Tuesday, February 27, 2018
The Limits of Tolerance
What earned King Henri IV his reputation for tolerance was that, even after his conversion to Catholicism, he issued the Edict of Nantes which granted freedom of religion to French Protestants. Needless to say, there were Catholics who were upset by this but, then again, one can also still find Catholics who are critical of King Louis XIV for revoking the Edict of Nantes. For many, whether tolerance is a positive or a negative seems to be a rather subjective question. In the case of France, tolerance seemed to be the only solution to their problem. The edict came at the end of the long and brutal Wars of Religion in France, the last being known as the “War of the Three Henries”. This saw Henri (IV) of Navarre and the Protestants battling against Henri Duc d’Guise and the Catholics with King Henri III in the middle, all fighting against each other, none being strong enough to defeat the other two. France was being shredded by these conflicts and since there seemed to be no end, tolerance was the answer Henri of Navarre found. In order to be king, he would become Catholic but he would also insist that Protestants be free to worship as they pleased so long as they remained loyal to the king and loyal to France, which in those days were taken to be the same thing.
The result was that while Spain had no wars of religion, Germany had plenty of them, culminating in the disastrous Thirty Years War which left central Europe in ruins for decades. The fact that tolerance can make things worse instead of better was not lost on the Protestants themselves. Despite their persecution at the hands of intolerant Catholics, for what they called, ‘following the dictates of their conscience’, once in power they were not prepared to fully embrace tolerance themselves. In countries such as England or The Netherlands, while the Church of England or the Dutch Reformed Church had special status, they were generally tolerant of Protestants who did not adhere to these churches but that freedom of religion did not extend to Catholics. It is obvious to see why. Such tolerance would lead to division which would lead to conflict, sometimes decade after decade of ruinous conflict that could devastate entire nations. Today it often seems necessary to repeat the obvious; differences cause problems. Differences about the fundamental nature of society, the world, loyalty and so on can certainly cause very, very serious problems.
This all underlies a fundamental point I have tried to impress upon people many times. Tolerance is rare and tolerance on the part of governments is practically non-existent. No ruling power ever has or ever will tolerate anything which is a direct challenge to them. They will not tolerate any sort of attack on that which they hold most dear. In Muslim countries, this means that anything anti-Islamic will not be tolerated. It is why, in Germany or Austria, questioning the Holocaust is not tolerated. It is why the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy would not tolerate opposition to their ruling parties. It is why Thailand does not tolerate disrespect toward the monarchy, because that is the foundation of their society. Liberal regimes today, be they republics or monarchies, tend to think they are immune from this. Not so. The rulers of Great Britain, for example, allow republican groups to attack the monarchy because the monarchy is not fundamental to their world view at all. Most European countries, the United States, Canada and so on do not have something so obvious as Islam in Iran or the King in Thailand but they very clearly have a narrative that is fundamental to their worldview and they will tolerate no opposition to this narrative.
Tolerance is a lie and, all too often, a fatal one.
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Battlefield Royal: Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
|The young prince|
|The Prince at the Battle of Rocroi|
The Battle of Rocroi, however, was only the beginning for the Prince de Condé. He next shifted to Alsace to meet the Bavarians. Although he did not destroy their army totally as he had the Spanish, in three sharp battles he forced the Bavarians to quit French soil and retreat back across the Rhine. When they returned the following year, Condé, along with another giant of French military history, Turenne, again defeated the Bavarians and forced them to withdraw. Time and again, over the next decade, Condé was called upon to chastise the enemies of France but with each victory he also gained enemies at court where jealously about the young man who so dominated the battlefields was not uncommon. The greater his popularity, the greater the envy many felt towards him. He did have his setbacks as well. In 1647 he was dispatched to Spain and met with a bitter loss at Lerida, a failure of logistics rather than battlefield tactics. Nonetheless, it was an aberration and he still succeeded in carrying out the occupation of Catalonia.
|The Prince at the Battle of Lens|
|The Prince received at Versailles|
The success at Seneffe, however, would prove to be his last victory. Although only in his mid-fifties, that was a more advanced age for the time than it is today and Condé was suffering from a variety of ailments ranging from gout, the common affliction of the upper class, to the simple effects of old age and so many years campaigning. He was simply no longer physically capable of taking to the battlefield and so, after more than thirty years of leadership, retired to his palatial home, devoting his remaining years to his family, study and of course, living as lavishly as he could. The great Condé died at Fontainebleau on December 11, 1686 at the age of sixty-five.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Clash of Monarchies: The Third War of Italian Independence
|Franz Joseph, Wilhelm I, Vittorio Emanuele II|
The scheme he had in mind was nothing short of the conquest of the Kingdom of the Two-Sicilies, ruled, at that time, by the cadet branch of the Spanish Royal Family. In May of 1860, with only a thousand volunteers, Garibaldi sailed out to take on the Bourbon monarchy which possessed a large army and a bigger navy than Piedmont-Sardinia. He and his little force of men, garishly dressed in red shirts, landed in Sicily, the garrison of which had been reinforced from 21,000 to 40,000 men when word of Garibaldi’s plan reached Naples. Garibaldi should have had no chance at all, however, he was a master at misdirection and the Kingdom of the Two-Sicilies proved far less formidable in fact than it appeared on paper. Particularly in Sicily, the repeated rebellions of the previous decades had taken their toll and the King, Francesco II, had wiped out his Swiss mercenaries, his best troops, when they went on strike over better pay and conditions.
|Battle of Calatafimi|
|Garibaldi & the King meet at Teano|
After 100 days of resistance, Francesco II surrendered and went into exile, the south was reunited with the north for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire and Vittorio Emanuele II was proclaimed King of Italy. Of the major Italian territories, only Rome and Venice remained out of reach. Rome was occupied by the French and Venice by the Austrians. Peaceful efforts to gain these came to nothing. The new King of Italy offered to purchase Venice from Emperor Franz Joseph, but was refused. Likewise, Pope Pius IX refused to hear of the offer of Cavour for absolute sovereign immunity for the pope and total power for him in all Church matters. The status quo, however, could not endure as the nationalist movement which had taken hold in Italy would never abide separation from Venice and Rome. Not long after, Count Cavour suddenly died and though the King had never liked him much, the two had learned how to work together and a period of some political instability ensued. Garibaldi, seeing his work still unfinished, recruited some more volunteers and made to attack Rome. The French and Austrians both threatened war if he was not stopped and so the Italian army did the job, halting the nationalist volunteers at the Battle of Aspromonte in August of 1862, even wounding Garibaldi himself in the process.
|King Wilhelm I & Bismarck|
Conflict began to bubble up over disagreements between Austria and Prussia over the administration of the lands taken in the war with Denmark. Among German nationalists, there had also been a long standing division over whether or not the united Germany would include Austria due to the fact that Austria also ruled over so many non-German peoples that German nationalists cared nothing about. With the Austro-Prussian dispute, that matter was settled; Austria would be excluded and, as far as Bismarck was concerned, could go on having fun in her ‘majority minority’ empire. If Prussia were to take on Austria, there would be no better time as Habsburg foreign policy had managed to alienate just about everyone by this stage. Austria was sore at the French for allowing the incorporation of the central Italian states into the Kingdom of Italy and so, naturally, the French were sore at Austria in return. The Italians, naturally, wanted Venice back and so were certainly not going to take the side of Austria and, most importantly, the Russians were still furious at Emperor Franz Joseph for threatening to side against them in the Crimean War, effectively forcing them to concede defeat. The Prussians had also stood by the Russians in a recent rebellion in Poland, whereas the Austrians had not. The British, for their part, had no great love for either side and had no reason to care who won.
|Bismarck, von Roon & von Moltke|
In any event, on June 14, 1866 the war began with Prussian troops marching into Saxony and Bohemia. The Prussian army had mobilized rapidly thanks to the adept leadership of war minister Graf von Roon and the army commander Graf von Moltke. The Italian Royal Army was less well prepared, with elements of the north and south still not having coalesced very well. Some of this was due to personality issues, some due to organizational differences and sometimes simply the differences between the dialects of Turin and Naples. The Italian war plan was for the army of General Alfonso La Marmora to strike while the army of General Enrico Cialdini remained on the defensive. They would have superior numbers but the Austrians, with their powerful fortress cities of the Quadrilateral, would be able to concentrate their troops against any threat. The Italians, in typical fashion, came straight on with a bold offensive by the troops of La Marmora, accompanied by King Vittorio Emanuele II himself, who loved nothing better than being on campaign.
|The Battle of Custozza|
|Battle of Bezzecca|
|Battle of Lissa|
The outcome of the war had, for all intents and purposes, mostly been decided at the Battle of Sadowa with the Prussians crushing the Austrian army there. However, the Austrian reinforcements on their way to Italy, combined with the stunning loss at Lissa, prompted Italy to come to the peace table too, in spite of the advances of Garibaldi and Cialdini and the hopes riding on them to make good on the loss at Custoza. It was not the glorious victory that had been hoped for, nor would the resulting peace treaty be easy for anyone. Italy was on the winning side but Prussia had been the ones to force Austria to the negotiating table. Even then, it was only thanks to the intransigence of Bismarck as most of the Prussian officers wanted to carry on and capture Vienna and perhaps more. Bismarck would not hear of it. All he wanted was a war to shove Austria out of the way so that Prussia could create a united Germany. He had no desire to see Austria humiliated or destroyed.
|King Vittorio Emanuele II enters Venice|
An unfortunate result of the Austrian intransigence during the peace process was to perpetuate the false impression that Italy had accomplished nothing during the war. The Italians had won battles and the naval engagement of Lissa was the only truly embarrassing loss. The battle of Custoza was two armies that basically fought each other to exhaustion, both thought they had lost and the Italians were simply the first to do anything about it and as they began to pull back the Austrians pounced. Garibaldi had won a hard fought victory in the north, the Italians had not been destroyed and were in the process of counter-attacking, were advancing back into Venetia, when the crushing victory of the Prussians brought the war to a close. The Austrians had not ‘run away with it’ so to speak. In any event, Italy had at least regained Venice, leaving only Rome still under foreign occupation. Prussia was clearly established as the leading German state, only one further step away from unification whereas the Austrian Empire had been humbled and was soon thereafter forced to make vast concessions to the Hungarians, leading to the compromise which turned the Austrian Empire into the “Dual Monarchy” of Austria-Hungary.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Monarch Profile: Emperor Bokassa I of Central Africa
The idea that such service was evidence of any great loyalty to the French colonial empire was, however, a false one and in Africa, as in Indochina, the movement gained strength for the independence of the French African colonies and the dissolution of the French colonial empire. In 1960 Ubangi-Shari was granted independence from France as the Central African Republic, led by President David Dacko, a distant cousin of Bokassa. Like most who would come to power in post-colonial Africa, Bokassa was the son of a tribal chief and had aspirations for leadership which did not include playing subordinate to his distant relative. President Dacko gave Bokassa, no doubt because of his military record with the French as a company officer, command of the armed forces of the new republic. Granted those armed forces amounted to only 500 men but it was something Bokassa took very seriously and it was totally in keeping with local custom in post-colonial Africa for new national leaders to stock the government with their relatives.
This was done but, obviously, there was no longer any trust or loyalty between the two and Dacko began taking steps to replace Bokassa and disperse his supporters. However, he was not very subtle about this and Bokassa soon saw what was going on and decided to get rid of Dacko before Dacko could get rid of him. In the early hours of January 1, 1966, in what was called the Saint-Sylvestre coup d’etat, Bokassa and his chief subordinate Captain Alexandre Banza, seized control of the capital and, in due course, his forces captured and arrested President Dacko. Once in power, Bokassa promised a new era of equality for all, abolished the constitution and ruled through a Revolutionary Council. He promised that after his forces had eliminated corruption and communism, allowing the economy to stabilize, new elections would be held for a new national assembly and a new constitution. He banned opposition parties, outlawed begging and made employment mandatory. Anyone without a job could be imprisoned. However, he also banned polygamy and female circumcision, established a bus line in the capital, a ferry service on the Ubangi and used government funds to establish two national orchestras. He also broke off diplomatic relations with Communist China. In short, he did make some positive changes.
|Bokassa at his coronation|
|Idi Amin and Bokassa|
In 1979 what little tolerance in the international community that Emperor Bokassa had been shown began to erode. Key elements of this were the emergence of his partnership with the notorious Libyan dictator Gaddafi and the massacre of a large number of people protesting against rising food prices and a considerable lack of food at any price in Bangui. The French, on whose assistance Central Africa continued to depend, began to waver and the French government began to wish for President Dacko to return. The “last straw” for many was the repression of a student protest in 1979. As part of his campaign to make the Central African Empire look affluent and modern, Emperor Bokassa had ordered all students to wear school uniforms with his portrait on them which were rather expensive and, some might argue, rather crass and tacky. When the students protested, about 100 were killed by government forces with Emperor Bokassa accused of severely beating several of the children himself.
Tried and sentenced to the death in absentia for repression and the murder of political rivals, Bokassa nonetheless returned to the Central African Republic in 1986. He was immediately arrested and charged with a long list of crimes including treason, murder, corruption and cannibalism. He pled not guilty and at his trial denied all charges made against him, often attributing the crimes to others in the government or denying them completely. He was finally found “not guilty” of cannibalism but “guilty” on all other counts and sentencing him to death. However, in 1988 the then-President Kolingba, commuted Bokassa’s execution and shortening his sentence to 20 years in 1989. In 1993 Bokassa was released as part of a general amnesty. His remaining years were not long but just as ‘colorful’ as his time in power had been. He added to his accumulated 17 wives and estimated 50 children, proclaimed himself to be the thirteenth apostle of Jesus Christ and said that he regularly met in secret with the Pope. He died of a heart attack on November 3, 1996 at the age of 75. In 2010 he was legally rehabilitated by President Francois Bozize and praised for the stability of his years in power and his love of country.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
America's Path Not Taken
As his political career demonstrated, Galloway was no republican firebrand. Indeed, he has more than once been referred to as an Anglo-American nationalist, which would certainly make him unpopular today even if nothing else were known about him. He had objections to the state of affairs in the colonies but, again, like many, his objections were not to the British Empire itself but rather with the subordinate place of the American colonies within it. He believed that the British constitutional monarchy as it was then, was the best system of government in the world and that the British, be they in the home islands or North America, were the best people in the world. He felt that the only problem was that the British subjects in America were not governed in the same way as the British subjects in Great Britain and that if this inequality could be resolved, there would be no further animosity. Indeed, he was convinced that, like himself, most Americans were loyal to the British Crown and were only being driven to disobedience by agitators in America and thoughtless policies on the part of the Parliament in London. In 1774 he had sufficient prominence and popularity to be chosen as a member of the Continental Congress (or Philadelphia Congress) which had no validity as far as the British were concerned but which would be the primary governing body of the colonies during the War for Independence.
Unfortunately for Galloway, Massachusetts enacted an anti-British boycott one month before his proposal came up for a vote which was a boon for the radicals and put moderates such as himself at a clear disadvantage. Nonetheless, in October of 1774, when his plan was voted on, it was defeated only by a single vote with five in favor and six opposed. Worse still, the radicals were worried that this would display a lack of resolve on their part in dealing with the British and so it was agreed that his proposal and the very narrow vote on it, be stricken from the record. Understandably outraged by this, and seeing little hope for a compromise, Galloway left Congress and made his plan public himself the following year. He could see that there would only be two choices allowed to any American colonist; to support the King or to support total independence and, forced to choose, he would take the side of the King. His objections to British tax policy and trade regulations was not so great as his fundamental loyalty to the hereditary monarch of his nation. In late 1776, early 1777 he joined General Howe and the British army in the campaign to take Philadelphia. Once accomplished, he was made chief of police and head of civil affairs, earning praise for his administrative talents and his organization of loyalist militia forces.
When the war ended in defeat for the Crown forces, Galloway settled down to a quiet life in England, devoting himself to religious study and literary pursuits until his death in 1803. His plan has mostly been forgotten today but it is notable that something similar would ultimately become quite common within the British Empire as the colonies of Canada and Australia united to become self-governing dominions in due time. Would his plan have worked? It would certainly have worked in keeping the English-speaking peoples united but as we can see across the British Commonwealth today, may well have fallen victim to the liberal laxity which has affected so many others. Yet, the retention of the American colonies within the British Empire may well have brought about a dramatic change in world history in a myriad of ways one can only speculate about today. That, we can never know, but it remains true today that the view of Galloway, and the basis of his plan, that the people of one language and one nationality should be united, are still not without supporters even while so many push against the notion, just as they did in his own time.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Monarch Profile: King Reinaldo Frederico Gungunhana of Gaza
|Rough location of the "Empire of Gaza"|
Gungunhana was thus born into a tribal society constantly in conflict and was raised with the sole purpose of being a great tribal warrior in the image of his grandfather. When his grandfather died, his father, Mzila, his uncle Mawewe and another chief all fought for dominance over Gaza. Mawewe was victorious and Mzila, with his son presumably, was forced to flee to the Transvaal in what is now South Africa as Mawewe, to prevent any threat to his hold on power, did his best to massacre his brother’s family which was fairly typical for the time and place. This upsurge in violence caused the Portuguese to peg Mawewe as a troublemaker and they arranged an alliance with the President of the Orange Free State (one of the Boer republics) to eliminate this mutual threat. Chief Mawewe did his best to prove the Portuguese correct, sending them a demand for tribute from every Portuguese colonist at Lourenco Marques under threat of their total annihilation. The Portuguese governor, not being the sort to tolerate such threats and having a flair for the dramatic, sent Mawewe a single rifle cartridge with the notice that this would be the only tribute he would receive from the subjects of the King of Portugal. The fact that their earlier offer of friendship had been rejected, naturally, did not make the belligerent attitude of Mawewe go down any better with the Portuguese.
Gungunhana began to rise in prominence among the other children of his father during these years but as the decades went by, tensions began to rise too as warriors from Gaza attacked Portuguese colonists. New agreements were made and Mzila would offer apologies and expressions of friendship, but such attacks continued sporadically and bad feelings continued to fester. Around this time, as his reign was nearing its end, the “Scramble for Africa” was also starting to get underway. British rule in Africa was expanding rapidly and the Germans and Belgians were also arriving on the scene, eager to make agreements with native rulers for control of local resources. The Portuguese colonial authorities had to move to actually occupy the areas long claimed and to make sure none of the chieftains in these territories were wooed away by other powers.
After attacks on two Portuguese settlements, Mzila went to Lourenco Marques to make his apologies and again pledge his allegiance to the King in Lisbon. Although irritated by the attacks, the Portuguese gave Mzila a welcome full of pomp and ceremony as well as more tangible gifts such as rice, livestock and liquor. At his request, they also gave him a Portuguese flag to fly over his village. The Portuguese also sent an ambassador to his village shortly thereafter. However, not long after, in 1884, Mzila died. Gungunhana was not the heir to the throne but, again, in typical fashion, made war on his brothers and was successful in forcing the heir and other rivals for power to flee the country. By the end of the year he was firmly ensconced on the throne and took the name Gungunhana or “son of the lion”. With his authority covering 90,000 square kilometers of territory and over a million Africans, Gungunhana, at 34, undoubtedly felt at the top of his game. However, the encroachment of the British and the Germans in the area meant that Portugal had to have, not just treaties but an actual presence in every area under her flag, otherwise it would be seen as “fair game” to the more recently arrived European powers.
Gungunhana decided to move his capital farther to the south, to an area held by tribes that were less than friendly to his own (the Nguni) and this set off a series of conflicts and, again, some sporadic attacks on Portuguese colonists. One reason for this was the presence of some mines in this region which the Africans learned were highly prized by the Europeans and Gungunhana believed that if he could take undisputed control of this region, he could buy the support of the British in helping him divorce himself from the Portuguese. It did not help that at the same time the oldest alliance in the world was being tested with the British expansion into the interior of Africa between the Portuguese colonies in Angola and Mozambique. There were even threats of a naval blockade and relations between the British and Portuguese had scarcely ever been worse. The time for niceties was over and the Kingdom of Portugal had to get very serious or risk losing their territory. To oversee the occupation of Mozambique, Portugal dispatched the respected soldier Lt. Colonel (with brevet promotion to general) Joaquim Mouzinho de Albuquerque as governor.
|Battle of Marracuene|
Finally, that summer, Gungunhana refuses a last Portuguese ultimatum and threatens openly to ally himself with the British. This was effectively an outright declaration of war against Portugal. It does not go well for the Africans. At the Battle of Magul on September 7, 1895 a Portuguese column, having formed square, bloodily repulses a massive native attack with their superior firepower. Nearby villages were burned as the Portuguese army moved in. The Africans fighting at Magul, however, were not from Gaza as Gungunhana was still holding back, expecting the British to come fight on his behalf. He is even forced, eventually, to demobilize his army of 40,000 men as he simply could no longer feed them and the men needed to return home to see to their crops. He sends still more messages to the British in South Africa but, as usual, receives no reply. With no other native forces between his own and the Portuguese, Gungunhana became the focus of a direct attack by a heavily armed column of 600 Portuguese soldiers and 500 African colonial troops led by Colonel Eduardo Galhardo.
|Battle of Coolela|
|The capture of Gungunhana|
This, of course, does not happen and in the midst of a media frenzy the group is moved to a prison fortress where they are such a popular attraction that viewing stands are erected. Not long after they are moved to better accommodations and given their favorite foods, wine and medical care. Gungunhana repeatedly asked to meet with King Carlos, wishing to pledge his allegiance again but, though it is talked about, the King refuses to meet with him. The African chieftain was quickly becoming problematic for the government. Caring for them and the horde of spectators that gathered around them was expensive and while some in Portugal wished for nothing better than for Gungunhana to be shot as a faithless traitor, leftist agitators and enemies of the monarchy were also starting to champion his cause and condemn the pacification campaign as wanton cruelty. Finally, on June 22, 1896, the group was quietly shipped off to exile in the Azores.
|The exiled king and his seven wives|
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