The Kingdom of The Netherlands has a new sovereign. The Mad Monarchist sends congratulations to the new royal couple; Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander I and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands as well as congratulations to a job well done and best wishes for a happy retirement to now Princess Beatrix and, of course, all our best to all the people of The Netherlands, the ABC islands and all loyal Dutch people around the world. Long live the King!
And while I admit, I think it's atrocious, if one is so inclined, join in singing the "King's Song". It wouldn't have been my choice but it's the choice that was made...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013
King Edward IV: It would be hard for anyone not to admire Edward IV. He was a tall, handsome man, a smart dresser, a veteran warrior, an able administrator and a good businessman. He was adept enough on the battlefield and at winning support that he won the crown for himself, then took it back once it was lost and he managed to win the support of Parliament. He was though a horrible womanizer and that would ultimately cause him some problems. His constant affairs with married women as often as single ones makes it hard to have a completely positive opinion of the man. He was certainly very good at his “job” but his private life left much to be desired. His secret marriage to the widow of a Lancastrian brought new intrigues and stopped a reconciliation effort with France. Still, as far as the House of York is concerned, Edward IV was nothing if not thorough, seeing the Lancastrians almost completely wiped out with the exception of Henry Tudor who was out of the country anyway. He collected a large library and was still trying to take to the field up to his death.
King Edward V: I cannot have much of an opinion on Edward V as the poor boy barely had a chance. He was only nominally the king for a few months and, I have noticed, many lists of English monarchs omit him entirely. A coronation was planned but was repeatedly put off until the boy was deposed and presumably murdered.
King Richard III: Many people have asked my opinion of Richard III and seemed surprised that I don’t have more to say. He certainly wasn’t successful, spending his reign fighting rebellions against him by both friend and foe alike. As for his guilt or innocence in the murder of Edward V, there may not be enough hard evidence to hold up in a modern court but the circumstantial evidence is fairly overwhelming. No matter how kind one tries to be, Richard III will usually come off looking pretty villainous no matter how you cut it. He certainly had some talent and early in his life was fairly well regarded but he was also undoubtedly vindictive yet it is also true that he had enemies ranging themselves against him before he ever came to power and that would tend to make one rather peevish. I give him credit for going down fighting but it just doesn’t seem that there is much to recommend the man.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
Not long after the full extent of the explosion and the terrible loss of life and property became known all around the world, reports came in that assistance was being sent to the area from, of all places, that former corner of the Hapsburg lands currently known as the Czech Republic. The Czech Ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovic, was quick to visit the area and the Foreign Ministry has said that it plans to donate four million koruna (or about $200,000) to the small Texas town to aid in local recovery. Obviously, this is a much greater amount in the Czech Republic than it is in Texas, but the amount is not the point. The point is that even in the midst of considerable economic troubles of their own, the Czech people are extending a helping hand to their brothers and sisters in the Lone Star State in their time of need. Czech flags still dot the central Texas countryside and the small town of West is made up predominately of the descendants of settlers from Bohemia and Moravia who immigrated in the late 1800's. That was, at the time of course, part of the "Dual-Monarchy" of Austria-Hungary and it reminds me of the more distant history of Texas when both Texas and the Czech lands were both under the reign of a Hapsburg monarch.
My primary point here though is simply to express my thanks to the Czech people for their generosity and compassion on this occasion as well as my admiration for the Czech people in looking out for each other even over such a large span of both time and area. It speaks well for them and I would hope would serve as an example to other peoples to show solidarity with those of their blood when in difficult times. It speaks well for them indeed and from one Texan to the Czech people back in their homeland; thank you.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
King Henry IV: The House of Lancaster came to power with Henry IV, shortly before the deposed Richard II was starved to death. He spent most of his reign putting down rebellions but does have the distinction of being the only English king to entertain a visiting Byzantine Emperor. Like Shakespeare, I cannot help but view his many misfortunes as divine punishment for usurping the throne of Richard II. Still, Henry IV was an accomplished soldier and he always managed to prove equal to the tasks that confronted him. He really was a decisive, brave and talented monarch, attentive to religion and the Church and he defeated all of his enemies as they appeared but he seemed perpetually unlucky, plagued by constant civil unrest and terribly poor health, leading to his demise at a relatively young age.
King Henry V: With the second Lancastrian monarch, we have again another top contender for the list of greatest English kings of all time. To say he displayed heroic courage doesn’t begin to describe it. As a very young man he fought his first battle, carrying on until victory was won despite having been shot in the face with an arrow. He proved a capable administrator, he appreciated the necessity of a strong economy as a matter of national security and he was a very devoted son of the Church, dispatching heretics with the same zeal as he showed dispatching Frenchmen. And, that, of course, is what he is most famous for, renewing the Hundred Years War and invading France. As a battlefield commander, Henry V was second to none and his string of victories were hard fought, spectacular achievements. It is impossible for me to think of Henry V without the stirring words of Shakespeare ringing in my head. Most astounding was his great victory at Agincourt where, despite having every disadvantage, his longbows decimated the charging French knights, dealing a blow to the French nobility that was truly devastating. I fail to see how anyone with an ounce of English blood in their veins cannot experience a surge of pride when thinking about King Henry V on the field of Agincourt. He conquered Normandy, making a victorious peace and forcing the French king to recognize him as his heir. His reign was an unbroken string of masterful successes gallantly won.
King Henry VI: Another monarch with an impossibly tough act to follow, Henry VI is not often thought well of but I have a bit of a soft spot for the poor man. Only nine months old when he inherited the crown, he remains the youngest monarch to ever sit on the throne of England. During his reign most of the gains of his father were taken back, in large part due to a certain French girl from Domremy. Even when he was older his reign was not successful with reverses in France and the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses at home, but I cannot have a very negative opinion of King Henry VI. He simply lacked the personality to meet the crisis at hand, being the shy and compassionate sort. But he should not be criticized too much for these qualities. He founded Eton and King’s College but was not up to the task of dealing with disasters abroad and a continuously feuding court. The disasters were not his fault, he simply inherited them. He was also a very good man, very religious, devoutly so, generous to those around him and it says something that he has been accused of being both saintly and insane.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Another often cited reason is that, aside from the various leaders making the apologies, “the Japanese” themselves, “don’t really mean it”. This is where we start encountering hysteria. Yes, they actually claim to know what everyone in a given country is *thinking*! It sounds absurd, but no less so than the “evidence” cited for this. They point to the bombastic talk of the (miniscule) radical fringe or, more frequently, visits by state officials to the Yasukuni Shrine. This one really, really annoys me. One would think, from listening to the complaints from her republican neighbors, that Japan built the Yasukuni Shrine specifically to venerate war criminals. It is simply untrue as anyone should be able to see if they give it more than a mere second of serious thought. In the first place, I would object to any foreign country, government or even individual granting themselves power to decide where others can, in western terms, go to church. The spiritual beliefs and religious practices of Japanese prime ministers or any individual is the business of no one but themselves and that should be the end of it. In the case of Japan, however, it certainly is not and countries (like the bandit government in Peking) who pride themselves on their supposed non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries take a great interest in it.
This does, however, point to another glaring inconsistency in the argument of the critics of Japan who like to seize on the visits by certain politicians to Yasukuni Shrine. Remember that many of these same critics say that no apology from any prime minister will be good enough, because they are not the head of state but that only an apology from HM the Emperor will do. Well, no reigning Emperor has ever visited Yasukuni Shrine since World War II. Why is it that a prime minister is too insignificant when making an apology but is suddenly extremely significant when he visits Yasukuni Shrine? However, as has been displayed numerous times, it does not take even so lofty a personage as the prime minister to set the critical lips to flapping. Certain prime ministers have practically begged all government officials not to visit the shrine but, Japan being a free country, anyone has a right to and all it takes is one minor functionary to enter Yasukuni Shrine for the apology brigade to fly into a foaming frenzy. It a perfect issue for them because, so long as freedom of worship exists in Japan, the government cannot stop people from visiting the shrine and so they have a natural spring for outrage that will never run dry and which can always be turned to at the necessary time.
The ritual was performed again only recently (I saw it Monday, which set me off) when no less a figure than the Foreign Minister of the PRC criticized the Japanese government because a few officials had gone to the Yasukuni Shrine and because Prime Minister Abe donated some money to the shrine. She said that things would never be normal until Japan “faced up” to its history of aggression. This is so disgustingly infuriating, especially when being espoused in self-righteous tones by a member of the same political party whose dictatorship has cost the lives of tens of millions of people (more than all Japanese “war criminals” combined in fact, even if going by the astronomical numbers the Chinese themselves cite). The “great” thing about saying Japan has to “face up” to its past actions is that no one can measure such a vague demand. No one can ever say when that has been accomplished. In other words, no matter what Japan does, the PRC can still say it isn’t enough. And, of course, it never will be enough because it is far too useful to the bandit government in Peking to use as a tool of distraction, as a way of rallying national unity behind the dictatorship and to isolate Japan on the world stage by portraying them as the perpetual villains and China as the perpetual victim. Yes, according to the Red Chinese, the country that actually has it written into their constitution that they can never go to war, is the bully and the country with an army of millions, the largest air force on earth and a huge nuclear arsenal is the innocent, put upon victim. Rich. And so the lies go on. In the same broadcast I watched on CCTV they actually said that Yasukuni Shrine was a place that honored war criminals -and I’m sure plenty of morons out there in TV zombie-land believed them.
The disgusting double-standard toward Japan on the part of her republican neighbors has to stop. The only thing more infuriating is the disgustingly large number of people who go along with such a transparent work of manipulation! Japan needs to stop apologizing, stop trying to appease and become a strong, independent country again with a healthy national pride. And there are a number of other countries in Europe and North America in particular that could stand to do the same. An apology never solved anything and no amount of money can ever undo what has already been done. Putting aside the complex situation prior to the war, all generations since the war have done nothing to anyone. They have been as peaceful as lambs and it is wrong to continue to vilify people and force them to pay for the actions of others. Personally, I never understood what good comes from an apology anyway. Japan should stand up for itself, stop offering apologies that are never going to be accepted and move forward. If the communists cannot get over the past, that is their problem and no one else’s. I am sick of the bullying that successful countries put up with from backward and savage regimes, I’m sick of the internal nitpicking and self-loathing that has crippled so many once proud nations and I am a very … Mad Monarchist.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Monday, April 22, 2013
King Henry III: After the disastrous reign of King John, a recovery was called for but Henry III would not be the monarch to lead it. He was not as bad as his predecessor it is true, but he wasn’t much to write home about either. His efforts to centralize power alienated the nobles, the country was awash with mostly French exiles looking to make a quick buck and Henry III had little luck on the battlefield and ended up renouncing vast territories in France. Defeated at home by Simon de Montfort, Henry had the shame of seeing the first parliament called during his reign by the man who had bested him. Today that means Simon de Montfort is a celebrated forefather of representative government but it mostly makes me annoyed with Henry III for being unable to stop him and allowing things to get to that point. He did finally escape rebel clutches and led the royalist forces to victory, which I give him credit for, but he died not long after, not a terrible king but far from successful.
King Edward I: Now we are getting back on the right track. Scotland may still hate his guts (and they should) but Edward I was one of the greatest English kings ever. He was a brave man, a shrewd statesman, a clever military commander and just an overall inspiring figure. He improved the law code so much that he became known as the “English Justinian”, conquered Wales and subdued Scotland. When William Wallace led the Scots in revolt, Edward I crushed them and had the troublesome Scot executed. That will always make him controversial, as does his expulsion of the Jews from England (Oliver Cromwell let them back in) but from the point of view of England alone, Edward I was everything one could hope for in a monarch. Harshness in his direction regarding Scotland should be tempered by the fact that his initial involvement came at the request of the Scots themselves (again, always a bad idea) and when it came to the basic things that kings of his time were expected to do; be strong, provide decisive leadership, win victory on the battlefield, expand the kingdom and secure the succession, he did them all. He was awesome.
King Edward II: Perhaps the only thing England can fault Edward I with was fathering so lackluster a monarch as Edward II. Thankfully, his reign was merely an unfortunate interval between two of the best kings the Plantaganets had to offer. What can be said of Eddie the second? I’ll admit it is tempting to just say “colossal puff” and move on, but I tend to be suspicious of gossip be it contemporary or of Medieval vintage. He lacked all of the drive, ambition and strength of his father, seemed to care little for anything other than parties, sports and his friends. The Scots gave him a sound thrashing, undoing the victories of his father, then suffered the indignity of being defeated by his own rebellious nobles. In the end, he was brought down by his formidable wife, Queen Isabella of France, who was a much more fascinating character than her husband. Advised to abdicate, Edward II predictably cried and then did the best thing of his reign and handed the crown over to his son.
King Edward III: After the embarrassing reign of his father, Edward III was just what the doctor ordered and one of my favorite English monarchs of all time. King Edward III was like a force of nature, he started the Hundred Years War by laying claim to the French throne, led his knights into victory after victory, defeating French forces far larger than his own and even taking the French king, Jean II, prisoner. He may not have been the best administrator but his victories make up for it. His success on the battlefield was so total and so brilliant that the English army came to be seen as the premier military force of the time. He also made English the official language at court for the first time, created the Most Noble Order of the Garter and was the one who divided Parliament into the two houses of commons and peers. He had the misfortune to reign during the Black Death and were it not for that his achievements might have been greater still. Contemporaries hailed him as the greatest monarch since King Arthur and with good reason. Even if he had done nothing else, the battle of Crecy alone would warrant him being considered one of the greatest of English kings and that was one victory among many. In every way one could measure a great Medieval monarch, Edward III more than measures up.
King Richard II: Perhaps no other English king had a tougher act to follow than Richard II and it is inevitable that he fails to measure up to the lofty standard set by his father. He is blamed for being a bad ruler and even for setting the stage for the disastrous Wars of the Roses but I tend to be a little less harsh toward Richard II than most people. He won early credit with me for his courage in standing up to the Peasant’s Revolt even though he was practically a boy at the time but he dealt with those rebels solidly enough. Still, he was not very adept at keeping calm and unity in the kingdom and has been accused of tyranny then as now. However, my impression is that it is not so much what King Richard II did but how he did it that proved to be his downfall. He was not a “people person”, he bided his time, built a considerable private army (wearing a white heart as a badge, I remember that) and then struck back at his enemies after most had come to see him as a pleasure-loving weakling. Still, Richard II will probably always be remembered as a schemer rather than a leader and he was finally abandoned by most of his men and defeated.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
The Mad Monarchist wishes HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and etc a very happy birthday today, which happily is on a date which ensures someone from my part of the world will never forget it. May Her Majesty enjoy many more. God Save the Queen!
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Elsewhere on the continent, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg celebrated his 58th birthday this week, though there was little actual time for it as the Grand Ducal couple have been on a busy state visit to the illegitimate Austrian republic, talking culture, encouraging business and economic ties and mentioning the long history between Luxembourg and Austria. The same Tuesday, the Grand Ducal couple's youngest, Prince Sebastien, also turned 21. We send our congratulations to them both. In the Netherlands, republican traitors have been calling for their soon-to-be King Willem-Alexander to take a pay cut. I can only wonder how anyone would take anything they say seriously. When your stated goal is to end the monarchy entirely, how can you have an objective opinion on anything royal-related? However, it seems the monarch to be is not entirely without taint by the republican mentality himself. In a recent interview the Prince of Orange said that when he is King he will not be addressed as "Your Majesty" and has promised a more informal monarchy and indicated that he will be a "hands-off" monarch who sticks to a ceremonial role and will not be as involved in government as HM Queen Beatrix. And if he thinks that will make a difference I'm not going to try to argue with him.
On the Scandinavian front, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway have been enjoying a ski vacation with their little family. The King and Queen of Sweden had a busy week of receptions, visits and audiences. Prince Carl Philip opened a new Neonatal Couplet Care Unit and Prince Daniel visited the "belly of the beast" at the European Union in Brussels. And, in Denmark, our beloved Daisy celebrated her birthday this week. On Tuesday HM Queen Margrethe II turned 73-years old though most of the crowd below the palace balcony thought that the royal grandchildren stole the show, winning a great deal of cheers and applause from the public. The great affection Danes have for their Queen and the oldest monarchy in Europe is a testament to how HM Margrethe II and her family have handled themselves over the years, the great job they have done and the integrity they have always displayed. The presence of so many grandchildren also presents a hopeful future for the oldest European monarchy which seems as popular and secure as any on the continent. We wish the Queen a happy birthday, congratulations on a remarkable reign and a fervent hope that she may reign over Denmark for many more years to come.
In Great Britain, the Duke of Kent made his first public appearance on Sunday since suffering a stroke. As part of Regimental Remembrance Day the Duke paraded with the Scots Guards down London's Mall. The Duke of Kent, a 1955 graduate of Sandhurst with over two decades of military service, is colonel of the Scots Guards. Of course, a more solemn occasion was the funeral for the late former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. HM the Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh attended the event, carried out with great dignity at St Paul's Cathedral. For some reason, someone also thought it would be okay to invite the Duchess of York and, of course, the cameras did not fail to catch her being embarrassing. It was also announced this week that Prince Edward will be in Nashville, Tennessee next month for the presentation of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Prince Edward and Countess Sophie will also be attending the upcoming wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden, representing the British monarchy. In a new twist on an old story, it was announced this week that adventurous Prince Harry will be taking part in a race to the South Pole. As before, it will be in the company of wounded British servicemen and women and will benefit their cause. We wish them all the best in the enterprise (and hope they don't freeze to death).
Finally, in the Far East, some stunning news out of Japan. HIH Crown Princess Masako is set to make her first official overseas visit in almost eleven years in order to attend, along with HIH Crown Prince Naruhito of course, the inauguration of the new King of the Netherlands. The last overseas visit by the Imperial Crown Prince and Princess was in August of 2002 when TIH visited Australia and New Zealand. They are good friends with the Dutch Royal Family and HM Queen Beatrix invited the couple to The Netherlands on a private retreat in 2006, two years after HIH the Crown Princess was diagnosed with what has been termed an "adjustment disorder". In all subsequent overseas royal engagements HIH the Crown Prince has represented Japan and HM the Emperor on his own. This may indicate a sudden improvement in the Crown Princess' condition as, in 2009, the Crown Prince spoke of his wife's condition saying that, "It is necessary to make a cautious decision looking at travel distances, the period of stay and the events to attend". There was also a surprising but touching sight in Tokyo this week when TM the Emperor and Empress danced together in public for the first time in 20 years at a charitable gathering. TM remain as handsome a couple as ever.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Although he may not have been what the world would consider a “successful” monarch, I have always had a soft spot for the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I. He was, undoubtedly, handicapped but probably not so disabled as most people think and he was a very kind man, a devoutly religious man and a monarch who did the best he could for as long as he could. He was born on April 19, 1793, the first son of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II and his consort Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily. Unfortunately, because the two were so closely related (being double first cousins), Ferdinand was born with some severe disabilities. The Emperor was overjoyed with the birth of his little boy, looking with his heart rather than his head, and hurriedly announced the arrival of a “healthy” baby which was certainly not the case. Medical staff had to work hard to keep him alive and it was evident from his unusually large head that he had severe problems. Among his ailments were water on the brain, soft bones and severe epilepsy, causing him to have as many as twenty seizures a day. There were also other neurological problems that became evident as he grew older. He was, for example, very slow in learning to talk and when he did, suffered from a considerable speech impediment.
His health was always fragile and, unlike most Hapsburg heirs, his formative years were spent only with feminine attendants, being six years old before he was given a male tutor. Because of his disabilities, learning was difficult but not impossible, though it often seemed his education was not appropriate to his position. Still, he enjoyed studying heraldry and was fascinated with new technologies and farming. His mother had always kept him rather hidden from public view but things changed following her death (when Ferdinand was only 14) when he was given a new stepmother in the person of Maria Ludovika of Modena. She dismissed his old tutors, considering their regimen unhealthy, and appointed a new staff that would push him toward a more “normal” life. He became more independent, was taught how to read and write, how to ride a horse, to dance, fence and was even given piano lessons. He enjoyed drawing and the Empress encouraged this but after a problem with his tutor, his education was declared sufficient and he was moved on to study military theory, science and the like. Despite being handicapped, he kept a regular diary and was capable of making good sense, even becoming known for his sharp eye and witty remarks. By the time he was 36-years old in 1829 he was sitting in on State Council meetings to prepare him for his future role as emperor.
The following year, in 1830, at the insistence of his father, the heir was formally crowned King Ferdinand V of Hungary on September 28 in Pressburg (modern-day Bratislava). The Hungarian elite presented him with a gift of 50,000 ducats which he donated to the poor of Hungary. As this marked Ferdinand coming more into his own, it was necessary for him to marry and, as usual for the time, the Imperial Family and government took up the matter with Ferdinand having little say. The choice they agreed on was Princess Maria Anna of Savoy, daughter of King Victor Emanuel I. Obviously, the disabled crown prince was not the sort of man a young girl dreams of marrying and the Italian princess reportedly burst into tears when told of her fate. However, with the selfless dedication of so many daughters of her house, she carried on and did her duty. The two were married and, happily, became a touchingly devoted couple. Despite his repeated best efforts, Ferdinand’s seizures made it impossible for him to ever consummate their marriage but he loved his wife and she took great care of her rather infirm husband throughout his life with never a word of complaint. She looked beyond his disabilities to see the sweet natured, good man underneath. Of course, not everyone displayed such a Christian attitude and not long after the crown prince narrowly survived an assassination attempt in 1832, an occupational hazard the House of Hapsburg was all too familiar with. The good nature of Ferdinand was displayed again at his wedding when he donated his wedding gifts to build a new waterworks for the city of Vienna.
On March 2, 1835 Emperor Francis passed away and his son succeeded him as Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria, as well as, of course, King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and King of Lombardy-Venetia among his long list of titles. Emperor Ferdinand was, in fact, the last to be crowned King of Bohemia and the last to be crowned with the sacred Iron Crown of Lombardy (he would be crowned King of Lombardy-Venetia in 1838 and crowned King of Bohemia with the Crown of St Wenceslas in 1836). Obviously, because of his disabilities, public appearances could be problematic and the new Emperor needed a great deal of assistance in governing the Austrian Empire. Because of that, the effective running of the multi-nation state was left to a three-man regency council led by the veteran statesman Prince Metternich. However, it must be remembered (though all too often it is not) that Emperor Ferdinand was never declared to be incapacitated, he was able to perform many physical activities from riding to fencing to shooting, was conversant in five languages and could play two musical instruments. The idea that he was some sort of mental vegetable is completely untrue and unfounded.
It was during the reign of Emperor Ferdinand that industrialization took off with great speed in the Austrian Empire and his time on the throne was particularly known for the boom in railroad construction. He also saw the establishment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Emperor took a great interest in all of these areas. It is also untrue that, despite the popular perception, Emperor Ferdinand I never had to deal with any major problems and folded at the first crisis to come along. There was, for example, a rebellion in Poland in 1846 which was put down by Austrian troops and paved the way for the annexation of Cracow to the Austrian Empire. However, undoubtedly, Emperor Ferdinand was a peaceful man who preferred compassion to military confrontation. Some felt he was often too kind such as when, in the aftermath of his coronation as King of Lombardy-Venetia, he granted a general amnesty that released many Italian nationalists and revolutionaries who would continue on with their goal to see the Austrians driven out of Italy. Still, his disabilities, while they should not be exaggerated, certainly cannot be ignored. It is, however, unfortunate that all many people seem to remember about Emperor Ferdinand is the story of his supposedly only coherent command being, “I am the Emperor and I want dumplings!”
Emperor Ferdinand was not helpless nor an imbecile as he is so often portrayed. In fact, he should be credited for having the intelligence to know his own limitations and those limitations were reached with the outbreak of the Revolutions of 1848. In seemed to take no time at all for nearly the whole of Europe to be thrown into rebellion and turmoil. It was a monumental crisis and Emperor Ferdinand realized as much as anyone that he was simply not up to the job. Even the formidable Prince Metternich fled the country as riots broke out in Vienna. When viewing the mob from a palace window, the benign and somewhat perplexed Emperor turned to an attendant to ask, “But, are they allowed to do that?” The Imperial court was forced to leave Vienna for the safety of Innsbruck and there began to plan the counter-revolution to take back the capital and restore order to the empire. To command this campaign, a younger, healthy monarch was needed and Archduchess Sophie, a formidable woman without question, was quick to point to her son Francis Joseph (her husband being both less capable and less willing to assume the throne). Emperor Ferdinand could easily see that this was the best course of action, he had the advice of the able statesman Prince Felix von Schwarzenberg, and abdicated in favor of his nephew, handing power over to him and pledging his own allegiance.
When the 18-year old new monarch thanked his former emperor, Ferdinand replied, “Don’t mention it, Franzl, it was a real pleasure”. During his reign (especially in Bohemia) he had been known as “Ferdinand the Good” but after his abdication the wittier members of the rebellious mob dubbed him “Goodinand the Finished”. No doubt they were less glib after a taste of the determination of the new monarch and the fire of marshals Radetzky and Windisch-Graetz. For his part, Emperor Ferdinand, who referred to his change in status as a ‘transfer of government’ rather than an abdication, retired with his beloved wife to Prague Castle. He and his wife devoted much time to the Church, both being devoutly religious people, and (to the surprise of the misinformed) he actually showed himself to be a quite competent businessman, dealing in local Bohemian goods, increasing the trade and profits of the region, in the process amassing a considerable fortune for himself which made up much of the wealth of Emperor Francis Joseph following the death of his uncle. Emperor Ferdinand I died in Prague on June 29, 1875 at the age of 82 and was buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna with his predecessors.
It is unfortunate that all too often Emperor Ferdinand I is remembered only for odd sayings and portrayed as someone who barely comprehended the world around him. He is the sort, rare though such cases are, upheld by revolutionaries as an example of the “danger” of monarchy and hereditary authority. The truth, of course, is that Emperor Ferdinand, while certainly disabled (through no fault of his own) was much more capable than he is usually given credit for. He was a good man, a devoted husband and a faithful and pious son of the Church. Slightly slow, perhaps, but still more intelligent than a great many perfectly healthy people and he was a man who knew his own limitations. His abdication (or “transfer of government”) was based on his sense of duty to the Austrian Empire and that sense of duty had guided his life. Despite his limitations, he worked hard to do the best job he could for his countries and all his peoples. Far from being an example of the “danger” of monarchy, the case of Emperor Ferdinand shows that just because a monarch is handicapped, things do not fall apart. The outbreak of revolution in Austria cannot be attributed to his disabilities as such unrest broke out in France and Germany with perfectly healthy rulers. When it was realized that he was not up to the challenge, Ferdinand I accepted that the best thing for his house and his empire was to step down in favor of another. It was all handled “in house”, quickly, smoothly and to the benefit of all. That is how Emperor Ferdinand should be remembered; as a good, faithful man and monarch who persisted in spite of adversity to do the best for his empire.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
King Henry II: Today, especially among Church circles, Henry II has a pretty bad reputation because of the Becket affair and that is certainly legitimate. However, I cannot have a low opinion of Henry II. He made his mistakes, sure, with most pointing to the fate of poor Becket and his invasion of Ireland. However, his Irish invasion came at local request (bad move there) and as for Becket, he didn’t actually order the murder and he did some considerable penance afterwards, something which it is impossible to imagine any modern national leader lowering themselves to do. Taken as a whole though, he was an extremely successful monarch who forged an Angevin empire that made England the most powerful country in Western Europe at the time. During the height of his reign all of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and western France (if not more) were either directly or indirectly under his control. No small achievement that.
King Richard I: Richard the Lionhearted is one of those traditional heroes it is popular to downplay these days. Yes, he spoke French almost exclusively, yes he spent most of his reign outside of England, but the popular image of Richard I is just too good to pass up. I cling to that image because it is so compelling and have no time for the naysayers, even if they have some facts on their side (pesky, annoying things). As a crusader, he didn’t manage to retake Jerusalem but considering the odds against him, Richard did very well and the mutual respect he and Saladin had for each other may have become legendary but it is backed up by actual history. His main failing was in being too kind and indulgent with his brother John, but it is hard to fault him too much for that. Riding into the thick of the fight, swinging his Danish battle axe it is easy to see why he became such an iconic, chivalrous figure. He did regain some of the Holy Land for Christendom, undid much of the damage that was done in his absence and died in battle, again, a great way for such a famous warrior-king to go. I cannot dislike Richard I, I’m all for him.
King John: England has been fortunate in having mostly good to great monarchs but, every now and then, just to keep the English humble, a King John comes along. Despite my best efforts over the years to find a bright side, he really was pretty much as bad as his reputation attests. He betrayed his own family, conspired with the King of France, failed at doing wrong as much as doing right (if he ever tried), brought down excommunication on himself from Pope Innocent III (who was not the tolerant sort) and ended up turning the nobility of England against him. Failing again, as usual, he was forced to sign the Magna Carta so even for fans of the “Great Charter” King John cannot be given much credit for it since it was done basically under duress. He was not bad at administration but even there his tendency to micromanage won him few friends. By the time all was said and done no one respected him and worse no one could trust him. I have to go with the crowd on this one; King John was just not good.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
King William I: Surprisingly, I often find myself having a higher opinion of William the Conqueror than most Englishmen, I assume because of nostalgia for Saxon England, but I tend to at least entertain the possibility that he may have been the chosen heir as he claimed, he did have the full blessing of Pope Alexander II (which mattered back then) and it wasn’t all cakes and ale in Saxon England before the Norman conquest of 1066. He seems to have been a very talented warrior, not the most upright or likeable guy in the world, but his harshness in England was provoked rather than planned. I think he would have preferred to have everyone cooperate with him but when anyone did not -they were destroyed totally. He was a harsh man who lived in harsh times, sure not to ever be a favorite, he was capable and died in battle which is usually good for a king to do.
King William II: I think better of his father than I do of “Rufus” who was still at least competent, seemed well liked by his soldiers (which was very important in those days) but whereas his father took religion seriously (even if he didn’t always live it) and enacted beneficial reforms, the court of William II was reportedly a little on the licentious side and he didn’t have much time for the Church. That does not endear me to him, nor his reputation for being heavy on the flash but light on the substance. He did not marry and never had any children which English monarchs often seem to be applauded for but which I tend to take as a dereliction of one of the most basic royal duties. I remember he died in a hunting accident (if I’m not mistaken) which might not have been entirely accidental.
King Henry I: No very strong feelings are stirred in me by Henry I. His reign, as I recall, was dominated with reconquering Normandy and the “investiture dispute” with the Catholic Church. In the final settlement he sacrificed form in favor of substance so that it was still basically the King who picked the bishops and opinion of him will be divided over whether or not one thinks that was a good thing. Personally, when it comes to choosing bishops I have not been impressed with the record of royals or popes. King Henry I doesn’t stand out much to me but sometimes some of the best monarchs are those who seem unimportant simply because they were so good at keeping the peace and maintaining calm and contented countries.
King Stephen: King Stephen “of Blah” as I like to call him, spent his reign locked in battle with Empress Matilda for control of England and he suffers in my view simply from being a less interesting character than his archrival. He stopped a Scottish invasion by negotiation rather than victory and based on how troubled his reign was King Stephen doesn’t seem to have been terribly strong or effective as a national leader. His buying off of enemies and lavish lifestyle laid the foundation for some financial problems and accompanying discontent which certainly did him no favors. About the best I can say about him was that things could have been worse and most of his rule seems to be a succession of minimizing disasters as much as possible.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
We are told that it was not just that the King might have shot an elephant but that he was vacationing while Spain is in the grip of a disastrous economic crisis and is faced with “harsh” austerity measures. Sorry, I don’t buy it. His Catholic Majesty’s little hunting trip did not cost the Spanish taxpayers a single euro and I see no reason why the King should suffer for the poor economy caused by the idiotic politicians that the Spanish public voted into office. It was the people, not the King, who voted for the men who spent money Spain did not have and it was they who kept voting for more spending, more borrowing and on and on until doubts began to surface about the ability of Spain to make good on such a vast debt. Then came the scandal involving the King’s son-in-law and lately the Infanta Cristina which is almost as ridiculous. Overnight it seemed that Spain became a completely different country. A public that once adored their monarch for giving them democracy suddenly became angry and demanded apologies (which they got). How about every Spaniard who voted for the last couple of decades apologize to the King for ruining his country and to their children (the few that have any) for sacrificing their future for their own immediate comfort?
The basic proposition, in so many words, was that the Crown Princess is just not up to the “job” of being Crown Princess or, one day, Empress consort. If she is unable, is it perhaps best for her to make room for someone who can? That is where the idea of abdication comes in. Yamaori suggests that the time is at hand for the Crown Prince to make a choice and perhaps the best choice for his wife and daughter would be to renounce their positions in favor of his younger brother and sister-in-law whose son, according to the current rules of succession, is set to become Emperor of Japan in the future anyway. I have to admit, as much as I dislike abdications in general, this seemed to make some sense to me. The ardent fans of Crown Princess Masako may take it as a slight against her, but it certainly is not as far as I am concerned. She seems like a very kind and lovely woman and I have nothing but the fondest feelings for her. However, I have been annoyed by the way some people have seized on her case as a way of being critical of the monarchy, as though she is the poor, suffering victim of “the establishment” in much the same way that some did regarding Lady Diana in the UK. If they still held such a view, would it not be best to free her from her gilded cage? Personally, I do not take such a view, nor have I ever viewed the Imperial Household Agency as the bogey man that so many others seem to. However, it does seem fairly clear that Crown Princess Masako is simply not up to the task of fulfilling her duties. This little hiatus has been going on for a decade now.
Feel free to share your thoughts; to abdicate or not to abdicate -that is the question.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The following was contributed by the Alberta Monarchist
The current problem with the Canadian government is that it is afflicted with too much democracy, which has been described so well as mob rule. Just like in any other Westminster system of government, the prime minister of this country has far too much power, having usurped the Crown's authority to appoint and dismiss the Governor General, the provincial Lieutenant Governor's, federal judges and senators in addition to his total dominance of the House of Commons. Likewise the premiers too have usurped the Crowns powers at the provincial level, all of which serves to create in effect, a democratic dictatorship.
Therefore the solution to this problem as I see it is to abandon the failed unworkable theories of popular sovereignty, total separation of powers, and above all the delusion of universal human equality, and revert to the tried and tested methods of traditional, reactionary and monarchical government which history shows has worked time and again throughout the centuries.
Consequently as a matter of urgency our current monarch Queen Elizabeth II must be able to resume the Crown's traditional powers. Therefore Her Majesty should be able to appoint and dismiss government ministers including the prime minister; summon, prorogue, and dismiss parliament; and introduce legislation to, and amend, and veto legislation from that body. Since we are in personal union with Great Britain and the other Dominions, we cannot expect our sovereign to reside here on a regular basis, anymore than we can expect religious leaders like the pope, to always reside in countries where Catholicism is at least nominally, the majority religion. As the personal representative of our Sovereign, it is only logical that the Governor General should, unlike today, be appointed at the personal discretion of the monarch, to represent her in Canada, and exercise her powers; without any regard to the prime minister.
Likewise to ensure that our Queen and her representatives enjoy a degree of independence from the federal parliament and the provincial legislatures, the Crown should have the ability to collect, retain and vary up to certain level, the revenue from the various federal and provincial sales taxes, corporation tax, and the income from federal, and provincial crown lands, without parliament's consent; while additional taxation would still need the consent of parliament and the respective legislatures. This ensures the sovereign can remain financially independent of parliament, which by extension, also means the preservation of her own independence; thereby helping to avoid a repeat of parliamentary usurpation's of royal authority, while also serving as a check on any potential financial excesses by the Crown.
Furthermore to enjoy a certain degree of autonomy it seems reasonable to me that the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors should continue to be appointed for five year terms, but removable by the monarch or the Governor General respectively, following a three-fifths majority impeachment in the House of Lords. This ensures these royal representatives have a large degree of autonomy, to carry out their duties of directing the government within their respective sphere's of Her Majesty's Dominion, while the regular term limits help prevent such officials from serving for life; thereby preventing them from securing an independent power base from which to potentially challenge the authority of the crown they are supposed to serve.
Furthermore the Governor General should be able to exercise another traditional power of the Crown on behalf of Her Majesty, namely the right to appoint and dismiss the judges of the Supreme Court and any other federal court; although they too should enjoy a degree of independence by also being appointed for a five year term, with the Governor General empowered to remove them only by the method of impeachment. This would serve to avoid the error in the United States, where liberal Supreme Court Justices usurp power from the Constitution, to change and strike down laws at will, thereby wrecking havoc upon the federal and state governments; and serve in effect as unelected, unaccountable, and collective tinpot dictators for life. Likewise the Lieutenant Governors should also be able to exercise similar powers at the provincial level.
Similarly the Federal Parliament should be brought into alignment with the traditional model of the British Parliament, by comprising both a House of Commons and a House of Lords with each House having the ability to table, amend and veto a bill arising from the other House or from the monarch. This ensures that Bills are carefully vetted before becoming law, with the added benefit of keeping the number of laws on statute down to an absolute minimum. However the customary differences in powers between the two Houses should be preserved with finance bills needing either to originate in or be submitted by the Crown to the Commons first, while the Lords should enjoy the exclusive power to impeach members of either House, ministers of the Crown, the Governor-General, federal judges and senior members of the armed forces.
Unlike today, the House of Commons would resemble the current Senate, by comprising members appointed by, and representing the various provincial and territorial governments for seven year terms; thereby denying the prime minister the chance to control the House with his appointed lackeys. Likewise the size of each provincial or territorial representation in the House would be determined by its share of the general population, according to the once in a decade federal census. This would ensure that the Commons better achieves what the Senate fails miserably to do namely, ensure that the provinces and territories have a voice, and active participation in the federal legislative process; while a periodical distribution of seats to reflect trends like the growing population in Western Canada, ensures the provinces a much fairer distribution of seats, which is in complete contrast to the Senate where the number of provincial and territorial seats are fixed, ensuring that Western Canada is under-represented while Eastern Canada is grossly over-represented.
Likewise I believe in the necessity of a Canadian House of Lords as, by virtue of their autonomous nature, peers would play a vital role in the legislative process by being a more effective "second House of sober thought" then the Senate. This new House of Lords would comprise a fixed number of Lords, which avoids a repeat of the the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949. These Lords would in turn be divided into two kinds namely: the Lords Spiritual and the Lords Temporal. Of these the Lords Temporal would be the most dominant and be modeled on the traditional British representative peers, with each province and territory unlike the Commons; represented by an equal number of Lords Temporal, who would be elected for life from among the peerage of each respective province and territory. The minority Lords Spiritual on the other hand, would comprise an equal number of the senior clerics from Canada's largest churches, who would ensure their churches have a voice in the legislative process.
At the provincial level the government would be controlled by the Lieutenant-Governor, appointed at the discretion of the Governor-General, to weld the traditional prerogatives of the Crown in the province or territory where they reside, and to whom the premier and other provincial ministers would be accountable. However to maintain a degree of autonomy it only makes sense to me, that the Lieutenant-Governor's be allowed to retain the bulk of the exclusive provincial crown taxes for government expenses, before handing over the remainder to the Governor-General.
However the current democratic dictatorship in each province would end, with the single chambered provincial legislative assemblies replaced by two chambered legislatures, modeled after the Federal Parliament; comprised of a Chamber of Delegates and a Chamber of Peers, possessing equal legislative powers. Likewise the right to scrutinize finance bills first, would belong to the Chamber of Delegates, and the right of impeachment would belong to the Chamber of Peers.
Unlike the federal House of Commons and provincial legislatures of toady, the provincial Chamber of Delegates would comprise members elected by a three-class suffrage system, with constituencies represented by three MCD's (Member of the Chamber of Delegates) representing the working, middle and upper classes respectively, who would each have an equal proportion of seats in the chamber.
This is due to my observations to date, where I become convinced of the principle that urban dwellers in the towns and cities can always be counted on, to make crass liberal, pinko, commie decisions at voting time; while those who dwell in countryside can usually be counted on to cast much smarter choices at the ballot. Additionally while the working class are the most numerous of the three classes, it is the middle and upper classes who by virtue of their greater wealth, are more important to the country, as it is they who have the ability to create the jobs that are needed to help make the country prosper. It thus for these reasons that the urban middle and working classes, should not be allowed to bully the rural middle and upper classes, and hijack the national interest for their own selfish and irresponsible ends; but rather forced into cooperating with the other classes for greater good of the country, which is why I believe they should have an equal number of seats.
The Chamber of Peers in contrast would comprise a fixed number of Peers, divided again like the federal House of Lords into two groups, namely: the Spiritual Peers and the Temporal Peers; with the Temporal Peers being the most numerous. Unlike the House of Lords however, the Temporal Peers would comprise a fixed number of hereditary peers, whose descendants would inherit their seats according to the principle of male salic succession, except where a different mode of hereditary succession is provided for with the special exemption of the legislature. Like their counterparts in the House of Lords however, the minority Spiritual Peers would comprise the senior clerics from the largest denominations in the province. Periodically the peers of each province would assemble to elect from among their number, a Lord who would represent them and their province at the federal level.
In my opinion hereditary peers should have a role in the legislative process, because by virtue of their hereditary nature they have an independent power base, which frees them from the machinations of partisan politics and the party whip, allowing them to vote according to their conscience; and just like their sovereign peers undergo a lifetime of training in preparation for taking their seat in House, thereby making them far more qualified for their position, compared to a senate lackey of the prime minister who like him, usually have little or no prior government job experience. Again like their federal counterparts, spiritual peers should also be able to participate in the legislative affairs of their province, serving as a moral voice and influence on the proceedings on behalf of their respective denominations. However it is also because of role they provide that spiritual peers cease being such upon the end of their tenure as clergy, thereby making room for their successors.
Thus only in this manner I believe can the tyrannical democratic flaws in the current system be addressed, freeing the representatives of the Crown at the federal and provincial level to run the government, according to the best interests of the country and the provinces, without being subject to the fickle whim of public opinion; while their extensive powers would be kept in check by the required consent of both the federal parliament and the provincial legislatures for new laws and additional taxation, beyond those I have outlined that I believe, should lie within the exclusive domain of the Crown. Naturally many, including readers of this blog, would think this scheme crazy, but such is that lot of an ardent reactionary and is also why I am a member of the Mad Monarchist brain trust.