Ivan the Terrible and the Pskov holy fool Nikola Salos in the painting by A.P. Ryabushkin
Insult to Majesty laws
Trying to increase their authority in society, monarchs have long acted according to the principle "all means are good" - except for one, the most effective. To rule fairly, in the interests of all subjects, and not a handful of aristocrats, court sycophants, shameless favorites and favorites, few have tried.
Let's make a reservation right away that we are talking about justice, but not about kindness.
State power is always a compulsion, and one cannot be kind to everyone. The results of the reign of a kind monarch are often very sad.
And there is a grain of truth in the famous phrase of Bonaparte:
“When I hear:“ Good king ”, I always say:“ What an unfortunate government in the country ”.
In order to justify their right to rule and gain the respect of their subjects, monarchs often referred to their divine origin or even declared themselves gods. And the disciple of Aristotle, Alexander the Great, brought up in the Hellenistic tradition, did not disdain to follow this path (as soon as he had such an opportunity).
Napoleon Bonaparte also showed regret that he was born in the wrong place and at the wrong time: earlier, in the East, he could have declared himself a god, but now, in the West, it is no longer possible - they will laugh.
Unable to declare themselves gods, the rulers of all countries traditionally used priests of different cults to sacralize their power. They readily confirmed that unconditional submission to those in power is the highest virtue, and disobedience to them is a great sin.
Like the apostle Paul, for example, who issued the minted formula:
"There is no power, except as from God, the one who resists power resists God's command."
"Obey not only the good, but also the evil, not only for fear, but also for conscience."
The same Bonaparte once said:
"Religion is what keeps the poor from killing the rich."
Especially attractive was the opportunity to unite in their hands both earthly and spiritual power.
This is what the popes have tried to achieve for centuries. More successful was King Henry VIII, thanks to whom the ruling monarch of Great Britain is still the head of the Anglican Church.
Peter I followed the same path, abolishing the patriarchate in Russia and actually making Orthodox hierarchs and priests civil servants.
Napoleon later said in a conversation with Alexander I that he envied him: it is very convenient to be "both Pope and Emperor at the same time."
The rulers of the new post-revolutionary Russia could also remain the heads of the ROC: it was enough not to separate the church from the state, not to fight against "religious prejudices" and to preserve the privileges of the holders of clerical dignities. And then in all churches there would be prayers for the health of the pious general secretaries, and Lenin and Stalin, given their authority and popularity in society, no doubt, after death would be canonized and declared "equal to the apostles."
The overwhelming majority of monarchs were extremely touchy and vindictive people.
Let us recall, for example, Clovis, who for many years concealed a grudge against the warrior who did not allow him to take the cup he liked when dividing the spoils. It all ended with the murder of this man in front of the formation of the troops - as soon as Clovis became strong enough to afford it.
Medieval notions of etiquette and honor can shock anyone.
How would you like the tradition of public birth of queens of France, for example?
But the monarchs of Spain were especially scrupulous in matters of honor.
King Philip III (father of Anne of Austria, familiar to everyone from the novel by Dumas "The Three Musketeers"), unconscious, fell too close to the fireplace. And he received severe burns, since there was no person among those present whose touch would not damage the honor of the monarch.
The clothes of the Spanish kings and their courtiers were as uncomfortable as possible. And in everyday life, it was required to observe numerous rituals, the slightest deviation from which was considered a terrible dishonor.
The Catholic kings of Spain and their family members should not have shown emotions, and therefore, when the parrots made Queen Marie Anne (Austria) laugh, the unfortunate birds immediately turned their heads.
The king, on his way to his wife to perform marital duties, in one hand had to carry a candelabrum with lighted candles, in the other - to hold the sword by the blade with the hilt up (this was supposed to symbolize the cross).
It is not surprising that the aforementioned young Austrian princess Marie-Anne, the bride of the future King Philip IV, fainted when the royal majordomo accompanying her said to the mayor of Lyon, who dared to present the girl with a dozen silk stockings:
"Mr. Mayor, remember that the Spanish queen has no legs!"
Having heard about the severity of Spanish morals, the girl decided that upon arrival in Madrid, her legs would be cut off.
France Leix. Marie-Anne of Austria
Marie-Louise of Orleans, wife of Charles II (son of Marie-Anne of Austria), almost died after her leg got stuck in the stirrup. Touching the Spanish queen was a terrible and unheard-of infringement on her honor, and therefore the courtiers watched with a distance as the horse dragged the woman along the ground. Finally, two of them decided to come to the rescue - and immediately after that they fled the country, expecting not gratitude, but a death sentence.
Francesco Ricci. Equestrian portrait of Marie-Louise
In the retinue of Sunanda Kumarirattana, the wife of the Siamese king Rama V, there were no such desperate daredevils. In 1880, she drowned with her newborn daughter in front of numerous courtiers. Only after that, in Siam (Thailand), the ban on touching royalty was lifted.
It was still a little easier in Russia.
Empress Elizabeth, for example, once dyed her hair unsuccessfully and had to shave it off. The sight of the ladies of the court with luxuriant hair offended "Daughter Petrova" so much that she ordered them all to shave their heads immediately.
And a certain Mademoiselle Tardieu, who traded in foreign goods, greatly offended Elizabeth by selling some new items before the empress examined them. Then she went to jail - to gain mind-reason.
But most often, the offensive empress used her own old shoe as an instrument of retaliation, with which she publicly beat the guilty courtiers on the cheeks (in fact, it was not a new shoe to beat them - it would be scratched or torn, God forbid).
“The jolly queen was Elizabeth:
Singing and having fun
There is no order ":
G.-H. Groot. Equestrian portrait of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna
But in all these cases there was at least some kind of logic - albeit perverse and strange.
But try to please the Queen of Madagascar Ranavala I, who was called "Caligula in a skirt." She was very offended by the fact that the courtiers, without invitation, dared to appear to her in her dreams. Apparently, in the royal dream, they did not behave quite well, because the next morning they were usually executed.
Pierre Suau. Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar engraving
It is curious that at present this terrible queen, who banned Christianity and revived cruel pagan rituals, in which the population of the island decreased by almost half, is considered a national heroine, a great ruler, a patriot who fought against colonialism and so on, so on, so forth.
It was also not a good idea to dream about Moroccan princesses, but such impudent people were usually not executed here - they were limited to whipping.
Often all these antics of offended monarchs were of a non-systemic nature, and repression depended on the personality of one ruler or another. However, since ancient times, attempts have been made to explain to the subjects in what cases and what exactly the royal person can be offended.
In the Roman Republic there was a "law of greatness" - lex majestatis. Greatness was recognized for the Roman gods, the community of citizens and the Senate. It was not recommended to insult them in the most categorical way.
But officials sometimes confused "the fatherland with his excellency", and the "excellencies" (and themselves) - with the fatherland. A striking example is Sulla, who used this law to destroy his enemies.
In 8 BC. e. Octavian Augustus made additions to this law regarding the insult of the princeps and his family.
By the way, you can read about this even in M. Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita:
“Something strange happened to the hearing, as if trumpets were playing quietly and menacingly in the distance, and a nasal voice was heard very clearly, haughtily pulling the words:
"Insult to Majesty Law ..."
"Insult to Majesty Law ..."
This happened during the reign of Octavian's successor, Tiberius, under which, according to Tacitus, not only actions or statements that were objectionable to the emperor, but also insufficient respect towards him and his genius began to be considered an insult to greatness.
At this point, I am reminded of the modern United States and Western Europe, where a person can be persecuted or even fired from work for insufficiently expressed sympathy for BLM, transgender people and LGBT people.
But let's go back to Ancient Rome and look at other Caesars.
Here Nero, for example, according to Suetonius' testimony, began to send to execution those who did not applaud his music-making or recitation at feasts (or applauded without due enthusiasm).
Nero in the movie "The Eight Days That Made Rome"
Commodus preferred to act in the arena as a gladiator, but was no less touchy than the "humanist" Nero.
Other emperors were less eccentric, but they cared about their honor just as much, and it was always considered a serious crime to show insufficient respect for any of them.
In Russia, a separate concept of "state (sovereign) honor" appeared in 1649, when a special resolution of the Cathedral Code was adopted.
And under Peter I, a military article appeared (1715): here any judgments that contained an unflattering assessment or simply questioned the correctness and expediency of the activities of the tsar and his government were recognized as an insult to the monarch. Because "His Majesty is an autocratic monarch who should not give an answer to anyone in the world about his affairs."
In general, nothing new, even Ivan IV Kurbsky wrote about this:
"You are free to pay your servants, but you are free to execute them."
"You ruined the soul for the sake of the body ... you rebelled against God ... Why were you afraid to perish innocently?"
This article of the Article was interpreted very broadly.
So, in 1718, in a certain Johann Starshint, a Swede who was captured near Poltava, he was arrested for seeing some picture depicting this battle, "hitting the person of the Tsar's Majesty with his hand," claiming that the artist was mistaken: "The sovereign was in boots during the battle, but in the picture he was wearing stockings and tweets."
This arrest of the Swede did not enlighten, and two years later he was sent to Siberia for "drinking for the health" of Peter I.
Other reasons for repression were declared: “calling the imperial decree thieves', swearing when reading the decree, not removing the cap when reading the decree, keeping prohibited manifestos in the house, loudly expressing sympathy for the punished criminal, not celebrating calendar days without a good reason, cursing the portrait of the imperial, tearing up the decree his life of the king, Diminishing without intent of the sovereign's title, a mistake when writing this title. "
And (attention!) The statement of the phrase: "I spit on him."
Remember the anecdote about Alexander III and a certain soldier Oreshkin, who, while drunk, said: "I didn’t give a damn about your sovereign-emperor!" Alexander III, as if having learned about this (I wonder where from? Who would dare to report such an insignificant matter to him?), Ordered to tell Oreshkin that he also “didn't care” about him: that is, he entered into a dialogue with him! And he forbade hanging his portraits in drinking establishments.
This история - indeed an anecdote, and "with a beard", because he has been known since the time of Nicholas I. The differences are quite small: a different surname of the soldier (Agafon Suleikin) and other "blasphemous" words ("What a portrait to me - I'm a portrait myself!").
By the way, they also told another story about the “indulgence” of Alexander III: some man, impressed by the impressiveness of his figure, seemed to show his admiration in an obscene form. The emperor was not offended, but, on the contrary, was very flattered by this characteristic. With the words: "Here's my portrait for you as a keepsake," he handed the peasant a 25-ruble note.
Empress Catherine II, who verbally loved to flaunt her liberalism, in 1763 published a manifesto "On the prohibition of obscene reasoning and talk on matters that belong to the government", which in society was often called the "Manifesto of silence" (or "Decree on not saying too much" ).
An insult to the majesty was also recognized as a state crime in the final version of the "Orders" of this empress. And this was completely natural: Catherine was well aware that she did not have the slightest right to the Russian throne - she simply usurped it. Moreover, she usurped twice: first, she organized a coup d'état, which ended in the murder of the grandson of Peter I, and then refused to cede the throne to her son, who had reached the age of majority.
Oddly enough, the most painful for Catherine II were any statements related to her gender.
There is a known case of condemnation for a phrase that seemed to be quite flattering for the empress:
"Most merciful Empress, although she is a woman, she holds the whole earth!"
Stories about the empress's loving nature or her physical disabilities were severely punished. At the end of Catherine's life, any judgments about her possible death began to be severely punished (subjects, apparently, should have believed that she would live and rule forever).
Strange as it may seem, Paul I, who had been cheated by his murderers, was less touchy.
So, for example, he was very indignant when he learned that on his behalf the subjects were ordered to take off their hats, passing by the royal palace. On the contrary, he himself took off his hat, finding himself on the street in front of a crowd of his subjects (and this was one of the reasons for the great love of the common people of St. Petersburg for him).
Upon acceding to the throne, Paul issued a decree releasing the majority of those convicted of an "insult to greatness." Moreover, he did not even take revenge on the lover of his first (and beloved) wife Natalya Alekseevna - Andrei Razumovsky.
A. Roslin. Portrait of A. Razumovsky (1771), who in society was called a "refined immoral" person, but love affairs did not prevent him from being a very successful diplomat
Under Paul I, A. Razumovsky received the Order of St. Anna, 1796st degree (1800) and became a senator (XNUMX).
Quite another matter is his contemporary, a certain P. Balk-Polev, the Russian envoy to Brazil, who in 1804 contrived out of the blue to insult the emperor of this country out of the blue. The amount requested by the local shoemaker from Balk-Polev seemed to the diplomat too high. And Mr. Ambassador, without hesitation, threw a scandal during an audience, which he ended with a spectacular throw of a crumpled check at the feet of the local monarch. Naturally, he was expelled from the country.
In 1845, the Russian Empire published the Code on Criminal and Correctional Punishments. An entire chapter in it is devoted to protecting the emperor from insults.
It is curious that alcohol intoxication was recognized as a mitigating circumstance. Apparently, the authorities understood that the arrest and conviction of all visitors to the taverns might have a positive effect on the population of Siberia, but would contribute to the decline of the central regions.
The authorities still could not completely stop the flow of “criticism from below”.
Moreover, they themselves often gave a reason for nationwide fun. Such, for example, was the famous "Pineapple Manifesto" of Emperor Alexander III, who came to the throne, published in 1881. In fact, it was called the "Manifesto on the inviolability of autocracy." But the first line of this document ended with the phrase:
«A pineapple to entrust the sacred duty of the Autocratic Board. "
"Pineapple" manifesto "
This manifesto is often attributed to Nicholas II.
Another curious incident occurred at a gala dinner of Alexander III and his wife in the Kremlin's Palace of Facets in 1883.
The chef of the Rossiya restaurant, hired to work at this event, decided to surprise everyone with a dish he had invented: trout with sauce with vegetables and anchovies. According to the inventor's idea, the red color (for which the beets were responsible) and white (turnip) were supposed to symbolize the royal royal caftan. White, with dark blotches, the sauce is ermine mantle. However, the witches quickly "realized" that the trout in the salad symbolizes ... the empress.
The investigation was carried out quite serious, the emperor even personally talked to the unfortunate cook, who eventually got off with a "slight fright": no malicious intent was found in his actions. However, out of harm's way, it was ordered in the future to serve this dish without trout.
People began to call variations of this salad "fur coat", and then they figured out adding layers of pieces of salted herring to it. According to the popular version, this is how the famous "herring under a fur coat" appeared.
Even more evil were the mockery of the unpopular in the country Nicholas II and his equally unloved wife in all strata of society - Alexandra Fedorovna.
The Empress could not give birth to an heir to the throne, which forced her to turn to the most diverse charlatans. One of them was the former apprentice of the Lyons butcher Philip Nizier-Vasho. Under his "spell" in 1902, Alexandra showed signs of pregnancy, which turned out to be false. But newspapers have already reported about the Empress's pregnancy. As a result, rumors spread among the people about the birth of a "devil" in the royal family, who was immediately drowned in a bucket of water by the emperor himself.
State Secretary Polovtsev wrote about this:
"The most ridiculous rumors spread among all classes of the population, such as, for example, that the Empress gave birth to a freak with horns."
As a result, Pushkin's lines had to be removed from the Tsar Saltan extravaganza, which was shown at the Mariinsky Theater:
"The queen gave birth to a son or a daughter in the night ..."
And in Nizhny Novgorod, a calendar was confiscated, on the cover of which there was an image of a woman carrying 4 piglets in a basket. The censors decided that this was an allusion to the empress and her four daughters.
At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the “insult to majesty” law was often used against journalists.
So, among others for disrespect to Nicholas II at the end of 1905, Korney Chukovsky was arrested, who then published the humorous magazine "Signal" in Odessa. His wife had to pay a huge deposit of 10 thousand rubles. Later, by a court decision, the magazine was closed (indefinitely), Chukovsky was sentenced to 6 months in prison (this sentence was successfully appealed).
Rumors became quite insulting to the royal family after Grigory Rasputin entered the royal palace. Moreover, they have spread in all, even the highest, strata of Russian society. And the laws "on insult to majesty" actually ceased to operate, because it was impossible to arrest and send the entire Russian people to Siberia.
And the monarchy in Russia was now doomed: having become ridiculous, the tsarist power ceased to be terrible.
Do not think that things were different in "civilized and enlightened" Europe.
For example, Germany had its own law “on insult to majesty,” where in the first seven years of the reign of the touchy emperor Wilhelm II, 4 people were convicted who somehow managed to offend him. True, over time, this monarch began to take such matters more calmly, and in 965 he pardoned most of his offenders.
In France, in 1881, a law was passed to protect the honor and dignity of the president of the republic. Charles de Gaulle became famous for his particular intolerance towards his critics, for insulting whom 350 people were convicted in this country (an average of 35 French for each year of de Gaulle's presidency). This president possessed all the necessary skills of a dictator and was extremely disliked by criticism.
And there was a reason to criticize de Gaulle. It was he who contrived to capitulate in the already won Algerian War. Recall that Algeria has never been a colony: it was a full-fledged and full-fledged department of France - like the Ardennes, Moselle, Manche, Savoie or Haute-Loire.
Algeria, September 1958, Arab demonstration to keep Algeria within France
Demonstration of opponents of Charles de Gaulle in Paris, May 1958
When European France left Algeria, Islamic Algeria came to France. And entire quarters of many French cities became colonies of Algeria.
De Gaulle looked with indifference at the forced flight of 1 people from Algeria. Thanks to the efforts of many generations of these people, the standard of living in Algeria then corresponded to that of southern Italy and Greece.
Refugees were mainly "black-footed" French (about a million people), whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers already considered Algeria their homeland. This exodus of biblical proportions was the greatest tragedy in the history of the French people. Jews, loyalist Arabs (evolves) and a small part of the harki troops also fled.
Particularly sad was the fate of the kharqi, who fought in Algeria for France: out of 230 thousand harqas that remained here after the departure of the French, according to various authors, from 80 to 140 thousand people were killed by nationalists, and none of the tortured women and children from their families considered.
But this was not enough.
Trying to destroy the OAS activists who fought for French Algeria (many of them, unlike the overwhelming majority of the French, during World War II did not work conscientiously for the good of the Reich, but fought against the Germans), de Gaulle turned the French special services into an analogue of the Gestapo. The "special officers" under his control widely practiced unauthorized wiretapping of their own citizens and illegal spying on them, kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial reprisals against de Gaulle's opponents. And at the same time they "covered" smugglers and drug dealers. This activity is reflected in the films about the "tall blond" starring Pierre Richard.
Shot from the movie "Tall blond in a black boot"
Georges Pompidou, who became de Gaulle's successor, then had to carry out purges in the special services and practically play the role of raking up Yezhov Beria's legacy.
At the end of his inglorious and shameful retirement of government, de Gaulle brought the country to the mass riots of the 1968 revolution. But he did not like very much when they told him about it.
In France, only in 2000, the prison terms provided for by the 1881 law were replaced with large fines (up to 45 thousand euros). And in July 2013, this law was canceled by parliament.
In other European countries, similar laws continue to apply.
So, in the Netherlands, one should be very careful in choosing words when talking about the current reigning monarch or a member of the royal family, since, according to the law of 1881, they could have recently been sent to prison for up to five years.
Only in 2018 the maximum period was reduced to 4 months.
The last verdict under this law was passed in January 2020 to a 63-year-old resident of the city of Utrecht. He was convicted for a few words spoken in the direction of Queen Consort Maxima, which she did not even hear.
He quite rightly called the Argentinean Maxima "the daughter of a murderer", since her father was a minister in the government of the dictator of the head Jorge Videla. From 1976 to 1983, the junta in that country waged a terrorist "Dirty War" against its political opponents. The victims then became up to 30 thousand people, 13 thousand are missing.
One of the episodes of the "Dirty War" in Argentina
Spain still has the Lese-majeste (insult to majesty) law, which protects the reigning monarch and members of the local Bourbon dynasty.
As recently as February 2021, Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel (Pablo Rivadulla Duro) was sentenced to 9 months in prison for criticizing the royal family.
The news of his detention at the University of Lleida caused riots in several cities in Catalonia, as well as in Valencia. In clashes with the police, 33 people were injured (8 were hospitalized), 15 were arrested.
Barcelona, 17 February 2021
And this despite the fact that King Juan Carlos I of Bourbon is a “handshake” person in modern Spain.
In 1969 he was summoned to Spain by Franco and became the dictator's heir. In 1981 he participated in the suppression of the Franco rebellion. Thus, not completely becoming "his own" for the democrats, he also quarreled with the supporters of the "strong hand" line.
In 2014, after being accused of tax evasion in the amount of 65 million euros, as well as receiving a dubious "gift from the king of Saudi Arabia (100 million dollars), associated with an even more dubious contract for the construction of a railway worth 6,7 billion euros, Juan Carlos was forced to abdicate.
And in the fall of 2020, he fled to a very "democratic" country - the United Arab Emirates, settling in Abu Dhabi (where he is still).
The investigation into his activities is not being conducted in Spain, but in Switzerland.
King Juan Carlos
In Denmark, insulting a local king or queen is given up to 4 months in prison.
In Poland and Portugal for insulting presidents - up to 3 years, in Germany - from 3 months to 5 years, in Slovakia - up to 8 years in prison.
And, finally, the “cradle of democracy” is Great Britain, where can we go without it?
Only in 2018, the old law on liability for insulting the ruling monarch was abolished here.
According to this law, a Briton could be convicted, for example, for a postage stamp with the image of the monarch glued upside down on the envelope. The law has not been applied for a long time - because there are no people willing to try to break it.
However, in 2009, Labor MP Peter White, naively relying on the status of a member of the House of Commons, not in the Times newspaper, but only on his Facebook page (!) Dared to write a message on the possibility of arranging a day off in Britain on 60 anniversary of the reign of Elizabeth II:
“What is the point of celebrating the diamond anniversary of someone who was born in a privileged position? She is a parasite and milks this country wherever she can. "
He was immediately and unanimously condemned by his colleagues and expelled from the party. He thinks he got off easy.
In the United States, the protection of the honor of presidents is also all right.
Pennsylvania resident Nicholas Savino, for example, spent a year in prison after publishing the following text on the White House website:
“President Obama is the Antichrist. If you violate the constitution, you will leave or they will shoot you. "
Is it any wonder then that Thailand can still jail a person for up to 15 years for written or verbal insult to a member of the ruling royal family?
And currently there are more than a hundred people serving sentences for disrespect for the ruling dynasty.