Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monarchist Destinations: Virginia's Royal Palace

The British Royal Governor's Palace of Virginia is one of the most prominent structures of colonial Williamsburg. It was the residence of the Royal Governor of Virginia during the colonial period and was home to seven royal governors, starting with Alexander Spotswood and ending with John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore who was forced out of his position during the American War for Independence. The original palace was built starting in 1706 with funds voted by the House of Burgesses at the insistence of Lt. Governor Edward Nott. By 1710 it was sufficiently finished to be the residence of Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood who held power in the absence of the actual Royal Governor, the Earl of Orkney (who as far as we know never actually set foot in Virginia). As such, it was the center of royal authority for the colony until the outbreak of revolution forced the Earl of Dunmore to evacuate in 1775 after the arrival of the Hanover militia under Patrick Henry. Dunmore retreated to the coast and then to a British warship after which he famously promised emancipation for any slave who joined the British cause, resulting in the raising of the short-lived "Ethiopian Regiment". This action turned the Virginia planters zealously against the British cause and, being early in the conflict, left Dunmore and his loyalists and escaped slaves with no military support and they were soon defeated.

Battle of Williamsburg
During the war, Patrick Henry and future President Thomas Jefferson served as governors of Virginia in succession, occupying the residence until the capital was moved to Richmond due to the threat of the British returning which was a constant worry due to the domination of the east coast by the Royal Navy. Toward the end of the conflict, the palace was used as a military hospital during the siege of nearby Yorktown and in 1781 the main building was destroyed by fire. Most of the subsidiary buildings which remained were then destroyed during the Peninsular Campaign of the American Civil War in 1862. The Battle of Williamsburg, fought on May 5, 1862 between the armies of George B. McClellan and Joseph E. Johnston was the first major engagement of the failed effort to capture Richmond by way of an amphibious landing on the Virginia coast. Both armies demolished the remaining buildings of the palace complex to make use of the materials.

At long last, in the early XXth Century, with money gifted from J. D. Rockefeller, the Royal Governor's Palace was rebuilt in its entirety using historical documents and descriptions from the period. It has since been renovated as new information has been uncovered to make it as historically accurate as possible. An exhibition of the palace, outbuildings and grounds was first given to the public in 1934. It is the second largest building in colonial Williamsburg after the capital building itself. Today it is a museum and often part of the whole "living history" experience that is maintained in colonial Williamsburg, making it easier to imagine what it was like back in its day as the center of society and government for the colony of Virginia under the British Crown. More information can be found on the official webpage of the palace here.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Duc de Lauzun, a Life Lesson

The life of Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duc de Lauzun, better known in the Revolutionary period as Biron as he had by then become Duc de Biron, offers a great many lessons even for people today. He was a leading Freemason in France, a known proponent of the values of the “Enlightenment” and was very much a figure of the fashionable left, well known and quite popular with the elite ‘chattering class’ of high society people who loved flattering themselves, competing for radical credentials and discussing revolutionary ideas in their salons. The Duc de Lauzun was born in Paris on April 13, 1747 and grew up as a figure of the anti-traditional aristocracy. He married and was very popular in leftist high society, though it was not known as “the left” at the time of course. Like most of his friends, he still thought very highly of France in an abstract, civic way but spent his time pouring scorn on the traditions of France, never taking into account that, as an aristocrat, his very fate was bound up with those traditions he was undermining. It was, however, in the service of France, that he had his first real profession which was as a soldier.

Soldiers of Lauzun's Legion
In the aftermath of the disastrous French & Indian War (Seven Years’ War for Europeans), the French military was reformed in a major way. All too often historians today ignore how King Louis XVI of France had improved and revitalized the French army which Napoleon was later to lead to so many victories. Training, tactics, weapons and equipment were finally standardized, military academies were established, purchasing commissions was stopped, one light and one heavy company was added to each infantry regiment of the line, Prussian order tactics were adopted and so on. A group of eight new units were created, known as legions, of Volontaires étranger de la Marine for overseas service. These units were made up of Poles, Germans, Hungarians and exiles from Ireland and were combined arms formations with each having two fusilier, one grenadier and one chasseur companies as well as artillery and cavalry (hussars) in their own independent companies. The idea was to have units that could move quickly, pack a punch and be able to respond to any given situation with their own infantry, cavalry and artillery components. The British were set to do the same with such units as the Queen’s Rangers or the British Legion. A more modern example of something similar would be the battle groups of World War II.

Lauzun's Legion
The Duc de Lauzun gained some attention for capturing a British fort in Africa, Fort St Louis in Senegal, in early 1779 but it was the second of these foreign, marine legions that Lauzun raised and was given command of, along with the rank of brigadier in the corps overall. His unit soon became known as Lauzun’s Legion and was included with the French corps under the Comte de Rochambeau which was sent by King Louis XVI to aid the rebel colonists in America, led by George Washington, against the British during the American War for Independence. A lack of sufficient transportation forced Lauzun to leave many of his men behind but he was able to take several hundred infantry, cavalry and gunners who would make something of a name for themselves in the climactic Yorktown, Virginia campaign. A particular moment of glory was the action at Gloucester Point on October 3, 1781 when Lauzun’s Legion met and bested a British force under the fearsome Lt Colonel Banastre Tarleton, probably the best British cavalry officer of the war. Colonel Tarleton and the Duc de Lauzun almost engaged in personal combat but Tarleton was brought down when his horse was wounded and was taken away by some of his own men, narrowly avoiding being captured by the French. It was the largest cavalry engagement of the war and the British had been forced to retreat.

Not surprisingly, the Duc de Lauzun, after the surrender of the British at Yorktown and subsequent recognition of the independence of the United States of America, returned home to great fanfare as a genuine war hero. King Louis XVI promoted Lauzun to maréchal de camp for his exploits. However, Lauzun started on a new career in politics after the King, reluctantly, recalled the Estates-General. The Duc de Lauzun was chosen to be a deputy for the nobility of Quercy and, not surprisingly, became an outspoken advocate of the Revolutionary cause. When the French Revolution began, despite all of its ridiculous egalitarian thundering, the Duc de Lauzun was an ardent supporter. That is important to understand as he was not simply going along to get along as many other cowardly aristocrats did when the disaster came, he was taking his earlier political views to their logical conclusion and was just as devoted to the cause of the Revolution as he was to eradicating any who opposed it. In 1791 he was trusted with taking the oath of the French army of Flanders and was subsequently given command of that army. The following year he was given command of the Army of the Rhine to stand guard against the Austrians.

Badge of the Vendee' royalists
In every way, the Duc de Lauzun was a devoted revolutionary. After one year of watching the Rhine, he was assigned to deal with internal enemies, taking command of the army at La Rochelle in May of 1793. It was in this capacity that he aided in crushing the counter-revolutionaries of the Vendée, the heroic Catholic royalists who had risen up in the name of their faith and their monarchy. Lauzun, or Biron as he was then, was not the most brutal in suppressing these faithful people but he was certainly zealous. He gained credit for taking Saumur (site of a royalist victory in June) and winning the Battle of Parthenay. However, his troops had become increasingly disorderly and his superiors, in their typical revolutionary paranoia, began to have greater fears and suspicions about their accomplished duke. They subjected him to numerous questions, interference in his command and other harassment until he finally resigned his command. In spite of it all, the only thing they could actually accuse Lauzun of was being insufficiently vicious in his treatment of the counterrevolutionaries. He had never shown any lack of support for their cause but the charge that he was too lenient, too soft, on the enemies of the Revolution would haunt him.

The aristocrat, Duc de Lauzun, had sided against his class to support the Revolution but, in the end, he discovered that this would not save him. The barbaric firebrand Jean-Baptiste Carrier accused Lauzun of treason or “lack of civic virtue” in the revolutionary parlance and in July of 1793 he was stripped of all rank and offices and imprisoned. After a quick show trial by the Revolutionary Tribunal he was taken to the guillotine and beheaded on December 31. His wife was also subsequently arrested and she too went to the guillotine the following summer. So it was that the story of the Duc de Lauzun came to a tragic end, yet, it is hard to imagine anyone feeling much sympathy for him. Here was a man who was a traitor to his king, his country, his religion, his class and the entire civilization that birthed these things. In the end, he was also condemned as a traitor by his fellow traitors and that at least provides a valuable lesson, even for people today.

Biron, the revolutionary general
Although the French Revolution is usually portrayed as a mass uprising of the common people against the monarchy and a corrupt, decadent aristocracy, we must remember that, in terms of numbers, it was the common people who suffered the most from it. Whether out of conviction, as seems to have been the case with Lauzun, or mere self-preservation, not a few aristocrats decided to take the side of their natural enemies and join the Revolution. It should also not be forgotten that no small number of clergymen did as well in what was rather like the “liberation theology” of its day. They were, in their own way, no different from many of the so-called conservatives we see today who go along with the liberals either because they are dishonest and are fervent liberals themselves or because they think that the goodwill and cooperation they show the liberals will be returned to them. As we see in the case of the Duc de Lauzun or, to take a more lofty example, the Duc de Orléans, “Philippe Égalité” who voted for the death of his first cousin the King only to ultimately be sent to the guillotine himself also in 1793.

The revolutionary fervor of these men did not save them from being consumed by the flames they helped to fan in the first place. The drivers of the Revolution, with all of their egalitarian rhetoric, were happy to have the help of aristocrats like the Duc de Lauzun to gain power but they turned on them in the end since, no matter what their opinions, words or actions were, *who* they were, the very blood that was in their veins, made them the enemy. The Duc de Lauzun was obviously a man of talent, an aristocrat who, as such, was a natural leader. His military victories show what great deeds he was capable of and yet he could not or would not grasp the simple facts that his own revolutionary cohorts could; that a prince and a peasant are two different things that can never be the same, no less than a Swiss and a Saracen or a man and a woman. Aristocrats like the Duc de Lauzun, clergymen or even princes of the blood would never be more to the revolutionaries than what Stalin referred to as “useful idiots”. Some, like the famous Marquis de Lafayette, were able to survive but revolutions tend to ultimately feed on themselves and the Duc de Lauzun, as with most others who did not manage to escape the country, fell victim to the forces he had helped unleash. One can but wonder if, on his way to the guillotine, he did not have the awareness to regret the terrible path in life he had chosen to take. His life and his death should be a warning to anyone who thinks they can make common cause with the forces of darkness, posing as the forces of “enlightenment”.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Clash of Monarchies: The First War of Italian Independence

The idea of some sort of a unification of the Italian peninsula was one that long predated the series of wars for Italian independence. Indeed, unification and independence were not the same thing and might not necessarily have been linked. After the downfall of Napoleon and the re-drawing of the map of Europe by the Congress of Vienna, most of northern Italy was handed over to the Austrian Empire of the Habsburgs and their cadet branches of the family. Central Italy was restored to the Pope and the south of Italy was returned to the junior branch of the Spanish Royal Family. However, from the very beginning, there was trouble in the south and Austrian troops had to be dispatched to keep the King of the Bourbon Two-Sicilies on his throne. Between the north and the south, this meant that, fairly early on, Austria was forced to maintain a military force of over 100,000 soldiers on the Italian peninsula to maintain the existing power structure.

Metternich
The Austrian statesman, Prince Clemens von Metternich, knew this was unsustainable in the long-term and so proposed to the allies the creation of an Italian federation under the leadership of the King of Lombardy-Venetia, who not coincidentally happened to be the Emperor of Austria. The allies rejected this proposal and the unrest continued, particularly in the south. Metternich feared that this tendency toward rebellion would spread and threaten those areas recently placed under Habsburg rule. In response, he produced the “Troppau Protocols” in 1821 in which Austria, Prussia, France and Russia agreed that any outbreak of revolution would be met by concerted military force to suppress it. It was unlikely that such cooperation was to be forthcoming but Metternich hoped that the statement alone would be enough to convince potential rebels of the hopelessness of their cause and bolster the King in Naples in particular. To his frustration, however, such hopes by Metternich were dashed.

That same year, rebellions broke out in both Piedmont-Sardinia and the Two-Sicilies and Austrian troops were dispatched to both to suppress them. In Turin, the rebels did not try to bring down the monarchy but demanded a constitution, which Prince Carlo Alberto gave them, as he had taken control of the government when King Vitttorio Emanuele I abdicated in favor of his brother King Carlo Felice who was out of the country at the time. King Carlo Felice, with his loyal regiments and the Austrians, regained control of the country and restored the absolute monarchy, exiling Prince Carlo Alberto to France. In Naples, Austrian troops suppressed the rebels and restored King Ferdinando IV to power. This, however, only strengthened the hand of the radicals who argued against constitutional monarchy and in favor of radical republicanism. This faction was led by Giuseppe Mazzini who had no use for kings at all and would make great use in his propaganda for every time a monarch on the Italian peninsula granted a constitution at a time of weakness only to revoke it once they had an Austrian army behind them.

King Carlo Alberto & Kaiser Franz Joseph
This set the stage for the wars of Italian unification and independence. The momentum was toward that goal but the question remained whether it would be the radical republicans or the constitutional monarchists who reached the finish line first. The two most prominent monarchs involved would be the King of Piedmont-Sardinia, firstly King Carlo Alberto who came to the throne in 1831 and the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph who would come to the throne in 1848. King Carlo Alberto, despite his earlier reputation, was a monarch of very traditional leanings and had fought, during his exile, for the legitimist cause in Spain as well as supporting other such legitimist causes elsewhere on the continent. He would give Piedmont-Sardinia (and by extension Italy as a whole in due time) her only monarchial constitution but it would be one that reserved considerable authority to the monarch. Nonetheless, once given, it would not be revoked and that garnered the House of Savoy a great deal of popularity. King Carlo Alberto also had a vision for a united Italy, independent of the Austrians but which would consist of a confederation of Italian princely states under the leadership of the Pope. However, the events of 1848 changed the situation and it became, again, a competition between the Italian nationalists who favored a republic and the Italian nationalists who favored a monarchy. King Carlo Alberto knew that if he did not succeed, Mazzini and his cohorts would.

1834 and 1838 had seen revolutionary outbreaks across Italy but in 1848 revolution began to sweep across multiple countries throughout Europe. In January the Sicilians rose up and overthrew the authority of the king in Naples, by March the Austrian Empire was engulfed in rebellion with uprisings in Milan, Venice, Budapest, Cracow, Prague and even Vienna itself. The regime of Kaiser Ferdinand was suddenly threatened by independence movements by the Hungarians in the east and the Italians in the west. In Milan, after five days of bitter struggle, the Austrian authorities were driven out while at the same time the Austrians were expelled from Venice in an uprising led by Daniele Manin. The Habsburg Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Habsburg Duke of Modena, the Bourbon King of the Two Sicilies and the Bourbon Duke of Parma were all forced by popular uprisings to grant constitutions. Likewise, in Rome, political reforms were demanded of Pope Pius IX who had initially favored the nationalist cause, to the point of liberating from prison and appointing to high office a succession of revolutionaries whom his predecessor, Pope Gregory XVI, had arrested.

Graf Radetzky
In Turin, King Carlo Alberto granted a constitution and was urged to take the lead in supporting the independence movement and driving the Austrians from Italian soil. He was very popular with the nationalists though the radical republicans of Mazzini’s faction naturally opposed him as the last thing they wanted was for a king of the most venerable Italian royal house to be the one to secure the unity and independence of Italy. Meanwhile, in Vienna, the Habsburg government was paralyzed and in need of leadership. Kaiser Ferdinand, handicapped from birth, was simply not up to the challenge. Moreover, the strength of the Austrian military had recently been reduced and now, suddenly, there were disasters in practically every part of the empire that needed to be dealt with so that Austrian military strength was severely overstretched. The one bit of good fortune the Austrians did have was the person of their commander on the ground in Italy; Field Marshal Joseph Graf von Radestky. He may not have been the most brilliant general but he was experienced, extremely competent and, most importantly, unflappable. He kept a cool head in the crisis when panic had gripped everyone around him.

So it was that with only 68,000 troops at his disposal and no immediate prospect for reinforcement for Radetzky that the Italian nationalists saw their chance and men such as Camillo di Cavour, Cesare Balbo and Massimo d’Azeglio urged King Carlo Alberto to take the lead and attack the Austrians before the republicans took control of the uprising. The King agreed and on March 29 led his small but highly proficient army of 28,000 men across the Ticino River with the aim of moving on Milan. With so many of their forces tied down all across Lombardy-Venetia trying to suppress rebellion, for the time being, the Austrian and Piedmontese forces would be about evenly matched. Further, as soon as word came that King Carlo Alberto had crossed the frontier, nationalist support for the Savoy monarchy erupted all across the Italian peninsula. Not wanting King Carlo Alberto to claim all the glory of liberating Italy for himself, Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany and King Ferdinando II of the Two-Sicilies likewise dispatched forces to join him in a joint war-effort against the Austrians. Even Pope Pius IX sent his support. The vision of independence and unification by way of a coalition of the princes of Italy seemed to be coming true.

Uprising in Milan
Brigadier General Guglielmo Pepe, a veteran of the Peninsular War and the Battle of Tolentino, commanded the Neapolitan contingent and, even more surprisingly, the Piedmontese and former Mazzinian General Giovanni Durando was given command of the Papal army by Pius IX. Altogether, a combined force of 100,000 Italian soldiers was moving or set to move against the beleaguered Austrians in the north. With such a force arrayed against them, the Austrian position seemed doomed. Any other commander would likely have lost his nerve but not Graf Radestky. He ordered his subordinates to fall back even as he pulled out of Milan. Yet, this was no disorderly retreat. Austrian commanders threatened horrific retaliation to remote areas of Lombardy-Venetia if any disturbances occurred, frightening most into taking no action. Radestky concentrated his forces in the Quadrilateral, the area within the fortresses of Verona, Mantua, Legnano and Peschiera. This would permit the Italian coalition no weak area to exploit. Thanks to the calm determination of Radetzky, the Austrians would soon discover that their position was not so vulnerable as it seemed.

On March 29, to great public fanfare, King Carlo Alberto entered Milan at the head of his troops. He marched on and his army pushed the Austrian rearguard across the Mincio River. The Austrian withdrawal caused the Piedmontese to push ahead before their allies from the south had arrived. Durando and the Papal Army was still south of the Po, Pepe and the Neapolitans were further north and the division from Tuscany was still on the march. King Carlo Alberto, seeing the Austrians retract, was determined to keep up the pressure on them and push forward, crossing the Mincio in mid-April toward Verona. On April 30 he met the Austrians at the Battle of Pastrengo and won a solid victory. Peschiera was besieged and the King was still pushing forward toward Verona. Graf Radetzky was finally compelled by this to take action and do something to take the initiative away from the Italians. An Austrian contingent was ordered to strike out from the city and on May 6 they administered a sharp sting at Santa Lucia that forced King Carlo Alberto to divert to the southwest of Verona, to Villafranca, to wait for further Piedmontese reinforcements and his allies from the south to join him.

Princely solidarity
At first, pan-Italian support only seemed to grow as the fight was underway. Nationalist sentiment in Parma and Modena forced their dukes to join the war effort. However, at this same critical moment, the expected help from the more significant states began to fall away. Tuscany remained pledged to the Italian cause but seemed unwilling to actually engage. Pope Pius IX suddenly sent an order to Durando forbidding him to cross the Po River, causing considerable bewilderment and likewise the commitment of King Ferdinando II of the Two-Sicilies seemed to fade away as April passed. A republican coup tried to unseat the King in Naples and disrupt the royal coalition. They failed at the first goal but succeeded in the second. King Ferdinando retracted the constitution he had earlier granted and recalled his army. General Pepe refused to go but most of the Neapolitan troops abandoned him. The remainder joined with the forces from Tuscany standing watch around Mantua. As for the Papal Army, General Durando argued with the Pope over his sudden about-face and finally simply disregarded the order and took his army across the Po anyway in an effort to cut off Radetzky from Venice.

Sardinian Grenadiers at Goito
Unfortunately for the Italians, Durando did not coordinate with King Carlo Alberto in these operations but the Austrian response of Graf Radetzky was, by contrast, extremely well coordinated. Field Marshal Lieutenant Count Nugent was dispatched with 16,000 men to stop the Italian advance in Venetia, hitting Durando at Cornuda and forcing him back to Vicenza. Throughout June, Durando and the Papal Army would remain there, surrounded by Austrian forces. This allowed Radetzky freedom to maneuver and while the Piedmontese remained at Villafranca, the Austrians flanked them with a march to Mantua. On May 29 they defeated the small contingent of troops from Tuscany and the 2,000 Neapolitan soldiers who had not abandoned Pepe at Curtatone-Matanara. Radetzky then moved his men from Mantua along the west bank of the Mincio with the aim of cutting off King Carlo Alberto from Piedmont. Unfortunately for the Austrians, King Carlo Alberto spotted this move and immediately grasped the enemy plan. He moved quickly to attack the Austrians while they were on the march and at the Battle of Goito on May 30, the Italians were victorious. Peschiera fell on the same day.

The Savoy star was still shining brightly, however, the situation was far from favorable. What little support that had been available from Tuscany, Naples and the Papal States was now completely gone and even with the many volunteers from across Lombardy and reinforcements from Piedmont, King Carlo Alberto had only 75,000 men which would be insufficient to launch a major offensive into Venetia or to mount a proper siege of the fortress cities of Mantua or Verona. King Carlo Alberto had no option but to remain at Villafranca and watch. At the same time, unflustered as usual, Graf Radetzky was methodically carrying on and was also finally receiving reinforcements from the rest of the Austrian Empire. The window of opportunity of Austrian weakness had closed on the Italians and Radetzky was able to launch a serious offensive of his own, descending on the Italians with two armies at the Battle of Custozza .

Austrian attack at the Battle of Custozza
This was the climactic engagement of the war, 33,000 Austrians against 22,000 Italians and the Italians fought valiantly against superior forces for three days from July 23-25. However, in the end, the Italians were forced to retreat. Yet, it was a fighting retreat, the Italians fell back in good order, continued to give resistance until disengaged, abandoned no equipment or anything of the sort. They had also inflicted considerably higher losses on the Austrians than they had suffered and the Austrians had not been able to decisively destroy the Piedmontese army. All the same, King Carlo Alberto would not waste the lives of his men needlessly and knew that without the whole of Italy standing together, he could not defeat the Austrians who would only grow stronger as his own forces grew weaker. The King had seen a chance but that chance was now gone and on August 9 he agreed to an armistice with the Austrians. In due course the Piedmontese abandoned Lombardy, returning to their own territory and the First War of Italian Independence came to an end. The following year, King Carlo Alberto did, briefly, attempt another effort but it was a short-lived disaster and, proud man that he was, this resulted in his abdication in favor of his son who became King Vittorio Emanuele II.

For the Austrians, the war had been one crisis among many. They had gained a new monarch in the young and determined Kaiser Franz Joseph, more laurels for a genuine war hero in Graf Radetzky and though they had come close enough to disaster to look it directly in the eye, that disaster had been averted and the Austrian Empire would survive, though ultimately concessions would be made to the Hungarians. Nothing of the sort would be forthcoming for the Italians however who continued to be ruled in the same manner that they had been before. The Kaiser even became somewhat cross with his younger brother, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, when, as Viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia, he attempted to win over the Italians rather than flog them into submission. There was even talk that the Archduke himself entertained thoughts of uniting the Italian peninsula himself. He was soon put in his place and made no more than a ceremonial figure so that he began to look toward Mexico for a place to prove himself. In short, despite coming so close to defeat, the Austrians were determined to change nothing in regards to Italy.

Abdication of King Carlo Alberto
As for the Italians, the First War of Independence was a major turning point. It represented the one and only time that the monarchs of the existing Italian states, no matter how enthusiastically, came together in common cause as one Italian people. The fact that this fell apart almost as soon as it came together meant that the vision of the more traditional nationalists of an Italian confederation of princely states would not come to be. Going forward, it would be the republicans or the House of Savoy alone who would have to see foreign rule ended on the Italian peninsula. The Savoy would take the lead, initially quite reluctantly, to prevent the republican vision from becoming reality and in the end even many republican nationalists would be swayed to the monarchist side because the Savoy had a record of success and the republicans had only a succession of failures. It would take at least two more wars before Italy was completely independent of foreign rule but the First War of Italian Independence clearly illustrated who would lead them and how they would be fought.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Catholic Saints, Korea and Japan

In 2014 I wrote an article titled, “Assassins, Sainthood and Joan of Arc” in which I commented on the cause for canonization currently underway in the Republic of Korea for Ahn Jung Geun, a Korean Catholic most famous for being the man who assassinated the first Prime Minister of the Empire of Japan, Prince Ito Hirobumi. Not surprisingly, this move raised some eyebrows given that Ahn Jung Geun not only seemed to be rather deranged and perhaps not in full possession of his faculties but particularly because the one act in his life which made him famous was not caring for the unfortunate, giving his life for his faith or converting people to Christianity but was, rather, the murder of an unarmed man and gunning down several others. He has, since his death, been lavished with praise and honor by the governments of South Korea and Communist China while, not surprisingly, being regarded as a terrorist and murderer in Japan. Obviously, there are a great many political implications for the Catholic bishops in South Korea promoting the canonization of this individual.

Mass in Japan
The Japanese have every reason to object to this and it would certainly be an unusual thing for the Catholic Church to do. The Church did not, as I pointed out in 2014, give in to the public call for the canonization of Balthazar Gerard in the 1580’s who had assassinated the Dutch leader Prince Willem “the Silent” of Orange. However, the Roman Catholic Church of today is quite different from that of the Sixteenth Century and in recent years the requirements for canonization have been “streamlined” considerably so that it is much easier to have someone canonized today than in the past when it might take several centuries for someone to be verified as a saint worthy of veneration. In other words, as much as I would oppose the canonization of such an individual, I do not think it beyond the realm of possibility that the Catholic Church today might go along with it, that the Holy See might simply go along with the recommendations of the Korean bishops who are pushing for this assassin to be recognized as a saint. I made my objections clear enough, I think, in that 2014 article but today I want to propose a positive action that the Japanese could take in response to this.

Konishi Yukinaga
The Catholic Church in Japan should, I think, propose a more worthy figure from their own history for canonization. I think the Japanese bishops should start a cause for the canonization of Konishi Yukinaga. For those unfamiliar with his exploits, you can read the story of the conflict he is most famous for in my recent article, “Clash of Monarchies: The Imjin War”. Konishi Yukinaga was a great Japanese warrior, a daimyo and a Catholic. He was also the leader of the vanguard force of the samurai armies of Toyotomi Hideyoshi which invaded Korea in 1592. He led the conquest of Busan, was instrumental in the conquest of the Korean royal capital of Seoul and gained further fame for his defense of the captured city of Pyongyang against the armies of Ming China. After a peaceful interlude he arranged, Yukinaga, who was also known by his baptismal name of Augustine (in Portuguese) Konishi, still played a prominent part in the second invasion of Korea, even fighting alongside a bitter rival of his, the daimyo Kato Kiyomasa who had a vicious hatred of Christians. In the final period of the war, Konishi was most distinguished by his heroic defense of Suncheon Castle against much larger Chinese and Korean forces.

All of that makes, I think, Konishi Yukinaga worthy of being considered one of the best Japanese warriors of his time but, of course, it does not make someone worthy of canonization. That being said, neither does the murder of a foreign dignitary which is what Anh Jung Geun is most known for. Is there anything else that would make Konishi Yukinaga more worthy of being “Saint Augustine Konishi”? I would say, yes. In the first place, his faith was obviously important to him and this is significant as other Japanese Christians of the period are often accused of being insincere in their conversions. It is not uncommon to find Japanese daimyos in particular, Otomo Sorin comes to mind, who are accused of converting simply to gain greater favor and cooperation from the Portuguese and who did not genuinely accept Christianity. Personally, I find such accusations to often be unfair but in any event this would not apply to Konishi Yukinaga. After the war in Korea, following the death of Lord Hideyoshi, the Japanese fought another civil war over who would take charge of the country. Konishi backed Ishida Mitsunari, unfortunately for him, rather than Tokugawa Ieyasu and was defeated at the Battle of Sekigahara. In the aftermath, in keeping with custom, the defeated daimyos committed ritual suicide. Konishi, who was captured by Takenaka Shigekado at Mount Ibuki, refused to kill himself because, as a Christian, this would be a sin and so he was beheaded by his captors.

Konishi Yukinaga
This, I think, is proof enough that Konishi was a sincere Christian. However, more than that, he was also something of a peacemaker and got himself into some trouble over his desire to make peace. The Koreans would no doubt object to the canonization of the conqueror of their capital just as the Japanese object to the idea of canonizing the assassin of their first prime minister but Konishi Yukinaga was no anti-Korean bigot. Before he landed his invasion force, he sent a last message to again urge the Koreans to join with his forces in friendship to fight against their Chinese overlords only to be rebuffed. Then, after China intervened in the war, he and a Chinese envoy arranged a period of peace for several years. This was controversial because it was a peace based on a deception. Konishi and the Chinese envoy both, basically, agreed to tell their masters what they wanted to hear. So, Konishi Yukinaga told Lord Hideyoshi that the Chinese had agreed to surrender and the Chinese envoy told the Ming Emperor that the Japanese had agreed to surrender. For a fear years, the war ended and peace prevailed until Lord Hideyoshi received a message from the Ming Emperor granting him the tributary status of “King of Japan” which caused no small amount of outrage and a great deal of anger directed at Konishi Yukinaga.

Obviously, this was not a successful or very sound effort at peace but it was an effort to make peace nonetheless. “Blessed are the peacemakers” is what Christ said and Konishi Yukinaga had tried, even if not by the best means, to be such a peacemaker. We can also see that Konishi was not an anti-Korean bigot as well as how serious he was about his faith by the fact that he married a Korean woman during the war and she was baptized as a Christian, taking the name of “Julia”. Historians still debate the issue but it is quite possible that the Catholic Japanese samurai were the first Christians to ever come to Korea and if so, Julia would have converted at the time of her marriage which shows that Konishi Yukinaga had no prejudice against Koreans and also that his Christian faith was important enough to him that he insist his wife become Catholic as well so that they would have a proper Catholic family.

Having said all of this, I have no doubt, given the level of knee-jerk anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea, that the Koreans would find a cause for the canonization of Konishi Yukinaga objectionable. Yet, I fail to see how anyone could legitimately say that it is more objectionable that their effort to canonize an assassin. Konishi Yukinaga, though I will grant he is far from the traditional sort of candidate, seems to me to be a far more worthy individual and I think a legitimate case could be made for his consideration for sainthood. Perhaps, if the Japanese hierarchy began to seriously take up this suggestion and begin looking into a cause for the canonization of Konishi Yukinaga, it might make some think twice about the obviously politically motivated effort to canonize Anh Jung Geun. The process is different these days and the more thought I have given this, the more I think it is an idea worth pursuing. Japanese Catholics might try praying for the intercession of Konishi Yukinaga. Perhaps a miracle will be forthcoming. If a formal investigation of his merits were to result in the Korean episcopacy re-thinking their own motivations, that would be something of a miracle itself.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mad Rant: Terror Attacks in Britain

I have been hesitant to say anything about the Islamic terrorist attacks in Britain, mostly because I am at a loss as to what more I can say on this subject. I was puzzling over whether to address the Manchester bombing when the London bridge attack happened. For me, it rather reminded me of the recent NATO leaders meeting in that I have often felt like asking why I should care about any given country if the people of that country themselves no longer care. You have little girls being blown to bits in Manchester, young girls being systematically raped in Rotherham, a young man beheaded on the street in broad daylight, people mowed down on Westminster bridge, people mowed down and stabbed with hunting knives on London bridge and on and on. Yet, instead of any mass public uprising, instead of any mass protests against the people responsible for these atrocities, we see nothing. There has been more public opposition to President Trump visiting Britain than there is about little children being butchered in the streets. What can you say to such cognitive dissonance that will embrace the murderers of your own people in the name of tolerance but become hysterical over someone who used crude language?

Earlier this year, some people in a small Syrian village were gassed (how or by whom is another matter as I have serious doubts, to say the least of it, about the version put out by the media) and this prompted an immediate military response with U.S. warships raining down more than 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a nearby Syrian airbase. Yet, innocent people being butchered in London or Paris causes no acts of retaliation at all, though it did not take long of course before the usual suspects started to again make the idiotic argument that somehow dropping more bombs on the Middle East or overthrowing the leader of Syria would make people in western Europe safer. Yes, there were police raids, the mayor of London, peace be upon him, said security would be more visible on the streets of London for a time but we have been through this before and we know nothing is really going to change. We know because there was immediately more concern about what Katie Hopkins said on Twitter than there was about the murders who went on a stabbing spree. It happens every time.

There are the usual protestations from the status quo about why nothing can or should be done to change things. We heard the usual warning against blaming all Muslims for the actions of the terrorists who just happen to all be Muslims (as if it is as purely coincidental as so many terrorists in the 60’s and 70’s being Irish republicans) and how the vast majority of Muslims in Britain are wonderful people. I would say, if that is so, and I am sure it is, they would be just as wonderful in their country of origin. The terrorists who attacked in London were, not surprisingly, on the “terror watch list” and yet they do not seem to have been watched very closely obviously. When asked why this is, the answer is that there are too many people on the watch list for the government to actually watch. That should be all anyone needs to know. Obviously then, this is not just an isolated few and the fact that there are so many people “of concern” should tell everyone that this is a widespread problem. If the authorities know there is something off about this group of people, it is safe to assume that their friends and neighbors know it too and yet nothing was said to the police to warn of these impending attacks.

Personally, I am at my limit on this subject and I have completely rejected the premise of the current argument. More immigration or less? Is assimilation the answer? What policies would help people assimilate better? No! I reject all of that. It all takes for granted that countries like Europe need, I say *need*, any other people besides their own. To put it mildly, I take exception to that idea. There were no Muslims in Great Britain for many, many centuries and everyone seemed to get along just fine. All the way back in the Middle Ages, King Edward I expelled the Jews from England and England still managed to roll on well enough through the Plantagenet period, the Tudor period and the Stuart period before Oliver Cromwell killed the king and invited the Jews back in. There were bad times in all those centuries of course, the Wars of the Roses were certainly unpleasant, but I doubt the presence of a few thousand Jews would have prevented them. Depending on where they landed, the Jews themselves may well have been better off. Thanks to intolerant King Edward I, after all, they were not around to be blamed for the Black Death hitting English shores as they were in other countries.

Differences cause problems, everyone knows this, and the bigger the differences, the bigger the problems. Trying to pretend that everyone is the same will not make everyone the same. I laughed out loud when one of the terrorists in the latest attack was identified as, “an Italian of Moroccan descent”. No, I’m sorry, being Italian rather requires one to be of *Italian* descent. There were, in the colonial period, French people who lived in Vietnam. There were French families who lived and died in Vietnam for several generations. No one ever called them, “Vietnamese of French descent”. Everyone, the Vietnamese in particular, would have thought the very idea absolutely insane and positively insulting. Similarly, this is why I have no qualms about saying that there is nothing wrong with mass deportations in response to the current situation. As I wrote about earlier this year in “The Double Standard on Deportations” no one thought it was racist or unspeakably wicked when the Dutch were expelled from Indonesia, the French were expelled from Indochina or the British were expelled from India. Everyone simply accepted that Dutch people didn’t belong in Indonesia, that French people had no business being in Vietnam or Algeria and that it was only natural for Indians to want India for themselves and so British, Portuguese or Anglo-Indians had to go.

Today, of course, while any other people could do it, such a thing is considered reprehensible for Europeans to do. It is “racist” for European people to want to keep their own countries for their own people, though it is not considered “racist” for seemingly anyone else. However, race should not even have to come into this issue specifically because this is about dealing with a religion rather than a race. Islam is not uniformly one color but includes Somalis, Bosnians, Afghans, Malays, Circassians, Turks, Arabs, Persians, Sudanese and so on. Still, I will be told that such discrimination cannot be allowed, that it violates the fundamental principle of freedom of religion. This is why President Trump has had so much trouble even putting into effect a minor 90-day pause in travel from a small group of countries, because America’s enrobed high priests of “justice” have determined that this amounts to religious discrimination and what seems to be an inherent human right for everyone in the world to come to the United States as well as, be careful, the fact that America’s laws apply to everyone in every country on the planet. That could get complicated.

None of the protestations of outrage ultimately affect me all that much because I do not accept the original premise these people are coming from. So, saying, “you can’t take action specifically against Muslims because that’s a violation of freedom of religion” prompts my simple reply of, yes I can because I don’t believe in freedom of religion and I don’t think any of our modern, liberal, governments really do either. What about democracy? I don’t believe in that either. News flash: neither do the liberals who prattle about it so ceaselessly. If they did, the SNP would not be talking about a second or third referendum on Scottish independence. If they did, the EU would not be set up the way it is. If they did, issues like abortion or gay “marriage” in the United States would not have been decided by a panel of unelected judges. The whole modern, post-revolutionary liberal-democratic model is simply a system of manipulation to gain public acceptance of the course our ruling class wishes for us to take.

The United Kingdom is, after all, supposed to be an officially Christian monarchy. Certainly England is supposed to be, so, I am merely arguing that the British start to act like it. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an officially Islamic monarchy, their laws are Islamic laws and they do not allow Christianity in their country. Fine, fair enough, I have no problem with that. Likewise, then, I see nothing wrong with an (allegedly) Christian monarchy like Great Britain saying that they will not allow Islam in their country. Easy enough for me as I look back longingly on the days when all of this was taken for granted. In the Middle Ages, there were no Muslims in the Kingdom of England and England somehow managed to survive in spite of their absence. There was also no direct democracy, no idea that “all men are created equal”, no government run health service, no massive political bureaucracy, no political parties and no government welfare state. All of these were positive elements in my book.

Now, is the British government going to ban Islam in Britain? No. Are they going to deport everyone on the terrorist watch list? No. Are they going to do anything terribly different from what they have been doing in recent decades? No. As such, I have no doubt that terrorist attacks will continue, the usual routine of hash tag sympathy, political speeches and accusations of “Islamophobia” will go on as well. Particularly in light of the recent election, the British seem to prefer it that way and that is their choice to make. It does, however, as I said at the outset, make it increasingly difficult for me to have as much sympathy as I used to. The same applies to the continent. The French had a choice, they could have picked Le Pen or Macron and they chose Macron. They will have to live with the consequences of that. Le Pen could not have solved everything of course but I think that election was much more significant than most people think. Ultimately, it will take a spiritual revival to solve this problem. It will take a spiritual revival to make people care more about their own children and their own people than being called names, to then make them wake up to how they are being manipulated and then, finally, reject this liberal-democratic post-revolutionary mentality and bring about a true counter-revolution that will put government back in alignment with reality, with human nature and with the Heavens. That is my firm belief, but, then, I am … The Mad Monarchist.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Movies, Monarchs and a Lesson from Thailand

Recently I have been watching the Thai historical film series “The Legend of King Naresuan” which started rolling out in 2007, the last chapter in 2011. The three films were grouped together for American distribution into two chapters under the name “Kingdom of War”. If the third has ever been made available overseas, I have yet to come across it. These films were written and directed by HSH Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol and tell the story of the famous Siamese monarch King Naresuan the Great of Ayutthaya. They can also be seen as something in the way of a sequel to his earlier lavish epic “The Legend of Suriyothai” which tells the story of Siam’s most famous queen; Queen Suriyothai of Ayutthaya. That film was the largest and most expensive production ever mounted by Thailand and “The Legend of King Naresuan” has gone considerably bigger than that piece. This is not a film review but I would say they are excellent movies though probably will not please everyone, certainly foreign audiences. Each are very epic in scope, no expense spared, visually stunning, engaging and a spectacle to behold. They both also have a huge number of characters, a great deal going on simultaneously so that foreigners in particular will probably have a hard time keeping track of everyone and everything going on, certainly if you are not familiar with the names and places.

What I think other royals could stand to learn from the Thais on this front is making use of film to tell the story of their own most significant ancestors. As stated, these are films made by a member of the Thai Royal Family about two of the most famous monarchs of Siamese history. As such, and because the Thais have not adopted the liberal habit of being too proud to take their own side in a quarrel, they are extremely positive films, not simplistic but certainly films that know what they are about and whose side they are on. As with many Thai historical dramas, the kingdoms of Siam are the “good guys” and the kingdoms of Burma are the “bad guys”. They are spectacles of great royal figures from history who led their people in great struggles and as such are not at all like the historical films that tend to be made in the liberal west where, other than World War II which is, of course, sacrosanct, films often tend to show as much, if not more, sympathy for the “other” side than for the home team. Whether they are the type of thing that would be of interest to readers here or not, the spirit that drives them is one I would very much like to see emulated in the monarchies of Europe.

Lately, I have felt more and more compelled to try and remind people from European countries in particular just how much they have to be proud of and how much greater they are capable of being than simply another province of the European Union. European monarchies have done films that are somewhat in the same vein as these but they often seem to get stuck on certain figures and so we have numerous films about Queen Elizabeth I of England or Napoleon Bonaparte but nothing about others. Many have also been made by people openly hostile to their subject and none have been made by royals or royal relatives themselves. In English history the nearest thing are the films done on Shakespeare’s plays about Henry V but one could make a great epic film about Henry V without re-doing Shakespeare. A film about King Edward III would be magnificent if done properly. King St Louis IX of France, King St Ferdinand III of Castile, Charlemagne, Emperor Otto the Great or Frederick Barbarossa for the Germans would all be excellent topics and highly entertaining I would think.

A World War I film focused on King Albert I of the Belgians seems sorely lacking to me, the colorful history of the Princely Family of Monaco would alone offer numerous potential topics given all of the war, drama and romance that has characterized the House of Grimaldi over the centuries. Yes, there was that recent film about Princess Grace and Prince Ranier but constitutional reform and tensions with France is hardly as entertaining as would be watching Rainier II raiding English shipping in the Channel, ransoming the Isle of Wight and fighting at the Battle of Poitiers. Jean I of Monaco would also make for a very entertaining film with his naval battles, efforts to smuggle a Byzantine emperor, betrayal and the defense of Monaco by his wife Pomelline Fregose while he was held prisoner by the Savoyards. The Dutch could make quite a film about the life of Maurice of Nassau, the Swedes about Charles XII or Gustavus Adolphus. With the Kingdom of Denmark being the oldest monarchy in Europe, it pains me that the only film I’ve seen about a Danish monarch was the one who was dismissed as insane. There is plenty of material to work with!

The point is that there are tremendous tools available to glorify the dynasties of the world and any number of great stories to tell that would fill people with pride and confidence in their royal houses and in their national history. It is no good waiting for others to do it for you. This is also something that has come up recently in Thailand as a Thai historical drama has come under criticism by the Burmese for how they are portrayed which is, in the context of virtually any story about the history of Siam, as the villains. This is silly and a waste of time. Years ago when the very well made but historically atrocious film “The Patriot” came out, I was quick to point out its flaws. However, even I, Tory at heart that I am, was rather annoyed by the criticism from the British about how they were portrayed in the film. Such criticism was certainly not unwarranted, I made it myself, but if you are British, you should not be counting on the Americans to tell your side of the story. There should, rather, have been a British film about the war in America in which the Americans were the “bad guys” and the British were the heroes. Likewise, Burma should not complain about how they are portrayed in Thai television, but make their own television drama showing their side of the story.

Naturally, there will be plenty of excuses as to why this is not possible. Usually it comes down to money and the complaint that no one can match the big budgets of Hollywood productions. I say, that is no excuse. The British Royal Family is not without means and royals on the continent might try asking the Prince of Liechtenstein for a loan. If the Dutch can make a quality historical drama about the republican naval hero Michiel De Ruyter, and they have, there is no reason why they cannot make just as quality a film about one of the Princes of Orange or any Dutch monarch. Where there is a will, there is a way and if the Kingdom of Thailand can do it, I see no reason why any other monarchy cannot do the same. I for one, would certainly like to see it.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Final Efforts at Restoration in Latin America

As discussed previously on several occasions, the American Civil War represented the last realistic chance to date of ending the monopoly on power of the republican form of government in the Americas. The United States has long before issued the Monroe Doctrine which declared the Americas “off limits” to any European power attempting to reestablish their former New World empires. This was backed up by the British and the Royal Navy made what would otherwise been nothing but bluster something that could be enforced. However, with the outbreak of war between the United States and Confederate States of America in 1861 two very important things changed. First, the U.S.A. was no longer in a position to actually do anything to stop a European monarchy from trying to restore their fallen away territories in the Americas and second, the British and the United States were no longer on very friendly terms. Many in Britain, particularly among the aristocracy, favored the Confederacy. So, from 1861 to 1865 the monarchies of the Old World had a chance to do as they pleased without having to worry about the politicians in Washington DC. Had the Confederacy succeeded in maintaining its independence, this bank holiday might have turned into a new era for monarchy in the Americas.

Queen Isabella II of Spain
The largest, and most discussed, effort along these lines was the restoration of monarchy in Mexico. The British, French and Spanish all landed troops on the Mexican coast in December of 1861, the French stayed, pushed inland and captured Mexico City. The Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian was imported in 1864 to begin his reign as Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. The French Emperor Napoleon III was also looking to build a canal across Central America and the eventual expansion of the Mexican Empire into that region sometime in the future seemed to be a foregone conclusion. Louis Napoleon also corresponded with President Gabriel Garcia Moreno on the idea of creating a French-backed “Kingdom of the Andes” centered around Ecuador under a suitable Spanish prince. This was not altogether new as the first President of Ecuador had conspired with Queen Marie Christina of the Two-Sicilies (former regent of Spain) to put her son on the throne of a Latin American monarchy that would encompass Ecuador and several surrounding countries. The Empire of Brazil was, at the time, also a major power and Emperor Maximilian of Mexico expected it to become the dominant power in South America had his own regime survived and the years of the American Civil War also saw the Dominican Republic return to the arms of Spain when they recognized Queen Isabella II as their sovereign. When the United States defeated the Confederacy in 1865, the Spanish gave up their half of Hispaniola, knowing they could never hold it in defiance of a hostile United States just across the water.

Another effort by the Old World to regain influence in the New during this period, not yet discussed on these pages, was the Chincha Islands War fought by the Kingdom of Spain under Queen Isabella II against the South American republics of Peru and Chile from 1864 to 1866. It was not a major event and is generally overlooked in the catalogue of historic events of the Americas and, for once, I will concede that this is not unjustified. The war was not a massive conflict, consisting of a few rather minor naval skirmishes, and while it could have been extremely significant, it was not because of two reasons. It ultimately amounted to nothing because the South American republics showed that while they may have a hard time getting along with each other, they would unite to prevent the reestablishment of Spanish rule or even Spanish influence in their continent and because the defeat of the Confederacy the year after the war started meant that even if the Spanish had been successful, the United States would likely have ultimately forced them out anyway. Finally, it is also true that the Chincha Islands War was from start to finish, at the very most, simply a quite modest first step in the direction of rebuilding the Spanish empire at some distant, unforeseen date.

Spanish forces on the Chichan Islands, 1864
The primary antagonists were Spain and Peru and it is worth remembering a few things about both countries. The Kingdom of Spain was a power to take seriously in 1864. The military had been greatly enlarged, mostly due to the ongoing civil wars at home, Spain had the fourth largest navy in the world and Queen Isabella II was anxious to reassert Spain as one of the major European powers. Had not Spanish strength been squandered by the fratricidal Carlist Wars, one can imagine Spain succeeding far beyond the establishment of a foothold in North Africa. Peru, on the other hand, was still a new country, having effectively achieved independence only 43 years earlier. It had been the Spanish royalist stronghold of South America during the Latin American revolutions and was only torn from Spain when revolutionary armies from neighboring countries invaded and forced the Spanish out. One of the things that made Peru and other South American republics somewhat nervous about the Chincha Islands War was that, by 1864, Spain had still not recognized the independence of Peru. The facts on the ground were the facts on the ground but those who thought Spain had more in mind than the ostensible reasons for the conflict could point to the fact that, technically, Queen Isabella II still regarded Peru as a Spanish possession in rebellion rather than a legitimate country.

Conflict erupted following a mob attack on a couple of Spanish subjects in Peru, followed by Peru refusing the Spanish demand for an apology and reparations. Spain was also insisting that Peru pay debts from the colonial period and for Spanish property seized during the war for independence. Peru refused and on April 14, 1864 a Spanish naval flotilla seized the not very well defended Chincha Islands. This was somewhat important as these islands were a primary source of guano for Peru. If the idea of a war over bat feces sounds ridiculous, keep in mind that this bat crap produced more than half of the Peruvian government’s annual income and then you might also want to go and refresh your memory on what oil actually is. Spanish marines occupied the islands, raised the flag and shouted vivas to Queen Isabella II but holding the islands was simply a means to force Peru to the negotiating table. Spanish ships also began blockading the major Peruvian ports but Spain never had sufficient forces anywhere near Peru for a major operation such as an invasion of the mainland to reestablish Spanish authority by force.

Vice Admiral Pareja
This opening move was taken by the local Spanish commander, Admiral Luis Hernandez Pinzon, on his own authority and, at first, the Spanish government tried to undo the action and replaced the admiral with another, Peruvian born, officer but in the face of continued Peruvian defiance decided to carry on for the sake of Spanish honor. Nonetheless, the new man on the ground (or ‘on the water’ as it were), Admiral Juan Manuel Pareja, began negotiations with the Peruvian government and the two sides agreed to a treaty that would end the conflict. However, the Peruvian public considered the agreement an outrage and the Peruvian Congress refused to ratify it and as this was followed by an anti-Spanish rebellion against the sitting government, all doubt vanished that the conflict would go on. A wave of anti-Spanish hysteria swept the region and when Chile closed its ports to the Spanish sanctions were placed on them and ships were dispatched to show the flag in Chilean waters. The Chilean government shortly thereafter joined the conflict, declaring war on Spain.

Ecuador and Bolivia later joined in declaring war on Spain as well. They would take no active part in the conflict but this meant that all ports on the Pacific would be closed to Spanish ships, making it extremely difficult to maintain operations against Peru and Chile. Argentina and the Empire of Brazil were invited to add their names to the list of allies at war with Spain but they were both occupied with a war against Paraguay and decided against it. The Spanish wanted to engage the Peruvian and Chilean navies in a decisive action at sea that would wipe them out and give Spain uncontested naval control of the Pacific coast, however the Battle of Abtao, fought on February 7, 1866 between two Spanish ships and four allied ships (3 Peruvian & 1 Chilean) was tactically indecisive but a strategic failure as the allied fleet survived. On March 31, 1866 the Spanish fleet bombarded the port of Valparaiso, Chile and destroyed 33 Chilean merchant ships, effectively wiping out the merchant marine of Chile. This was followed up by the Battle of Callao on May 2, 1866 in which the Spanish attacked a heavily defended port. They did some damage, inflicted far heavier losses on the Peruvians than they suffered but did no major, lasting damage to the port and ultimately withdrew. Peru, therefore, claimed to have successfully repelled the Spanish while the Spanish also declared victory, saying that their goal had simply been to punish the Peruvians and that goal had been accomplished.

The Battle of Callao
In truth, Spain had basically won the battle. They had destroyed the shore defenses and then sailed away because, effectively, there was nothing more they could do. They had no invasion force to land and so, left when the battle was over. The Peruvians had survived rather than triumphed, there had been considerable loss of life and their claims of driving the Spanish away were rather erroneous. The Spanish had never intended to invade and seize the port, they had no army to do it with and so had left after destroying what shore batteries there were to destroy. Still, the Spanish fleet had sailed away and so it was easy for the Peruvian media to portray the battle as a victory over their former masters. With no base of support and no friendly ports in the region, this engagement effectively ended the war as the Spanish fleet was forced by dwindling supplies to return to Spain via The Philippines. In the aftermath, Peru was so buoyed by their “victory” that they considered revamping their navy and conquering The Philippines which, considering the local opposition to Spanish rule, is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Nonetheless, domestic difficulties quickly nixed the idea.

By 1866, of course, the American Civil War had ended and the United States was once again free to assert itself south of the Rio Grande and all European involvement in the Americas began to draw to a close. In the years that followed the war was officially concluded though it would take well into the next decade before the Kingdom of Spain officially recognized Peruvian independence. This has, needless to say, helped fuel speculation and controversy as to how far Spain intended to go with the conflict. Personally, I doubt there is any precise answer. The Chichan Islands War had not been premeditated, so to speak, but I think it safe to assume that Spain would have logically pushed any advantage as far as it could go. They may have meant simply greater Spanish influence in the region or, had things gone considerably differently, I doubt they would have objected to a reestablishment of the Spanish empire in South America.

Ever since the breakup of the Spanish empire on the American mainland, the Spanish had always believed that they had considerable popular support that was being suppressed and if only they could land in some force, win a respectable victory and appear strong then the great mass of the locals would rush to the Spanish colors and welcome them back as liberators from the succession of military dictators who held power in virtually every Latin American country. Looking back, events would seem to indicate that this was largely wishful thinking. It was certainly the motivation behind the 1829 invasion of Mexico at the port of Tampico by General Isidro Barradas which ended in disaster. Yet, given that Peru had been the center of the most royalist sentiment in Spanish America during the colonial period, this may well have been something the Spanish were counting on to regain their former empire, or at least much of it, ‘on the cheap’ by use of predominately local volunteers. Given the public response in Peru during the Chichan Islands War, if there was any sizeable loyalist element it remained well hidden. Yet, that is not to say it should be dismissed. It may well have been that a significant Spanish victory on the mainland would have convinced the locals that they were the winning side and that always helps to win people over.

As it was, as stated at the outset, the Chichan Islands War was a minor affair. Spain did not back up its forces for a major campaign and, as the American Civil War had ended in 1865, the United States would not have allowed such a thing if it had. As with the Mexican adventure by Napoleon, his dreams of a Kingdom of the Andes, the readmission of the Dominican Republic to the Kingdom of Spain and any thoughts of expansion into South America, all was doomed by the Confederate defeat and the victory of the Union forces in America who stated at the start of European involvement in Mexico that it would never recognize or accept the establishment or reestablishment of any monarchy in the Americas. The only way any of this could have happened would have been if the Confederate States of America had succeeded in securing their independence and thus provided a buffer state between the remaining United States and Latin America. When General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in southern Virginia, the impact was felt far away from simply the American southern states.

Friday, June 2, 2017

How About Restoring the Holy Roman Empire?

The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the First Reich, was the central political entity of the western world for a great many centuries and, as we have talked about before, has been in the mind of many people, most often Catholics, in particular in terms of comparing and contrasting it with the European Union. As I have stated before, the EU is nothing at all even close to what the First Reich had been, however, for those who claim that the European Union should be embraced as a modern-day version of the Holy Roman Empire, my response is simple; why not just restore the Holy Roman Empire itself? Such a thing is hardly likely in this day and age and yet, it is no more unlikely than the restoration of any other monarchy which I will not relent in pressing for. Additionally, it is not as though it would be fundamentally impossible to restore the First Reich in terms of the modern European political map as the First Reich was itself a rather malleable thing, which is probably why it was able to endure for so long.

The body that eventually became known as the Holy Roman Empire existed long before the actual term itself came into common usage and originated in a sort of effort by Pope St Leo III and the Frankish king Charlemagne to revive the Western Roman Empire but in a very different form, with a different basis and a largely different population, certainly a different ruling class, than the original Roman Empire. It was always a somewhat amorphous thing, during the reigns of particularly powerful emperors it was a definite empire but in the intervals between such monarchs was often more like a confederation of loosely aligned minor states. As the name suggests, certainly from the time of Emperor Otto the Great, it was a German-dominated entity and the core of it, the heartland of it, was what is today Germany. However, it was also seen as a unifying force for all of Western Europe or all of Christendom. The Emperor did not directly rule over all the countries of Christendom, indeed he did not directly rule all of the Empire itself exactly but he was supposed to be the senior monarch of Christendom, higher in status than the kings of France or England. He could not command them, but the idea was that he should be treated with all due respect as their senior.

Now, should all of this sound too frightfully Roman Catholic for Protestant monarchists, remember that at the end of the Holy Roman Empire the Protestants were a well established and accepted force within the empire and several of the Prince-Electors were Protestants, though in a rather odd turn of events one of those Protestant electors was a Catholic. There was even a Protestant caucus within the Reichstag. In the last shuffling of the deck before the First Reich was dissolved, the Prince-Electors were: The Prince-Archbishop of Regensburg, the King of Bohemia, the King of Bavaria, the King of Saxony, the King of Prussia (Elector of Brandenburg), the King of Great Britain (Elector of Hanover), the King of Wurttemberg, the Grand Duke of Baden, the Elector of Hesse-Kassel and the Grand Duchy of Wurzburg (who later became the Grand Duke of Tuscany, long after the Empire was gone). Obviously, things had changed a great deal from the, not original but early and long lasting official organization of the empire as the Kingdom of Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, the Kingdom of Burgundy (Arles) which didn’t actually exist most of the time and the Kingdom of Bohemia. All of these were kingships held by the Emperor and, originally, there were supposed to be no other kings within the empire besides the emperor himself. That, of course, changed when the Elector of Brandenburg became the “King in Prussia” and later the “King of Prussia”.

The point is that the Holy Roman Empire was changeable and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that it could be reconstituted today with the restoration of monarchies across Europe. In other words, one would not have to dethrone some monarchs, restore others and reset everything in order to accomplish a restoration. This is one of the differences between the actual Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire of the German People. The original Roman Empire had a long history of its own going back through the Roman Republic to the ancient Roman kings. There was a specific political system in place with a specific procedure for becoming Emperor of the Romans who ruled “SPQR” which was in the name of the, “Senate and the People of Rome”. What was or what became the Holy Roman Empire began with the coronation of Charlemagne as “Emperor of the Romans” by Pope St Leo III on Christmas Day 800 AD. This meant that the Pope had claimed for himself the authority to choose the emperor, unlike the old system in which the Pope was simply called upon to bless the Emperor of Rome who had come to power in the usual way. More significantly to how history unfolded of course, he also reserved the right to remove the Emperor. What the Pope gives, the Pope can also take away which was no doubt one reason why most emperors ultimately found they could get along just fine without being crowned by the Pope.

In a modern restoration of the Holy Roman Empire, one could have electors such as Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, Prince Donatus of Hesse, Archduke Karl of Austria, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke Franz of Bavaria, Prince Alexander or Prince Rudiger of Saxony (I’m not going to get into that dispute here), Margrave Maximilian of Baden, Duke Carl of Wurttemberg and others. The others are where there could be some trouble. The clerical electors could prove problematic, one reason being that the Catholic Church in modern times has not exactly been zealously pro-monarchy and, assuming old attitudes prevail though they probably don’t, the lay electors might object to having churchmen involved in the election of the emperor given that the Church, under St Pius X, abolished any imperial involvement in the election of the pope after Emperor Franz Joseph last used his veto power. However, it is nothing that could not be worked out.

There is also the issue that the Grand Duke of Wurzburg, as mentioned, later became the Grand Duke of Tuscany which, as we know, was abolished with the incorporation of Tuscany into the Kingdom of Italy and we are not supposed to be robbing anyone of their throne or re-drawing the map of Europe to do this remember. Personally, I’d be fine with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany being restored, along with others, within the Kingdom of Italy. However, if old customs are to be kept to, the Grand Duke of Tuscany would have to finally declare his nationality once and for all. You see, when the Italians began to get really forceful about not wanting to be ruled by foreigners, supporters of the Grand Duke (and those like him) were quick to say that these cadet branches self-identified as Italians or more precisely Tuscans or Florentines or whatever you wish to call them (either sounds odd in English) but, when it came to the Holy Roman Empire, again, despite what some have claimed about the mentality of people prior to the French Revolution, nationality was important and the leaders of the empire would be expected to object to an elector who is not a German. In the old days the King of Bohemia (before they were Habsburg) was sometimes challenged as an elector on the grounds that he was not German and thus had no business taking part in who would be Emperor over the German nation. Depending on how the clerical electors are reconstituted, it might also be possible to simply replace the Grand Duke with a clerical elector as the Bishopric of Wurzburg is still around today.

There might also be some objections to the Grand Duke of Baden and King of Wurttemberg both being electors given that these are, in modern Germany, part of the same state and we are not supposed to be re-drawing the map here. However, as these things have been done in the past, the Grand Duchy of Baden could be restored within the Kingdom of Wurttemberg and his vote could be given to some other prince of the German states. One could go back to an earlier, smaller roster of electors, none of this was ever set in stone. The “Golden Bull” of Emperor Charles VI was supposed to do something of the sort but, obviously, changes were made right up to the very end of the existence of the Holy Roman Empire. Indeed, the Hessians insisted on keeping their electoral title even after the empire was no more, simply because it was more prestigious than what they had otherwise. All of that could be worked out as some electors were lost and others were raised to the status. There were rules for all of this but all those rules could be changed and were. It was not even set in stone that the electors had to choose a candidate from among their own number, hence King Francis I of France and King Henry VIII of England once threw their proverbial hats in the ring. At one point it was not even considered beyond the realm of possibility that there might be a Protestant emperor. He would not be crowned by the Pope and thus would remain “Emperor-Elect” officially but then, that came to be standard procedure as well.

None of this is absolutely impossible. However, the biggest problem with restoring the Holy Roman Empire is, to my mind, undoubtedly the current mindset of modern Europe. Restoring the empire would be a comparatively small matter, indeed some maintain that Emperor Franz II had no power to dissolve the empire and so it still exists but is simply dormant, awaiting the election of a new emperor. The issue that should give traditional monarchists some pause about this is who would be elected, what would this revived empire really look like considering the values that prevail in Europe, the modern Catholic Church and the Protestant churches that the electors belong to. The motivations that those in power had in the past are not the motivations that those in power have today and my biggest concern with a revived Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation would be what torrent of changes it would immediately be subjected to and I can think of nothing more frightening the possibility that the electors might choose to “make a statement” with their vote. Even if they stuck to tradition and elected Archduke Karl of Austria, I would still fear what the threat of being unpopular might prompt him to do. However, at the end of the day, whatever they came up with would almost have to be a considerable improvement over what exists at the moment.

This points to the reason why I tend to get rather frustrated with people who tend to blame all problems on modern monarchs and who complain that if only they would act like the monarchs of old, everything would be better. I am afraid not, that is not how it works. A modern Holy Roman Empire would not be the same as the historic Holy Roman Empire. People create societies, cultures and so on and as people change, the societies they create change. The First Reich was essentially the Catholic German empire. The Second Reich was a Protestant-run German empire in which religious differences were not of paramount importance. The Third Reich, well, that is a rather long story but it was a reflection of its time and I think it is significant that while the current political masters want Germans to forget the First Reich, want Germans to forget the Second Reich, they *never* want Germans to forget the Third Reich, it is too important for them and their hold on power.

Personally, I tend to look back with more longing on the Roman Empire of Constantine and Theodosius than I do the Roman Empire of Otto and Frederick. However, the core, the spirit if you like, the “idea” of this Roman Empire is something the modern masters of the planet do not want us to remember or work to revive. The Holy Roman Empire hardly, if ever, worked the way the ideal was supposed to. However, that very ideal, that very vision, of western, European, Christian monarchies all in harmony, all pulling in the same direction with varying degrees of local autonomy terrifies the sort of rulers the world has today. Yes, powers such as France, Spain, Britain even largely Italy and so on were outside of it but the ideal was that they would all see themselves as being on the same team, this “team” known as Christendom, synonymous with “western civilization”. That is something worth considering, worth trying to work out, worth trying to strive for.
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