Thursday, February 22, 2024

Frederick III and William II

My friend Christina Croft (author of The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II) has written an excellent rebuttal to the frequently regurgitated myth (common in discussions of 19th-century royal history) that "if only Kaiser Friedrich III (1831-1888) had lived longer, World War I would have been prevented." I think many years ago I used to believe this myself, as it is the impression one can get from some superficial reading, until I learned better. Writers in English on royal history have tended to be myopically pro-"Fritz" and anti-Wilhelm, determined to paint the former as a dovish liberal and the latter as a hawkish reactionary, when the truth was more complex. Of course, no counterfactual proposition (and I think about counterfactual history a lot) can ever be either proved or disproved, but there are substantial reasons _not_ to believe in this particular one. None of this is to deny that Frederick III's death at 56 from throat cancer after a reign of only 90 days was a personal tragedy for his family, especially his wife Victoria, but it is unrealistic and unhelpful to blame the events of 26 years later on it or on his son. With Christina's permission I reproduce her comments here.

"This is a complete myth for so many reasons and it stems from the usual thing of making Fritz into a hero and Wilhelm into a villain. Neither man was a saint and neither was a villain - they were both just doing what they thought was right. Here are just a few reasons why Fritz would not have prevented war:

Firstly, it suggests that kings/emperors were responsible for the war - they were not. The politicians and the press brought about the war.

Secondly, the King of Prussia might have been an autocrat but the German Emperor was not and so it would be impossible for a German Emperor to cause (or prevent) a war single-handedly.

Thirdly - there is a misconception that Fritz was far more liberal than Wilhelm was. This is not the case - Wilhelm was praised by socialists across Europe (including the extremely radical George Bernard Shaw and the Germano-phobic French socialists) because of his genuine concern for workers and their rights. Fritz, on the other hand, had no direct contact with workers as Wilhelm did and he was out of touch with them. A contemporary German diarist wrote of Fritz: "He intended to rule with and for the bourgeoisie, and is thrown into perplexity by the more rapid emergence of the workers."

Fourthly, Fritz fought in 3 wars. Wilhelm (who is wrongly labelled a warmonger) maintained peace for 25 years. [Added by TRH: in 1913 on the 25th anniversary of his accession, the New York Times, not exactly a bastion of monarchism, effusively praised Kaiser Wilhelm II for his then-seemingly-successful efforts to preserve the peace in Europe.]

Fifthly - People say Fritz would have maintained good relations with Britain. In fact, when Queen Victoria asked him to treat the defeated states in the Austro-Prussian War more leniently, Fritz basically said it was not Britain's business and he would always put Prussia first. Wilhelm, on the other hand, repeatedly tried to form an alliance with Britain.

Sixthly, Fritz was so Russophobic that he was asked not to go to the coronation of Tsar Alexander III for fear that he would make trouble. Wilhelm wanted to befriend the Tsar.

Seventhly, Fritz was an authoritarian. When the German states were reluctant to join the unification, he said they must be FORCED to join and he deceived Ludwig II of Bavaria about it (in fact the Bavarians hated him for it).

Eighthly, apart from anything else, Fritz would have been 83 in 1914.

I could go on..."


Thursday, February 15, 2024

A rant...

 ...that would probably cause too much trouble if I actually put it on Facebook so I'm putting it here since hardly anyone reads my blog anymore anyway.

Just so you know, no one on either side of the fake American political spectrum is ever going to get anywhere with me by appealing to Democracy. I hate Democracy. And I will not be voting for either of those two annoying old men and there is nothing you can say to change my mind.

Democracy means accepting that wicked parties like the Scottish National Party and Sinn Fein can hold office. I don't accept that. I hate them. I don't like it that I have to put up with whatever the majority of voters in any part of the United Kingdom decide and I never get a say. I know more and care more about British history than most people in Britain. I have British flags and decor all over my home including a portrait of HM The King over the fireplace. I should get my way, not stupid people who live there and think that Sadiq Khan's idiotic new London Overground names are acceptable.

I am mildly on the autistic spectrum (in case you haven't figured that out) and the British Monarchy is my Special Interest and I do not accept that anyone in the UK has the right to try to take it away from me, ever, just because they live there and I don't. I don't give a damn about republicans' "human rights." Anti-monarchists are garbage and I am not ashamed of how much I hate them because I know God hates them too. If that makes me selfish and evil so be it. At least I'm not a republican. There is nothing worse than being a small-r republican.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Peace, Goodwill, and Harmony: On King Charles' Christmas Speech

Very few published commentators (Rod Dreher in 2012 was another) understand King Charles. But I think this one does.