Wednesday, July 31, 2013
I would wager that everyone reading this, at some point, have heard someone complain about politicians who have no principles, who are totally self-serving and who engage in pandering. They mean, of course, that politicians want to get reelected and will do whatever is popular at the moment rather than doing what is best. Whether they realize it or not, these people are actually criticizing, not the politician, but the democratic process itself. After all, what is a “pandering politician” doing but exactly what he or she is expected to do; following the will of the people, doing what the public wants them to do so that a satisfied electorate will allow them to keep their job. When someone agrees with a politician doing this, he is being receptive to his constituents, listening to the people and upholding the principles of democracy. However, to someone who disagrees, that same politician is engaged in political pandering, putting his own political interests before the common good and generally being a self-serving jerk. Well, which is it democrats? The answer is, of course, that the problem is the voting public rather than the politician (though the vast majority of politicians are plenty bad, don’t get me wrong). And, as stated previously, everyone seems to realize that but only at certain times. When the majority agrees with you, democracy is great. When it does not, well, then it is time to remind everyone that the majority gets it wrong sometimes (meaning, when they disagree with you).
Democracy takes hold because it works really well in the promotion of apathy for a public that is driven by fashionable trends that come and go, feigned outrage that jumps from subject to subject, sound-bites and easy to remember slogans that mean nothing but sound really ‘cool’. It gives people the illusion of power, feeds their arrogant pride but is actually nothing less than a satanic delusion. The delusion of the person who thinks they have freedom when they do whatever their bestial desires dictate while they are actually shackled spiritually to damnation. It also causes relativism which causes division and confusion and everyone should know who the “author of confusion” is. God never endorsed democracy. On the contrary, God revealed that the majority will usually do what is easy and wrong while only a few will do what is righteous. Does anyone remember the Biblical passage about when everyone did “what was right in their own eyes”? Suffice it to say, that was not something positive. This should not be taken as God being oppressive because every command God ever gave was for the ultimate good of his people. This should be obvious if anyone would open their eyes to see it. We have seen societies embrace things like abortion, contraception and unnatural sexual “lifestyles” and we have seen the same societies depopulate themselves. Soon they will have died out completely but they continue to march down the road to self-destruction, patting themselves on the back for being so “selfless” and broadminded when they are actually being so selfish that they cannot even be bothered to take the effort to survive. But, they think they’re happy, they think they’re doing the right thing because it is what most people want, what most people approve of and, of course, if it is the will of the majority (and we are told it is), then it cannot be wrong.
There are enemies of tradition, of right, of justice, of life and the very existence of the divine and there are a lot of them. The system that exists today is corrupting people, the lies are being spread all over the world day and night, that every “last” monarch in history was a traitor, not the disloyal mobs that turned against them and criticizing the monarchs of the world today for not working miracles it is no different than joining the treasonous mobs just for a different reason than most people. That’s like turning against King Louis XVI of France because he was forced to sign the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. It doesn’t solve anything, it doesn’t put the world back where it needs to be, it just puts you in the same camp as the enemy. You might have taken a different road to get there, but you ended up in the exact same place as the enemies of all that is righteous and sacred in the world.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
"Should not" is the problem though. Anyone could see that it would be and I would have preferred it not to be said just because there are so many so-called "Catholics" out there who will purposely twist his words to their own advantage as they push a very anti-Catholic and anti-Christian agenda. It will provide more cover to those corrupt politicians who claim to be Catholics while pushing for things like gay "marriage" and abortion and all the rest because they will dishonestly edit the Pope's words just enough to make it sound as though he agrees with them and that makes it all okay. I can hear the interviews now, "Of course I can be Catholic and take this position! Didn't you hear that even the Pope said we are not supposed to judge homosexuals? That's a private matter." You know it is going to happen. However, people should not condemn the Pope for saying something he did not actually say nor should anyone twist and pervert his words in a way he did not intend. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure they will. I certainly have not agreed with everything Pope Francis has done or said but this is media storm is grossly unfair. The Pope said nothing that contradicts Church teaching and certainly nothing that changes it. Just calm down people.
Monday, July 29, 2013
elsewhere, it was used by Napoleon when he conquered northern Italy and later used by the Hapsburg Emperors of Austria as the crown of their Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. When the Austrians were forced out of northern Italy they took the Iron Crown with them to Vienna but, in a subsequent peace treaty after another war, it was turned over to the House of Savoy and placed back in its traditional resting place in Milan. It is noteworthy that all official documents from the Italian royal court refer to there being two crowns, the Crown of Savoy and the Iron Crown which was always referred to as the “crown of Italy”. No King of Italy ever had a coronation though there was some discussion about it. If it had been done, the Iron Crown of Lombardy would have been used. Unfortunately, because of the “Roman Question” the Pope had excommunicated King Victor Emmanuel II (along with everyone else who had anything to do with unification) and neither King Victor Emmanuel II nor King Umberto I wished to make use of the Iron Crown, which is a holy relic, while their status with the Church was in question.
|Reproduction of the Iron Crown on the tomb of Umberto I|
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Saturday, July 27, 2013
On the continent, King Philippe of the Belgians is settling into his new position and has received pretty uniform praise for striking the right note upon taking the throne, emphasizing ‘unity in diversity’. These days, of course, no one likes to talk about tradition unless it is being broken and so there were a couple of breaks in tradition surrounding the inauguration of King Philippe. For one, for the first time since Belgium has existed, the royal swearing-in ceremony was followed by two anthems instead of one; the Belgian national anthem and the European Union anthem. Most talking heads in the media seemed to think this was great, showing how Belgium is committed to surging ahead on the whole united Europe idea (something yours truly is not so wild about), however they seemed rather less impressed with the other break with tradition by King Philippe who has decided not to announce a general amnesty for Belgian prisoners as has been done in times past. Not to sound contrary but that seems like the better break with tradition to me. Among the other crowned heads of Europe, HM King Willem-Alexander took his family on a short vacation this week, HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden met with some Boy Scouts and HM King Juan Carlos of Spain met with survivors of the horrific train wreck in northern Spain.
In other news we go to the Americas where HH Pope Francis made the first overseas visit of his reign when he traveled to Brazil for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro where he was met with a hugely enthusiastic welcome. On his way, Pope Francis said he was most concerned about the poor young people and those without jobs. In his message to the gathered young people the Pontiff said, “What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!…I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!” The Pope also caused a stir by not riding in a protected vehicle and by going off the planned course, away from the barricades and police security, to drive amongst the crowd. Problems surrounding the papal visit have caused some to express doubts about the ability of the country to handle the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Local officials, however, say such problems are unavoidable with Youth Day and that these other events will be handled fine.
Friday, July 26, 2013
King Victor Emmanuel II: Born in 1820 he succeeded his father as King of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1849, making peace with Austria and reestablishing order in his country. He joined in the Crimean War alongside France and Britain, defeating the Russians in 1856. After making an alliance with France he went to war against Austria and won the region of Lombardy. When revolution broke out in the central Italian duchies he moved in to restore order and the states voted to join Piedmont-Sardinia in the movement for Italian unification. After Garibaldi and his red shirts attacked the Two-Sicilies he moved his army south, taking command of the war effort and was handed control of the southern half of the peninsula. Much of these disturbances arose when local monarchs granted constitutions in times of crisis only to revoke them later. Victor Emmanuel II was the only monarch to maintain the constitution his people have and it is for that reason that he was known as the “Honest King” -so that has to be seen in context. To his enemies he was the “Thief King” and to his friends as the “Gentleman King” for his affable personality. Today many are inclined to criticize him but there was hardly a case in which he advanced his cause where the only other alternative was not a socialistic republic. His victory was certainly preferable to that alternative. In 1861 he was declared the first King of Italy, the first monarch to reign over the whole Italian peninsula since the time of ancient Rome. After the Third War of Independence he won Venetia and the Iron Crown of Lombardy. Rome was united to Italy in 1870 but he died with still greater aspirations in 1878. The biggest problem with his reign was the start of the “Roman Question” which both sides should have done more to avoid. His character left something to be desired but, on the other hand, I do admire those who ‘think big’.
King Umberto I: Born in 1844, Umberto I succeeded his father as King of Italy in 1878 and quickly went about the work of consolidation and making a place for Italy on the world stage as one of the regional powers of Europe -and I salute him for that. Since the old ally France had gone republican and was attempting to spread their influence in Italy, King Umberto I signed on to the Triple Alliance with the empires of Germany and Austria-Hungary. This is often misunderstood as it was not so much a political alliance of countries but a dynastic alliance of monarchies for the purpose of creating solidarity against subversion rather than any international agenda for or against other powers. He made sure, for example, to keep good relations with Great Britain. He successfully suppressed socialist revolutionaries (and anyone who shoots down socialist mobs is okay in my book) and supported expansion into Africa with the establishment of the first Italian colonies in Eritrea and Somalia. Victories were won against terrorist forces in the southern Sudan region but Italian forces met a shocking setback at the hands of the Emperor of Ethiopia (who Italy had helped place on the throne) at the battle of Adowa in 1896. A generous man at home, though often secretly, most did not know that King Umberto likewise secretly paid the ransoms the Ethiopians demanded for the return of his captured soldiers. After seeing off an expedition to China he was assassinated in 1900. Known as “Umberto the Good” or the “Good King”, he was that.
King Victor Emmanuel III: Born in 1869, Victor Emmanuel III became King of Italy upon the death of his father in 1900. His reign would see the height of power for the Kingdom of Italy as well as its darkest moments. For most people he will probably always be the most controversial Italian monarch, even though he presided over a string of national successes -at least until World War II. In 1911 Italy won Libya and the Dodecanese Islands from the Ottoman Turks. In 1915 the King led Italy into World War I on the side of Britain, France and the Allies. With their victory Italy gained some Austrian territory but hardly any of what she had been promised by the other powers. He was criticized (later) for not using the army to stop the Fascist march on Rome in 1922 but these were the same sort of people who criticized his father for calling out the army to stop socialists. So, shooting down socialists in the streets is bad but shooting down fascists in the streets would have been fine. Got it. Peace was finally made with the Church in 1929 and in 1936 Italian forces conquered Ethiopia, making Victor Emmanuel III an Emperor. Immediately after, Italian troops were sent to Spain to aid in the victory of the nationalists over the communists. In 1939 Victor Emmanuel III became King of Albania and despite his objections Mussolini took the country into World War II in 1940. When Sicily was invaded the King dismissed Mussolini and arrested him. Crushed between the Axis and the Allies, the King finally abdicated in 1946 and died in exile in Egypt in 1947. I have a soft spot for VE3. He was a much smarter man than he often gets credit for, he had his priorities in order and he really cared about the monarchy as an institution. There were many things he should have done differently but I despise the way so much of the criticism directed at him came from people who blamed him for not doing the things they could have done but lacked the courage to do.
King Umberto II: Born in 1904, Umberto II was the last King of Italy, reigning for 34 days from May 9th to June 12th. Trained as a soldier like all Savoy princes, he had presided over the Italian invasion of France in 1940 which lasted only a few days before the French surrender. He was excluded from most high level positions and discussions because of his opposition to the Fascists and their Nazi allies. Mussolini greatly distrusted him and kept him under scrutiny at all times. After the Fascists were removed from power his father handed him the effective role of regent as Lieutenant General of the Realm and in that role he won the respect of many Allied leaders. In 1946, mostly for the month of May, he became King of Italy but was forced to accept a referendum on the future of the monarchy. The vote was highly irregular and clearly fraudulent but came back in favor of a republic. The King accepted exile and died in Switzerland in 1983. A great deal of slander has been spread about Umberto II, mostly from the left but, ironically, largely coming from stories invented originally by the Fascists. He was a good man who cared about his country, his people and the Royal Family and both his enemies at home and the Allied leadership should have given him an honest chance. He deserved so much better than what happened to him. The only thing I can fault him for was not being more unequivocal concerning the royal succession which might have saved loyal Italian monarchists a great deal of trouble.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
King Charles Emmanuel III: Born in Turin in 1701, he succeeded his father, Victor Amadeus II, in 1730 as King of Piedmont-Sardinia. His father abdicated but later returned to reclaim power but was not successful and Charles Emmanuel continued to rule. An ambitious and military-minded man, he was one of the earliest Savoy to have larger “Italian” aspirations in his foreign policy. In the War of Polish Succession he allied with France and Poland against Russia and Austria. He led the army that captured Lombardy from Austria but was obliged to give up the territory in the peace settlement in exchange for other areas. In the War of Austrian Succession, however, he allied with Maria Theresa of Austria and was immediately attacked by vastly superior French forces. Yet, he won a great victory over France at the battle of Assietta which saved his country in spite of having only 7,000 men to the 40,000 men opposing him. In the peace settlement he regained Nice and Savoy as well as other areas and restored friendly relations with Spain. That stupendous victory alone would earn him a place as one of the greatest kings of the House of Savoy and it was not his only accomplishment. He then improved the defenses of his country, replenished the army and improved education in Sardinia before his death in 1773. He was a great king who exuded a sense of grandeur that made everyone around him feel a little grander by association.
King Victor Amadeus III: Born in Turin in 1726, he succeeded his father, Charles Emanuel III, as King of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1773. He was a conservative and religious man devoted to the army, and that makes anyone alright in my book. The people too loved him for his good nature and generosity. He enacted administrative reforms and improvements to the national infrastructure but was generally suspicious of change. He founded the Gold Medal of Military Valor and also improved and expanded higher education in his country. Impressed by the successes of the late Frederick the Great (who wouldn’t be?), his military reforms aimed at following the Prussian model and he hoped to ally with Prussia to offset the Austrian alliance with France. But, his devotion to the cause of monarchy and sacred authority came before political considerations and when the French Revolution broke out he dropped his prior suspicions and gave sanctuary to fleeing Bourbon royals and despite the uneven odds declared war on republican France because of his natural revulsion of such traitors and because it was the right thing to do, even if all but hopeless. In spite of the improvements he made to the army, his forces were outmatched and defeated. He died of an apoplexy in Moncalieri in 1796. His reign did not end on a successful note but he is still to be admired for going down in a righteous cause.
King Charles Emmanuel IV: Born in Turin in 1751, he succeeded his father Victor Amadeus III as King of Piedmont-Sardinia in 1796. From the beginning he was forced to make concessions to the French revolutionary forces and was finally forced to go into exile by the French occupation. He withdrew with his family to Sardinia to continue the struggle to reclaim his lost territory. Charles Emmanuel IV was a very conservative, traditional man of deep religious faith. The death of his beloved wife almost destroyed him and he abdicated in 1802 in favor of his brother. In fact, it was probably as a husband that I admire him most, for the way he defended and sincerely adored his wife who so many others were fond of mocking for her appearance. He was really a man of great character. He was also close friends with Cardinal York of the Stuart royal house, his cousin, and when the Cardinal died in 1807 his followers recognized Charles Emmanuel as “King Charles IV of England, Scotland, Ireland and France” though he made no claim on those countries. In 1815, still troubled by the loss of his wife, he took vows with the Society of Jesus and spent the rest of his life in a religious house in Rome. In political terms he was not able to accomplish much, though not for lack of trying, but he is still one of my favorites. Not a successful monarch perhaps, but a very great man without doubt.
King Victor Emmanuel I: Born in Turin in 1759 he succeeded his brother, King Charles Emmanuel IV, in 1802 as King of Piedmont-Sardinia. From the start he showed an admirable determination to rebuilt the military and take back what was rightfully his. During that time Piedmont was occupied by French revolutionary forces and Victor Emmanuel I ruled Sardinia from Cagliari for the first 12 years of his reign after participating in the failed War of the Third Coalition. Not discouraged and determined to fight on, during this time he established the famous Carabinieri gendarme corps. He also restored the Guards as the famous “Grenadiers of Sardinia”. A great many of the most cherished military traditions of modern Italy are owed to King Victor Emmanuel I, even if the republic has done everything possible to purge his memory from the ranks. After France was defeated the Savoy Crown gained Genoa and Victor Emmanuel I restored the pre-revolutionary system with a favored place for the Church in society and education and opposed the spread of non-Catholic doctrines. All good and admirable things, especially considering what the country had just been exposed to. In 1819 Jacobite legitimists from Britain recognized him as King of Great Britain but nothing came of it. He did desire expansion into Lombardy but abdicated in 1821 after the outbreak of revolutionary riots in the country rather than grant a constitution.
King Charles Felix: Born in Turin in 1765 he succeeded King Victor Emmanuel I in 1821 as King of Piedmont-Sardinia. The Carbonari were rebelling in Turin when he succeeded to the throne but as he was in Modena, Charles Albert acted in his place as regent and granted a constitution, being somewhat sympathetic to the views of the liberals. Charles Felix, a conservative by nature who regarded monarchy as sacred, was having none of that nonsense and revoked this constitution as soon as he returned and also sought to remove the last traces of the revolutionary period from the legal system. And he was awesomely fanatic about that. No matter how odd it might look (40-year old page boys etc) he was determined to have everything back *exactly* like it was. And I applaud him for it. Quiet and ascetic, he loved cultural interests like the theater and music more than politics and was a great patron of the arts. However, he also improved the navy but was careful to keep the peace with his powerful neighbors. The only major military action of his reign was a naval expedition to Tunisia in 1825 after the local ruler imprisoned some Genoese merchants. It was not a major operation but would add later to the Italian case for colonizing Tunisia (which they never did as France grabbed it first). He died, married but childless in 1831 worried about the liberal tendencies of his successor. Again, not a conquering hero, but one of my favorites for being so awesomely reactionary.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
|Royal Standard of Texas (my own design anyway)|
The big push for Spanish settlement in Texas came as a result of another claim on Texas by the Kingdom of France and it was one made by accident. The intrepid explorer Rene Robert Cavalier de La Salle missed Louisiana and crashed onto the Texas coast in 1685 on the shores of Lavaca Bay. He claimed the land for His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XIV and established Fort St Louis. Eventually, a party determined to set out on foot for New France (which means they intended to walk to Canada) but there was a mutiny and La Salle was killed. Eventually, most of the remainder were killed by the Karankawas (the first to eat French cuisine in Texas) and this French incursion prompted Spain to take action. A Spanish expedition was dispatched to expel the invaders though when they arrived they found only the ruins of the old fort. The largely nominal reign of the King of France over Texas ended in 1690 but it was still very important in lighting a fire under the Spanish. Just the French being in Louisiana, between Spanish Texas and Florida, was considered a threat to Spanish trade and interests in the region. So, the Council of War of King Carlos II (the last Hapsburg to reign over Texas) recommended that action be taken to fortify the frontier.
1690, under King Carlos II, was when things really got moving in Texas. A string of stone forts and missions (which often doubled as forts) were established across the eastern half of Texas in a line running down from the border with Louisiana (which was disputed), near the coast down to south Texas. Famous examples of these beautiful structures can be seen in the missions of San Antonio or the presidio La Bahia in Goliad, Texas and mass is still said in all of them. The most famous mission, of course, is the Mission San Antonio de Valero, even though it was never finished, named after St Anthony of Padua and the Viceroy of New Spain but better known as the Alamo. The idea was to establish a network of fortified bases to discourage any French attacks coming out of Louisiana as well as to convert the natives to Christianity, protect those engaged in farming from those engaged in pillaging and to settle and civilize the area. However, the inhabitants of what is today Mexico proved very reluctant to move to Texas so settlers were often brought in from great distances. Most of the original settlers of San Antonio, for example, were from the Canary Islands. It was not until 1715, for example, that the first Spanish women arrived in Texas as part of colonization efforts undertaken by King Felipe V, the Bourbon prince who had come to the Spanish throne after the death of the unfortunate Carlos II.
|courtyard of the Spanish Royal Governor's Palace|
The Spanish colonies refused to recognize the legitimacy of King Jose I whose nominal reign lasted from 1808 to 1813. However, the lack of a strong government in Spain that everyone was loyal to caused rebellion to break out in many parts of the Spanish empire. Foreign filibusters also took advantage of the chaos to try to to grab Texas away from Spain. It was the rough start to what would later be known as the first Mexican Revolution. One of the biggest threats to royal authority in Texas was the Magee-Gutierrez Expedition, made up of a combination of American filibusters and Mexican revolutionaries. They invaded and took control of much of Texas in 1812-13. However, a Spanish royalist army under General Joaquin de Arredondo marched up from the south and defeated the republican army at the battle of Medina, the largest battle ever fought on Texas soil. The reign of King Fernando VII over Texas had been saved but only for the time being.
Eventually, the policies coming out of Madrid alienated the conservatives in New Spain and they began to join the independence movement. The leader of the new coalition was Don Agustin de Iturbide. He wanted New Spain, which is to say Mexico and Central America, to be independent but still under the Spanish Crown. However, King Fernando VII refused and forbid any of his family to accept the crown of Mexico. Nonetheless, independence could not be stopped and in 1821, by popular acclaim, General Iturbide became Emperor Agustin I of Mexico, which of course included Texas at that time. In fact, it was under the reign of Emperor Agustin I that the first steps were taken toward the Anglo colonization of Texas by the "Father of Texas" Stephen F. Austin. His father had received a land grant from the Spanish in 1820 but it was Stephen F. Austin who led the first official Anglo colonization of Texas, giving birth to Texas as we know it today in late 1821. The change in government threw things into confusion and Austin had to go to Mexico City to sort it all out but his plan was ultimately approved by the Emperor. Unfortunately, things had hardly had time to settle when Emperor Agustin was overthrown in 1823 by liberal republicans led by a man who would later become infamous in Texas history, one Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Mexico became a republic and Texas became an independent Republic in 1836 making Emperor Agustin the last man to reign over Texas as monarch.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Monday, July 22, 2013
Sunday, July 21, 2013
King Leopold I
King Leopold II
King Albert I
King Leopold III
King Albert II
The Queen consorts of the Belgians:
Queen Louise Marie of Orleans
Queen Marie Henriette of Austria
Queen Elizabeth of Bavaria
Queen Astrid of Sweden
Queen Fabiola (of Spain)
Queen Paola (of Italy)
Queen Mathilde (of Belgium)
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Friday, July 19, 2013
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Caligula was born on August 31, in the year 12 and his real name was Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus. His father was the very popular Germanicus, who was the adopted grandson of Augustus Caesar and a potential heir to the throne. Caligula was, unlike his predecessor Emperor Tiberius, a blood descendant of Augustus and Julius Caesar as well as Mark Antony and his uncle was the future Emperor Claudius. He earned his nickname while accompanying his parents on military campaigns in Germany where he was adopted as the mascot of the army. His mother would often dress him in a little military uniform which, of course, included the sandals or boots that the soldiers wore and he was soon dubbed Caligula or Little Boots and the name stuck. It should also be pointed out that Caligula always hated that nickname and in later life would inflict the severest punishment on anyone who called him that. To make things more complicated he was not particularly fond of his real name, Gaius, either. Anyway, from an early age he was exposed to the violent intrigues that had long been a part of Roman political life.
It was believed that Germanicus was the heir to the throne that Augustus preferred though, since he was too young, Augustus adopted Tiberius with the understanding that Tiberius would adopt Germanicus as his heir. Not long after becoming emperor, however, Germanicus died and Tiberius took care to keep Caligula isolated and under his control. He spent many years in what can be described as rather comfortable imprisonment and isolation with only the company of his sisters Agrippina the Younger, Julia Livilla and Drusilla. In time, Caligula would have incestuous relations with all three of them but mostly a long standing affair with his most beloved sister Drusilla. In fact, many believe that his sister Drusilla was the only person Caligula ever truly loved in his life. With this background, Emperor Tiberius summoned Caligula to the island of Capri where Tiberius spent the last ten years of his life and where he was rumored to have become quite nasty and certainly very paranoid. His condition may be explained by the absence of those who had previously moderated him such as his best friend Nerva and his brother Drusus. He wanted Caligula near him both because he feared him desiring to assume the purple early and to prevent anyone else from influencing his adopted grandson and heir.
Today, looking back, we often wonder how anyone could have actually looked forward to the reign of Caligula; but of course, we have the benefit of hindsight. To the general public of the Roman Empire he seemed like a perfectly normal young man. Many saw him in a sympathetic light because of the death of the death of the rest of his family. Tiberius was unpopular (rather unjustly so) and by then was 78 years old and preparing to die. Hoping that his favored grandson Gemellus might succeed him eventually he named him his heir alongside Caligula in his will. Poor, young Gemellus was likely doomed at any rate but this order certainly sealed his fate. The hour of destiny for Caligula came on March 16, 37 AD when the Emperor Tiberius died. Many believed that Caligula had a hand in his passing though the deed was probably done by Naevius Sutorius Macro, the Prefect of Praetorian Guard who allegedly smothered Tiberius to hasten the accession of Caligula. If reports are true and Macro did murder Tiberius, it did nothing to diminish the popularity of Caligula who the people cheered for ending the life of the man they viewed as a tyrant. With the backing of Macro and the Praetorian Guard Caligula was immediately declared heir to Tiberius and Gemellus was cast aside on the grounds that the late Caesar had been insane when he included Gemellus in his will. That may have been true but it was certainly not the legitimate reason Gemellus was cast aside in favor of Caligula.
Even more so than Caligula this was a moment of triumph for Prefect Macro who had been planning this for some time and that in itself adds credence to his murder of Tiberius. Three years earlier he had been putting himself in a position to befriend and possibly dominate Caligula by encouraging his wife, Ennia, into an affair with the young prince. He had been responsible for the downfall of the previous Praetorian Prefect Sejanus who had been the power behind the throne, so to speak, under Tiberius. Macro had supplanted him in that position and using the sexual talents of his wife now planned to hold the same favored status under the new, young, Emperor Caligula. On March 28, 37 AD the Roman Senate officially voted Caligula to the office of Princeps or First Citizen amidst much rejoicing by the public who greeted their new emperor with cheers. Caligula was also quick to put the vast treasury left by Tiberius to good use in winning greater popularity for himself. He gave the Praetorian Guard a hefty bonus, distributed money to the common people and declared a general amnesty to free all of those imprisoned by the paranoia of Tiberius. Celebrations were held constantly with hundreds of thousands of animals sacrificed in thanksgiving of the accession of the young Caesar the people called their star and their baby. They could not have known that amongst the inner circle of imperial power Caligula already had a reputation for being a great servant but a terrible master.
However, Caligula could not hide his more egocentric and vindictive side totally, even at this early date. One of the fortune tellers employed by Tiberius had once said that Caligula had no more chance of becoming Emperor of Rome that he did of riding a horse across the Bay of Baiae. Caligula never forgot this and upon ascending the purple he had a massive pontoon bridge built across the bay, over two miles long, from Baiae to Puteoli. He then mounted his beloved, and soon to be famous, horse Incitatus and donned the breastplate of Alexander the Great and rode across the temporary bridge in order to show his defiance and triumph over the false prophecy that had been made of him. This should have been something of an alarm bell, but the public reacted to it with applause. They loved their Caesar, gloried in his accession and paid no attention to the rather sinister emotions that were behind this act for Caligula. It was a spectacle after all, something to entertain them, a bit outlandish perhaps, but all was well and it was a nice and rather humorous diversion.
Of course, Caligula did not die, but any inhibitions he may have had certainly seemed to. When he recovered those in his inner circle especially were to see a different and extremely horrifying Gaius Caligula than they had seen before. The mercy and generosity Caligula had earlier displayed were replaced by extremes of lust and cruelty after he recovered. One of his actions, in 38 AD, was to dismiss and execute his supposed friend Macro who had assured his accession to the throne. He began spending lavishly on wild parties and bizarre expeditions to glorify himself. He built two massive ships; one being a floating temple to the goddess Diana and the other a luxurious palace for himself. In an effort to outshine his deified ancestor Julius Caesar he embarked on an expedition to conquer Britain but got no farther than the English Channel. He then had his troops collect sea shells as spoils of his great victory and demanded a triumph upon his return to Rome. The senate refused on the grounds that he had won no victories and had conquered nothing. Caligula saw this as no excuse and held his own celebration with his subjects dressed as barbarian captives and forcing senators to run alongside his chariot. This was only the beginning of a long list of humiliations he would inflict on the senate as well as every other established institution and tradition in Rome.
Disaster struck Caligula on June 10, 38 AD when his beloved sister Drusilla died of fever that was rampant in the city. Caligula was heartbroken and went mad with grief. He declared a state of mourning for Rome and gave his sister the funeral of an empress with himself standing in the place of widower. Shortly thereafter he had her deified as the Divine Drusilla, a living representation of the goddess Venus. When, a short time later, Caesonia gave birth to a daughter Caligula named her Julia Drusilla in honor of his sister. One thing that is certain is that without the influence of his sister Caligula became even more unhinged. Human life seemed to stop having any meaning for him and he saw and used people as objects for his own amusement and nothing more. The senatorial class suffered most from his insanity. He set up and tore down consuls without consulting them. He flagrantly raped their daughters and sons and would likewise take their own wives for himself while at public parties. After having his fill of the woman in question he would return to the party and tell her husband and the other guests how she had performed in bed.
Caligula also seemed to have a rather unnatural attachment to his favorite horse Incitatus. In another humiliation for the upper class he would order the senators to hail his horse as they would a superior. He built a palace for his horse with a marble stable and a gold manger and lavished all sorts of jewels and fine garments on the animal. Most famously he once threatened to make Incitatus a Consul of Rome, however, this was not actually a serious suggestion but just another way Caligula had to humiliate the senators and denigrate them by suggesting that even his horse could do their job. This was nothing compared to his most degenerate act of defiance toward the senate. Due to his extravagance the rich treasury left behind by Tiberius was soon exhausted and in order to make money Caligula opened an imperial brothel in his palace and forced the wives of the Roman senators to employ themselves there. Were not the upper classes in utter fear for their lives this would never have worked but Caligula made it so and anyone with enough money could come to the palace and enjoy a few minutes with the wife of a Roman senator. He also levied taxes on marriage, prostitution, use of the courts and other things which began to erode his popularity among the common people of Rome.
Having trampled on such institutions as the family, the military and the republic it is no wonder that religion soon became a target of the maniacal Caesar as well. Whereas Julius Caesar and Augustus had been deified by the senate after their deaths (Tiberius specifically stated he did not want the same treatment) Caligula broke all precedent by demanding that the senate declare him a god while he was alive. The cowering senate did so and Caligula went to great lengths to emphasize his new, divine status. He insisted on the most groveling submission to his person and had the heads of the statues of the various gods in the temples replaced with his own likeness. This brought him into particular trouble with his Jewish subjects who refused to worship him and who had earlier been excused from the cult of the emperor because of their belief in monotheism and spurning of graven images. This led to some rebellions which were bloodily suppressed. Caligula was so enraged by this that he ordered a statue of himself erected in the Temple in Jerusalem, which would certainly have caused a revolution but he was eventually dissuaded after the matter was delayed for a time. Eventually, Caligula would claim that he conversed with the other gods and that he was, in fact, greater than them all, even the king of the Roman gods; Jupiter. Caligula also famously roamed the halls of his palace at night commanding the sun to rise.
By this time most people had little doubt that Caligula, the Emperor of Rome, the commander of all the Roman legions and absolute ruler of virtually the entire known world was completely insane. His orgies and debauchery became notorious and his cruelty and executions of so many nobles had the upper echelons of Roman society quaking with fear and close to their breaking point. The reign of Caligula was no longer the open and tolerant style he had started with but he had now surpassed even his feared predecessor with his tortures and the numbers of those executed for treason; real or imagined. Caligula once famously remarked that he wished all the Roman people had one neck so he could cut off all the heads with one blow. When told that he was becoming hated by his own people who had once loved him, Caligula replied, "Let them hate me, so long as they fear me". And, that they certainly did. He enriched himself by confiscating the property of anyone arrested for treason and when in need of funds he might charge any wealthy Roman with treason. He even made it law that all those who died had to leave something for him in their will. Obviously, this situation could not go on forever and many men in high places began plotting against Caligula so that his reign of terror might come to an end.
It was, remember, the Praetorian Guard which had helped ensure his succession and they had protected him from several previous plots against him but finally his erratic behavior became too much and the Praetorian itself determined to end the life of Gaius Caligula. In particular the plot was the work of Cassius Chaerea (appropriately named) who was the leader of the Praetorian Guard. Their only real opposition was the Germanic Guard who were the personal troops of Caligula and fanatically loyal to him. Otherwise, the Emperor had few friends by this time and many of the nobles, generals, equestrians and senators of Rome were well aware of the plot and supported it though of course they were too afraid to be actively involved. The end for Caligula came on January 24, 41 AD while Caligula was berating a group of actors set to perform in a celebration for the Divine Emperor Augustus. Chaerea and the other soldiers fell upon him as he cried for help, stabbing him some thirty times. This was not mere assassination however, the Praetorian intended to wipe the seed of Caligula from the earth forever and troops were dispatched to kill his wife Caesonia and his young daughter Julia Drusilla who allegedly inherited the viciousness of her father and bit and clawed at the soldiers before they smashed her head against a wall. The Germanic Guard arrived too late to save their master though they went on an enraged, murderous rampage after that killing anyone they came across, the guilty and innocent alike. With that last act of savagery, the reign of Caligula Caesar had come to an end.