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“… then Perceval was told that because he did not ask why the Lance bled or whom the Grail served, his land would become even more waste and desolate…”

—Arthur C. L. Brown, The Bleeding Lance (1910)

of majesty and anarchy

Once upon a time the luminous oracle of Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue consecrated the birth of a lonely and mysterious German prince who was to become the stupor mundi and immutator mirabilis of West and East, the course of his life to run arrow-straight to its zenith, then to vanish from the earth like a comet in the aether. The eerie poem, composed during the reign of Augustus in 24 BC, described a ruler “throned in the clouds,” bearing a globe and law-book, and foretold of “a new breed of men sent down from Heaven” and of “the majestic role of circling centuries that begins anew.” On that occasion, St. Stephen’s Day, 1194, the work was read aloud by an attendant knight of the Teutonic Order in dedication to this future leader of a century—that of the brilliant Thirteenth—and blood-heir to a lineage that included Frederick Barbarossa (the boy’s grandfather), the terrorizing Henry VI (his father) and a certain Thomas von Aquino (his second-cousin). The boy’s mother, “She, who obsessed the imagination of her contemporaries as few have done,” in the words of one smitten chronicler, was descended from swashbuckling Norman kings whose rare blood, it was said, allowed her to conceive at age forty the future imperator romanorum, her first and only child. The news of this strange birth aroused mass speculation that she, the grand-daughter of Guiscard, was bearing possibly the seed of the Second Coming, possibly that of the anti-Christ. He was both. “Assume thy greatness/for the Time draws nigh,” rang out the verse as Empress Constance delivered her son in a tent erected on a public square such to reassure spooked plebians of the child’s earthly mortal origins. “Dear child of gods, great progeny of Jove!/See how it totters, the world’s orbed might….”

Hohenstaufen: the name “which was once borne throughout Europe in the trumpet-blast of fame,” as the 19th- century medievalist Sir Arthur Pennington once swooned. The great German epics took their final form in the Hohenstaufen period, blending solemn Latin hymns of Christian ritual with heroic tales of Christian chivalry. It was, in the words of the dashing German Romanticist Friedrich Gundolf, “that wonderful Hohenstaufen age,” in which “poets and heroes were carriers of magic, warmed through and through by Southern light… a real blossoming of song and vision, of fairy tale and epic, of painting, building and sculpture.” This family—who elevated the empire to the altitude of the Julian and Carolingian idea; who figure as the real-life models behind the 12th- and 13th-century compositions of the Grail legends; who were descended from the tribe of the Waibling, also known as the Wibeling, later in Italy as the Ghibelline and, in the north, most romantically, most famously, as the Nibelungen, in whom myth became interchangeable with fact; “myth as the simplified, condensed, or enhanced reminiscence of true history,” as Gundolf’s romantic realism would have it—achieved the crown of their greatest blood-creation in the spectacular person of Frederick II, “the solstitial emperor of the Middle Ages”; the sun without a cloud that was never to suffer an eclipse.


Frederick II

Proclaimed King of Sicily at three, orphaned at four, married at fifteen and crowned Holy Roman Emperor at twenty-six, Frederick II was celebrated as the most illustrious Roman statesman since Julius Caesar when barely into his third decade. His ascetic Christianity, influenced by St. Bernard of Clairvaux—”the very Church of Christ broken into bloom”—whom Dante chose as the final guide to the throne of God, contrasted sharply with the high-flying self-aggrandizement of his secular life: of his lively court at Palermo and at the University of Naples, animated as these institutions were by the great mathematicians, philosophers, astronomers and alchemists of his day; of his self-coronation as King of Jerusalem whilst a two-time ex-communicate from the Church—a move that so angered Pope Gregory IX that he, the pope, then ex-communicated Jerusalem itself (!) Frederick was fluent in six languages, was a poet and scholar, the author of a scientific work on falconry considered a classic to this day, and he built strange, numerologically-configured Sicilian castles that elude interpretation but impearl imagination. He maintained close friendships with Muslim sultans and emirs who sent him lavish gifts of elephants, white peacocks and commercial treaties, and commanded the loyalty of independent Hanseatic merchant princes through whom Frederick organized his superlative customs system, the vocabulary of which was borrowed from the Arabs while entire categories of trade were entrusted exclusively to the Jews. To Matthew Paris, the author of the Chronica Majora of 1215, a widely-read world-history of its day, he was “the Messianic ruler of the West.” In the most utterly poetic work on the Middle Ages you will never read—the 1931 Frederick The Second by Ernst Kantorowicz—Frederick’s eminence is summed up: “The triumph of illustrious pedigree, the extraordinary personality crafted in early-orphaned childhood at the center of the Mediterranean world, in the hinterlands of his rightful ascendancy to the German empire, at the intrigue-rich courts of popes and potentates that served as his regents; his love of learning, his translations of Aristotle… the handsome forehead, the counteance beaming, the possession of intellectual powers of high order….” He was the original roi soleil and Etat-c’est-moi; an exotic figure in whom the grandeur of that incredible century was made so voluptuously manifest.


O gloria, o pompa, o auro, o monarchato…. Most importantly, however, it was Emperor Frederick in whom the medieval concept of the philosophy of monarchy triumphed as a philosophy of anarchy. The product of the 12th- and 13th-century intellectual ideal of the “Great Prince,” Frederick embodied this ideal most powerfully through his tortured separation of the imperium (secular power) from the sacerdotium (papal power) and his self-appointed position between these two authorities as the figure of Justice-Incarnate on earth. Indeed, the Great Prince is both Monarchist and Anarchist: he is the summa of the great currents of the centuries before him and an anomaly to his times; he is the caretaker of Order (historical memory) and also the curator of Revolution (the creation of history). At once the devoted heir to tradition and the avowed enemy of corrupted status quo, only he, the Great Prince, is intermediary between the Law of God and the realm of mankind; he must serve exclusively the Law of Justice.

Thus, by “philosophy of monarchy” we do not here refer to a kind of British or Anglo-American version of such—from James I to William of Orange, a passing of belief in Absolute Divine Right to Consent of those Governed. Instead, we mean a Romanized German concept of the Great Prince, one borne so wonderfully in the intense personality of Frederick, the climax of the Hohenstaufen. Rome Immemorial was his bloodline; revolutionary Christian maverick was his self-invention, and for this reason Frederick has been called the first modern monarch and the first modern revolutionary in Western history; Nietzsche declared him “the first European.” Oswald Spengler, in his typically striking way, summed it up thus: “Only the great personality—the It, the race, the cosmic force bound up in personality—has been creative and has effectively modified the type of entire classes and peoples.” Kantorowicz, in his beautiful book, writes: “Frederick’s greatest power lay in his own personality.” He continues: “At the zenith of his glory, this most Roman of all German Emperors possessed not only the armed forces but the personal magic to sway the princes to his will and direct their gaze to the great problems of the Roman world.” Though Frederick’s program was to renew the Roman Empire—the renovatio imperii Romanorum—this goal of ‘Antiquity,’ writes Kantorowicz, was not the final objective. Rather, it was but the means through which “the German came back to himself, a form of the incarnation of the German spirit made visible.”

Such is how the idea of the “Great Prince” came into prominence during these Ages one would never dare call Dark. (“The arc of philosophical development between the 12th and 13th centuries is phenomenal,” wrote the German historian Friedrich Rothe, who saw in Frederick II the fountainhead of this efflorescence). Among the earliest treatments, written during the reign of Frederick Barbarossa (Frederick I Hohenstaufen) in 1153, was The Policratus of John Earl of Salisbury, the first elaborate medieval treatise on politics. Scholars have called this work a landmark in the history of political speculation, the first to be written just as Western thought was becoming familiar again with the politics of Aristotle. “The place of the Prince is the head to the body, subject only to God and to those who exercise His office and represent Him on earth,” wrote the Earl. “The duties of a good prince are manifold: he should be learned in letters; he should seek the welfare of others and not his own, he should be father and husband to his subjects and ‘correct their errors’ with the proper remedies; he must act on the counsel of wise men, he should wholly forget the affections of flesh and blood and do only that which is demanded by the welfare and safety of his subjects.” Salisbury continues: ‘The Prince must restrain the soldiery from outrage, he should punish the wrongs and injuries of all, and all crimes, with even-handed equity; he must avoid levity, he must be learned in law and military science, he must protect the Church against sacrilege and rapine.” And finally, the Great Prince must ever strive so to rule “that in the whole community over which he presides none shall be sorrowful. He must curb the malice of officials and provide that any occasion for extortion may be removed.” Ultimately, “If the Prince controverts the Law of God, his subjects are justified in refusing obedience.”

Saint_Thomas_Aquinas,_This writing revived the tradition of Mirror-of-Princes (speculum principum or Fuerstenspiegel, as they were called) literature that had its origin in Persia and Ancient Greece and culminated as a tradition in Machiavelli. These works peaked during the High Middle Ages, and rather gorgeously so. Aquinas was one author of them. He believed strongly in monarchy, arguing that the ‘rule of one’ had been proven best by practice and as a result that as the form of government with the least evil inherent in it should be the preference of men. “Him we call a Prince,” wrote this second cousin of Frederick II by way of derring-do knightly ancestors, “to whom the summa regimnis in human affairs has been committed.” Though Aquinas believed that tyranny was more liable to come from democracy than from monarchy, he did not believe in absolute or unqualified monarchy, “since it is hard to get a good Prince.” Limited monarchy is therefore necessary. Giraldus Cambrensis, or Gerald of Wales, a Welsh nobleman who wrote histories of the universities of Paris and Oxford, continued this tradition of the Great Prince in his De Principis Instructione of 1227, dedicated to Louis IX (Saint Louis) of France, a great friend of Frederick II and himself an eloquent defender of Justice. “The Prince must be a pattern for his subjects, and the good Prince, whose chief aim is to please God, merits a great reward because of his efforts to ‘save’ his fellow men by word and deed.” Gilbert of Tournai, a master of the University of Paris, wrote his Erudito Regum et Principum in three epistles at the request of Louis IX in 1259. “The Prince should be able to raise himself mentally to a point where he can see the evils of his realm in their true perspective and thus correct them.” He adds: “The difference between a Prince and a Tyrant is this: the latter rages with worldly pleasure and licentiousness unrestrained; the Prince acts only through necessity and for a reason.”

A tempered sense of Necessity and appreciation for the supremacy of Reason were among the great intellectual traits of Frederick II, and although the most powerful monarch of his day, he never lost sight of his own humble relationship to other men under God. “As men stand equal to other men by their humanity,” he wrote to his son Conrad, “they have nothing to pride themselves on unless by virtue.” In that correspondence, he counseled: “People do not distinguish Kings and Caesars above other men because they are highly placed, but because they see farther and act better.” Such remarks are quite astonishing: a medieval ruler speaking of men “standing equal” to each other and proclaiming individual virtue as the prerequisite for the ideal society presages the humanist impulse of the Renaissance. The struggle between God and Caesar—that most quintessentially Western dilemma—took root in the scorched soil of Frederick’s breathtaking life .


In the Perceval of Chretien de Troyes, the Holy Lance has a single drop of blood on it, which is seen to fall from the spear during the Grail procession, and runs down the hand of the bearer. In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, this becomes a stream of blood. In a French interpretation, the Peredur, there are three streams of blood and in the most famous of the French versions, the Perlesvaus, Sir Gawain sees the blood running from the Grail, which is the chalice of the Last Supper that Joseph of Arimathea used to collect the blood of Christ on the Cross. In the greatest of any version, Wagner’s Parsifal, a work that is not, to this writer, an opera but a sacred revelation, his hero could only recover the Lance once he learned Compassion, having at first been cast out of the Grail castle at Monsalvat when he turned his back on the holy wound and sufferings of King Amfortas—that is, on the sufferings of the world. Only then could Parsifal return to the great castle of the Grail knights.

The Lance has been interpreted as many things but primarily as a metaphor for Eternal Justice: when the Lance is used as a weapon, the attempt to injure another results only in an increase of one’s own pains and misfortunes. However, once aware of this wisdom of the world, the Christian hero will understand that the Lance that strikes the wound is that which also heals the wound—another way of saying that insight into the human condition only comes through one’s own experience of that condition. Parsifal, “awakened to the world by the kiss of Kundry,” comes to realize this power of the Lance and once he does, the evil domain of the world—the realm of Klingsor in that story—is destroyed.

It is said that three Hohenstaufen emperors came into possession of the Holy Lance—also known as the Spear of Destiny or the Sword of Longinus—and it is thus somewhat fascinating to learn that Frederick II, bequeathed the Lance by his German imperial rival Otto IV, came to see as himself as the mediator of Justice on earth. The main tenet of secular rule in the Middle Ages was that of ‘Pax et Justitia‘: if Justice reigned there was peace, if peace existed it was the sign that Justice reigned and all rule was to be directed to the securing of this Justice—an absolute thing, a gift of God, an end in itself. Therefore, the earthly State—a product of the Fall of Man—existed with one task before it: to preserve this blessing of God. As savior and fulfiller of the Law, Emperor Frederick saw Justice as both weapon and shield. “So great was his love of justice.” wrote Sir Arthur Pennington, “that he would rather lose his cause than win it if he were in the wrong.”

It was in this spirit that Frederick II composed his famous laws, the Constitutions of Melfi, also known as the Liber Augustalis, called “the first properly written Constitution in history.” This work was the first overtly monarchist law-book of the Middle Ages, and “the apotheosis of law-making,” according to the Cambridge scholar John Bossy, during a “century of jurisprudence,” in Pennington’s formulation. In the words of the early 20th century medievalist William Percy, “this great legislation, which remained the fundamental law until Garibaldi’s revolution, transformed the Regno [the Kingdom of Sicily] into an absolute monarchy” and made that land the first centralized state in Europe to emerge from feudalism. (Nor was the ritual ceremony of the presentation of these laws any less splendid than their legal content and intellectual spirit: Frederick was sacra majestas at High Court, and, much like the High Mass, he was represented by a spokesman. The emperor was seldom heard, the only other sound the tinkling of a bell to announce the opening of proceedings).

i-codici-del-liber-augustalis-testo-di-claudio-alessandri-tavole-di-ilaria-e-salvatore-caputo-casa-editrice-luxrry-collectionThe Liber Augustalis was framed with the special view of securing equal rights to all classes of Frederick’s subjects and of delivering them from feudal oppression. He stripped the nobles and prelates of their jurisdiction in criminal cases. He decreed that any count or baron, carrying on war on his own account “should lose his head and his goods.” These were amazing strides in the right direction, Pennington notes, but quite unprecedented in feudal kingdoms. Judicial courts were appointed throughout Frederick’s kingdoms and the rights of women were secured. “He strove to make his officials as righteous as himself,” Pennington remarks. “He himself came before his courts.” No lawyers were allowed to practice without an examination by Frederick and were obliged to take an oath that they “would allege nothing against their conscience.” What’s more, his courts furnished widows, orphans and the poor with lawyers free of expense. Even his enemies, such as Pope Clement (and just about every other Pope during Frederick’s lifetime) and, later, the Angevin dynasty, the hated French successors to the Hohenstaufen in Italy, begrudgingly praised the emperor’s advanced sense of right. The English, with close relations to Hohenstaufen Italy at the time, claim indebtedness to Frederick’s laws, written as they were around the same time as the Magna Carta. As Kantorowicz writes: “In all the welter of law-study there was only one work really outstanding and pre-eminent: Frederick’s Liber Augustalis.” To what extent Frederick shared spiritual and symbolic kinship to the otherworldly Parsifal, scholarship has debated with relish. One certainly may say, however, that it is not so much that Frederick’s life was the stuff of myth, but that Myth itself is made of the very stuff of such a life.


Christus vincit, Christus regnant, Christus imperat was the historic coronation cry of the Sicilian kings, dating from the earliest days of Christianity. Frederick II, left alone so young, “without a relation or a real friend of any kind” grew up more or less a blue-blooded street kid, roaming free and wild amidst the Norman, Byzantine and Muslim cosmopolitanism of medieval Palermo, a city thought as brilliant in its day as Paris or London. Pope Innocent III, Frederick’s reluctant caretaker, once wrote of the young king’s Sicily: “His hereditary land, rich and noble beyond the other kingdoms of the world is the port and navel of them all.” Frederick’s education was largely self-taught and, amazed by his rather exotic erudition, scholars have sought diligently to trace the real teacher of this high-minded Hohenstaufen; alas, nothing as yet has revealed the Zeno to his Pericles. But clearly Fate was a good instructor: “Through his childhood the boy Frederick appeared the mere plaything of those forces which as a man he mastered and directed,” writes Kantorowicz. “He was even then being educated by Destiny for the supreme power.” An impassioned Aristotelian, his court was home to the towering intellects of the world. In 1242 he wrote a series of questions addressed to Muslim philosophers in what would today consist of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Asia Minor and Morocco known as the Sicilian Letters, in which he asked those scholars their views on the eternity of matter and the immortality of the soul. Jewish intellectuals were also welcome at Frederick’s court, including among them Jacob Anatoli, a translator of Ptolemy, who so admired Frederick he is recorded as having wished that “the Messiah would come” at some point during the lifetime of the emperor. Jehud ben Soloman, an encyclopedist, befriended John of Palermo, an outstanding Aristotelian, and Thomas Aquinas by way of Frederick’s patronage. Pitted against this brilliant universe was a papal firmament made up of intransigent, magnificent Popes, each of whom cast the unyielding Fridericus Secundus as the “beast of the apocalypse,” “the pestilence of the world,” etc. despite the young monarch’s happy, defiant, life-affirming decision to bend the world to his will and author an entire century as a Man of Thought and a Man of Action as rarely the world had seen or ever would again see.

image010It was under the influence of this stimulating environment of medieval Sicily that the Great Prince was able to conceive of one of the outstanding acts of anarchism of his day: the Bloodless Crusade—the Sixth. This was a “victory of diplomacy over force,” in the words of one historian,”of humanity over bigotry… the finest moment in the history of the Crusades.” Far more interested in exchanging strange mathematical puzzles with his royal, Eastern counterparts than going to war with these official enemies, Frederick—so warlike on his own turf—managed to assert Reason and crown it with Will in regaining Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem from the Abbuyid Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt (the nephew of the great Saladin who, one might recall, Dante accorded a place in Heaven).

The army that shipped to the Holy Land in 1228 consisted of Muslim bowmen, 1500 knights and about 10,000 infantry—a small number for such an undertaking. They joined an equal number of Crusaders waiting at Acre (a Phoenician port, then Crusader city, now part of Israel). Their menacing presence notwithstanding, the power of civilization over barbarism prevailed. In addition to having a peaceful relationship with al-Kamil (the same sultan who had befriended Francis of Assisi ten years before), Frederick’s intellectual passions proved stronger than his violent instincts. Enter one Leonardo da Pisa, or Fibonnacci, as history celebrates him, who had become famous for introducing the Arabic numeral system into Europe and for his theories on square roots, the oeuvre of which he dedicated to his admiring friend, the Emperor. This result was the rather unique instance of mathematics being used as a tool of diplomacy. Instead of attacking Jerusalem with his superior force, Frederick, using his fluent Arabic, introduced his list of mathematical problems—questions involving cubic equations, squaring the circle, converting triangles into quadrangles and so on—to the sultan and to the great Arab thinkers of Jerusalem as a friendly challenge. Naturally, there were realpolitik considerations at hand: Frederick and al-Kamil had worked out negotiations prior to the German emperor’s arrival that called for the protection of other dominions of the sultan’s realm against the usurping designs of rival emirs and scheming relatives. Just to keep matters in check, however, Frederick kept his army on the march, with orders not in his name but in that of God and of Christiandom (so that the Knights Templars and the Knights of St. John—already in the Holy Lands yet put off by the ex-communicated Hohenstaufen—would obey). The mathematical jousts went on, and diplomacy triumphed. “To the enduring shock of Europe,” Pennington writes, Sultan al-Kamil agreed to Frederick’s terms and Jersualem, Nazareth and Bethlehem, as well as a corridor of the Mediterranean coastline, were reconquered by the German emperor. The Sixth Crusade was unique as the first and last time Christiandom regained control of Jerusalem without killing a single person.

Castle del Monte

Castle del Monte

One day some years later, Frederick II planned the Castle del Monte, one of the most mysterious works of the Middle Ages and his most beautiful castle among the many he partly designed and had built for his beloved realm. Located in Apulia, part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as it was then called, the castle is an octagonal puzzle palace inspired by the geomantical mysticism of Frederick’s curious psychology. “The odd gem,” as it has been called, is thought to have been influenced by Michael Scotus, his court astrologer from Scotland and translator of Aristotle, Averroes and Avicenna, yet the reasons for its construction remain obscure, serving only to circulate many a cryptic theory, one among the more esoteric of which holds that the castle was expressly situated at the half-way point between the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge. It is eighty-feet tall, with two storeys of eight rooms each, all interconnected and facing an octagonal courtyard, and each room with but one small window. It is not a fortification: there is no moat, no drawbridge, no defensive technology. There are no ramparts, though the emperor’s grandsons were imprisoned there together thirty years during the reign over southern Italy by the Angevin French. Sitting in splendid isolation alone on a promontory and made of a special kind of limestone and quartz that in the distance it looks like marble, the Castle del Monte overlooks the countryside in every direction and up and down the Adriatic coastline with an air of intellectual solitude too precise to be called ‘romantic.’ The intriguing castel may have been the triumph of the emperor’s castle-building frenzy, but it was the crown of the life of a mind that absolutely mystified the world.


His mysterious death in 1250, few wanted to believe in. Asked for absolution on his deathbed, Emperor Frederick donned the grey habit of the Cistercian and received the last sacrament from Archbishop Bernard of Clairvaux; it is written that he held himself with all the calm restraint and dignity of a Christian-Roman emperor. “The Empire shall end with Frederick,” a Sibyl once foretold. “His successors, if any he have, shall be bereft of the Roman throne and the imperial name….”

Germany had princes enough to spare, but no Great Prince. “The world had never seen before on such a scale the spectacle that followed the death of the Emperor,” wrote Kantorowicz. “The complete disintegration in a night of the proud structure of government, the incoherence of all Germany taking place… the glorious pride and freedom of Hohenstaufen days lay in the dust.” His work quotes the words of one of Frederick’s beloved sons, King Manfred of Sicily, describing the event of his father’s passing: “The sun of the world has set.” The poignancy of this simple statement brings to mind Anatole France’s observation centuries later that every time a monarchy dies a star goes out in heaven.


On 20 July 1943, as forces of the Seventh US Army closed in on the Sicilian capital Palermo, Admiral Friedrich Ruge, German Naval Commander in the Mediterranean, received a strange wire from the Seekriegsleitung in Berlin. As the scholar and historian Martin A. Ruehl recounts, the wire contained orders from Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering to remove the sarcophagi of two medieval German emperors and their families from the city’s cathedral. Goering was particularly anxious that the bones of Emperor Frederick II should not be left behind in Italy and demanded their last-minute evacuation across the Messina Strait. Ruge, the naval commander, quietly ignored the order, however, “in the conviction that the dead should rest undisturbed and that Frederick II, perhaps the greatest of all the emperors of the Middle Ages, should under no circumstances be separated from Palermo, his famous capital and historic background.” Two days later, General Patton’s troops took the city.

Tomb_of_Frederick_II,_Holy_Roman_Emperor_-_Cathedral_of_Palermo_-_Italy_2015Almost two decades earlier, in 1924, Ruehl continues, a group of friends and admirers of the German poet Stefan George had visited the same cathedral and placed a wreath in front of Frederick’s tomb. One of them was Ernst Kantorowicz who recalled the incident in the prefatory note to the first German-language edition of his 1927 biography of the great Hohenstaufen, impressed that enthusiasm was resurgent for the great German rulers of the past—”especially in this time without emperors.” In that group with Kantorowicz was Berthold Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, brother of Claus Schenck Graf von Stauffenberg, leader of the 20 July, 1944 assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler. When those leaders were rounded up and put in jail to await execution, Himmler ordered their books to be burned. William Canaris, the head of military intelligence and a participant in the resistance against the Nazis, had been reading Kantorowicz’s Frederick II at the concentration camp at Flossenburg at the time of the order. Just as the books were about to be set to flames, Himmler rushed in and saved two among the hundreds of works: one, a volume of Goethe and the other, Kantorowicz’s Frederick—that most poetic, mystic, proudly Germanic and profoundly Christian tribute to one of history’s greatest men. And to think Mr. Kantorowicz himself was Jewish….

How such figures captivate the modern mind and reinvigorate its fast-fading memory so many centuries on! How the ages scour through fog and forest for some hint, some clue, as to the secret of Parsifal’s Lance, but can make out only the pitch-black, blood-red stain of butcher-ideology and giggling nihilism smeared across the grave. Today, wherever the intelligent among us may still be found, the idea of Monarchy—vague, strange, slightly beyond definition—shimmers and beckons along the periphery of our collective intellectual subconscious: we suspect it has something that will save us from the erosions of shabby egalitarianism; from our sordid democracies and their petulant, tiresome, subversive “rights.” We hope for a Personality (so socially unacceptable is he!) surrounded by a distinguished magna curia of philosophers and scientists; a figure who radiates the sunlit values of exalted Christianity and an exalted life of insatiable curiosity, all the while an oppressed cult of rational optimists goes on believing that he is possible because once upon a time he was possible. Or, it just may be that there is something deep with the human spirit—ingrained, instinctual, irrepressible—that longs to say “Your Majesty” and, for once, to mean it.

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2 replies to this post
  1. As usual, each sentence a wealth of wisdom. My mischievous nature compels that I note an irony of history: it is a good thing that Claus Von Stauffenburg’s ploy to assasinate Hitler failed. Had the anti-Hitler plot been victorious , Poland would today likely be a miniscule land-locked nation-state if it would exist at all. That said , even Polish Presidents of the present day have paid him tribute because it is proper to pay respects to the idea of the German resistance to Hitlerism. Yet seen from the point of view of justice – Stauffenburg’s success would have likely resulted in the consolidation of Hitler’s gains and the endurance of the Reich. Irony of ironies…

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