Sunday, February 8, 2009

Model Monarchs

I was talking to a friend today who said that monarchy was synonymous with tyranny. My friend appealed to Thomas Paine, who held that it was outrageous for people to not have a mechanism in place for altering their inherited government.

I took issue with the declaration that a monarch was necessarily a despot. What Paine really objected to was having another man over him – and non servium is a bad creed to live by.

Yes, of course I'm a republican -- I doubt I'd know what to do under a monarch, though I suppose with time I wouldn't mind it so much if I found myself in such a situation. My point was that I don't go in for gratuitous assertions that insinuate a pre-determined answer into the questions they raise. It's bad for the brain.

Not that anecdotal examples will settle the matter, but I did do a bit of research to identify monarchs who have been declared saints by the Catholic Church. I found 12 instances; no doubt further searching would turn up more examples, but this list is sufficient to illustrate the point that monarchy is not synonymous with tyranny.
1. St. Helena (d. 330), Empress of Rome
2. St. Oswald (605-642), King of England
3. St. Bathilde (d. 680), Queen of France
4. St. Edmund (840-870), King of England
5. St. Edward the Martyr (962-979), King of England
6. St. Henry (972-1024), Holy Roman Emperor
7. St. Stephen (975-1038), King of Hungary
8. St. Canute (994-1035), King of Denmark
9. St. Olaf (995-1030), King of Norway
10. St. Edward the Confessor (1003-1066), King of England
11. St. Margaret (1045-1092), Queen of Scotland
12. St. Louis IX (1215-1270), King of France

I'm also waiting for the canonization of Blessed Charles (1887-1922), Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, and King of Bohemia and Croatia. His incorrupt body lies in a church on the autonomous Portuguese island of Madeira, where this last of the Hapsburg monarchs died in exile.

Blessed Charles of Austria

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