Empress Dowager Gwidh

Empress Dowager Gwidh
Agnate Empress Dowager 帝大后
Tenure6 May 1923 – 3 Mar. 1955
Coronation6 May 1923
Empress of Themiclesia
皇后
Tenure15 Nov. 1919 – 6 May 1923
Princess-consort of Ram
濫后
Tenure15 Aug. 1889 – 15 Nov. 1923
Marriage18 Aug. 1889
Baronness of Kra
葭侯
Tenure1 Jan. 1890 – 15 Nov. 1919
Investiture1 Jan. 1890
Predecessortitle created
Successortitle absorbed
Born董固, dong′-kah
(1868-01-05)5 January 1868
Kien-k'ang
Died3 March 1955(1955-03-03) (aged 87)
Gweng-l′junh Palace
Burial
Ram Mausoleum (濫陵)
Posthumous name
gwidh, "the generous"
Temple name
西宗奭, sner-tsung-l′jêk
Father4th Lord of Krungh

The Empress Dowager Gwidh (惠太后, gwidh-ladh-goh; Jan. 5, 1868 – Mar. 3, 1955) was empress-consort to Emperor Grui of Themiclesia. She was the eldest granddaughter of the Lord of Krungh, prime minister from 1894 to 1910, marrying the future emperor when he was crown prince, in 1889. Like her grandfather and father, she was an ardent Conservative and was a powerful influence at Grui's court; however, as regent for Emperor Hen between 1923 and 1936, she maintain impartiality appointing prime ministers according to Parliamentary politics. For this reason she is remembered positively in Themiclesian histories. During Hen's first two decades on the throne, she remained powerful, and the emperor never openly contradicted her. She died at her seat, Gweng-l′junh Palace, in 1955.

Early life

Princess-consort

Empress

Regency

Disputes with Princess Skjor

According to custom, Gwidh carried the four-year-old Emperor Hen in her arms when she entered and sat in the throne of the House of Lords, seven days after her husband was assassinated. The chamber, led by the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and Marshal of Peers, first heard the pre-drafted will of Emperor Grui and acclaimed Hen as the new sovereign. Then, the House recognized Gwidh as regent until the emperor comes of age, which would be 16 years away. The same day, Gwidh passed a number of edicts of ceremonial relevance, including her elevation as empress-dowager and transition from the Middle Palace to Gweng-l′junh Palace.

The immediate problem facing the royal court was the future title of Hen's mother, the Princess-dowager Skjor. Themiclesia had not crowned a collateral child monarch since 1632. In that example, the biological mother was to stay in a fief sui juris, as the monarch was expected to take the empress-dowager as his mother in a symbolic adoption. On this example, Gwidh offered Skjor a title over two counties; however, she rejected this arrangement, believing it outdated and, more importantly, not a valid precedent. Gwidh told her that, she could not live at her own palace in the capital city (though three palaces stood vacant) because she was never a reigning empress; if she wanted one, she must settle in her fief. Skjor asked to live at the Hen-ljang Palace with her son, but Gwidh too refused on the pretext of lack of space.[1] She told retainers that the empress-dowager was a "silly woman who failed to bear Emperor Grui a child and now tries to rob hers." Gwidh later made amends giving her a townhouse in Kien-k'ang but still discouraged her from visting.[2]

Liberal prime minister Rikw Mo frequently visisted Skjor and discussed plans to intercede on her behalf, but she was hesitant to approve of it for fear of appearing divisive in a political environment still alien to her. Rikw guaranteed that every effort will be made in the House of Lords to prevent her son from being alienated from her. This was soon reported to Gwidh, but she thought that Rikw's position will only be made firmer if she moved against him for this reason. Aside from this, both her husband and father-in-law, Emperor Goi, made sure to refrain from overtly-partisan decisions to stem the tide of republicanism; if she deviated from this so soon after her husband's death, her own reputation would suffer. Ultimately, Rikw advised her to re-assure Skjor that she had no scheme except to follow traditions in raising Hen, implying that she would not inculcate Conservative politics in him. When this was leaked to the public, Gwidh effectively won the first confrontation between the two women. By suggesting that Skjor was concerned about Hen's future political neutrality and then assuring her that she would not do so, Gwidh appeared experienced and statesmanlike, while framing Skjor as myopic and easily concerned.

Wartime

The irresoluble opposition between the Commons and Lords in 1935 proved a problem that tested the empress-dowager's political senses. Dram Long (湛同)

Assassination attempts

When Dayashinese operative Yamabe Oshimaro infiltrated the Themiclesian Marine Corps and made an attempt on the life of the emperor, Gwidh made an offer for the emperor, who was very shaken, to stay at her residence instead. However, the prime minister regarded this offer as a mistake for two reasons. Firstly, it framed the emperor as fearful, which is not desired during the war; secondly, if the emperor publicly accepted it, his whereabouts would become predictable, putting him in further danger. This danger would extend to Gwidh as well, if she were to be together with the emperor. Yet neither did the emperor desire to refuse her offer, which was portrayed as one of kindness to the public. Gwidh told her courtiers that she felt quite sorry for making a senseless statement that placed the emperor in a difficult position.

In the weeks following, she summoned the Captain-general of Marines to her palace and admonished him for his involvement in her embarrassment. She told him that she now could not bear to see "blue coats and green bowties" without feeling sick, prompting the captain-general to throw off his coat and tie. He next sought the navy secretary's permission to conduct a wide-ranging investigation for infiltrators, but the navy secretary refused, prompting the captain-general to commit suicide. Hearing this, Gwidh called the captain-general a clueless man who failed to see his extant usefulness in his country's hour of need but dared to heap guilt on herself. She passed edict to ban all marines from her palace forthwith, believing that they were "not the sort" she likes to have around her.

In 1940, the government deliberated on increasing security around the palace. The War, Navy, and Air Secretaries were each to select 200 men to replace the Royal Guards, whose resources were dedicated to the war effort. Gwidh sent message to the Navy Secretary that she will not lift her rule if any marines were selected amongst his 200. The Navy Secretary replied that this decision, if made, will be public, i.e. he staked his career on the soundness of his selections, and Gwidh will be going against the democratically-elected government if she failed to comply. Gwidh retorted saying that the Navy Secretary has served his country remarkably well for years, i.e. the assassination attempts did not end his career, so it is not likely that his default here will. Her refusal caused the Privy Council to shelve the plans.

After the war, Gwidh still refused to attend any public function where marines would be present, causing an image problem for the force. In 1954, months before her death, she confessed to her baronness-in-waiting that she was not as hostile to the marines as many imagined and for which criticized her. She had "full confidence in them to protect her country, just as she trusted lords- and gentlemen-in-waiting with her life". She also said, according to one of her staff, that she understood that marines in foreign nations often participate in protecting royalty, but she did not believe this to be a Themiclesian custom or understand why it should become one. She was perfectly content with the "sons of the aristocracy" doing the same for her, criticizing the 1940 plan to involve marines at her guard a "reckless and newfangled plan to resurrect the navy secretary's shattered reputation."

Later life

Assessments

Titles and styles

Gwidh was the eldest daughter and child of the 4th Lord of Krungh, in turn son of the 3rd Lord of Krungh, the long-serving prime minister; however, titles could not pass to females in the presence of a legitimate male heir, so the title passed to her younger brother in 1932 at her father's death. In 1889, at the age of 20, she married the crown prince, the future Emperor Grui, and became the Princess-consort of Ram, since Grui was the Prince of Ram. In 1890, the emperor made her the Baronness of Kra in her own right, at the age of 22, granting her a permanent income and financially independent from the Prince. As the consort of an agnate prince of the blood, she used the style royal highness in Casaterran discourse. In a letter to a Casaterran diplomat, she was addressed as royal highness Princess of Ram and Baronness of Kra.

Upon her husband's coronation in 1919, she became Empress-consort of Themiclesia (皇后). In Shinasthana, "queen" and "empress" are indistinct, both goh (后); thus, the modifier gwang (皇) is used to specify that she was an empress. However, Themiclesian monarchs and their consorts usually did not hold independent titles, so her barony was annulled. As empress-consort, she used the style majesty in Tyrannian but not in Shinasthana, where she was called ntenh-gra′, which translated to highness or royal highness, because domestically majesty was reserved for the sovereign. Nevertheless, as the spouse of the emperor, she was still entitled to ritualistic parity with the emperor. Moving into the Middle Palace, she could also be referred to by the name of the palace; while she never resided at the Hen-ljang Palace with her husband, she was also called hen-ljang-ntenh (顯陽殿), referring to the bedchamber-hall that she is expected to use if she did.

When her husband died, she took the title Agnate Empress-dowager (帝太后), which was incorrectly and redundantly rendered as "imperial dowager empress". The word agnate here specifies that she was queen to the agnate royal line, which, again, is required to distinguish her from other princesses-dowager. While empresses-dowager are still not entitled to the style majesty, she acquired that style as regent for the young Emperor Hen, at least when conducting public business. When the emperor held court, she was addressed as your majesty while the emperor remained silent. Her acts and rescripts are published in the emperor's name, and official correspondence addressed to the emperor were delivered to her. After her regency ended in 1936, she reverted to her former style royal highness publicly, but her staff continued to address her as majesty. As she lived at the Gweng-l′junh Palace, she was also referred to by that name, much as she was mentioned as "Middle Palace" while living there.

At her death, Parliament gave her the epithet "The Generous", which remains the usual way Themiclesians refer to her, "Empress-dowager the Generous" (惠太后). In cultic activities, she is also called sner-tsung-l′jêk, "Companion of the West Temple", the West Temple being the shrine of her husband Emperor Grui. The title "Agnate Empres-dowager" is infrequently used after her death.

See also

Notes

  1. This is an obvious excuse, since at least three halls were not occupied at that point.
  2. She reportedly said that the emperor was no longer "her own or Skjor's son" and "will be brought up by lawyers and politicians, who would be his closest advisors in the future."