Hanseatic League which saw it as advantageous for them if the domination of the Baltic by the Kingdom of Denmark could be broken. This additional support provided sufficient momentum for the Swedish council of nobles to decide to elect Gustav Vasa to be their king. The representatives of the German city-state of Luebeck backed the decision, saying it was the will of God, and Gustav accepted. In light of later events it is interesting to note that Gustav had a very traditional, Catholic celebration to mark the occasion including Eucharistic adoration and singing of the Te Deum. In June of 1523 when the rebel forces finally marched into Stockholm, this was topped off with a mass of thanksgiving. Not long after, the remaining Danish garrisons in Finland surrendered and King Frederick I of Denmark (who had replaced the ousted Christian II) decided to quit before Gustav conquered any more territory. In 1524 the Treaty of Malmo was signed, ending the Swedish War of Liberation and dissolving the Kolmar Union, making the Kingdom of Sweden completely independence once again.

This, however, is when problems of a religious nature began to bubble up. The previous Archbishop of Uppsala and chief cleric of Sweden had been Gustav Trolle, who had taken the side of King Christian II of Denmark during the pro-independence movement, for which he had been attacked. Later, Archbishop Trolle was said to have, in response to this, prepared the list of the men to be massacred in the “Bloodbath of Stockholm”. As the tide turned against the Danes, he was forced to leave Sweden and take refuge in Denmark. As he was no longer in the country, King Gustav I considered his see vacant and wrote to Pope Clement VII requesting that Johannes Magnus be made archbishop in his place in 1523. However, Pope Clement VII absolutely refused and demanded that Archbishop Trolle be reinstated immediately, which is something that King Gustav, nor any other monarch in his position, would have ever done. Nor was Johannes Magnus, the King’s choice, in any way unorthodox, indeed, he would quickly make enemies due to his staunch opposition to the spread of Lutheranism.

Historians ever since have puzzled over the actions of the Pope on this issue. Given the recent change in Sweden, and the fact that the former Archbishop had been on the opposing side of the new king and even implicated in the murder of his father, combined with the fact that his proposed replacement was a solid Swedish Catholic, makes it difficult to say the least to understand why the Pope decided to force the King to choose between restoring such a cleric or separating the Kingdom of Sweden from the Catholic Church. The best that defenders of the Pope can propose is that he was simply not very well informed about the situation, though that too would raise questions about why he stubbornly insisted on the reinstatement.

The result, not surprisingly, was that King Gustav appointed his own choice anyway but was suddenly much more “tolerant” about the spread of Lutheranism in his country. When the King’s appointed Archbishop Magnus came into conflict with this growing support for Lutheranism, the Archbishop the Pope had opposed left the country, leaving a vacuum which the Lutherans were only too happy to fill. In fact, King Gustav had tried to go even farther when the Pope refused to confirm Magnus. He put forward other candidates but the Pope refused them all and when the King proposed other bishops to fill five vacant sees in Sweden, the Pope again turned down all but one of the King’s suggestions. With the Pope refusing to budge an inch, the King finally made the switch and in 1531 appointed a pro-Lutheran cleric to the post of archbishop, breaking with Rome and beginning the transition of the Kingdom of Sweden from a Catholic country to a solidly and officially Lutheran one. This, as was ever the case, ultimately led to a crackdown on those who continued to adhere to the Catholic Church, most of whom were also accused of being pro-Danish traitors. Obviously, the actions of the Pope only encouraged this view.

A series of generally small scale rebellions broke out in the aftermath of this change, sometimes due to taxes and other secular issues but also due to the confiscation of church lands by the state and the switch to Lutheranism. King Gustav was ruthlessly thorough in his elimination of all opposition to this new state of affairs, having the most famous of the rebel leaders quartered. It was an unfortunate and bloody business, however it is difficult to see how the King could be blamed for the break and his intolerance of opposition did spare Sweden from the sort of drawn-out religious civil wars that were seen in other European countries. It was because of these events, most of all the shift from Catholic to Protestant Christianity, that King Gustav is often compared to King Henry VIII of England who broke with Rome shortly thereafter. However, the two cases are actually quite different. There was a legitimate religious reason for the Pope to oppose King Henry and it also came at a time after Emperor Charles V had invaded Italy, defeated the papal forces, sacked Rome and basically taken the Pope prisoner, making it rather impossible politically for the Pope to have just given Henry his damn annulment for the sake of keeping England, a staunchly Catholic country, in union with Rome. No such circumstances applied in the case of King Gustav in Sweden.

Most of the rest of the reign of the first Vasa king in Sweden was spent dealing with the aftereffects of this religious change (he had his problems with the Lutherans too) as well as establishing the state of the Kingdom of Sweden as it would be for a very long time to come. As the leader of a victorious independence movement, King Gustav became a legend in his own time and showed a positive gift for what we would today call “public relations”. In no time at all he came to be viewed as a great heroic figure, a liberator from Danish rule and the stern but wise ‘father of his country’. A plethora of art, literature, coins, songs and books were produced hailing King Gustav as the champion of his country. Married three times in his life, the King fathered nine children, including three future Swedish monarchs, so he certainly did his duty as far as securing the succession was concerned.

The last, and largely only, foreign policy problem of his reign involved the Russian Empire where Czar Ivan the Terrible viewed the new Swedish monarch as an upstart. When King Gustav sent envoys to Moscow, the Czar refused to meet with them and in the message conveyed to them, basically said to tell Gustav that Russia is awesome and Sweden is a puny weakling (and I really am not exaggerating much at all there). This, as you might imagine, did not go over well in Stockholm and in 1554 the Swedes raided a Russian monastery and when a Russian envoy came to complain, he was taken prisoner. Ivan the Terrible launched a formal offensive and the Russo-Swedish War was on. However, neither side gained much satisfaction. The Swedes besieged Oreshek but failed to take it. The Russians, in turn, besieged Viborg but also failed to take it. Swedish diplomats also had no luck in enlisting other northern powers to join their fight against Russia, seeing it all as a silly and pointless enterprise and so, in 1557 a peace was signed and the two sides left each other alone.

By this time, King Gustav I was in obviously declining health and he finally passed away on September 29, 1560. Memories of King Gustav Vasa have changed considerably over time. For much of modern Swedish history, he was as much a figure of legend and folklore as anything else. Stories abounded of his cunning and daring escapes from Danish pursuers, his heroic rallying of the country to his cause to fight for independence and later, when Lutheranism became firmly established and accepted, as the king who had delivered them from the clutches of the “papists”, giving them a Swedish church for Swedish people rather than one ruled by an Italian prince in faraway Rome. Later, however, when Sweden became more liberal and “enlightened” (feel free to roll your eyes there), King Gustav was portrayed as a grasping and ambition man, still a national hero perhaps, but a bit on the tyrannical side. In truth, he was a brave man, a clever man and a hard man. He was a lover of music, a great patriot and, while not unreasonable or harsh without purpose, was certainly a man who would not tolerate defiance. The many legends about him may be simply that but in the context of his place in Swedish history, he was the sort of monarch about whom there should be legends. He really was the father of his country, or at least, the father of what it was for a very long time.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Monarchist Hero for Today

Picture in your mind (I doubt it will require much imagination) this scenario which I certainly see. You have a European country, a monarchy, which seems to have had it. The country is being overrun by foreign invaders, the people are demoralized, the religious leaders seem to be as often as not taking the side of the invaders, your monarch does not seem to be much of a monarch, inspires no one and seems more intent on simply securing a comfortable life than saving the country. The populace is divided and many people seem to simply be looking out for their own selfish interests and not for their society, their nation, as a whole. If you see the things that I see, you might think I am talking about any number of countries today. The Kingdom of Sweden might be a good guess. However, I have no doubt some of you already know that I am actually describing the Kingdom of France in or about 1429 AD. It certainly seems highly reminiscent of the present day in a number of ways, though just as certainly radically dissimilar in more.

France was in a state of crisis and a great and ardently monarchist, pious champion stepped forward to save it. That person was, of course, an illiterate, teenage, peasant girl from Domremy in northeastern France. Acting on revelations from God, she went to the French monarch, King Charles VII; though she referred to him as the “Dauphin” because he had not been crowned and was, frankly, not acting very kingly; and told him that she was on a divine mission to see him become a proper King of France and to drive the foreign invaders (the English) from their sacred soil. The two spoke privately and the existence of God and some sort of divine intervention is absolutely the only rational, reasonable answer because, after a short, private, meeting between the two, Charles VII made this illiterate, teenage, peasant girl the commander of the armies of France with his blessing to go forth and meet the enemy, as it happened, the formidable English army besieging the city of Orleans. Joan, known then as the “Maid of Lorraine” or the “Maid of Orleans”, rallied the dispirited French, hurled herself into battle, was grievously wounded in the process, but won a stunning victory, smashing the English army and lifting the siege.

The war turned around, Joan and her army cleared the English from the Loire valley, saw Charles VII properly anointed and crowned in the cathedral at Rheims and then, after hitting a bit of snag at Paris, went on to further battles in the course of which she was captured by the forces of the Duke of Burgundy, sold to the English, put on trial by a Church court, declared a heretic and burned at the stake in 1431. In the aftermath, however, the English-Burgundian alliance collapsed, the Duke of Burgundy switched sides, the English were driven out of France and King Charles VII became the ruler of a united country. None of this would have been possible without Joan of Arc. Few dispute that had she not lifted the siege of Orleans, France would have been doomed. The traditional coronation solidified the loyalty of the people behind Charles VII and more than anything else, Joan of Arc revived the French national spirit which had completely broken down after so many years of fighting, so many internal divisions and a number of humiliating defeats at the hands of England.

All of this is clearly impressive but why does it make Joan a model hero for monarchists today? It seems to me, there are a number of reasons. For one, Joan revived the French national spirit, giving them back their proper sense of themselves as French, identifying with their nation and not simply their village, town or province which might just as easily belong to the English king as the French king of the Duke of Burgundy. She mad the French proud to be French again, made them believe in their unique identity and purpose. This is something, it seems to me, everyone needs more of today in practically every country. That goes for traditionalists, conservatives and right-wingers just as much as those of the liberal, leftist or revolutionary varieties. The left hates their countries for what they were, which is fine as they wish to destroy them anyway. However, the right tends to hate their countries for what they are and this is deliberate for you will hardly have much zeal to fight for the salvation of your country if you do not love it. Joan lived in what was possibly the darkest period in the history of France, she could have easily been discouraged, but she fought for the France that could be, that should be and looked beyond the divided, dispirited country that was.

Also, very much like today, Joan had to confront traditional institutions that were less than ideal. However, she had a quality that made her immune to the damage this could cause. Joan of Arc possessed a type of loyalty that seems exceedingly rare in this day and age, even among many who call themselves monarchists or royalists. The King she fought for was hardly inspiring by most accounts. Was he even the rightful king anyway? Plenty at the time would argue Charles VII had no right to the throne at all, perhaps because they believed in the legality of the claim of the child King Henry VI of England, which was not based on nothing let us not forget, or because they considered Charles VII to be of illegitimate birth. For them, his cousin, the Duke of Orleans (another Charles) was the legitimate heir to the throne. So you had an English child on one side with a treaty signed by the previous king of France that made him heir and on the other side the son of said king who many believed not to be his actual son at all. Joan did not get bogged down in all of that, though she had the benefit of divine revelations.

The primary point though is that Joan was loyal to a king who was, under the best of interpretations, not as loyal to her in return. If you only know the story of Joan of Arc from the numerous films, you would probably be inclined to think Charles VII to be a real villain and regret the fact that Joan had fought so hard to see him placed on the throne. He is often portrayed as outright betraying her to the enemy, selling her out in order to be rid of her. People who have studied Joan of Arc far more than I have do not usually go this far but will say that it remains essentially unknown why Charles VII did not do more to try to save her. Personally, I see no evidence that the King set her up to be captured but neither did he go to great lengths to save her which is why I say he was not as loyal to her as she had been to him. Nonetheless, like the Biblical injunction to “obey not only the good and the gentle but also the harsh”, this did not matter to Joan. She never faltered in her own loyalty, she fought the battles that made it possible for the king to do what he needed to do and she urged him toward the proper course of action but her loyalty did not depend on the King acting as she saw fit or of him reciprocating her commitment.

You could say much the same for the relationship between Joan of Arc and the Roman Catholic Church. She was to her last breath utterly devoted and faithful to the Church which persecuted her, falsely accused her, condemned her and finally sent her to a fiery death. In the years that followed her verdict was overturned by the Church and the bishop who presided at her trial was excommunicated but this was all after the fact (and it still took 500 years to have her canonized, which is rather lengthy even by Catholic standards). It could have been no comfort to Joan at the time and yet, even while surrounded by Catholic clerics and scholars, most presumably in sympathy with the foreign invaders of France that Joan was fighting against, she still maintained her belief in God and the Church of which her beloved country was the “Eldest Daughter”. In an even more perverse way, we often see this today and Joan of Arc sets the example of being faithful even if those charged with upholding that faith are extremely unfaithful.

Joan of Arc had her priorities in order; to restore the king, expel the foreigners, unite the country and obey God. If you believe (and I do) that she was on a divine mission from God, this means that these were also the priorities of the Almighty, which is something anyone claiming to be any sort of Christian should take very seriously. She did not hate the English, she pleaded with them to leave peacefully, even to join with her in fighting heretics and unbelievers, but she was adamant that France belonged to the French and not to the English. The wellbeing of her people was more important to her than the wellbeing of foreigners. She fought for her king, even if he was not the ideal monarch. I am sure it would have been easier to fight for someone like King Louis IX but a St Louis is rare, Charles VII was the man God had placed in her life. She fought for him anyway and if he or the Church did not do what they were supposed to, that was up to God to deal with. All she could do is show them the way and that is exactly what she did. This is important for monarchists today to learn from. If you are not happy with modern monarchs currently reigning or in exile, I sympathize but a King Edward III, Louis IX or Otto the Great are rare and if you are waiting for the ideal king to come along and save civilization for you, I am afraid you will be waiting for a very long time.

Joan of Arc did not wait. She took action. But, you may be saying, she was a saint and had God on her side. True, but who is to say God is not on your side too? God spoke to Joan of Arc, God may be speaking to you too but you just are not LISTENING!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Popes and the Emperors

As is not entirely unprecedented, I recently came across an historical fact about monarchy that is, evidently, somewhat controversial and I had no idea that it would be. This came up in response to my listing of a few facts about the history of Christianity and the Roman emperors, some of which I have talked about here before as a way of illustrating how central the imperial power was to the early Church. I was surprised, however, to receive some “push back” on the last fact I listed which was that for the first roughly six hundred years of Church history, every pope was the subject of the Roman emperors. I was told that I was “dreaming” this up but, rest assured, I am not. Evidently, this is something that needs to be talked about as, upon reflection, I think I might have an idea of where denial of this fact comes from, specifically for Catholics.

In the first place, you can check pretty much any historical source and find that the basic fact is just that; a fact. Starting with St Peter, every Bishop of Rome up to Pope Stephen II in 756 was, officially, a subject of the (later East) Roman Emperor. St Peter and the earliest bishops of Rome were all direct or indirect subjects of the Roman emperors. This was true whether they liked it or not but the fact of the matter is that they never made any objections to this. They were bound by Roman law and obeyed it so long as it did not force them to do anything contrary to Christian doctrine. They were loyal to the Roman emperors and never taught Christian people to be rebellious or called for a revolution to overthrow the Roman emperors. They did, as was written in the Bible, call for everyone to love their community, be good Romans, “fear God and honor the emperor”.

During the reign of Emperor Claudius, as had happened before and would happen again, the Jews were expelled from Rome and mention is made of this in the book of Acts concerning St Paul. Originally, the Romans considered Christians to be a sect of Judaism and St Paul, who was ethnically a Jew and a Roman citizen, became frustrated in trying to convert them and decided to accept their rejection and direct his efforts towards the Greeks and Romans. Later, in the reign of Emperor Nerva, we can see more evidence that the Christians submitted to imperial authority by the fact that they petitioned the emperor to stop forcing them to pay the tax that Jews had to pay as they were a different religion. At that time, the state still did not recognize Christianity as a valid religion but Emperor Nerva did order that Christians not be forced to pay the tax since they were not Jews. Official recognition of the Christian religion would not come until the issuing of the Edict of Milan by Emperor Constantine the Great. Later, Emperor Theodosius the Great would make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

However, even during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great, the emperor played an important part in Church life and it is hard to imagine this would have been the case if the Bishop of Rome rejected his authority as emperor. One could also look to the Emperor Gratian who handed his title of ‘Supreme Pontiff’ over to the pope which, again, he hardly would have done if the pope was objecting to his authority. In fact, it would make no sense for the pope to accept such a title unless he first recognized that the emperor lawfully possessed it and thus could hand it over to him. Indeed, in the early days of the Church, before rules had been standardized for such a process, the Roman emperors played a part in the selection of popes. Much of the history in this period is sparse and often debated but some argue that Pope Julius I was, for all intents and purposes, appointed by Emperor Constantine the Great. It is more widely conceded that the imperial power played at least some part in the selection of subsequent popes and in efforts to resolve disputes over who the pope should be.

The underlying point though is that the bishops of Rome were by virtue of being born in the Roman Empire or, later, baptized as Christians, subjects from birth of the Roman emperors and that did not change with their election or selection for the papal throne. When the last remnants of the Western Roman Empire fell with the forced abdication of Romulus Augustulus, this did not legally change. With no emperor in the west, quite understandably, the Eastern Roman Emperor assumed sole authority for the whole Roman world and still regarded the popes as his subjects in the temporal sphere and as shepherds in the spiritual sphere (though the East Roman Emperor never recognized Romulus so that the exiled Julius Nepos was regarded in the east as the “last” West Roman Emperor until his death). This culminated in an era which I have previously heard plenty of Catholics complain about but never deny which was the so-called “Byzantine Papacy”.

This term has been used to describe the period dating from the time that the East Roman Emperor Justinian set out to take back the territory of the Western Roman Empire from the various Germanic tribes which had conquered it. Emperor Justinian, during this time, basically came to Rome, fired Pope Silverius and appointed Vigilius to take his place. As you can imagine, this caused some controversy but, while many have little positive things to say about him, Pope Vigilius is regarded as a valid pope, included on every list of the bishops of Rome. Subsequent papal elections were confirmed by the Byzantine emperors which, I can imagine, some may find an intolerable idea but this is probably due simply to ill-will generated by the eventual east-west schism since this idea never really went away. After all, in the Roman Catholic west, ultimately a number of monarchs held the power to veto papal candidates they found objectionable, meaning that whoever was chosen must have been passively approved of (otherwise his election would have been vetoed). In fact, this imperial veto was used for the last time in the conclave of 1903 when the first choice, Cardinal Mariano Rampolla, was vetoed by Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, resulting in the election of Pope St Pius X.

The so-called “Byzantine Papacy” did not end until the reign of Pope Stephen II in 756. Prior to that time, the gains of Emperor Justinian had been rolled back and what was referred to as the Duchy of Rome (legally part of the [eastern] Roman Empire) was under threat from the Lombards of northern Italy. Constantinople was unable to help and the Pope turned to the King of the Franks, Pepin, son of the famous Charles Martel, to come to his rescue. He did so, the Lombards were defeated and in the subsequent peace treaty, only the “Romans, Franks and Lombards” were signatories, the Byzantines being left out completely. After the Lombards broke the treaty, attacked again and were defeated again, the King of the Franks ceded territory he had conquered from the Lombards to Stephen II which subsequently became the Papal States. Legally speaking, and this is why I warn Catholics about always trying to play the “legitimist” game, all of this territory was still part of the empire, having been basically stolen from the Byzantine emperors as the last Roman emperors still standing.

Their power, however, was gone and would not be coming back. From that time on, the popes would look to the west rather than to the east. However, that they had previously been imperial subjects cannot be argued against. Into the reign of Pope Stephen II, if not slightly longer, records were still dated by imperial years and imperial coins were still minted and dated according to the East Roman Empire. The ultimate change, of course, came when Pope St Leo III crowned another Frankish monarch, Charlemagne, “Emperor of the Romans” on Christmas day in the year 800. Again, if one chooses to play the strictly “legitimist” game, this was out of order as it had never been up to the Bishop of Rome to decide who the Roman emperor should be. This is, however, all I have been able to come up with in determining the root reason of why anyone would deny that the popes prior to this time had all been subjects of the Roman emperors in spite of the obvious history. I shall relate my theory and you may comment below as to whether you think it holds any water.

In the east, Church and State were firmly united. In the west, they were united as well but also fairly consistently at odds with each other and I think the perception of this has grown worse in modern times. The idea developed in the west of the “two swords” approach with the emperor (this being the German emperor) having the secular sword and the pope having the spiritual sword. However, the popes maintained that their sword was bigger than the emperor’s sword and that they could take away his sword if they wanted to because they had given it to him in the first place. I think this is magnified in our time because, basically, *everything* is or can be argued from moral grounds so that any issue can be considered a moral issue and thus falling under papal jurisdiction. All I have been able to come up with, to put it another way, is that there is a revulsion by some Catholics to the idea that the Bishop of Rome could ever, even in temporal terms only, be “subject” to a higher power, again, even if that power is only higher in terms of worldly power and nothing at all to do with spiritual power.

The Church was born into the preexisting Roman Empire. As such, the Roman emperors came and went and the earliest Christians and Christian bishops, had nothing to say about the matter. When the Pope crowned Charlemagne, this created a new western empire, which eventually became the German empire (First Reich) under the magnificent Kaiser Otto the Great, and a sort of “new world order” of which I am rather fond. However, it also led to a succession of troubles, most famous being the “Investiture Dispute” as the popes and the German emperors quarreled over where their powers began and ended. This is because this new imperial system had been handed down by the pope and what the pope gave, naturally, the pope felt he could take away. This is something no pope could or ever tried to do with the east because the eastern imperial succession predated his own, going all the way back to the first Augustus who was the Augustus before Christ was born. The Byzantine (East Roman) emperors had to be converted, confronted or submitted to, they could not simply be dismissed or overruled by the popes.

I think, at least this has so far been all I can come up with, the underlying reason for any denial that the popes were ever subjects of the Roman emperors which, like it or not, is an objective fact. It seems to me that some have become too attached to the idea of the popes being temporal sovereigns as they were in the era of the Papal States and since the recognition of the State of Vatican City because this has been so heavily emphasized as being absolutely essential to the independent function of the papacy as an institution, that it would be impossible for Catholicism to function without the popes being a power unto themselves. Personally, I do not think this view an incontestable one. Certainly it did not prevent any and all secular influence and I cannot be the only one who was outraged at the number of clerics implicated in child sex abuse crimes who escaped justice by being transferred to the Vatican establishment and thus beyond the reach of any secular government. However, the fact is that the papacy did exist for quite a few centuries without any secular power of their own, as subjects of the Roman emperors and it did not mean that they were simply the tools of Rome or Constantinople. What it did mean was that they had only their personal piety and courage to rely on. Those who were persecuted, exiled or martyred, I think, shows that such devotion was not unknown just as, I think, the amount of secular praise heaped on the current pontiff shows that independent sovereignty does not prevent a pope from giving in to popular trends or influence from beyond the Vatican walls.

For Further Reading:
Centrality of the Roman Empire
Church and Empire
Christian Empire
The Tiburtine Sybil & Imperial Prophecy
Christ and the Emperor Tiberius
The Story of the Byzantine Empire

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Repercussions of Regicide

Today, once again, we mark the anniversary of the regicide of His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XVI of France. It is not, at this point, necessary to go through all the details of this monstrous crime, as that has been done before (relevant links will be below). However, I thought it might be worthwhile to make brief mention of what the repercussions of this event have been, which are present even to the present day. Obviously, there were immediate consequences in that most of the crowned heads of Europe immediately went to war with the First French Republic simply on principle. Even the British, and King George III felt that King Louis was suffering for having supported the American rebels in their war against him, immediately went to war with the French even though the Kingdom of France had been England's most long-standing enemy. France suffered immediate and terrible consequences for this. Even the United States immediately changed their point of view of the French Revolution when King Louis XVI was killed. Practically every major monarchy in Europe immediately became an enemy and even the Americans were no longer willing to be friends with a regime that would murder an innocent and powerless man.

Everyone knows about the Reign of Terror, the massacres, the repression and the long succession of wars that followed this event. However, there were broader and more far-reaching consequences that no one could possibly have foreseen at the time. For one thing, the permanence and sacrosanct nature of the monarchy was destroyed and that is something that is seemingly impossible to recover. This is why, I think, the British monarchy consistently decreased in power since the regicide of King Charles I, even though the monarchy was willingly restored. The French monarchy was restored, more than once, since the regicide of King Louis XVI but, as we know, none of these restorations lasted. The radical elements of French society knew that they had taken down one king and that set a precedent that they could take down others and so they did. It set up a very long-term destabilization of France as a country. The way modern France has become so famous for its strikes and a populace, particularly in Paris, being known for their temper tantrums all goes back to the regicide of King Louis XVI.

We also see today the huge explosion of the non-French population in France so that today about 20% of the population of France is not French. In terms of religion, France has the largest amount of Muslims as a percentage of the population of any country in Europe. It is also worth keeping in mind that the immigrant population has about twice the rate of natural growth as the native French population. For myself, I do not think this state of affairs is unrelated to the regicide and the French Revolution. In the first place, as I have said before, it is a logical next step for people who claim that the bloodline of their rulers does not matter, getting rid of monarchy, to then believe that the bloodline of the population being ruled does not matter either, which is the attitude held by those in power today. Similarly, by the overthrow and regicide of King Louis, the precedent was sent for the people changing their ruler to one more to their liking (or at least so they thought), it then also stands to reason that the rulers of republican France today can decide to change the population of France and replace it with another more to their liking.

Bertolt Brecht supposedly said, of the Communist regime in East Germany, that they might dismiss the current electorate and appoint a new one. He was being sarcastic to make a point but that seems to be something the modern liberal elite of western countries thinks is not only possible but a positively brilliant idea. In the aftermath of the regicide of King Louis XVI, I cannot see it any other way as being directly responsible for the current state of affairs. The downfall of monarchy, in France as elsewhere, set the standard for national authorities being changeable with no direct, personal ties of blood and history with the country and it is simply taking this to its logical conclusion for the rulers of today to believe that their peoples are also just as changeable. The crisis that France finds itself in today is, I firmly believe, a direct result of the regicide of King Louis XVI and the twisted "values" of the French Revolution. The country and the people are still suffering from this horrendous crime.

The Root of the Current French Crisis

The Greatness of King Louis XVI

A Tragic Anniversary

Inspiration in a Tragic Anniversary

Friday, January 19, 2018

In Defense of Modern Monarchs

Monarchs today, specifically those in the western world, are increasingly taking criticism from the more right-leaning sections of society which have traditionally defended them. This is bad, in my view both for them and for society and I fear could be the beginning of something disastrous for the cause of traditional authority (just add it to the list). They are not, you will notice, being defended by the left-leaning sections of society as you might expect for anyone or anything being attacked from the right. You might have even thought you heard the left defending them but, sorry, you did not. The left will say they agree with a royal who agrees with them on global warming or open borders, tolerance and diversity and all that, they will applaud Prince Harry for marrying a mixed-race, divorced actress from America but they *never* defend the monarchy itself because they know, even if many on the right have forgotten, that monarchy by definition goes against their fundamental worldview and can never be reconciled with it. When modern royals parrot the leftist narrative, the leftists simply applaud them cutting their own throats.

What tends to upset people on the right today about modern royals is just a little contradictory. On the one hand, they do not like what many royals say and do but there are also those who do not like them because, as they say, they don’t actually “do” anything and are purely ceremonial. Personally, I have a problem with all of these things as well and wish that it were not so and these criticisms are not coming out of thin air. Most of, if not all, of the things that upset the right-wing critics of modern monarchs upset me as well, the difference is that none of it turns me against monarchy in general or any particular monarchy either. Modern royals have been placed in an extremely difficult position. They were told from birth that they must be above politics, can say or do nothing political only to then have the ever-expanding left-liberal state make absolutely everything political. They have also been taught in the same schools and by the same professors as the liberal elites who are making such a mess of things. Similarly, when they attend church, be it Protestant or Catholic, they hear the same narrative about diversity, inclusion, environmentalism and so on which their pastors, whether appointed by the Pope or politicians, are told to preach.

They do live in a bubble and these days it is a poison-filled bubble. Keeping all of this in mind, they are also told that they must “do” something to justify their position as the idea of a hereditary birthright is unthinkable in this day and age combined with the natural human desire to pursue some activity to avoid leading totally empty lives. Because the liberal elites who rule us do not, of course, actually mean the things that they say, modern royals have found that championing traditional or right-wing causes leads to condemnation for being “political”, this leaves only fashionable left-wing causes which they are allowed to pursue as the left certainly doesn’t object to this nor, these days, does the mainstream right or the so-called “conservatives” which pass for this in Europe today. All of this means that while I find many of the things that modern monarchs do or say unpalatable, it also means that I can find little room to blame them personally for it. It does not make me despise them but pity them and desire to rescue them from this left-liberal prison they have been born into.

The enemies of monarchy are happy to applaud royals when they do something detrimental to traditional authority or the survival of western civilization but they do so not because they believe in monarchy but because this is all part of their plan to undermine the most fundamental elements and institutions of western civilization in order to turn people against it. In other words, they want the defenders of traditional authority to believe that their cause is not worth defending at all and so they might as well give up. It reminds me, as I mentioned in a recent film review, of the scene in “1898 Los ultimos de Filipinas” which shows the Filipino rebels trying to persuade the Spanish garrison to surrender by telling them that their own government never showed much concern for them, forgot about them and sold the whole place to the Americans or, in other words, that they were fighting for leaders unworthy of their sacrifice. If it means ending opposition to them, these people will say or do anything and just as they have infiltrated and twisted the entertainment industry, education, government and the churches it is foolish to think they would stop short of their takeover of all culture and society at the foot of the monarchy.

As such, when the royals of today say something that infuriates me, I do not blame them but rather those who actually rule us as modern royals are in their power, unfortunately. When it comes to moral issues, if the King of Spain, the King of the Belgians, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg or the Princes of Monaco or Liechtenstein say something I find objectionable, I do not blame them but rather the Pope who is set above them and who, in the past when popes were crowned and acted like popes, was called, “the master of kings and princes, the ruler of the rulers of the world”. Similarly, when something like this comes from the Queens of Britain or Denmark or the Kings of The Netherlands, Norway or Sweden, I blame the politicians who pay and appoint the leaders of the churches who are supposed to pass on proper moral teaching to royals and commoners alike. One could also then cast an accusing eye toward the voting public who put these people in office and submit to their rule but that leads us to the other point, that royals today are simply ceremonial figureheads unworthy of serious consideration. Perish the thought!

No monarch in Europe today, save arguably the Pope as Sovereign of Vatican City, has much if any actual power. Some may have a slight degree of influence but that varies with governments and issues. Even the monarchs in Europe with the most power, the aforementioned Princes of Monaco and Liechtenstein, are not quite so powerful as they may appear. They are sovereign states but not really independent states given that they are micro-states which frankly couldn’t survive a grape embargo. They can exist only because their powerful neighbors allow them to. The huge population of Monaco would not be able to survive for a week without the food and other vital resources France allows to be passed through her borders to the tiny principality. Lest anyone think that one of these monarchs could stand up and defy the prevailing world order, consider the fate that befell countries like Rhodesia or South Africa which did the same, countries with things like farmland, room for livestock, mineral resources and fresh water. If Rhodesia could not survive the hostility of the international community, I fail to see how anyone could argue that Liechtenstein could.

It is clear then that modern European monarchs reign but absolutely do not rule. Why then should we care about them? We should care about them for the same reason that the republicans care about them; because of what they represent. For hardcore traditionalists, I would point to the many child monarchs of history who I have admitted before to having a fondness for. Obviously, it is not ideal to have a child monarch, the ideal being to have a mature, wise, moral and courageous monarch but, as I have related in the past, child monarchs have something to teach us. When Frenchman dropped to one knee before the 5-year-old King Louis XIV or when wrinkled Vietnamese mandarins kowtowed to the 8-year-old Emperor Duy Tan they knew perfectly well that such children had no power and would not actually be ruling the country but that, then as now, others would be ruling in their name. It was, rather, what they represented that was important, all of the culture, religion, traditions and the history of the nation that was bound up in the bloodline represented by the tiny child draped in regal robes before them.

One could view modern monarchs in much the same way as you might view an historic building such as an historic cathedral, once held sacred but which is today no more than a tourist attraction. The Palace of Versailles is another example, once the magnificent residence of a sacred regal line but which is today pimped out by the French republican government like a prostitute. The fact that trashy American celebrities can rent it out or that it can be used to host obscene and grotesque “art” exhibits should repulse us all but it should not make us wish to burn it down or allow it to crumble through neglect because it has been tainted by the wickedness of our time.

When I was a child, and it seems I may have been the last generation to experience this, even living in a very old republic far distant from any actual monarchies, my imagination was filled with castles, knights and kings (especially castles, I really had a thing for them in my earliest years -which hasn’t entirely gone away). I could not say specifically where this comes from but in my earliest memories I had the image firmly implanted in my mind, presumably from story books and cartoons of the good king being deceived by his wicked and manipulative prime minister. I can distinctly remember, though it was ages ago, before I had any knowledge at all of how modern monarchies worked or even if actual ones still existed, of the prime minister always being the villain of the story who had to be thwarted so that the good king, who naturally loved his people as a parent naturally loves their children, would see the true state of affairs and set things right. Later on I found out what a prime minister actually is and how the system actually works but I also do not think that trope to be entirely unfounded and I would urge monarchists, traditionalists, the rightfully disgruntled on the political right-wing, to view modern monarchs in the same way; as prisoners of a corrupt and wicked political elite who are manipulating them and who the truly loyal must rescue them from.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Well, This Happened...

So, I have been "missing" for a while, at least from these pages and I wanted to give anyone who by some miracle is still checking in here after nearly two months, an update on what has been going on. One day, out of the blue, my internet simply stopped working. I live in a very (VERY) remote area and getting something done about this, particularly during the Christmas/New Year period, proved practically impossible. Around the same time my primary computer went a little funny, which did not help. I was left only able to access social media via my phone when, once again, I was suspended from Facebook for posting something "offensive" (though of course the minions of Zuckerberg would not explain precisely what that was) and decided to stop having a Facebook page even after my suspension ended since I was simply fed up with not knowing what might get me thrown off the platform altogether. The internet age we live in is one of "out of sight, out of mind" so as the weeks went by I began to doubt that if things ever got up and running again I would have any audience left.

Then, after just about giving up entirely, earlier this very evening I turned on my machine just to play some music and found, by some miracle, the internet was working again. This may not last I must warn you. No one has come here and "fixed" anything, it just suddenly started working and may just as suddenly stop, I have no way of knowing as I never knew what was wrong in the first place. I have had plenty of things I would have liked to write about it you can be sure but I do not think anything will be forthcoming immediately. I am trying to keep this short simply so as to get some word out before my internet goes out again as it did before. I had just (as in yesterday) about resigned myself to this little side-job being over and done with and I now have to reconsider that, see how many have remained in spite of the long, unexplained absence and also to simply see if this connection is going to hold for long or not. My thanks to all of those who sent messages of support, as you can imagine there was rather a pile-up of comments so I probably won't be able to get back to responding to all of them but I have seen them and appreciate those of you who were concerned.

We will just have to see how things go, and before I am suddenly cut off again, I will say "until next time" (hopefully),
I am and shall remain,
               ...The Mad Monarchist
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