Der Lange Kerls, of Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia

One of the things I like best about history are the unique footnotes which for me bring history alive. One example, Louis XVI imported potatoes and served them at his own table, his daughter Marie-Thérèse loved to eat them fried. Now what kid doesn't eat french fries? A connection with the past.

Today I write about another. The Prussian infantry regiment No 6, called the Lange Kerls, which basically translates into the long guys. Formed in 1675, by Prince Frederick of Brandenburg, who later became Frederick I of Prussia. Frederick I's son Frederick Wilhelm became the nominal commander at his birth. He continued with recruiting and maintaining the regiment all through his reign.

King Frederick Wilhelm was consumed by thing military and this regiment in particular. All over his kingdom tall men were sought out. Farmers and landowners could be payed a supplement if they gave up their tallest labourer. Kingdoms who desired good diplomatic relations would send men to be enlisted as soldiers to Frederick Wilhelm I. If men of the correct height could not be found legally they might be kidnapped. Even priests and monks were not safe.

Frederick Wilhelm I drilled his personal soldiers everyday. Tall women were called in to marry soldiers so that tall children might be born who would continue to serve in the ranks and maintain the regiment.

Discipline in the Prussian army was severe. Any infraction, even as small as being out of step could result in running the gauntlet, being flogged or beaten with an iron ram rod. Naturally, desertion was not uncommon, nor was suicide.

The uniform was spectacular however, a dark blue coat, with a red sleeved vest worn under the coat, red pants, and a grenadier cap. He carried a musket of the Prussian pattern, white leather belts, and a grenadier sword. The grenadier cap had the effect of making the soldiers appear even taller.

Frederick the Great, der Alte Fritz, son and heir of Frederick Wilhelm I, considered the regiment a waste of money and the regiment was reduced to a battalion (half a regiment) with most of the soldiers being sent to other regiments. This did not mean that kidnapping of men (not impressment) for the ranks ceased and even captured soldiers were employed to fill the ranks of the Prussian regiments, the pool of Prussian men being exhausted by years of warfare.

The battalion served at Hohenfriedberg during the War of Austrian succession, and at Rossbach, Leuthen, Hochkirch, Liegnitz und Torgau throughout the Seven Years War. The battalion existed until 1806 and the Prussian defeat at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt by Napoleon.

Vive le Roy.

Salic Law and the Royal Line of Succession to Louis XX

The Crown of France is one of the most ancient in Europe reigning without a break until 1792, and then restored again in 1815. The country continued to be ruled by a Monarch, Louis-Philippe, for seventeen and a half years following the 1830 revolution, but this last King was head of a junior branch of the House and could not claim to be the legitimate successor of the deposed Monarch, Charles X. The senior line became extinct with the death of Henri, Count of Chambord Henri V to legitimists) in 1883, at which time the succession was disputed between the representative of the surviving senior line (the Carlist claimant to the throne of Spain), and the grandson of Louis-Philippe, the Count of Pars. There is no doubt that the Kings of France before 1792 and between 1814 and 1830 had believed themselves to be the inheritors of the ancient Kingly prerogative and rights invested in Hugh Capet in 987, and passed on to his descendants, successors to the Crown. This very antiquity gave the force of precedence to the system of succession, and established precedence being most easily understood is less subject to ambiguous interpretation. Long before the revolution of 1789 French constitutional authorities had identified a system of laws, the fundamental laws of succession, which they showed had governed the succession to the Crown since at least the early fourteenth century, and whose origins go to the foundation of the Capetian Monarchy.

Until the short-lived Constitution of 1791 France's succession was ruled by custom, and these customs were enshrined in a system of laws which at various times were held, by those competent to adjudicate in such matters (primarily the Parliament of Paris composed of Magistrates and Peers), to be fixed and constant. The restoration of 1814 re-established the ancient Monarchy with all its pre-1789 powers and prerogatives, subject only to any limitations imposed by the Constitutional Charter of 1814 (article 74). The Charter did not attempt otherwise to regulate the succession to the Crown. It conferred on the members of the royal family (elsewhere defined as the children and grandchildren of the King) and on the Princes du Sang (Princes of the Blood), the right to a seat in the Chamber of Peers with precedence immediately after the President in order of their position in the succession, but these Princes could not take their seat without the prior permission of the King before each session, and could not vote until they were twenty-five years old.

The fundamental laws enshrined certain principles which bound the nation and the succession to the Crown for the first eight-hundred years of the Capetian Monarchy. During the interregnum of 1793-1814 these principles were applied to assure the titular succession of Louis XVIII rather than his niece, Marie-Therese, whom some French monarchists thought a more appealing focus for royalist loyalties. From 1815 they once again dictated the legal succession, and these selfsame principles were applied by French legitimists without dissent, until the death of Henri V (titular King), in 1883. These laws insured the peace of the Kingdom by allowing for there to be no doubt about the person of the heir to the throne, and thereby reducing the chances of a civil war over the succession. By preventing either the Sovereign, or any individual Prince, from alienating their own dynastic rights or those of other dynasts, these laws insured that personal preference or short-term interest could not divert the succession and thereby risk future challenges and dissent. The existence of fundamental laws which may not be overridden even by acts of the Sovereign registered in the Parliament is comparable to the supremacy of the Constitution of the United States, whose principles cannot be suborned by the acts of individual States or even Congress, and to parts of the modern French Republican Constitution which define the state as a Republic. In the USA, the individual states or Congress may pass laws which appear to have all the proper foundation which nonetheless may be struck down by the Supreme Court because if they conflict with the U.S. Constitution. In the same way a Monarch may issue properly registered decrees or letters patent that actually conflicted with the fundamental laws and were therefore void and ineffective. In France, there was no official body established to review these fundamental laws, but they were known and understood by all constitutional jurists

The French fundamental laws of succession may be identified as follows:
A. Succession to the Crown is limited to male princes descended from Hugh Capet.
B. Succession to the Crown must pass by primogeniture descent.
C. Neither the Sovereign, nor any other person or body, can divert the succession from the primogeniture male heir.
D. The House of France is one single House with reigning and non-reigning branches.
E. The nationality of a dynast does not affect his right

Go here to see the line of sucession from Hughes Capet to Louis XX



D'Artagnan in a contemporary art.

Adam Frans van der Meulen 1673, accompanied Louis XIV on his invasion of Holland, and painted for the king. The above painting "Arrivée de Louis XIV au camp devant Maestricht" - may possibly show the face of D'Artagnan. He is most likely the figure on horseback wearing blue trimmed in gold, close to the tree on the right.

Un pour tous, tous pour un !

Vive le Roy!
Suggested by an article in the Wars of Louis Quatorze

D’Artagnan’s death at the 1673 siege of Maastricht

I have a great admiration of great literature. The great novels by Alexandre Dumas are incomparabel for their adventure, suspence, and pure reading enjoyment. One of the most beloved characters, is Charles de Batz de Castlemore, known by his nom-de-guerre D'Artagnan. So having found some more information about his real life personna can only serve to think.

If you have the chance, on a sunny morning, to contemplate the medieval towers of Maastricht from Mount Saint Pieter, you will not find it hard to imagine yourself back in centuries past. Strolling down the hill towards the city, you might pass along cornfields, stroke a horse’s head over the barbed wire and pick a poppy flower from the grass. Your steps slowly lead you towards Aldenhof park, at the gates of Maastricht…

But suddenly a tall cast iron statue reminds you that this place was not always so quiet and peaceful. Indeed, in ancient turbulent times, these very spots once resonated with the thunderous clamour of weapons. The statue portrays the glorious musketeer Charles de Batz-Castelmore, better known as d’Artagnan, who perished in 1673 during the siege of Maastricht by the armies of the French king Louis XIV.

Un pour tous, tous pour un, read the chiselled letters on the socle - One for all, all for one. The bold eyes of the musketeer, who is drawing his sword, speak of firmness. The statue is a tribute to a noble man’s courage and contempt of death as he remained true to his king and comrades.

The myth of d’Artagnan

The name of d’Artagnan acquired world fame thanks to the 19th century novels of the flamboyant French writer Alexandre Dumas, who in a matchless style described the gallant conversations and splendid sword fights of his hero. The D’Artagnan romances, which comprise The Three Musketeers and its sequels Vingt ans après and Le Vicomte de Bragelonne celebrate the martial exploits of the French king’s elite troops in gripping merry ventures.

Dumas found the basis for his characters in a novel published in 1701 by a certain Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras. Dumas’ stories, on their turn, were a source of inspiration for countless other books, plays and films about d’Artagnan and his fellow musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

But d’Artagnan is not just a myth. In France, schoolchildren learn how the illustrious Lieutenant-Captain of the king’s musketeers was killed before the ramparts of Maastricht. Dumas’ famous three other musketeers truly existed too.

The reality of war

Yet, even though it successfully stirs interest, the romantic genre which brought so much success to Dumas is not suited to reproduce a correct picture of history.

Indeed, the d’Artagnan romances do not report on the violent reality of war, with its aftermath of plagues and misery. They do not ponder much on the injustice that fell upon poor local peasants when passing armies would lay them under contribution, or when rough soldiers would quarter in their villages and tear down their humble dwellings if these happened to be standing in the line of fire.

Nor did Dumas describe the fate of the besieged citizens of Maastricht, who were forced to help dig trenches, suffered of starvation and were killed by cannon balls flying about. No word either about the beastly rage of mercenaries, to whose merciless hands a city would sometimes be abandoned if it surrendered only after a long siege.

But why should indeed Dumas have written about the miseries of war? His primary intention was after all to tell stories in which readers would dream away…

Who was the real d’Artagnan?
Charles de Batz-Castelmore, Count d’Artagnan, was born in 1610 or 1611 in the castle of Castelmore in Lupiac, in the French province of Gascogne. In 1627, like many young noblemen, he travelled to the court of Louis XIII in Paris. There he became commander of the ‘grey’ musketeers, named after the colour of their horses. In fact, they were the king’s lifeguards, and accompanied him everywhere. D’Artagnan accomplished delicate tasks at the service of the crown: he escorted important prisoners and carried secret messages. He married in 1659, fathered two sons, but divorced a few years later. In 1672, he became governor of the Flemish city of Lille, which had come under French rule only a few years earlier. Here, too, he had to act with tact and authority.

The young republic
In 1632, the Dutch prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange had conquered the fortified city of Maastricht from the catholic Spanish Habsburg king. From that moment on, the city served as an outpost in the hands of the protestant Republic of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.

The young republic entered its golden age. Ship owners from Amsterdam sent their vessels around the world and rapidly acquired enormous riches. Holland became a refuge for Huguenots and free thinkers of all kinds, and a centre of art and science. Established powers like England and France saw this bloom with a mixture of envy and disdain, and tried in turns to deflate the daring Dutchmen. But this was no easy task.

During two sea wars against England, the fleet of the admirals Tromp and de Ruyter remained intact with remarkable skillfulness. But in 1672, the ‘year of disaster’, the situation became threatening: there was much discord in Holland about the princes of Orange, whose prominent position did not seem to fit a republic. Now England, France, Münster and Cologne all at once turned against the United Provinces of the Netherlands.

The Sun King
In those years, the French Sun King Louis XIV was building his baroque palace in Versailles. He was the soul of the alliance against Holland. Yonder in that small country of frogs by the sea, those princes of Orange were thinking a great deal of themselves, weren’t they? But had they been anointed kings like himself, his very Christian majesty by the grace of God? Didn’t his marriage with the Spanish infante Maria Theresa give him more rights to lay claims on the Spanish northern hereditary lands? The Dutch were just peasants. A country without a king was not a real country. Even France’s existence depended on its king. “L’Etat, c’est moi”, declared Louis XIV.

The Sun King believed that the French speaking regions of Alsace and Wallonia belonged to France’s natural territory. He wished to shift the country’s frontiers to the Rhine river. So he declared war on Holland.

Around this time, the famous poet Jean de la Fontaine wrote a political fable for his monarch, in which he portrayed ungrateful frogs (the Dutch) rising in revolt against the Sun (the French King), who was warming them. In the final lines of Le Soleil et les Grenouilles, the frogs are warned to beware against provoking the sun’s wrath:

Car si le soleil se pique,
Il le leur fera sentir ;
La république aquatique
Pourrait bien s’en repentir.

(For, should the sun in anger rise,
And hurl his vengeance from the skies,
That kingless, half-aquatic crew
Their impudence would sorely rue.)

But there was however one problem for the French: to reach the Rhine, Louis XIV had to conquer Maastricht. And Maastricht was one of the strongest fortified cities of Europe.

The siege of Maastricht
The thirty-four year old Sun King took personal command over the siege of Maastricht. He pitched his tents on the Louwberg hill, next to the church of Wolder. His renowned fortifications engineer Vauban organised the technical aspects of the siege, such as the construction of provisional circumvallations to avert any relief force, and trenches of approach towards the city. Their English allies were under the guidance of the duke of Monmouth, a natural son of King Charles II.

D’Artagnan was Lieutenant Captain of the first company of the King’s musketeers. He was to concentrate his troops’ assault on the Tongerse gate (Tongersepoort).

In 1673, the fortress of Sint Pieter, the High and Low Fronts and the Waldeck bastion did not exist yet. But the walls around the city had already been provided with large outworks. To the north of the Tongerse gate for instance, stood a seventy metre long and forty metre wide earthen hornwork, perpendicular to the wall and supplied with a hiding place made of stone. Before the gate, among other fortifications, the Dutch had built a brick covered lunette, which later became known as the ‘demi-lune des mousquetaires’. To the south, stood yet another lunette, next to the De Reek watergate, where the Jeker streams into the city. The city had also been provided with underground passages which helped the besieged garrison identify and undermine the trenches of approach.

The attack
On the night of Saturday 24 to Sunday 25 of June, 1673, the French army captured the advanced lunette before the Tongerse gate. On Sunday morning, however, the Dutch garrison reconquered it with the use of explosives. The young and unthinking duke of Monmouth now persuaded the sixty-two year old d’Artagnan to take part in a counter attack without sufficient cover.

The musketeer had hardly recovered from the battle of the previous night. As he passed a bottleneck, he was hit in the throat by a musket bullet. D’Artagnan fell and succumbed to the fatal wound.

The duke stepped across his corpse and recaptured the lunette. Within a few days, the French army was able to make a breach in the city wall. The siege of Maastricht had lasted only thirteen days when the city surrendered on June 30, 1673.

D’Artagnan had been loved not only by his fellow musketeers, but also by the king himself. On the evening of that fateful Sunday, Louis XIV wrote in a letter to his wife: “Madame, today I lost d’Artagnan, in whom I had every confidence”.

After the capture of Maastricht, Louis XIV ordered a triumphal arc to be erected in Paris to celebrate this glorious feat of arms: a sculpture on the Porte Saint Denis represents an allegory of the surrender of the Dutch stronghold.

The King further immortalised the siege of Maastricht in paintings, struck medals and built a scale model of the city of Maastricht and its surroundings.

But the glory of war turned out to be transient: Sic transit gloria mundi. Within five years after the conquest of Maastricht, Louis XIV was forced to relinquish the city again, as a concession to the Dutch stadtholder, prince William III of Orange, who married Mary Stuart in 1677 and later on became king of England.

By Hennie Reuvers, 19 Dec 2006
Crossroads Magazine, guide to Maastricht

The Grave D`Artagnan may have been found, see this...


Suggested by an article in The Wars of Louis Quatorze

...because fashion is timeless...



"A short history of the Hootenanny Mass & other absurdities..."

Father Know it All continues to Part 3 of "A short history of the Hootenanny Mass & other absurdities..."

...(There is a story here that I can’t resist telling. Julius planned his tomb right in the middle of the new St. Peter’s, smack dab on top of the apostle’s grave. It was to be a sort of stepped pyramid, covered with Michelangelo statues. The whole thing took longer than Julius imagined; 120 years to be exact. They didn’t quite finish on time and Julius didn’t get the glorious tomb he had planned in the new basilica. They put Julius elsewhere for the time being and the few statues finished by Michelangelo at the time of Julius’ demise were scattered around Rome Finally, the remains of Pope Julius were interred in St. Peter’s many years later. If you visit St. Peter’s today, walk toward the great altar and over on the right side you will see a large wooden console that I believe holds organ pipes. Around behind it they stack folding chairs for special events. Under the folding chairs you will find the grave of Julius II. The wonder of it all.)... more...

Reducing history to the lowest common denominator.


American Revolution, The Prequel

America’s Revolution: The Prequel

Bath, England

PICTURE the scene: Out of the dawn mist, a fleet of longboats glides across the water, packed full of musket-wielding patriots and weather-beaten Massachusetts militiamen. Standing in the prow of the lead boat, like Washington crossing the Delaware, is a man with long flowing hair and a blood-red banner emblazoned with two words: Vincit veritas. Truth Conquers.

But it’s not Washington, and it’s not the American Revolution. In fact, it’s not even America. This daring amphibious assault by Col. Thomas Rainborowe and his regiment of New Englanders took place 3,000 miles away, in old England, and in 1644, more than 130 years before those famous shots were fired at Lexington to herald what we Brits insist on calling the War of American Independence. More...

Print: For King and Kingdom by Chris Collingwood.
Depicts Royalist troops at an early stage of the war, readying for battle. Faces set with grim determination to fight and die for King and Kingdom. Chris Collingwood.
Find here...



Anglican bishop lays his mitre and crozier at the feet of Our Lady as he leaves for Rome.

An intensely touching detail from the final Anglican sermon of the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, delivered yesterday at St John the Evangelist, New Hinksey, Oxford. As the Ordinariate Portal reports, at the end of the service, Bishop Burnham – who will be ordained into the Ordinariate as a Catholic priest – “laid aside his crozier and mitre at the feet of Our Lady”. Here is his sermon:

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

Thank you, all of you, for getting out the snow-chains and coming here today. It was a bit of an after-thought to put on this service: I am supposed to be on Study Leave and I knew, in my heart, that it would turn into Gardening Leave, that I should be resigning rather than returning to the work of a bishop in your midst. But I shall always remember my wife, Cathy, telling the students at St Stephen’s House on the Leavers’ Course, that it is vital to leave properly, to say your goodbyes, and move on. It’s not quite what the Americans call ‘closure’ but it’s something like it. It is what distinguishes a decent departure from a death. In some ways, leaving is uncomfortably like dying. As I sit in my office, I hear about what is going on. Other bishops providing cover: and we are already grateful to Bishop Lindsay Urwin for that. The Council of Priests meeting and talking about what kind of Bishop of Ebbsfleet is needed in future. Stories that suggest that people are not moving off but simply moving on, looking forward to a new bishop and life returning to normal.

Death is often cruelly disruptive, leaving all kinds of unfinished business, and a multitude of ‘if onlys’. A decent departure sorts out some of the things that need to be sorted out, makes proper arrangements. I keep returning to the Passion Narrative and the departure of Jesus. Make no mistake, I have no delusions of grandeur but, as I said in my Pastoral Letter, I have found the Farewell Discourses in St John’s Gospel immensely rich. As I said in that letter:

‘Looking through the Farewell Discourses, there is not only Jesus going ahead to prepare a place but also the promise of a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit (John 14). Jesus is the True Vine and, cut off from him, we can do nothing but wither and be thrown into the fire and burned (John 15). His new commandment is to love one another. ‘By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another’. The work of the Spirit is to guide us into all the truth (John 16:13) and to glorify the Father and the Son. Thus our sorrow will be turned into joy. We learn of the gift of Peace, which, amidst the tribulation of the world is found only in Christ. Finally Jesus prays for the gift of Unity (John 17). It is that gift of Unity, I believe, which is offered to us, and through us eventually to all separated Christians, in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. It is because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, abiding in his Church, that I believe I must accept it and invite others to come with me on the journey.’

‘I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you.’ Jesus’ departure was a death, but it was a death that brought about salvation, and, part of the secret of doing that, humanly speaking, was the way he prepared his disciples and what he was then going on to do. Jesus’ death was a departure but in no sense was it a decent departure. There was the cruelty of the Passion, the desolation of Golgotha, the anguish of the Pièta, and the chill of the sepulchre. My point is that it is that departure – that death – explained beforehand and back-announced gloriously in the Resurrection that must inform all our attempts to be disciples of Jesus. And so, a decent departure, explained beforehand and – who knows? – back-announced in what comes later. That isn’t a Messiah complex but an attempt to follow Jesus, as a disciple.

So what am I leaving behind? 75 parishes – not to mention the couple of dozen parishes I lost in Exeter diocese two or three years ago, a loss which I still notice. The mostly wonderful – and otherwise usually loveable – priests who serve those parishes. Fr X who calls a spade an ‘effin’ shovel’. Fr Y whose private generosity to me and support has been extraordinary. Fr Z who gets in touch every few months with yet another tranche of candidates for me to confirm. And then there are those people who must be named: Vicky Hayman and Jackie Ottaway in the office, and former staff, who have kept the whole thing going. Alan who has driven me around for nearly ten years and has heard me gently snoring through the ten o’clock news as he has driven me home. Fr Bill, my chaplain, who has left my stuff behind in a whole variety of sacristies but who has gone round the bun fights doing most of the Bishop’s pastoral work for him. The team has been fabulous. And there are others too: His Honour Mr Judge Patrick, who used to give me free legal advice and support but who, now he’s a judge is no longer allowed to. The two or three deans who have kept in touch on the phone more or less every week for ten years. Talking of which I should mention my Council of Priests, which became a Council of Friends. The people of the parishes, showing time and time again a commitment to the Lord and to each other which I have found humbling, instructive, and life-enhancing. Various key lay people – on the Lay Council, running Brean, turning up at Parish Evangelism Weekends – serving with devotion and skill.

I’m also leaving behind the hugely maddening Anglo-catholic movement: its frailty and fearlessness, its humour and its holiness. It is a home for some slightly disreputable characters – and the ministry of Jesus specialised in being at table with slightly disreputable characters. Ten years touring round the West and the South West has had its moments. No time for anecdotes, but there was the time when I stopped at a service station and bought two cups of tea, which I promptly dropped all over ‘me privates’. From Burnham-on-Sea (Burnham-on-Crouch?) back to Oxford in a sodden suit. What would people have thought had I been on the way there rather than on the way back?

The Anglo-catholic movement has fought a losing battle for 150 years, trying to convince the Church of England that she would be Catholic if only she conformed herself to the Catholic Faith and fully embraced Catholic Faith and Order. It was a losing battle when I was a little boy of ten, told off for sticking saints’ names into the Confiteor at the Early Communion. It was a losing battle when I was twenty and Fr Hooper was still going strong at Mary Mags, filled to the gunwales despite its extreme churchmanship. It is a losing battle now, as the General Synod presumes to discuss matters of Faith and Order on which classical Anglicanism always claimed to have the same view as the universal Church, the Church of the First Millennium, East and West.

But I love the Church of England – the mainstream bit – and shall miss her. She taught me the psalms and the Revised Standard Version. She taught me about music in the service of God. She taught me about the beauty of holiness. Oh yes, the naughty excitement of the Folies Bergère may be available in Anglo-catholic worship but the dull dignity of cathedral worship, the seemliness and the decency, is something I shall also miss. I have tried to gather some of that up in today’s service. There is nothing more Anglican than Herbert Howells’ Collegium Regale, ‘Let all mortal flesh keep silence’ by Edward Bairstow, one-time organist of York Minster, and the psalm chant by George Thalben-Ball, long-time organist of the Temple Church. There is little more beautiful in literature than the Cranmerian cadences of the traditional language of the Prayer Book, which, rather unusually, we are using today. I shall even miss some of those in the mainstream whom I have known and with whom I have worked.

So, if leaving well is calling to mind what one will miss, then I am learning to leave. If it is about looking forward to what is coming next, then I’m not sure: I have never been less sure of how the future will unfold. But, finally – and I have given up trying to make this address into a proper sermon – I must say, if I am to leave properly, thank you for all you have done for me, for all you have been for me, and for all you are to me, and always will be to me. For many, I hope it will be ‘see you soon’ rather than ‘good-bye’ but, on your journey of discipleship, look not to me but to the Lord whom we serve. He alone can teach us how to be pilgrims on the way that leads to Paradise.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?