Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Media, The State and the Wonder of Trump

We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.”

- Jean Baudrillard.

Last month with the departure of Michael Flynn, a dominant theory with many was that a group within the government were conspiring against the Trump Administration. A “Deep State” that wants nothing more than to damage him enough, forcing a capitulation, resignation or impeachment. Most news outlets have tried to dismiss the theory as bogus.

Of course, Yahoo News’ Katie Couric devoting an entire video segment to it only begs the question of why?

Why did someone hire Couric to deliver news when most people get their news on social media?

A few days ago, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow announced she would be revealing Trump’s tax returns. Much to the surprise of her bosses concerned about the supposed “scoop.”

And what did we find out?

They were from 2005, Trump paid a generous 25% of his income in taxes. In contrast to Bernie Sanders, who only pays 13.5% on his income. All while Sanders the Socialist advocated endlessly high taxation on successful individuals.

Meanwhile Maddow has a net worth of $20 million, an annual salary of $7 million and pays far less in taxes.

Interesting how all of Trump’s critics pay far lower in taxes than the man who they’ve claimed hasn’t paid his “fair share.”

Considering the very embarrassment Maddow made of herself via this “scoop,” its fun to know how much Trump gets under her and others’ skin.

Every waking minute of the media’s time had been dedicated to Trump and his “evil deeds.” We’ve already got  “judges” overruling his latest immigration order and the media immediately denouncing him in every conceivable manner. All while showcasing their misery.

Every time Trevor Noah tries to make what seems like some kind of a joke. Every moment Samantha Bee gets off another in an endless series of hiatuses to make a ghostwritten joke. You know how much it burns.

They lost and it appears Total War with Trump is only prolonging the agony of death. Much like an injured contortionist in a hospital bed, it’s just painful to look at.

Baudrillard spoke of the mysterious glow of a television left on in an empty room. Perhaps his ideas of a simulated reality would find a new definition as the media reshapes existence into a warped copy of itself.

Then again, when did news anchors have the seven figure salary of actors? Well they do have range.

Of course, legitimate issues have cropped up this week. The American Healthcare Act, heralded by the GOP, has its own set of concerns. While an improvement over Obamacare’s failure, it may prolong the former’s agony. As one blogger put it, something more must be done or Republicans may end up taking the complete blame.

So Maddow’s big tax “takedown” of Trump proved a resounding failure, as Trump faces an uphill battle with state judges over the fact immigration can be restricted by the President.

Sounds like an interesting month.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Monarchy - Backed By the Bible

 I will be taking all verses from the Douay-Rheims Challoner Edition.

Monarchy is spoken highly of in scripture.

Genesis 14:18-20

But Melchisedech the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God, Blessed him, and said: Blessed be Abram by the most high God, who created heaven and earth. And blessed be the most high God, by whose protection the enemies are in thy hands. And he gave him the tithes of all. 

God also lays down a blueprint for good kings.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20

When thou art come into the land, which the Lord thy God will give thee, and possessest it, and shalt say: I will set a king over me, as all nations have that are round about: Thou shalt set him whom the Lord thy God shall choose out of the number of thy brethren. Thou mayst not make a man of another nation king, that is not thy brother.

And when he is made king, he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor lead back the people into Egypt, being lifted up with the number of his horsemen, especially since the Lord hath commanded you to return no more the same way. He shall not have many wives, that may allure his mind, nor immense sums of silver and gold. But after he is raised to the throne of his kingdom, he shall copy out to himself the Deuteronomy of this law in a volume, taking the copy of the priests of the Levitical tribe, And he shall have it with him, and shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and keep his words and ceremonies, that are commanded in the law; And that his heart be not lifted up with pride over his brethren, nor decline to the right or to the left, that he and his sons may reign a long time over Israel.

Even the New Testament portrays monarchy in a positive light.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 

I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings, and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

1 Peter 2:13-17 

Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God’ s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling; Or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of the good:For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. 

Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

Father Joseph Gleason explains some of these verses rather well in his article here.

One of the most often arguments used against Christian monarchy is that the period of the Judges was superior, since those who rose up were chosen directly by God. I will lift from Fr. Gleason’s article:

Four times, the book of Judges mentions there being “no king in Israel”.
And in every case, it is mentioned in a negative context:

Judges 17 / Idolatry / Quote: “there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes”
Judges 18 / Genocide / Quote: “there was no king in Israel”
Judges 19 / Rape & Murder / Quote: “there was no king in Israel”
Judges 21 / Kidnapping & Forced Marriage / Quote: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
It is never suggested that the lack of a king was a good thing.  Israel’s lack of monarchy is never mentioned when Gideon smashes idols, or when the people of Israel turn towards God.

Rather, Israel’s lack of monarchy is always mentioned in connection with blatant public sins which could have been restrained by the presence of a godly king.

When there are godly kings, righteousness reigns.
When there are godless kings, wickedness abounds.
The solution is to pray for God to replace a wicked king with a godly king,
not to replace the monarchy with some other form of government.
The second argument is that God was not pleased when the Jews asked God for a king. It is not because God was displeased with monarchy, it is that the Jews asked outside of the proper timing and for reasons which were not right. They wanted a king which acted “like our enemies” in order to protect them. The establishment of a kingdom was the plan from the beginning. David was he who was meant to be king.

Fr. Gleason’s wisdom is shown yet again in his other article, The Long-Awaited King. He opens with the verses to defend the assertion that monarchy was the plan from the beginning.

Genesis 17:6

And I will make thee increase, exceedingly, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 

Genesis 35:11

And said to him: I am God Almighty, increase thou and be multiplied. Nations and peoples of nations shall be from thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins. 

Genesis 49:10

The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the expectation of nations. 

The final explicitly Biblical defense is that democracy or republicanism is not supported in scripture. The abolition of monarchy is never suggested, and sin or evil is never said to be caused by occupying the position of monarch. The individual king is held responsible, but the institution is never shown negatively.

Jesus and the Apostles lived under the Roman Empire, in an area which spoke Greek and was aware of Greek culture and democracy for 500 years. Not even a hint of democratic sentiment is found, and there is no justification found for the violent revolutions such as the Russian and French, with all their death, destruction, and the introduction of mass immorality. Only anarchy and tyrrany were brought about by the Enlightenment, not order and logic as the “philosophers” sold it.

Catholic teaching, specifically that of St. Thomas Aquinas (ora pro nobis!) building upon the works of Plato and Aristotle places monarchy as the greatest possible political system. Even aristocracy is ranked by the Angelic Doctor above democracy. He details how the system may be carried out well in his work De Regno.

The revolutionary spirit which brought about democracy and immorality has brought so much harm to the Church, as well as promoting secularism, where each man is his own god. Is this not the spirit of anti-Christ itself? Revolutionary values were brought about with tremendous violence, death, and destruction. Democracy and republics have ushered us into an era of indifferentism, collapse, corruption, and put us under the boot of a world war and a period of widespread communism, all of which killed hundreds of millions of innocent bodies and souls.

Democracy allows for the human and diabolical nature to become the main focus. Fallacies and appeals to emotions resound in republics, and those who can most easily flatter and manipulate rise to the top. A king may be tyrannical, but he may be removed either by the prayers of the people or more physically. Prayer is recommended in scripture, and the Angelic Doctor makes clears arguments for tyrannicide.

The power most parliaments wield is far greater than any king ever had. Mass spying and regulation is the conclusion of this fight for freedom. A traditional ordained by God was brought crashing down in a few short centuries, with the fruits of their rebellion being eaten to this day. The sour taste of widespread degeneracy, atheism, and totalitarianism is the only result of abandoning  Godly hierarchy.

It is far easier to remove a single bad ruler than to fully remove an immoral system.

Under monarchy, Christianity flourished. Countless Churches were built, honorable men bred, and Christ placed as the head of Kingdom and Home. The only logical system under the Church is lordship from the top-down. Christ is the King of All, the King ruler over the nation, and the father the Lord of his house and family. Order begets true freedom, which is that of righteousness. True freedom is the freedom to do good, and the ability to follow God’s will without human and diabolical influence. The probability of one man being good far surpasses that of millions being righteous.Under good rulers, Europe was brought up to be the world’s shining jewel. Under monarchy, the most beautiful works of art and music were created, from the works of Palestrina and Des Prez, to Michaelangelo and Bernini. With the democratization of art, quality and beauty suffered tremendously as well since all things, including morality, changed from objective to subjective.

Jesus Christ is the King of Kings, God is the Father Almighty, not our Prime Minister and government for two terms. A restoration of the Faith will bring about Godly governance, which will only come with the restoration of the old social order.

Viva Cristo Rey!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Massacres, Poison, and the Legend of the Black Widow

Catherine de Medici as Queen Consort of France

A rare miniature of Catherine depicting her before her widowhood

Catherine's cousin Pope Clement VII (Giulio de Medici), whom she was very devoted to

Pope Clement marries Catherine to Henri, Marseilles 1533

Catherine de Medici in her widow's garb

Queen Jeanne d'Albret of Navarre, leader of the Protestant Faction

Royal effigies of King Henri II de Valois and Queen Catherine de Medici 

It’s a legend that most of us history buffs are at least somewhat familiar with - a scheming, older woman shrouded in black, plotting a massacre of thousands of innocent souls. But what is so often lost in the telling of the life of Queen Catherine de Medici of France is her numerous attempts at conciliation with France’s Protestant population, despite their blatant treasons.
    Born Caterina Maria Romula de Medici in Florence, 1519, Catherine had quite the unusual childhood: for starters, her uncle was Pope Leo X. Shortly after her birth, her parents, Duke Lorenzo of Urbino and Countess Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, a French noblewoman with royal ancestry, who doted on their beloved daughter, died a few days apart from one another. Their marriage had been part of an alliance between Lorenzo’s uncle Pope Leo X and King Francois I of France, the former forced to play both France and the Holy Roman Empire off one another to satiate their expansionist appetites long enough to keep them out of Italy altogether. It involved allying with both parties at different times in order to secure the independence and rights of the Papacy and the security of the various Italian city-states that dotted the peninsula.
    Following the death of her parents, she was raised by Lorenzo’s mother Alfonsina Orsini, a member of an ancient Roman princely family that could trace its lineage back to Julius Caesar himself. Following the death of Alfonsina, she was sent to the home of her paternal Aunt Clarissa (alternately, Clarice) de Strozzi, where she was raised alongside some cousins. She was beloved by the Florentine people, who affectionately called her Duchessina (the Little Duchess), in recognition of her otherwise unrecognized claim to the Duchy of Urbino. Pope Leo X died in 1521, interrupting Medici fortunes; however, this was soon rectified in 1523 with the election of Pope Clement VII, born Giulio de Medici, son of the assassinated Giuliano de Medici. Clement and Catherine had an unbreakable bond. Referring to her as “my Little Pearl”, Clement delighted in having visits with his young cousin, and she grew very close to him, seeing in him the father figure that she had lacked in her younger years.
    In 1527, a revolt in favor of Republicanism overthrew the Medici and forced them from the city, with the exception of only a few. Clarissa de Medici died the following year, and young Catherine was taken hostage and placed in a series of convents throughout Florence. She seemed fairly happy in these convents; she was removed from those who sought to do her harm. Clement VII was left with little choice but to request the aid of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V von Habsburg in retaking the city, and never ceased to campaign for the release of his Little Pearl. As the siege of Florence dragged on, those advocating for the destruction of the Medici even went so far as to suggest that she be killed, and her young corpse be exposed naked, chained to the city walls. Some even called for the ten year old girl to be handed over to Imperial troops to be gang-raped. When the Florentine Senate surrendered in 1530, Clement VII summoned her to Rome, where he cried out joyously, tears in his eyes, and welcomed her into his open arms. Shortly afterwards, he began to seek out a good husband for the orphaned young girl.
    She wasn’t regarded as particularly beautiful, nor was she regarded as ugly. The best word to describe her appearance would have been “common”. The Venetian envoy, present during her entrance into Rome, stated that she was, “small of stature, and thin, and without delicate features, but having the protruding eyes peculiar to the Medici family". Historians have debated what was actually meant by “protruding eyes”. Most likely it was a reference to the immediate visibility and uniqueness of the eyes of the Medici family - dark, even black at times, and quite noticeable. Many suitors vied for her hand, including King James V Stuart of Scotland; when King Francois I of France offered his second son, Prince Henri II de Valois, Clement seized the opportunity and consented. This match would provide a secure and stable future for Catherine, something which Clement agonized about as he grew older. The pair were wed by Clement himself in Marseilles on October 28th, 1533.
Although Catherine deeply loved Henri, he did not return her devotion. He took a string of mistresses, including the widowed noblewoman Diane de Poitiers, twenty years his senior, and a distant relation to Catherine through the de la Tour family. Diane, despite her complicity in adultery and even active attempts to usurp Catherine’s rights as the heiress presumptive of the Queenship of France (Henri’s older brother Francois had died during a particularly strenuous tennis match, making Henri the heir to France), encouraged her husband to visit his wife’s bed in the hopes of producing an heir. Despite repeated attempts at pregnancy, Catherine remained without child until 1544. Although it was generally believed at the time that Catherine was infertile, modern science and contemporary sources tell us that the issue lied not with her, but with Henri. Henri suffered from a painful penile deformity that made insemination nearly impossible. Historians are unsure of what enabled the couple to overcome this impediment - some have suggested that doctors aided the pair, that Catherine was coached in sex by Diane as she watched the pair copulate and, even, as is alleged by some Liberal historians but particularly by French Protestants, that Catherine resorted to dark magic and Satanism, a common accusation made by the French against Italians. This last charge is ridiculous and nonsensical, especially considering that Catherine was only truly at peace in Catholic religious settings and attended Mass thrice daily, but whatever the case, she was impregnated and bore Henri children roughly once a year from 1544 to 1556. In fact, she proved remarkably fertile, producing no less than five sons, a dream for Henri as the Valois monarchy was anything but secure at the time. Francois I of France died three years after Catherine’s eldest was born, and Catherine soon become the Queen of France.
Diane’s service was not to Catherine, but rather to the preservation of the French monarchy. In fact, the only reason why she had supported the marriage of Henri and Catherine was because she felt that Catherine would stand idly by as she usurped the proper power of the French Queen Consort. While this may have been the case while Henri was alive, she was in for a surprise following his death in a jousting match in 1559. One of Catherine’s first official actions as Queen Regent was to order Diane to return the Crown Jewels of the Queen of France to her keeping. Banished from court by Catherine, Diane was even stripped of the Chateau of Chenonceau, which she used as a tool to antagonize Catherine as Diane knew that she had been expecting to receive the lodge as a gift from Henri.Where Diane had added the letters “D” and “H”, in the same manner as royal couples furnished their dwellings, Catherine effaced Diane’s work and added a “C” in the place of all the “D”s.  Despite her husband’s infidelity, Catherine was a loyal and devoted Catholic wife to the bitter end, taking the image of a broken lance and the motto of "lacrymae hinc, hinc dolor" ("from this come my tears and my pain"), a reference to her husband’s accident and death, and donned the black garb of mourning from that day until her death. Thus begins the Dark Legend of the Black Widow.
Her eldest son, Francois II, was crowned King of France at age fifteen. In what has been described as a coup d’etat, the Guise Family, who would soon become Catherine’s political enemies, at least in the Catholic Faction of the religious wars that raged across France, seized control and moved themselves into the Louvre Palace. Despite this, all of Francois’s II official documents issued as King began with "This being the good pleasure of the Queen, my lady-mother, and I also approving of every opinion that she holdeth, am content and command that ..."
Despite Catherine’s loathing for the Huguenot cause and the Calvinist religion they espoused, she did not advocate for the wholesale slaughter of Huguenot men, women and child, as had been recommended by the Guises. She even made certain limited concessions to them, which kept them content and calmed down rebellion for a time. As one of the leaders of the Catholic Faction, she was seen by many as a reasonable voice advocating for diplomacy first, then violence, and violence only when all other means had been exhausted.
    The Protestant Faction, meanwhile, looked for leadership in the Bourbon Family, which had held the title of the Kings of Navarre for a time, and who were distantly related to the Valois via Jeanne d’Albret, the Queen of Navarre and wife of King Antoine de Bourbon, the daughter of Marguerite de Valois. Jeanne was a devout Calvinist and was noted for her severe austerity, and forbade even singing in her realm. She would be a leader and champion of the Calvinist cause, and would be locked in a bitter struggle until her death with Catherine. Her son, King Henri III de Bourbon of Navarre, also held the title of First Prince of the Blood, and was in line for the Throne of France following Catherine’s sons. Antoine’s brother Louis de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde, advocated for the overthrow and murder of the Guise Family in whole, and organized a plot against them. This placed the Royal Family in harm’s way. Soon after it had been set in motion, the plot was discovered, and the Guises moved the Valois and their court to the fortified Chateau d’Amboise. The Guises plotted a surprise counterattack, which was startlingly effective, and the rebel forces were eviscerated. Those that survived were drowned in the river or strung up around the castle as Catherine and the court watched.  
Once it became clear King Francois II would die, Catherine struck a deal with King Antoine de Bourbon, who, despite his wife’s tastes, had remained loyal to the Catholic Faction: Antoine would renounce his right to the regency of the Dauphin Charles IX de Valois, and Catherine would spare the life of the traitorous Protestant rebel-prince Louis I de Bourbon. Antoine agreed, and Louis was released. When Francois II of France died in 1560, the Privy Council appointed Catherine the governor of France, with sweeping powers. Writing to her eldest child Empress Elisabeth of Spain, the wife of Emperor Philip II von Habsburg, "My principal aim is to have the honour of God before my eyes in all things and to preserve my authority, not for myself, but for the conservation of this kingdom and for the good of all your brothers".
As governor, she tried many times to bring Huguenots back to the Catholic Faith and shielded them from the more bloodthirsty forces in the Kingdom, provided they worshipped privately and did not take up arms against the Monarchy; she even sponsored a national Church Council which attempted to reconcile the Huguenots to Catholic doctrine. This, however, was to no avail. In 1562, she issued another edict allowing them more generous privileges. However, her fragile religious peace was shattered when Huguenot worshippers in Vassy trespassed on the property of the Duke of Guise and refused to leave, appropriating a barn and using it as a place for Protestant worship. Invoking a landowner’s rights, the Duke killed many of those on his property and wounded even more. He called the incident “a regrettable accident”, and was cheered as a hero by Parisian Catholics, whose only firsthand experience of Protestants at that point had been occasional massacres of Catholics, especially priests and nuns, as well as the destruction and desecration of Catholic Cathedrals, Churches, Monasteries and Shrines, including blasphemy and sacrilege against the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Massacre of Vassy, as it is known, sparked the French Wars of Religion, which embroiled France in bitter infighting for the next thirty years.
Gaspard de Coligny, Admiral of France, along with Louis de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde, contracted an alliance with France’s traditional enemy, England, which had gone over to the Protestant side roughly twenty-five years prior, and began to seize town after town across in France, resulting in horrific massacres of Catholics across the country. Catherine met with Coligny, ordering to stand down. He refused. Infuriated, she shouted at him, "Since you rely on your forces, we will show you ours!” Laying siege to the Huguenot-held city of Rouen, she was informed of the dangers of battle when she insisted upon visiting the troops. Laughing, she replied, "My courage is as great as yours". The city was liberated by Catholic forces, but the victory was short lived; unable to meet Catholic force on the field of battle, the Huguenot leadership resorted to trickery. An assassin shot the Duke of Guise in the back as he preparing for the Siege of Orleans, who bled to death days later. Later on, the murderer would testify that both Coligny and even the Protestant pastor Theodore Beza (a disciple of the Calvinist “Reformer” John Calvin and a leader in the Calvinist theological movement of Geneva) were involved with the assassination. This dirty murder led to a blood-feud between the House of Guise and Gaspard de Coligny, which would later culminate in the infamous St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Following the decimation of the Huguenot rebels, Catherine then rallied both Huguenot and Catholic forces to expel the British from the city of Le Havre, where they had been refusing to leave.
Despite the fact that King Charles IX was declared of age to rule in 1563, he showed little interest in governing, and left the affairs of state to Catherine. Seeking to pacify a Kingdom which had been devastated by civil war and desperately needed time to rebuild, she held talks with Queen Jeanne d’Albret of Navarre, and inaugurated lavish court festivities as she toured France in what has become known as her Grand Tour. Some of history’s most celebrated artistic achievements were sponsored by Catherine, including the first known performance of a ballet outside of Italy. Fearing yet another outbreak of religious violence against Catholics and the threat of another civil war, Catherine offered to the Sultan of the Ottomans the resettlement of both French Huguenots and German Lutherans in Moldavia, offering them a buffer against France’s long-time rival the Holy Roman Empire; however, the plan failed to interest the Turks.
Despite Catherine’s efforts yet again to save the Huguenots, the Protestant leadership plotted to ambush and potentially kill the King and the Royal Family in what has become known as the Surprise of Meaux; luckily, the court was informed in time, and returned hurriedly to Paris. Enraged at their failure, the Protestants massacred Catholics at le Michelade (St. Michael’s Day) in Nimes, slaughtering twenty-four priests and monks and an unknown number of laymen, screaming, “Kill, kill, kill the Papists!” From this point onward, Catherine refused to protect the Huguenots any longer. Sick and tired of deceit and attempts to murder her, her family, seize the government of France and violently convert the country to Calvinism, she abandoned the Protestants to the consequences of their actions. When she removed her protection from them, massive numbers of Protestants, even women and children, were slaughtered.What more could she have done? The fact that she had tolerated their duplicity as long as she had was a testament to her sense of justice and mercy. As far as she was concerned, the Protestants no longer deserved her time, effort, and labor on their behalf. They would get what they deserved. Writing to the Venetian ambassador in 1568, she explained that all she could expect from them was deceit and treachery, and she praised Philip II’s brutal suppression of Protestant riots and attacks on Catholics in the Spanish Netherlands. The Huguenots retreated to the city of La Rochelle on the west coast, badly bruised and disheartened, determined to rebel even to the point of death. Jeanne d’Albret refused to heed Catherine’s demands to cease revolting and practice her faith in private, and Catherine, deeply hurt by her many attempts to be merciful to Jeanne and her party, called her “the most shameless woman in the world.” Later on, seeking to bind her enemies to her and align both Bourbon and Valois interests, she secured a marriage between her daughter Marguerite de Valois and Jeanne’s son Henri III, King of Navarre. Writing her in a civil, and even kind tone, Catherine stated that she wished to see Jeanne and her children, who, after all, were distant relatives on Catherine’s mother’s side, and invited them to attend court where they would be comfortable housed and accommodated, and assured them that none would harm them. Jeanne’s reply was to vacillate between going and not going, stating, in a passive-aggressive manner, "Pardon me if, reading that, I want to laugh, because you want to relieve me of a fear that I've never had. I've never thought that, as they say, you eat little children”. Finally consenting to both the match and the visit provided that Henri would remain a Huguenot, Jeanne and Henri III arrived Paris in June 1572. Catherine treated Jeanne to a shopping spree with her personal money, even gifting her a pair of silk gloves. As was a common accusation levelled against Italians in France, Catherine was accused by Protestants of lacing the inside of the gloves with poison. There is no evidence to suggest this; furthermore, once Jeanne had signed the marriage contract, she would have been a valuable asset to Catherine, who needed more than ever a lasting peace in France between Huguenot and Catholic.
The death of one of the Protestant cause’s most tireless benefactors brought great tension to the city. Given their reputation to riot, pillage, rapine and murder when something did not go their way, the Huguenot retinue of Henri III de Bourbon, as well as the Huguenot population of Paris, were immediately suspected of plotting an uprising.
And then, the proverbial excrement hit the fan.
In August, Gaspard de Coligny, forgiven by the Monarchy for his treason years before and in Paris for the wedding, was shot in the back in a manner eerily similar to his assassination of Duke Francois I de Guise. Some historians believe it was Catherine; others, the Spanish. Most likely, it was Duke Henri de Guise, the son of the murdered Francois I. Despite Catherine’s deep mistrust of Coligny, she had promised safe passage to the Huguenots while they were in her care in Paris. She made a tearful visit to Coligny, and promised to find and punish his attacker. But the massacre that ensued two days later was entirely out of control.
Following the attack on Coligny, the Catholic population of Paris was soon gripped with paralyzing fear that soon, their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, spouses and other loved ones would be subject to the same fate that countless Catholics throughout Gascony, Aquitaine, Navarre, Bearn, and elsewhere had been subject to. Catherine and the royal court were not exempt from this wave of terror. Receiving credible intelligence that the Huguenots were indeed plotting against the Catholics, as well as planning to kill King Charles IX and his entire family unless they converted, the King cried out in anger, "Then kill them all! Kill them all!” Choosing to strike first, the Catholic Faction led a massacre that forever wounded the Protestant population of France and demolished their war effort. The wholesale massacre of Protestants continued for weeks throughout France. Too worn out by treachery and ingratitude, Catherine did nothing to stop the slaughter of thousands. And even if she tried, it most likely would have fallen on deaf ears. The pure emotion of decades of pent-up fears, anxiety, and rage over massacres of thousands of their coreligionists and the desecration of countless religious structures and shrines surged forth uncontrolled as if a dam had broken, and only when the threat had been removed did the Catholic population permit Protestant survivors to either rebuild somewhat or leave the country. The violence even claimed the life of Coligny. Henri III, petrified, converted to Catholicism (or, more properly, reverted, as he had been baptized in his infancy); however, Catherine knew that he would eventually revert to his Calvinism (and she was proven right a few times later in her life), and laughed out loud at the site of the boy-king reciting the Creed.
Catherine would have yet another reason to grieve; at the young age of twenty-three, her son King Charles IX breathed his last, caressing his mother’s face and saying, “"oh, my mother ...". Her favorite son, Henri III de Valois, succeeded his older brother as King. Although Henri loved his mother very much, he listened to little of her advice, although he allowed her to aid him in an unofficial capacity. Consequently, without Catherine’s seasoned political mind steering the country through the tumult, the Valois Monarchy entered its final decline. He did little of the work of governing the country himself, despite his making all the decisions. His inability to produce an heir was troubling to Catherine, particularly when her young son Francois died in 1576, the third son to do so without children. She wrote, "I am so wretched to live long enough to see so many people die before me, although I realize that God's will must be obeyed, that He owns everything, and that he lends us only for as long as He likes the children whom He gives us."
Although Catherine’s role in the French government was somewhat diminished, she still had a great deal of legitimacy, as her political genius was recognized worldwide during what has become known as “the Age of Catherine de Medici”. Indeed, she was viewed as such a capable politician that Queen Elizabeth I Tudor of England claimed that Catherine was the only person she truly feared, and admitted to waking up in cold sweats in the middle of the night after dreaming of her. Henri, recognizing that his mother’s name still carried weight, sent Catherine on a diplomatic mission to the south of France, where she spent roughly eighteen months gaining the support and love of the French people. Gerolamo Lipomanno, the Venetian ambassador, wrote back to the Doge, “She is an indefatigable princess, born to tame and govern a people as unruly as the French: they now recognize her merits, her concern for unity and are sorry not to have appreciated her sooner." However, despite the great outpouring of love that the south showed her, she was not fooled. Writing back to her son, she stated, "You are on the eve of a general revolt. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar."
In 1584, when it became clear that Henri III de Bourbon, who had since returned to both Navarre and Calvinism, would succeed Henri III de Valois as King of France, Henri de Guise formed the Catholic League and signed a treaty with Spain against Protestant forces across Europe. In 1587, Queen Mary Stuart, better known as Mary, Queen of Scots, and the widow of Catherine’s son, King Francois II de Valois, was beheaded by her Protestant cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England. Shocked and outraged, the Catholic world struck back with a ferocity the likes of which had not been seen before. All the actions of the League would have been fine if they had not seized conducted an illegal treaty with a foreign power, seized the city of Paris, and held the royal family hostage in their own home. Ironically, they even barred Catherine from attending Mass. Enraged at the treachery, Henri went to war with the two factions that opposed him in a conflict known as the War of the Three Henrys - Henri III de Bourbon, who headed the Protestant Faction, Duke Henri de Guise, who headed the Catholic League, and King Henri III de Valois of France. Unable to fight both Protestants and Catholics, both supported by mighty foreign powers, Henri III de Valois concluded the Treaty of Nemours, where he caved to all of the League’s demands.
Still uneasy at the continued threat posed by his old family enemy Duke Henri de Guise, he hatched a plot to alleviate himself of the burden. Calling a meeting of the Estates-General, he thanked his mother the Queen and called her not only the mother of the King but the Mother of the Nation. Not telling his mother of his plan, he asked the Duke to call upon him at court, and when he did, the King and his guards stabbed him to death. Other male members of the Guise Family were hacked to death as well, including a Cardinal. Entering his mother’s chambers, he announced, "Please forgive me. Monsieur de Guise is dead. He will not be spoken of again. I have had him killed. I have done to him what he was going to do to me." Catherine was horrified that her son could commit such a horrid act. Two days later, she visited a friar for spiritual counsel, and told him, "Oh, wretched man! What has he done? ... Pray for him ... I see him rushing towards his ruin."
Five days into the new year, 1589, Catherine, who was blessed by God with sixty-nine long years, breathed her last at le Ch√Ęteau de Blois, France. Those who were close to her believed that her life was shortened over concern for the soul of her son and grief over his actions. Despite her years of tireless service to a Kingdom that only mocked, ridiculed and blamed her for all manner of ills, her body was treated with less dignity than that of a dead goat. Buried on the cuff at Blois, and without royal honors, she was only given a proper burial when Henri II’s illegitimate daughter, Diane de Valois, whom he had fathered with his mistress Philippa Duci, had the body of her stepmother reinterred at St. Denis Cathedral in Paris with the other royals of France. In 1793, in yet another ungrateful action by the very people who inherited the Kingdom she managed to salvage, her body was dug up again by a revolutionary mob and thrown into a Mass grave with other French Royals from St. Denis.
It is appalling that despite the fact that no queen has done more for the preservation of France than Catherine she is remembered only as a cruel, scheming woman who ordered the deaths of thousands of Protestants. Nothing could be further from the truth. Seeking reconciliation at every turn, and not doing so only when impossible, very few people would have been as merciful to a group trying to kill her and her family as she had been. And yet, in perhaps one of the greatest smear campaigns of history, Catherine’s story has been told only through the lens of the Huguenots, who leave out a solid few decades of Huguenot violence against Catholics, whitewashing their actions and depicting themselves as the persecuted saviors of a wicked, pagan nation. If there ever was a woman who should not be smeared by Protestants, it is Catherine. And yet, despite all her efforts to prevent undue and unjust slaughter and shelter them from the excesses of the Guises and others, she still remains the scheming, bloodthirsty, Italian anti-Christ whom Protestants string up and bludgeon as a scapegoat due to their own inability to come to terms that the violence perpetrated against them was only in reaction to the violence perpetrated by them.
          But in the end, as any student of history knows, it tends to be primary sources, actions, documents, and words of those who witnessed the events and lives in question, who tend to carry the day in terms of what should be believed. And Henri III de Bourbon, King of Navarre, later King Henri IV of France, who, according to the Protestant narrative, should’ve had every reason to loathe Catherine, had some pretty interesting things to say about her. Responding to a criticism of Catherine, he raged, “I ask you, what could a woman do, left by the death of her husband with five little children on her arms, and two families of France who were thinking of grasping the crown—our own [the Bourbons] and the Guises? Was she not compelled to play strange parts to deceive first one and then the other, in order to guard, as she did, her sons, who successively reigned through the wise conduct of that shrewd woman? I am surprised that she never did worse.”

Monday, March 6, 2017

Counter-Revolution Podcast: Episode II

“To ensure domestic tranquility...” - The Failure of European Government

Government has been assigned a great many roles through time, often dependent upon the circumstances and worldview of those who captain it, and those which it serves. One of its most fundamental functions, perhaps the core purpose for its conception, is rooted in mutual protection; the pooling of resources and power, both hard and soft, to ensure the safety and tranquility of its constituents. This has been a commonly acknowledged truth for almost as long as men have theorised on government – at least until recently. 

Many governments of the European Union – including its recently disowned stepchild, the United Kingdom – no longer seem to believe in this principle. The past months have seen an almost daily escalation of crime being committed by economic migrant and “refugee” populations in Europe, from theft and public disorder to the repeated and brutal gang rapes of women and children and terrorists massacres such as those committed in Paris and Nice. Crimes that, in any civilised society, would be decried and aggressively prosecuted with every tool available to the law. Yet the governing bodies of Europe, from the civic councils of England to the vaunted European Parliament in Brussels, seem largely content to do, well, nothing much at all. 

The excuse for this inaction is, of course, “European Values”. These include such things as “tolerance”, “diversity” “multiculturalism” , and if current law enforcement policy is to be believed, also encapsulates rape, murder, kidnapping, terrorism, and religious extremism. Apparently “European Values” likewise no longer include such concepts as law and order, domestic tranquility, or a high trust society. Concepts that only a few short decades ago were still regarded as the bedrock of a stable civilisation. In a desire to avoid any accusations of “racism”, in an insistence to cling desperately to a self-flagellating ideology that demands European peoples must offer up their own societies to the “less privileged” as a penitential act, the governments of Europe have shown they are quite willing, even glad, to accept the blood and suffering of their own native peoples as long as “European Values” are upheld.

A century ago, this inaction would have been the death of any government in Europe. Even an incident as “minor” as the mass sexual assault of German women in Cologne on New Year's Eve in 2015 would have in itself, seen angry Germans rioting in the streets. The further efforts of the German government to cover up the attacks would have, at minimum, led to cries for the resignation and prosecution of all involved. More than likely it would have riled mob justice. It would have, far from the Current Year solution of protecting the perpetrators and communities involved, rather seen a government crackdown on said groups with troops deployed in the street. “Isolated incidents”, whether as small and “inconsequential” as the recent kidnapping and gang-rape of Swedish women and girls as young as fourteen (the perpetrators, I might add, receiving community service for their faults) to the terrorist massacres in Paris, would have shocked and outraged the entire civilised world. No nation would have seen its prestige survive were it to withhold action in even a fraction of the manner which is now considered policy in Europe. Yet in our modern and enlightened age, it is simply considered the price of progress toward building a new multicultural, tolerant society.


Tolerant of chaos. Tolerant of organised gang rape. Tolerant of random violence. Tolerant of the destruction of once peaceful and cultivated societies in favour of their replacement by gangs of barbaric thugs, kept in check only by regular payment of welfare-based protection money from the governments of nations that will eventually only exist on paper. This is the bright future promised by the leaders of the European community. This is, fundamentally, a betrayal not only of the peoples of Europe, but of the core principle from which their governments derive their existence. If it is argued that the first and oldest priority of a government is to ensure the safety of its citizens, it is obvious that the governments of Europe have failed. To salt the wound they have not only failed out of negligence or incompetence, but out of direct and consciously chosen policy. Any government that is both unwilling and unable to protect its own native citizens is no longer legitimate. That many of the governing bodies of Europe are guilty of this charge is blatantly obvious. They no longer deserve the respect or obedience due to legitimate state power. The burden of action, or inaction, rests upon them. If these governments wish to be perceived as functional, as worthy of existence, then they have the immediate and sacred obligation to place the welfare of their own people first. If they cannot, will not, do this, then the peoples of Europe have every natural right to remove them - by any means necessary.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Last Grand Duchess and the Heist of the Century

     One of Michelangelo’s most brilliant works is the Medici Crypt in the Florentine Church of San Lorenzo. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the mass of brilliant names buried there - roughly fifty members of the world’s most influential family lay entombed in marble sepulchers - and, even more easy to pass over some of the lesser known members of the family. To the average tourist with only a minimal grasp of history, this may be excusable. But what is not excusable is losing out on the opportunity to pay homage to a little known Medici whose name isn’t as famous as Cosimo de Medici or Lorenzo il Magnifico, but whose legacy and contributions to the city of Florence, the Tuscan people, and indeed the world are just as momentous. 

 The Tomb and Monument of Anna Maria Luisa de Medici, Florence.

    Anna Maria Luisa de Medici was born on August 11th, 1667 to Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici, the ruler of Tuscany, and his royal-born French wife Marguerite d’Orleans de Bourbon, granddaughter of King Henri IV of France. Her childhood was dominated by the almost incessant quarreling between her parents. Marguerite hated anything Italian and especially the Medici Family, despite the fact that her grandmother was a Medici herself. Several times she had attempted to induce an abortion by means of riding in order to kill Anna Maria Luisa, but to no avail. Stressed and harried, Cosimo III agreed to a legal separation in 1674, and Anna Maria’s mother abandoned her and her brothers for the Convent of Montmartre in France. She was a girl of just seven.
    Worn down by the disastrous state of affairs in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Cosimo III had little choice but to elicit the help of his mother Vittoria della Rovere, who would end up raising his young children.

    In time, Anna Maria grew up to be a beautiful young woman, and one of the most eligible brides on the European continent. It was proposed that she be wed to Dauphin Louis de Bourbon of France, the son of King Louis XIV; however, Cosimo III did not like this idea, and eventually rejected it. She was then proposed as a match for King Peter II Braganza of Portugal; but Peter, fearing that Anna Maria had inherited her mother’s flippant temperament, declined the offer. 

Anna Maria as the Grand Princess of Tuscany

    After a few more rejections, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I suggested Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm II von Wittelsbach. Finally seeing a groom worthy of his beloved daughter, Cosimo III consented to the match, and the pair were wed by proxy in 1691. A few days later, she and her retinue set out, arriving eventually in Dusseldorf, where the Elector Palatine’s court resided.
    She soon became pregnant, but miscarried. Johann Wilhelm had at some point contracted syphilis, and this is generally accepted as the reason for the barrenness that would plague Anna Maria all her life. Despite the lack of issue, the couple shared a harmonious marriage. In keeping with Medici support for the arts and scholarship, Anna Maria went about transforming Dusseldorf from a provincial city to an artistic capital of Europe. French playwrights and Italian mathematicians drew many travelers, from Portugal to Russia.

The Elector and Electress Palatine dance at their court in Dusseldorf

    Cosimo III was impressed with the brilliance of his daughter’s court. Due to the fact that his brother and two sons lacked male issue, Cosimo altered Tuscan Succession Laws to allow for a female succession should the male-line succession fail. Following the failure of Anna Maria Luisa to inherit, for whatever reason, the succession would then fall to the Medici-Ottajano Branch, or the Medici of Caprara and Verona, as per the normative laws of succession in Tuscany, as well as Vatican Law. The Tuscan Senate wholeheartedly approved the plan. 

Anna Maria in hunting dress

    In 1713, Cosimo’s eldest child Grand Prince Ferdinando died, making the issue of the Tuscan succession that much more urgent. To complicate issues, Elisabeth Farnese, heiress of Parma and Queen of Spain, laid claim to Tuscany as a descendant of Margherita de Medici. Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI repeatedly changed his stance on the issue, but eventually conceded that the succession proposed by both Cosimo and the Tuscan people was to be accepted. In 1716, Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm II died, and Anna Maria Luisa de Medici, now the Dowager Electress, returned to Florence in mourning. 

The Dowager Electress in mourning

    Two years later, in 1718, France, England, and the Dutch Republic selected Don Charles of Spain, the son of Elisabeth Farnese, as the heir and successor of Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici. Anna Maria Luisa, the heir by both Tuscan Law and Vatican Law, was not even consulted, and Grand Duke Cosimo III was reduced to the role of a spectator in matters of the fate of his family, wealth, and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. No matter how much he, as the Sovereign Ruler of Tuscany, or the Tuscan people protested against foreign interventions in local matters, the negotiations as to his own family’s fate continued without even the slightest consultation given to him.

The Dowager Electress holding a miniature of her late husband

In the midst of this abuse of proper decorum, Anna Maria Luisa’s mother Marguerite died, and her wealth was appropriated by the European Powers and given to her distant relative the Princess of Epinoy rather than her children, as had been stipulated by both her will and a contract signed in 1674. This was a deliberate attempt to starve the Medici of funds and harry them into compliance. Cosimo was not intimidated, and he was determined to see his cherished daughter ascend the throne should she outlive her brother Gian Gastone. Grand Duke Cosimo III issued a final proclamation that Anna Maria Luisa should succeed her brother unhindered and that the Grand Duchy of Tuscany should remain independent; however, instead of giving it the slightest attention, it was completely ignored by Europe, a snub to a ruler who held the title of Grand Duke. Cosimo III died unsure and nervous a few days later.
Grand Duke Gian Gastone ascended the throne. Deeply depressed and melancholic, he and his wife shared a mutual loathing, and never had any children. His relationship with his sister was complicated, and she was resented by him for her role in negotiating his marriage on behalf of their father some years before. Nevertheless, she attempted to improve his public image by hosting parties and fetes; his ridiculous behavior drove courtiers away. 

In 1736, as the War of Polish Succession raged on, Don Carlos of Spain was banished from the Grand Duchy, and Francis III of Lorraine was made the usurping heir in his stead. The Spanish troops who had held Tuscany by force were withdrawn, and were replaced by a large occupying force of Austrian troops.
In 1737, Grand Duke Gian Gastone died. The envoy of Francis III of Lorraine offered Anna Maria Luisa a nominal regency until his master could arrive; seeing that this was beneath the dignity of the last surviving member of the main line of the greatest Royal House that history had ever seen, she laughed at the proposal and politely declined.
She knew that Austria would be after both her family’s wealth and vast collection of art. She feared that it would be taken from the city that she loved so dearly, bartered off, and hung in villas and palaces from Sagres to St. Petersburg. So she engineered a plan that is perhaps her most lasting contribution to the city of Florence and the world, an act that she is still honored for when people congregate at her tomb annually to say a Mass for the repose of her soul - She wrote a will. And in that will, she legally protected the Medici artwork from the greedy hands of the men who surrounded her, waiting eagerly for her to die so they could all get a piece of the Medici legacy. In what is now known as the Patto di Famiglia, or Family Pact, she willed all her wealth and property to the Tuscan State, provided that not even a jewel-encrusted paper weight be removed from the city of Florence.
Francis III of Lorraine may have been greedy and unscrupulous, but he was not stupid. He knew better than to break the agreement upon her death, as the Florentine princess was much beloved throughout both Italy and the entire world. The people had already proved themselves extremely antagonistic to Austrian occupation; several sporadic rebellions in favor of the Medici had to be violently suppressed, earning him even more of the enmity of the Tuscan people before he had even begun to reign. He didn’t dare removed anything from the city. 

Anna Maria Luisa dazzles in a Spanish gown

Anna Maria Luisa finished her days as a private citizen, stripped of her wealth, titles and property, and banished to her own wing of the palace which her family had refurbished, embellished, expanded, and in which she had been raised. Perhaps feeling guilty for his treatment of her (although not guilty enough to rectify the situation), Francis III instructed his regent to invite her to his parties in the other wing of the Palazzo Pitti. However, the lustful, riotous, crude parties which the Prince de Craon hosted in her beloved childhood home proved to much for her, and deeply offended her devoutly Catholic sensibilities. She must have wondered with a touch of anger at how the world could be so strange at times; that the last days of the Last Medici Grand Princess, heiress to a family legacy that included Popes and Princes, Artists and Cardinals, a family which had almost singlehandedly engineered the Renaissance, would be spent enduring a lascivious man who drunkenly groped women in the childhood home where she once played. That the world could treat her family thus, after how well her family had treated the world. 

Anna Maria in her old age

At least she did not allow her pain to cloud her judgment; her clear thinking at the time of the Family Pact not only ensured that her family legacy had been saved, but actually saved the City of Florence from receding into the background, as had happened to Rome following numerous sacks. Thanks to her, Florence today remains an incredibly wealthy city, it’s tourism industry attracting people from both near and far who long to see the grandeur of the Medici and the works of priceless art which they commissioned and financed.

The Dowager Electress as the undisputed First Lady of Florence

Her last days were spent overseeing the construction of an unfinished Cathedral started by her great-great grandfather Grand Duke Ferdinando I de Medici. The day of her death was unusual; hurricanes and storms raged throughout the city, as if to show God’s displeasure with the treatment of such a dignified woman. A devout Catholic to the end, her funeral was attended by thousands of mourners, and the people of Florence were struck by the loss of such a deeply beloved woman. She had protected and sheltered them as much as she was able to during two occupations, and upon her death had ensured the city of its lifeblood. She alone provisioned that it's libraries remained open, it’s museums remained full, and it’s schools remained funded, providing opportunities to the common man that were rare elsewhere in Europe.
Her successors in the role of First Lady of Florence never did garner nearly as much public support as she. Some of the Habsburg-Lorraine rulers loathed by the people. Habsburg-Lorraine had begun occupying other small-northern Italian states in a manner similar to Tuscany, such as the usurpation of Mantua upon the death of Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga; collectively, the Austrian usurpers and their consorts earned the scorn of Italy, some for their negligence and cruelty, some for their outrageous behavior, such as Maria Amalia of Austria, Duchess Consort of Parma, who was known for cross-dressing as a man and engaging in orgies with her guards.
But for the Tuscan people, Anna Maria remains somewhat of a folk legend. As even Church Law at the time was unable to prevent the usurpation by Austria and ensure the establishment of the Branch of Medici-Ottajano, she was the last of the Medici; her death was a cultural blow for Tuscany, as, in their eyes, a grand epoch of art, music, and scholarship had died and lay entombed with her in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.

The Elector and Electress Palatine in "Homage to the Arts"

Others may have followed her, and occupied her station, sleeping in her bed, dining at her table, riding in her carriages and holding balls in the Palace halls she once skipped through as a child. They may have spoken her tongue and reclined where she once had, worn her dresses and finery. But in the eyes of the Tuscan people, the Last Grand Duchess had died, and nothing could bring her back.