Join 3,372 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


If only he would listen to their advice on how things should be run! It was such good advice.
June 27, 2012 8:46 AM   Subscribe

A history of the English monarchy and how listening to "bad" advisors has gotten it in trouble.
posted by Cash4Lead (20 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
What is that awful interface on the Awl that just hijacked my iPad? I just want to read the damn article. Do you have a link to a print version that can be read without interference?
posted by arcticseal at 9:07 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's an Instapaper'd version.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:14 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like how the "smear campaign" against Edward II wasn't that he was gay, per se, but that he "took too much delight in sodomy". Obviously at the time it was understood, and perhaps even expected, that the king would get to bone the boys once in a while, but Edward just didn't know when to stop.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:17 AM on June 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Say what you will about Piers Gaveston, he sure knows how to organise a party.
posted by atrazine at 9:22 AM on June 27, 2012


Alison Weir* has a great biography about Edward II's queen, Isabella of France. Weir maintains that Hugh Despenser the Younger appropriated all of Isabella's income and quite possibly raped her and/or physically abused her; Edward did nothing to stop it. So Isabella took her own lover who was willing to back her up, went off to France, told her brother the King the whole story, and back she comes with her son the Prince of Wales and a huge army.

Edward and his faction get crushed, and...you'll just have to read on as there's a VERY interesting twist. Let's just say that the myth of Edward being executed by a red-hot poker where the sun don't shine is just that, a myth. And Isabella had Hugh le Despenser tortured to death.

*All of Weir's historical biographies are worth reading. If you like A Game of Thrones, you will LOVE reading Weir's stories of real-life medieval and Renaissance women.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:29 AM on June 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


A more truthful title for this: Aristocratic Excuses for Killing (Imprisoning/Limiting the Executive Power) the King (Premier, President/Prime Minister/Dictator), or an History of Court Intrigue and Aristocratic Duplicity practiced by pretty much everyone, everywhere

Where are there actual examples of "bad advice" being given?
posted by Chrischris at 9:35 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Three or four kings does not make a "history of the English monarchy."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:36 AM on June 27, 2012


When I saw the by-line, I thoroughly expected it to be revealed that Mary Worth had given advice to Edward II. I wasn't far off.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:37 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Chrischris: Hence the reason "bad" is put in scare quotes in the original link. I find it fascinating that the norms of the time prevented dissenting nobles from attacking the king or his policies directly, but instead forced them to pin the blame on "evil" counselors. It's a reminder that the death of royal rule in England was a long time coming.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:47 AM on June 27, 2012


@onefellswoop: Um, excuse me: no banging your head on the display case, please. It contains a very rare Mary Worth in which she has advised a friend to commit suicide. Thank you.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:54 AM on June 27, 2012


My friend, one ALWAYS blames the consultants; never the Management.
posted by jadepearl at 9:55 AM on June 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Great read, cheers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:57 AM on June 27, 2012


Thanks for the Instapaper link, good article.

Moral of the story: never piss off the people holding the purse strings.
posted by arcticseal at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2012


Where are there actual examples of "bad advice" being given?

From the article it's pretty clear that "bad advice" should be taken to mean "advice against the interests of the entrenched elite." That shit can get you killed even today; being a king just gets you a few more layers of deniable flunkies as a shield.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:35 AM on June 27, 2012


Rosie M. Banks: And Isabella had Hugh le Despenser tortured to death.
Said torture was so gruesome, his enemies commented on how unpleasant it was to watch - in an age in which they watched draw & quartering without the same distaste. "... While still alive on the cross, the parts by which he had abused the king were removed, and burnt in a pyre in front of him." (shudder)
Rosie M. Banks: Weir maintains that Hugh Despenser the Younger appropriated all of Isabella's income
And there's the heart of it. The aristocracy will tolerate nearly any damn thing, from buggery to bathing in blood, but don't threaten their money and power.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:42 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hence the reason "bad" is put in scare quotes in the original link. I find it fascinating that the norms of the time prevented dissenting nobles from attacking the king or his policies directly, but instead forced them to pin the blame on "evil" counselors. It's a reminder that the death of royal rule in England was a long time coming.

I'd agree that monarchies are dying but it's a very long slow death. My own (Canadian) city has had a bunch of royal visits lately and they never fail to attract admirers, and excitement. At the same time I don't think the institutions of monarchy or the royal family themselves can stand up to any kind of serious critical thought.

One would think for example, that in Western Canada we're far enough removed from the tradition and power structures of the old Empire, and exposed enough to American republican values enough that nobody should accept the Monarchy but they have plenty of these shields and protective institutions in place, which seems to detract much questioning of the institution but doesn't explain why people seem to positively love the Royal Family. Something psychological? I can work myself into a rage thinking about loyalty to monarchy and royal family in Canada, but they aren't weak... not in the least.
posted by Intrepid at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2012


@Intrepid: I suspect that, once Elizabeth II dies and Charles ascends to the throne, calls for abolishing the monarchy will become a lot more widespread.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:39 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Intrepid: I suspect that, once Elizabeth II dies and Charles ascends to the throne, calls for abolishing the monarchy will become a lot more widespread.

People underestimate the appeal of HRH Chuck. This man visited my city a few weeks ago, and received a level of fawning attention from the media and otherwise smart individuals that would blow your mind.

Royalists can always play the "Will and Kate" card when QE2 slips her mortal coil, so Charles has his shields too.

Bill Clinton's been here on speaking engagements, and that man is positively loved in Canada (when Quebec separation was a heated topic, Clinton was one of the few world leaders who wasn't all vague and wishy-washy about it) and his visits attracted far less attention - especially from regular people.
posted by Intrepid at 12:16 PM on June 27, 2012


Hmmm.

American here.

The notion of government is something I've been thinking about lately.

And here's the thing: I live in a country that is nominally a republic with nominally democratic features, but in reality, the country is ruled by a plutocracy, and its "votes" are represented by dollars.

So how does this differ from a traditional system with an aristocracy? For one thing, with an aristocracy (and I'm thinking of the medieval European model generally and the medieval English model specifically) there is at least a formal idea of reciprocity of service between the rulers and the ruled. Not so in America.

For another thing, with an aristocracy, there is some measure of loose transparency -- albeit clothed in and complicated by gossip -- with respect to who is in charge and who makes up the supporting cast. When the upper classes screw up, the lower classes have at least some idea how and whom to blame. In America, not really. The folks who run corporations in concert with the very well monied pretty much control Congress, and together they effectively manage (or manipulate) the government so as to enhance their collective interests. But the facts on the ground with respect to whose pockets are being filled and by whom and how much are vague, given that these transactions escape oversight by auditors.

Is this better than a well run aristocratic system with a reasonably competent king surrounded by reasonably loyal aristocrats? I'm not so sure. But, from a certain point of view, the aristocratic system is less obscenely hypocritical.
posted by cool breeze at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2012


Is this better than a well run aristocratic system with a reasonably competent king surrounded by reasonably loyal aristocrats? I'm not so sure. But, from a certain point of view, the aristocratic system is less obscenely hypocritical

I've generally felt that the American system is much stronger than the Westminster System (at least as it has been implemented in Canada in it's 21st century incarnation). I think for example that Queen Elizabeth II stayed neutral on some discussions on which she could have had an obvious and positive influence without being overtly political - I am thinking in terms of civil liberties, and some of the more recent games being played with parliamentary procedure in Canada. One can read this as "above the fray", but it is also possible to interpret the non-intervention as a lack of interest in natural democracy and human rights.

Also even in constitutional monarchies you tend to get the last vestiges of royal prerogative placing too much power in the hands of government ministers, and things like a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which doesn't have any language that suggests Canadians have any unalienable rights (rights in Canada are always dealt out at the discretion of a minister or parliament)... which Americans certainly do.

Medieval monarchies were terribly weak and corrupt, and only propped up by the fact that an armored knight on a medieval battlefield against a peasant army was the rough equivalent of putting a WW2 infantryman against a tank and all kinds of religious and social values which didn't support asking too many questions.
posted by Intrepid at 2:21 PM on June 27, 2012


« Older Showcase of rare movie posters coveted by movie po...  |  The Technological Apocalypse i... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments