Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
In a related story, Frenchmen of the heroic Vendée, stronghold of Catholic and royalist resistance to the Revolution, demand that the First Republic's horrifying massacres of men, women, and children there in 1794 be recognized as a "genocide." It's unfortunate, though, that the Vendean historian quoted can only go so far as to claim that the Vendée atrocities constituted "faithlessness of the Revolution to its own principles," when in fact it was the French Revolution's evil principles themselves that were the problem, and led naturally and logically to the extermination of those who did not wish to live under the revolutionaries' new order.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tomorrow, Christmas Day, I will fly to Indianapolis to join my family there.
I would like to wish my readers a very merry Christmas!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I'm glad to see the WSJ paying attention to non-reigning royalty (though the reader comments--open only to subscribers--are uniformly disgusting), and that HRH persists in believing in the future of the French monarchy, no matter how unlikely its restoration seems at present. But there are a few misleading statements in the article.
(1) The [Spanish] Bourbons (the French Bourbon senior line became extinct in 1883) and the Orléans are not two separate families or dynasties. They are different branches of the same family, the Capetians, who ruled France from 987 to the Revolution and then again until 1848, and remain on the thrones of Spain and Luxembourg. Both the Duke of Anjou ("Louis XX") and the Duke of Vendôme are descended in the male line from King Louis XIII (1601-1643), the former from his elder son Louis XIV (1638-1715) and the latter from his younger son Philippe Duc d'Orléans (1640-1701). While it is not incorrect to state that "[t]he Orléans are related to Louis Philippe I, who ruled France between 1830 and 1848 and was related to Louis XIV's younger brother," why not specify that the Orléans are descended from Louis Philippe I (1773-1850), who was descended from Louis XIV's younger brother? "Related" makes it sound like some vague connection less direct than it actually is. As direct male-line descendants of Henri IV (the first "Bourbon" King of France) and his son Louis XIII, in a sense the Orléans family are "Bourbons" too.
(2) Luis Alfonso de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou (b. 1974), is not a "distant cousin" of the King of Spain. His father was Juan Carlos's first cousin, making them first cousins once removed. That is not a "distant" relationship!
(3) The idea that a Spaniard cannot be King of France is not really an "old tradition," but rather an odd way of summarizing the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which stipulated that the crowns of Spain and France could never be united. The main issue, however, is not that stipulation (since Luis Alfonso is not in line to the Spanish throne), but rather the fact that Louis XIV's grandson Philippe Duc d'Anjou (from whom the Spanish and Italian Bourbons, including Luis Alfonso, all descend) renounced for himself and his descendants any claim to the French throne in order to be recognized as King Felipe V of Spain (1683-1746); the validity of that renunciation is the key dispute between supporters of "Louis XX" and supporters of "Henri VII" (Jean's father).
That said, kudos to Prince Jean for his determination to remain above "Left" and "Right" and "sow ideas" for Restoration. Vive le Roi---whoever "le Roi" is! (This blog would gladly acclaim either Louis XX or Henri VII rather than the French Republic!)
Friday, December 19, 2008
(H/T: Jørn K. Baltzersen)
As I pointed out at my friend Mr. Baltzersen's blog, Mr. Warner, whose blog I've often admired, does not seem to be defending Grand Duke Henri so much as reproaching him and other Catholic monarchs for not being even more intransigent on issues such as euthanasia, even if it led to their abdication. This is not a position I'm willing to take; in fact I would probably not take it even if I shared Mr. Warner's Roman Catholic faith.
Like it or not (and I don't!), "Democracy" is held sacrosanct in modern Europe (except of course when popular referendums might hinder the agenda of the EU...), and it is not within the ability of the continent's remaining constitutional sovereigns to change that. Catholics opposed to euthanasia, abortion, etc., are obliged to work within the democratic process like everyone else, not rely on monarchs whose constitutional limitations in most cases were set before they were born to "save the day" or risk the fall of the monarchy with grand gestures of defiance. As I've said many times in arguments with those who while not unsympathetic to monarchy in principle don't see the point in today's "emasculated" versions, symbolism matters, and I would much rather Europe's monarchies survive by making compromises with modernity than allow themselves to be replaced by republics whose very existence would be repulsive and repugnant and would certainly not do Catholics any good.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
More unsettling, political dynasties are fundamentally un-American. This is not -- or is not supposed to be -- a country in which political power is an inherited commodity. The notion that Caroline Kennedy could simply ring up the governor and announce, or even politely suggest, her availability grates against the meritocratic ideal. After all, even the children of politicians generally take the time to climb the usual rungs rather than parachute into top jobs.
Confusingly, Marcus ends up endorsing Caroline, precisely because her appointment would make her a "national princess" in a "fairy tale," for which other more consistently anti-dynastic commentators have criticized her:
The last link is a good example of why I eventually concluded I could have nothing to do with American paleoconservatism, even though Daniel Larison has written some things I agreed with. Dynastic politics are a sign of health, not "sickness," an indication of the natural human desire for family leadership fighting its way through against the artificial constraints of 18th-century republicanism and "meritocracy."
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I groaned at my admirer Tony Dodd's cliche-ridden classification of Prince Charles's life as a "privileged yet worthless existence". I was glad to see others take him to task for this boring, ill-informed comment. If we must have republicans here, can they at least argue sensibly? The Prince's Trust, and many other of Charles's activities, are plainly thoughtful and worthy things, the fruit of a serious and generous mind. The 'privilege' of the monarchy (as any reader of Shakespeare must know) is all about maintaining its mystery and standing. In any organisation or institution, the senior figures are hedged about with various special facilities and privileges, whether they be the key to the executive washroom, the chauffeured car, the corner office, the big desk, the pretty PA, and of course the invariable use of a title "Managing Director", "Prime Minister" etc..
How can informed people continue to imagine that the monarchy is expensive and luxurious? Why are the same people unbothered by the huge government car fleet, and the flunkeydom and perks which attend the lives of ministers? Why do they snivel about the formal respect granted to Majesty (which stands for our sovereignty over ourselves) - yet not object to the gloopy sycophancy of the mad, Stalinesque standing ovations given to political leaders for their dire orations?
We know now about the Queen's Spartan breakfast table, the Tupperware and the ancient radio. These people are not the Bourbons or the Romanovs, who were themselves maligned in the same way by revolutionaries. Revolutionaries, on the other hand, usually end up living in gross luxury once they are safely in power.
As a patriotic Protestant Englishman, Hitchens is of course entitled to prefer the style of monarchy represented by the Windsors to that of the Bourbons and Romanovs, though this blog supports all three dynasties. I'm glad though that even from his relatively Whiggish perspective he can acknowledge that French and Russian royalty were also unfairly "maligned...by [hypocritical] revolutionaries."
Monday, December 8, 2008
Some more pictures here, here, here, and here.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Coming across this quotation on the "Enlightenment," from a letter of the great Empress to one of her sons, I thought readers might find it particularly interesting, as relevant today as it was in the 18th century.
Nothing is more pleasant, nothing more suitable to flatter our egos as a freedom without restrictions. "Freedom" is the word with which our enlightened century wants to replace religion. One condemns the whole past as a time of ignorance and prejudice, while knowing nothing of that past and very little of the present. If I could see these so-called enlightened figures, these philosophes, more fortunate in their work and happier in their private lives, then I would accuse myself of bias, pride, prepossession, and obstinacy for not adjusting to them. But unfortunately daily experience teaches me the opposite. No one is weaker, no one more spiritless than these strong spirits; no one more servile, no one more despairing at the least misfortune as they. They are bad fathers, sons, husbands, ministers, generals, and citizens. And why? Because they lack substance. All of their philosophy, all of their axioms are conceived only in their egotism; the slightest disappointment crushes them beyond hope, with no resources to fall back upon.