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Orange and Orléans

Young William of Orange, future William III of England / journal.carlottamanaigo.com

Young William of Orange, future William III of England / journal.carlottamanaigo.com

When James II made his Catholicism too ostentatious for seventeenth century Protestant politicians to stomach, a successful conspiracy was made to remove him from the throne he had inherited from his brother Charles II.  Among the conspirators was John Duke of Marlborough, who had been raised to the dizzy heights he attained from being a country squire. Most of the raising had been done by James II. Do not put your faith in country squires who rise to become Dukes and have colossal palaces (Blenheim) built for them by ‘a grateful nation’. The conspirators then invited a Dutchman to come to Britain and become William III, which he did, albeit with some reluctance. He was a firm Protestant descending from Mary Queen of Scots, a Stewart, and was married to another Mary, Mary of England. This was considered a good enough claim by the conspirators, and so the Dutchman became King of England,Scotland and Ireland. Silly weak James went without much pushing into exile, where he stayed. (more…)

Two proud Dukes of Buckingham (too proud perhaps?)

George Villiers (pronounced 'Villers') Duke of Buckingham / nowportsmouth.co.uk

George Villiers (pronounced ‘Villers’) Duke of Buckingham / nowportsmouth.co.uk

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham was born around 1454 in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He was a member of the House of Lancaster, being a descendent of Edward III, and most of his forebears had lost their lives fighting the House of York in the interminable wars over royal succession (1455 – 85).

In 1460, only six years old, he succeeded his grandfather as Duke of Buckingham. At twelve he was dynastically married to Catherine Woodville, a sister-in-law of the Yorkist King Edward IV. Edward had married Elizabeth Woodville, a strong-minded woman of mean temper, probably as his second wife, though the first marriage was supposed to be a secret. (more…)

Switzerland: where Italians, Frenchmen & Germans don’t bother with nationalism


  A half-dozen of the planet’s most important countries are now infected by the nationalist mosquito. Europe (after the Second War) invented a large country called Yugoslavia which has again been divided into different nations in order to provide more jobs for high-earning politicians as well as to keep Balkan nations from reaching for each other’s throat. Spain has its autonomous community Cataluña itching for total independence, and threatening the country’s elected government in everything from school curriculuae to the language to be spoken in the courtroom. Scotland already has its own Parliament in Edinburgh, where no seats are held by anyone English. The British Parliament in Westminster has a multitude of seats occupied by Scotsmen. (more…)

Disasters waiting to happen: Leopold II of the Belgians


King Leopold II of the Belgians

  Leopold was born in 1835 and was King of the Belgians from 1865 – 1909. We are told that he was lively and energetic practically from birth, and that he was unusually ambitious. Looking around him at countries like near neighbour France, distant Austro-Hungary, just-over-the-sea Britain, he saw empires. He wanted Belgium to have immense overseas territories too. She had some, of course, but in Leopold’s opinion not enough. (more…)

By | 2012-10-04T11:11:06+00:00 October 4th, 2012|History of the Low Countries, World History|0 Comments

‘Emancipation’ of the Catholics


The Christian Church first came into Britain through the north of Ireland and Scotland, probably with St. Augustine. The Roman Catholic Church was soon established throughout Ireland, Scotland and England, ruled inexorably from Rome by the Pope. The Pope’s bishops then ruled both the Church and much more, in association with kings of England when they established themselves. The first king of all England was a Norman Viking called William the Conquerer, and he was a Catholic and a bastard. (more…)

What was ‘Indirect Rule?’

It was a system of colonial administration, mainly British, by which colonial powers ruled through local chiefs. The concept was not new, as it stemmed from the fact that great African empires had been run this way too. The Asante for instance ruled their conquered territories via local indigenous chiefs. The Dutch absorbed native dynasties and ruled the Dutch East Indies using them.

   The British employed indirect rule in India, two-thirds of which was ruled by Indian princes. Indirect rule was first used by the British in Africa in Buganda, developed it in Northern Nigera, later extending it to other colonies in Africa. The Uganda Agreement (sic) of 1900 clarified that Bugandans were to be governed by hereditary rulers. These made laws in accordance with the British Governor. (more…)

Philippe II & Felipe II: two successful Philips

Felipe II painted by Antonio Moro / blogs.ua.es

Felipe II painted by Antonio Moro / blogs.ua.es

There were nearly two hundred years between the births of these two triumphant kings of France and Spain respectively. I shall use the anglicised version of their names. The French Philip came to be known as ‘Augustus’ as well, as if he were a Roman emperor. He did not appear to object to this magniloquence. (more…)

A tangled skein: the War of the Spanish Succession

A battle in the War of the Spanish Succession / historyfiles.co.uk

A battle in the War of the Spanish Succession / historyfiles.co.uk

Not even Frodo trying desperately to cut his way out of Shelob the Spider’s thick cobwebs is like my trying to explain the War of the Spanish Succession. Let us go at it in stages, keep a clear mind and watch out for the snags:

Charles II (Carlos Segundo) died childless in Spain in 1700. A sister had married Louis XIV (the Sun King of France). Another sister had married the Holy Roman Emperor (q.v.) Leopold I. Consequently, both the French Bourbons and the Austrian Habsburgs (q.v.) claimed the right to rule Spain itself and the Spanish Empire. The latter included the southern part of the Netherlands, Milan, Naples, and almost all of Central and South America. There was a lot at stake. (more…)

The House of Habsburg

The Habsburg family tree drawn by Ed Stephen / paradocplace.com

The Habsburg family tree drawn by Ed Stephen / paradocplace.com

I know that many people who should know better write the above name as Hapsburg. I am not among them, perhaps because I am a retired journalist, not a working one, and it is mostly journalists in Sunday Supplements who make this cardinal error. If you wish to avoid using either ‘b’ or ‘p’ you could call them The House of Austria . . . but that does not prevent them from being the most prominent, some would say enduring royal dynasty in history.

Habsburgs were royally installed on thrones from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The name itself comes from Habichtsburg (Hawk’s Castle) which actually is in Switzerland, not Austria, and has been since 1020. (more…)

History of the Commonwealth of Nations

Mistakes made by leaders of powerful countries have been legion throughout history. Enormous losses in the human and animal races have been the result. It is arguable that had George V of England and Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany not disliked each other, and had had more control over the ambitions of their respective political leaders, there would not have been a First World War. Again, if Blair, Aznar and Barroso had exhibited more guts on that island in the Azores, they might have persuaded George Bush Jun. to stop telling himself and them what he (and they) knew to be a lie – that Saddam was storing massively dangerous secret weapons in Iraq – and better methods than medieval ones could have been used to depose a dictator. And 100,000 Iraquies would not have died, nor nearly 4000 young servicemen and women from the USA. (more…)

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