2014/03/28

'All Quiet on the Western Front' and some Thoughts on the Causes of World War I


Another challenging film and topic. I will say that this film, book and story really helped show me a view of war that we do not often see in history books, classes or in the ads that are out their in most countries – especially my own- to join the military and the glamor and mystique of service and war. (I can see why some government leaders banned it!) So , onward.... :)

Summary

The story starts with two people clearing in the open doorway of a building with a military force marching past. The overall mood is jubilant with smiling officers and waving and beaming bystanders with patriotic music in the background. As we watch the soldiers march past a corner we see a schoolroom of older boys...almost men listening to their professor. His lesson...? To remember that they are the “iron men of Germany.... we must strike with all our power and every ounce of strength to win victory by the end of the year!” The fiery speech continued as the teacher riled up the whole class to leave and enlist. And the speech didn’t end until the rejoicing boys with the impulsivity of youth go and volunteer to enlist in the German military, with their popular leader Paul Bauer at the head of the line.

After enlisting, about seven of the class along with Paul Baumer are still together and set up in the same barracks. They begin basic training and slowly the smiles leave their faces. Their anger is directed towards their commanding officer named Himmelstoss who in civilian life had been their postman. Near the end of their training, in the spirit of pique and frustration, the boys turning men waylay Himmelstoss when he is returning to his barracks drunk and, after tripping and trussing him up in a sheet, the boys give him a few smacks with a stick and drop him in a huge puddle of mud. Soon after they are all sent to the front lines. There, Paul and his friends discover what being on the front lines means; they are despised and pitied by the older men who were forced to join, food is no longer an easy commodity and comfort is no where to be had. One of the old-timers, a man named Kat helps take the boys under his wing and tries to help them learn quickly what they must know to survive.

On their first night on patrol, Babe panics and runs out of the trench into the night where he is mown down with machine gun fire. When they try to collect his body and nearly die in the process, Kat reminds them, “It's a corpse, no matter who it is.” Some of them begin to have nightmares and can't sleep with the sounds of the shelling and there own fear. Having to sit and listen to the shelling is quite challenging and slowly more of the boys need to fight the fear and demons in their own heads. The older men try to keep the boys from running out screaming in their terror, but during one brutal round of shelling, Franz Kemmerick is able to escape out of the trench to the ground and is shot. Paul and another officer run to catch him as he falls back into the trench. He is still alive, but just barely with a serious stomach wound. Paul watches as he is taken on a stretcher to the healers and is told to tell the other boys that he's all right. With more shelling, rats enter the trench and the boys smash and try to kill them, until whistling calls them and their guns to position themselves at the top of the trench. Soon the enemy comes forth – I believe they were the French- and Paul watches the men just being mown down in the bullets. More and more men run forward and more and more just fall and it seems as if no one could make it through. After some time, some of the enemy soldiers do make it through and fighting continues in the trenches. The Germans move forward and then are able to take over another trench pushing, the French back a few thousand yards.

After three weeks, the unit they are in is given one day of leave- to pull back to the back lines. They are able to have the first good meal they have had in weeks- in fact, they all fight over the food and eat and eat until each of them feels they can hold no more. Paul and the boys eat and then go to the dressing tent to visit Kemmerick. They find that their friend has had his leg amputated and is doing very poorly. As the boys trickle out leaving Paul with Franz, both men realize that Kemmerick is going to die soon. Paul fights it and tells Kemmerick that he will live, but over a few minutes he too must accept it and before his friend dies, Franz bequeaths his good boots to Mueller. Paul struggles to understand his friend's death and finds himself running- not in fear, but almost in trying to outrun his fear and to try and remember that he is alive. When he reaches his friends, he shares the news, gives Mueller the boots and they start the march back to the front. Within a few days Mueller is shot and he too leaves the front lines for medical services. The fighting goes on and on and eventually Himmelstoss is back in the unit and finds that he is not respected simply for his rank and he shows himself quite quickly to be as fearful and unknowable as the boys first were when they first arrived at the front lines. He has to be bullied into fighting and cries and yells in his fear... which he finally overcomes and fights. At one point, Paul is in a trench when an enemy soldier jumps in and Paul stabs him. The Frenchman takes a long time to die and Paul finds himself trying to help him survive. As the man wheezes, Paul says, “When you jumped in here I thought you were my enemy and I was afraid of you... but you're just a man like me and I killed you. Forgive me, Comrade.” When Paul is reunited with Kat, they talk and while Paul doesn't feel better, he feels he understands himself and war more. Kat is the man who he also leans on and trusts as his friends fall around him over time.

The battle continues over time as the year passes and finally Paul, too is injured. Both Paul and Albert are taken to the medical camps at the back of the lines. Paul almost dies but eventually recovers and is sent home for a few weeks to visit with family before going back to the front lines. Paul finds that he can't feel comfortable in the world and the village he left. He hears the same teacher encouraging more boys to go to war and he can't stand it – and when he tells his feelings he is told he is a coward. He watches men in the village talk about ways the war should be fought and to not surrender and how his advice is ignored... even though h is the only one who has seen battle. He doesn’t feel comfortable at home any more and seems to feel like a stranger who shouldn’t be there. Even when he looks at his room, it feels apart from him and like nothing makes any sense to him. He looks at his butterfly collection and sees its beauty but sees himself a part. Talking to his mother seems to be agony. “I'm not good for back there anymore... Its not home anymore.” And, so even though he has more leave, he lies to his family about new orders to return and heads back to the front. He meets Kat and as they talk and he finds himself feeling more comfortable – more at home- when some bombing nearby causes some shrapnel to his Kat in his leg. Paul happily picks Kat up and carries him to medical telling him how much he (Kat) means to him. While they are walking, Kat is hit with some shrapnel in his head and he dies... but Paul doesn't notice – his exuberance to be back in a place that he feels comfortable and to be back with Kat, the one person that still feels like family to him. When he gets to the medical tent, he realized his friend- his one last solid grasp on the world, has died.

And so... Paul has nothing left. His life feels meaningless to him and so he fights, but carelessly. He doesn’t care any more. And one day at the front, he sees a butterfly near the ground... just out of reach. The beauty and peace he can not reach and so he climbs out of the trench to catch it, to touch it, and in doing so, a bullet takes his life. And, on a quiet day on the western front, there is still death. Yet no one seem to notice... for that is all there is.


Historical Matrix - The order runs as follows: each number has two sections for the most part. The first section shows the parts of the film picked for analysis and a brief description of the scene. The second contains the analysis. For some sections there was no specific section in the film but the item was very pertinent so it has been added. :)


1. Alliance system - Also known by the name 'mutual defense' treaties, countries would agree to work together if they weer attacked or threatened. In the years preceding the war, many countries developed alliances with each other. When Germany allowed its friendly relationship with Russia to expire, France signed a treaty with the former in 1894 that each country would defend the other if they were attacked. (When this treaty was signed the country that both France and Russia thought of in the main was their mutual enemy Germany.) In 1904, Great Britain signed a treaty with its old enemy France. Russia also was considered a protector of Serbia while Austria and Germany were allies as well. This system of treaties that made countries feel more confident that they would not be attacked and threatened with war because of their allies also guaranteed war if the Alliance system failed in any way. While this system gives the appearance of making the possibility of war more difficult, it also gives smaller nations a lot more influence in the larger and more powerful countries. When one country declared war, soon several countries were at war. At the beginning of the war, there were two large Alliance systems: the 'Triple Alliance' between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, the 'Triple Entente' between France, Britain and Russia. There were also a few other treaties between countries that also came into play helping to cause and continue the conflict. An example is a treaty between Russia and France which they signed thinking of potential problems with Germany. This is one of many treaties that came into play.

2. Nationalism - This differs a bit from patriotism. While patriotism is a love, respect and pride for one's country and its accomplishments, Nationalism is excessive pride that tends to carry over into the belief that one's country and its people are better than any other country and its people and cultures. It is more emotionally based and therefore, a condition that is more easily provoked to violence. When something happens to a country that is bad (such as the assassination of the Austrian Arch duke in Serbia, it is less likely to be dealt with non violently and politically because people feel the they country's honor is at stake... that Austria had to fight Serbia over the assassination to prove its worth and reclaim its honor. When looked at in those terms , Nationalism tends to make countries a lot less free to use diplomacy or other forms of non-violence. Feelings of nationalism can be developed organically over time with propaganda, etc... but can also be developed quickly in a large population through acts of violence and the accompaniment of propaganda/ government talking points with it. Nationalism leaves no room for any person who is moderate or doesn't agree. Any one who is merely patriotic can be considered a traitor for example if they do not agree that war or violence is the best option.

3. Militarism - There are a few ways of looking at how a country sees a military and its needs/uses. Militarism is a genuine belief and focus of a government that the country it rules should have a large military with the capability to use it for defense or to use it to further its interests... no matter what or how ambitious those interests may be. Another way of looking at it is the belief by a government that its military must be the best – the supreme' power so to speak so that in any conflict, they can quickly and easily crush and force surrender on their foe. This kind of thinking creates both danger – for governments are more likely to go to war to not only justify their military expenditures, but also focus on the conflict and not necessarily what their violent actions will cause over time. (The recent conflict in Iraq is a perfect example.)

4. Imperialism - In its most simple form, this word describes a relationship usually between countries. One country will have great power and influence over one or more areas and peoples of the world. It is a way of seeing the world and people in it through lenses of superiority, bigotry and inhumanity. The Country of power and the majority of its citizens use, manipulate, exploit and even kill the people and resources of their conquests and territories... and having control of so many, the country will want more and more. Before this war, there were a few countries in Europe with strong empires that fit this definition very well. The two winners were France and Britain leaving other countries such as Germany to fight over the remaining pieces of the world that could be conquered... and also the battles between all the imperialist countries to keep their territories and to attempt to steal land and resources from the other nations. If a country believes heavily in imperialism, it must have a very strong and powerful military which also requires a population who also believe in the bigoted ideals of the government itself. It is extremely challenging to have a strong empire and belief in imperialism without a large military and the ability to have strong and nationalist feelings in the population.

5. The Western Front - Paul and his unit are stationed and do most of their fighting... and dying... on this part of the battlefield.

The Western Front is the name given to the 'moving' line or boundaries of the fighting between the borders of Germany and France. At the beginning of 1915, the front was about 400 miles long and stretched from Ostend near the North sea... down close to the Marne and Verdun in France and into Alsace- Lorraine. Throughout fighting, the borders of the front would vary based on land won or lost by either the Allied or the Axis powers and by the time of the end of the war, the Armistice line spread north from close Antwerp in Belgium south to past Mulhouse in France to the border of Switzerland. This 400 miles stretch is where most of the fighting was fought and the majority of casualties happened. France alone is estimated to have lost of 3.5 million soldiers on the Western Front.

6. Schlieffen Plan - This plan helped begin the war and started the cry for Paul and his friends to enlist to support the 'Fatherland.'

Named after its chief designer, this plan gave a selection of where the war should start and how the military should initially move to gravitate a quick and successful end to the conflict. Schlieffen was appointed Chief of the German Great general Staff in 1891 and commended developing this plan over time to deal with the political tensions and realities he thought his country faces. Originally called the Great Memorandum and written officially in December 1905, this program called for withholding action from Russia while the main brunt of German forces moved through Belgium and France. Then when they were subdued (and Britain would be as well because her allies had fallen, the Germans could concentrate on Russia. It is worth noting that in the Memorandum itself, its author mentions that Germany is too weak to bring the plan to a successful conclusion – that particular sentence must have been ignored or missed during the preparation for implementation. For the first few weeks of mobilization and fighting, Germany was successful and actually made their way to Paris earlier than they had forecast. However, Britain had been able to send some troops to the aid of France and Belgium had given Germany more difficulties than they had expected. So within a few months of the war, Germany had been unable to win and was now facing war on two fronts... something it had been hoping to avoid.

Some historians suggest that this document has had consequences that still persist on into our current politics around the globe today.

7. Battles of the Frontiers : August 1914 - It is unclear which battles the boys fought in, but this is a probable one.

This name describes several battles over five areas – Mulhouse, Lorraine and the Ardennes, the Mons, and Charleroi. These areas are considered part of the 'Western Front' of the war near the beginning. The German armies under the Schlieffen plan pushed through Belgium to attack the French, but due to delays caused in Belgium and by the British army, the French were able to mobilize enough for the stalemate to begin.

8. unknown soldier - “It must be doing somebody some good” - From a conversation some of the German troops had together on a day of rest.

I figure that all soldiers have thoughts these thoughts at least a few times in their lives. Why are they fighting, who attacks who is the goal, who is the enemy really anyway? Taking the time to study all of these leaders and read some of their words about why they made the decisions they did is interesting and how people decide who is 'bad', who is 'evil', etc... seems to really suggest to me that these leaders saw territory, riches and power and didn't see much else. People were expendable- especially if they were an enemy. And those who fought had very different thoughts and values and beliefs on war than those who didn't. Same problems, same thoughts and same deaths... for the same reasons over the centuries … just with different prettied up reasons. It's just appalling, I have no words.

9. First Battle of Champagne : Dec 1914- Mar 1915 -
Another probable battle that a few of the boys would have participated in.

This battle was the first really significant one by the Allies against the Germans after the technique of trench warfare was utilized. Its goal was to move the Allied forces into new territory and to assist the Russian army, forcing the German command to keep more of its troops and assets on the Western Front. French causalities were a lot higher than the German losses and there and there wasn't really any clear victory for either party.

10. Battle of Verdun: Feb - Dec 1916 : This battle was planned by the Germans in the hopes of taking down the resources of the town so that the French would not be able to continue fighting the war. General Erich von Falkenhayn decided that sin
ce he had no possibility of attacking and conquering England – the 'Great Adversary'- he needed to make France suffer so much and take such losses that the whole Alliance itself would break up. Code named Gericht, his plan was to quickly take over the fortifications at Verdun and in doing so take the offensive in the war. The plan was simple: the French would be forced to fight in a small area that favored the Germans and in doing so would suffer most of the losses and cause their surrender and defeat. If the French refused to fight than they would have to give up Verdun which he believed was inconceivable. The French commanders were taken pretty much taken unawares at the beginning of the battle in late February and did suffer some significant losses, however the quick battle conceived by General Falkenhayn was also not to be. By April, it was clear that there would be no quick victory. By July, some of the offensive was moved to a different battlefield and after ten months, over 700,000 casualties with heavy losses on both sides and a decisive victory by the French army. The French took over 11,000 Germans prisoner and one of the French generals was said to state after a complaint by some German officers about their lack of comfort as prisoners of war, “We do regret it, gentlemen, but then we did not expect so many of you.”

11. Second Battle of the Marne : July 15-Aug 5 1917 -The German plan was to try and divert the Allied forces away from the town of Flanders. This battle was to become know as the beginning of the end of the 'Great War'. German war officer Erich Ludendoff made the decision to head towards Flanders to attack the British forces there and to drive towards Paris. The French military commanders were aware that this attack would take place and so they were prepared. The Germans did well on some fronts, but fairly quickly fell back under a majority French army with help from the British as well as Americans (The Americans joined the war in 1917 after the appearance of the Zimmerman telegram and the attack by the Germans on three American merchant ships.)

12. Colonies / territories and tensions - At the beginning of the war in 1914 the tensions between three countries were really high. Disagreements on different colonies or territories only made it worse. Britain had a population of around 400 million between the Mainland and its colonies which included most of Canada, Egypt, the Sudan, India, Australia and several islands. France had a population of slightly more than 95 million between the mainland and its colonies and had already fought at least one war with Britain over disputed territories. French colonies included some parts of Africa, China and several Islands. Germany had a population of around 69 million between its homeland and its colonies which included Africa, Madagascar, as well as some islands. Both Britain and France reigned supreme over Germany in territories, people and power and so rivalries were found there as well... although France and Britain did consider themselves allies in many purposes including protection. Some skirmished and battles had been fought between France and Germany over disputes areas such as the Balkans. Over a hundred years previously, the King of Austria (Frederick II) said, “The fundamental rule of governments is the principle of extending their territories.” This opinion really hasn't changed over the intervening time.

Thoughts...? Comments?



2014/03/25

A Unique Opportunity!


I have always felt a little wary about expressing my testimony and feelings on Christ. Some of my reluctance stems from foolish reasons- fear of rejection or conflict, worry about causing offense and also a small amount of laziness- it takes courage and effort to do it! But another reason is also that sharing your testimony is so personal and makes me feel so vulnerable and exposed... open to attack while my heart and soul... my most beautiful and vulnerable parts are laid bare and feel naked and defenseless. And I have found that many people who are Christian, but have different beliefs, belong to different denominations, etc... chose this opportunity to thrust forward... not with thoughtful conversation, but with reasons and 'proofs' of why my beliefs are wrong. The reasons vary from 'worshiping the wrong Christ' (How many people in this world have been known as the savior Jesus Christ? To my knowledge there is only one man...), to scripture verses expressing why my thought processes are wrong and my eternal soul is in peril. Some people suggest that even questioning the culture surrounding the gospel is disloyal and inappropriate... to both Heavenly Father, prophets, apostles and the Savior- questioning even expresses that I 'do not sustain them' no matter how much I feel like I do. It is very painful to have my beliefs belittled and to even be told what I think... I have actually been amazed by how many people tend to feel pretty comfortable and even justified in telling other people what those people think... which really seems to be a reflection of the speaker's thoughts and not the individual being judged.

So over the last few years, I have actively tried to work on feeling a little less fear and trying to be more open about my thoughts. In a few ways, I have been more successful – I have a few really good friends who I actually feel safe enough to share my thoughts and feelings with. And I have actively pushed myself to try and start conversations with people I do not know. It's probably strange to some of you who know me, but I do feel uncomfortable talking to people I don't know and trust... which is funny because I can totally chat someone's ear off if I feel safe with them. (It's a mark of how the divorce has caused me to close up even more that the phone plan I used to have gave me unlimited minutes and I would use over two thousand a month and I now live comfortably on less than 450 a month.) So I actually try to say 'hi' to people I pass in stores, compliment someone or just say something basic to start an interaction. I have started conversations at church with members that I don't know (sometimes I have started them with people whose names I should know after a decade but I still don't and I am too embarrassed to ask.) And I have worked to try not and shut down conversations as much when unknown people start them with me... I''m working on it and its getting a little easier I think.

So the other night, I was headed home from work and decided that I would do my once weekly 'spontaneous' grocery shopping. Once a week, I head to a few different grocery stores and only look for the 'marked down' basics – fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat, salads, etc... I am never sure what I will find on these trips and sometimes I find nothing or just a few odds and ends. And sometimes, I come home with salad and veggies for days, some meat and fish, yogurt, milk and sour cream... and even maybe some soup or some beat up cans of tomatoes. This trip is a fun trip- an exclusion for me that doesn't cost me much and helps me to have fresher things to eat on my small income. It's also fun to see what I can find and then create different meals to cook and consume the food. Being able to have this opportunity has been such a blessing and really has made it possible for me to eat pretty well on my income. So I left the first store and started driving to the second. I parked, limped in and started the 'rounds'.

After a quick look through the produce section, I headed over to the seafood section and quickly noticed a decent sale on haddock- $1.99 a lb! I stood at the back of the line and found myself grinning a bit more when I watched everyone else in line buying the more expensive fish and the price to the haddock was changed to 0.99/lb in the hopes of moving the last little bit before the store closed. The woman in front of me completed a fairly complicated fish order and moved out of the way so that I cold place my order. I order three pounds of the good stuff and, as they wrapped up my order, the woman who had been in line before me started a conversation with me. She asked what I was going to do with my fish and I talked about my plans for it – I thought I would fry up a pound with lots of bell peppers and broccoli and put the rest in either soup or make it into sandwiches. She introduced herself as Donna and shared her amazement that I could make fish into something that sounded wonderful so easily. And so I stopped with my basket... and Donna with her cart and we chatted. I told her about other easy ways to cook fish- one of the few things I am really decent about cooking- and she decided to get some fish for herself. I moved on looking through the meat department and was headed to the front of the store when she caught me up again. Donna thanked me and asked how I decided when to buy something and so I told her about my trips. I talked about some of the places in the stores where they 'hide' the markdowns and how I decided something was a good value or not.

It was during that conversation that Donna looked at my neck and asked about the necklace around it. I looked down and asked her which necklace she was asking about (I was wearing two) and she pointed at my gold chain with my young women's medallion hanging down at the end. I've actually never had anyone ask me about it before and, as I felt myself close up, I took a breath and told her about it: what it is, what it means, how I earned it, and how much it means to me as a symbol. Donna then asked what church has such a great program and I said those words that open the door to potential trouble - “I'm a Mormon.” Her response was quick and so unexpected to me - “Oh, like Glen Beck!” - that I didn't school my face very well and my feelings of dismay and annoyance must have been seen clearly on my face. She stuttered and said, “Well, I mean not like Glenn Beck, but you belong to the same church and stuff.” That I agreed with! And she asked me more and listened respectfully and asked a few questions of me that I think she must have gotten from conservative talk radio (probably from the formerly mentioned) and I told her the doctrine I have learned and my beliefs in it. She told me about her church and I asked questions about it and she answered and when we parted, she thanked me again for the shopping information and for chatting with her and hen said something totally unexpected to me.

“God bless you! I am so glad I ran into you today!”

I finished my shopping and went home with a lot to think about. Even a few weeks later I am still thinking abut it. I am glad I took the risk, thankful that it didn't turn into a really painful experience that would bring my anxiety to the forefront of my mind again. And I feel able to try and do it again. But most of all, I feel like I have started a relationship that over time can turn into friendship and even more. I am so thankful that I have accomplished and earned my medallion and grateful that I found the courage inside of me to talk about it. You just never know when you can testify of Christ... you can share his love anywhere, even next to a counter of cheap fish. :)

2014/03/22

Did the Russian State... Part XIV by Nils Johann (Conclusion)


It are not always the material ripples of historical events that reach us. The stories of events that in their time were relevant, may much sooner reach us. The way these then are imbued with new meaning, sometimes is the only thing that makes a historical event seem relevant. It is in some way misleading, to maintain that past occasions, at any price, effect future development, that is far-flung in time, and separated by centuries. The second chapter of the paper demonstrated this, all though from an 'eagle's perspective'. This enabled us to see how the myth of a liberal, democratic and prosperous 'Western Europe', by force or ignorance, has been projected back in time, to comply with our contemporary notions and fancies of what is right and proper, while disregarding the immense change, forced upon the societies, and Institutions, that experienced the brunt, and sudden force of the Industrial Revolution.

On that basis it seems plausible, that the backwards-projection of Cold War reality, like in the leading case of Wittfogel's Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study in Total Power, certain misleads, and errors, have been allowed to occur in our perception of 16th century Russia. A tense Anglo-Russian relationship during the middle of the 19th century may have worked to establish the same effect, during the infancy of modern historiography. The emphasis on what separates the Russian and 'West-European' state formation process of the 16th century, is therefore in this paper interpreted as a false dichotomy. The dilettante 'National Histories' of the age, that favored long chains of causality for explaining their contemporary surroundings in the frame of 'The Nation', assumed, just like Yanov, Landes, Ferguson, and others, that there must be a chain-reaction spanning centuries in order to explain their contemporary condition. In order to make the writing more relevant lines of connections seem to be forced into the narrative, either backwards or forwards. Cum hoc ergo propter hoc, is a common error of reasoning where 'Correlation' is mistaken for 'Causation'. We need not all act as Skinner's pigeons.

This paper notes the challenge posed by the anachronistic concepts superimposed on the interpretation of the age, to understanding the age of Ivan and Henry on its own premise. As a response it attempts a comparison of the reigns of Ivan IV and Henry VIII. The comparison is intended to serve as an internal frame for reference for the period, but is also a search for positive similarities between the regimes. What is shown by this is a general similarity. It is tricky in such a comparison to discriminate perfectly without going in the trap of just 'cherry-picking' the examples one wants, but the paper focuses on the general conditions of statecraft of the age. By giving a general introduction to wider European developments, shaped by stronger Monarchs, who manage a paper-bureaucracy, and standing gunpowder armies, the paper sets the stage of its main subject, while establishing possibility for wider contextualisation. It then progresses to an introduction of the formation of the 'royal houses' of Henry VIII and Ivan IV, with a brief resume of their families 'road', to the power that the Monarchs would wield. Both monarchs temper and subdue the noblemen that surround them in order to ferment their own power-base. Their methods were brutal and efficient. Whether the opponents of the Crown were executed by boiling alive, drawn and quartered, or any other number of imaginative methods, the principle seems to be the same with both Crowns: Maintaining order by demonstrating power, through the application of violence.

Simply: Installing Terror. The Technical breakthroughs of the time enabled the ruling of larger territories, accompanied by centralization of power, not seen in Europe since the decline of the Roman Empire. This then also called for a restructuring of governance. Parliamentary systems are reformed to adapt to this reality and, are re-functioned to act as management organs of the Crown. At the time none of these Parliaments are embryonic 'democratic' institutions, in the modern sense of the word, but they function as a line of communication between the Monarch and the Commoners. Their main function is however to recognize the laws of the Monarch, and to effectuate the levying of taxes. The taxes are in both cases intended to serve the foreign policy of the King. - The protection of the realm; the execution of war-craft. Differences occur in the detail of how Ivan and Henry chose, or can choose, to fill their 'war-chest', and there is better method to the plan of Henry. He implicates part of his loyal nobility in his robbery of the Church, while Ivan's Oprichina leads to the estrangement, and tempering, of his high nobility. The funds from their respective heist, do however go towards the same purpose. They carry the war to their enemies, subduing them, plundering, and gaining dominance of even larger tracts of land. By the crack of the lash, and the screaming of cannon, with bloody sword in one hand, and a pen in the other, surrounded by rich palaces and poor peasants, gibbets, and henchmen, proto-bureaucratic states were formed, both in England and in Russia. They were materializing in all of Europe in the period.

Comparing two reigns of respectively forty-three and sixty years, of almost continual warfare at the western rim of Eurasia, called for an eagle-perspective in this paper, that ignores detailed differences in the formation of Russia and England, which there of course are. The grand lines of the narrative of the paper, however demonstrates that there are remarkable similarities in the formation of Russia and England. Russia is in its proto-state's functioning, during the period of the 16th century, more alike, than unlike England.

So, if you have taken the time to read through this whole paper, what are your thoughts? Any disagreements? What did you like and feel like you learned?

2014/03/21

Did the Russian State... Part XIII by Nils Johann (A Bloody Trail of Death and Destruction?)


"I am a Christian and do not eat meat during Lent", said Ivan to him. "But you drink human blood," the saint replied.”

Body-count competitions are rather tedious. To manipulate statistics is not hard, and to make them with fragmentary sources, that have been 'scrubbed by the sands of time' is profoundly suspicious. It is however done, and the results are used as “facts”, to hammer in one or another point. Both Ivan and Henry killed challengers to their regime. Real, or maybe imagined challengers, but that is beyond the point. Doing so keeps others 'in line'. Crummey makes a number out of foreigners being shaken by the sight of the executions. No doubt they would have been as shaken by witnessing the 'drawing and quartering' of an English Abbot, as by the impaling of a Russian Prince. Being foreign would have had less to do with it. Impaling might sound gruesome, but is it worse than starving to death in an English gibbet?

The Bishop of Lisieux (Lexovia), claimed that Henry had over 72,000 great thieves, petty thieves and beggars executed during his reign.“For there is not one year wherein three hundred or four hundred of them are not devoured and eaten by the gallows in one place or another”. It is not impossible considering the duration of his reign. It would mean about 2000 in an average year, with a stable population of about 2.8 million. It was custom to garotte or hang even petty thieves, and the 'mop-up' after the dissolution of the monasteries and the rebellions, with the loss of poor-relief from the monasteries, could have added the rest. It is however hard to consider the fragmentary hearsay, as a reliable source. It is a domestic estimate, and for diversion we could surely by far double the number by adding the ones that died in the many wars, acts of immense cruelty, with its content of rapine, murder and pillage.

Another example in this manner, from Russia, is the punishment of Novgorod, exacted by the Oprichniki of Ivan. Skrynnikov had the surviving prayer-lists of Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, that listed 1505 names of wealthy citizens killed. He assessed 2-3 thousand killed in total. This number could surely as well be inflated by Ivan's many campaigns.

But this chapter shall not become a competition of cruelty. By my standards, they were both cruel. But it is at least in part, a measured cruelty with an aim, like Machiavelli prescribes -if we look away from the occasional killings of family-members. Maybe, especially Ivan, who struck his son and heir dead in a loss of temper. But also Henry, who used his state to kill several of his wives, after the formalities of a 'kangaroo-court', with himself as judge. Like Crummey writes about 'Mad Czar Ivan' basing his claim on the cruel manner of the Czar's politics, there are publications to the same effect, but not as full with regards to Henry's style of government. When it comes to the understanding of the cruelty of Monarchs, this perspective disregards something in the understanding of social and political power. It may have gotten lost by the peaceful, sanitized, life that most 'Westerners' enjoy. George Mac Donald Fraser's figure, H. Flashman, gives an interesting interpretative perspective:

“...I've heard some say that she [Ranavalona I of Madagascar (R:1828–1861)] was just plain mad and didn't know what she was doing. That's an old excuse which ordinary folk take refuge in because they don't care to believe there are people who enjoy inflicting pain. "He's mad," they'll say - but they only say it because they see a little of themselves in the Tyrant, too, and want to shudder away from it quickly, like well-bred little Christians. Mad? Aye, Ranavalona was mad as a hatter, in many ways - but not where cruelty was concerned. She knew quite what she was doing, and studied to do it better, and was deeply gratified by it,...”

When 'push comes to shove', 'Power' is held by the application of 'Violence'. Being able to harm other people demonstrates social dominance. Being able to harm great numbers of people, demonstrates, and communicates, great dominance. It is (too) easy to declare cruel people to be mad. Another perspective on madness, would be that you are only mad, if you damage your own position. -Harm yourself. Public torture is a matter of communicating with society at large. Our Monarchs had no other option for maintaining their order. There were no logistics or alternative methods for it, as the surplus to afford them only become unleashed with the steam-engine. What Crummey describes, as Ivan's paranoia, leading him into destructive experiments, and a reign of terror, seems to be a 'public management trend' among all rulers of the time, suffering kindred material realities.

Being perceived as mad by your opposition is also not, a all in all, bad thing. It usually just means they can not predict your actions or 'read your mind'. A modern example of this could be the 'brinkmanship' of the Kennedy administration during the 'Cuban Missile Crisis'. And 'Terror' can still, even in the modern 'West' be a ruling instrument, as it is elegantly demonstrated in Adam Curtis' work, The Power of Nightmares, even though it, as a tool, has been refined somewhat over the years.

Our two rulers might have been slick, brutal bullies. Merciless, but must they not also have been charismatic and cocksure? Most likely good orators. With a life full of surprises, and uncertainty, doubt, and fear? They grew into their position of power. They surely were remarkable, to be able to sustain themselves, develop their realms in what was, by no doubt hostile political environments. We can of course meet the stories as those mentioned above with moral outrage, over the 'bestiality' of such persons, and try to spin a moral tale out of their deeds. But if this was their way, the simple question that should be posed is; When those who succeeded, all waged war in this manner, and ruled by murdering their opposition and killing who resisted them, can we then judge such men as Ivan and Henry for surviving?

Comments? Thoughts?

2014/03/19

Did the Russian State... Part XII by Nils Johann (Father of all Things)


“Lupus est homo homini, non homo, quom qualis sit non novit.”

As discussed up to this point, the reason for the acts of our Monarchs, amount to the end-goal of being able to finance, and field their war-machine. War was, during that age, the normal state of affairs. Both Ivan and Henry fielded gunpowder armies, with a core of drilled regulars. It is hard to find a great difference in the way the Monarchs ran their campaigns, or in how they treated the
conquered.

Ivan's cruel treatment of Novgorod is held up as an extraordinary example of cruelty. What seems to be forgotten is that it remained common practice to treat resisting fortresses in a cruel way, if they during a siege resisted, up until the time that the breaches had to be stormed, even throughout the time of the Napoleonic Wars. 'The Hundred-years-war' had started with the 'English' sack and slaughter of Caen. Henry VIII continued this tradition. It was done in this manner, because it was quite costly in human resources to storm a fortification, and thus the example made of an resisting city, should encourage others to not resist. (We could take it further and say Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima, Ho-Chi-Minh, and Fallujah, are a few of the cities that fell to the same principle during the last hundred years, even though the means of achieving the slaughter had changed.) An almost contemporary example would be Ferdinand II Habsburg's razing of Magdeburg (1631) during the thirty-years-war (1618-1648). His Field-marshal Pappenheim later wrote:

“I believe that over twenty thousand souls were lost. It is certain that no more terrible work and divine punishment has been seen since the Destruction of Jerusalem. All of our soldiers became rich. God with us.”

Henry had a long going hostility with the French 1511-15, and in 1521-25,torching and plundering the land from Calais to Paris. And then again in 1543-46, after the sack of The Church had filled the war-chest again. In conjunction to this Henry employed tactics similar to those of Ivan. Scotland and Ireland were at the time not yet firmly dominated by the English Crown, and the Scottish Parliament favored close ties to the Valoais-French, in order to contain English aggression and dictatorship.

For Henry VIII, a war against the French would entail the potential for Scottish intervention throughout his reign. When the Scottish Parliament revoked the 'Greenwich peace-accord' (1542-43) because, amongst several grievances, it intended a marriage between Mary I (*1542-1587) and Edward, Henry's son, Henry sent his March-Lords north to wreak havoc and punish the Scots (1544-50). The Earl of Hertford and Viscount Lisle, stood under direct orders to raze Edinburgh and they turned a great many towns, cities and the countryside to ash and ruin.

"English policy was simply to pulverise Scotland, to beat her either into acquiescence or out of existence, and Hertford's campaigns ... reign of terror, extermination of all resisters, the encouragement of collaborators, and so on.”

Ivan waged war in two general directions during his reign. South-East, down the Volga Valley, and towards west, in order to gain a foothold on the Baltic shore. The southern conquest of the Nogai tributaries, Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556) were among the early successes of Ivan's reign. The dynamics induced by the expanse of the steppe was a long going, back and forth struggle, but by the taking of the two cities, a better possibility for the containment of the enemywas created. At first the paperwork, and a puppet government were put in order, to legitimize the Russian claims on the area. The Russians came to 'help', and after politics, they let the guns 'do the talking'. The siege of Kazan was an exercise in the gunpowder-siege-warfare, signifying of the age, with a breach being made by sappers and artillery bombardment. The Russian forces were resisted to the bitter end. The cease of hostilities only followed, after the last defenders within the citadel took to flight. The customary pillage, and the murder of survivors, was topped by the destruction the city’s libraries, mosques, and archives. Several years of 'counter-insurgency' within the area followed as well. Four years later the time had come for Astrakhan. Its rulers might have gotten the example statuaeted with the sack of Kazan. Gaining sight of the Russian avant-guard Dervish Ali Khan, who had been sitting unsteady for many years, fled with his forces to the Turks. The city in the Volga-delta was captured without a fight. The area remained contested by the Ottoman Turks for some years, but accord was reached in 1570 after a failed attempt by the Turks to capture the modern Russian kremlin guarding the city. The conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan was to serve as the Russian 'gate' to oriental trade, and to facilitated further expansion into Siberia.

2014/03/18

Did the Russian State... Part XI by Nils Johann (Their Great Heists)


Henry's father had already appropriated the holdings of prominent opponents in the past, stealing land under the guise of legality. Already during the prominence (1509-1529) of Cardinal Wolsey (who at the same time was the Papal Legate to England), the dissolution of thirty monasteries had taken place (1525-6), under the charge of 'corruption', their estates fell to benefit The Crown. This can however only be seen as inspirational pilfering, compared to what was to follow. Facing tax-rebellion and strikes by 1525, and having exhausted the state's economy for prospects of re-conquering English claims in France. Henry had no other choice than to seek peace, putting at rest military ambitions for the following decade, until he, and 'Lord keeper of the Privy Seal' Thomas Cromwell, (*1485–†1540) 'lash out' against The Church. The Acts of 'Suppression of Religious Houses' were forced through Parliament from 1536 up until 1539. In 1534 Cromwell had established an office that made a tour of appraisal, to estimate the worth of the monastic holdings. The holdings were made up of about a quarter of the real-estate in the realm. They started by appropriating the smaller estates. This spurred quite a large resistance. Resistors were to be gibbeted, hung, or drawn and quartered. This amounted to a larger rebellion. After it had been 'struck down', all ringleaders were executed, even though pardons had been offered and their demands had been accepted. To establish credibility the Abbots of Colchester, Glastonbury, and Reading, were hanged, drawn and quartered, and many were harshly punished and killed for their treason. The premise was established for further seizures. When it was finished, over 800, of about 850 monastery-estates, had been appropriated. The 'Coffers' of The Crown were now filled for military campaigns. But Henry still waited several years, most likely because of the internal disruption the attack on The Church had caused. This solution to economical problems seems similar to what Ivan tried to accomplish with the 'Oprichnina' (1565-72).

I have not been able to find any specifics on the Russian tax-codes of the period, but the sheer logic of the Oprichnina gives the impression that there were similar principles for allowances to monarchs in Russia, as in England, and other 'emerging bureaucratic states' throughout Europe, and maybe further east as well? As the Monarch was the one responsible for foreign policy, he could levy tariffs or tolls on foreign trade and some industries, like mining, and further, in connection with minting or arms-manufacture. Besides this, the Monarch would rely on his personal domain-land to keep the Crown outfitted.

The Oprichnina was set up during a period of intense border-wars threatening to overrun the Russian Empire. It consisted in large part of 'newly' conquered Novgorodian territory and the region of Vladimir. The story starts with Ivan, frustrated by the politics of The Capital, withdrawing to Alexandrova Sloboda. There he goes on 'strike', destabilizing the ruling council, and agitating the citizens of Moscow against them. After some negotiation, the noblemen agree to grant Ivan absolute unchecked privileges in the 'Oprichnina-territories to be'.

The Livonian Wars (1558–1583) were in part a result of Ivan's will to expand his sphere of influence, to gain foothold on the Baltic shore, thus avoiding the restrictions put on Russian trade by the powers controlling the Baltic ports. This crashed with the strategic ambition of several powerful neighbors holding a stake in the disintegrating fragmented Baltic territories. The Oldenburg, Vaasa and Jagellionians, with the Habsburg, the Dutch, and the Hansa meddling in the background, wanted 'a piece of the pie'. Tension between opposing forces is a given in power-games. Crummey does overestimate Ivan's role in what was to happen. In Crummey there is a blindness being cultivated towards, that the other actors in similar manner had aggressive ambition, almost as if Crummey postulates, that Ivan could have chosen peace? Statements like that, again make me reach for my Machiavelli:

“The Romans, foreseeing troubles, dealt with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them come to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only put off to the advantage of others.”


Leaders at times, just must lead, but the lack of proper sources does not stop Crummey from painting a grim picture. In his work the method to the madness of the Oprichnina is to be found in Ivan's sick paranoid mind. Crummey makes it easy for himself when he states, that since the conspiracies against Ivan are so poorly documented, they probably were figments of his imagination.

"The image of Ivan as a paranoiac lashing out blindly and none too effectively is well drawn by Crummey. Undoubtedly the greed, bitter internecine rivalries and self-importance of the Boyars were injurious to the efficient functioning of the administration and contributed significantly to Russia's failures in the Livonian War."

The first thing to say about that is, that if people are proven to be disloyal to you, and they try to get you... you are not paranoid, but you have a healthy instinct for caution and survival. Crummey is at times exorbitantly hostile in his treatment of Ivan. This belittles the direct practical application of this attempt at bureaucratic management. The direct control over resources needed to wage war on the surrounding enemies, gathered in one chain of command does not seem like the plan of a madman, because it in principle is rational, as argued in Pavlov and Perrie, who also further develop the idea of Ivan as a contemporary renaissance-prince.

The Oprichina was however a large land-grab that was bound to threaten the position of all 'Gentry'. They are the main source for description of the event. Gathering large domains in the 'hands of the Crown' theoretically reduced the need to negotiate with the lords and the gentry over the pressing needs of war, aiding to streamline the strategic depth of operations under a clear command structure. In order to enact this 'bold and courageous' change in policy, a new branch of government was formed. Its officials, the Oprichniki, were enlisted from the ranks of 'free-men' while a few were noble. They proved more trustworthy to the Monarch than the Bojar Class, since they had less power and claim, to challenge or obstruct his rule.

Henry and Cromwell had two advantages when they started to plunder The Church. When the land of The Church had been appropriated, it was sold to the loyal segment of The Nobility, firming them in their resolve against The Church, and implicating them in the new order. Their payments then filled the King's 'war-chest'. Henry succeeded, and was ready to subdue the whole of Britain. The other advantage was that Scotland is not The Steppe. It is not a 'never-ending' expanse. It still can make one wonder, if Ivan was not inspired by Henry's success. We know there was direct contact between England and Russia from about 1540.

Judgment on why the Oprichina was dismantled is difficult. Letters written by a discontented mutineer like Prince Kurbsky, portraying Ivan as a tyrant, do not compare to a modern day 'aircraft black box'. It is hard to differentiate the factors leading up to the dismantlement of the Oprichina-system. Was it a system that was internally weakly constructed, or did it fail due do the external pressures of a three front war in combination with natural crop-failure? It is wise to respect that 'force major', nature, is dubbed so for obvious reasons. -that Xerxes had the Hellespont whipped, did not bring his fleet back. That the Crimean Tartars burnt Moscow might have been a tipping-point. De Madriagda suggests that the system might have fulfilled the purpose of breaking the 'grip' of the Bojars. Enough credibility had been established to unite the territories, under a reformed Bojar council which included many of the leading Oprichniki as well. Both the 'Acts of Suppression', and the establishment of the 'Oprichina', lead to an accumulation of lands, in the 'hands' of the Monarch, and to the weakening of his opposition, both nominally and relatively. Neither of the systems permanently gathered the land with the Monarch, but they permanently established a principle of supremacy.

2014/03/17

Did the Russian State... Part X by Nils Johann ('Some of us have talked...')


'Parliament' is the normal consequence of people trying to live together, and the English alone, developed neither of those two concepts. Neither did Ivan IV invent it in Russia. Communities meet to talk, and decide on matters regarding the community. The 'Veche' in early mediaeval Russia, preceded the Russian state-formation, and it worked as a Forum, for talks on economics, law and war, like the Norse Thing or the Swiss Landesgemeinde. The free cities of Pskov and Novgorod are often held up as later examples of these kinds of assemblies. None of the assemblies, like the Veche, or Parliament were open to everyone. We need to keep that in mind, before we start to romanticize a pragmatic tool of government. They are fori, where those who have franchise in the state, -those who contribute directly to the state, meet. “Taxpayers” in one form, or another; warriors, landowners, merchants and master tradesmen. Those who possess a vital skill or a business. After the gathering of the dispersed territories under Muscovite rule, these forms already in existence, were utilized by Ivan IV. He used it to govern and organize his realm, and he enacted reforms of many sectors of state. Opinion on how Ivan's Zemsky Sobor worked differ, from that it was a puppet parliament, there to enact his will, to a (sometimes) legitimate channel of popular representation. Crummey states,“...it would be a mistake to view it as an embryonic representative institution.”

To counter the claim in Crummey: It would be a mistake to see the English parliament aslittle more than a constant Byzantine court intrigue.

If we look at how Henry used his parliament to shore up the power of the Crown, there is however no great difference to Ivan's use. And here a special understanding is needed, because this will seem odd to those of us, accustomed with a modern parliamentary system. It needs to be seen in regard to the justification for power, being derived from 'Divine Right', and thus parliament gathers with the Monarch, for him to explain how he understands the will of God, and for them to agree that his interpretation is correct. And who wants to anger the Warlord who runs the “legal” punishment-system? But with this in mind, inevitably the system must have communicated in both directions. (*To relate Crummey's statement to a anachronistic example of representative government, the United States of America might serve. Even though regulation varied across the states, on average 5% of the adult population maintained the right to suffrage. The right to representation was restricted even more, but the representatives were deeming themselves as representatives of the entire populous. )

In order to effectuate policy, and to communicate better with the vast domain of the Czar, he called for 'The Assembly of the Land' in 1549. It was made up by the tree usual estates, The Nobles, The Church, and The (rich) Townspeople and Merchants. This 'Zemsky Sobor' developed to gathering regularly after that, and was also taken to advice on controversial issues. It seems, its main purpose was to agree with (or “understand”) the Czar's interpretation of the will of God, as was the case in England. In addition, a council of chosen nobles, The 'Rada' or a 'governing council' if you will, was established, and the organization of The Church was centralized. The 'Stoglavy Sobor' ('Gathering of Hundred Heads') was used to unify the practices of the Church's rituals and its regulations. Like with the Zemsky Sobor, it was done to streamline the 'chain of command', and to ease management. In rural regions, increased local self-government was introduced. The communal councils were attributed privileges that prior to that had been the jurisdiction of the local noblemen / governors.

One trait was the 'popular' election of local tax-men. Crummey claims;

“The explanation for the Monarch's broad power lies not so much in the efficiency of his government as in the lack of barriers to his exercise of it; for no estates or corporate organizations limited the Grand Princes' freedom of action, and no constitutional norms defined their authority.”

Crummey's work ignores the bargain character of what Ivan builds, as these systems inevitably will communicate both ways. Further on, the work also ignores that there is Law, and that the system of Ivan seems to be a “normal” Divine-Right-Monarchy for its time. Even more remarkable, is Shepard's comment in his review of Crummey, when he concludes on the basis of Crummey's work;

“But at the end of Ivan's reign, after all the blood-letting, he still ruled with the collaboration of the clans of the higher nobility, and for the most part these were the same clans that had been pre-eminent in the opening years of his adult reign!”

It is a interesting contradiction to take note of. If there is cooperation with the high-nobility within the Rada, how can it be that there are “no estates or corporate organization” to limit the Grand Prince? The 'Zemsky Sobor' was also a tool for achieving cooperation, and this does not differ greatly from the English 'Parliament' during the period.

Henry needed capital to wage war for his dynastic claims on the continent, and to construct palaces. He had emptied his coffers and exhausted the land by the middle of the 1520's. The system of taxation had to be reformed in order to enrich the Crown. The first plan was executed by the King's Minister, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (*1473–†1530), who managed to gather funds through an increase of the tax-burden on the wealthy, land-'theft', and by forcing the nobility to “buy” a kind of prototype state-obligation.

As we remember from Spittler's definition above, we are here looking at two semi-bureaucratic states where income comes from personal agricultural landholdings, and to a minor extent from the tariffs on foreign trade. Both monarchs, next to the tariffs on foreign trade, gain their means from their personal land-holdings. For any further taxation, the security of the realm needed to be at risk. This would also have been the main reason to call together 'Parliament'. The dominant reason for any self-respecting monarch to talk to a 'Common House', would have been to enact special taxes, without too much resistance. (This might be a motivational factor for the constant warfare of the period. Special taxes would have to be justified, as issues of defense of the realm. It served the concentration of capital, and the centralization of co-ordination, to the Crown.) However, if he could, the Monarch would avoid the hassle of having other people telling him how to run his 'firm'.

This takes us then to the great heist, performed in a similar way, in order to achieve similar ends, by both monarchs. The details of course differ, but Henry and Ivan do come to a remarkable solution to their challenges, regarding organizational and financial autocracy. Their goal is it to reduce dependence of people that are not necessarily to be trusted, discipline their own rank, and to gain a higher degree of fiscal independence. The Monarchs' role as Primus Interpares was changing in many emerging states during this time. As the positions become more polarized, we see the emergence of Autocracies (Denmark, Russia, Iberia, France, and England until the civil war), and their counterpart, noble-republics (The Netherlands, The Swiss federation, and to some extent also Sweden and Poland,).

2014/03/16

Did the Russian State... Part IX by Nils Johann (Give to God what is God's, and to the Emperor what is the Emperor's.)


“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.”

In their approach towards the church, our two Monarchs differ. This is due to the difference in the power-structuring of the Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Both rulers of-course demonstrated devotion in public rituals, like Henry’s 'pilgrimages' or Ivan's traditional conversion to monastic life, at the end of his reign. But then there were the challenges of Realpolitik. Henry wanted a servile Church that did not challenge his authority, and he needed cash. Ivan, in part already had the Church that Henry desired, through the traditions of the Byzantine Church and the affirmation of his title as 'Czar'.

Within Orthodoxy, the State-Church was at this point already well established. The first 'Non -Roman' case is when the Serbian Kingdom gained its Church's autonomy by 1219. The ratification of the Zakonopravilo enabled the King to rule as if he were 'Czar' (Emperor), and thus also to rule the Church. The Zakonopravilo, or Νομοκανών (nomo-canon), was a revival of Roman codex tradition from the time of Justinian I (*482-†565) in combination with other church-law. It was produced by St. Sava, in the Mount Athos Monastery. The law became widely dispersed within the realm of Orthodoxy, at first as a manuscript, but printed editions from Moscow in the 1650's have also survived. At the time of Ivan it was taken to be self evident that the Monarch was the 'Pastor' of the Church. In Ivan's first letter to Kurbsky, dated fifth day of July 7072 A.M. (1564 A.D.) Ivan claims to rule in the tradition of Constantine, and, that those who oppose power like his, also oppose God who has ordained him with it. This does, however, not mean that the leaders of the Church always were unison with the Princes. Ivan would also use brute force to root out contemporary resistors within the Church. Laws from 1572 and 1582 expressively made it clear that the Crown had the right to manage Church-Land. This was most likely a consequence of the State's war-exhaustion.

In a rather rustic example of bending excuses in favor the “backwards-narrative” Sugenheim can remind us of the “moral superiority” of the 'Catholic' Church in comparison to the Eastern 'Orthodoxy'

-”Because it was nothing else than a, from servile priests without a conscience, for the moods and needs of the vices of the most heinous court of the world, masquerading under the name of Christianity.” -


And he makes this just as strong an argument as the Mongol invasion for explaining the contemporary “backwardness” of the Russian state... that the Church was a tool of the State? It is an old publication, but it stands well in line with other invented absurdities to make Russia different, as it does not industrialize at the same time as England. One can only wonder how Sugenheim would explain the contemporary British hegemony, with regards to the Crowns dominion over The Church of England?Further it opens the question if the cradle for the story of Russian backwardness does not lie in the defeat in the Crimean war (1853-56)?

For western monarchs, it had for a long time been a problem that the Church operated autonomously, (but) in alignment with 'the powers that be'. The Popes in Rome, as did other Monarchs, start to hold 'in their hand' a good bureaucratic system - large landholdings, producing an enormous wealth, and a communication-network. But they had a constant “security issue”. Henry’s poor luck with his wives, and the Pope's refusal to grant him divorce from Catalina de Aragon, who had strong family ties to the House of Habsburg , is often brought forward as a rather 'folksy', (mass-communicable parole,) excuse for the English State's break with The Church. The break was made law in the 'Statute in Restraint of Appeals' (1533). However, the English State was in a constant tense relationship with its two neighbors across the channel. Valois-France, a budding great power on the continent, next to little England... and The Habsburg, trying with some luck to manage a large part of the rest, while running their growing over-seas empire. France had a standing army and the “Most Christian” French Monarchs were expanding their influence on the Italian Peninsula. While the Habsburg, often carrying the title “Defenders of the Faith”, also were just 'next door' to The Holy See. The Holy See was far from immutable by foreign pressure. Pope Clement VII (R:1523-34) was even at time, prisoner of H.R.E. Carl V Habsburg (*1500-†58). The Church’s claim’s to ultimate universal supremacy (e.g. : Catholic), next to the statement of infallibility, made it a liability to those powers, that could not simply come by, to extort good will. (- Like all “Lutheran” rebel-states?) The Church in the North had also grown rich, as it had been the most clever 'firm' around a long time, further heightening the temptation to be acted against.

In his letters to Anne Boleyn, Henry speaks of himself as Caesar, following this he puts his imperial ambition to show, measuring the strength of his office with The Church and The Pope in Rome. Imperial is here to be understood in the sense, that the Emperor has no master, no-one to dictate to him what to do. The titillation implies that the holder is the unchallengeable 'fountain of law', giving the office-holder the universal ultimate word within their dominions.

The 'Statute in Restraint of Appeals' (1533) in combination with the '(First) Act of Supremacy' (1534) are trumped through parliament. They effected the banning of paying any dues or tides to Rome, and the right of judicial appeal to The Pope.

“...this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one supreme head and king, having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same...without restraint or provocation to any foreign princes of potentates of the world.” The latter act states directly that The Church is subject to The Crown. “...the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England...”

Thus Henry VIII achieves for England what the Rus Princes have had arranged for 'quite a while'.

2014/03/15

Did the Russian State... Part VIII by Nils Johann (The Circumstance of the Two Ruling Houses, and their Nobility)


“And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is held by a chain of obligation which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

Henry VIII Tudor (*1491-†1547) took the throne in 1509 as a young man, 17 years old. He was not supposed to become king, but his older brother, Arthur, had suddenly died. Leading up to this point in time, England had been a unruly place, where only 25 years earlier, feuding nobles had been tearing the realm apart. The House of Tudor, was the product of the alliance by marriage of the Houses of York and Lancashire in 1486. A compromise that symbolically ended the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485). They had been in open conflict since 1399.

These Wars of English succession, had happened shortly after the wars for French succession, also known as the 'Hundred Years War'. The 'English' (Normans) withdrew from the continent and relinquishing their prospects to gain the French Crown. The wars had strengthened the Crown, vis-a-vis the Barons, establishing large military forces under direct control of the Monarch. Having standing armies is of course expensive and having them, it probably did become a great temptation to utilize them in order to 'resolve' the claim to the English Crown. Henry’s father Henri VII Tudor (*1457–†1509) had won the title of King by waging war on Richard III (*1452–†1485). He was killed by Henri's henchmen during the battle of Bosworth field in 1485. Henri had after that, tried to confiscate all lands belonging to supporters of the late King, by declaring himself King retroactively, making his opponents traitors. During Henri VII's reign, he four times faced larger rebellions by the Barons, triggering a crackdown on their right to keep 'private security forces'. Harsh realities like these are not easy forgotten by the young King and his advisers, and one can in his actions during his reign, see a constant maneuvering in order to keep the nobility at bay.

One of Henry VIII first actions was to 'cleanse' the Nomenclature of The Crown, of some his father's advisers that he disliked. The Yorkist 'White Rose Party' could still challenge Henry VIII for the throne and in 1513 he had Edmund de la Pole, the leader of the 'Party', murdered. Henry constantly worked to intimidate the members of the high nobility. In the following years he also had Henry Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk and Buckingham, indited for 'treason' by his Minister, Cardinal Wolsey. He had Brandon murdered in 'The Tower'. Wolsey would in the end suffer the same faith, and the same is true for the man who was to fill his place, Thomas Cromwell. The corpses in gibbets, or the head of these “traitors” on a spike, would often greet visitors who entered London through Tower Bridge. It shows the ambivalence of relations, between the Crown and its supporting nobility, as we enter an age of more powerful monarchs, that are increasingly able to rule without the political support of the high nobility. This tendency, we can also observe in Russia. From 1237 until 1240 the Rus princes had been overwhelmed by the conquering Tartar armies of Batu Khan. Kiev, the cultural capital of the region was razed. Other parts of the region, like Moscow, were only sacked. The Rus Principalities were made subsidiaries to the vast empire of the Golden Horde. In the same period the cultural centre of The Orthodox Church, and the central trading partner of Kiev, Constantinople, had been conquered and occupied by Latin “Crusaders” from 1204 till 1267. During the suzerainty of the Horde, a small difference in the customs of inheritance in Moscow allowed for the most eligible prince (though usually by primogeniture) to inherit the major share of property, unlike other parts of the region where every heir got an equal share, and the estates were divided.

By the time of Ivan III (*1440-†1505) the Tartar suzerainty was beginning to properly disintegrate. The Horde had started breaking up into several feuding parties after an interregnum in 1410. He exploited the situation to further expand the dominion of Moscow, unifying a vast Rus territory under his rule. In 1472, he took as his second wife, Zoe (Sophia) Palaiologina, the niece of the last Roman Emperor. The family-crest of the Palaiologians, the double-headed eagle was adopted by the grand princes of Muscovy. In addition to bringing with her a grand number of technocrats, there was also the baffling amount of eight-hundred books in her baggage, further strengthening the technocratic bond between the 'Second'- and 'Third Rome'. The library is supposed to have contained works of law by Constantine 'The Great' (*272–†337), and Justinian I (*482-†565), and several 'princes mirrors'. Vasili III (*1479-†1533) son of Ivan III and Zoe took several steps at defining his reign as continuation of the Roman Empire. In Zoe's retinue followed, artists, physicians, and politicians, who were well connected to the general developments elsewhere in contemporary Europe. There are many cases of integration of both, talented Greek refugees and other artist coming to the land. It is interesting to note the both Henry and Ivan, amongst other precedence, base their claim to autocracy on the Roman Law of Constantine. The Byzantine influx spurred after the fall of Constantinople in 1204, may very well have been a large contributing factor to the Renaissance, as Roman-Greek technocrats traveled westward, and northward.

Ivan IV is born near Moscow on August 25th 1530 as the only son of Vasily III. His father passed away when Ivan was only three years old. By the leading Bojars, Ivan was accepted as the legitimate heir to the throne. He was proclaimed Grand Prince of Moscow, while his mother Yelena Glinskaya acted as Regent in his place. After Ivan had turned eight she died. Maybe naturally, maybe by poisoning, initiated by a noble faction biding for power. Other different factions in court started biding for power and influence. The next decade was a time of political turbulence in Russia. Three, and at times more, Bojar 'parties' used this period to try and gain political superiority over each other. They gravitated around the families; Shuiskii, Bel'skii, and Glinskii. Ivan had been eight years old, alone, and at the same time surrounded by power-grabbers pretending to the position of Regent. They had schemed, plotted, and murdered, and used violence to attain their goals, and thus it is possible that the nobles had made a bad impression on the young Prince.

Ivan had slowly started to take command as Grand Duke at about age thirteen. It seems that Ivan stemmed the bickering, by having a Shuiskii Prince torn by his hunting-dogs in the Kremlin- Square. In political terms, we call that establishing credibility. Just like Henry, Ivan had to use force and terror to get his Barons in line, in order to lay the foundation for future negotiation.

After he turned sixteen in 1547, Ivan was Crowned as the first 'Czar of all Russians'. In the first years of Ivan's reign, reforms were made to gather more power around the Sovereign, centralizing government and formalizing and reformulating acts of government. Like in other domains in Western Europe, a move away from feudal structuring towards an attempt at central bureaucracy was in formation.

The similarity that we can recognize, in the background of the two rulers, is that their position is the result of preceding conflict between their respective houses, and other noble families. Their realms had been formed by the use of organized violence and were maintained by the use of force...deadly if need be. This is nothing especially original. An anecdote from Herodotus' Histories comes to mind, that might illustrate this. It is a story about Thrasybulus, the Despot of Miletos and Periander, the Tyrant of Corinth. Periander sends a messenger to asks Thrasybulus for advice on ruling, and on how to stay in power. Instead of responding verbally Thrasybulus takes the messenger for a walk in a field of corn.

“he kept cutting off the heads of those ears of corn which he saw higher than the rest; and as he cut off their heads he cast them away, until he had destroyed in this manner the finest and richest part of the crop.”

The messenger conveys what he had seen happen, to Periander, adding that he has doubts about Thrasybulus sanity. The message was still correctly interpreted by Periander; a wise ruler would pre-empt challenges to his rule by removing those prominent men who might be powerful enough to challenge him. “...to put to death those who were eminent among his subjects.”

It is the simple story about how power is taken and maintained and it is foolish to assume that not any person of power operates in this way, because social bonds are fragile. It is perfectly rational for a monarch to harbor some resentment towards nobles because he often would be in economical counter-conjuncture to them. More 'taxes' for the monarch would mean less for the nobles or vice versa. It would also be rational to feel insecure about them as they, (the other wealthy and powerful families,) were the ones the Monarch had to rely on for the stability of his reign. Monarchy (Autocracy) is a 'reference-system' for organization and order, no-one has, or will ever, rule alone.