Friday, October 30, 2009

A Nun from Monaco

One of my favorite portraits from the ranks of the Princely Family of Monaco is this one of HSH Princess Charlotte of Monaco, a nun of the Order of the Visitation.

Georgios I of the Hellenes Arrives in Greece

It was on this day in 1863 that Prince Wilhelm of Denmark arrived in Greece to begin his reign as George I, King of the Hellenes. Elected by the Greek National Assembly his nomination was supported by the United Kingdom, the Second French Empire and the Russian Empire and, while he certainly had plenty of problems to deal with, he would become the longest reigning monarch in modern Greek history, occupying the throne for 50 years before his assassination in 1913 during the First Balkan War.

He was only 17 when he arrived in Greece and, conscious of the fate of the former King Otto, was careful to be more Greek in his habits and more approachable with his people. Yet, like his predecessor (though somewhat more humble in his ambitions) he envisioned the Greek kingdom becoming the dominant power in the eastern Mediterranean. The Ottoman Empire was his natural enemy and was widely considered a fading power. He set Greece on the path of expansion, reclaiming Greek territory and paving the way for the widest expansion of modern Greece, even holding territory on the Asian mainland for a time. It was not exactly the re-birth of the Byzantine Empire that the romantic Otto had envisioned, but it was a grand dream that could stir the hearts of all patriotic Greeks.

Losses gave the Greeks pause and George even considered abdication, but his determination in the face of adversity and courage in the face of disasters won him considerable admiration from his subjects. Political chaos may have hampered him and finally cost him his life, but his reign did give hope for a new glorious era in Greek history, a dream for a brighter future that would restore the glories of the past and that dream first came to Greece in the person of a teenage Danish prince 146 years ago today.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Et tu Obama?

Just when you thought that the glorification of "the One" could reach no more absurd depths an Obama appointee, one Rocco Landesman, now Director of the National Endowment for the Arts, has compared the President to someone held by many (including Alexander Hamilton) to be the greatest man who ever lived; Julius Caesar. To quote the new artsy moron-in-chief, "Barack Obama is the most powerful writer since Julius Caesar". Fellow faithful, I am aghast. Just when you think you've heard it all someone compares the President to Julius Caesar, forefather of that masterpiece of ancient civilization the Roman Empire. Just to be clear about the record here, Obama rose to office in Illinois mostly by legal tricks that got his competition thrown out, was a junior senator yet to finish his term in office, most known for his multitude of "present" votes before being elected President. Since taking office, with a commanding majority in the House and Senate Obama has accomplished nothing, lived up to none of his promises and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for basically doing --nothing! Compare that to the accomplishments of Julius Caesar who conquered what is now France, Holland, Belgium, western Germany, led two expeditions into Britain, defeated the armies of Pompey in the Roman Civil War and was prepared to embark on further expansion to the east when he was murdered. However, the awed but noble Romans of ancient times still had more integrity than Obama's modern sycophants. They at least waited until after Caesar was dead to declare him a god whereas Obama, poster-boy of the "me" generation must have all of his accolades now, whether he has earned them or not.

Monarchist Profile: Grigory Semyonov

General Grigory Mikhaylovich Semyonov was a half-Buriat, half-Cossack born on the frontier of eastern Siberia in 1890. In 1908 he joined the Imperial Russian Army, graduated from Orenburg Military Academy in 1911 and during World War I rose to the rank of captain in the Trans-Baikal Cossack host. He served on the Persian front and was planning to raise an all-Buriat regiment when the revolution broke out that toppled the Romanov dynasty. The Provisional Government sent him to oversee the Transbaikal region and he became a general of the White Russian forces there and instigated an uprising against the Bolsheviks but was ultimately defeated by the Red forces. During this time his chief partner was Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg but unlike his more reactionary friend Semyonov favored a more modern form of constitutional monarchy, even if the constitution was mostly symbolic. The two eventually went their different ways.

From Chita, Semyonov tried to set up his own autonomous government with the support of the Empire of Japan which was looking to extend its influence in Siberia. He set up a very cosmopolitan court around him including Russians, Mongols, Japanese, Manchus and even had a unit of entirely Jewish volunteers. When the Kolchak government fell Semyonov inherited command of the remaining counterrevolutionary forces but, with the Allies pressing Japan to withdraw her support, his forces were left to live off the land and eventually crossed the border into Manchuria by the autumn of 1912. While there he tried to keep the flame of White Russian resistance alive and also forge alliances with Manchu and Chinese monarchists. He was, for a time, on the payroll of the last Emperor of China who mentioned Semyonov in his memoirs as the most prominent of the Russian exile community offering to assist in his restoration.

However, revolutionary republican pressure finally forced him out of Manchuria as well and he relocated to Nagasaki, Japan before moving on to the United States. He had, however, got on the bad side of several members of the AEF-Siberia and legal troubles forced him out of America and he went back to Manchuria where he was given a pension by Japan and worked in cooperation with the Japanese and the Russian exile community against their common Soviet enemy. He remained there during World War II and in 1945, during the Soviet invasion of Manchukuo, Semyonov was captured by Red Army paratroopers and the following year was slowly and brutally executed as a counterrevolutionary by Bolshevik kangaroo court. Although he gained a rather unsavory reputation at times, and was in the end unsuccessful in his crusade, Semyonov is still widely remembered as one of the most prominent White Russians and a near legendary figure in the Far East.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Is Only a Test

Battlefield Royal: Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia

Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia was the grandson of the "Iron Czar" Nicholas I and thus a first cousin to his sovereign Czar Nicholas II. He was set on the path of a military career early in life and served on the staff of his father in the Russo-Turkish War, earning himself a high reputation for his skill and courage and was rewarded in 1884 with command of the Guards Hussar Regiment. He was everyone one would expect of a good Russian general. He was a strict disciplinarian, but also a father figure to his men; a Russian nationalist, an advocate of pan-Slavism and devoutly Russian Orthodox praying several times a day. He favored the simple, rustic life of the Russian countryside to city life at court and held to a romantic view of the rural Russian peasantry. Denied a command in the war with Japan he was instrumental in forcing Czar Nicholas II to give in to the demands for limited reforms in 1905, an act for which the Czarina Alexandra never forgave him and was to greatly trouble his command in World War I.

After the outbreak of war in 1914 Grand Duke Nicholas was called in to take command of the largest army the Russian Empire had ever assembled although the established war plans were not his own and he had never commanded an army in battle before. He was widely respected and popular with the troops but Russia suffered from the lack of a coherent staff and command structure such as the Germans had established on the Prussian model. As a result he often was reduced to being 'umpire in chief'. Nonetheless, given the inferiority of his army in virtually every area save sheer numbers he was able to win some successes. He was, for instance, decorated with the St George Cross for the Russian victory at the siege of Przemysl. However, he could not best his enemies at court where he was opposed by Rasputin and Alexandra. Thus, in 1915 the Czar made the fateful decision of dismissing his cousin and taking command of the Russian army himself.

In the aftermatch Grand Duke Nicholas was assigned to the Caucausus front where he won a string of victories over the Ottoman Turks, advancing southward and sending troops to link up with the British in Persia. After the Bolshevik revolution he went into exile in Italy and later became the leading figure in the monarchist movement among Russian exiles. With General Pyotr Wrangel he led the Russian All Military Union and was a marked man as a special enemy of the Soviet Union. They carried out a number of small, clandestine attacks on the Soviets before the Grand Duke's death in the south of France in 1929.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monarchist Destinations: Texas' Royal Palace

Drive past the old City Hall in downtown San Antonio and you will find the humble building that was once home to the capital of Texas. Originally the Commandancia, home of the commander of the troops guarding the city, it later became the official residence of the Royal Governor of the Province of Texas, part of the colony of New Spain. It was completed in 1749, and the original keystone displays the words "ano 1749-se acabo" under the coat of arms of the monarch of the time, King Ferdinand VI of Spain. In front are the famous 6 Flags of Texas. As you walk in, look up and you will notice the original keystone above the main entrance to the palace, bearing the coat of arms of the Spanish King. It is interesting to see that these are the arms of the House of Hapsburg, one of the most ancient and respected dynasties in Europe which supplied many kings of Spain, Holy Roman Emperors, and Emperors of Austria. Due to the work involved, and the remote location, it is naturally a much simpler version of the arms than would be seen elsewhere. However, at the time the palace was built, after 1700, the Hapsburgs no longer ruled Spain, having been replaced by the Bourbon Dynasty of present day. The last Spanish King to rule over Texas was King Ferdinand VII.

Outside the front door to the palace, visitors will be greeted by a large statue of a Spanish Conquistador, given to Texas by Spain in the 1970's as a reminder of the historical ties between the two countries. It was the conquistadores who were the first Europeans to set foot in Texas and officially claim the area for the King of Spain. However, though the conquistadores won the glory and riches, it should not be forgotten that most of the real colonization and all that it implies was done by the Franciscan missionaries who accompanied the conquistadores, winning souls to Christ and spreading the Spanish culture.

The palace has been restored with antique period items from the Spanish colonial era and reflects the differences of those good ol' days. After coming inside, and paying the very modest tickett fee, the first room to your right will be the small chapel, where the Royal Governor and his family attended to their spiritual needs. There is a lovely carved statue of Our Lady, crowned and holding the Divine Child at the back of the room. There are antique wood carved crucifix's, portraits of saints and Jesus, as well as a small container for a holy relic. The constant religious objects throughout the palace speaks of the devotion during that time and the strongly conservative, Catholic nature of the Spanish Monarchy and House of Hapsburg or Bourbon. Scarcely a single room is without some sort of religion icon if not several of them, including images, statues, crucifix's and a large antique rosary.
Moving on you will see the kitchen and the official dining room where the Royal Governor would hold banquets, as lavish as possible on the remote colonial frontier. There is an antique wine chest and a lavabo for the washing of hands before the meal that was a religious practise at the time. The room features a framed mini-flag of the Spanish regiment that occupied the city as well as an icon of San Antonio de Padua, the saint for whom the city was named. The back patio is a lush, walled-in mini tropical paradise dominated by the lovely central fountain. Naturally, it is believed that a coin dropped in the fountain will grant a wish. Pebbled walkways wind through a tangle of local trees and bushes, including clumps of palm and banana trees. This is the area most often seen in pictures and post cards of the Governor's Palace (which are available of course) and given the serene feel of the garden, it is no wonder why. The vine-covered portico is a good place to relax, the stone benches also carved with the double-eagle (though for picnic comfort go for the wooden benches).
One can also see many items of interest in the Royal Governor's office. Monarchist visitors will notice signed letters from HM King Juan Carlos of Spain on the wall, speaking of the very long and deep ties between Texas and the Kingdom of Spain. There is also a woven wall-hanging in the office, bearing the names of the first families to come to San Antonio de Bexar in 1731 during the reign of His Catholic Majesty King Philip V. The first settlers were mostly natives of the Canary Islands. Because of the history of the place in part, it must be said, the Governor's palace is often listed as the most beautiful home in the Lone Star State. Some might smirk at so humble a home being called a palace, but for the time and place it was and homes such as that were often referred to as palaces, such as the Veramendi Palace and others. For any monarchist visiting the "Alamo City" it is a must-see and usually free of the throngs of tourists at said Shrine of Texas Liberty and the historic mission trail.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monarch Profile: Emperor Duy Tan

Of the latter Nguyen dynasty emperors of Vietnam, probably none are so popular amongst Vietnamese today as the boy-king Duy Tan. He was born on August 14, 1899 to Emperor Thanh Thai as Prince Nguyen Vinh San. He succeeded his father on the Golden Dragon Throne in 1907 at the age of 7 and took as his reigning name Duy Tan, "friend of reforms". His father had been replaced on grounds of insanity but also for being uncooperative with the French. It was hoped that a younger boy could be groomed to be a better friend of the protectorate and a model colonial monarch. To add stature his courtiers added a year to his age so many history books record him as being enthroned at age eight.

Choosing which son would succeed Thanh Thai was not a forgone conclusion. When the time came to make the choice Prince Vinh San was absent and later found chasing crickets. The French immediately decided that a boy so uninterested in imperial matters would be their best choice and so he was enthroned as Emperor Duy Tan. The French would later be proven wrong. Emperor Duy Tan became an extremely devoted and concerned monarch who was determined to set his country free. From the very begining the child-emperor was surrounded by advisors and tutors that were friendly towards France. This included the Council of Regency that was to govern until Duy Tan reached his majority. However, as he grew older Emperor Duy Tan became quite adept at getting around the many spies in his court. While he has been described as a Francophile, Duy Tan nevertheless opposed the excessive aspects of French rule and called for a revision of the Patenotre agreements of 1884.

Even at a young age the Emperor also instituted tax relief and the lessening of chore duties, he eliminated wasteful court protocals, cut back on government spending and reduced the salaries of high officials, including his own. When the French violated the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc he was enraged and protested vehemently. Emperor Duy Tan announced that as the "Son of Heaven" it was his right and his duty to manage Vietnam's affairs. Shortly after this, the Emperor and a small group began planning a rebellion against the French protectorate. The 16-year-old monarch even took to the water and encouraged the people to revolt from his junk with a loud-speaker. Unfortunately, one of the collaborators turned the others in to the French garrison in Annam.

The Governor of French Indochina asked the Emperor to reconsider his actions, and more or less repent for his "treason". Duy Tan replied, "If you compell me to remain Emperor of Annam, you should consider me as an adult emperor. I should need neither the council of regency nor your advice. I should manage the country's business on the same footing with all foreign countries including France." With that announcement it was clear to Paris that Emperor Duy Tan had to go. The other collaborators confessed their crime on the condition that Duy Tan not be executed. They were beheaded at An Hoa still repeating, "The sky is still there. So are the earth and the dynasty. We wish long life to the Emperor." Duy Tan was excused on the grounds that he was a minor and on November 3, 1916 he was exiled from Vietnam with his father. After this, most Vietnamese royals gave up hope of resisting the French occupation.

Emperor Duy Tan, known officially again as Prince Vinh San continued to do what he could to help his nation in any way possible. During World War II he even joined the Free French army as an interpreter to help the Allied cause. With all of the problems Vietnam had been going through because of the war and the Japanese effort to set up an independent "Empire of Vietnam" some French officials, particularly Charles DeGaulle, began to consider restoring Vinh San to the throne as he had seemingly proven his friendship toward France but was still widely popular as a nationalist hero in his country. However, the rumors, secret talks and hopeful aspirations were to come to nothing. He was on his way back from Europe, where he was serving with the occupation forces in Germany in late 1945 his plane mysteriously crashed over the African wilderness and the former monarch was killed. His ashes were interred in the Central African Republic until 1987 when the Socialist Republic of Vietnam allowed his remains to return home. On April 4th Vietnam saw a glimpse of it's old imperial splendor when the ashes of Emperor Duy Tan were laid to rest in the old capitol city of Hue, in the tomb of his grandfather Nguyen Duc Duc, with all of the pomp and ceremony of a happier time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Consort Profile: King Ferdinand II of Portugal

Ferdinand II was, in turn, royal consort of Portugal, co-monarch of Portugal and regent of Portugal during his life. He was Prince Ferdinand Augustus Francis Anthony of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Kohary on October 29, 1816 to Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his wife Princess Maria Antonia Kohary de Csabrag and spent his youth moving around Slovakia, Austria and Germany. As part of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family he was a nephew of the Belgian King Leopold I and first cousins with King Leopold II of the Belgians, Empress Carlota of Mexico and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Great Britain.

In 1836 Prince Ferdinand married Queen Maria II of Portugal, daughter of King Pedro IV of Portugal, Emperor Pedro I of Brazil. In September of the following year Queen Maria gave birth to their first child, a son and heir, at which time, according to Portuguese law, her consort became King Ferdinand II of Portugal. Like many of his family Ferdinand was a very modern-minded man of a very artistic nature. He also proved himself to be quite an adept administrator and intelligent monarch. King Ferdinand and Queen Maria were a devoted couple and worked well together, proving themselves a winning team for the Portuguese monarchy. In 1838 he built the magnificent Pena National Palace near Sintra, one of the most unique royal palaces in the world, often compared to Ludiwg II’s Neuschwanstein because of its mixture of various architectural styles. When his wife was pregnant Ferdinand II ruled the country alone and this happened fairly frequently as Queen Maria II had 11 children during their marriage though only 7 survived.

It was the birth of the eleventh child, who did not survive, that took the life of Maria II in 1853 and the reign of Ferdinand II came to an end. However, he still stayed on to serve as regent for his 16-year-old son King Pedro V until 1855. He instilled in his son the need for Portugal to modernize, build up its infrastructure, industry and so on as well as making sure he retained a compassionate nature. After retiring from active involvement in politics Ferdinand was able to focus on those artistic causes dearest to him. He also remarried to Elisa Hensler, Countess of Edla, an opera singer and the two lived in the Pena National Palace where he entertained a long succession of the great artists of his time. The former King himself was quite skilled at etching, painting and making pottery and was president of the Royal Academy of Sciences and the Arts as well as lord-protector of Coimbra University. In this peaceful, artistic environment, he spent his final years with his wife by his side until his death on December 15, 1885.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

MM Video: Norwegian Royals

Mad Rant: Anglicans Changin' Their Religion

I'll admit I must have missed the significance of this story when it first came out, but everyone seems to be talking about it, most in a negative way. I am speaking of course of HH Pope Benedict XVI taking matters in hand to allow for easy entry of disgruntled Anglicans seeking reunion with the Church of Rome. Most of the media coverage of this event has tried to portray Benedict XVI as some sort of papal spider luring Anglican flies into his web, promising the protection of their Anglican rituals as his siren call. Needless to say, I take a very different view and from the quarters these protests are coming from it is clearly the frustrated cry of those who see it as yet another sign that liberalism has ruined the Anglican communion. The Pope is trying to make the transition go as well as possible and the only Catholics who are upset about it are the radical liberals who don't want more traditional, serious Christians to interfere with their efforts to turn Catholicism into Woodstock with communion.

There is also a tie-in with monarchy here. As everyone knows, the Anglican communion comes from the Church of England, born by royal command, and of which the British monarch is still supreme governor. We also know from a recent story that HM Queen Elizabeth II is not too pleased with the state of Anglicanism today; which should probably not surprise anyone. Some even tried to suggest that the Queen was leaning in the Catholic direction. All I can say to that is, don't let's be silly. The Queen is a very sincere and committed Protestant who would never think of 'going Roman' I think I can safely assure everyone. However, this points to a larger problem and yet another example of why no monarchists, even in as safely monarchial a country as the UK, can afford to be complacent. The problem is that the Queen does not actually govern the church of which she is governor. Only in Britain...

There is no doubt in my mind that the C of E would not be in such terrible condition today if the Queen was actually in charge. Officially she is of course, but like virtually all of her powers it is actually the Prime Minister that makes the decisions. So, we have, to my mind, the rather ridiculous situation of a political hack appointing bishops. Politicians have screwed up the Church of England just as they tend to do virtually everything they touch. I don't think any British monarch would approve of the religious situation in the Anglican communion as it stands today. Can you imagine what Queen Victoria would think of women priests and gay bishops? Safe to say she would not be amused. However, Catholics can also take a lesson at the problems Anglicans are having and refute those arguing for many of the same things. Fortunately for Catholics, and any Christians who think the Bible actually carries some weight, Benedict XVI will not be listening to any of that sort anyway. This last week did witness the first Tridentine-rite high mass in the Vatican in 40 years, only the latest of my lapsed traditions that the much more monarchial Benedict has revived in the Catholic Church. As this is a pan-monarchist blog, not a place for religious arguments I will keep my specific opinions to myself except to say that I always prefer those who are true to their traditions. If you're going to be Catholic, be Catholic! If you're going to be an Anglican, be William Laud! Call me a purist that way I guess. Or, just call me ... The Mad Monarchist.

Friday, October 23, 2009

MM Video: King Leopold III

Exit of the Ex-Emperor of Vietnam


It was on this day in 1955 that the last Emperor of Vietnam was removed as "Chief of State" of the French-sponsored State of Vietnam based out of Saigon and struggling to survive against the communist revolutionaries in Hanoi. After an epic, heroic defeat at Dien Bien Phu the French were forced to pull out of Southeast Asia and the U.S. began to take over their job of defending the area. In the north, the government and people were united by a totalitarian regime, in the south Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem was unifying the region, but making alot of enemies doing it. He appointed his family to most high offices, sent military troops after dissidents and Communist insurgents and promoted Catholic moral values. He turned against the Binh Xuyen gang in a street war, though the group had been sending Bao Dai a percentage of their profits to maintain their status. Diem would not tolerate this. When word reached Emperor Bao Dai in France he immediately decided to remove Diem from office.

Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem knew this was coming. He was also supported by the American Colonel Edward G. Lansdale (member of the OSS, forerunner of the CIA) who urged him to replace the "State" that seemed like a monarchy but technically was hard to categorize with a more "American style" republic, which the people in the United States would be more willing to support. On October 6, 1955 the Ministry of the Interior announced that a referendum would be held to depose Bao Dai in favor of Ngo Dinh Diem and replace the "State of Vietnam" with a republic. The Emperor denounced this decision, and said such on the 13th in a note to the French government and the Paris embassies of Britain, the United States, Russia and India. On the 18th Emperor Bao Dai announced the dismissal of Ngo Dinh Diem as Prime Minister and the revocation of all powers he had previously granted him. The next day he told the Vietnamese people he did this because, "police methods and personal dictatorship must be brought to an end, and I can no longer continue to lend my name and my authority to a man who will drag you into ruin, famine and war". However, the Emperor was in France and Colonel Lansdale had been using funds from the C.I.A. to bribe government officials and buy support for Ngo Dinh Diem. He also attempted to have one of the Emperor's most loyal supporters assassinated but when the attack failed, the government silenced the issue. None of it was probably necessary. The Emperor had been associated with the French for so long, and had been away from Vietnam for such lengthy periods that his government never really had any grass-roots support. Ngo Dinh Diem could have undoubtedly won without the use of any strong-arm tactics. However, in Vietnamese politics, regime-change was never about democracy but rather about power. Diem had it, Bao Dai did not.

When the referendum was held, Ngo Dinh Diem was in complete control of the polling stations and the entire voting process. Colonel Lansdale had also helped to give the would-be president an unfair advantage. He had the ballot cards for Bao Dai printed in green ink, the color of misfortune, and printed those for Ngo Dinh Diem in red, the color of good luck and prosperity. Those who did not understand the voting system were told by the troops at the polls to place the red ballots in the envelopes and throw the green ones in the trash. Those who persisted in trying to vote for Emperor Bao Dai were caught outside and assaulted by the soldiers. Some were severely beaten, others had water forced down their throats or hot sauce poured up their nose. In retrospect many said that Bao Dai never had a chance of winning even a fair election. However, this was a matter of principle for Diem who wanted to send a clear message to the country and the world as to who was in charge. A life-long monarchist (at least until now) Diem wanted a display of power as well as 'democratic progress'. When the votes were counted Ngo Dinh Diem claimed victory by 98%. Colonel Lansdale advised him to lower the number to a more realistic percentage, after all, anyone with experience in democracy knows that winning 98% of the electorate is unheard of. This advice was refused and everyone knew the referendum to be fraudulent. In Saigon for example, Diem claimed to have received more votes than there were registered voters in the entire area.

Bao Dai had few choices after this development. With America in support of Ngo Dinh Diem, no one had even listened to his original objection over the holding of the referendum and he had no reason to believe that this would change now. Already the Americans were taking on a larger role in the war effort. Most of the government officials had been bribed into supporting the new president (though only temporarily as time would tell) and Bao Dai had no real avenue with which to protest the results. He also knew that any effort to contest the results of the referendum would only further fragment an already divided nation. Instead, he decided that his only choice was to accept defeat and abdicate once again as the Head of State for Viet-Nám. The Emperor made one last appeal as he left the political stage for peace and unity and for his successors in the Saigon government to give consideration to all parties in the national struggle. He then settled into a life in exile and watched from the sidelines as his country was torn apart. In 1965 he told the French writer Hilaire du Berrier, "If your government had given me one thousandth of the sum it spent to depose me, I could have won that war." Colonel Nicholas Thorne, the U.S. Marine Corps language specialist and authority on the central region of Annam, had said the same as early as 1959.

With the new Viet-Nám being called America's "Showcase for Democracy" Colonel Lansdale came home and left behind Colonel Albert Pham Ngoc Thao to replace him. After the war it was released that Thao had been a communist agent and his remains were removed to the "Heroes Cemetery" in Hanoi. As for Emperor Bao Dai, he was reduced to the life of a powerless exile. During his final years in politics the Emperor's reputation was ruined by the American media. The CBS bureau chief in Paris, David Schoenbrun, wrote a story in Collier's of September 30, 1955 regarding Emperor Bao Dai. He was more concerned with politics than factual journalism however, saying, "Diem must not only remove Bao Dai but must do it in such a way that he no longer has any usefulness as a symbol of Vietnamese unity". In this at least, it can be said that the efforts of advocates of the "third force" in Vietnam were entirely successful.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monarchist Profile: Comte de la Rochejaquelein

Easily my favorite of the great French royalists, Henri du Vergier Comte de la Rochejaquelein was a dashing young monarchist, the youngest general of the Catholic and Royal Grand Army, and his youth, noble background and great zeal and audacity made him something of a celebrity of the counterrevolution. Of the entire effort probably the two most well known leaders of the uprising in the Vendee were the common coachman Cathelineau and the young nobleman Comte de la Rochejaquelein. He was born on August 30, 1772 in the Chateau de la Durbelliere, Saint-Aubin-de-Baubigne, near Chatillon. Like many young men of his background he was destined for a military career early in life.

Rochejaquelein was an officer in the Constitutional Guard of King Louis XVI and first saw action on August 10, 1792 when he tried to defend the Tuileries Palace from revolutionary mobs. After returning to his home he avoided being drafted into the republican army by refusing to apply for the levé e en masse; a revolutionary innovation that gave the world the concept of the ‘nation in arms’. In April of 1793 he joined with his cousin, the Marquis Louis-Marie Lescure at his estates in Poitou to join the counterrevolutionary forces.

In no time at all the cousins were fighting republican revolutionaries alongside Maurice d’Elbee and the Marquis de Bonchamps. Rochejaquelein showed great skill and bravery and was a very inspiration figure. His handsome youth and great courage made him a natural leader that his troops would follow anywhere. He once gave an order which has become one of the most famous phrases of the counterrevolutionary forces, "Mes amis, si j'avance, suivez-moi! Si je recule, tuez-moi! Si je meurs, vengez-moi!" - "Friends, if I advance, follow me! If I retreat, kill me! If I die, avenge me!"

With only a few thousand peasants under his command Rochejaquelein won his first great victory on April 13 and on May 3 fought in the victory at Bressuire, then at the battle of Fontenay-le-Comte on May 25 and the battle of Saumur on June 9. Showing great leadership again, he inspired the Vendee army to fight on when they were on the threshold of giving up and going home to tend their crops. He rallied the troops and led them to victory at the battle of Chantonnay in September. However, the odds were long and Rochejaquelein was not invincible and he was defeated at the battle of Cholet on October 17 after which he was forced to retreat across the Loire river.

Nonetheless, in spite of this setback, after the death of d’Elbee he was chosen to be generalissimo of the royalist forces on October 20. The Comte de La Rochejaquelein would seem to some to be an unusual choice for such a high command since he was always a "front-line" soldier. However, he proved his strategic abilities quickly. He attacked toward Granville and captured Avranches on November 12. Granville, however, eluded him and he was forced to re-cross the Loire and retreat to Angers. Pursued and harassed by superior forces under Marceau and Kleber until being caught and defeated piece by piece from December 12-23 where the final blow came at Savenay. However, Rochejaquelein managed to escape and continued to lead a guerilla war against the republican forces until he was killed by revolutionaries on January 29, 1794. After his death his brother Louis carried on the fight until his own death in 1815.

Few other royalist leaders so fit the perfect image of the inspiring, romantic royalist at the Comte de la Rochejaquelein who will be forever remembered for his heroic leadership, his loyalty unto death to cross and crown and for his stirring command, “if I advance, follow me! If I retreat, kill me! If I die, avenge me!”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

M.M. Movie Review: Kingdom of Heaven

I put off seeing "Kingdom of Heaven" for a while, mostly because of all the hype the film received, particularly as being anti-Christian and especially anti-organized religion, but I always knew I would see it eventually and so I did, curiosity finally getting the better of me. It was about a historical period I find fascinated and featured some of my favorite historical characters. Of course, it wastes no time in attacking the Church. The film only happens because of a wicked, uncaring, grave robbing priest and it is remarked how the Pope has urged all Christians to kill Muslims as though the Crusades were supposed to be some kind of campaign of genocide and it is noted several times with a very un-Medieval 21st Century mentality that you can only be truly devoted to your faith if you are a fanatic. All of the "good guys" in this movie only let religion influence them up to a point. For them, it is no so much a belief as it is simply a matter of which camp you are in and what sort of flag you fly. The supposed hero is openly agnostic.

As for the cast, Liam Neeson plays the father of our would-be hero Godfrey of Ibelin, the would-be hero himself, Balian of Ibelin, is played by Orlando Bloom; possibly the most annoying character in the movie. David Thewlis is an unnamed knight Hospitaler, Marton Csokas is Guy de Lusignan, a character totally out of step with his historical counterpart, much like the star of the show; Eva Green is Princess Sibylle, Jeremy Irons plays a guy called Tiberius, the Marshal of Jerusalem but based on Count Raymond of Tripoli, Ghassan Massoud does a good enough job as Sultan Saladin, he might easily be mistaken as the hero of the film given his portrayal; Brendan Gleeson plays the maniacal Reynaud of Chatillon with about the right level of cruel fanaticism and finally Edward Norton portrays excellently the part of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. In my opinion, as well as at least one other I know, the movie would have been much better and certainly more inspirational and uplifting had it simply been about him.

Perhaps even more so than "Gladiator" the historical inaccuracies in "Kingdom of Heaven" are numerous. The attempt to add modern moral lessons is clumsy and arrogant and takes up time that could have been better spent showing actual, exciting events central to the story like the battle at the Horns of Hattin for instance, which happens off screen in this movie. There is plenty of action to be sure, but the siege of Jerusalem is the only really big battle depicted on screen. Probably the worst part of the movie is Orlando Bloom. His character is totally inaccurate, annoying and rather pathetic. Rest assured the actual Balian of Ibelin was nothing like this. In the movie he is a simple blacksmith until Godfrey of Ibelin rides up and announces he had a one-night-stand with his mother and Balian was the result. He assures the young man that his mother was taken willingly -oh yeah, what a gentleman.

The character is totally unbelievable. The movie would have us believe that he is not in the least bothered by finding out that he is the illegitimate son of a noble lord who never came to see him in his whole life, nor made any provision for him or his mother to ensure that his son did not have to become, well, a blacksmith in a dirt poor French village lets say. Furthermore, after being a blacksmith all his life he somehow learns to be a knight in less than a day, after only one unfinished lesson before dear old daddy bites the dust. He continues on to the Holy Land as his father wished, to serve the king and the people, though he arrives there after a somewhat bewildering shipwreck that really was not necessary. He then kills a Muslim who challenges him and has the man's servant escort him to Jerusalem, after which he gives the man his freedom and his horse. Evidently, this man then spread word of this great act of charity to every single Muslim on the planet so that they all like Balian in the future and know what a great guy he is.

Once in Jerusalem he goes to see King Baldwin IV. On the way he sees Knights Templar being executed for violating the peace agreement with the Muslims. Marveling at what a great king they had, Balian remarks that these men were killed for doing what the Pope would have commanded them to do. Nothing like that happened in real life of course, but it is important for the filmmakers to highlight just what an evil warmonger the Holy Father was. In town he meets the sister of the king, Princess Sibylle who takes an instant liking to the heartthrob Balian even though she is married to rough and tough Guy of Lusignan who naturally takes just as strong a disliking to our would-be hero. Princess Sibylle is portrayed as a woman trapped in a loveless and unhappy marriage, when in fact the opposite was true. Guy was basically a big, dumb brute, but she was very devoted to him in real life.

Finally, Balian meets King Baldwin IV, the man who SHOULD have been the star of the movie. In this case, the filmmakers mostly get it right. Baldwin IV was, in reality, a very good, upright, wise and heroic ruler who really did come down with leprosy when he was only nine years old. He didn't actually ride around wearing a silver mask, but that is easily forgiven since it looks so cool. In fact, by the end of his young life Baldwin the Leper, as he was called, was so covered by sores that he could not walk at all but had to be carried everywhere on a litter. He is the best man in the movie and my favorite character by far. Of course, they try to portray him as being somewhat more "modern" than he actually was, not one of the religious fanatics, though in fact the young leprous king was a pious man and a great warrior who bested the fierce Saladin more than once when he was only a teenager. Undoubtedly my absolute favorite scene of the entire movie is when King Baldwin confronts the wicked Reynaud of Chatillon. Ordering him to his knees, Baldwin announces, "I am Jerusalem" before taking off his left glove to reveal his withered and sore-covered hand, extending it to Reynaud and ordering him to give him the kiss of peace. Once this is done he gives the bad knight a good thrashing with his riding crop. That is a scene everyone would have to appreciate, and, as a side note to something the movie got right, Saladin really did send his doctors to try and treat the gallant young Christian king.

When the young king finally dies it is a truly sad and touching scene. His sister is there to comfort him and after his death she removes his mask to reveal the ravages of the disease he had kept hidden for so long. However, in his last moments, as he remembered the happier days of his youth, she correctly remarks that he was a man beautiful in every way. That is, in the way that really matters -in the heart. However, as much as I prefer Baldwin, I should get back to the star of the show, Balian of Ibelin. Just to refresh, the real Balian was not illegitimate, he was not French, not a blacksmith and not humble born. He was actually born in the Holy Land, head of a noble family with ambitions of his own, his wife was a Byzantine princess and he did not have a one-night-stand with Princess Sibylle. Oh, did I forget to mention that? The star of the film having an affair with the only babe on screen, boy, I bet no one saw that coming did they? Oddly enough, in the movie (none of this happened in real life) King Baldwin offers to knock off the wicked Guy of Lusignan and marry his sister to Balian. After all, in the movie Sibylle does not love Guy, she does love Balian and this way the Kingdom of Jerusalem will pass to a good guy rather than a murdering thug. The ideal plan right? You would think so, but Balian won't go along with it since our agnostic knight who complains that God does not know him has moral qualms about being responsible for the killing of the wicked and murderous Guy. Oddly enough he didn't seem to have any moral qualms about sleeping with the man's wife! It is just another reason why Balian is such a terrible movie hero. So, ultimately, a maniac takes the throne, provokes a war with Saladin that the Christians cannot win and brings about hundreds or thousands of deaths and the fall of Jerusalem all because Balian does not want to be involved in the death of a bad man who deserved to die anyway. And, I might add, the sole reason given for Balian becoming agnostic is that he went to Calvary and felt no different afterwards. I guess his whole faith hung on visions of angels and a booming voice from the sky telling him everything is okay. For crying out loud, he could have just gone to confession!

Anyway, that is how it works out. The upright King of Jerusalem dies, Baldwin the Leper, and his sister becomes Queen. She automatically makes Guy the new King and he and Reynaud pick a fight with the Muslims by massacring some Arab pilgrims and kidnapping the sister of Saladin (Reynaud was a jerk -most Christians and Muslims would probably agree on this). They are then defeated by Saladin at the Horns of Hattin, after which the Muslim army marches on Jerusalem. It is up to Balian to defend the city even though the local Patriarch advised immediate surrender on any terms. This is another character the films gets wrong, from what I have read the real Patriarch was an upstanding guy. In any event, Balian leads the defense of the city, which is accurate, and does surrender the city after threatening to fight to the death and destroy every holy place therein, which is also true though I think in actuality he only threatened the Muslim sites and I cannot imagine Saladin thinking that might be a good idea (rest assured though Christians come off looking worse there is plenty that would offend devout Muslims as well). Once again, we see how Balian is not the standard sort of hero when his greatest claim to fame is giving up the Holy City. The film then ends on even greater distortions of truth. In fact, Saladin did not let the Christians go free, he ransomed them and anyone who could not pay the ransom was sold into slavery. The film really loses touch with reality when Balian and Sibylle go back to France to live happily ever after where Balian is once again a blacksmith in his same shop (the film ignores the fact that Balian is a wanted criminal here at the start of the film and burns his shop down, so the movie is not even accurate to its own story line) and he turns down an invitation to return to the Holy Land by King Richard I of England. In truth, the real Balian never left and he and Richard were enemies in a bitter dispute over the kingship of Jerusalem, but evidently the film totally abandoned history by the end, throwing up its hands and saying WE JUST DON'T CARE! Of course, what is possibly the least believable thing is that a Medieval princess turned Queen would go off to live in a hut and be the wife of a blacksmith.

Now, with that out of the way, let me say that there were things about this movie that I liked. Ridley Scott knows how to do good battle scenes as we saw in "Gladiator" and this movie has great ones and would have been even better if they had shown the so-called marriage siege at Kerak castle and the Horns of Hattin. There are some great scenes and great lines in this film to compensate for the bad ones. One of my favorites is when the Muslim soldier sees dust on the horizon and announces that "Jerusalem has come" as the Latin knights come marching and riding in, with the True Cross held up front before them and Baldwin the Leper riding in the vanguard. Of course, all of his scenes are touching, and I love how they had his horse trained to kneel so the leper king could step off rather than dismounting in the traditional way. I did not like the way the Templars were portrayed to be a bunch of bloodthirsty fanatics, but there is a lesson to be learned in expecting that God will get you out of any fight just because you are a Christian. What happens at Hattin is a slight parallel to what happened to the Israelites in the Bible when they think they can fight for their own reasons and still gain help from God by carrying the Ark of the Covenant before them, only to have God prove them wrong and allow them to be defeated in spite of the presence of the Ark.

The movie also does show, though only slightly, that there was peace and tolerance in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, that there were real heroes like Baldwin the Leper and that knights were expected to live by a moral code to protect the weak and innocent, which Balian does before the Muslims at Kerak. The film moves well, the only notable exceptions being the time wasted showing Balian spruce up his inherited fiefdom and the boring affair between him and Sibylle. The look of the movie was good, and though I would be wary about recommending it to just anyone because of the anti-religious slant and the gross inaccuracies, I would say it is worth a look if only for the portrayal of the noble Christian King, Baldwin IV and the touching and truthful scenes he is the center of. Once again we see that Hollywood knows all the technical tricks to make a good movie, they just need better stories; better writers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

US Nurse Africa's Latest Monarch

The Republic of Uganda, as most monarchists know, has several ceremonial monarchs reigning on the tribal level. Now, they have one more. Charles Wesley Mumbere was working as a nurse's aide in the United States, no one knowing anything about his ancestry or that for the last few years he had been calling on the Ugandan government to give him official recognition as a king. He was crowned in 1966 as King of the 300,000-strong Rwenzururu nation. However, the "King of the Mountains of the Moon" began as a teenage rebel fighting alongside his father in a war of secession against the neighboring nation of Toro. Mumbere inherited the kingship upon the death of his father but was confined to struggling in the wilderness until he obtained a government scholarship to study in the U.S. Later, Uganda shut off his cash flow and he had to leave school and begin working as a nurse's aide. He said he chose the profession because it promised steady work.

Now, after finally obtaining the blessing of the republican government, the King is back and was welcomed at a colorful celebration to marke his formal restoration to his ancestral throne. He was warned by the President to stick to cultural issues and to stay out of politics (yeah, because the politicians are doing such a great job on that front) but all is not peace and stability for the restored royal. At least four other men are claiming kingship over disputed areas of the Bakonzo-Bamba and have been trying (without success) to raise legal roadblocks to the restoration.

The Latest from Japan

Today, Her Imperial Majesty Empress Michiko of Japan celebrates her birthday. She was born in 1934 in Tokyo to Hidesaburo Shōda and his wife Fumiko Soejima. She attended the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, Harvard in the United States and Oxford in Great Britain. On April 10, 1959 she married HIH Crown Prince Akihito who became Emperor of Japan in 1989. The Mad Monarchist wishes Her Imperial Majesty, the world's last Empress, a happy birthday and many, many more.


Getting bigger every day, HIH Princess Aiko of Japan was cheering loud at the victory of her team in a relay race during an annual autumn sports event at her Gakushuin elementary school in Tokyo last Saturday. Her proud parents, TIH Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako were also on hand to watch and were all smiles like any other pair of proud parents at their daughter's contribution to the victory. She is an adorable little girl, though I am glad that issue of her succession was able to be dodged. Princess Aiko is a great girl, but, call me old fashioned -you wouldn't be the first, I simply cannot picture Japan without an Emperor.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Controversial Aristocrat in Texas

The controversial British peer Lord Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is in College Station, TX, home of Texas A&M (gig'em Aggies!) spreading his message of warning against global climate change legislation currently working its way through the United Nations. His words come just as lame-duck British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that unless drastic action is taken in the next 50 days the WORLD WILL DIE! Needless to say, Lord Monckton takes the opposite view and has contrarily warned that the environmentalist movement has been hijacked by communists who exchanged their "red" for "green" and drummed up the global warming hysteria to push their agenda through which would result in a centralized world government, socialist/communist in nature, which would re-distribute wealth from the first world to the third world.

Needless to say, Lord Monckton is not to popular amongst the "mainstream" crowd of today. Aside from dismissing global warming as a hoax he is on the "wrong" side of many other issues as well. In the past the hereditary peer, a Roman Catholic and member of the Knights of St John and the Knights of Malta, has been associated with the Tory "new right", called heterosexual AIDS a "myth" and advocated the mass quarantine of the infected and has been a vocal enemy of British integration into the European Union which he has described as an "atheistic, humanistic government". Most known for his opposition to global warming alarmism, Lord Monckton has pointed out that he is not an enemy of the environment and was friends with some of the founders of the "green" movement but that these people were soon forced out by radical leftists who took the movement over in order to push their political agenda under the cover of environmentalism.

Monarch Profile: Ferdinand III of Tuscany

Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Tuscany was born on May 6, 1769 to the future Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II and his wife the Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain. He succeeded to the throne of Tuscany when his father was elected Emperor in 1790 and that same year was married to his cousin Princess Luisa of the Two Sicilies. The couple eventually had six children though the last was stillborn. However, Ferdinand was to have a very troubled reign due to the effects of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. When the French Revolutionary Wars first broke out Ferdinand III, understandably for the ruler of a small country, tried to remain neutral but his efforts in this regard went unappreciated and in 1799 French troops marched in to occupy Florence to the cheers of local Tuscan revolutionary republicans.

The loyal people of Tuscany, encouraged by Pope Pius VII, rose up in a counterrevolutionary movement in the name of Ferdinand III against the French. The fighting was often extremely brutal but in the end the French were driven out and with Austrian support Florence was also recovered. However, in October of 1800 the French came back and due to the fact that the occupying Austrians had not always behaved with the best manners there was more local support for France this time around. A provisional government was set up by the French marshal Joachim Murat and in the treaties of Luneville and Aranjuez the Grand Duchy of Tuscany became the Kingdom of Eturia as part of the Spanish empire and with the former Duke Louis of Bourbon-Parma as king.

In an effort to keep the deposed Ferdinand III placated he was made the Duke-Elector of Salzburg in Austria; a duchy made from the seized lands of the former Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. At the end of 1802 he was further promoted to Prince-Elector of the Holy Roman Empire but that body itself would ultimately be dissolved in 1806. However, it did not matter much to Ferdinand at that point as a year earlier he had been forced to relinquish his rule of Salzburg when it was annexed by his brother, Emperor Francis II, in the Treaty of Pressburg. 1802 was a particularly difficult year for Ferdinand as it was also in that year that his wife Luisa died in Vienna during childbirth. The baby boy was still born and was entombed in his mother’s arms in the Imperial Crypt of the Hapsburgs.

Again, using lands seized from the Bishop of Wü rzburg, Ferdinand was made Duke of Wü rzburg, retaining his electoral title for another year until the Empire was dissolved at which time he was compensated by a promotion to Grand Duke of Wü rzburg. It was not until Napoleon had been defeated that on May 30, 1814 Ferdinand III was restored to his original place as Grand Duke of Tuscany, though he would suffer another minor territorial loss the following year. In 1821 Grand Duke Ferdinand married again to Princess Maria of Saxony in Florence. They never had any children and Ferdinand III died a few years later on June 18, 1824. He was succeeded by his son Leopold II who would be the last Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monarchist Destinations: Hawa Mahal

Of the multitude of royal sites of interest in India probably the most famous is the Taj Mahal. My personal favorite would have to be the majestic Mughal palace complex known as the Red Fort. However, one of the less well known but certainly memorable monarchist destinations in India is the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur. It was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh and designed by Lal Chand Usta to resemble the crown of the Hindu god Krishna. Part of the Jaipur city palace it was an embelishment of the Zenana or harem where the royal women lived and this, in part, accounts for the striking face of the palace which was built to allow the ladies of the harem to see out onto the streets below without passersby being able to see in.

Inspired by Mughal architecture it was built in the Rajputana style, five stories tall and made of red and pink sandstone lined with white quick lime. The side facing the street is covered in 953 windows which both keep the inside cool and give the palace its name, the "Hall of the Winds". It is sometimes also referred to as the whispering or singing palace as the brilliant design was built so that the wind blowing through the windows would create a musical sound. Ramps are the only way to reach the upper levels and there is a courtyard inside with 2-story buildings on three sides and another on the east side that is 3 stories tall but only one room wide. It is definitely a sight to see and one of those monuments that, in its style, grandeur and creative design is very uniquely Indian.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hitler: Right Wing Dictator?

I get a little tired of people categorizing Adolf Hitler as a "right-wing dictator". This is because, for the most part, this often seems to come from those who refuse to believe that there is such a thing as a really bad left-wing dictator. Where does this classification come from? Is it simply a monopoly on racism? Because I cannot, for the life of me, see why Adolf Hitler is considered more right-wing than left-wing. Think about it; the man was an irreligious, environmentalist, vegetarian who banned smoking and founded a party called the "National Socialist German Workers Party". Does that sound like a conservative, right-wing guy to you? Hitler was born into the Austrian Empire but had nothing but contempt for the Hapsburg domain which was far too cosmopolitan for his racial purist views and was far too accepting of Jews for his anti-Semitic taste. So much was he against his own homeland that when World War I came he went to fight for Germany rather than Austria.

Furthermore, I would say simply look to Hitler's background and his own words if any doubt remains. He scorned the German princes, insulting them in his political testament Mein Kampf and was inordinately proud of his "common" background and dismissive of the aristocratic class and the old royals. He at times made friendly gestures toward the princely class to win over conservatives but never followed through on his real or implied promises. He purposely copied the methods of the socialists and communists such as in his design of the Nazi flag, chosen, he wrote, because he had seen the hypnotic effect of massed red flags at communist rallies. When the last German Kaiser died he forbid high officials to attend the funeral and when Prince Wilhelm of Prussia was killed in World War II he so feared the monarchist sentiment that arose at his funeral that he forbid German royals from serving at the front after that. Look at his political record.

After World War I he joined the German Workers Party, not the conservatives who wanted a restoration of the old monarchy. He then molded this party into the National Socialist German Workers Party and he made it clear that his vision was an aristocracy of racial blood rather than royal blood and which adhered to a religion of blood and soil rather than Christ and the Apostles. His goal, he openly stated, was to have all class distinctions abolished, something very liberal by the standards of any country. Even when German princes embraced Nazism he was loathe to accept them and did so only for the propaganda value of their conversions. He tried to tread somewhat lightly on the subject of religion because he wanted to appeal to a very broad audience though he did find some of the writings of Martin Luther quite useful when they condemned and ridiculed the Jews. On the whole though, Hitler wanted a new version of Nazi paganism rather than Christianity as can be seen in his insistence that his elite guard, the SS, not have any firm religious convictions. The extent to which Hitler was an occultist is debatable and in all probability he did not have any religion in the common sense of the term. Oddly enough his spiritual beliefs seem most compliant with the liberal elites of today who usually state that they do not believe in organized religion but prefer a vague sort of naturalistic spiritualism. In fact, it was specifically the paganism of Nazi Germany and to a lesser extent fascist Italy that the Pope (Pius XI) condemned and which gave the most pause to more conservative but fervently Christian nationalists like Salazar in Portugal, Franco in Spain and Dollfuss in Austria.

There were right-wing elements to Hitler and some fairly conservative sorts of people among his followers, but on the whole, I cannot see how anyone can call Hitler a right-wing guy. From his background, political testament and the state he created I do not see how the man can be considered, on the whole, to be of anything other than the political left. He was no friend of monarchy, wanted all class differences abolished, legalized abortion (for non-Aryans), banned smoking, instituted gun control, was a fervent environmentalist, a vegetarian and hated organized religion in favor of a nature-based spiritualism. I ask again, does any of that sound conservative or right-wing to you?

Consort Profile: Queen Leonor of Viseu

Queen Leonor of Viseu was the consort of King Joao II of Portugal and quite a remarkable woman. The Infanta Leonor was born on May 2, 1458 to Infante Fernando, Duke of Viseu and his wife Beatrice of Portugal. Her maternal grandfather was Afonso, first Duke of Braganza. In January of 1471 the 13-year-old Leonor was married to the 16-year-old Joao Prince of Portugal, heir to throne as the only living son of King Afonso V. In 1475 Leonor gave birth to the first of her only two children, Prince Afonso, who was sadly later to die a premature death in a horse-riding accident in 1491. In 1482 she gave birth to another son, named after his father, but he did not survive.

On August 28, 1481 King Afonso V died and Leonor’s husband became King Joao II of Portugal. The new king was widely unpopular amongst the nobles as he sought to curtail their power and centralize government authority. Part of this was because of the many schemes and court intrigues that naturally tended to hatch from the nobility. No one could say that Queen Leonor had any undue influence on her husband in his zeal to wipe out corruption in the nobility. Her older brother, Duke Diogo of Viseu and her brother-in-law Duke Fernando II of Braganza were both executed by her husband after being linked to a treasonous plot against him. This campaign of the Crown against the nobility almost wiped out the house of Braganza (which might have seriously changed Portuguese history had it happened).

One of the things the Queen is most known for is her foundation of the city of Caldas da Rainha which was named after her. She was greatly troubled by the conspiracies that surrounded her husband and when he died on October 25, 1495 there were rumors that he had been poisoned. His reign had been an eventful one, fraught with conflict but also one which saw the elevation of Prince Henry the Navigator and a renewal of exploration that laid the foundations of the future Portuguese empire. In his absence Queen Leonor devoted herself to the Church and charitable works. Her brother became King Manuel I and she established, in 1498, the Holy Houses of Mercy which worked to relieve the suffering of the poor, the diseased, abandoned children and orphans. Thanks to her, the Holy Houses of Mercy later sprang up across the world in Portuguese colonies making Queen Leonor the founder of an empire of compassion just as impressive if not moreso than that of her late husband.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Latest from Luxembourg

The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg has passed a few milestones lately. October 7th marked the ninth anniversary of Grand Duke Henri's accession to the Luxembourg throne. They marked the occasion with the release of a new set of family photos, group and individual, in formal and informal attire, showing off again that the Grand Ducal Family are obvious winners in the genetic lottery. The photos can be see on the Luxembourg monarchy's website here. These were the first family photos to include Princess Tessy, the wife of Prince Louis, and the couple’s two sons, Gabriel and Noah. On October 9th TRH Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg were in Monaco for the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer gala hosted by HSH Prince Albert II (covered on Mad for Monaco). Yesterday, HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg along with his son and heir Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume hosted a reception at the Grand Ducal Palace following the ceremonious opening of the Chamber of Deputies for Luxembourg's new political term. Ordinarily Grand Duchess María Teresa would have attended but is still taking it easy after having surgery early last month.

Monarchist Profile: Phan Boi Chau

One of the greatest loyal counterrevolutionary figures of 20th Century Vietnam was Sao Nam Phan Boi Chau. He was born in 1867 in the Province of Nghe An to a proud educated family. As a boy he displayed great intelligence very early. In 1890 Phan Boi Chau earned a second class degree (Pho bang) in the metropolitan examinations. With such an accomplishment, an intellectual such as Phan Boi Chau could have easily become a great official, scholar or other high position. However, he determined early on to use his talents and his devotion to Vietnam and the Great Nguyen Dynasty to set his country and his people free of colonial control.

In 1903 Phan Boi Chau formed the Restoration Society of revolutionary patriots under the leadership of His Imperial Highness Prince Cuong De, a descendant of Crown Prince Nguyen Phuc Canh and Emperor Gia Long. In 1905 Phan Boi Chau and Prince Cuong De formed a base for revolutionary activity in Japan, safe from the colonial authorities in Vietnam. Phan Boi Chau wrote many great articles and tracts calling on the people to join him in the struggle to free Vietnam and restore its greatness as a free modern monarchy with liberty for the people under the Nguyen Dynasty.

After being removed from Japan, Phan Boi Chau went to China to continue his revolutionary activities. He formed a new organization, hoping to win support from all groups of Vietnamese patriots. Although he wished to modernize, he had already shown that his first idea was to restore freedom while keeping the ancient monarchy of the Nguyen Dynasty in place. When forming his patriotic groups, he took his inspiration from the "Can Vuong" Save the King movement led by Emperor Ham Nghi. He took as his core supporters the great patriots who had fought for Emperor Ham Nghi in the years of the Can Vuong movement. These many made numerous attempts to overthrow the colonial regime and Phan Boi Chau was even imprisoned in China. Despite all of this though, he stressed that harmony with France was needed, he desired freedom from the colonial regime but also offered friendship to his enemies.

In 1925 Phan Boi Chau was moving in the International Settlement in Shanghai when he was captured by French colonial authorities. He had been betrayed by his fellow revolutionary Ho Chi Minh who had sold his freedom to the French. Because of this treason Phan Boi Chau was taken to Hanoi and convicted of treason with a sentance of death, but his fellow Vietnamese who admired his courage and loyal patriotism refused to allow his death. He was therefore placed under house arrest in his cottage in the Imperial capital of Hue until his death in 1940. He is still honored by all for his heroic patriotism and loyalty to the people, the country and the Nguyen Dynasty.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MM Video: Bette Davis as Empress Carlota

video

Cinema Royals: Bette Davis

Bette Davis was at her typical best in the 1939 bio-pic "Juarez" as the tragic Empress Carlota of Mexico. The superb cast included Paul Muni as Benito Juarez, Brian Aherne as Emperor Maximilian (who was nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for his performance), the always excellent Claude Rains as Emperor Napoleon III, Gale Sondergaard as Empress Eugenie, John Garfield as General Porfirio Diaz and Donald Crisp as Marshal Achille de Bazaine. However, Bette Davis easily captivated the audience as Empress Carlota, bearing at least a passing resemblance to the Belgian empress and, on the whole, giving a fairly accurate portayal of the woman. She mentions that it was she who pressed Maximilian to accept the Mexican throne and she effectively conveys the idealism that Carlota had for what she and her beloved Max could make of Mexico as well as her fiery determination in times of crisis. In this film Carlota is made ignorant of the fact (though Max and his doctor are not) that she can have no children and one of the most moving scenes is her heartfelt prayer in a candle-lit cave before a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe to give her a son so that her husband's throne might be secure. Her scenes with Maximilian are truly moving and their on-screen relationship totally overshadows the story of the wooden, plodding Benito Juarez. She is heartbroken at the idea of adopting an heir from the Iturbide dynasty but, once persuaded that this is best, accepts the boy as her own. Still, her best scenes are the most tragic as she journeys to France for a showdown with Napoleon who has left them in the lurch. Her descent into paranoia and madness must rank as one of Bette Davis' greatest performances in her illustrious career. "Juarez" is a movie well worth seeing, even if one must skip through the scenes featuring the president, and although not entirely historically accurate it does get many things right. It is guilty more of the over-glorification of Juarez rather than slandering or vilifying Carlota and Maximilian. A great performance and one of my personal favorites.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monarch Profile: King Frederick I of Wurttemberg

Frederick I is known for being the first King of Wurttemberg and for being extremely large (he was nearly 7 feet tall and weighed over 400 pounds!). He was the nephew of Duke Charles Eugene of Wurttemberg whose reckless spending and wars had left the country divided, relatively poor and quite volatile. His father had purposely raised him as a Protestant so that he would share the religion of the majority of his future subjects (the previous dukes of Wurttemberg had been Catholic). Expected to inherit the throne steps were taken to see that he would be prepared for the job. Empress Catherine II of Russia made him governor-general of eastern Finland from Viipuri. In 1797 he succeeded his short-reigning father as Duke Frederick III of Wurttemberg but within 3 years was forced to flee to Vienna by after the French invaded.

Frederick signed his own secret peace with France and was raised to the status of a Prince-Elector in the formal peace that followed. Later, when he agreed to provide troops to aid the French the Emperor Napoleon had him elevated to the status of King of Wurttemberg. The country left the Holy Roman Empire to join the French-backed Confederation of the Rhine and Frederick even had his daughter Catherine married to Napoleon's brother Jerome. This match likely did not go over well in London with Frederick's father-in-law, King George III of Britain. During the French war against Russia the Wurttemberg troops earned a high reputation for their discipline and tenacity, their few survivors being the only soldiers marching in perfect formation on the horrific retreat from Moscow.
A very pragmatic ruler, Frederick turned on his former French allies during the War of Liberation of 1813, playing up his British family ties, and was rewarded at the Congress of Vienna by having his kingship confirmed by the more established powers of Europe. The alliance with France had truly been one of forced necessity and neither Frederick nor Napoleon had very many kind things to say about the other. In political terms his reign was a great success seeing Wurttemberg fight on the losing side, emerge on the winning side and raised to the status of a kingdom. In private he was much less of a success. His marriage to Duchess Augusta of Brunswick was an unhappy one and many rumors spread about Frederick, from accusations of homosexuality to being abusive toward his wife. They had 2 sons and 2 daughters before Augusta's death in 1788. Frederick later married the Princess Royal of Great Britain but had only one daughter who was born dead. The massive monarch died in 1816, one year after joining the German Confederation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monaco Updates

For those not keeping up with the "sister blog", some recent posts which might be of interest to Mad Monarchist readers include bios of Lord Charles II, the patron of Monaco St Devote which ties in with his story, a series of posts on the Casiraghis who are the younger face of Monaco; Andrea, Pierre and Charlotte and the latest about Prince Albert II and Belgium's Princess Astrid at the premiere of the film "Oceans". Lots of stuff there, not updated as often as this blog, but if you want to know about the history and monarchy of Monaco and keep up with the Grimaldis check out Mad for Monaco.

Borbon Royals Celebrate Spanish National Day

Viva el Rey! Arriba Espana!

Happy Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day and it seems that the more controversial and "politically incorrect" Columbus becomes the more I feel like supporting and defending the memory of the man. About the only zealous supporters of Columbus Day these days are the Italian-Americans who are none too happy when their most famous Genoese countryman is slandered. First, I should probably dismiss a few things right off. Yes, Columbus was not the first European to "discover" America. The Vikings were certainly in the New World long before and numerous other evidence suggests possible visits by others as well. However, Columbus' voyage was the one that mattered. It was his voyage that permanently put the Americas on the map, it was his voyage that started the exploration and colonization of the Americas. Others that preceded Columbus left hardly a trace but the voyage of Columbus changed the world.

Most outrageous, however, is the effort by many today to portray Columbus as some sort of genocidal villain who is responsible for the deaths of multitudes of Native American Indians. To say that is absurd is putting it lightly. It would be like blaming the first merchant to travel the Silk Road for the Black Death. It is also a slam against Spain's great Queen Isabella I who was very specific in her instructions that though she considered converting the Indians a major reason for the voyage she also said that they should be "treated as free people, for such they are". This also relates to another reason why Columbus is so hated by those on the radical, leftist fringe; he was a very religious man who was dispatched on his voyage by very religious monarchs. Spreading Christianity was part of his mission and there are those today who consider this a greater plague than the diseases brought along with them. Those people I really do not understand as, Christianity had and has its problems but no one is performing human sacrifices on top of pyramids anymore and one would think that would be considered a good thing.

Columbus should be given credit for his remarkable accomplishment and he should not be blamed for every ill that followed in his wake. No one intends to spread disease and although the Indians were at times treated bad, they were not treated as an "untouchable" class or we would not have the modern Latin American people, tha majority of which are descendants of Spanish and Indian ancestors. I also think it does people good, especially as they grow more powerful in the world, to look back at those Spaniards, Italians, English, French etc and say, because of these intrepid few, our countries exist today.

MM Video: Iturbide

A look at the first Mexican emperor

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Belgian Royals at Papal Ceremony

Their Majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola of the Belgians met with HH Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on the occasion of the canonization of five new saints, one of which was St Damien of Molokai, a Belgian priest who served the afflicted people of the leper colony of Molokai island in the Kingdom of Hawaii, eventually contracting the disease himself, as expected, and passing away in 1889. For a country as relatively young (at least in its current form) as the Kingdom of Belgium the ties between the Belgian monarchy and the Holy See are very strong. During the Risorgimento in Italy many Belgians went to fight in defense of the Papal States with the Papal Zouaves. It was a Belgian, Msgr Xavier de Merode, whom Bl. Pope Pius IX appointed Minister of War to deal with that crisis. After the war the Belgian royal court sent the "prisoner of the Vatican" a very magnificent papal tiara (one of my favorites) to show that his authority remained untouched in the hearts of the faithful. King Albert I and King Leopold III were well known for their devout faith and the late King Baudouin was the last living knight of the Papal Supreme Order of Christ; then the highest papal honor possible given only to Catholic heads of state for certain actions or occasions by the Pope himself. King Albert II and Queen Paola previously attended a special mass in honor of St Damien before going to Rome for the formal canonization in St Peter's Basilica.

Consort Profile: Maria Theresa of Spain

One of the most well known yet over-shadowed consorts of royal history must be Maria Theresa of Spain, wife of the simultaneously marvelous and immoral King Louis XIV of France. She was born Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain at El Escorial to King Felipe IV in 1638 with the blood of many famous Spanish, Austrian, Italian and French royals in her veins. Her mother, Elizabeth of France, died when she was only 6 and though her father adored her she was often neglected by her stepmother. In 1660, after a long series of negotiations, she left Spain and her beloved father in tears to be married to King Louis XIV of France.

At first all was happiness and splendor between Maria Theresa and Louis. The public adored them both; the handsome glorious monarch and his beautiful, devoutly religious wife. However, Maria Theresa’s sweet tooth soon caused her to put on weight and though the king continued to do his marital duty every night he soon began enjoying a long succession of mistresses which greatly distressed the queen and she became more and more withdrawn, comforted by her faith and her collection of dwarves (her ladies in waiting being potential distractions for Louis). However, Maria Theresa was never vindictive and would easily forgive husband and mistresses alike when they sought it of her.

At court, Maria Theresa became very close to her aunt and mother-in-law Queen Anne who had largely been behind the match as a way to bring peace to her two countries of France and Spain. In November of 1661 she gave birth to a son and Spanish musicians played below her chamber to remind her of home though it did nothing to relieve her distress. Nonetheless, within a few months she was pregnant again. In time she would give Louis XIV six children though the King’s infidelities only increased over time. She finally seemed to accept this as a fact of life and stopped complaining, at least so openly about it. It also helped that Louis was always very kind to her, insisted that all treat her with the greatest respect and it was, unfortunately, hardly an unheard of thing. She tolerated Madame de Montespan and even became rather friendly with Madame de Maintenon who actually pushed Louis to give Maria Theresa more attention and for which the Queen was grateful.

Maria Theresa did act as regent on one occasion while Louis was at the front but most viewed her as rather unintelligent. This, however, was more probably due to her reserved and pious nature rather than any real lacking on her part. In 1683 a tumor was discovered under her arm and it quickly became problematic and extremely painful. Her health failed quickly and she finally found relief from her agony when she died on July 30, 1683. Louis XIV said of her death, “This is the first trouble which she has given me”. She was given a lavish funeral, fitting for a woman who had been such a faithful, dutiful and tolerant queen consort.

It should also be noted that Maria Theresa is (possibly) the Queen who actually said, “Let them eat cake” which is often attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette. However, the actual quote was an innocent remark, taken out of context and referred to a simple sweet bread that the peasants usually had plenty of and it was that; not an elaborate frosted cake which would have been eaten by the nobility, to which the Queen referred.
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