From The Mad Monarchist
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
If she had contented herself with tormenting her own people or could have stopped herself once her immediate supply was exhausted she might have escaped all punishment. But, of course, she could not. It was a compulsion, a sadistic depravity born out of vanity. She must maintain her famous beauty and so she must have more virgin girls to kill to fill her tub. To do this, she would have them suspended over it and then slash their throats. Eventually, her victims included some of the most important and powerful families in that part of Hungary and the nobility gathered to take action against the monstrous woman. Alarming reports had even spread to Vienna and so King Matthias sent agents to investigate. Before this was even completed, as more and more stories were collected, each more gruesome than the last, it was decided that the countess would have to go. She was arrested and the King, thoroughly disgusted by the reports that reached him, wanted to put her to death but he was persuaded that this would inflame the nobility who would not want to see one of their own executed no matter what the crime. Instead, Elisabeth Bathory was sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of her life. So it was the she spent the rest of her days, walled up inside a few rooms of her castle, screaming and ranting, totally shut off from the outside world with no doors, no windows and only a small opening to pass her food. Under such conditions she lived only another four years before her death on August 21, 1614.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Duke Francis grew up amidst all of this and was known for his kindness and sensitivity as well as being at times indecisive. He also had quite an illustrious pedigree, not only on the Hapsburg side of his father but also on the Savoy side of his mother. In 1840, when his mother died, intractable British Jacobites recognized the future Duke of Modena as “King Francis I of England, Scotland, Ireland and France”. An interesting historical twist but, needless to say, Francis never used or claimed such lofty titles himself. He knew he would have his hands full simply becoming and remaining Duke of Modena. He was given a good education with a number of eminent aristocrats and clerics serving as his tutors. By 1842 he had been honored with the Austrian Order of the Golden Fleece, the Dutch Order of the Netherlands Lion and the Savoy Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation. He was fond enough of chivalric orders that in 1855 he started one of his own, the Order of the Eagle of Este.
By this time Francis also had a family to worry about having been married in 1842 to Princess Adelgunde of Bavaria (daughter of King Ludwig I) and if the trauma of the 1848 revolt was not bad enough it was followed by the death of the couple’s only child, Princess Anna Beatrice in 1849. However, none of this should be seen as the result of a personal dislike for Francis V. Even though many people were unhappy with the state of affairs in Modena, their Duke remained quite popular with the ordinary people. He was fair in matters of justice and impressed many people during the war when he helped care for the sick and injured himself. Even those suffering from a cholera outbreak were not shunned by the hands-on Hapsburg Duke. When he was restored by the Austrian forces after the unpleasantness of 1848 many people turned out to cheer his return. Even those who wanted some political reform and to join in some union or coalition with their Italian brothers often still liked the Duke personally and hoped that he would lead them in that direction.
Duke Francis V spent the rest of his life in exile, mostly in Austria but occasionally visiting other countries, including a pilgrimage to the Middle East. He died, still loved by some and despised by others, on November 20, 1875 and was buried in the Capuchin Church in Vienna, leaving his large estate to his cousin the ill-fated Archduke Francis Ferdinand, who also inherited his title of Archduke of Austria-Este.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
During this time the Kingdom of Korea was still maintaining a policy of isolation and had already greatly offended the Japanese by turning away their envoys sent to establish formal diplomatic relations. In fact, had Japan been prepared, there may have been war much sooner. In any event, Japan later sent a powerful naval force to compel Korea to open her ports to them, in much the same way Commodore Perry of the United States had done to Japan. Rather than risk war the Korean government agreed to trade with Japan and allow Japanese persons to buy land in Korea, though many were still nervous about having anything, whatever, to do with the outside world. Tensions, however, only increased as Japan was already more advanced than Korea and the local merchants were unable to compete with the Japanese which hurt the Korean economy.
In 1882 there was a more serious mutiny by elements of the army resentful of the special status of the new, modern military units and they attacked areas associated with the Queen’s family and killed many of her friends and allies. The old regent even came out to take charge of the rebellion which was aimed almost solely at the Queen. The rebels grew in strength and finally King Gojong and Queen Min were forced to flee the palace and go into hiding with the Daewongun taking control of the government and quickly issuing orders ending all of the modernization programs and reasserting the policy of isolationism. This prompted the Qing Empire to dispatch Chinese troops to Korea (which they still viewed as within their traditional sphere of influence). They arrested the former regent, bringing him back to Peking for trial and restored the King and Queen who promptly retracted the retractions enacted in their absence. In the aftermath, King Gojong signed a new agreement with Japan and when Queen Min learned of this she quickly tried to strengthen ties with China as a way of off-setting Japanese influence in an effort to ensure that no one power gained dominance over Korea. She also sought relations with the United States in an effort to advance Korean industry, hoping to surpass Japan.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
A special image for Halloween, the infamous "Cadaver Synod" in which Pope Stephen (VI) VII had the Pope Formosus dug up, his putried corpse dressed in papal vestments and then put on trial at St John Lateran's Basilica. Believe it or not, this convinced many people that Pope Stephen was quite insane...
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The Serbians may justly resent this but they can take what comfort they can in the fact that they are hardly alone in this. “Hanoi Jane” Fonda and all the other anti-war protestors never gave their opposition to the Vietnam conflict a second thought after the U.S. troops were withdrawn and millions of southeast Asians were killed by communist tyranny and continue to this day to suffer under an oppressive and totalitarian regime. They do not think about it and do not care in the least. So, it is nothing new that the majority of Americans today think not at all about the current consequences of what was started by that bombing campaign and the subsequent European forces invasion in southern Serbia. There is plenty of room to speculate that Clinton did this for his own purposes, as yet another distraction for the American public amidst his many scandals (which if anyone cared to look were far worse than fornication in the oval office). Yet, even if it was done for the purely benevolent and humanitarian reasons given one still cannot but be aghast at the sheer stupidity of it all. Let us explore that just for a moment.
To be sure, Milosevic was a villain. He was a dictator, not on the level of Stalin or Hitler as he was sometimes portrayed (have you noticed that every bad guy the U.S. has taken on is always a modern-day “Hitler”?) but he was certainly bad enough. It is sufficient for me that he was a communist and the only good communist is a dead communist -so at least he’s a good communist now. Milosevic was not really the issue though, the issue was the Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. There were charges of ethnic cleansing and no one was surprised given all the charges of ethnic cleansing leveled at every participant of every conflict in the Balkans in our time. So, here was President Clinton of the United States on his white horse charging to the rescue of the poor persecuted ethnic Albanians, saving them from the dastardly Serbians. I think from our current vantage point it is safe to say that the Islamic world has not really shown a great deal of appreciation for the U.S. bombing multitudes of Christian Serbs for the sake of their co-religionists. Yet, that is essentially what happened. President Clinton boldly let loose the full firepower of the United States Air Force to make Kosovo safe for the Albanian Muslims.
Now, Kosovo is claiming independence. This is one of the most absurd and most positively blatant deceptions of the present time. This should fool no one. Kosovo has no business being independent, no history of it and, by the time it was done, not even the semblance of a reason for it. More to the point though, it is a deception, a charade and a painfully obvious one at that. Kosovo could never be really independent no matter what Albania, the U.S. or the European Union says. It is not capable of being independent, anyone can see that, and so it is clearly a stepping stone for future annexation to create a “Greater Albania” which the Albanians feel rather cheated out of since they were only briefly able to enjoy that status during World War II and even then it was the product of Mussolini’s labor rather than their own. Some might think this a just reward for all the chaos and bloodshed unleashed by the efforts on the part of the Serbs in the last century to create their “Greater Serbia” (later Yugoslavia) but this would be a callous view indeed. Serbia at least had some (admittedly extremely distant) history to back up their more modest claims, Kosovo has none whatsoever. If this farce of an independent Kosovo continues it could prove to be the spark that re-lights the Balkan powder keg into a new round of anti-Serb ethnic cleansing that might shock even this jaded generation.
Monday, October 24, 2011
In 1851-52 Marques de Sousa saw extensive service in the Platine War, allied with Uruguay against the Argentine Confederation led by the strongman Juan Manuel de Rosas. He led the First Brazilian Division with great skill and joined with the Allied army that administered the final defeat of the Argentines. Following this conflict, the respected soldier retired from active military service but, when trouble began anew over Paraguay he again rushed to the service of his Emperor and presented himself as a volunteer for what became known as the War of the Triple Alliance or the Paraguayan War. This was a conflict that saw the Empire of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay allied against Paraguay which had just undergone a massive military buildup. The Paraguayan republic had invaded Brazil in Rio Grande do Sul and it was Manuel Marques de Sousa who commanded the Brazilian forces which defeated the invasion and forced their surrender at Uruguaiana in the presence of Emperor Dom Pedro II.
Like many of his social set, during his retirement from the imperial army, Porto Alegre served in the political realm. He was elected to serve in the Provincial Assembly on a number of occasions and he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Provincial Secretary of War. He was also awarded a number of honors throughout his career by the Emperor such as being made a Knight of the Imperial Order of St Benedict of Avis, the Imperial Order of the Southern Cross and the Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of Christ. The Count of Porto Alegre died in Rio de Janeiro on July 18, 1875 to great public mourning. Today there are numerous streets, monuments and so on named in his honor. He stands as one of the great military and political defenders of the Empire of Brazil and a man whose first loyalty was always, first and foremost, with his Emperor.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
HSH Prince Hans-Adam II on "Uncommon Knowledge" at the Hoover Institute discusses Liechtenstein's economic success, problems in Europe, America, Russia and China as well as talking about the benefits of free markets and localized self-government in opposition to top-heavy welfare states. Take some time and have a listen to the Prince of Liechtenstein:
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Update: Today the Royal Saudi Court announced the death of 85 year old Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s deputy Prime Minister and minister of defense and aviation. The official statement said, "With deep sorrow and grief, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced that his brother and faithful Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General, passed away at dawn, on Saturday, 24/11/1432A.H. corresponding to 22/10/2011A.D. after suffering from an illness abroad and that a funeral prayer will be performed for the deceased Crown Prince after Asr prayer at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh on Tuesday.”
Friday, October 21, 2011
Princess Elisabeth remained with her brother, King Louis XVI, and was very attentive to him. There was some talk of her being married to the Austrian Emperor Joseph II but nothing came of it. It might have been better for her if she had ultimately, but as things stood at the time the Princess was wise to refuse as the Emperor was of a fairly different mindset from Elisabeth. The Emperor was a very modern-minded man, an “enlightened despot” who favored greater state control over the Church. Elisabeth was a very traditional conservative and a very devout Catholic who put her faith first and above all else. She was considered, along with her brother the Count of Artois (the future King Charles X) to be the most pro-Church and staunchly royalist member of the family. She was also a very strong-willed and determined woman. As a girl those traits had made her a little difficult but, as she grew up, her growing faith turned these into admirable qualities and gave her a great moral strength with firm and uncompromising principles. She turned away from any thought of marriage to devote herself to caring for her brother, the Royal Family, the French people and one would be hard pressed in any event to find a husband worthy of her.
Madame Elisabeth (as she was known) was also an extremely kind and compassionate woman who, rather than the glamorous life of a royal princess or even consort, would have preferred the life of a simple Carmelite nun. She would have taken vows at once but, King Louis XVI said he could not do without her. So, she set an example for charity and piety from the palace at Versailles. She had great love and respect for her eldest brother and even the younger Count of Artois (who was known for his rather wild ways) who she adored and tried to gently pull back to the straight and narrow. She also cared deeply for the poor (and despite popular perceptions she was not alone in that), even starting a dairy to provide free milk to poor children. Yet, she was not some dour, grim, puritanical sort of figure either. Madame Elisabeth enjoyed life, enjoyed art and beautiful things, enjoyed music and loved to dance. Of course, as with others, none of these admirable qualities were enough to save her when the horror of the Revolution descended on France. In fact, the revolutionaries, necessarily, poured out their deepest hatred on the purest and most upright individuals who represented all that was best about the old, glorious, Christian Kingdom of France.
Madame Elisabeth remained with King Louis and Queen Marie Antoinette in their darkest hour. Her status as a leading enemy of the revolution was confirmed when the National Assembly intercepted a letter she sent to the Count of Artois in which she supported foreign monarchs sending troops to rescue the Royal Family, crush the revolution and restore royal authority. Still, even when the mob stormed the Tuileries, Madame Elisabeth bravely confronted them with some in the crowd mistaking her for Marie Antoinette. With the rest of the Royal Family she was taken into custody by the revolutionaries and originally imprisoned with the Queen but the two were later separated. Although she did not know it, Marie Antoinette addressed her last letter to her beloved sister-in-law. Locked away, Madame Elisabeth knew about the execution of her brother the King but was kept in the dark about the murder of the Queen. In her confinement she tried to comfort her niece Marie-Therese, daughter of the late King and Queen, even though she was constantly being insulted and tormented by her captors.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Discontent grew as many began to complain that the Pope had simply become a rubber-stamp pontiff for the Sicilian king. One of those most disconcerted with this state of affairs was the Cardinal-Priest Benedetto Caetani, an aristocrat who had very definite ideas about papal supremacy (which he would later, famously articulate without ambiguity) even at the expense of royal power. Pope Celestine V was without doubt a good and pious man. Even in his own time word spread of his miraculous deeds, however, his innocence of the world of power politics had left him as a pawn in the hands of others and reduced him to being little more than the chaplain to the King of Sicily. His religious sincerity remained admired by all but it became ever more clear with each passing day that he was simply not cut out to be the Supreme Pontiff. Never wanting the job in the first place, no one would have agreed with his unsuitability for the office more than Celestine V himself. He knew he was not up to the task and in quick order began looking for a way out.
Former Pope Celestine V endured his confinement as he did all the other misfortunes of his life but the conditions of the area in which he was held soon ruined his health and he died only ten months later on May 19, 1296. There were, of course, rumors that he had been murdered by his successor but no proof was or has ever been produced to support that theory. Even after his death he was used as a political pawn. In 1313 he was canonized by Pope Clement V and though none deny his saintliness, the canonization was done at the urging of King Philip IV of France as a way of further smearing the name of Pope Boniface VIII who had been his antagonist. Nonetheless, despite all the misfortunes of his reign, St Celestine V has remained blameless. His sincerity, piety and compassion have never been challenged and his intentions and motives were always pure. The fault lay with those who had used the innocent and uninformed saint to advance their own agendas.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
In some ways, conservatives, capitalists, GOP-supporters etc can take some heart from this. The OWS movement would not be happening if the leftists did not smell death in the air. As they have contemplated the possibility of Obama losing the presidency the socialists have been forced to take this action to try to frighten the political elites into staying on the socialist, big-government path. There are things I would agree with many of the OWS people on, but in a completely different way than they do. I would agree that bailing out the banks was wrong but not because it was a “bailout of the rich” but because I don’t think the state should bail out anyone. They should succeed or fail on their merits. I would agree that the US needs to “bring our troops home” but I would start with the 50,000 troops in Germany because they serve no purpose and the US should not be subsidizing the defense of Europe, especially from an enemy (the Soviet Union) that no longer exists. I am not an isolationist but I don’t think much of what American forces are doing now serves US interests or security. I would agree that there is too much of a cozy relationship between many big businesses and the US government but my answer would be to separate the two rather than have the one absorb the other, which is what they seem to advocate. That is socialism. They are for it, I am against it, plain and simple.
Some say we should take these protests very seriously, others say we should pay attention but not be too alarmed by them. I would prefer to err on the side of caution. I am not alarmed by them (they seem to be mostly members of the same old spoiled brat, cry-baby brigade for the most part and not terribly effective) as things stand now. However, I am concerned by them because I see so many of the same elements coming together that came together in 1917 to bring down the Russian Empire. We see the same groups involved; socialists, anarchists, labor unions, internationalists and anti-war protestors. We see the same complaints about income inequality (which can only be solved by making everyone poor -and even that’s never happened, a new elite simply replaces the old), we see the same cries of unfairness and inequality and we see again a diverse collection of subversive groups pushing for some vague “change” in the hope that they can cause enough chaos and confusion to emerge as the victors when the dust finally settles. So far the protestors have not caused much of a problem, which is a little disappointing for me as it prevents me from indulging my first wish that the Governors would deploy the National Guard against them with a clear conscience. So, in the absence of tear gas and rubber bullets we have to take a more cerebral approach to this problem.
The basic problem is one of mentality. These people are, largely, not the poor, working masses but educated (read indoctrinated) college graduates who have been taught a bunch of impossible, ideological nonsense based on the mistaken belief that it is possible to get something for nothing. They see the State as Santa Claus, able to produce “gifts” in some magic workshop completely out of thin air. They demand “free” college education, “free” healthcare and the forgiveness of debts. They fail to comprehend the fact that the government produces nothing and can only provide money for certain projects by confiscating it from others. As a prominent local Belgian-Texan once said about the public school system, “If anyone thinks there is such a thing as free primary education they should have a look at my land taxes”. As for the forgiveness of debts, were they to carry out such a thing every bank in the country would go out of business and they would be totally unable to obtain any loans -which is something else they are complaining about. They display a complete ignorance of basic economics. They scream about how much corporate executives are paid, oblivious to the fact that corporations only stay in business because people buy their products. If they are really upset about the bonuses paid to executives in businesses bailed out by the government they should direct their anger at the government since, if they had not been bailed out and had been forced to go bankrupt, all of their bonus contracts would have been voided. By being bailed out the government had to underwrite those contracts and abide by them. Yet, many of the same politicians who supported the bail outs now support the protestors.
That is also why these protests, at least in this country, will accomplish nothing or make things worse or both. As much as they may feign outrage at “the administration” they all know perfectly well they are going to vote for Obama or else not vote at all. If then we have a President Romney leading the next administration they will become even more furious and encourage the Democrats to be even more partisan and radically leftist. Then we shall see the Democrats be just as obstructionist and uncompromising as the Republicans are now being. And that perfectly illustrates why I do not consider “secession” to be an ugly or unthinkable word. The United States is every day more divided between two radically opposed and irreconcilable ideas with one side thinking the government should control almost everything and the other thinking the government should control almost nothing. Neither can ever get all they want and neither will give in. Because of that, neither idea is ever fully implemented and therefore neither can ever be concretely proven correct or totally ruinous. So, the two sides remain trapped in this loveless marriage that is the Union, accomplishing nothing, never proven right, never proven wrong but only becoming ever more and more entrenched in their own ideologies. In the earliest days when the President was expected to be above parties this was something he would handle but today this is not the case and such an idea is painfully absurd. In order to have something like that we would have to have a chief of state who was completely impartial, totally above party and faction and would therefore have to be immune to popularity tests and the democratic process, chosen by a completely non-political process but at the same time have a vested interest in the success of the country and sufficient power to enact good policy or at least block bad policy. And we all know that is never going to happen. We got rid of that nonsense once and for all in 1776. Oh…
Monday, October 17, 2011
One of his first acts was to appoint as prime minister the moderate Carlo Filangieri, a loyal man but one who supported the granting of a constitution and that the best way to gain security was to accept the offered alliance from the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. However, Francis II resisted both suggestions and was most concerned with the rumors of rebellion running through the country. A critical moment came very quickly, on June 7, when the Swiss Guard mutinied, demanding a number of concessions from their new employer. The King tried to assuage them with promises of redress while at the same time calling up troops under General Alessandro Nunziante who then marched in, surrounded the Swiss and massacred them. What was viewed as a deadly threat against the absolute authority of the monarch had been bloodily ended, however, in doing so, the King had cut down the body that was the elite corps of his armed forces which would leave him vulnerable in the future to enemies who wanted a great deal more than higher pay and better working conditions.
With pious bravery, King Francis II prayed, trusting in God to deliver his realm from danger. The Papal States were absorbed along with the central Italian duchies by Piedmont-Sardinia and, with many feeling a shift in the wind, revolutionary plots became common in the Two-Sicilies which even the King’s secret operatives were powerless to stamp out. Many were executed but many also escaped or hid themselves until the professional revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi arrived, with Piedmontese (and covert British) support, to invade Sicily. In May of 1860 Garibaldi and his thousand red shirts conquered Sicily with relative ease and, ignoring advice to the contrary, quickly planned to move to the peninsula. King Francis II, alarmed that the situation had become so critical, announced he was granting a constitution but, by that time, it was too little, too late and as Garibaldi and his forces invaded the government and the army began to fall apart with many officials and army officers deserting to the enemy. The King tried to arrange a peace or even a truce but it was to no avail and as Garibaldi approached he and the Queen fled Naples for the coastal fortress city of Gaeta.
A monarch without a country, King Francis II and Queen Maria Sophia went to Rome where they were sheltered by Pope Pius IX and established a court-in-exile. At the outset many nations still recognized Francis II as the lawful King of the Two-Sicilies and the Pope was very gracious toward the gallant fallen monarch, perfectly aware of the fact that, to a degree at least, his misfortunes were the result of his refusal to take part in the partition of the Papal states. However, his time in Rome was not happy nor did it last for very long. The other nations of Europe may have sympathized with Francis II but many also viewed him as the author of his own problems and none were willing to provide actual assistance. As the Kingdom of Italy was consolidated even diplomatic recognition began to fall away. The Queen also began having an affair with a member of the Papal military corps, unknown to the King, and finally had to be spirited away when she became pregnant by the man. When the last foreign troops were withdrawn from the Italian peninsula Rome was occupied and made the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy. The Pope shut himself up in the Vatican and refused to come out while Francis II had to look for a new place of exile. France, Austria and Bavaria were all temporary homes.
Views of the last King of the Two Sicilies vary greatly as partisans on both sides of the unification issue exaggerate their conflicting accusations. The image that Francis II was an authoritarian tyrant who terrorized his poor, suffering people is positively false. He had not a bad bone in his body and indeed was a very charitable and compassionate man. What is true is that he seemed better suited to a seminary than the throne of a country in crisis. Nor was he a flawless and pristine saint, he made plenty of mistakes, many of which were recognized at the time. The fact that Italy became a unitary state rather than a confederation of local royal states can be, in part, laid at his door as he refused to support such an idea even if it would have made him the first King of Italy. However, as disastrous as this proved to be, setting himself against the irresistible tide of history, his reasons for refusing were noble; he would not violate the territory of the Papal States for any reason whatsoever.