Thursday, July 03, 2008

Kings and Queens

I just found this and it added to my font of knowledge. I needed this for my next Clan Gunn book. I got this from a blog on Britain.

Sovereigns selected and deselected

Some think that a British Sovereign inherits the throne and sits on it until he or she dies, but British history shows that the selection and indeed deselection of the Sovereign was often made by the people to ensure that they had a ruler they could trust and who was up to the job. When the British people believed that a Sovereign had violated his Coronation Oath - to protect the laws and give them justice - they often sent him packing.

Cat has prepared a partial list of sovereigns, some of them selected, many of them deselected. I think you'll notice some modern echoes -

SELECTED Alfred (871-899) is the great pre-Norman example of a king selected by the Witan, which passed over his elder brother's son.
SELECTED Alfred's grandson AEthelstan (924-940) was first chosen king by the Mercians, and later named king of Britain by an assembly of less powerful rulers. He held his kingdom together with ‘national assemblies, in which every local interest was represented' (DNB).

SELECTED Edward the Confessor was invited by English magnates to return from exile and become king. On his death the magnates elected Harold.

DESELECTED William II (1087-1100), the son of William the Conqueror, was "deselected" by an arrow in the heart. Supposedly a hunting accident, the archer was never identified. There is some evidence the arrow was shot because William had enclosed common lands to enlarge the New Forest.

SELECTED Henry I (1100-1135) was crowned king when his brother died, in preference to his elder brother Robert. He agreed to affirm the Charter of Liberties and the essential principle that no one, not even the king, is above the law.

SELECTED Henry II (1154-1189) was selected to rule after Stephen.

DESELECTED John (1199-1216) broke his Coronation Oath by not giving justice. He was forced to affirm Magna Carta. When he resisted, the "Holy Army of God" marched against him, with the citizens of all the major towns in support, and John died on the campaign trail.

TEMPORARILY DESELECTED Henry III (1216-1272) was made a prisoner when he refused to uphold Magna Carta and the Provisions of Oxford and Westminster. The struggle that ensued saw the birth of Parliament.

DESELECTED Edward II (1284-1327) was deposed due to extravagant favouritism and his refusal to carry through on promises of reform, including "ejecting evil counsellors". His government 'could not be mended, only ended' (DNB). Edward resigned his throne in favour of his son.

DESELECTED Richard II (1377-1399) troubled the House of Commons with his heavy taxation and his inner circle of favourites and ministers. Richard's claims of prerogative were backed by the courts, but not by the people or the lords, who executed his inner circle. Richard regained power, used the treason law as a means of political and personal oppression and violated Magna Carta. Parliament charged Richard with breaking his Coronation Oath, and thereby breaking the legal bond between himself and his people (DNB). He was deposed "by authority of the clergy and people" with the help of Henry Bolingbroke.

DESELECTED Henry VI (1421-1471) inherited the throne when he was a baby. He was more interested in promoting education - he established Eton and King's College, Cambridge - than in ruling. He could not control greedy courtiers, remedy his court's inefficiency and lack of accountability, provide fair and effective justice or arrange an honourable peace with France. War resumed, trade collapsed, Henry had a breakdown and was deposed.

TEMPORARILY DESELECTED Edward IV (1461-1470, 1471-1483) Rebellions to his rule arose due to high taxes, a greedy court circle and lax justice, and the thorny Wars of the Roses. Edward was forced to flee to the Netherlands, mounted a successful invasion and reestablished his authority in Britain. Unfortunately he was indifferent to the concept of parliament, elevated persons rather than the law and created the new and unlawful tax inventions of 'benevolences', an early example of double-speak.

DESELECTED Charles I (1625-1649) engaged in a great battle with Parliament over taxes, the right to petition government for redress of grievances and his belief in an absolute kingship superior to constitutional law. He lost the subsequent Civil War and the battle of ideas and was beheaded.

SELECTED Charles II (1660-1685), the son of Charles I, was invited back to England to serve as King.

DESELECTED James II (1685-1688) succeeded to the throne on the death of his brother Charles, but was forced to flee when English cities rose in rebellion. The people believed that he was trying to disarm those who opposed him and reinstate Catholicism.

SELECTED William and Mary (1689-1694) were invited to rule England by "A People's Convention". Mary and William were accepted when they affirmed the liberties described in the Declaration of Right as part of their covenant with the people.

DESELECTED George III (1760-1820) retained his crown to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, but Brits in America rejected his rule over the issues of taxes, the right to be armed and the right to self-government.

The modern echoes include high taxes, lack of justice, accountability and fairness, inefficiency and greed, a refusal to abide by Magna Carta, dishonourable peace, and, in the case of John and James, the fear that the kingdom would be ruled by foreign powers. Behind all these concerns lay the breaking of the Coronation Oath.

History provides food for thought as we ask HRH Queen Elizabeth II why she gave her Royal Assent to the Lisbon Treaty, which subverts Britain's sovereignty and common law. Does she believe she lacks the constitutional authority to refuse her assent to Parliament?

It is the people, not Parliament, who give her constitutional authority. She had a constitutional obligation to refuse the Treaty, which is an EU constitution.

To date three presidents of European countries have refused to sign the Treaty.

This government is extremely unpopular. The Queen has the power to dissolve Parliament.

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