The Plastic Hippo

June 6, 2014

Los Reyes Catόlicos están muertos

Filed under: Faith,History,Media,Politics,World — theplastichippo @ 3:15 am
Tags: , ,
Fear and surprise

Fear and surprise

The origins of a united and powerful Spain can be traced back to the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in 1469 and although they might only have been teenagers, when they later succeeded to their respective thrones – Ay caramba! – look out world.

Commissioning the voyages of Christopher Columbus, they began the wholesale plundering of Central and South America. Their fanatical devotion to Pope Sixtus IV unleashed a vicious pogrom against Judaism, Islam and basically anything that wasn`t considered Catholic. Nobody expected technological innovations such as the rack, the garrotte and water boarding to be so successful at forcing religious conversion through ruthless efficiency. The Inquisition also invented ghettos.

But perhaps the dual monarchs` greatest success was their expansion of power and influence by creating allegiances through the arranged marriages of their five children. Two daughters were married into the Portuguese royal family, their only son joined the Hapsburg dynasty, another daughter was wed to Philip the Handsome of the Holy Roman Empire and their youngest daughter was betrothed at the age of three to Arthur, Prince of Wales. Sadly, this last bit of trafficking didn`t end well as young Arthur died aged 15 just five months after the wedding. A widow at 16, Catherine of Aragon went on to marry Arthur`s younger brother, a bloke who ended up being called Henry VIII. Unfortunately, her inability to produce a viable son and heir resulted in marriage annulment, a massive falling out with the Pope, Henry knocking lumps out of the monasteries, burning Catholics at the stake and forming the Church of England with him as the boss. The union between Henry and Catherine did however produce Queen Mary I of England and Ireland who gained the title “Bloody Mary” for her habit of burning Protestants at the stake. She ended up marrying Philip of Spain, the great-grandson of her own grandparents, Ferdinand and Isabella; remember them? When her half-sister became queen, Elizabeth I had to fight off Philip who by then had got himself a great big bloody Armada. Honestly, I am not making this stuff up.

It is worth remembering that the current crowned heads of Europe share a lineage stretching back to John of Gaunt and beyond and it would be nothing short of heretical to suggest that the world might be a safer place if monarchs had explored other parts of the gene pool. The divine right of kings, however, dictates that supremacy is dictated by God, whatever flavour God happens to be this century. When the King of the Belgians, Albert II abdicated last year, the world expressed its shock not at the heresy of a monarch chosen by God for divine duty resigning, but by the surprising fact that plucky little Belgium still had an actual King. Earlier in 2013, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands jacked in the ermine and the crown but this was less of a bombshell because both her mother and her grandmother also realised that there was more to life than just being a tourist attraction.

More disturbingly, the divine right of kings has to be questioned when God`s sole representative on earth decides to chuck the towel onto the poolside sun-lounger. Having two heads of state abdicate might be unfortunate but when Pope Benedict XVI takes off the slippers, frock and skullcap, God seems to be in a bit of trouble. The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415 which was a little more than 50 years before the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella.

Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria de Borbon y Borbon-Dos Sicilias was born in Rome in 1938 at about the time General Franco was securing the divine right of fascism through overwhelming military might. By 1939 the second Spanish Republic had been bombed to bits and the Generalissimo had snuffed out democracy. In 1969, the evil old tyrant named Juan Carlos as his successor in the event of God calling Franco to his heavenly reward and when the evil bastard finally popped his jackboots in 1975, Franco`s favourite became King Juan Carlos I of Spain two days later.

Sadly, Franco would have been disappointed with his protégé as the new king embraced the notion of a constitutional monarchy and allowed actual democratic elections thereby stealing the thunder of nascent republicans and avoiding another Spanish civil war. Perhaps his finest hour as king came in 1981 when a fairly minor officer in the Guardia Civil attempted a military coup intended to reverse Spain back into the Franco era. Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero made some bullet holes in the ceiling of the Cortes and claimed to be acting in defence of Spain in the name of the king. Imagine his surprise when the king, dressed in the uniform of the chief of the armed forces, appeared on TV about seven hours later denouncing the coup and calling for the defence of the democratic process.

(A reminiscence:
I was living in Galicia at the time of the attempted coup. There was real fear as the news spread by word of mouth. In the innocence and arrogance of youth, I think I believed that a British passport would deflect bullets and mortar rounds. I imagined that I was George Orwell or Laurie Lee and that a Royal Navy destroyer was just off the coast ready to facilitate my evacuation. My Spanish friends were more pragmatic and we met in a bar just after midnight to plan the defence of the city. Within minutes the inevitable animosity of left wing factions almost started a fight in the bar which was only averted by the padron screaming that the king was on TV. At the end of his very short speech, my anarchist, Marxist and Communist friends shouted long live the king, long live Spain and began to sign the national anthem with tears streaming down their faces. Suddenly, that Juan Carlos was one cool hombre.)

If he had left it at that, then history and Spain would have forever smiled upon Juan Carlos and the emergency sessions of Spain`s cabinet to secure the succession would not be about immunity from criminal proceedings rather than the legality of renouncing the divine right of kings. As commander of the armed forces, his subjects have begun to worry about his unfortunate habit of inadvertently killing things with guns. Be it elephants in Botswana, endangered species in Romania, even a tame bear in Russia and, as some outrageous and completely false allegations would suggest, his own younger brother in a tragic gun cleaning incident, El Rey seems less than divine.

Understandably, when the abdication was announced, hundreds of thousands of Spanish citizens took to the streets to call for a referendum on the future of the Spanish monarchy. You might have missed this as the British media were concentrating on a very wealthy elderly person wearing a hat encrusted with diamonds, emeralds and sapphires arriving at parliament in a new gold coach to tell us that her government will continue its policy of austerity and that it will cost us five new pee to use a supermarket plastic bag. I might be wrong, but I think the Page Boy fainted from incredulity rather than fatigue.

For those that missed the news, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile are now actually dead and heresy is no more of a threat than a comfy chair or a cushion with the stuffing bunched up at one end. As for the divine right of kings; viva la republica! No passaran, hasta luego.


1 Comment »

  1. If you don’t like England, go to America. Stop bitching about our culture and practice what you preach. If it is republicanism you desire, kindly sod off to the United States.

    Comment by tom — June 9, 2016 @ 8:20 pm | Reply

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