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Before the invention of the semaphore and the telegraph, a message couldn't travel faster than the speed of a horse (or maybe a messenger pigeon or something along those lines - still pretty slow).
Has there ever been a situation in history where a ruler of a country left for war/attended foreign business far from their country, and an heir made the citizens believe the ruler was dead in order to take over the throne? Maybe he paid a messenger to pretend to carry the message of death?
These would be instances of taking over the country by using misinformation, not assassination.
Yes. King John of England attempted to take the throne from Richard I while he was on crusade. Richard's delayed return was due to the fact that he had been taken prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, and then handed over to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. John, in the meantime, took advantage of his brother's imprisonment, gathering supporters around him and scheming with Philip II of France. He also
began to assert that his brother was dead or otherwise permanently lost.
Although Richard had named his nephew, Arthur Duke of Brittany, as his heir before leaving for the crusade, Arthur was only a child and John managed to gather around him leading nobles who recognised him as heir. In order to placate John and get his help in raising the ransom money,
Archbishop Walter urged Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and the regency council to adopt a conciliatory policy towards John… Eleanor and the magnates took Hubert's advice and negotiated a truce with John. He agreed to surrender his castles to his mother and if they were unable to get Richard back, he would become king.
Richard, of course, did eventually return upon payment of a huge ransom. John promptly fled to France but was later forgiven by Richard. In 1196, Richard again named Arthur as his heir but he changed his mind on his deathbed in 1199 and named John instead, probably because he felt Arthur was too young to be king and to command the support needed to hold onto the Angevin empire. Arthur subsequently 'disappeared' (1203), with John being the prime suspect in his nephew's murder.
Although he was not an heir to the French throne, general Claude François de Malet attempted a coup in France, in 1812. After escaping from captivity, he informed the National Guard that Napoleon had died in Russia. He succedeed to release two generals, arrested a few others and tried to seize the power in Paris. The same day, he presented letters to Colonel Pierre Doucet that stated Napoleon had died on 7 October. However Doucet had knowledge of letters written by Napoleon after that date and went suspicious.
Shortly after, Malet was arrested and then executed.
Article from wikipedia : Malet coup of 1812
I'm not sure if this counts or not, since it wasn't a monarchy, the successor actually thought the ruler was dead initially (as a result of the detonation of the bomb that he had planted,) and it also wasn't in the Middle Ages, but Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg comes to mind.
In what was probably the closest an assassination plot came to succeeding against Hitler, Stauffenberg planted a bomb in a meeting he attended with Hitler in 1944 and then left the meeting due to receiving a planned telephone call. The device did detonate, at which point Stauffenberg assumed Hitler was dead and activated a plan known as Operation Valkyrie, which allowed Stauffenberg and his accomplices to briefly take over control of most of the German government.
Unfortunately, the conference took place in an above-ground conference room instead of the normal underground bunker due to the weather, so the pressure from the blast was not contained within the room and, thus, was not as deadly. Hitler was injured, but survived. Since the plot was already underway when he found out that Hitler had survived, Stauffenberg pressed for it to continue and attempted to deceive others into believing that Hitler was, in fact, dead.
However, since Hitler was not actually dead, the plot began to fall apart within a few hours as news slowly spread of Hitler's survival. Ultimately, the plot failed and Stauffenberg was executed about 12 hours after the detonation of the bomb. But, for a few hours, he and his accomplices did control much of Nazi Germany due to making people think Hitler was dead.
This coup attempt was the plot of the 2008 movie Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise.
Another example was the (Byzantine) Roman Emperor John Komnenos. This was done according to some sources (Runciman, I think, but Wikipedia does not seem to agree) with the explicit consent of his dying predecessor and father Alexios Komnenos. Afraid that Alexios's daughter and son-in-law would try to stage a coup when Alexios died, John took his father's signet while his father was still dying but before he was dead, and rode to the palace where the people acclaimed him emperor. (His father did not in fact die until the next day.)
This is probably a little cheap in that he was already co-emperor, but while that was certainly more than a mere technicality, it was not really going to be a guarantee of succession (and his brother-in-law did attempt a coup a few months later).
Albert II, Prince of Monaco
Albert II   (Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi born 14 March 1958) is the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and head of the Princely House of Grimaldi. He is the son of Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly.
He was born at the Prince's Palace of Monaco, and attended the Lycée Albert Premier before studying political science at Amherst College. In his youth, he competed in bobsleigh during Winter Olympic finals before retiring in 2002. Albert was appointed regent in March 2005 after his father fell ill, and became sovereign prince upon his passing a week later. Since his ascension, he has been outspoken in the field of environmentalism and an advocate of ocean conservation,  and adoption of renewable energy sources to tackle global climate change,   and founded The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation in 2006, to directly raise funds and initiate action for such causes and greater ecological preservation.
Albert is one of the wealthiest royals in the world, with assets valued at more than $1 billion,  which include land in Monaco and France. He owns shares in the Société des Bains de Mer, which operates Monaco's casino and other entertainment properties in the principality.  
In July 2011, Prince Albert married South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock.  They have two children, the twins Princess Gabriella and Hereditary Prince Jacques. Prince Albert is also father to two children born prior to his marriage, American-born Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and French-born Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste.
Saudi Arabia's heir to the throne talks to 60 Minutes
At 32 years old, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is already the most dominant Arab leader in a generation. This week, he embarks on a cross-country American tour, where he'll pitch his kingdom to a skeptical U.S. public. He was named heir to the throne nine months ago by his 82-year-old father, King Salman, who granted his son vast new powers.
Known by his initials -- "M-B-S" -- his reforms inside Saudi Arabia have been revolutionary. He is emancipating women, introducing music and cinema and cracking down on corruption, in a land with 15,000 princes. But selling Saudi Arabia won't be easy. In his first interview with an American television network, he was eager to discuss his country's promise and its troubled reputation head-on.
Norah O'Donnell: When many Americans think about Saudi Arabia, they think about Osama bin Laden and 9/11. They think about the terrorism that he brought to American soil.
Mohammed bin Salman: Right. Osama bin Laden recruited 15 Saudis in the 9/11 attacks with a clear objective. According to the CIA documents and Congressional investigations, Osama bin Laden wanted to create a schism between the Middle East and the West, between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman CBS News
Norah O'Donnell: Why did Osama bin Laden wanna create that hatred between the West and Saudi Arabia?
Mohammed bin Salman: In order to create an environment conducive to recruitment and spreading his radical message that the west is plotting to destroy you. Indeed he succeeded in creating this schism in the west.
Norah O'Donnell: And how do you change that? Because it looks like what you're trying to do is change things here at home.
Mohammed bin Salman: Indeed. I believe that we have succeeded in many respects in the last three years.
We first met Prince Mohammed at the Royal Court in Riyadh. He arrived in a driving rain, a sign of good fortune in the desert kingdom. He's been called bold and visionary for his reforms at home, as well as reckless and impulsive in his rise to power. He has kicked a hornet's nest in the Middle East and earned a host of new enemies, partly why he's one of the most heavily-guarded men in the world. This is the office where he starts his days.
Norah O'Donnell: Working hard?
Mohammed bin Salman in English: Always.
He learned English from watching movies as a kid. And he's acutely aware that 70 percent of the population is like him, under the age of 35 &ndash and getting restless.
Norah O'Donnell: What's been the biggest challenge?
Mohammed bin Salman in English: There's a lot of challenge. I think the first big challenge that we have is do the people believe in what we are doing.
Norah O'Donnell: There is a widespread perception that the kind of Islam practiced inside Arabia is harsh, it's strict, it's intolerant. Is there any truth to that?
Mohammed bin Salman: After 1979, that's true. We were victims, especially my generation that suffered from this a great deal.
The crown prince traces most of Saudi Arabia's problems to the year 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini established an Islamic theocracy next door in Iran. The same year, religious extremists in Saudi Arabia took over Islam's holiest site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. In order to appease their own religious radicals, the Saudis began clamping down and segregating women from everyday life.
Norah O'Donnell: What has been this Saudi Arabia for the past 40 years? Is that the real Saudi Arabia?
Mohammed bin Salman: Absolutely not. This is not the real Saudi Arabia. I would ask your viewers to use their smartphones to find out. And they can google Saudi Arabia in the 70s and 60s, and they will see the real Saudi Arabia easily in the pictures.
Norah O'Donnell: What was Saudi Arabia like before 1979?
Mohammed bin Salman: We were living a very normal life like the rest of the Gulf countries. Women were driving cars. There were movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Women worked everywhere. We were just normal people developing like any other country in the world until the events of 1979.
Saudi women -- who've been virtually invisible in public -- have been given new rights, making it easier for them to start a business, join the military, and attend concerts and sporting events. In June, they will be able to get behind the wheel and drive.
Norah O'Donnell: Are women equal to men?
Mohammed bin Salman: Absolutely. We are all human beings and there is no difference.
Norah O'Donnell: You have said you are, "Taking Saudi Arabia back to what we were, a moderate Islam." What does that mean?
Mohammed bin Salman: We have extremists who forbid mixing between the two sexes and are unable to differentiate between a man and a woman alone together and their being together in a workplace. Many of those ideas contradict the way of life during the time of the prophet and the Caliphs. This is the real example and the true model.
He has curbed the powers of the country's so-called "religious police," who until recently were able to arrest women for not covering up. And listen carefully to what he says is not part of Islamic Law.
Mohammed bin Salman: The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men. This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.
His words are significant, and so far, the kingdom's religious leaders are holding their tongues, and have sworn allegiance to the young prince.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman CBS News
Of all of the meetings he presides over every week, this is the most important: his economic council. These are the men, and a few women, trusted with re-making Saudi Arabia's "social pact" with its people. One of the crown prince's closest advisers is Mohammed al-Sheikh, a Saudi-born, Harvard-trained lawyer.
Mohammed al-Sheikh: We had a young population. And we were providing for the population, you know subsidized energy, subsidized water, subsidized medicine, subsidized education, we subsidized everybody's life.
Norah O'Donnell: And no taxes.
Mohammed al-Sheikh: And no taxes.
Norah O'Donnell: How close was Saudi Arabia to a financial crisis?
Mohammed al-Sheikh: I don't think it was extremely close, but it was heading in that direction.
Reforming the welfare state is one challenge. Another is what the crown prince calls Saudi Arabia's "addiction" to oil. The state oil company, Aramco, is valued at $2 trillion. Under the crown prince's plan, some of it will be sold off to invest in new ventures. There are concerns that the kingdom's secretive finances and dismal record on human rights may spook investors.
Norah O'Donnell: You have promised transparency and openness. But there are reports that dozens of people who have criticized your government have been arrested in the last year. They include economists, clerics, intellectuals. Is this really an open and free society?
Mohammed bin Salman: We will try to publicize as much as we can and as fast as we can, information about these individuals in order to make the world aware of what the government of Saudi Arabia is doing to combat radicalism.
Norah O'Donnell: But to answer the question about human rights abuses in this country.
Mohammed bin Salman: Saudi Arabia believes in many of the principles of human rights. In fact, we believe in the notion of human rights, but ultimately Saudi standards are not the same as American standards. I don't want to say that we don't have shortcomings. We certainly do. But naturally, we are working to mend these shortcomings.
But the crown prince has been accused of heavy-handed tactics. The most extraordinary example happened last November, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh. He invited hundreds of current and former government ministers, media moguls, prominent businessmen, and at least 11 princes to a meeting here, where they were accused of stealing from the state and were held until they either paid it back or proved their innocence.
Norah O'Donnell: I mean, what happened at the Ritz-Carlton? How did that work? You were, essentially, the Ritz-Carlton became a jail.
Mohammed bin Salman: What we did in Saudi Arabia was extremely necessary. All actions taken were in accordance with existing and published laws.
Among the detained was Prince Alwaleed bin Talal -- one of the richest men in the world. After Prince Alwaleed was detained for more than two months, the Saudis allowed a camera crew inside his room at the Ritz for a brief interview.
Prince Alwaleed: And I'd like to stay here until this thing's over completely and get out and life goes on.
Mohammed al-Sheikh said the crackdown was necessary.
Mohammed al-Sheikh: It wasn't easy. Just given the names and given the people who were involved, it really wasn't easy. But we-- we just felt that we had to do this. And and we had to do it that way.
Norah O'Donnell: What kinda corruption are we talking about? I mean, how much money was disappearing?
Mohammed al-Sheikh: Probably 5 to 10 percent of the annual spend by the government, which was roughly, I would say anywhere between $10-20 billion, maybe even more, on an annual basis.
Norah O'Donnell: So $20 billion a year is just disappearing?
Mohammed al-Sheikh: Disappearing.
There have been reports that some detainees were physically abused, and one died in custody. The Saudis told us the choice of the hotel, "was to maintain the respect, dignity and&hellip comfort for those being investigated."
Norah O'Donnell: Was it a power grab?
Mohammed bin Salman: If I have the power and the king has the power to take action against influential people, then you are already fundamentally strong. These are naïve accusations.
Norah O'Donnell: How much money did you get back?
Mohammed bin Salman: The amount exceeds $100 billion, but the real objective was not this amount or any other amount. The idea is not to get money, but to punish the corrupt and send a clear signal that whoever engages in corrupt deals will face the law.
Norah O'Donnell: Is this also about sending a message that, as we say in America, there's a new sheriff in town?
Mohammed bin Salman: Absolutely. Absolutely.
"Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible."
But while the "new sheriff" is cracking down on corruption, there are questions about his own fortune. The New York Times reports he recently purchased a yacht for a half-billion dollars, along with a French chateau.
Mohammed bin Salman: My personal life is something I'd like to keep to myself and I don't try to draw attention to it. If some newspapers want to point something out about it, that's up to them. As far as my private expenses, I'm a rich person and not a poor person. I'm not Gandhi or Mandela. I'm a member of the ruling family that existed for hundreds of years before the founding of Saudi Arabia. We own very large lots of land, and my personal life is the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago. But what I do as a person is to spend part of my personal income on charity. I spend at least 51% on people and 49 on myself.
Among the prince's official titles is "minister of defense." And this is where his apparent fixation on Iran has led him into a quagmire in neighboring Yemen.
Mohammed bin Salman: The Iranian ideology penetrated some parts of Yemen. During that time, this militia was conducting military maneuvers right next to our borders and positioning missiles at our borders.
His response was to launch a bombing campaign that's led to a humanitarian disaster, as we reported on 60 Minutes last fall. He says Iranian-backed rebels have used the country to fire missiles at Riyadh.
Mohammed bin Salman: I can't imagine that the United States will accept one day to have a militia in Mexico launching missiles on Washington D.C., New York and LA while Americans are watching these missiles and doing nothing.
The United Nations says thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen are the direct result of Saudi airstrikes and a blockade, since lifted, of Yemen's port that temporarily stopped food and medicine from getting to hundreds of thousands of people.
Norah O'Donnell: Do you acknowledge that it has been a humanitarian catastrophe, 5,000 civilians killed and children starving there?
Mohammed bin Salman: It is truly very painful, and I hope that this militia ceases using the humanitarian situation to their advantage in order to draw sympathy from the international community. They block humanitarian aid in order to create famine and a humanitarian crisis.
Norah O'Donnell: Is what's happening in Yemen, essentially, a proxy war with Iran?
Mohammed bin Salman: Unfortunately, Iran is playing a harmful role. The Iranian regime is based on pure ideology. Many of the Al-Qaeda operatives are protected in Iran and it refuses to surrender them to justice, and continues to refuse to extradite them to the United States. This includes the son of Osama bin Laden, the new leader of Al-Qaeda. He lives in Iran and works out of Iran. He is supported by Iran.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with contributor Norah O'Donnell CBS News
It's worth noting that Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran both claim to represent the one true branch of Islam.
Norah O'Donnell: At its heart, what is this rift about? Is it a battle for Islam?
Mohammed bin Salman: Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia. Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world. The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy. Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia.
Norah O'Donnell: But I've seen that you called the Ayatollah, Khamenei, "the new Hitler" of the Middle East.
Mohammed bin Salman: Absolutely.
Norah O'Donnell: Why?
Mohammed bin Salman: Because he wants to expand. He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time. Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don't want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.
Norah O'Donnell: Does Saudi Arabia need nuclear weapons to counter Iran?
Mohammed bin Salman: Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.
60 Minutes producer Harry Radliffe II CBS News
A note from 60 Minutes: Our story "Heir to the Throne" has many authors. The ten-person team that traveled to Saudi Arabia for approximately a week included correspondent Norah O'Donnell, who carried with her a long-held fascination for the region. Also on our team: producers Graham Messick and Vanessa Fica, who began working on the assignment more than two years ago at the request of the story's original producer, Harry A. Radliffe II, before he passed away of cancer at age 66.
Radliffe was 60 Minutes' resident expert on politics, religion, and history in the Middle East. Well-traveled and passionately curious, Harry would say about a 60 Minutes segment on Saudi Arabia: "If that ain't a story, I don't know what is." Radliffe was known for taking his time with stories like this he knew that some day, the Saudi royal family would &ndash at long last -- give its go-ahead. Sadly, that day came after Harry's passing, but we are so glad to have carried on his vision.
Also on the team that made this story possible: associate producer Jack Weingart, Middle East producer Amjad Tadros, photographers Jonathan Partridge and Mark La Ganga, audio engineers Anton Van der Merwe and Matt Magratten, and editors Dan Glucksman and Craig Crawford. Jeff Fager, Radliffe's close friend and the executive producer of 60 Minutes, had final say over the story and personally assured two Saudi princes that we would be fair and accurate and allow the crown prince to tell his story if he let us. We are glad he did.
Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman outmaneuvered uncles, cousins and half-brothers to become the power behind the throne of his aging father, King Salman. Since then, this royal upstart has been remaking Saudi society&mdash out of both social and economic necessity. The vast majority of the kingdom's citizens are under 30 &mdash connected to the world at large through their cell phones. Just as important, oil is no longer a predictable source of revenue, meaning the cradle-to-grave healthcare, education and other services that have been the birthright of every Saudi citizen, are imperiled. It's a combustible mix for a brash leader in a dangerous part of the world. But, the heir to the throne seems eager for the challenge.
Norah O'Donnell: Oh, this is where you spend all night?
Mohammed bin Salman in English: Mostly. So all of the workaholic ministers used to spend most of their nights in this, in these offices. So, I'm sorry if it's a little bit lousy.
Norah O'Donnell: This is not a lousy office.
He spends most evenings in Riyadh's Irgah Palace, where he dispenses with the traditional Saudi headscarf.
Norah O'Donnell: And so what time in the morning are you here till working?
Mohammed bin Salman in English: Oh, I come here, at, like afternoon till late night.
We're told his 82-year-old father, King Salman, is somewhere upstairs, leaving most of the day-to-day work to his son. He escorted us at 9 p.m. into a meeting about the public investment fund.
Under Prince Mohammed's detailed plan to remake Saudi Arabia &ndash called "Vision 2030" &ndash the public investment fund will eventually grow to $2 trillion. The men in this room are talking about how to invest it. They recently sank three and a half billion dollars into Uber. If bets like that pay off, it will be dividends, not oil revenues, pouring into the Saudi treasury.
Princess Reema: This man spend 24 hours a day working towards this vision.
Princess Reema bint Bandar is the crown prince's cousin and he chose her to lead one of the government sports authorities.
Norah O'Donnell: You were surprised by the pace with which he's doing stuff.
Princess Reema: I'm not surprised by the pace. I'm surprised by how detailed the pace is. We are not a community that's used to somebody saying, "Tuesday, the 5th of November, I want to see X." That kind of means yes, maybe, inshallah.
Norah O'Donnell: God willing.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman leads a meeting CBS News
Princess Reema: There is actually a tracking system that we all monthly update. What's our progress? How have we hit our numbers? We are working and operating like a private sector. And that's new.
To a visitor, it doesn't look like that much has changed. Single men in crisp white robes and women dressed entirely in black, keep their distance from one another. Female visitors still feel obligated to wear the traditional Abaya in public&hellip but no longer the headscarf. At this Starbucks, men sit in one section &ndash women and families just beyond the wooden partition.
It was difficult to get people &ndash especially women &ndash to talk on camera about the crown prince's reforms. This man urged caution.
Abdul Rahman: I like the change that is gradual. We don't wanna move too fast and pay a heavy price.
Norah O'Donnell: In other words, you think that the crown prince has to be very careful about the pace?
Abdul Rahman: Exactly.
Saudi Arabia still adheres to an ancient power-sharing arrangement between the House of Saud and Wahhabi Islam, the strict, predominant faith in Saudi Arabia. But the crown prince told us it is not his religion, but extremists within Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, that have infiltrated Saudi society, including its schools.
Norah O'Donnell: Are you looking at the schooling and the education in Saudi Arabia?
Mohammed bin Salman: Saudi schools have been invaded by many elements from the Muslim Brotherhood organization, surely to a great extent. Even now, there are some elements left. It will be a short while until they are all eradicated completely.
Norah O'Donnell: You say you're going to eradicate this extremism in the education system here?
Mohammed bin Salman: Of course, no country in the world would accept that its educational system be invaded by any radical group.
The crown prince represents the vast majority of the Saudi people &ndash who are overwhelmingly young, restless, and connected to just about everything through their cell phones. They see a kindred spirit in their new iPad-addicted leader.
Norah O'Donnell: Most of the young women that I met are all on Snapchat. They were asking me to join them on Snapchat. This is this is changing this entire culture.
Mohammed bin Salman: I can't claim that I played a role in this. Saudi citizens have always been open to social media and technology.
Young Saudis we talked to at this trendy pop-up burger joint say they are still careful about what they post on Twitter and Instagram, which is why members of the opposite sex connect via private messaging apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp.
Norah O'Donnell: Social media.
MALE #1: It's huge in Saudi Arabia.
MALE #2: This is our escape, yes.
Norah O'Donnell: The phone is your escape?
MALE VOICE: Yes. Social media is.
The crown prince has more pressing concerns, only 22 percent of Saudi women work, and he wants to encourage more to join the workforce.
Mohammed bin Salman: We are working on an initiative, which we will launch in the near future, to introduce regulations ensuring equal pay for men and women.
Norah O'Donnell: But you're talking about equal pay. Women can't even drive in this country. This is the last, last place in the world that women don't have the rights to drive.
Mohammed bin Salman: This is no longer an issue. Today, driving schools have been established and will open soon. In a few months, women will drive in Saudi Arabia. We are finally over that painful period that we cannot justify.
Norah O'Donnell: Certainly, most people hear about the rule that will allow women to drive in June. But there have also existed these guardianship laws that, in order to travel, a woman has to get the permission of a male in her household. It seems so throwback.
Mohammed bin Salman: Today, Saudi women still have not received their full rights. There are rights stipulated in Islam that they still don't have. We have come a very long way and have a short way to go.
He wanted us to see this driving school, at Princess Nourah University, the largest all women's university in the world. The school is preparing to teach 70,000 women how to drive.
These trainers will put women through classes and simulators before having them hit the road.
Norah O'Donnell: How do you get to work or school now?
WOMAN #1: For me, I have a driver. Or, like, my dad or my brother.
WOMAN #2: Driving is just a quick win. It's not everything. It's just representative that we're going in the right direction. It's progress. The trajectory now is just going forward and not backwards.
Norah O'Donnell: You are witnessing history?
WOMEN: (OVERTALK) Yes. Exactly. We are glad to be part of this history.
Princess Reema is also helping make history &ndash she recently opened the gates for Saudi women to attend soccer matches.
Norah O'Donnell: I mean, it was just in 2015 that a Saudi woman was arrested trying to go to a game.
Princess Reema: Yes. Yes. And you know what? I'm proud to say that I was at the first game where that's no longer a reality. How sensational is that to say in two years? In two years the arc has changed.
Norah O'Donnell: People have asked me for my impressions and there's so much that's modern, in terms of infrastructure and American restaurants. But it is still interesting to see that single men eat in one part of the restaurant. And families and women in another.
Princess Reema: Correct.
Norah O'Donnell: It's segregated.
Princess Reema: It is viewed here as the preservation of the privacy of the personal space of the woman. If it comes out to being viewed internationally as disrespectful, that's not the intention. Does it end up sometimes causing obstacles? Yes. But the intent is not disrespect.
Norah O'Donnell: Do you think Mohammed bin Salman is prepared to take the throne?
Princess Reema: I don't think anyone is ever prepared. I think since he was 18 years old he has been groomed for leadership.
His ascension would mark a generational power shift. It was his grandfather, King Abdulaziz, who founded modern Saudi Arabia, and was succeeded by six sons, including the current king, King Salman. The crown prince grew up by his father's side, learning and biding his time.
Norah O'Donnell: What did you learn from your father?
Mohammed bin Salman: Many, many things. He loves history very much. He is an avid reader of history. Each week, he would assign each one of us a book. And at the end of the week, he would ask us about the content of that book. The king always says, "If you read the history of a thousand years, you have the experience of a thousand years."
Mohammed bin Salman is trying to keep pace with a population that's become as familiar with American celebrity culture as they are with the tales of the Prophet Muhammad in the birthplace of Islam. Just as American society transformed during the 1960's, the Saudis are in the midst of their own cultural revolution. The kingdom, the Middle East, and the Islamic world may never be the same.
Norah O'Donnell: You're 32 years old. You could rule this country for the next 50 years.
Mohammed bin Salman: Only God knows how long one will live, if one would live 50 years or not, but if things go their normal ways, then that's to be expected.
Norah O'Donnell: Can anything stop you?
Mohammed bin Salman: Only death.
Produced by Graham Messick and Vanessa Fica. Associate producer, Jack Weingart.
Norah O'Donnell is the anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News." She also contributes to "60 Minutes."
Event chain: Fear and Loathing [ edit ]
Fear and Loathing in $PROVINCENAME$
Twilight is always the worst. The clouds racing circles across moonless skies, cruel stars suspended like grains of broken glass, and chandeliers throwing strange shadows across the Royal Chambers. Lately, a strange sense has come upon you that there is something wrong with the place. The geometry of it seems. unsound. Thinking back. it all started with the birth of $HEIR$.
The event chain: Fear and Loathing starts.
The current heir of the province owner dies. ⎗]
My $MONARCHTITLE$. ' you sense instantly that there is something wrong. There is something in his voice, right below the surface. Hidden contempt, and fear. '. the new brick wall in the eastern cellar. It wasn't built for insulation, was it?' You remember it clearly now. How small the body felt. Carrying it down into the damp cellar, laying the bricks. It made you sick. Sick to the core. Killing your progeny wasn't the catharsis you had expected it to be. For an instant, the flashing glimpse of an insight blows across your mind.
- had the event ‘Fear and Loathing in $PROVINCENAME$’ and chosen the option: ‘All work and no play, makes $MONARCH$ a dull, dull boy.’ and had not this event before. ⎙]
- does not have a regency council.
- is not the lesser part in a personal union.
The current ruler dies.
The event chain: Fear and Loathing is over. ⎚]
The Royal Chamber is a swirling mist of scents and shapes, coming and going into and out of existence like colorful snowflakes. You are hungry. So very hungry. As if you hadn't eaten in months. The stars looking down on you, still suspended in a moonless sky, laugh and dance. They seem free, and wild. There is something about those stars. They seem so. right. You have gone quite insane.
- had the />event ‘Fear and Loathing in $PROVINCENAME$’ and
- either chose the option “Lord God our Father, thou who art in heaven!”
- or chose the option “All work and no play, makes $MONARCH$ a dull, dull boy.” and then had the />event The Discovery and chose the option “Heeere's $MONARCH$!” ⎛]
The event chain: Fear and Loathing is over. ⎜]
The current ruler dies.
The country gets the modifier: “Delivered from evil” for 10 years giving the following effects:
The event chain: Fear and Loathing is over. ⎜]
Our Monarch Dies
Our monarch has died, and considering the strange things he was saying toward the end of his life, perhaps it is for the better.
The country is in the event chain: ‘Fear and Loathing’. ⎝]
The country gets the modifier: “Delivered from Evil” for 10 years giving the following effects:
The event chain: Fear and Loathing is over. ⎞]
Over the next four decades, Haile Selassie presided over a country and government that was an expression of his personal authority. His reforms greatly strengthened schools and the police, and he instituted a new constitution and centralized his own power.
In 1936 he was forced into exile after Italy invaded Ethiopia. Haile Selassie became the face of the resistance as he went before the League of Nations in Geneva for assistance, and eventually secured the help of the British in reclaiming his country and reinstituting his powers as emperor in 1941.
Haile Selassie again moved to try to modernize his country. In the face of a wave of anti-colonialism sweeping across Africa, he granted a new constitution in 1955, one that outlined equal rights for his citizens under the law, but conversely did nothing to diminish Haile Selassie&aposs own powers.
Elizabeth and Philip wasted no time in producing an heir: Son Charles was born in 1948, the year after their wedding, and daughter Anne arrived in 1950. Elizabeth had two more children — sons Andrew and Edward — in 1960 and 1964, respectively.
In 1969, she officially made Charles her successor by granting him the title of Prince of Wales. Hundreds of millions of people tuned in to see the ceremony on television.
In 1981 32-year-old Charles wed 19-year-old Diana Spencer (best known as Princess Diana), with later rumors surfacing that he was pressured into the marriage from his family. The wedding drew enormous crowds in the streets of London and millions watched the proceedings on television. Public opinion of the monarchy was especially strong at that time.
Augustus (63 BC - AD 14)
A bronze head of Augustus © Augustus was the first emperor of Rome. He replaced the Roman republic with an effective monarchy and during his long reign brought peace and stability.
Augustus was born Gaius Octavius on 23 September 63 BC in Rome. In 43 BC his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, was assassinated and in his will, Octavius, known as Octavian, was named as his heir. He fought to avenge Caesar and in 31 BC defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. He was now undisputed ruler of Rome.
Instead of following Caesar's example and making himself dictator, Octavian in 27 BC founded the principate, a system of monarchy headed by an emperor holding power for life. His powers were hidden behind constitutional forms, and he took the name Augustus meaning 'lofty' or 'serene'. Nevertheless, he retained ultimate control of all aspects of the Roman state, with the army under his direct command.
At home, he embarked on a large programme of reconstruction and social reform. Rome was transformed with impressive new buildings and Augustus was a patron to Virgil, Horace and Propertius, the leading poets of the day. Augustus also ensured that his image was promoted throughout his empire by means of statues and coins.
Abroad, he created a standing army for the first time, and embarked upon a vigorous campaign of expansion designed to make Rome safe from the 'barbarians' beyond the frontiers, and to secure the Augustan peace. His stepsons Tiberius and Drusus undertook the task (Augustus had married their mother Livia in 38 BC). Between 16 BC and 6 AD the frontier was advanced from the Rhine to the Elbe in Germany, and up to the Danube along its entire length. But Drusus died in the process and in 9 AD the annihilation of three Roman legions in Germany (out of 28 overall), in the Varian disaster, led to the abandonment of Germany east of the Rhine.
Augustus was determined to be succeeded by someone of his own blood, but he had no sons, only a daughter, Julia, the child of his first wife. His nephew Marcellus and his beloved grandsons Gaius and Lucius pre-deceased him, so he reluctantly made Tiberius his heir.
Military disaster, the loss of his grandsons and a troubled economy clouded his last years. He became more dictatorial, exiling the poet Ovid (8 AD), who had mocked his moral reforms. He died on 19 August 14 AD.
The Queen Who Would Be King
Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from its original form and updated to include new information for Smithsonian’s Mysteries of the Ancient World bookazine published in Fall 2009.
It was a hot, dusty day in early 1927, and Herbert Winlock was staring at a scene of brutal destruction that had all the hallmarks of a vicious personal attack. Signs of desecration were everywhere eyes had been gouged out, heads lopped off, the cobra-like symbol of royalty hacked from foreheads. Winlock, head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s archaeological team in Egypt, had unearthed a pit in the great temple complex at Deir el-Bahri, across the Nile from the ancient sites of Thebes and Karnak. In the pit were smashed statues of a pharaoh—pieces “from the size of a fingertip,” Winlock noted, “to others weighing a ton or more.” The images had suffered “almost every conceivable indignity,” he wrote, as the violators vented “their spite on the [pharaoh’s] brilliantly chiseled, smiling features.” To the ancient Egyptians, pharaohs were gods. What could this one have done to warrant such blasphemy? In the opinion of Winlock, and other Egyptologists of his generation, plenty.
The statues were those of Hatshepsut, the sixth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, one of the few—and by far the most successful—women to rule Egypt as pharaoh. Evidence of her remarkable reign (c. 1479-1458 b.c.) did not begin to emerge until the 19th century. But by Winlock’s day, historians had crafted the few known facts of her life into a soap opera of deceit, lust and revenge.
Although her long rule had been a time of peace and prosperity, filled with magnificent art and a number of ambitious building projects (the greatest of which was her mortuary, or memorial, temple at Deir el-Bahri), Hatshepsut’s methods of acquiring and holding onto power suggested a darker side to her reign and character. The widowed queen of the pharaoh Thutmose II, she had, according to custom, been made regent after his death in c. 1479 b.c. to rule for her young stepson, Thutmose III, until he came of age. Within a few years, however, she proclaimed herself pharaoh, thereby becoming, in the words of Winlock’s colleague at the Metropolitan, William C. Hayes, the “vilest type of usurper.” Disconcerting to some scholars, too, was her insistence on being portrayed as male, with bulging muscles and the traditional pharaonic false beard—variously interpreted by those historians as an act of outrageous deception, deviant behavior or both. Many early Egyptologists also concluded that Hatshepsut’s chief minister, Senenmut, must have been her lover as well, a co-conspirator in her climb to power, the so-called evil genius behind what they viewed as her devious politics.
Upon Hatshepsut’s death in c. 1458 b.c., her stepson, then likely still in his early 20s, finally ascended to the throne. By that time, according to Hayes, Thutmose III had developed “a loathing for Hatshepsut. her name and her very memory which practically beggars description.” The destruction of her monuments, carried out with such apparent fury, was almost universally interpreted as an act of long-awaited and bitter revenge on the part of Thutmose III, who, Winlock wrote, “could scarcely wait to take the vengeance on her dead that he had not dared in life.”
“Of course, it made a wonderful story,” says Renée Dreyfus, curator of ancient art and interpretation at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “And this is what we all read when we were growing up. But so much of what was written about Hatshepsut, I think, had to do with who the archaeologists were. gentlemen scholars of a certain generation.”
Hatshepsut was born at the dawn of a glorious age of Egyptian imperial power and prosperity, rightly called the New Kingdom. Her father, King Thutmose I, was a charismatic leader of legendary military exploits. Hatshepsut, scholars surmise, may have come into the world about the time of his coronation, c. 1504 b.c., and so would still have been a toddler when he famously sailed home to Thebes with the naked body of a Nubian chieftain dangling from the prow of his ship—a warning to all who would threaten his empire.
Hatshepsut seems to have idolized her father (she would eventually have him reburied in the tomb she was having built for herself) and would claim that soon after her birth he had named her successor to his throne, an act that scholars feel would have been highly unlikely. There had been only two—possibly three—female pharaohs in the previous 1,500 years, and each had ascended to the throne only when there was no suitable male successor available. (Cleopatra would rule some 14 centuries later.)
Normally, the pharaonic line passed from father to son—preferably the son of the queen, but if there were no such offspring, to the son of one of the pharaoh’s “secondary,” or “harem,” wives. In addition to Hatshepsut—and another younger daughter who apparently died in childhood—it’s believed that Thutmose I fathered two sons with Queen Ahmes, both of whom predeceased him. Thus the son of a secondary wife, Mutnofret, was crowned Thutmose II. In short order (and probably to bolster the royal bloodlines of this “harem child”), young Thutmose II was married to his half sister Hatshepsut, making her Queen of Egypt at about age 12.
Historians have generally described Thutmose II as frail and ineffectual—just the sort of person a supposedly shrewish Hatshepsut could push around. Public monuments, however, depict a dutiful Hatshepsut standing appropriately behind her husband. But while she bore her husband a daughter, Neferure (her only known child), Hatshepsut failed in the more important duty of producing a son. So when Thutmose II died young (c. 1479 B.C.), possibly still in his 20s—the throne went, yet again, to a “harem child.” Duly named Thutmose III, this child was destined to become one of the great warrior kings of Egypt. But at the time of his father’s death, he was likely an infant, a “hawk. still in the nest”—and deemed too young to rule.
In such cases, it was accepted New Kingdom practice for widowed queens to act as regents, handling the affairs of government until their sons—in this case, stepson/nephew—came of age, and Hatshepsut (more or less automatically, it seems) got the assignment. “I think it would have been pretty much the norm for Hatshepsut to step in,” says Peter Dorman, an Egyptologist who is president of the American University of Beirut. “But it’s also quite clear that Thutmose III was recognized as king from the very start.”
Monuments of the time show Thutmose III—still a child, but portrayed in the conventional manner as an adult king—performing his pharaonic duties, while Hatshepsut, dressed as queen, stands demurely off to one side. By the seventh year of her regency, however (and it may have been much earlier), the formerly slim, graceful queen appears as a full-blown, flail-and-crook-wielding king, with the broad, bare chest of a man and the pharaonic false beard.
But why? To Egyptologists of an earlier generation, Hatshepsut’s elevation to godlike status was an act of naked ambition. (“It was not long,” Hayes wrote, “before this vain, ambitious, and unscrupulous woman showed. her true colors.”) But more recent scholarship suggests that a political crisis, such as a threat from a competing branch of the royal family, obliged Hatshepsut to become pharaoh. Far from stealing the throne, says Catharine Roehrig, curator of Egyptian art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, “Hatshepsut may have had to declare herself king to protect the kingship for her stepson.”
It’s an interpretation that seems to be supported by Hatshepsut’s treatment of Thutmose III during her reign. “He wasn’t under house arrest for those 20-odd years,” says Roehrig. “He was learning how to be a very good soldier.” And it’s not as if Hatshepsut could have stepped down when her stepson came of age. “Once you took on the attributes of kingship,” explains Dreyfus, “that was it. You were a god. It’s not queen for a day, it’s king for all time.”
Hatshepsut probably knew her position was tenuous—both by virtue of her sex and the unconventional way she had gained the throne—and therefore appears to have done what canny leaders have often done in times of crisis: she reinvented herself. The most obvious form this took was having herself portrayed as a male pharaoh. As to why, “No one really knows,” says Dorman. But he believes it may have been motivated by the presence of a male co-ruler—a circumstance with which no previous female ruler had ever contended.
“She was not pretending to be a man! She was not cross-dressing!” Cathleen Keller, a professor of Near Eastern studies at the University of California at Berkeley, told me before her death last year. Inscriptions on Hatshepsut’s statues, she said, almost always contain some indication of her true gender—a title, such as “Daughter of Re,” or feminine word endings, resulting in such grammatical conundrums as “His Majesty, Herself.”
Hatshepsut also took a new name, Maatkare, sometimes translated as Truth (maat) is the Soul (ka) of the Sun God (Re). The key word here is maat—the ancient Egyptian expression for order and justice as established by the gods. Maintaining and perpetuating maat to ensure the prosperity and stability of the country required a legitimate pharaoh who could speak—as only pharaohs could—directly with the gods. By calling herself Maatkare, Hatshepsut was likely reassuring her people that they had a legitimate ruler on the throne.
One important way pharaohs affirmed maat was by creating monuments, and Hatshepsut’s building projects were among the most ambitious of any pharaoh’s. She began with the erection of two 100-foot-tall obelisks at the great temple complex at Karnak. Reliefs commemorating the event show the obelisks, each weighing about 450 tons, being towed along the Nile by 27 ships manned by 850 oarsmen.
Hatshepsut carried out her public works program across the empire, but it was concentrated in the area around Thebes, the dynastic and theological center of the Thutmoside dynasty, where she built a network of imposing processional roadways and sanctuaries. At Deir el-Bahri, just across the Nile from Thebes, she erected her magnum opus—an immense memorial temple, used for special religious rites connected to the cult that would guarantee Hatshepsut perpetual life after death.
Dramatically sited at the base of towering limestone cliffs, the temple, which is regarded as one of the architectural wonders of the ancient world, is approached through a series of terraced colonnades and courtyards that appear to ascend up the very side of the mountain. Despite the enormous scale of the complex—roughly the length of two and a half football fields—its overall impression is one of lightness and grace, unlike the fortresslike temples of her predecessors.
The temple’s lower levels featured pools and gardens planted with fragrant trees. Supersized images of Hatshepsut were everywhere. Some 100 colossal statues of the female pharaoh as a sphinx guarded the processional way. Lining the terraces were more images of the ruler (some more than ten feet tall) in various devotional attitudes—kneeling with offerings to the gods, striding into eternity or in the guise of Osiris, god of death and resurrection. Miraculously, a number of these statues—some reassembled, others still in a fragmentary state—survive. Most are massive, masculine and meant to be seen from a distance.
Hatshepsut’s temple also featured a series of reliefs marking the achievements of her reign, including a storied trading expedition to the mysterious and distant land called Punt, believed to be somewhere on the coast of the Red Sea, perhaps in current-day Eritrea. The reliefs show the Egyptians loading their boats in Punt with an array of highly prized luxury goods—ebony, ivory, gold, exotic animals and incense trees. “Never,” reads an inscription, “were such things brought to any king since the world was.”
As a work of art, of architecture and of self-glorification, Hatshepsut’s memorial was an enormous enterprise that must have involved an army of workers. It’s almost certain, scholars agree, that Senenmut, the official overseer of works at Deir el-Bahri, was the mastermind behind—if not the actual architect of—the temple. He had most likely begun his climb to power during the reign of Thutmose II, when he was appointed tutor to Hatshepsut’s daughter, Neferure. But his influence soared with Hatshepsut’s accession to the throne. In time he acquired some 93 titles, the most prestigious of which was Great Steward of Amun (the god of Thebes), which put him in charge of all of Karnak’s building and business activities.
Many of Senenmut’s monuments to himself (some 25—a staggering number for a nonroyal) mention his exceptional access to the throne he was a “true confidant” of the pharaoh and the “one upon whose utterances his Lordrelied.” But earlier scholars’ belief that Senenmut was the real force behind Hatshepsut’s rule—not “even a woman of the most virile character could have attained such a pinnacle of success without masculine support,” wrote historian Alan Gardiner in 1961—has now been largely discounted by experts as a woeful underestimation of Hatshepsut.
Did she and Senenmut share more than power? Probably not, most scholars, including Peter Dorman, have concluded. Dorman does believe, however, that the pharaoh and her favorite minister may well have been victims ofspeculation and gossip.
Senenmut’s fate is a mystery. His privileged position allowed him to build a splendid tomb for himself near Hatshepsut’s—which is in the Valley of the Kings, just west of Deir el-Bahri—but he apparently never occupied it. The tomb suffered major damage, including the smashing of his impressive, if unused, stone sarcophagus. It was long thought that either Hatshepsut or Thutmose III were the culprits, but recent scholarship suggests some combination of religious upheaval, tomb robbers and natural collapse.
Hatshepsut’s own tomb was cut into the base of the cliffs on the east side of the Valley of the Kings and was large enough to accommodate both her sarcophagus and that of her father—reburying him in her tomb was yetanother attempt to legitimize her rule. It’s believed that Hatshepsut died (possibly in her late 40s) around 1458 b.c., the year that Thutmose III first used the title “Ruler of Maat.”
Thutmose III’s destruction of Hatshepsut’s monuments has long been recognized as a conscientious—and very nearly successful—attempt to obliterate her name and memory from history. But was it, as many early Egyptologists had assumed, an act of revenge and hatred? In recent decades, scholars have re-examined the archaeological evidence and come to the startling conclusion that the destruction, presumed to have been initiated soon after Hatshepsut’s death, was actually not begun until some 20 years later, toward the end of Thutmose III’s own long reign (c. 1458-1425 b.c.). “I think that people recognize now, because it happenedso late in Thutmose III’s reign, that it wasn’t personal animosity,” says Dorman of the rampage. “For some reason, Thutmose III must have decided it was necessary to essentially rewrite the official record of Hatshepsut’s kingship”—which meant eradicating all traces of it to suggest that the throne had gone directly from his father to him.
While numerous theories abound, most contemporary Egyptologists agree that the effort to delete Hatshepsut’s rule had something to do with Thutmose III’s concerns about the succession of power after his death. Wasthere some threat to the legitimacy of his own son, Amenhotep II, who in fact did succeed him? Possibly. But Dorman believes that Hatshepsut’s unconventional reign may have been too successful, a dangerous precedent “best erased,” he suggests, “to prevent the possibility of another powerful female ever inserting herself into the long line of Egyptian male kings.”
The story of Hatshepsut will probably never be complete. “She’s like an iceberg,” says Joyce Tyldesley, scholar and author of the 1996 biography Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh. “On the surface we know quite a lot about her. But there’s so much we don’t know.”
Even so, new light continues to shine on the queen who would be king. In 2007, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass identified a previously excavated royal mummy as Hatshepsut. Catharine Roehrig is among those scholars awaiting more evidence to bolster the claim. “The fact that the mummy is female, was found in the Valley of the Kings and is about the right age makes this identification quite possible,” she says. But, Roehrig adds, “The evidence is not conclusive further studies are in progress.”
Tyldesley believes that Hatshepsut may have been keenly conscious of her exceptional place in history. “This is just speculation,” she says, “but I think she was almost aware that she might be forgotten or that her actions would be misunderstood.” Toward the end of her reign, Hatshepsut erected a second pair of obelisks at Karnak. On one the inscription reads: “Now my heart turns this way and that, as I think what the people will say—those who shall see my monuments in years to come, and who shall speak of what I have done.”
The Constitution has an answer for seditious members of Congress
Let's review two pieces of news from the last week. First, the American coronavirus pandemic is entering its worst stage yet, with cases and deaths skyrocketing across the country. Last Thursday saw over 3,000 deaths — more than 9/11 or Pearl Harbor — and with ICU beds at or near capacity in most of the country, absent serious change it is possible there will be double or even triple that number per day in a matter of weeks. We may yet top the deadliest day in American history, the Galveston hurricane of 1900 that killed an estimated 8,000 people, very soon. President Trump is doing precisely nothing about this.
Second, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under investigation for bribery and abuse of office, filed a baldly seditious lawsuit calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and hand their electoral votes to Trump. It was flatly an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, end constitutional government, and install Trump in power. Before the Supreme Court threw the suit out Friday night, 17 other Republican state attorneys general had joined him, along with 126 members of the Republican caucus in the House, while Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has agreed to represent Trump. And this is just one of dozens of attempts that Republicans at all levels of government have concocted to overturn Trump's loss.
In short, material conditions in this country have not been this bad since 1932 at least, and the political situation has not been this bad since 1860. The logical endgame of the rapidly-accelerating Republican attempt to destroy democracy while the country burns would be civil war — if it weren't for the high probability that Democratic leaders would be too cowardly to fight.
But it's worth thinking about what a party seriously committed to preserving democracy would do when faced with a seditious opposition party — namely, cut them out of power and force them to behave. Democrats could declare all traitors ineligible to serve in national office, convene a Patriot Congress composed solely of people who have not committed insurrection against the American government, and use that power to re-entrench democracy.
The reasoning here is very simple. All members of Congress swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which establishes a republican form of government. The whole point of a republic is that contests for power are conducted through a framework of rules and democratic elections, where all parties agree to respect the result whether they lose or win. Moreover, the premise of this lawsuit was completely preposterous — arguing in effect that states should not be allowed to set their own election rules if that means more Democrats can vote — and provides no evidence whatsoever for false allegations of tens of thousands of instances of voter fraud. Indeed, several of the representatives who support the lawsuit were themselves just elected by the very votes they now say are fraudulent. The proposed remedy — having Republican-dominated legislatures in only the four states that gave Biden his margin of victory select Trump electors — would be straight-up election theft.
In other words, this lawsuit, even though it didn't succeed, is a flagrant attempt to overturn the constitutional system and impose through authoritarian means the rule of a corrupt criminal whose doltish incompetence has gotten hundreds of thousands of Americans killed. It is a "seditious abuse of the judicial process," as the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin jointly wrote in their response to Texas trying to steal their elections.
The Constitution, as goofy and jerry-rigged as it is, stipulates that insurrectionists who violate their oath are not allowed to serve in Congress. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, written to exclude Confederate Civil War traitors, says that "No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress … who … having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same[.]" How the Supreme Court ruled, or whether Republicans actually believe their lunatic claims, is irrelevant. It's still insurrection even if it doesn't work out.
Democrats would have every right, both under the Constitution and under the principle of popular sovereignty outlined in the Declaration of Independence, to convene a traitor-free Congress (also including similar acts committed by Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and others), and pass such laws as would be necessary to preserve the American republic. That might include a national popular vote to decide the presidency, ironclad voting rights protections, a ban on gerrymandering either national or state district boundaries, full representation for the citizens of D.C. and Puerto Rico, regulations on internet platforms that are inflaming violent political extremism, a clear legal framework for the transfer of power that ends the lame duck period, and so on. States would be forced to agree to these measures before they can replace their traitorous representatives and senators. If the Supreme Court objects, more pro-democracy justices can be added.
This wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened, either. Immediately after the Civil War, the Radical Republican Congress refused to seat delegations from the former rebellious states until they were satisfied with the progress of Reconstruction. Southern states were forced to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments — which guaranteed due process and universal male suffrage — before their congressional delegations would be seated. (As a consequence, those delegations included numerous Black representatives, until Reconstruction was overthrown.)
It is virtually impossible to imagine the ancient, timid fossils that run the Democratic Party even considering this kind of thing (though remarkably, Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey has) because it would require courage, vision, and honestly reckoning with the parlous state of the nation. It would not be illegal, but it would be a step beyond narrow legal proceduralism and into the uncharted waters of aggressive political innovation and raw will-to-power. It could conceivably touch off armed unrest in several states.
But it's not hard to see where the current conservative trajectory is headed. While elected Republicans have tried to overturn the election using increasingly blatant methods, top conservative pundits are mulling the idea of secession, as their treasonous fire-eater forebears did 160 years ago. The lie that Biden stole the election is now official GOP dogma. By the same token, it is not a coincidence that the Republican Party is ignoring the deadly pandemic (if not actively spreading the virus) while they try to overturn the Constitution. They feel they can safely ignore the welfare of the American people, because they are not accountable to them.
Unless this escalating conservative extremism halts from the inside somehow — which is not remotely in sight anywhere — this can only end eventually in a violent confrontation, or (much more likely) Democrats will simply give up and let themselves be defeated. Still, this country was founded by people who thought it was worth putting their lives at hazard to throw off tyrannical rule. Perhaps some of that spirit can once again be found.
This Is Why Queen Elizabeth I Died a Virgin at Age 69
During a time when female monarchs were assumed to marry and birth an heir, Queen Elizabeth I famously defined standards and never had a husband or children, earning her the nickname of the Virgin Queen.
Seeing her mother Anne Boleyn essentially be sentenced to death for being unable to produce a male heir (she was executed on false charges of incest, adultery, witchcraft and conspiracy against the king, her husband Henry VIII) made Elizabeth immediately cautious about having kids herself. And then, as shown in the upcoming movie Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth witnessed what happened when her cousin, Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan), married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (Jack Lowden).
“I think all those sort of things seeded this paranoia in Elizabeth,” Margot Robbie, who plays Elizabeth in the historical drama, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
After Mary wed Henry and welcomed son James, an heir to both Scotland and England’s throne, Henry conspired with his father and Mary’s male council to take the power for himself.
𠇎lizabeth saw what happened to Mary, which is that Mary becomes pregnant, bears a male heir, and she says, ‘Here’s the heir to these two crowns,’ and then really, really soon after that, men crowd in, conspire to bring her down,” director Josie Rourke says. “They take that male heir, and they say he is now the king and we’re going to rule on his behalf until he’s old enough.”
As Mary lost her crown and fled Scotland, Elizabeth decided she considered herself a man and declared she was married to her country.
“It was actually quite clever of her to announce that she was married to the country and therefore could not be married to someone else,” Robbie, 28, says. “It was really the only way of protecting herself and protecting her position in that way. It really came from life and death stakes. In her mind, it was a survival technique.”
And eventually, her inner circle stopped pushing her to marry and conceive and realized that it wouldn’t even be possible at a certain point in her 44-year rule.
𠇋y then, Elizabeth has reached past the age of 50 and they did understand that once a woman had passed the age of 50, she was past menopause and therefore could not have children of her own,” says historian John Guy, whose book Mary Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, serves as a historical basis for the movie. “The men stopped pestering her all the time to marry and settle the succession in her own kingdom.”
He continues, “In a sort of ironic sort of way, it actually strengthens her hand and she can feel that she can exercise fully both the masculine and feminine dimensions of the monarchy in a way that she couldn’t really before, because that expectation that somehow her chief function as a woman ruler is to reproduce in order to produce a male heir. That’s out of the equation.”
Watch the video: Erben macht nicht immer Freude - das Erbe ausschlagen?