Friday, April 29, 2011

They're Married

Quite an eventful night it has been (and I'm very tired at the moment). What can I say, nobody does it quite like the Brits when it comes to royal pomp and ceremony (come to think of it, no one really makes an effort besides the Brits these days). I thought it was spectacular, my only complaint was with the media coverage which (I'm hoping this was just an American thing) contained waaaay too much talk about Diana. Everyone looked at ease, in good humor but dignified. Prince William was very smart in his Irish Guards uniform (can't beat a British soldier in a red coat) and the bride, this is just my taste, I think takes the prize as far as her style and appearance etc. I think she really pulled off the traditional-modern fusion perfectly, just the picture of loveliness. Their new titles were also announced, henceforth they are Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Certainly a day to remember, and I certainly will, but right now I'm running on empty. God bless them both, I hope they have a very long and happy life together and Long Live the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!

Royal Viewing Party in Progress

The HQ compound is covered in Union Jacks and the viewing party for the royal wedding is already in full swing. We'll be making a nice long night of it and I will probably spend most of tomorrow in one long nap. I'm sure most readers here will be doing much the same. Have fun!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Monarchist Profile: Anton Lehár

One of the most committed Hungarian monarchists of the tumultuous Twentieth Century was Baron Anton von Lehár. He was born in Sopron in the Kingdom of Hungary on February 21, 1876. His family was fairly well known but more for their musical abilities than anything else. His father was in the musical corps of the Royal Hungarian Army and his brother Franz was a talented composer who would later go on to considerable fame in that field. Anton, however, determined on a military career and attended infantry cadet school in Vienna after completing his preliminary education. He graduated in 1893, first in his class, and was posted as a lieutenant to Regiment No. 50 where his father served as band master. From 1897 to 1899 he attended the war college where he earned further promotion and in 1900 was posted to the Imperial & Royal General Staff. Lehár was promoted to captain, taught rifle tactics and earned the military cross along with other awards including honors from Romania and the Ottoman Empire.

By 1913 Lehár had attained field rank as a major and when World War I broke out he was given command of a battalion of Regiment 13 in Army Group Kummer. Lehár and his men were soon thrown into combat against the Russian 4th Army at the battle of Chodel south of Lublin. Lehár greatly distinguished himself in very hard fighting as the Russians tried to separate Army Group Kummer from Baron von Dankl’s First KuK Army. For his skill and courage he was decorated with the knights cross of the Maria Theresa Order and, for this action, was later ennobled with the title of baron in 1918. The next month, September, with brutal combat still raging in the Lublin area, Lehár was badly wounded and further decorated with the Order of the Iron Crown. Forced out of front line service while he recovered from his wounds he was posted to the general staff, specifically the Tyrol defense department. He distinguished himself in that position as well and was soon promoted to lieutenant colonel and decorated by the Germans with the Iron Cross in 1915.

However, Lehár was a man of action and pressed for a return to combat duty and was posted to the Italian front. However, in 1916, he was pulled out of the line to take command of the Infantry and Cavalry Weapons Department. While there he pushed for more machine guns on the company level but was never content with serving behind a desk and soon persuaded the high command to send him back into battle. In 1917 he was posted to command Landsturmbataillon 150 which he led in heavy fighting in the Bukovina region. In early 1918 he was sent to the Piave sector to command infantry regiment 106 where he earned promotion to colonel and the officers’ gold medal for bravery. His bravery and tactical skill inspired his troops and they were devotedly loyal to him and, at the end of the war, even as the empire was dissolving around them, he brought his regiment home without a single incidence of desertion. As a loyal Hapsburg monarchist and a zealous Hungarian patriot he was greatly disturbed by the fall of the Dual Empire and the Allied treaties which stripped the Kingdom of Hungary of most of its territory.

Many men in the position that Baron Lehár was in were leaving the country as the situation in Hungary descended into chaos with the fall of the monarchy and a wave of communist infiltration. However, Baron Lehár was made of sterner stuff and with the support of his brother Franz he determined to stay in Hungary and fight for his king and the preservation of the monarchy. Mobilizing loyal troops, he took command of a division to drive the Bolsheviks out of Lemberg before going on to Styria to fight the invading forces of Yugoslavia. In 1919 the regent, Admiral Horthy, promoted Lehár to major general and gave him command of the military district of western Hungary. Horthy and his forces had defeated an attempted communist takeover of Hungary by Bela Kun, however, Lehár and other loyal monarchists became discontented with the rule of Horthy as he maintained the monarchy but continually put off any suggestions of actually returning the King to the throne. The king, also Emperor Charles I of Austria, was in exile in Switzerland and anxious to return to Hungary to save what he could of the Hapsburg lands.

In 1921, Emperor Charles (Karoly IV in Hungary) returned to Hungary from Switzerland to resume his royal duties. Arriving on Holy Saturday, the “Easter Crisis”, as it became known, ended when Admiral Horthy persuaded the king to go back into exile, still protesting his loyalty to the monarchy, but arguing that the time was still not right for a full restoration. Charles did so but became convinced that, left on his own, Horthy would never think the time was right and meant to rule Hungary himself for the rest of his life. Therefore, in October, a new and more coordinated restoration attempt was made. Charles returned to Hungary, accompanied by his pregnant wife, to show that the King and Queen were determined to come home to stay. Upon landing, Baron Lehár was the first major figure they met with and he quickly began organizing loyal Hungarian soldiers for the return of the King to Budapest, with or without the support of the regent.

The King appointed the loyal baron Minister of Defense in the new administration he was drawing up. Baron Lehár was right beside his King as they made their way toward the capital, despite orders from Horthy to halt the advance, and Charles was hailed and cheered by crowds in every town they passed through. However, Horthy was organizing his own forces and gained a great deal of support when the British government stated their total opposition to a Hapsburg restoration in Hungary. Divisions appeared as the government officials, in the face of international opposition, began to hold aloof or drift back toward Horthy. Emperor Charles knew he could count on the support of Baron Lehár and Major Gyula Ostenberg but for the rest, there was doubt. Horthy warned of disaster if Charles was restored and used the British statement of opposition as “proof” that the world community would never accept a restoration in Hungary to sway top leaders and military officials to his side. Baron Lehár and Colonel Ostenberg wanted to fight it out, convinced that they could win, but Charles wanted no bloodshed and forbid any further struggle. He returned to exile and Admiral Horthy, still calling himself regent, remained safely in power in Budapest.

Lehár was heartbroken by this and in immediate danger as Horthy considered him a “traitor” to him personally for siding with the King. Labeled as a criminal by the government, Baron Lehár was forced to leave his beloved country, via Czechoslovakia, and go to Germany where friends of his brother took him in. He began to establish himself again, drawing upon his family ties with music, as the leader of a group of writers, artists and composers, however, when the Nazi Party came to power his position as a noted monarchist endangered him and Lehár had to leave Germany and move to Austria where the new regime was more friendly toward monarchists. In Vienna he started a music publishing company but gave it up to his brother and moved to the country when the Nazi tendrils began reaching into Austria as well. When the Nazis occupied and annexed Austria the Baron and his wife were forced to move back to Vienna where they were kept under house arrest by the Nazi secret police. He promoted the music of his brother, taking over his estate after his death, and continued until his own death in Vienna in 1962, never reconciled with the brutal communist occupation of his native country.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

O'Reilly Update

For those of you who didn't watch, I am very pleased to say that a majority (53% to 47%) considered Bill O'Reilly a pinhead for bashing the British monarchy. I send my personal thanks to all of you who voted, bombastic Bill even promised to be more respectful toward the monarchy "if that's what you want". I am also very pleased that Texas was on the right side of the issue, voting 55% to 45% that O'Reilly's insults of the monarchy were pinheaded.

Refuting Republicanism in Christianity Part III

Finally, we have those people who try to frame the argument about “Christian republicanism” versus monarchy in such a way as to neutralize whatever scriptural evidence you can present. They will try to argue that all the verses concerning kings and monarchy do not matter because monarchy was the only game in town back then and the people in the Bible had no conception of what a republic was. They then assume that if they had, surely they would have all been ardent republicans. First of all, you know when this argument comes up that it is time to move in for the kill because they have run slap out of ideas. So, let us begin shall we…

In the first place, God knows everything and if God had desired a republic He would have commanded his prophets to establish one but, we know that didn’t happen, they established a monarchy. Secondly, certainly by the time of the New Testament, the people of Israel (with whom most of the Bible is primarily concerned) certainly would have at least heard of things like the democracies of Greece and the Roman Republic. In fact, by the time of the New Testament they would have been intimately familiar with the workings of the Roman Republic as they had by then become a client state of the Roman Republic and there was already a Jewish population in the city of Rome itself. However, it is true that the word “republic” never appears in the Bible. However, there are a number of passages which describe what republics or democracies are all about and none of them refer to these things in a favorable way.

Hosea 8:4, in a listing of transgressions, says, “They have set up kings but not by Me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off”. Think about what that means. Is it not at least somewhat descriptive of a republic? What is a president but a man “the people” (a majority or some powerful faction) has set up in the place of a king? I think it is also no coincidence that these condemnations of setting up rulers without considering God is put in the very same verse as a reference to idolatry. If a monarchy brings down the danger of pride upon one, a republic brings down the danger of pride on everyone. Rather than submit to God the people sometimes set up idols to worship and in the same way, rather than submit to the monarch God has provided (via the miracle of birth) people sometimes set up their own “king” (a president) to rule them according to their whims and fancies.

We also see it made clear throughout the Bible that democracy (which is the real or claimed basis of every republic -though they are not the same thing) is spoken of in a very negative way. Probably the best known passage of this kind is Matthew 7:13 which says, “Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat”. Again, pause for a moment and consider that passage. Read the rest of the chapter to get some context, politics is certainly not the subject here, but it makes a very critical point that is made numerous times throughout the Bible. The majority will usually do what is wicked, what is easy and wrong while only a few will choose the hard path of righteousness. Although this passage is not about politics, it nonetheless makes a critical point about the very nature of democracy and the idea that the majority is always right.

However, as always, the weapon of last resort is the personal attack and republicans will say that the “nice” things said in the Bible about kings were all about King David, who was a very virtuous and upright man, but every other king in the Bible was terrible. Surely, they will try to reason, the commands to obey the king apply only to the good kings that God favored (David being the only one they can usually name). In the first place, not all kings of Israel were bad, neither were the most celebrated (David included) completely perfect yet this never had an impact on their position or right to rule. God made a covenant with King David, the only unconditional covenant God ever made in fact, which stated that the “divine right”, if you like, of the House of David to rule would never be taken away. In II Samuel 7:12-17 God, by the prophet Nathan, told David that his line would endure forever and that if his descendants were wicked, God would punish them but that he would never remove his favor from them as He did from Saul for the sake of King David.

It is also clear from scripture that the personal morality of a monarch has no bearing on the duties a subject has to be loyal to them. Surely everyone knows the famous passage, Mark 12:17, when Jesus was asked about paying tribute to the Roman Caesar, “And Jesus answering, said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him”. The fact of the matter is, when Jesus said that, the only Caesar in the world was the Emperor Tiberius who, by that time, had gone rather off the deep end and was living in paranoid debauchery on the island of Capri. Even at his best, Tiberius was a pagan and Jesus surely would not have approved of that, yet still the command was to be loyal and obey the law. Further, I Peter 2:17 states, “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God and honor the Emperor”. This was, interestingly enough, written by St Peter during the reign of the Emperor Nero under whose persecution Peter himself was later martyred. Clearly, personal character has nothing to do with legal obligations so far as the Bible is concerned.

That is not to say, of course, that personal character did not matter but it is a clear indication of how far removed Christian principles are from endorsing republican revolution. Now, as we come to the end of this little series, consider the sheer amount of Biblical scripture we have covered (and I could list many, many more) dealing with the sacred nature of kingship and the commands to obedience of monarchs. When taken altogether we can see that many things today commonly held as fundamentally “Christian” actually have less Biblical support behind them than does the support for monarchy which also spans both the Old and the New Testaments. You can also read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelations as many times as you wish and you will never find any endorsement of democracy, republicanism or indeed much of any good at all coming from the popular will of the majority. Whether it was the liberated Israelites howling for Moses to take them back to Egypt or the mob baying for the blood of Christ, when it comes to the Bible, the majority is usually wrong.

Perhaps the fundamental difference is that republics, even under the best of circumstances, are based on pride; the idea that “we” know what is best for us and that “we” will submit to no one higher than us or humble ourselves before anyone. Republican power is based on popularity at best or brute force at worst. Monarchial power, on the other hand, is based on the miracle of birth and the guiding hand of God. As God simply puts it in Proverbs 8:15, “By Me kings reign and princes decree justice”. Submission to the will of God or to selfish pride; those are, and always have been, the only two choices. Amen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Call a Republican a Pinhead

I don't often do this sort of thing (because of past experience) but the poll has been extended for another day and I cannot resist. I urge every monarchist who reads this blog to go to and scroll down toward the bottom of the page and vote in the "Pinheads & Patriots" poll to tell Bill O'Reilly he is a pinhead for insulting the British Royal Family and the British Monarchy as a whole on the occasion of the upcoming royal wedding. Few do, I don't know why, but do monarchy a favor and go vote, don't underestimate public support for the monarchy. I know more than a thousand people a day visit The Mad Monarchist and if everyone would vote it would certainly make a difference. The stated reason for extending this poll was that it was "very close" which tells me that opinion was slightly against Mr. O'Reilly and he wants to give his minions time to pull his chestnuts out of the fire. So, go vote! Even if you usually like O'Reilly, he is definitely being a pinhead (and just plain rude) on this subject. I don't often ask favors of my readers, but do me a solid and strike a minor blow for the British monarchy and tell O'Reilly he's a pinhead!

Refuting Republicanism in Christianity Part II

When it comes to Biblical support for monarchy, one is often tempted to wonder just how much proof some people need. The Bible commands obedience to kings. Shouldn’t that be the end of it? No, republicans will argue, because it also contains condemnations of kings. The Bible contains the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” and yet no one seems to think that divine commands for war, even wars of annihilation, countermand that simple commandment. Yet, when it comes to monarchy it seems the standards are always higher. No matter how much Biblical evidence one can point to there are always those who think that other passages countermand it. Of course, arguing with those sorts of people will get you nowhere fast. All I can recommend in that case is to point out a simple statement of logic. Either the Bible is the inerrant word of God or it is not. If it is not, there is no point in adhering to any part of it. If it is, then there can be no contradiction, only verses which must be taken together to balance each other out.

Among the Israelites, monarchy grew up naturally from the early patriarchs. If you think monarchy only started in the time of King Saul, guess again. In Genesis God promised that Abraham would be the father of princes and we see that from the very beginning, even before they were a unified nation, the Israelites had monarchial government for the individual tribes. Numbers 1:44 states, “These are those that were numbered, which Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men: each one was for the house of his fathers”. We can safely assume that if God found monarchy inherently wrong he would have prevented this from happening. However, the tribes and their princes simply grew up naturally out of the obedience children had for their parents and extended family members toward their family patriarch. Given how long people tended to live in the early Old Testament, the descendants of one man would have easily been numerous enough to be considered a “tribe” in his own lifetime and that one man, according to natural filial piety, would have ultimately held authority over all of them.

It is also in the book of Numbers that we see the princes, ruling over “thousands” as having a place of not only political but spiritual importance. Numbers 7:84 states, “This was the dedication of the altar, in the day when it was anointed, by the princes of Israel: twelve charges of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve spoons of gold:” and so on. So, it is important to keep in mind two things; monarchy existed on the tribal level from the very beginning and these princes had a temporal and a spiritual role from the beginning. So, let us move on to where things get controversial. When it comes to arguing monarchy from a Biblical perspective, someone will doubtlessly bring up the creation of the “united kingdom” of Israel under King Saul and how the Prophet Samuel seemed to think this was a terrible idea and, even worse, a rejection of God in favor of some sort of flesh-and-blood idolatry. Let us calm down and demolish this argument right now.

In I Samuel Chapter 8 we see hints that there was already some sort of hereditary theocracy in place. Samuel effectively ruled the people of Israel, as a pontiff, carrying out the commands God spoke to him. However, the people were worried because Samuel was getting old and, it seems, he was not the best father in the world to his own children as the people did not think much of the behavior of his sons (again, which makes it sound as though his pontifical office was hereditary). So, the people wanted a king and Samuel was rather upset by this. He prays to God and God basically says to give them a king but warn them of the dangers of having one and let them know that when they start to groan and complain about their king, God is not going to give them any sympathy. In I Samuel 8:11 we see the warning of Samuel about what “dangers” having a king will include. Essentially, it is the threat of conscription.

What is important to remember here is that the warnings Samuel gives are not unique to kings but would apply to any national government of any kind. A president would do the same things (as history shows). His actual warning is not against having a king as opposed to some other ruler but is really a warning against the downside of collectivism. Any time you band together in order to gain certain benefits you are also going to have to sacrifice some things too. However, the most important thing to remember, yet the one thing most don’t is that the bottom line is: God said to give them a king! They asked Samuel for a king, Samuel asked God about it and God said to let them have a king. Chapter 8, verse 9, God said, “Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them”. Despite the drawbacks, despite the inevitable downside of having any sort of national government, God said to give them a king. Plain and simple, thus says the Lord, give the rascals a king!

Now, it is time to get all reasonable and logical again. It was either right or wrong for Israel to have a king. If it was wrong, that would have to mean that God either made a mistake, acted against His own better, divine judgment or that the people with their incessant whining pushed God into allowing them to do something He really did not want them to do. For me, that line of thinking does not hold water. So, the only other option is that it was right, it was part of the plan and God was simply preparing the people for the pitfalls that would come with having a unified national government. I would think that anyone who believes in an omniscient and omnipotent God would have to choose option number two. It is also significant, since many people point out the many flaws of the first King of Israel, Saul, that it was God who directed Samuel to choose him. What people must not lose sight of is the fact that when God decided to allow a united government it was one based on His own style of leadership in which the choice of monarch lies with God rather than man, and that Saul, for all of his faults, was chosen by God to rule. According to 1 Samuel 9:17, “When Samuel saw Saul, God told him, ‘That is the man of whom I told you; he shall rule My people”.

It is made clear repeatedly that, while the people have demanded a king to fight for them, it is God who chooses who will fill that role. In chapter 12, Samuel points out that God’s anger is due to their loss of faith in Him, their failure to trust the God who delivered them in the past, to deliver them from their present enemies. Furthermore, it is made clear that kingship itself is not to blame since that is the way of God (verse 12, “God Himself is your king”) and the people are reminded that if they repent, trust and obey God, and their king with them, “all will be well” (14). God did choose to give Israel a king and had Saul anointed with holy oil by the prophet in a religious ceremony to formalize the bond between the earthly and Heavenly rulers of God’s people. This is an area in which many Christians fail to see the forest for all of the trees. All else aside, Saul was anointed and proclaimed king on orders from the Almighty.

This anointing was extremely important (and it would continue to be throughout most of the history of Christian monarchy) and was the public recognition that the king had a sacred duty to perform. The very word “Christ” means, ‘anointed one’. Among the Israelites it is significant that kings were included amongst the high priests, prophets and sacred objects used in worship that were anointed with holy oil. Every serious Christian should keep that in mind and not simply shrug off or dismiss the fact that the kings, starting with King Saul and King David, were anointed by the prophet (acting on behalf of God in his pontifical role) with holy oil. Remember that even after King Saul fell out of favor with God and was trying to kill David (who God favored) even when David had the chance to kill Saul, as his friends urged, he did not, saying, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord” (I Samuel 23:6). So, we see clear Biblical evidence that, not only was the monarchy instituted by God, and the king chosen by God but that he had a sacred position and his person was sacrosanct and inviolable. There is simply no way to dismiss (because of the attitude of the people at the time and warnings about the nature of government) the sacred nature of monarchy clearly shown in the Bible.

The Bible is literally full of passages commanding obedience to kings (such as Ecclesiastes 8:2-5 or Proverbs 24:21-22), prayers for kings and the fact that kings reigned by the grace of God. Certainly this was true of Israel where the House of David was so sacred that the King was even called the son of God (I Chronicles 17:13). However, we also see in Daniel 5:18 that this applied also to Gentile kings such as the King of Babylon. However, when presented with this evidence one will likely hear that the Bible says something about not trusting princes. It says that right? Princes are bad and we should not trust them, right? Once again, no, it says nothing of the sort. What it does say, in Psalm 118:8-9 is that, “I would rather take refuge in God than rely on men; I would rather take refuge in God than rely on princes”. Psalm 146:3 also says, “Put not your faith in princes, nor in the son of man in whom there is no help”. These two verses are quoted often by republicans even though I could quote several verses for each of these not simply suggesting but commanding loyalty to kings and princes.

Notice how these verses are worded. They say nothing about obedience or loyalty but speak of trust and faith. Obviously, and no Christian monarchist would argue this point, we should only put our trust and faith in God and no one else. To do so would be to commit idolatry, however notice also that princes are not singled out in either verse but are grouped with any and all mortal men in general. Clearly these verses have nothing to do with monarchy really and are simply words of advice to put our trust in God rather than in any mortal man who will always disappoint us. This is no blow against monarchs. Every mortal man in the Bible, be it Abraham, Moses, King David or St Peter had their faults and at times failed in their duty because of their human weakness. That fact does nothing to take away from the important positions these men held but merely illustrates that no one is perfect, that we are all flawed and mortal man will always disappoint us at some point or another. These verses in no way contradict nor do they countermand the numerous other passages advising and even commanding loyalty and obedience to kings.

To be concluded...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Refuting Republicanism in Christianity Part I

As ludicrous as it may seem for anyone who knows Christian history or who has actually read the Bible, there are some out there who seem to think that not only does republicanism go hand-in-hand with Christianity but that one is even compelled to be a republican to be a Christian and that the religion is somehow opposed to monarchy. As with many such positions, this comes largely from an over-simplification of Christian history and the very selective reading of certain Biblical passages in order to fit a predetermined viewpoint. To get to the truth of the matter one has to do a little digging, just a little, though more than perhaps might result from an internet search (though perhaps I should not say that as when I tried it a previous post on Christian monarchy of my own appeared in the top slot!) and, as usual, one must keep everything in context. I know, that’s never fun but it is quite often necessary to get the complete picture.

To take the less sacred first, we shall start with the historical arguments. Among Orthodox Christians I have yet to find any who advocate republicanism from a religious standpoint (which is to the credit of the Orthodox). When it comes to Catholics and Protestants usually there is some historical prejudice that comes in to play. Most Catholic republicans who are serious Catholics, certainly in the English-speaking world, have obvious political prejudices for making them want to believe that Christianity is inherently republican. In places like North America or Australia this usually goes back to the plight of the Irish Catholics at the hands of the English and later British. The British monarchy is officially, legally and emphatically Protestant and anti-Catholic, they associate the monarchy of Britain with monarchy in general and therefore they condemn all monarchy as Protestant and evil and republicanism as good and Catholic -because the Irish Catholics founded a republic.

Obviously, such a simplistic viewpoint does not take a great deal of effort to refute. In the first place, when England first became involved in Ireland both countries were Catholic. In the second place, the worst atrocities ever carried out against the Irish were done when Britain was a republic (the Irish had supported the King believe it or not) and the original Irish rebels did not fight for republicanism but for a different (and Catholic) monarch. Furthermore, the original Irish republicans were following the example of the French Revolution, which was their inspiration, which was violently anti-Catholic. It may also surprise some to know that many if not most of the original Irish nationalists were Protestants or simply irreligious men when not. Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone, the founders of the United Irishmen and Young Ireland and many other groups that later evolved into the IRA were Protestants. On the other hand, Dan O’Connell, an Irish Catholic and a nationalist, was horrified by the revolutionary French republic and advocated only a repeal of the Act of Union and political independence for Ireland and not the overthrow of the monarchy. The sectarian conflicts as we know them did not come until much later, mostly in the north and then mostly led by members of the IRA who were often socialists, communists and not in any sense good Catholics.

Other Catholics, in Latin America, again make a patriotic issue out of this, in a way putting nationalism before religion (and it is a shame when that happens because nationalism *always* wins). They remain Catholic but put aside the religious support for monarchy in order to oppose the imperial rule of Spain. The problem, of course, is that most of these countries, once becoming independent, eventually stopped being officially Catholic as well and in many cases even turned violently secularist. More intellectual types might take a broader historical view and turn to the many clashes between the Church and the Crown in numerous countries throughout history but seen most blatantly in Germany with the “Investiture Dispute”. Surely that shows Catholic opposition to monarchy since the Italian republics tended to support the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor and many of the aristocrats opposed the Pontiff? No, and quite obviously not as these people seem to overlook the fact that those aristocrats and those emperors were all Catholic as well! Moreover, at no time did the Pope ever try to abolish the Holy Roman monarchy, at most he tried to remove an anti-clerical monarch with a pro-clerical one. It was the Papacy that had first established the office of Holy Roman Emperor and at no time in any of the Church conflicts with the kings of Europe did they ever advocate having no king at all.

Finally, there are those who say that all of that may be true but all that really matters is the here and now and today the Catholic Church and all the recent pontiffs have supported republics and liberal democracy and opposed monarchy. Once again, those people would be wrong, though perhaps not as entirely wrong as I would like. Republicanism and liberal democracy is certainly the prevailing trend in the Catholic Church as in the world at large, however, their support for republicanism cannot countermand the past support of priests, bishops, pontiffs and saints for monarchy. Moreover, regardless of political pronouncements on this or that subject, recent pontiffs have actually never said anything against monarchy and probably had more ties to monarchy than one would think. Pope St Pius X was a staunch monarchist and Pope Bl. Pius XI famously instituted the Solemnity of Christ the King. The relationship of Pope Pius XII (a product of the old Roman “Black Nobility”) and the downfall of the Italian monarchy was complicated but suffice it to say that he regretted the loss of it. Even when papal pronouncements on freedom and democracy became the norm you had Pope John Paul II beatifying the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, something he certainly would not have done if he was anti-monarchy or felt monarchy was un-Christian.

For Protestants, the issue is difficult to tackle since there is no common Protestant doctrine; it is far too diverse an entity to address as a whole. Traditionally most placed their emphasis on the Bible alone and that subject will be addressed in Part II of this mini-series. However, most Protestant denominations today can be traced back to one of two sources: Martin Luther and the Lutheran Church he founded or the Church of England founded by King Henry VIII. These two are easy to address. Martin Luther was a staunch monarchist and that was one thing he never really wavered on throughout his life. He exalted the assorted princes of Germany and said that it was the monarchs (rather than the popes) who carried out the divine will on earth. In fact, when misconstrued teachings of his were taken up by a popular rebellion of the lower class he wrote one of his most controversial works calling on the princes to get to work wiping out the peasants! Rest assured, Luther was no republican and would have been horrified at such a suggestion. Evidence can also be seen in the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, the only countries in which Lutheranism is the official state religion, all are monarchies.

Finally, we have the Church of England. Today the Anglican Communion is rife with republicans even though there is probably no Christian tradition wherein this makes less sense than Anglicanism. The Church of England was founded by a monarch (Henry VIII), fully defined by another monarch (Elizabeth I) and had as its foundational principle non-interference with the royal power. Here is a case where the form of government is not decided by religion but where the religion itself came from a form of government. In other words, the monarchy did not come from the Church of England; the Church of England came from the monarchy. The King was recognized as the “supreme head on earth” of the church and supreme in religious matters. To this day, as far as I know, the Church of England is the only major Christian denomination wherein the supreme position is held by a hereditary monarch rather than a purely religious figure. This was also later extended somewhat in the Protestant community in the English-speaking world following the Toleration Act of 1689 which extended religious freedom to everyone except Catholics as a way of consolidating all English-speaking Protestants behind the monarchy.

King Henry VIII, who founded the Church of England, while not exactly a paragon of virtue, was a very religious man and quite a Biblical scholar. Both Luther and the leaders of the Anglican movement looked to Scripture to show that monarchy was the form of government God favored above all others. Christians of every sort did the same and in Part II of this refutation of Christian republicanism we will look into how utterly futile it is to try to use the Bible to justify republicanism.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Royal News Roundup

This has been a busy week for the royals of the far north, Sweden in particular. Last weekend it was revealed by the press that HM King Carl XVI Gustaf paid a surprise visit to the Swedish military forces in Afghanistan. The King was determined to go in person to open a new military camp for the Swedish troops (Camp Monitor) which will be a helicopter base for the rapid evacuation of wounded people. The King visited with the troops, expressing his moral support for them, how impressed he is with their devotion to duty as well as both his own the Swedish peoples pride in their soldiers and support for their mission in Afghanistan. The King arrived on Thursday and left on Saturday, the first Swedish royal visit since Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel visited in 2010.

Back at home, or in America rather, lovely Princess Madeleine has come under some criticism for her parties and shopping sprees in the Big Apple. Evidently the sympathy over her break-up with her ex-fiancé has about run out and more people have been asking about her charitable work when all they see is shopping and nights out with her new boyfriend. It was released that Princess Madeleine is working with the Queen’s charity in New York, in a supervisory role but that she is not being paid. Rather than silence the rumblings, people then began to ask where the money for her high-living was coming from, the answer of course being her government allowance, and that has caused some criticism. All the years of socialism and the recent tidal wave of immigrants could not possibly be to blame, so of course the media focuses on Princess Madeleine and her shopping trips. Yawn.

An unusual story has also appeared out of Miami, Florida where, in November, a new church will be consecrated, bearing the name of HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. Organizers asked the future Norwegian queen for her permission to use her name in such a way and she consented. The full name of the place will be, “The Church’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s Church - Scandinavian Church and Center”. It will be run by the Seamen’s church and will join other of their churches with royal names in Stockholm, Paris, New York, Torrevieja and Copenhagen. Seamen’s church leaders said that the Norwegian Crown Princely couple had visited their church in Miami and that the Crown Princess had demonstrated, “a commitment to religion in a social context that coincides with the values Seamen’s Church stands for” said their Secretary General. The Seamen’s Church is the name of the Church of Norway abroad, usually located in major ports, to serve the Norwegian and Swedish communities (and sailors) in those areas.

In the Low Countries, HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and HRH the Prince of Orange attended a special memorial for the victims of the mall shooting on Saturday, April 9. The Queen and Crown Prince met with the families of the victims after the memorial and the Dutch prime minister expressed the solidarity of all Netherlanders with them in their difficult time. In Belgium, a special program was aired taking advantage of all the attention on the upcoming royal wedding in Britain, highlighting the long ties between the kingdoms of Great Britain and Belgium. Most of the focus was on King Leopold I of the Belgians whose first wife was the short-lived Princess Charlotte of Wales and who later helped introduce Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

In Rome, in a display of how hi-tech the modern world is, HH Pope Benedict XVI appeared on Italian TV on Good Friday, answering questions from children from around the world on the program “In His Image”. The Pontiff was given some pretty ‘hard ball’ questions from the little ones, ranging from the timeless question of why innocent people suffer so terribly to the state of the soul of a comatose person to more Easter-oriented questions about Christ and the resurrection. The Pope spoke of the Church trying to help in war torn areas and, on the devastation in Japan, admitted that he could not answer why such suffering happens to some and not others but reiterated that Jesus suffered too and that the Catholic community was with those suffering in effort and in prayer. Once the Easter festivities are over the Pontiff will relocate for a time to Castel Gandolfo for a ‘working vacation’.

In Great Britain, Thursday was a doubly special day as both Maundy Thursday and the actual birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II who turned 85-years old. The Queen was at Westminster Abbey for religious services, handing out the traditional Maundy money to some 170 elderly people (85 men and 85 women) to mark the occasion. Also, as of Her Majesty’s 85th birthday the Queen has become the oldest reigning British monarch in history and she seems ready, willing and able to continue her service for a long time to come. We all certainly hope that she does. God Save the Queen!

Blog News: Next week there will be a mini-series on refuting republicanism based on Christian history and the Bible, a look at two famous English and Austrian consorts, monarchists from Hungary and Spain, a monarch from Mongolia, an Elizabethan movie review and videos on Emperor Don Pedro II of Brazil and the Imperial Family of Mexico. (switching to broadcaster voice) And we hope you stay tuned for those reports. -MM

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Good Friday

To all from The Mad Monarchist

Royal Profile: Prince Willem the Silent of Orange

Willem I, Prince of Orange, better known as “Willem the Silent” was the founding father of what would eventually become the Dutch Royal Family. A nobleman who became a prince, he eventually led the revolt against the Spanish Hapsburgs to create the Dutch republic or the United Provinces. Because of all of that he considered the father of the Netherlands as a country, the first hero and champion of the Dutch people and eventually became a symbol of the Protestant cause in Europe. As such, he was widely celebrated in the northern nations of Europe but considered the most terrible enemy of the Catholic forces of Hapsburg Spain and Austria. Willem was born on April 24, 1533 in Nassau, Germany to the Count of Nassau and from the very start was raised as a Lutheran. In 1544, at the tender age of 11, young Willem inherited the lands and title of Prince of Orange from his cousin René of Châlon. He was acted for by none other than the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and after going to school in the Netherlands was sent to study in Brussels, Belgium under the protection of Mary of Hungary, the Emperor’s sister and governor of the Seventeen Provinces of the Hapsburg Netherlands.

Willem of Orange was given a diverse and modern education in languages, statecraft and the art of warfare while in Brussels. He married in 1551 to a wealthy heiress and was considered by all to be a young man destined for great things with considerable wealth, a good education, valuable connections and friends in the very highest of places. The Emperor appointed him to high command when he was only 22 and in 1555 he began serving in the Raad van State, a sort of early version of the Dutch parliament. He supported Emperor Charles V (who had trouble standing) during his abdication ceremony. Philip II, who succeeded his father the Emperor as King of Spain, appointed Willem stadtholder (steward) of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht in 1559. This made Willem one of the most politically powerful men in the Netherlands though King Philip would one day, perhaps, come to regret being so generous.

In time Willem of Orange became known as the leader of the most vocal opponents of Spanish policy in the Netherlands. Among their demands were more local control for the Dutch elite rather than Spanish officials, the withdrawal of Spanish troops from the Low Countries and greater tolerance for the growing Protestant community by the Catholic authorities. This was a time of deep religious divisions across Europe and Willem reflected this himself, raised a Lutheran, later becoming Catholic but then moving in a Protestant direction later still. His first wife having died in 1558, Willem married again for political reasons in 1561 to Anna of Saxony (having an affair that resulted in an illegitimate son in the intervening years) which greatly increased his wealth and influence and gave him five more children as well as new friendly contacts with powerful German Protestant princes. Willem finally came out openly in opposition to King Philip II of Spain for his efforts to stamp out Protestantism, even though Willem himself was still a Catholic as well. He advocated freedom of religion and hoped that both sides of the religious divide would support his campaign for greater independence for the Netherlands.

This came during the height of a wave of sectarian violence in the Netherlands as Protestants and Catholics lashed out against each other. The resulting slaughter moved Prince Willem deeply and he was determined to put an end to it with a free realm that would be a home of religious tolerance. By that time he had already given monetary support to a number of the rebel leaders and despite his ultimate protestations of loyalty to the King it was Prince Willem who seen as the leader of the Protestant, anti-Spanish cause. Willem was declared an outlaw by the Spanish after 1567 and he assembled an army of Dutch Protestants, anti-Spanish Catholics and German mercenaries to march on Brabant but dwindling resources and indiscipline thwarted his efforts for a military campaign and he was soon forced to withdraw without ever fighting a major battle against the Spanish. Nonetheless, he remained the most popular and prominent of the rebel forces and, regardless of his own religion, was seen by both sides as the champion of the Protestant cause. He still professed loyalty to the King while opposing his policies and his fame reached such a height that widespread uprisings broke out across the Netherlands and as city after city joined the rebel camp a new States-General was called that promptly reelected the Prince of Orange to his former office of stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland.

A vicious struggle ensued as towns were taken and lost, first by the Dutch, then by the Spanish and then back again. In 1573 Willem formally renounced Catholicism and joined the Calvinist church as the war continued to rage. His forces were often on the edge of total defeat but to the surprise of the world they held on against the armies of Spain at a time when Spain was the preeminent power in western Europe and the Spanish infantry were considered the best in the world. The Dutch rebels were able to match them through a combination of naval success and brilliant innovations in military engineering and siege warfare. In 1574 he married again (having divorced Anna of Saxony on accusations that she was insane) to a former French nun who gave him an additional six children. With Spain becoming weary of the immense cost of the war, peace talks began but broke down just as quickly and after Spanish troops mutinied and went on a rampage in Antwerp public sympathy turned dramatically in favor of the rebels and soon Prince Willem was marching into Brussels, long the heart of the Catholic Netherlands.

More efforts to negotiate were made but Willem, seeing he now had the upper-hand, let them wither on the vine. However, the success had increased the zealotry of many of his most Protestant supporters and persecution of Catholics began. The Prince opposed this but the damage was done and much of the southern Netherlands forever abandoned him and pledged their loyalty to the Hapsburg King. The situation became even worse when the King sent Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, possibly the greatest soldier of the age, to command his forces in the Netherlands and soon Willem of Orange was driven out of Belgium and backed into a corner in Holland, his previous success all but gone. With nothing else to lose, in 1581, the Dutch finally declared their independence from the Hapsburg Crown and welcomed the Duke of Anjou with his French forces to come to their aid against the Spanish. The Duke proved unpopular though but other assistance was given to the Dutch and in the end independence was secured. Although the war lingered on for some time, the Spanish would never recover the Netherlands and had to content themselves with maintaining Belgium in the Catholic camp.

Having been declared an outlaw by the King of Spain, Willem the Silent was a marked man and one attempt on his life was made in 1582. Helping him recover was such a struggle that his wife died and he married again the following year to Louise de Coligny who later gave birth to his son Prince Fredrik Hendrik. However, in 1584 his luck ran out and Willem the Silent, Prince of Orange, was assassinated by a deranged French Catholic at his home in Delft. The assassin was caught and executed in the most excruciatingly gruesome manner possible but it did not assuage the grief of the Dutch who had lost their hero, their leader and the founding father of their nation. It is from him that Dutch flag descends, the national color (Orange) and although he was the leader of a “crowned republic” his family, the House of Orange, would preside over the golden age of Dutch history, building the Netherlands into a major international power and finally founding one of the most popular and successful monarchies in the world.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

San Jacinto Day

As we marked last year, and the year before, today is the 175th anniversary of the battle of San Jacinto in which the Republic of Texas won her independence from Mexico. General Sam Houston won the day, and although I'm not exactly a huge fan of the man, I do give him all due credit for that.

Monarch Profile: Emperor Romulus

The Roman Empire was an institution so influential and truly historical that, in many ways, the world refused to let it die. The Eastern Roman Empire lingered on until the fall of Constantinople in the 15th Century under Emperor Constantine XI while in the west, the Roman Empire was restored in 800 AD as the Holy Roman Empire which survived until the 19th Century when it was dissolved by Emperor Francis II in 1802 under pressure from Napoleon Bonaparte. However, the one area which most fascinates is the old Western Roman Empire which ended, rather ingloriously, with the overthrow of the young Emperor Romulus Augustulus in 476 AD. His reign was short, almost insignificant in perspective, but also extremely interesting.

It is one of the strange twists of history that the last Emperor of Rome was also the son of a man who once served the single greatest threat the Roman Empire had ever faced, namely; Attila the Hun. Known as "the Scourge of God", Attila's right hand man during his invasions was a man named Orestes. It was Orestes who later became a Roman general himself, though by this time, the once mighty Western Roman Empire had been reduced to most of the Italian peninsula and a small holding in the south of Gaul. Ruling at this time was the Emperor Julius Nepos, appointed in 474 by the Emperors of the East, Leo and Zeno, though he himself was not very strong and it was Nepos who appointed Orestes to the post of Patrician and Master of Soldiers for the Western Empire.

Obviously, this was not a wise decision on the part of Nepos as when the Emperor ordered the new Patrician to march against Gaul, the ambitious Orestes immediately marched into Ravenna on August 28, 475, forced Nepos to flee to Dalmatia, and made his son Romulus Emperor two months later on October 31. The new monarch was probably around 10 to 14-years-old and would not have been able to count on significant international recognition were it not for the fact that the Emperor Leo of the East, who had appointed Julius Nepos, had died the previous year. Because of his youth, the new Emperor was nicknamed "Agustulus" or "the little Augustus" by those around him. The real power continued to be with his father Orestes who effectively ran the empire, or what was left of it, in the name of his son.

Orestes attended to diplomatic efforts first, in actions that in hindsight seems quite a bit like obsessing over details in the face of disaster. He secured recognition for Emperor Romulus from the Eastern Empire and negotiated peace treaties with the German princes ruling in Spain, Africa and Gaul. While this ensured peace for a few years, at least from these individuals, the throne of Romulus was far from secure and such diplomatic efforts amounted to little more than making beds in a burning house.

During this era, the decay of the once mighty Roman Empire was in its final stages, and a clear indication of the depths to which Rome had fallen is how few Romans there were who could actually bestir themselves to fight for the Empire. The Roman military now consisted of barbarians of various tribes, acting as mercenaries, who had no real loyalty to Rome or the young Emperor Romulus but who expected to be paid. These men, fierce, brutal and increasingly exasperated, were Orestes' biggest problem. Gold coins were struck and distributed in Rome, Milan and Ravenna bearing the image of Romulus Augustulus but these few tokens were nothing compared to what the barbarian mercenaries were demanding.

In 476, when Orestes to give land to the assorted Heruls, Scirians and Torcilingi who were demanded compensation for their service, they dropped all semblance of loyalty to the young Emperor Romulus and turned instead to the German chieftain Odoacer. Odoacer, himself a "barbarian" of mixed Scirian and Hunnish ancestry, was somewhat more shrewd and promised the disgruntled soldiers all that they had been denied by Orestes if they would support his own ambition to become king. Seeing the opportunity for something as better than a certainty of nothing, they made an official agreement with Odoacer on August 23, 476 and immediately turned to attack Orestes, hardly bothering at all about his son who actually sat on the imperial throne.

Orestes came out to meet them but was forced to retreat to Pavia, which soon fell to Odoacer. The barbarians closed in on Orestes near Piacenza and on August 28, captured and beheaded him. With that victory, the power behind the throne was gone, and in effect, the campaign was all but over. Odoacer moved on to Ravenna where he killed the Emperor's uncle, Paulus in late August or early September. Once the city was taken, Odoacer turned his attention to the nominal ruler, Emperor Romulus Augustulus. Sources differ over how Odoacer reacted to the boy. Some imply that he was harshly removed and banished, barely escaping with his life. Others say that the chieftain took a liking to the hapless, young monarch. According to one source, because of his youth and handsome appearance he decided to depose Romulus rather than execute him and then sent the former emperor into exile in Campania with his family where he paid him an annual pension of 6,000 solidi. However, Odoacer also forced Romulus to formally abdicate his position, sending a "letter of resignation" to Emperor Zeno of the Eastern Empire, effectively recognizing Constantinople as the one and only capital of the Empire.

If true, this may have been due to the fact that the Emperor Julius Nepos in Dalmatia, who still considered himself the true Western Emperor in exile, was plotting to regain his throne in Italy. In fact, the message from Odoacer seeking recognition of his claim to be King of Italy arrived in Constantinople on the very same day as a message from Emperor Nepos seeking Byzantine money and troops to help in reclaiming his lost dominions. Not wishing to further endanger the shaky imperial hierarchy, Emperor Zeno decided to back the man his predecessors had placed on the throne and advised the envoys from Odoacer to deal with Nepos as the Western Emperor and seek his rank of Patrician from him before Zeno would confirm it.

Of course, Nepos was never able to retake his throne and the Western Roman Empire formally came to an end after the ten month reign of Romulus Augustulus. By then, nothing remained with Odoacer in command of Italy and the few holdings in Gaul rapidly taken in by the Visigoths. In point of fact though, the boy best known as "the last Roman Emperor" might not have been so were it not for the attraction of his name, recalling the legendary co-founder of Rome, allowing for a nice illustration of the Roman civilization coming full circle from one Romulus to another. In actuality, Emperor Romulus was the pawn of his father and nothing more, a usurper who had taken the throne from the legitimate Emperor Nepos who continued to claim Italy from his base in Dalmatia for the rest of his life. Little is known of the young emperor's life in exile. He sent the imperial regalia to Emperor Zeno, who recognized Odoacer as King of Italy, but it seems that he continued to be at least somewhat active, founding the monastery at Lucullanum with the support of his very religious mother.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

King Baudouin a Saint?

It is not a pressing subject, not much in the news and not even much talked about in most circles but it does come up just often enough to keep me from forgetting about it. I am speaking of the idea of a cause for the canonization of the late King Baudouin of the Belgians. Personally, and this will be no surprise to anyone, I would be totally in favor of such a campaign. King Baudouin was always known as a very devout man of faith and is said to have considered becoming a priest but, due to the situation regarding the unfortunate abdication of his father, King Leopold III, it was prevailed upon him that two abdications in a row could be the end of the Belgian monarchy and for the good of the country he remained a layman. The Church played a major part in everything he did and he was also associated with the charismatic renewal movement in the Church. However, I don’t think there is any doubt that what made King Baudouin stand out was his refusal to grant royal assent to a bill legalizing abortion in Belgium. Faced with a deadlock, government officials came up with the solution of basically deposing the King until they enacted the bill themselves and then placing him back on the throne.

Thus, it is not surprising that those I have found praying to King Baudouin already are those in the pro-life movement who see him as a great hero in the struggle against what Pope John Paul II called “the culture of death”. HH Pope John Paul II himself (whose cause for canonization is well underway) paid great tribute to the late King of the Belgians. In fact, King Baudouin was the last living member of the Supreme Order of Christ, the most rare and prestigious papal honor since the honor system was revised by Pope St Pius X in 1905. Pope John Paul II visited the tomb of King Baudouin, along with HM Queen Fabiola and four witnesses and later spoke in the highest terms of the late King of the Belgians as a man who put Christ at the center of his life and as a monarch who defended God and human rights, including the rights of the unborn. Some, of course, have said that such efforts did not really matter as the law was passed anyway and so, ultimately, King Baudouin accomplished nothing.

My easy response to that is; fine, but who did more? What more could he have done? The King could not change the hearts and minds of the politicians nor could he change popular opinion. The only thing he could do was sign the bill or not sign it and he did all that it was in his power to do: he refused to sign. What other monarch in Christendom did as much? He risked a great deal for his moral stand and that should not be shrugged off. It should also be kept in mind that it was not the King who found the legal “loophole” to enact the bill without royal assent. That was the politicians at work. However, even then, I look at someone like the celebrated English statesman St Thomas More. Does anyone say that the refusal of More to swear to the First Succession Act was meaningless because his refusal did not stop the act altogether? In fact, More openly looked desperately for any “loophole” at all that would allow him to obey his King and his God yet no one thinks less of More. How is it then that King Baudouin should be criticized for not being able to single-handedly turn the tide of liberal secularism in the western world?

Recently, on the anniversary of the death of King Baudouin, the subject of his possible cause for canonization was brought up. There seems to be no doubt that the issue is or has been looked into but HE Godfried Cardinal Danneels said that, as far as canonization goes, it was ‘not going to happen’. He went on to say that one does not have to be a saint to set an example for others and all of that stuff. However, a saint is simply someone who has gone to Heaven and, thankfully, it is not Cardinal Danneels (a man who has spoken against Catholic doctrine on occasion and covered up sexual abuse in his jurisdiction) who decides who does or does not get into Heaven. That is up to the King of kings and Lord of lords and no one else. For myself, I would be more confident of King Baudouin having a place in Heaven than I would the Cardinal (may God bless and keep His Eminence etc, etc). I believe King Baudouin is in Heaven and, in that regard, I consider him a saint already. Whether the Catholic Church chooses to recognize that or confirm it is, well, up to the Pope ultimately. However, if a more formal, concerted effort is launched for the cause of King Baudouin, I would certainly support it wholeheartedly and encourage others to do the same.

Mad Rant: Wedding Coverage

I am really, really getting tired of the news coverage of the royal wedding. Not that I am lacking in support for the event, quite the contrary. However, at least in the United States, the disdain and the snobbery of the media elites has become far too much for me to handle. The sarcasm meter has been broken. I am sick and tired of having news anchors devote entire segments to talking about how the royal wedding is not worth talking about. I am also rather annoyed by blatant stupidity and that has been on display in abundance. After all, if no one is interested in the royal wedding it would be stupid for American media to cover it at all and if they do so because people are interested in it, then it is stupid to insult these masses of people by trashing the royal couple and going on and on about how anyone interested must have been hit with the dumb stick. If that is all they have to offer I would much prefer that they do not talk about it at all. Did their mothers never teach them the old value that, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.

I am seriously in danger of losing my voice from shouting at the TV and I’m running out of channels to switch to. Maybe the Cartoon Network would be a safe bet, because I’m running out of options. American arrogance and hypocrisy have been on full display, more and more as the big day draws closer and it is stomach turning. I find it quite shameful as someone who is generally pro-America and ready to admit that, among the ranks of the republics of the world, the United States has done an above average job. Then something like this comes along and makes at least the presiding “talking heads” of this country, left or right, look like a bunch of simplistic, stuck-up, hateful hypocrites. Not only do they trash the excitement over the royal wedding (and I will admit the ‘celebrity’ aspect of monarchy is not my favorite aspect of the venerable institution) but they take the occasion to trash the British Royal Family and the British monarchy as a whole. Some limit themselves to simply being coarse and rude while others are downright hateful and slanderous.

For example, I have heard more than one “talking head” make the British Royal Family out to be simply a bunch of murderous war criminals or gangsters because of all the blood that has been shed “in the name of the Crown”. That is certainly rich coming from advocates for the United States. America is a nation of popular sovereignty as we all know, yet do these people consider how much blood has been shed “in the name of” the American people? By their logic we should hold the American people of today responsible for everything that has ever been done by those holding power in their name from the eradication of whole Native American populations to the mass enslavement of Africans. It hardly seems a genteel or respectful way to speak of the foundation of the government of America’s most stalwart ally and loyal friend. I tend to think that one of the reasons America has been so successful is the extent to which the USA borrowed from the British constitution in setting up the American republic. We even carried over some traditions that make no sense whatsoever in the context of this country but which we continue simply out of tradition.

One of the most hypocritical aspects of this, and sadly not a unique one, is the equality argument. They moan and groan about the coverage given to the royals because “we” are supposed to believe in equality where no one is better or more important than anyone else (as if that has ever been the case). Yet, they themselves treat the royals in a “special” way by treating them worse than everyone else. This has long been one of my biggest annoyances with republicans. They don’t think things like royalty and aristocracy are acceptable because they pass along rewards (honors, titles etc) to people who did not actually earn them themselves. Yet these same people seem to have no problem passing on guilt to people that have done nothing wrong themselves. They decry showing favor to someone just because their last name is “Windsor” and yet are blind to their own hypocrisy in showing hatred of someone just because their last name is “Windsor”. Why else all the smug condescension or outright insults toward someone like Prince William who never did any harm at all to any of these people?

They go on and on at length about how “this shouldn’t matter to us” or moan and ask the question (while providing extensive coverage of the event), “why should we care?” My short answer to that is: it shouldn’t and “we” shouldn’t. From the perspective of the United States, the royal wedding should not concern us at all. We really shouldn’t care. It has nothing to do with us and will not affect our lives in any meaningful way at all. So, perhaps the better question would be, why then do you media people continue to cover it? Or, perhaps a more revealing question to ask would be, given that we really shouldn’t care, why do so many seem to? Until that unlikely event or more probably until the royal wedding is over and the American media can move on and get back to the business of misleading the American people, I shall remain … The Mad Monarchist.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Favorite Royal Images: Victorian Siamese

The Family of King Chulalongkorn the Great, Rama V, of Siam (Thailand) looking very Victorian

Sorry for the Delay

Yes, it happened again. Just after getting yesterday morning's post up on my other blog, my internet went out. Once again, the oil company broke the phone line. This time while covering up the pipeline that they were digging when they broke it the first time. After waiting all day yesterday and giving them another tongue-lashing this morning they seem to finally have it fixed once again. The post I had planned to put up yesterday will have to wait until tomorrow. I hate having my schedule thrown out of sorts but, something cannot be helped. At least by me. Some things need the telephone cooperative to be helped. This has also come at a time when your resident mad man has been suffering from worsening health and I am generally out-of-sorts. My usual calm and patience I ever display towards those who annoy me is running extremely thin. Anyway, at least this little pain in the neck seems to have passed. Thanks for your patience and thanks for reading ... The Mad Monarchist

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

Yesterday the movie “Atlas Shrugged” (Part I) opened in select theatres nation-wide. As most probably know it is based on the best-selling novel by objectivist Ayn Rand and deals with what would happen if the most productive segment of our society suddenly decided to call it quits, withdraw and let things go to Hell without them. I would encourage everyone who can to go and see this movie. I’m sure Rand fans, objectivists, libertarians and so on will go see it in any event, for others I think it will at least be informative, a cause for thought and discussion and I would also encourage it just because good returns on a film like “Atlas Shrugged” is mud in the eye to the whole liberal, socialist, Marxist, UN, EU etc crowd that I despise. I have talked before (readers will remember) about libertarianism and monarchy, making frequent reference to Ayn Rand who has become something of a “patron saint” to the libertarian movement. However, do not misunderstand my endorsement of seeing this movie; it is certainly not about monarchy and has nothing to do with monarchy. I’m sure Ayn Rand herself would be rather discomforted to know that a monarchist was pointing people in the direction of her work were she alive to see it.

To be sure, in many, many ways, someone like myself is as far apart from Ayn Rand as the east is from the west. For me, the primary difference is not even monarchy though we certainly part company there. A native of Mother Russia, Ayn Rand had nothing but utter loathing for her homeland and made it clear that such attitude applied to Tsarist Russia as well as Soviet Russia. I’m sure everyone knows that Tsarist Russia is near and dear to my heart. The biggest gulf between us would be on religion. Ayn Rand was a strident atheist, and perhaps the most genuinely atheist figure I have ever heard of, who viewed religious belief as a psychological weakness. I, on the other hand, view religion as the fundamental underpinning of all history, humanity and civilization. The only reason I can even entertain the ideas of Ayn Rand was that, despite being an ardent atheist and having nothing good at all to say about any religion, she was equally adamant that she opposed any restrictions of any kind being placed on religion or religious belief. She would think me mad for believing in religion but she would never do anything to force me to give it up.

I do think monarchists can, with some thought, relate to “Atlas Shrugged” but we have to go back in time in our minds to more traditional monarchies in order to do so. Nowadays, most monarchies (certainly in the western world) have become wards of the state. They are allowed no power but are allowed to remain on their thrones by the state with a pension provided by the state so long as they do as the state says and follow very strict rules and give up the vast majority of their rights and freedoms to the state. The recent case of HRH Prince Laurent of Belgium shows what uproar will result when a royal does not abide by the wishes of the all-powerful state. In the past, it is true, some monarchs supported the rise of the total state but, as I have mentioned before, in the end, most who did so were consumed by that total state and such is why we have the world of monarchy we all know today. For most monarchies, where they remain, the state has the royals right where they want them; reduced to the status of the lilies of the field who toil not neither do they spin, but they are pretty to look at.

For monarchists to relate to “Atlas Shrugged” we have to, I think, go back to when monarchs actually had some power and ultimately had that before because they were self-sufficient, possessing the lands and the income from those lands to make them significant. It is also significant that this tended to coincide with a very strong aristocracy. Many libertarians and objectivists would tend to lump all royals and aristocrats into the category of shiftless masses on the take from the government. However, we must remember that most royals and aristocrats, if you go back to the beginning, earned their position. In the case of the first Capetian King of France, he was actually elected. The aristocracy of England, as an another example, as it traditionally was (before the advent of those ludicrous “life peers”) began when William the Conqueror rewarded with lands and titles his most faithful and *effective* lieutenants. In that regard, you could say, they “earned” what they were given and had every right to pass it on to their heirs and successors, be it a lord passing down wealth, lands and a title or the King himself passing on a Crown and a country.

“Atlas Shrugged” hearkens back to a time when private property was viewed as sacred and inviolable and that I unashamedly admire. It is also why I have always had a libertarian antennae go up when I read the testimony of King Charles I of Britain at his “treason” trial. Far from fighting for royal tyranny, the King was fighting for nothing more than that which was legally and legitimately his own. In doing so, as he stated, he was also fighting for the right of every man to that which was his own and for the sanctity of the law over simple brute force. That always seemed to have a very libertarian tone to me. Likewise, much of the same wickedness denounced in “Atlas Shrugged” can also be used to describe what brought down much of the aristocracy in monarchies, such as Great Britain, where government regulations and over-taxation forced the break-up of the great estates, the selling of manor houses and the reduction of many lords and ladies to “ordinary” people with meaningless titles. In general though (again, aside from annoying the people I dislike the most) I think “Atlas Shrugged” can be appreciated by monarchists simply for striking a compelling blow against the ideas of class warfare, class envy and hatred of success that has brought down a number of monarchies around the world.

Royal News Roundup

Starting with the royals of southern Europe, the Prince and Princess of the Asturias went on a “lightning tour” of the Middle East this week. On Monday they arrived in the State of Israel where the royal couple met with President Shimon Peres where they were also met by an enthusiastic crowd of school children waving Israeli and Spanish flags and singing a Hebrew song of welcome. The President asked them to send his thanks to King Juan Carlos I for his hospitality on his last visit to Spain and remarked on his leadership in leading Spain to democracy after the Franco era. The Prince and Princess also visited the Palestinian territories before moving on to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan where they met HM King Abdullah II and the prime minister. The political reforms currently underway in Jordan were a topic of conversation as was the ever-pressing Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

It has been an eventful week in the Netherlands, starting with a tragic mall shooting in Alphen aan den Rijn that killed seven, injured 15 and left the Queen “speechless”. The murderer took his own life. The government quickly issued a statement from HM Queen Beatrix expressing her shock, sorrow and grief. Crown Princess Maxima also expressed her condolences on behalf of the Royal Family before speaking at an event in Ridderzaal. Life, however, goes on and Monday marked the first day of school for HRH Princess Ariane, the youngest daughter of the Prince and Princess of Orange who was fortunate to have helpful big sister Princess Amalia to show her the ropes. On Tuesday the Prince and Princess of Orange accompanied Queen Beatrix on a state visit to Germany. The Dutch royals met with the President and Chancellor, local schoolchildren and toured one of the former Kaiser’s palaces. This was the first state visit by the Queen of the Netherlands to Germany since 1982.

On the Scandinavian front, the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway have been on an official visit to the African Republic of Ghana, arriving on Tuesday. The visit was to strengthen ties, as usual, but also to sign an important agreement on oil development between Ghana and Norway. The Crown Princess congratulated the people of Ghana on reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS in their country. However, the big news in the far north was the christening of the Crown Princely twins of Denmark whose names were finally released. All can now refer to the tiny duo as Their Royal Highnesses Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine of Denmark. Among the numerous middle names were two taken from the Greenlandic language in a salute to the people of the largest remaining Danish possession. Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Mary were beaming with pride and their older children almost as much. The Mad Monarchist wishes the little prince and princess all the best.

Finally, we have the British and the city of London is preparing feverishly as the anticipation of the country and people around the world builds as the days until the royal wedding are counted down. Musicians are practicing, cavalry armor is being polished and decorations are going up. On Monday Prince William and Catherine attended their last official engagement together before their wedding, visiting Lancashire, opening a community academy and attending a foot race in a nearby park. Catherine was given the honor of starting the race and both joined in awarding the winners. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, HRH the Duke of York was visiting Indonesia in his (now controversial) capacity as trade envoy for Great Britain as the United Kingdom seeks new opportunities for oil and natural gas development in the southeast Asian nation.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The U.S. Civil War and Monarchy

I have been chastised for not mentioning the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War/War Between the States/etc. It is certainly not because of a lack of interest in the period, in fact, that era was one of the first historical episodes I studied seriously for many years. However, it did not relate directly to what this web log is all about and I had other things on my list. However, having been prompted (and because I’m an absolutist blogger who will write about whatever I darn well please) I will address the War Between the States in terms of how it related, in secondary ways, to the ongoing struggle between monarchy and republicanism. Of course, it did not relate directly to it because what you had in the Civil War was a clash of two republican governments: a centralized federal union on one hand and a more decentralized confederacy on the other. However, though the people in both the northern and southern halves of America were staunchly republican, then as now, they were not entirely identical in their outlook toward monarchy.

As we have talked about before, the English Civil War was felt in North America with the northern colonies tending toward the Parliamentarians and the southern colonies tending to be more royalist. Much of this was due to religious differences as Puritan New England was more religiously liberal than southern colonies like Catholic Maryland and Anglican Virginia. Over the years the two regions became increasingly different and did not have, by any means, a consistent policy regarding what they thought of monarchy. Again, if asked, everyone in the north or south would have recoiled at the image of a king. During the War of 1812, for example, it was the south that was the most aggressive in supporting the war against Great Britain and the invasion of Canada -for imperialistic reasons, and it was the north that most opposed it -for economic reasons. Yet, as America grew older it was the south, for economic reasons, which became increasingly friendly with Great Britain and the newly revived Empire of the French.

The south loved the British because they bought southern cotton by the shipload and because they sold quality manufactured goods to southerners at a price below that for which northern merchants sold the same products. The south also had, because of slavery and the agricultural predominance in the region, a very aristocratic society whereas the north did not. The north was also home to most immigrants to the U.S. and, at the time of the American Civil War, most of these were Irish, German or Italian and most had fled the aftermath of the 1848 Revolutions and were very anti-monarchy. The south, on the other hand, attracted relatively few immigrants and much of the population was ethnically Scotch-Irish or English, in any case people who generally looked with favor on the British Empire. The result was that increasingly the north viewed Great Britain with hostility whereas the south viewed Britain with friendship or nostalgia. Southern gentlemen liked to consider themselves on a level with the landed aristocracy of Britain and took their trends as their own.

Then there is France. America had always had a love-hate relationship with France but there was, clearly, more pro-French sentiment in the south than in the north in 1861. Louisiana held a still considerable Francophone population and South Carolina was home to a very large French community made up of people who had fled the bloody slave revolt in Haiti. Southerners, being a martial sort of people, also tended to look with admiration on the legacy of Napoleon and his military genius. If some had a bit of hesitation about admiring Britain, the traditional enemy of 1776 and 1812, there was none concerning France. Wealthy planters taught their children French (it was *the* language of the fashionable upper class) and in both civilian and military life French fashions were widely copied. When the Confederacy was formed their army had a very pronounced French appearance to it, some units going farther than others. One of the most famous was the “Louisiana Tigers” who adopted the uniform of the French Zouaves after the successful campaigns of France in North Africa. In the south, the French Empire was to be admired and emulated.

When the war came, how then did the great monarchies of Europe view the situation? Of course, slavery was the sticking point as virtually no country in Europe wanted to be seen as supporting something like that. However, by and large, it was quickly obvious that the British Empire and the French Empire were friendlier toward the Confederacy than they were toward the Union. The only major power that openly sympathized with the Union was, ironically, the Russian Empire of Tsar Alexander II. However, even this was due mostly to the fact that Britain and France sympathized with the south and, as both parties were recently hostile to Russia, it was natural for the Russian Empire to side with the United States. With the north being home to so many Irish republicans and celebrating such revolutionaries as Garibaldi, Kossuth and others it is no wonder most monarchies in Europe tended to look on the United States, especially the north, with little sympathy. So, why did Britain and France favor the Confederates (keeping in mind neither ever recognized them or openly came to their aid)? Both had very practical reasons for doing so.

The British viewed the south as a good customer and a valuable source of raw materials. They also had, for very good reasons, developed a very wary attitude toward the United States. The north was an industrial competitor and also a rapidly expanding naval power. Largely because of her industry, trade and maritime presence, the north was a rival to Great Britain in a way that the south could never be. The north, as mentioned, also harbored many people that Britain worried about; namely large numbers of Irish immigrants who were adamantly anti-British. Fears about this population were not unfounded as the Fenian Raids on Canada after the war would prove. The south might have been imperialistic but the areas they longed for were areas where Great Britain had little or no interest and thus the south, a land with little industry and practically no navy, was nothing for Britain to fear. The British also thought the south would win. Like few other powers in the world the British have always been very good about learning from their own history and the lesson they took from 1776 was that an American population in rebellion was impossible to subdue. The south would win and who wouldn’t want to be on the good side of the winners?

Emperor Louis Napoleon III of the French had little particular interest in the United States itself but he had recently become very interested in Mexico. He had a grand vision of building the French empire denied his uncle in Europe in Central and South America. At various times he entertained ideas of expanding French influence into Mexico, Panama and even into South America via Ecuador with the creation of a ‘Kingdom of the Andes’. However, the United States had long ago stated her unalterable opposition to any European “meddling” in the Americas and were sure to oppose any such efforts to establish new monarchies in America on the part of France. In fact, before the French and Mexican monarchists had even placed the ill-fated Austrian Archduke Maximilian on the throne of Mexico the United States sent a very strongly worded letter of warning to Paris that the U.S.A. would oppose any such effort and would never recognize the establishment of any monarchy on the shores of the New World. However, if the south were to win the war, the Confederacy would serve as a most valuable buffer-state between the United States and the French ‘mission of civilization’ in Mexico and points south. Like the British, the French also recognized that a divided America would be an America easier for them to deal with and less of a danger of becoming overpowering.

As for the lesser monarchies, attitudes were much the same. The Empire of Brazil, the only other major, western, slave-holding power, was mostly sympathetic to the south. Monarchies like Austria-Hungary and Belgium sympathized only insofar as a Confederate victory would help ensure the continued safety of their son and daughter in Mexico (Maximilian and Carlota) and Pope Pius IX was generally sympathetic to the south. Given how Garibaldi was celebrated in the north, this is perhaps not surprising, and the Pontiff was the only world leader to address Jefferson Davis as the President of the Confederate States of America in his correspondence. The north, with the Monroe Doctrine and other means, had become rather unpopular in the world at large for threatening war with any power that “meddled” in the Americas while feeling free to meddle themselves whenever it suited them.

And that, in a nutshell, is the attitude of the Americans toward monarchy and the great monarchies toward America at the time of the War Between the States. In general, the majority sympathized with the Confederates, despite their opposition to slavery which Britain and France had long abolished peacefully, but because they recognized that a Confederate victory would be more beneficial to their interests than a Union victory would. Some may not like the way that sounds but they were proven to be all too correct. No sooner had the dust settled in America with the northern states victorious the U.S. sent a massive army to the Mexican border with orders for the French to leave willingly or with a bayonet to encourage them and a number of ridiculously audacious raids were launched on Canada by Irish veterans of the Union ranks eager to strike a blow against the British Empire. Canada was saved though the victorious U.S. forced a handsome amount of ‘so sorry for cheering against you’ money from London. Mexico was not so lucky as the French pulled out just when they were on the cusp of total victory and Emperor Maximilian and his empire went down to noble but disastrous defeat with his enemies having the full moral and material support of the triumphant United States.
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