Monday, September 15, 2014

Scotland Vote, the Queen Speaks

As is seen in this article from the BBC, HM the Queen made her first public comments about the upcoming referendum in Scotland on pseudo-independence, saying that the Scots need to "think very carefully about the future". Previously there had been reports, the unconfirmed sort from 'anonymous sources' that the Queen was worried about the vote but the Queen herself had never spoken about the subject until now. It is very revealing to see how some people have responded to this with the usual suspects howling that the Queen, by this simple statement to a person in a crowd, had violated the policy of royal impartiality. They took this simple phrase as a ringing endorsement of the "Vote No" campaign. Think about that for a moment. The Queen said nothing at all about how anyone should vote, only that they should think carefully before doing so. By their reaction, the "Vote Yes" side has admitted that they are banking on people NOT thinking carefully before casting their vote for pseudo-independence. Of course, this should come as no surprise given how they campaigned for giving minors the right to vote, hoping that the voices of the young and ignorant would drown out those of the mature and experienced. Personally, I have no doubt that the Queen is hoping the vote will be "No" but she has certainly not taken a side in the issue. The fact that so many are taking this simple comment to be indicative of the Queen doing that shows both how they are counting on people voting emotionally rather than thoughtfully and just how little they think of the Queen and the place of the monarchy in British -and Scottish- society.

One can also tell a great deal about what this means for Britain by who has come out in support of the "Yes" Vote by those beyond British shores. North Korean communist dictator Kim Jung-Un has come out in support of the "Yes" side as have a number of people in high places in Russia. In the case of Korea's portly potentate, it is as simple as one Marxist supporting another, in the case of Russia, they want Scotland to set an example that their own partisans can follow in breaking away from Ukraine, as has been done in Crimea and which is trying to be done in the eastern lands of the country. In the Kingdom of Spain, Catalan secessionists are saying that a "Yes" result in Scotland would boost their cause as have their fellow republican separatists in Quebec who are hoping that a "Yes" vote will revive their flagging cause. The result could have an impact on some republics but it is the monarchies I most care about and who seem to be the biggest targets for these types of things. Canada, Spain and Belgium are at the top of every list of monarchies threatened by separatist movements. However, it goes wider than that, reaching even the Far East where a Red Chinese official recently said that the Ryukyu Islands should be independent and not considered part of Japan at all. There has long been a minor separatist movement on Okinawa and China would love to see such a thing happen so as to weaken Japan and strengthen their claim to the Senkakus. Even in Australia, those campaigning for a republic and to abolish the Australian flag have said that a "Yes" vote in Scotland would give them a helpful boost in their own agenda.

That is a common theme throughout all of the reaction to this issue and all those supporting the "Yes" vote in Scotland. It is all being done by people who want to see these monarchies diminished and weakened on the world stage. The European Union would be glad to see existing European countries further divided so that they can expand their power. After all, such small "independent" states could hardly make it on their own and would have to rely all the more on Brussels. It does not matter to them that some separatist movements are being driven by more comparitively right-wing forces or ardently left-wing forces since, whether one is talking about Scotland, Catalonia or Flanders, they have all stated that they will be joining the European Union as soon as "independence" is won, which of course means that it isn't independence at all. They are being totally disingenuous as is seen by how the EU responds when any country talks about leaving. Likewise, it takes no great clairvoyance to imagine how Russia, the DPRK or PRC would respond to any effort by any part of their countries to break away. Obviously, the history of England and Scotland has not always been peaceful and friendly but it is a distortion to think that Scotland has always had the worst of it. Even as early as the mid-1700's many a historian has commented that the British army leadership was dominated by Scots, many PM's have been from Scotland as have many of the biggest forces in business in Britain. Even if we want to go back to when things were a little more tense, it seems lost on many that when Scotland and England first came together it was by a Scottish monarch becoming the King of England and not the reverse. Scots should think carefully about the future and should consider why so many who do not have the best interests of Scotland in mind are hoping they vote "Yes".

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Monarch Profile: Emperor Thieu Tri of Vietnam

As the son and heir of Emperor Minh Mang, Thieu Tri had a tough act to follow. Vietnam had achieved its peak in size and influence but the “Great South” stood precariously on this historical apex. The French were becoming increasingly interested in the region and the slightest mistake could upset the balance and plunge the country into a struggle it could not hope to win. However, when Prince Nguyen Mien Tong came to the throne in 1841, taking the era name of Thieu Tri, this looming threat was not outwardly apparent. The reign of his father had not been free of trouble by any means but it had been great and glorious and it seemed that all Emperor Thieu Tri had to do was follow in his footsteps, steering a steady course and the power and prestige of the Nguyen Dynasty would continue. The country seemed to be in good hands as Emperor Thieu Tri was similar to his illustrious father in many ways. He was highly educated, very intelligent, devoted to traditional Confucian values, a lover of nature, artistic and intellectually curious. He was open to learning from the west but like his father was also determined to keep western influence out of Vietnam and maintain the close relationship with the Great Qing Empire.

the Vietnamese court
In the early days of his reign, everything appeared tranquil. There were no major problems and the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty seemed permanent and unassailable. When it came to foreign affairs, the situation called for concern but not alarm. In China, the Qing Empire was being hard pressed by the British in the First Opium War but they were holding their own at that point and there seemed no danger of this touching Vietnam. Best of all, in Paris King Louis Philippe of the French exhibited no desire for imperial expansion into southeast Asia. But Emperor Thieu Tri faced two very real threats that would soon come together to provoke a major crisis that would change the course of his dynasty and the entire Indochina region forever. The first problem was the persistence of Christianity in the country. Despite the efforts of his predecessor to discourage the new religion, Catholic missionaries, mostly French and Spanish, continued to come to Vietnam and win converts. And, just like before, they did not always restrict themselves to the spiritual sphere but were often complicit in minor peasant rebellions, sometimes even encouraging them because the Emperor was distrustful of Christianity. Naturally, such actions only reaffirmed the belief at the imperial court in Hue that Christianity was a threat to the established order.

On orders from Emperor Thieu Tri, continuing policies already in place, Nguyen officials punished Christians and arrested Catholic missionaries on the grounds that they were spreading “false” and “seditious” beliefs which upset the Confucian hierarchy, disturbed the native gods and ran contrary to proper virtue and morality. Actually, such incidents were handled fairly mildly more often than not and Emperor Thieu Tri was no fool. He realized that if he came down too hard on the Christians that this would be used by the French as a pretext to move against his country. Anti-Christian outbursts throughout East Asia had often been prompted by the fact that European domination tended to come on the heels of those preaching the new religion and the powers-that-be did not want it gaining a foothold. So, to avoid trouble, Emperor Thieu Tri hoped to simply frighten the Catholics into staying away from Vietnam. Time and time again a missionary would be sentenced to death for spreading subversive beliefs only to have the Emperor spare his life and order him deported. Emperor Thieu Tri released many missionaries rather than put them to death but there were those who persisted in always coming back. Eventually, their cause was taken up by the second major threat Thieu Tri faced.

Imperial Decree of Emperor Thieu Tri
The most famous example of this policy was that of the French Bishop Dominique Lefebvre. In 1845 he was arrested and sentenced to death by a Vietnamese court but at the request of a French admiral, Emperor Thieu Tri intervened to have Lefebvre pardoned and released. Unfortunately, his zeal would not allow him to leave the country and ‘shake the sand from his feet’ as he departed (Matthew 10:14) and he returned to Vietnam to be arrested again in 1847 by which time the patience of Emperor Thieu Tri was running increasingly thin. A similar incident involving Lefebvre has almost sparked a major incident with the United States and the bishop was caught illegally entering the country three times.

The second threat to the reign of Thieu Tri appeared in March of 1847 and that threat was the French Navy whose officer corps tended to be very conservative and very Catholic. So far from home, they were also liable to act on their without waiting for instructions from the King in Paris or whatever government happened to be in power when they returned. The French naval forces in Southeast Asia took up the cause of the Catholic missionaries and undoubtedly many of the officers were sincere in their motives for doing this. However, it is equally true that these same officers wanted to see the expansion of French power. They were alarmed at the growing British presence in the region (China, Malaya, Burma etc) and did not want France to lose out to Britain in the colonial race in Asia.

Captain Rigault de Genouilly
It was two French ships under Captains Lapierre and Rigault de Genouilly who entered Vietnamese waters at Tourane on March 23. Deciding on their own to take dramatic action they issued an ultimatum; Emperor Thieu Tri was to release all foreign prisoners and reinstate religious tolerance for Catholics. Hopefully, Paris would back them up after the fact. Obviously, this was something Emperor Thieu Tri could never agree to. It would mean allowing a foreign power to dictate the laws of his country and undermine his own position. Already the more orthodox Confucianists were criticizing him for the mercy he had shown the missionaries, warning him that he was neglecting filial piety by allowing this new religion to dishonor the spirits of his ancestors. Emperor Thieu Tri, therefore, ordered his forces on the coast to be strengthened and prepare to defend themselves against attack. Neither side wished to show weakness and so the French attacked, wiping out the eight Vietnamese junks sent to oppose them with relative ease. They then proceeded to carry out a naval bombardment of the port city of Da Nang. This only made things worse, for the French in the short term and for the Vietnamese in the long-term. It had, after all, been essentially a bluff. The French attack was unauthorized by the government in Paris and they lacked the forces on hand to follow up their victory. Meanwhile, it confirmed to Emperor Thieu Tri that the conservatives at court had been right all along and that drastic measures had to be taken to eradicate all foreign influence in Vietnam.

Temple of Emperor Thieu Tri
In a fit of rage, Emperor Thieu Tri issued an imperial decree ordering the massacre of all westerners in Vietnam without exception. Thankfully, a bloodbath was averted by the cooler heads among the mandarins who simply failed to carry out the order, knowing full well that such action would only guarantee that France would launch an all-out war against them in retaliation. It may have been that all of this storm and stress was too much for the delicate, intellectual monarch and Emperor Thieu Tri died only a few months later on November 4, 1847, leaving the throne to his son Prince Nguyen Hong Nham.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The British Army in World War I

At the outbreak of war in August of 1914 the one major power for whom the Germans had probably the least respect in terms of its army was Great Britain. In terms of size it was dwarfed by the French army and certainly had nowhere near the numbers of the massive Russian army. Whereas the Royal Navy had ruled the waves for centuries and had a reputation second to none, the army was not taken nearly so seriously. It was most frequently used in minor colonial wars which the Germans tended to discount as being victories won against enemies unworthy of serious consideration. When the subject of their intervention was broached to the Kaiser, he joked that he would simply send the police to arrest the British army as soon as they landed. To say that the British army was underestimated would be a gross exaggeration. Discounted and despised, the British army soon proved to the Germans just how wrong they had been. The British army may not have been as large as the French or as heavily armed as the Germans but in fact it was the British who had, man for man, probably the best army in the world in the summer of 1914. Their force was small but it was experienced, disciplined and magnificently trained. Years of colonial conflicts had left them with a body of soldiers who had great endurance and experience in what war was really like.

4th Bn Royal Fusiliers at Mons
During the initial German offensive across Belgium and into France, the British Expeditionary Force had their first major clash with the Germans at the battle of Mons and all myths about the British army were shattered immediately. No other soldiers in the world were as well drilled in handling a rifle as the British, none had a higher rate of fire than what the British could achieve. They stopped the Germans cold and caused the German leadership to greatly overestimate the number of machine-guns the British had available because their rifle fire was so rapid and deadly that it was mistaken for automatic weapons fire. Eventually, they were outflanked by the Germans and forced to fall back but they had proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with and despite suffering a tactical defeat they had further thrown off the German timetable and so contributed mightily to thwarting the German plan for a rapid victory on the western front. In the beginning, the Kaiser had called them a “contemptible little army” and the veterans of that original BEF proudly took the insult as a compliment and referred to themselves thereafter as “The Old Contemptibles”.

The British contribution in those early days of the war, Mons, the first battle of the Marne and the “race to the sea” (holding on to Ypres) was out of all proportion to its size and they finally earned the grudging respect of their enemies. Unfortunately, that expert, tenacious, well-trained army of veterans was practically wiped out in the process, particularly in holding the Ypres salient. The old guard volunteers were just destroyed and so Britain was left with no other option but to follow the example of the continental powers and begin assembling a massive conscript army. These troops were, of course, inexperienced and there was not time to train them to the degree of the old army but they still showed the determined resilience that defined the character of the British people in those days. After trench warfare took hold on the western front, the BEF made the effort to break the stalemate with an attack at Neuve Chapelle in March 1915. Showing a willingness to embrace innovation that the British leadership seldom gets credit for, this attack saw the first use of photographic reconnaissance from the air, artillery timetables and “hurricane barrages” as well as having the infantry rehearse for their specific tasks. The results were both promising and disappointing as the attack went extremely well in the early stages only to fall apart due to logistical breakdown and the strength of the German defenses.

Sir John French
Next, in April, the Germans launched the second battle of Ypres and it was the BEF that caught the worst of it. The Germans made the first use of chemical warfare on the western front with this battle, spraying the field with chlorine gas. French colonial and reserve troops were at the center, along with some others, and fled from the asphyxiating cloud. A dangerous gap opened in the Allied lines that could have been disastrous. However, showing an almost inhuman level of discipline and courage, a thin khaki line of British and Canadian troops rushed into the gap and held the line, preventing a German breakthrough. The end of the year also saw a change in command with Field Marshal Sir John French being replaced by his subordinate Sir Douglas Haig. French had been prone to mood swings, being either gloomy or overly optimistic and had been unable to get along well with his French allies. Despite the reputation most Great War generals have for being callous butchers of common soldiers, French was actually criticized for being too careful with the lives of his men to the detriment of supporting the French in the overall war effort. He was sent home and would later preside over the suppression of the Easter Uprising in Ireland. At home, British leaders were appalled by the losses and divided between those who wanted to focus on the western front and those who wanted to utilize more limited offensives against the Austrians or Turks.

British 13th (Western) Division in Iraq, 1918
The Germans were having similar thoughts and did their best to use the size of the British Empire to their advantage, causing trouble in all parts of the world so as to force the British to disperse their strength. In Africa, British colonial troops from South Africa were able to conquer German Southwest Africa but were thwarted in German East Africa where an initial, predominately Indian, invasion force was all but annihilated at the battle of Tanga by a much smaller but brilliantly led German colonial army (consisting mostly of African troops). Britain also sent a token force to participate in the siege of the German colony in China alongside the Japanese and there were successes and failures in the Middle East. British troops were able to successfully defend the Suez Canal against an invasion by the Ottoman Turks who hoped to regain control of Egypt, however, a British drive into Iraq ended in disaster with the surrender of Kut-al-Amara; the largest surrender of British forces until Singapore succumbed to the Japanese in World War II. Also frustrating was the attack on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, proposed by Winston Churchill. The British ground force also contained large numbers of troops from Australia and New Zealand and they fought with great courage and endurance. However, the German-led Turkish forces had an immense defensive advantage and it turned into a bloody stalemate until the British forces were eventually withdrawn after taking heavy losses.

Royal Irish Rifles at the Somme, 1916
However, back on the western front, the Germans who had started the war with nothing but contempt for the British army had come to see them as their primary enemy. Colonel General Erich von Falkenhayn stated that Britain was the real threat to Germany but that the only way to defeat them was to wipe out the French which would then force Britain to come to terms. This was part of his reasoning behind the monstrous Verdun offensive. Although they gave about as good as they got, it seemed that France was being “bled white” by the German onslaught and so they pressed Haig and the BEF to launch an offensive that would force the Germans to halt their attacks around Verdun. This was the Somme offensive of 1916. Britain had already been planning an attack but the Verdun offensive forced Haig to expand the operation and to rush his timeline forward. The result was a bloodbath. The British troops charged the German lines with impeccable discipline and determination and were slaughtered by the tens of thousands in doing so, 58,000 falling on the first day of battle alone. The real tragedy was that it went on for so long and in the end the Somme offensive lasted 142 days and cost the British Empire 415,000 men. It was technically a British victory in that it did force the Germans to relent at Verdun (though given their losses they could hardly have kept going for long anyway) and there was a minor advance of the lines. Most, however, agreed that it was not worth the tremendous human cost and mostly because of that offensive Haig is most often painted as a commander with all of the finesse of a bulldozer.

British Mark V heavy tank
Still, German losses had also been disastrous and the British had proven themselves capable of taking tremendous casualties and still carrying on. Increasingly, it would be the British army that was to dominate the Allied war effort on the western front. In 1917, in support of a French offensive that proved disastrous, British troops launched a diversionary attack which saw the Canadian Corps take Vimy Ridge. The Germans recognized credit where it was due and singled out a number of British and imperial forces for particular praise, or at least praise of a sort. The Canadians, they said, fought with all the ferocity of their own assault troops and after being on the receiving end of an attack by Scottish highlanders, nicknamed the kilt-clad demons the “ladies from Hell”. In an offensive in Flanders in 1917, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian troops all earned high praise and the British came very close to winning a breakthrough. It was not the decisive victory hoped for but it was still a much greater success than many realized at the time as it had inflicted devastating losses on the Germans that increasingly could not be made good. The British also showed their innovation again by making the first major use of armored warfare by using tanks to great effect at the first battle of Cambrai. However, as with the first German use of poison gas, inexperience prevented the new weapon from being as effective as it might have been. Aside from tanks, while the Germans were the first to master warfare in the air, the British were quick to adapt to combat in the skies as well. The Royal Flying Corps came to have 4,000 combat aircraft, including the Sopwith Camel, the most successful Allied aircraft of the war. British planes did reconnaissance work, bombed enemy targets, supported the infantry in ground attacks and defended London from German bombers. They also produced many legendary aces such as Canadian Billy Bishop with 72 victories and Britain’s Mick Mannock with 61 victories.

Sir Douglas Haig
In 1918 the British faced their greatest trial and greatest triumph. Russia was out of the war but the Americans were coming and Haig’s strategy of wearing the Germans down by attrition was paying off. Germany had the strength left for one more major offensive and this was launched in the spring, focusing on the point where the French and British armies met on the western front. The British Fifth and Third armies were hit hard and forced to retreat, however, while many were disheartened that the Germans were winning back in days the territory it had taken years for the Allies to gain, appearances could be deceiving. The British were falling back but kept order and discipline. They adapted to the situation and were ready to strike when the Germans could advance no further. The attempt to break the British army had failed and in desperation they turned toward the French but, by that time, lacked the strength to achieve a major victory. The German army was exhausted and the initiative swung to the Allies where it remained for the rest of the war. After stopping the Germans at the second battle of the Marne, the British attacked at Amiens with Canadian and Australian troops participating as well. The result was a stunning victory known as “the black day of the German Army” and after which the high command informed the Kaiser that the war was lost. Later, in the fall, the British managed to break the formidable Hindenburg Line, taking huge numbers of prisoners and forcing the Germans to sue for peace.

King George V at the grave of a British soldier
The Central Powers were finished and it would not have been possible without the skill and heroism of the British army. By the end of the war, the British had broken through the best of the German defenses, kept up an unrelenting pressure on Austria-Hungary in the Balkans and had driven the Turks out of Palestine and Syria where British agents had also roused the Arabs to revolt against their Ottoman rulers. And, of course, while this is about the army, it cannot go unmentioned how devastating an impact the blockade of Europe by the Royal Navy had on the ability of the Central Powers to carry on the war. It is unfortunate that so many continue to view the Great War as simply a long succession of dull commanders throwing away the lives of their men in frontal attacks to no result. The British army in particular showed great imagination and innovation in prosecuting the war. There were plenty of lives wasted to be sure but war is always wasteful and new ideas were adopted. The Canadian seizure of Vimy Ridge is an excellent example of adapting to the situation and the British quickly caught up to the Germans in the air and were quick to see the potential of tanks. In fact, many of the famous ideas of World War II most often associated with the Germans were based on British concepts. What is more, the British also learned their lessons well and realized that the tank, the airplane and the rapid offensive would be the way of the future, putting them in a much better position for the next war than their French allies who drew all the wrong conclusions from the conflict. The British army of World War I was a magnificent force that accomplished great things. The war itself was a tragedy but those men who served in the trenches, in the deserts and on the veldts were heroes whose memories should be honored by all subsequent generations.
Remember Always

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monarchist Profile: General Niklaus Franz von Bachmann

One of the most famous Swiss soldiers in history, Niklaus Franz von Bachmann was a notable monarchist, all the more so for coming from a country which, after the Napoleonic Wars in which he served, was the only patch of land outside of the Americas which was not presided over by a monarch. He was born Niklaus Leodegar Franz Ignaz von Bachmann in the canton of Glarus, Switzerland on March 27, 1740 to an aristocratic family with a long tradition of military service, particularly in the Swiss Guard employed by the King of France. His father was a baron and attained the rank of marshal and it was his older brother who, in fact, commanded the Swiss Guard at the time of their horrific massacre at the hands of the French Revolutionaries. By both background and the experience of his own blood he was, of course, naturally inclined to despise revolutionary republicanism and everything it stood for. It took no great soul-searching for Bachmann to determine that he would spend the rest of his life and commit his military career to opposing the forces of the Revolution and to the defense of his native Switzerland. He had a Catholic education of the highest quality before going to France in 1756 to join the Swiss regiments that had long served within the French army.

The service of Bachmann to the royal French army was certainly not inconsequential. He introduced the rigors of Prussian drill to the French forces and was responsible for training the soldiers sent overseas to aid the Americans in their war for independence from Great Britain. That these troops served with such distinction is, in part, to the credit of Bachmann. He earned steady promotion while serving with several different regiments and was made a knight of the Order of St Louis in 1778. However, the outbreak of the French Revolution changed his life forever. The massacre of the Swiss Guard would have been outrage enough but on top of that, his elder brother was sentenced to death and sent to the guillotine simply for doing his duty and defending King Louis XVI. The French monarchy was abolished and all agreements with the cantons of Switzerland were abrogated. Bachmann was staunchly loyal to the monarchy of France and disgusted by all the ignominious acts of the revolutionaries. He left the country and returned home to Switzerland but he was certainly not giving up. On the contrary, he was more determined than ever to fight the forces of the revolution and to devote all of his wealth and talents towards that aim. He would have a new employer but his purpose would remain constant.

Bachmann used his own resources to recruit and organize a new regiment of his own in Switzerland to fight the revolutionaries under another flag. For employment, he turned to the venerable House of Savoy in 1793. It was a logical choice. King Victor Amadeus III of Piedmont-Sardinia had declared war on the French Republic the previous year and was doing everything in his power to strengthen his army, which would be vastly outmatched in any event. His son and heir, the Prince of Piedmont, was married to the sister of the late King of France and Turin had become a haven for exiled French royals and royalists fleeing the persecution of the revolutionaries. Bachmann proved his worth to the House of Savoy very quickly, thwarting republican forces in the Aosta Valley and within a year earning promotion to Lieutenant General. It was very much a personal fight for the Swiss general and he never referred to his enemies as republicans or revolutionaries but as “the Regicides” for their heinous murder of the King of France (as well as the Queen, Dauphin and so many others). For his skillful and zealous service, the Savoy King made him a knight of the Order of Sts Maurice and Lazarus and granted him the hereditary title of count in the Piedmontese aristocracy.

Unfortunately, no amount of military skill was sufficient to stop the overwhelming numbers of the French revolutionary forces and eventually the Piedmontese were overwhelmed, Italy was invaded and Turin was captured. The Royal Family fled to Sardinia and Bachmann returned home to Switzerland though, just like his former employers, he was not admitting defeat but simply waiting for the opportunity to arise to carry on the fight. When the Second Coalition was formed by Great Britain and Austria, Bachmann was ready again to strike back at the French Republic alongside them. With his excellent war record, he was given command of all the Swiss regiments serving with the Allies and it must have appeared like a truly national force as he is also remembered for bringing back the traditional flag of the Swiss Confederation for his troops to carry into battle, the Swiss flag we are all familiar with today. During this time, of course, the French republicans had tried to export the revolution to Switzerland too, as with all other neighbors, and establish the Helvetic Republic. It never had widespread support and in 1802 the real Swiss government appointed Bachmann commander-in-chief of the Swiss army.

The veteran commander was assigned the task of destroying the forces of the pro-French Helvetic Republic and this he did successfully until the intervention of Napoleon with his overwhelming forces. Napoleon claimed to be acting to restore order in Switzerland though it was only because of French revolutionary agents that any disorder existed in the first place. Nonetheless, thanks to Napoleonic military might, the French were firmly in control of Switzerland and the staunchly monarchist General von Bachmann was instantly out of favor with the new ruling class and forced into retirement. Yet, as usual, he did not regard his situation as permanent and when Napoleon fell from power, only to reclaim it again after escaping from the island of Elba, Bachmann was appointed commander of the Swiss army again in 1815 and he led his troops in an invasion of France. Of course, the decisive battle was fought in Belgium where Napoleon was decisively beaten and the Kingdom of France restored again.

By that time, there was no doubt that Niklaus Franz von Bachmann was the most distinguished Swiss soldier of his day and one of the most respected military commanders in the world. The Swiss government honored him and the French, Italian and Austrian monarchs all sent him high honors as well. King Louis XVIII offered him the post of Inspector General of all Swiss regiments in the French service but Bachmann declined the offer, feeling too old to be of further service and retired to his home in Switzerland. He had fought tirelessly against the forces of the revolution and had carried on the struggle until the revolutionaries were defeated, his own country was secure and the French monarchy was restored. He had fought the good fight, he had finished his race. Niklaus Franz von Bachmann died in 1831 at the age of 91 after a lifetime of service in a righteous cause.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Scottish Independence, Is Their Any Doubt?

Very soon the Kingdom of Scotland will be voting on whether or not to become an independent country. No, I’m sorry, that’s not true because even if the “Yes” vote wins, Scotland will be no more independent than it is now, perhaps even less so, but it will be voting on whether to leave the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and then submit to the ruling elite of the European Union directly. In the past, some people have been offended by my saying that any country that is a member of the European Union is no longer an independent country but I can see it in no other way. The EU enacts laws and its courts hand down rulings that are binding on member countries and these countries submit to that, which to my mind is the opposite of being independent. Right now, before anyone becomes too excited, all the polls indicate that the “No” vote is going to win by a fairly comfortable margin. What I found most amusing was that, at one point at least, more people in England favored Scotland going its own way than people in Scotland did. Tired and fed up with being blamed for every ill in Britain, many English seem to have taken the attitude of ‘don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ toward Scottish so-called independence.

However, even expecting the “No” vote to win, I still cannot be too optimistic about this ridiculous exercise. Either way, the United Kingdom is basically finished but like so many things in British life these days, appearances are one thing and actual fact is another. If Scotland votes “No” the country will still be called the United Kingdom and the Union Jack will still fly on official holidays but the country is anything but united these days. The United Kingdom, as most readers here surely know, was formed as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This was the coming together under one government of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland which had long shared one monarch between them. Well, Ireland is now gone with even Northern Ireland being effectively “independent”, Scotland has its own parliament and even within England itself there is an assembly for Wales and talks of pseudo-independence for areas from York to Cornwall. Again, even if Scotland votes against pseudo-independence, the British government is already promising even more powers to go to the Scottish parliament so that the United Kingdom will be anything but. With a parliaments and assemblies in Ulster, Wales, Scotland and England, the British Isles seems positively packed with elected representatives and yet the voting public never seems to be any happier. Odd that (‘he wrote sarcastically’).

As far as monarchists are concerned, there is no reason at all for anyone to support Scottish pseudo-independence. I have seen a few e-people (who we all know are not real anyway) say they are monarchists and Scottish nationalists and support independence but, even if such a thing existed, their support only makes them the dupes of the radical leftists to oppose monarchy and nationalism. The Scottish National Party is a totally bogus entity, even its name is a lie. Their claim to be nationalists is just as blatant a falsehood as their claim to be advocates of independence as their undying, passionate love for the European Union clearly demonstrates. They are not nationalists of any sort. They are internationalists and are as far to the left and as far from monarchy as is humanly possible. Lately, I have the feeling that many people outside of the UK may not realize just what the political landscape of modern Scotland is like. It is the most radically leftist of the three kingdoms (or two and some change anyway). Scotland held on to its traditional ways longer than just about anyone and the clan system had to be broken up by force but when Scotland went to the left it went totally off the deep end.

There is no doubt, absolutely, positively, no doubt that a pseudo-independent Scotland would, in fairly quick order, abolish the monarchy. If Scotland becomes pseudo-independent it will be the “Socialist People’s Democratic Republic of Scotland” make no mistake about it. The evidence is all there, the leaders have the desire and they will have the opportunity. Consider that the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender advocates have come out in favor of pseudo-independence because they are confident that their agenda will be written into law when Scotland enacts a new constitution. That does not get too much media coverage but there will be a new constitution for Scotland and that would be the perfect opportunity for the SNP to simply abolish the monarchy at the stroke of a pen without even having to bother to have a popular vote ahead of time. Of course, the SNP has never come out and honestly admitted this but they all come from republican backgrounds and have, in the past, tried to promise everyone that a pseudo-independent Scotland would lose nothing while gaining everything, claiming they can keep the pound, the Queen, Royal Mail and Doctor Who which, in itself, should make anyone wonder just how seriously even they think their talk of “independence” is.

There is no difficulty in determining the prevailing political opinions in modern-day Scotland and how inimical these are to monarchy in principle. Look at any of the speeches and arguments made by both sides to appeal to the Scottish public and one phrase you will hear more than any other is “social justice”. This phrase is the “liberty, equality, fraternity” of our time and is a more attractive way of saying what Karl Marx said his philosophy was all about; taking from those who have more and giving to those who have less with the government keeping a sizable handling charge for the forced transaction. It is the same promise that socialists, communists, Marxists and all their permutations have been making since they first appeared on the political scene; using state power to make everyone “equal”. It never works out that way but these people have never been the sort to learn from experience nor to ever let the truth get in the way of an appealing political slogan. Obviously, such a philosophy runs counter to the principle of monarchy which is inherently based on the idea that we are not all the same and thus cannot and should not all be treated the same. It is counter to the idea that once can advance and achieve a higher status than you had before, that accomplishment warrants special recognition.

Finally, for those modern-day Jacobites who may be tempted to think that if Scotland becomes independent and if Scotland then dethrones Queen Elizabeth II it could lead to the restoration of the Stuarts, such notions should be dismissed immediately. First of all, as has been stated above, the leadership of this movement are totally opposed to the very fundamental basis of monarchy and everything that the grand old House of Stuart stood for. The Jacobites fought for a powerful, faith-based monarchy with respect for tradition, local custom, hereditary rights and government decentralization. The SNP, on the other hand, opposes monarchy in general, certainly opposes any role for the Christian religion in government, opposes tradition (being very pro-EU and welcoming of non-Scots into the country), they oppose hereditary rights and their support for decentralization applies only so long as Scotland remains in the United Kingdom. If they had their way and Scotland was on its own, they would favor massively more centralization of power in either Edinburgh or, truth be told, to Brussels. Admirers of the Jacobites should remember that they struggled for the restoration of the Stuarts across the whole of the British Isles, England and Ireland included and not for the separation of Scotland. However, more to the point, there is simply no Stuarts to restore anymore. The family has died out and the legitimate heir of the Stuart legacy, the Duke of Bavaria, has made it clear that he has no interest in being the King of Scotland. This is not at all unusual as no Jacobite heir has ever made a claim on the British throne since the male Stuarts died out centuries ago. Neo-Jacobites should not allow themselves to be the “useful idiots” of the SNP which is thoroughly anti-monarchist and should rather devote themselves to furthering the ideals and the values that those brave Jacobites of the past fought for and which are the polar opposite of the values of the SNP.

A “yes” vote in the upcoming referendum would be a vote for disaster. It would not achieve a genuinely independent Scotland at all, it would be bad for the economy and would make the country a non-entity in the backwater of the European Union. The monarchy would not long survive, there should be no doubt and it would be a further betrayal of the values and customs that have distinguished Scotland throughout most of its long history. The only ones who would benefit from it would be the political stooges of the EU ruling elite who would see Scotland turned into an overregulated, impoverished socialist republic. Anyone who loves Scotland should vote “no” and more than that, should devote themselves to turning Scotland back towards its traditional roots as a country of inspiring loyalty, strong families, economic frugality and deep faith. As a great admirer of Scotland, I hope to see that happen. God bless Scotland and God Save the Queen of Scots!

Friday, September 5, 2014

One Foot in at Least

Yes, The Mad Monarchist is still alive and kicking, or just alive anyway. Will it be back to the old routine? Certainly not, at least not for now. I have enjoyed my time off too much and been too often reminded of what drove me to step back in the first place. However, posting will begin again very shortly. The difference will be that, for now, posts will be few, far between and probably erratic by which I mean there will be no regular schedule to keep to but that they will come now and then as I find the time and am moved to post them. If I can find some way to avoid the strain on my nerves it may be possible to do more but, for the time being, I will not be making any changes like disabling the comment section or shutting down the Facebook page as I have been tempted to do. For the moment, I will simply be posting less frequently, saying what I please, when I please and see how that goes. The standard of judgement for that, I will keep to myself as undoubtedly no one wants to hear any more of my troubles or complaints. I had wondered if I would be able to stay away after doing this for so long and, after more than a month, I have found out that I certainly can and have had no trouble filling my time as well as receiving regular reminders that I am probably just not cut out for this sort of thing. So, I am placing myself under no pressure, I do have a couple of articles ready to post and anyone interested can watch this space as, for the time being, there will be the occasional updates to it again. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who voiced their support, I can honestly say that, limited as my return may be, it would not be happening at all without you. I appreciate all of you who have stuck it out through this dry spell and would just encourage everyone to keep any expectations low.

Remember, you are not dealing with a "well" person but
      The Mad Monarchist

Friday, August 1, 2014

Currently on Strike


When the Dominican Republic Returned to the Crown

It is extremely rare to ever find an example or even the slightest hope of a colony that has declared independence and embraced republicanism coming back to the embrace of the monarchy of its ancestral homeland. Yet, that is exactly what happened to the Dominican Republic. To understand why, we must take a brief look back at the historical background of the country. The island of Santo Domingo, originally Spanish, came to be shared by France and Spain until the Peace of Basel saw Spain relinquish total control of the island to the French. Not everyone was fond of that and feelings only grew worse after the Haitian revolt when the formerly Spanish half of the island was invaded by Haiti, sacking towns and massacring people. With the Napoleonic Wars raging, Britain assisted the Spaniards in breaking away and reasserting their colonial ties with the Kingdom of Spain. Some wanted independence, but there was no consensus on the issue. Most seemed more concerned with what they were against than what they were for and it became more and more clear that action would decide the day. The pro-independence faction acted first when Jose Nunez de Caceres declared independence from Spain with the idea of applying for annexation by the republic of Gran Colombia under Simon Bolivar.

However, before there could be any progress on that front (and it is doubtful that Gran Colombia could have done much to prevent the coming disaster) the Haitians invaded again and the people of Santo Domingo got a foretaste of what later generations would experience under communism. The Haitians trumpeted their abolition of slavery but promptly went about making slaves of everyone, nationalizing almost all private property. All major estates were confiscated, most of the property of the Church was confiscated and all the property of the Spanish Crown was confiscated and nationalized as well. Similar to what would be done over a century later with the communal rice farms of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, almost all industry was shut down other than sugar and coffee production, the university was closed and most schools were shut down as everyone was either drafted into the army or forced to labor on the nationalized plantations. The Dominicans who were conscripted were not paid and forced to loot their own countrymen in order to survive and huge reparations payments (known as “tribute”) was forcefully extracted by Haiti. Most of the White Spaniards fled the country and as the economy flat-lined and taxes imposed rose higher and higher, even the freed Blacks began to rebel. Even many of the Haitians groaned under the oppression of their commander Jean-Pierre Boyer.

Pedro Santana
In 1843, Boyer and his regime were finally overthrown and the republicans who looked with admiration on the United States seized the initiative and declared the independence of the Dominican Republic, enacting a constitution in 1844 that was very similar to the American model. However, given what had happened so recently, most in power had no delusion that they could survive on their own but would have to be protected by some foreign power to ward off another Haitian invasion. Two factions soon emerged; Pedro Santana, commander of the army, favored restoring the Spanish Crown while Buenaventura Baez, who later became President, first favored annexation by France and, when France rejected the notion, looked to the United States. General Pedro Santana y Familias was the primary advocate of reunion with Spain. A wealthy rancher and talented military commander, he became the first President of the Dominican Republic but planned on it being only a temporary position. He had been instrumental in driving out the Haitians and was viewed with admiration or at least a healthy respect by most of his countrymen. When Baez became president, devoting himself to trying to get the Dominican Republic annexed to the United States, he drove the country into bankruptcy and was finally overthrown in a coup at which point Santana assumed power.

To stabilize the country and guard against any aggression from Haiti, Santana formally approached the Kingdom of Spain with the offer to return the Dominican Republic to the Spanish Empire. Naturally, not being in the best of circumstances itself and wary of the United States, Spain had not been quick to jump at the opportunity to have the territory back. However, by 1861 the United States was embroiled in a civil war and not in a position to get belligerent about the enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine. Doing so against Spain might provoke the French and British Empires into recognizing the southern Confederacy and going to war against the United States in support of Spain. So, on March 18, 1861 Her Catholic Majesty Queen Isabella II of Spain was formally declared sovereign over the former Dominican Republic and the Cross of Burgundy waved over Santo Domingo once again. It was the only time that a Spanish colonial possession would return to Spain after having gained independence. At the same time, the Empire of Brazil was being provoked into war with republican Uruguay and later Paraguay while in Mexico conservative forces were making progress in persuading the Emperor of the French to intervene on their behalf and eventually restore the Mexican Empire. It seemed that while the United States was at war with itself, monarchy was on the march across the New World.

Santana becomes Governor-General
Of course, there were problems as some in Santo Domingo staunchly opposed the return of the Spanish Crown to the island. One rebellion was put down and then another invasion by Haiti, led by a rebel Dominican, was defeated and its leader executed. Santana was sworn in as Governor-General of the colony but by the next year had resigned due to his frustration at having less power as the representative of Queen Isabella II than he had previously enjoyed as president/dictator. The military measures to secure the colony and regain land previously taken by Haiti also necessitated measures which upset many locals and the introduction of trade restrictions and a tobacco monopoly upset many of the wealthy elites. Rebels also began spreading rumors that Spain was planning to legalize slavery again in Santo Domingo, Cuba and Puerto Rico which many people stubbornly believed despite numerous explicit announcements from the Spanish government that this was totally untrue and would never happen. Finally, when Spanish forces drove out the last of the Haitian enclaves in the colony, Haiti officially abandoned neutrality and began to support the rebels in a major uprising, starting in 1863 known as the “Restoration War”. The rebels also appealed for help from the United States but, with the civil war there at its height, there was nothing the government in Washington could do.

At first, General Santana, who had been given the title of Marquis of Carreras by Queen Isabella II, was in command of the Spanish forces opposing the rebels but despite his high reputation, he proved unable to stem the tide. After disobeying orders to concentrate his forces for a decisive battle, Santana was dismissed and ordered to Cuba to face a court-martial but he died in the summer of 1864 before that could happen. Under the Spanish General Jose de la Gandara y Navarro the situation immediately improved. He began a determined counter-offensive against the rebels and soon had forced them into a desperate position as evidenced by the fact that they began calling for peace and offering to discuss terms. It seemed that the Crown of Spain was on the cusp of total victory in Santo Domingo. However, events overseas, in both Europe and North America were working against the Spanish army in Santo Domingo. In Spain itself, opposition to the war was widespread. In short, Spain simply didn’t see it as being worthwhile as the amount of blood and treasure being expended was too high for the very modest gain that their half of the island produced. For the Spanish, Santo Domingo was proving to be more trouble than it was worth. Furthermore, American intervention was also a growing concern as it became clear that the Union forces would be victorious against the southern Confederates and once that was done, it could be expected for the U.S. government to order Spain out of Santo Domingo at which point all of their effort would have been in vain. It seemed far better to cut their losses and get out before any more was wasted.

In North America, on April 9, 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively marking the end of the civil war in the United States. There was no longer any doubt as to the outcome of any effort to restore monarchy in the western hemisphere. On March 3, 1865 HM Queen Isabella II of Spain formally annulled the annexation of the Dominican Republic and by May the Spanish army on the island began evacuating, the last leaving in July. It was, perhaps, short-sighted of Spain to abandon a clearly obtainable victory, without thinking of the long-term consequences. However, in light of the U.S. victory in the War Between the States, there is little doubt that the Spanish would have been forced out if they had not withdrawn willingly. An example was soon seen in Mexico where American pressure forced France to abandon Mexico after which U.S. support ensured a republican victory. It was a time of high hopes dashed for monarchists when, within just a few years, the Dominican Republic had returned to loyalty to the Spanish Crown, an empire was revived in Mexico and with aspirations of further expansion into Central America and possibly Ecuador and with the Empire of Brazil standing out as the dominant power in South America only to have it all come to an end with republicanism resurgent. For the Kingdom of Spain, while Santo Domingo might not have been of great benefit, its loss proved more damaging than most realized. The Spanish withdrawal provided an inspiration for republican rebels in Cuba and Puerto Rico that if a rebellion could be mounted and if they could gain the sympathy and support of the United States, they too could break away from Spain.

What many failed to realize was that claiming independence is a far cry from actually being capable of being independent and most of these countries ultimately traded one imperial ruler for another. In the case of the Dominican Republic, independence brought considerable instability and economic hardship (due almost entirely to government interference and mismanagement) which ultimately ended in threats of European intervention in the name of debt collection. American President Teddy Roosevelt stepped in to prevent this, putting the United States in charge of customs for the Dominican Republic in 1905. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson ordered the military occupation of the Dominican Republican after political instability there and the country remained under American occupation until 1922. However, the U.S. kept a close eye on local politics and American military occupation returned in 1963 when President Lyndon Johnson ordered troops in to prevent a communist takeover of the country. A little more than a year later, they were withdrawn but certainly few could argue that the Dominican Republican has been much of a success nor has it been very truly independent since breaking, again, from the Crown of Spain. On a more optimistic note, however, if the country could return to loyalty to the Crown once, perhaps it can do so again and set a different kind of example for its neighbors.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Republican Brutality on Guadeloupe

One of the most reprehensible figures of the West Indies in the French Revolutionary Wars was Victor Hugues. A native of Marseille, his family moved to Santo Domingo but fled back to France because of the Haitian Revolt. Victor Hugues got in good with the Jacobin Club, was appointed to the Committee of Public Salvation in La Rochelle and finally in 1794 was sent to be governor of the island of Guadeloupe with orders to carry out the abolition of slavery passed by the revolutionary regime. This was, not surprisingly, opposed by the planter class and they, along with any other French royalists, quickly allied themselves with the British in trying to hold back the forces of the revolution. The British, as soon as war broke out with France, was intent on seizing control of as much of the West Indies as possible and not simply because of an effort at a land-grab. French revolutionary forces in the region enlisted privateers to prey on British shipping and in 1795 King Carlos IV of Spain was pressured into an alliance with the First French Republic, making almost every part of the West Indies a real or potential threat to British security in the region. Throughout the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, British forces undertook a number of operations in and around the West Indies which often started out as brilliant successes but proved extremely costly due to the prevalence of disease in the islands.

First Earl Grey
As part of a wider operation against other islands in the neighborhood, British forces under the overall command of General Charles Grey landed on Guadeloupe in April of 1794 and joined in cooperation with the French royalists there. This was in fulfillment of the terms of the Whitehall Accord signed by the British and the French royalists representing Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint-Domingue by which the French royalists offered financial support in exchange for British military protection against the revolutionaries. Backed up by Royal Navy forces led by Admiral Sir John Jervis, the British made short work of the local defending forces and within a matter of days had the island under their control. With most local matters left in the hands of the royalist French planters, life returned to what it had been before the outbreak of the revolution. However, little more than a month later, a French fleet arrived with Victor Hugues and a relatively small number of French troops. While the British army was being decimated by yellow fever, Hugues rallied local republicans and a large force of Blacks and mulattos attracted by his proclamation of the abolition of slavery. These reinforced the 1,500 French troops he had brought with him and while his forces grew stronger, those of the British and French royalists grew only weaker due to the ravages of disease.

Today, Victor Hugues is most remembered for his carrying out of the abolition of slavery in accordance with the order of the National Convention, however, the image of the liberating revolutionary opposing the wicked slave-holding royalists backed up by Britain is an extremely misleading one. Hugues, it should not be forgotten, was typical of the Jacobins he aligned himself with. These were people who espoused lofty, liberal sentiments but who used the most brutal and barbaric methods to push forward their cause. These were the people who instituted the Reign of Terror in France and Hugues had no hesitation in using the same methods on Guadeloupe. Similarly, his abolition of slavery was not the great liberation most people think. In typical Jacobin fashion, it ultimately proved to be a mere matter of rhetoric that bore no relation to actual reality. In fact, slavery was not abolished by the revolutionaries at all but simply renamed. The end result was that, while no one was technically a slave, the supposedly liberated people were still subject to forced labor as the governor saw fit to employ and he employed a great deal of it in the pursuit of his goal to crush the royalists and drive the British from the island. For the Black residents of Guadeloupe, nothing fundamentally changed other than that, instead of being forced to work without pay for the benefit of private owners, they were forced to work without pay for the benefit of the revolutionary government.

Hugues' proclamation ending slavery
However, thanks more to rampant disease than any brilliance on the part of the opposition, Hugues was ultimately victorious over the British. The force at Barville was obliged to surrender which included about 800 French royalist émigrés and 900 Black soldiers. Once again, though it is not often talked about, the true character of the French Revolution and its supporters was on full display when, after the surrender, Hugues carried out a horrific bloodbath, massacring 865 French royalists as well as some of the other prisoners. Sadly, such brutality was not unique to Guadeloupe. Whereas most people know about the horrific cruelty of the French Revolution in France with the September Massacres, the butchery in western France, the regicide and so on, few remember that the same sort of things happened on a smaller scale in the French colonies and they were no less brutal and, at times, even more so. The true legacy of the French Revolution, in the West Indies as elsewhere, was not “liberty, equality and fraternity” but rather the delusion that all injustice can be remedied by mass executions and that if one claims a lofty-enough sounding ideal, the most vile and despicable depths of cruelty and brutality can be justified. In rejecting the revolution and embracing monarchy, this mentality is also rejected; the idea that perfection in this life can be achieved by means of human extermination.

As for Guadeloupe, while the British did send reinforcements to the West Indies for a new offensive led by the talented General Sir Ralph Abercromby, that island was never retaken and it became a paradise for pirates and smugglers throughout the period in question. Eventually, Napoleon Bonaparte sent troops to bring the island under his control and during the subsequent occupation about 10,000 inhabitants were killed. In 1810 the British did return and retake the island, holding it until 1816. During that time, from 1813, it was under the nominal jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Sweden before being ceded back to France in 1814. Slavery returned with the troops sent by Napoleon and was not actually abolished for good until 1848 through the efforts of Victor Schoelcher. In 1946 Guadeloupe became an overseas department of France which it has remained ever since.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Viceregal Profile: Sir Howard Cooke

Jamaica recently saw the passing of one of its most prominent national leaders in the person of former Governor-General Sir Howard Cooke. He was born Howard Felix Hanlan Cooke on November 13, 1915 to David Brown Cooke and Mary Jane Minto in Goodwill, St. James. After a normal private school education he attended Mico College and London University. He distinguished himself as a student and decided to focus on a career in education. Concern for the proper formation of young people was an interest of his throughout his life. For twenty-three years he worked as a teacher, starting in his alma mater of Mico College and Practising School, later being given the position of headmaster at Belle Castle All-Age School, Port Antonio Upper School and finally Montego Bay Boys’ School. He was a member and served a term as president of the Jamaica Union of Teachers. To supplement this, Cooke also worked in the insurance business, gaining the positions of Senior Inspector and Branch Manager at Standard Life Insurance Company; Unit Manager at Jamaica Mutual Life and Branch Manager of the American Life Insurance Company. Finally, however, he felt the call to enter the public sphere and become active in politics.

The political career of Howard Cooke would no doubt seem strange to some as it did not fit with his later reputation as a staunch royalist but in Jamaica it was not seen as so unusual. He got into politics in 1938 and co-founded the People’s National Party, the oldest party in the English-speaking Caribbean. A social democrat party, part of the Socialist International, it has remained one of the two most prominent parties in Jamaican politics which is dominated by the left. The main rival of the PNP has long been the Jamaica Labour Party and it is generally viewed as being the more leftist of the two. However, after a particularly an electoral defeat at the hands of Labour, and a subsequent downturn in the economy, the PNP came back to power with a noticeable shift toward the center and away from the extreme left to the point that some have come to describe it as a “third position” party, neither right nor left though any mention of “third position” or “third way” will doubtless unnerve some people. Cooke served as chairman of the party and consistently held high leadership positions.

One year after entering the political arena, Cooke married Ivy Sylvia Lucille Tai on July 22, 1939, starting a long and successful marriage that produced two sons and one daughter. A measure of political success finally arrived for Cooke in 1958 when he was elected to the West Indies Federal Parliament, representing his native St. James. In 1962 he entered the Jamaican Parliament as a Senator, serving until 1967 when he moved to the House of Representatives until 1980. During that time, he served in the government of Michael Manley as Minister of Pension and Social Security, Minister of Education and Minister of Labour and Public Service. From 1989 to 1991 Cooke served as President of the Senate and he was the Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. In 1991 he was appointed Governor-General of Jamaica by HM Queen Elizabeth II, serving until 2006, receiving numerous awards and more than one order of knighthood. Outside of the realm of politics and policy, he displayed a greater inclination toward the traditional, emphasizing the monarchy and the place of the Crown in Jamaican life as well as working to preserve and promote Jamaican culture.

Sir Howard Cooke was a longtime member of the Freemasons and a lay pastor of the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. One of his special concerns, as mentioned earlier, was the youth and he was always most proud of the title of “teacher”. He was a longtime supporter of the St. Andrew Boys’ Scout Association, enjoyed cricket and football and build numerous community centers in his hometown to improve the welfare of children, to keep them from taking self-destructive paths in life. He was a key figure in the political development of Jamaica, extremely influential in the educational sphere and proved to be such a respected and adept Governor-General that he was actually entrusted with additional duties and responsibilities that most others in viceregal positions would never have because he was held in such high regard by all parties.

Of course, coming from a political background, it cannot escape mention that the sort of politics he favored has had some negative effects, probably unintended by someone like Sir Howard Cooke. Most significantly for our purposes is that the People’s National Party, which he co-founded, was the party which produced the Prime Ministers Percival Patterson and Portia Simpson-Miller who are the only Jamaican heads of government to officially endorse republicanism and call for abolishing the monarchy, replacing the Queen with an elected head-of-state. So far, that campaign has not been successful and hopefully it never will. Sir Howard Cooke did no such thing of course, but policies and ideologies have an effect on the public mentality and the ideology of democratic socialism contains an inherent seed of republicanism. The effect has been that, even while the party has moved away from its more stridently socialist position, which it had in the days of Cooke, it has brought forward political leaders who espouse republicanism, who have rolled back the former staunch opposition to the homosexual agenda and who still have no problem serving in the Socialist International of which Simpson-Miller was elected Vice President in 2013.

Sir Howard Cooke could be thankful these changes came after he had left the political scene and, it should be pointed out, once he did so, firmly embraced the idea of political impartiality in his role as Governor-General. His ability to stand apart from politics, to be totally impartial and bi-partisan no doubt contributed to his status as such a widely respected figure across the Jamaican political spectrum. Sir Howard Cooke died on July 11, 2014 at the age of 98 in Kingston.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Helpful Illustration

If anyone is inclined to wonder why a pan-monarchist, such as myself, tends to get rather irate on the issue of defending the existing monarchies of the world, even those that might be (gasp) less than entirely perfect, I present the following illustration to explain: (no, not every last speck may be correct -this was done by myself and not a professional cartographer but I think it gets the point across)
Monarchies of the world in 1900

Monarchies of the world in 1914

Monarchies of the world in 1921

Monarchies of the world in 1939

Monarchies of the world today.

Get the picture?


Monday, July 28, 2014

Weblog Update - This Week: Islands, Next Week: On Strike

It’s going to be another “theme week” this time and if that is not satisfactory, it probably wouldn’t be happening if it were not already done. I was feeling more generous than I probably should have been and already had it done and don’t wish to see anything go to waste. So, this week will go ahead as usual for the most part, I just probably won’t be as “social”. Once done, however, things will be changing as your resident mad man is going on strike. Or, call it a hiatus, a vacation, a reassessment of priorities, Johnny Paycheck moment, as you please. The point is, I will not be posting as usual but taking a little break. Or, it may be a long break, it may be an indefinite break. I’ll have to see how it goes. Of course, if I decide to give it up and devote myself entirely to being a madman of leisure, I will, of course, say so but, if not that, I would expect to be posting considerably less frequently. From my perspective, it has felt like I’m getting more frustration than satisfaction from doing this, increasingly so lately, and while I cannot complain about the numbers, I can complain about the complaints because that is 90-95% of what I hear. I am also not at all in the same sort of situation I was in when I first started to “get involved” and promote monarchy in a public way.

In short, it has become increasingly more difficult for me to answer the question, when I get some static from some person or people, “why do I bother?” And, more and more lately I’m asking myself that and telling myself, “I don’t need this”, “I don’t have to put up with this” and realizing that I don’t. I really don’t. One of my ideas of personal happiness is not having to deal with unpleasant situations or unpleasant people and I have reached the point where I am able to achieve that more than ever before. I am the king of my particular hill, arranged to suit my oddities and I don’t have to deal with anyone I don’t want to deal with. It probably doesn’t hurt that the only outsiders I do have to deal with occasionally are people like hunters or energy company reps who are ready to totally agree with anything I say, to say or do anything to keep themselves in my good graces. Perhaps I have been spoiled but while I have never been much bothered by dealing with republicans (who are almost pathetically amusing most of the time) it is the “friendly fire” that is most annoying to me. If people want to gripe or complain about me or what I do, that doesn’t really bother me but doing it on my e-property does bother me. The way I see it, it’s like a guest coming into your home and insulting you.

There is also the fact, which I have mentioned before, that I am not a mind-reader and I can only go by what people tell me. I don’t know what most people think because most do not speak up and for those that do, the negative tends to drastically outweigh the positive. As I said on Twitter recently, I generally have a little over 3,000 readers a day and yet, going by just what those who speak up say, roughly 98% invariably have some sort of problem with I what I do or say. And so, again, I find myself saying, I don’t have to put up with this. There is also the long-standing irritant of people who think they have any business telling me, on my own e-space, what I can or cannot talk about. It becomes very tiresome, knowing as soon as you hit the post button, that someone is going to complain about it. Then there’s those who want to pick at every little thing concerning constitutional monarchs who have little to no freedom to act at all but are willing to give make every excuse for absolute monarchs who could act differently but choose not to. There is also the whole, “I’m a monarchist but,” crowd or those who are constantly asking just how far loyalty has to go, as if their primary goal is to find some justification to be disloyal rather than …oh well, don’t get me started. But, who cares anyway? I’m probably rattling on here to no purpose. It’s been cumulative and I’m just fed up at the moment. So, the bottom line is that I will be posting what I already have finished for this week and after that will be on hiatus and see how that goes.

Friday, July 25, 2014

MM Mini View: The Hapsburg Emperors, Part III (Hapsburg-Lorraine)

Concluded from Part II

Emperor Francis I: The reign of Francis I was one in which he would be overshadowed by his wife and by a Bavarian rival for the imperial throne. When Charles VI died his daughter Maria Theresa succeeded him in his hereditary positions (Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary etc) but it was uncertain what would be the place of her husband, Francis Stephen of Lorraine. He had practically been raised to be the husband of Maria Theresa (his brother was the original choice but died) and he did his part to gain friends and fortune for the Hapsburgs, gaining the favor of British elites by joining the Freemasons and challenging France over the Polish succession by which he traded Lorraine for Tuscany in Italy. When his father-in-law died, the Bavarian Charles VII was elected Emperor but quickly lost most of his territory to Austrian troops as Marie Theresa was more than prepared to fight for her land and titles (or those she wanted for her husband). Bavaria might have remained an Austrian possession were it not for the intervention of King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Maria Theresa managed to have Francis I elected emperor in 1745 and he was co-regent of her hereditary dominions but it was really Maria Theresa who ruled, which was well enough because she was pretty darn good at it, being a principled, decisive, religious and all around great ruler. Emperor Francis mostly “ruled” from behind a desk doing paperwork and though he was not a faithful husband he still did his part to secure the Hapsburg-Lorraine succession by fathering sixteen children with Maria Theresa, among them two future emperors and an ill-fated future Queen of France. He died in 1765, some time before his wife.

Emperor Joseph II: Known as the “People’s Emperor”, Joseph II will always be remembered as one of the “Enlightened Despots”. His personality changed after the death of his beloved first wife, making him more cold and aloof. He tried to apply reason to government which earned him friends and enemies alike. At home and abroad his desire was to make Austria a great power, centralize government and unify his diverse domains. His public popularity came for his emancipation of the serfs, granting of religious freedom (up to a point) and providing social welfare for the poor. Yet, he was also a very authoritarian man and a very absolutist monarch who would tolerate no opposition. His efforts to place the Catholic Church under state control earned him many lasting enemies among the clerical faction and Church histories to this day often speak more harshly of Joseph II than predecessors who actually made war on the Pope or never practiced their religion at all. To unify his people he tried to make German the official language of all Hapsburg lands, which did not go over well, and he tried to make the House of Hapsburg supreme in Germany, going to war with Frederick the Great of Prussia in the process. He also fought less consequential wars against the Turks and Hungarian rebels, which were practically family traditions. He planned a rescue operation to save his sister, Queen Marie Antoinette from the French Revolution but his offer was refused by the brave royal couple who were reluctant to leave (at least at that stage). A patron of the arts, particularly music, Joseph II was called the “Musical King” and is most remembered now for his commissioning of work from Mozart. He died in 1790 adored by the lowest but hated by many for his interference in religion and Germanization policy. Still, he set the example which almost all subsequent Hapsburg Emperors tried to emulate.

Emperor Leopold II: Succeeding his elder brother, Leopold II had to put down rebellions from Belgium to Hungary because of the unpopular policies of his brother and he repealed the most provocative of these but maintained the majority of them. He too was a proponent of “enlightened” absolute monarchy and had originally been trained for the priesthood. He ruled as Grand Duke of Tuscany where his aloof nature made him less than popular, despite abolishing the death penalty and instituting public health programs. As Emperor, he was cold and calculating, refusing aid to French royalists and preferring to try to eliminate Prussia as a rival in Germany than punishing republican France. He also refused to allow any Papal Bulls read in his territory without first approving of the document. Still, the treatment of his sister and brother-in-law stirred his fury as an absolute monarch and he agreed to make common cause with the other Crowned Heads of Europe to stop the spread of republicanism. He died before any concerted action could be taken in 1792 at the age of only 44. Whereas his brother Joe had been much more single-minded and uncompromising, Kaiser Leo II was always prepared to keep flexible and to always consider the “politics” of any given situation. Unlike his brother, he certainly did his part to secure the succession, having sixteen children just like his own parents did. Overall, Emperor Leopold II might not have been the sort of monarch to be widely admired but he was probably the right man for the job at that time.

Emperor Francis II/I: The last Holy Roman (German) Emperor and the first Emperor of Austria, Francis succeeded his father after being raised in extremely strict fashion by his uncle Emperor Joseph II whom he nonetheless idolized. Emperor Francis can be a hard man to understand. He seemed not to really care that his aunt was guillotined by revolutionaries and yet the honor of his house was of paramount importance to him. His empire was well known for its vast network of spies and powerful secret police, yet he was an approachable monarch who always made time for any of his subjects who wished to speak with him. Most of his reign was dominated by the war with Napoleonic France and he was Napoleon’s most intractable enemy on the continent. When Napoleon became so successful that he determined to make himself emperor, Francis II feared that he might be able to so dominate Germany as to win election so he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire and thenceforth ruled as Emperor Francis I of Austria. It was a bitter blow to have to cede territory to France and worse still to give his own daughter to Napoleon in marriage. However, he saw the Austrian Empire through the crisis and by his own very conservative nature, helped ensure that the peace was practical and based on a respect for traditional authority. In the end, his prestige also allowed the Austrian Emperors to become the hereditary presidents of the German Confederation. He was a good, solid emperor and though sometimes accused of being paranoid and tyrannical, the fact is that he had reason to be and the steps he took prevented Austria from falling apart due to radical nationalism. He died in 1835.

Emperor Ferdinand I: Although often dismissed, I have a bit of a soft spot for Kaiser Ferdinand, sometimes known as “Ferdinand the Good”. True, he was handicapped in a number of ways and suffered from very severe epilepsy, however, he was not as totally incompetent as some seem to think. He could speak several different languages, could write very well and was a considerate and very religious man. Married to the Italian Princess Maria Anna of Savoy, she was a devoted wife who took good care of her husband, really being more of a nurse than a traditional wife but he loved and appreciated her for her attentiveness in what was really a sacrifice for her. If all had remained calm and tranquil, it might have been possible for Ferdinand I to remain on the throne with considerable help but that all changed with the outbreak of the Revolutions of 1848. He realized that he was not up to the task and the best thing to do would be to abdicate in favor of someone young and fit who could handle the situation. So he did, handing power over to his nephew after which he retired to Prague and lived quietly the rest of his life. While there, he also proved to be a help to the local economy and actually proved to be quite an astute businessman, amassing a fortune that supported the family for the rest of the Hapsburg reign. He died in 1875.

Emperor Francis Joseph I: One of the longest ruling monarchs in modern European history, the events of the reign of Francis Joseph would be too numerous to mention. He started out by suppressing revolutionaries and remained ever vigilant to threat of rebellion thereafter. Despite rising ethnic unrest, Francis Joseph made the Austrian Empire a workable power with growing industry and a scientific and artistic community that was second to none. However, in 1859 he acted rashly in allowing himself to be provoked into war with France and Sardinia in northern Italy, losing Lombardy in the process and a short time later went to war with Denmark alongside the other German states. The aftermath of this led to a short, disastrous war with Prussia which saw Austria removed from German affairs in 1864. Any attempt at a revival was dashed by the continuing danger of rebellion in Hungary which Emperor Francis Joseph tried to put to rest by (rather reluctantly) agreeing to the Compromise of 1867 which saw the Austrian Empire become the “Dual-Monarchy” of Austria-Hungary with each having separate and co-equal governments. In 1882 he signed on to the Triple Alliance, a monarchist defense pact, with the German Empire and the Kingdom of Italy. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia which angered Serbia and Russia (as well as Italy since they did not receive the territorial compensations they had been promised) and pan-Slavism, led by Serbia and backed up by Russia would become the dominant concern of the latter years of Francis Joseph’s reign. He was always a dutiful monarch and he learned from experience. He also became more sincerely religious as he aged, possibly because of the many tragedies he faced in his private life, though he was still not above using the imperial veto to influence papal elections. Holding on to what he had been given became his primary concern and the strength and preservation of the monarchy was never far from his thoughts. When World War I came, he probably viewed some sort of showdown with Serbia as inevitable but he was still reluctant and had to be lied to before actually giving the order to go to war. Too old, by that time, to play much of a part, he died in 1916.

Emperor Charles I: Known as the “Peace Emperor”, it is rather illustrative of his life that this nickname was due to intentions rather than actual achievements. He was thrust into the position of heir to the throne when Archduke Francis Ferdinand was shot in 1914 but already displayed admirable qualities that would have served him well as monarch. He was an accomplished soldier, known for his concern for the welfare of his troops, his devotion to his wife and family and his deep faith. When the Pope called for a peace without victors, only Charles and the King of the Belgians took it seriously and made the attempt. Unfortunately, it was a rather naïve and futile gesture that almost brought about the early destruction of Austria-Hungary. His intentions were noble and his virtue was far above his contemporaries but it was simply beyond the realm of possibility that the Allies would have agreed to such a proposal at that stage and even more ludicrous to think they would have kept his secret when making the attempt public proved so helpful to the Allied cause. The Germans were furious at such a betrayal and made plans to invade and occupy Austria-Hungary at a moment’s notice (it would not have been dissimilar to what happened to Italy in 1943). From that point, Austria-Hungary was more like Germany’s prisoner than Germany’s ally and Emperor Charles had little choice but to see things through to the end. He dismissed the old army leadership and took command himself while also proposing new domestic plans in an effort to regain the loyalty of the various ethnic minorities. However, it was to no avail and the Allies had already agreed to the post-war dismemberment of Austria-Hungary in any event. After a final, crushing blow in 1918 the empire simply collapsed in on itself and Emperor Charles was forced to relinquish power and go into exile. However, he did not abdicate as he viewed the monarchy as a sacred trust that he could not abandon. In 1921 he tried twice to regain his throne as King of Hungary but was blocked by the ruling regent. He died in Portugal a year later at the age of only 34. In 2004 Charles, the last Hapsburg Emperor, was formally beatified by Pope John Paul II. He was a saintly man and, like a number of “last” monarchs, too good for his own good in a number of ways.

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