Monday, 19 June 2017

Alfred the Great (LII): Personality Type Analysis

Alfred the Great was the 27th King of Wessex from 871 to 899, the very first English monarch to have ever been given the epithet "the Great" and most well-known for commanding the successful defense of Wessex during Viking conquest, which eventually lead him to become the dominant monarch of England towards the end of his life. The history of his life and reign as monarch of Wessex is explained in detail through the written accounts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, historical documentation of what his reign was like, those who personally knew him and the biography The Life of King Alfred, written by the Welsh monk Asser.

The details of his early childhood are elaborated on in Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in which young Alfred (suspected to be around age four) travelled with his family to Rome in 853, to be made "consul" by Pope Leo IV. This was early preparation for his eventual succession as King of Wessex, though the possibility of Alfred becoming the next in line was slim. This was because he had three elder brothers (from eldest to youngest); Æthelbald, Æthelberht and Æthelred, who had greater chances of future coronation as monarch of Wessex. (The first brother, Æthelstan died in 852, shortly after fending off a Viking fleet in Kent and had very little impact on the life of Alfred as a child.) After spending time in Rome for a few years, Alfred's father Æthelwulf visited Carolingian King Charles the Bald in 856 and married his fourteen year-old daughter Judith to signify the diplomatic alliance between the two kingdoms. Æthelbald heard of this news, enraged at now having an underage stepmother and casting aside his own mother, a kindhearted, devoutly religious woman who cared about the education of her children. In reaction to this, Æthelbald led a revolt in an attempt to depose his father of the throne on his return to Wessex. In the instance of civil war breaking out, Æthelwulf negotiated with Æthelbald to let him rule western province of his kingdom and for himself to rule over the eastern province.

After Æthelwulf's death in 858, Æthelbald's reign from 858 to 860 was relatively short and seen by Asser as unstable and lawless (Though further details of his reign is limited). Next in line was Æthelberht, his reign from 860 to 865 was internally peaceful and harmonious, though he died shortly before the invasion of the Great Heathen Army in 865. The reign of Æthelred was the most war intensive out of the three elder brothers, with some successful military victories early on. However, after the Saxon defeat of the Battle of Merton, Æthelred died a month after and left Alfred to deal with a kingdom on the verge of collapse, all on his own. 

During all of this political unrest, Alfred was known by his mother Osburh, to be fascinated with reading, poetry and education at a very young age. To encourage her son's interest in education, she offered a challenge to her four children that the first person to memorize a book of Saxon poems would be the new owner of that book. Even just recently learning how to read at age twelve (which was the result of the lack of tutors and scholars in the West Saxon Kingdom), Alfred had surpassed his brothers in intellectual strength by memorizing the entire book, thus winning the book of Saxon poems. Since then, Alfred was known to carry around books with him wherever he went and frequently sought quiet refuge to read alone. This specifically is from Asser's account, "[...] he collected in a single book, as I have seen for myself; amid all the affairs of the present life he took it around with him everywhere for the sake of prayer, and was inseparable from it".

Notably, in contrast to his brother Æthelred who based his military organization purely off of tactics and strong defense, Alfred naively came to the conclusion that peace could be negotiated between the new leader of the Danes, Guthrum. After exchanging oaths and swearing loyalty to a "holy" ring (thought to be associated with Thor), the Danes immediately broke their promise and decided to kill the hostages they captured anyway. By taking advantage of his weakness in F, the Danes thought that they had gotten a step ahead of the Saxons, though unknowingly to the Danes, Alfred had already blockaded their ships in Devon ahead of time in the case if they didn't keep their word. His preference of long-term military strategy over tactics served him well in the Battle of Edington and in his plan to storm the Dane's stronghold in Chippenham by cutting off their food supply and starving them until surrender. Guthrum and his men had no other choice but to come to a complete surrender, and instead of killing the men or arresting them for their actions, Alfred came to the conclusion that they should be converted to Christianity through baptism at his court (even accepting Guthrum as his adoptive son). With what has been written above, provides the most evidence for a type with F4 and strong T.

After the war, Alfred became a respected military strategist, though his innate talents were in law-making and governance. He was a wise administrator who proceeded carefully in diplomatic matters, reorganizing his finances and politely distanced himself from his thanes (nobles). Once he realized the current state of corruption in the state's legal system, he scrutinized the administration of justice and ensured to protect of the weak from oppression by ignorant or corrupt judges. In this way, Alfred decided it would be best to administer an important code of laws, after studying the principles of law-giving in the Book of Exodus, again with special attention to the protection of the poor. While avoiding unnecessary changes in custom, he limited the practice of the blood feud and imposed heavy penalties for the breach of an oath or pledge. His own attitudes are reflective of weak R3, his own efforts to distance himself from the members of his court could have been seen as impersonal and standoffish by some (though he did send frequent embassies to Rome conveying the translated alms to the Pope). He would much rather see them more as "co-workers" since he believed that unnecessarily making friends and enemies would make more unjust activities like bribes to be more accepted.

Alfred attitude toward learning is quite evident, due to his belief that the Viking raids were a divine punishment for the people's sins and he attributed these to a lack of education in general. He argued that through learning, men could acquire wisdom and live in accordance with God's will. In 878 CE, he invited scholars from across the European continent to his court, taught himself Latin and began to translate Latin books into English in 887. Baffled by how indolent and ignorant the common man was in comparison to these scholars, he directed that all young men must learn to read English. By his own translations, he released to the public English versions of books that were necessary people to know; The Ecclesiastical History of the English People and the Seven Books of Histories Against the Pagans. Alfred's translation of the Pastoral Care of St. Gregory I, the great 6th-century pope, provided a manual for priests in the instruction of their flocks, and a translation by Bishop Werferth of Gregory's Dialogues supplied edifying reading on holy men. To summarize, Asser's notes on Alfred characterize him as a scholarly man who had an unwavering interest in L pursuits, his own confidence and talents in these subjects indicating strong and valued L1.

Alfred's religious beliefs were inspired by the philosopher St. Augustine of Hippo, to which he credited him by adding very broad material that addressed problems concerning faith, reason and the nature of eternal life. His translations were from a wide variety of sources, one of which was Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. Some of these psalms may have their origins in the intellectual interests awakened by the revival of learning under him. His reign also saw activity in reconstructed temples as centers of education, art, and foreign craftsmen were attracted to his court. The eclectic amount of interests and search for new ideas to accommodate both his religious and philosophical beliefs suggest Alfred had I2, or at the very least, a type with strong I.

More to the point, Alfred is a scholar by inclination, who became a war leader not because of glory, wealth or fame, it merely was because he had to. Though it is interesting that with such a beloved king, E is almost non-existent with Alfred. As stated before, he was a man who was beloved by his family and locals in Wessex, Alfred himself did not turn a blind eye to this popularity, though he felt this was only because the Anglo-Saxons only recognized him as king and not as a person. What's even more revealing is Alfred's emotional attitudes written in one of Alfred's last works, "Blooms" or Anthology. The first half is based mainly on the Soliloquies of St Augustine of Hippo, the remainder is drawn from various sources, and contains much of what is Alfred's passions are. The last words are quoted, "Therefore he seems to me a very foolish man, and truly wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear."  In general, a solitary and solemn man who avoided E matters, preferring to address the matters through writing because dealing with these problems socially brought him great discomfort, still fitting E5 nonetheless.

Concluding this analysis, there is a small anecdote that would be essential in putting together a clearer image of what Alfred type is. It's interesting that a scholarly man like Alfred, whose natural inclination to studying might've suggested that he had a sedentary lifestyle, but this was quite the opposite. Alfred was an avid huntsman who was often quite physically active, yet he saw his ability in hunting as more of a hobby than a more competitive activity. With this interest in a sport only for being physically active and healthy, would make S6 more likely for Alfred.

I would say that all of the evidence all points to LII Alpha values with visible L1, I2, R3, F4, E5, S6 and T8.

To learn more about LII click here

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Pedro II (EII): Personality Type Analysis

Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, also called Dom Pedro II the "Magnanimous", was the second and last monarch of the Empire of Brazil, from his father’s abdication in 1831 to his deposition in a military coup in 1889.

He was born in Rio in 1825, the son of Emperor Pedro I (SEE) and Leopoldina of Austria. He was five years old when his father abdicated the Brazilian throne and returned to Portugal. Raised by tutors, he was a serious, studious and shy boy, very different from his impulsive, physically hyperactive father. As per the constitution, regents were elected by Parliament to rule while Pedro was a minor. However, it soon became clear that without the personal authority that Pedro I had wielded, Brazil’s internal tensions and rivalries re-emerged in the form of a series of regional rebellions, some with secessionist goals. So after 9 years of near-anarchy under the Regency, the consensus in Parliament was that their best chance of avoiding further chaos was to end the Regency and enhance the central government’s authority with a ruling emperor. Therefore he was declared of age by Parliament in 1840 (not fully legally) at 14, and political stability did start to increase.

The constitution, reflecting Pedro I’s personality, assumed that the monarch would act as chief executive himself, as also the regents had done. That was initially the case with the young Pedro II, with him relying politically and emotionally upon an often self-serving inner circle of palace hangers-on and select politicians, the so-called “Courtier Faction”. Gradually, as he reached his 20s and gained more self-confidence, he dismissed or reduced the influence of that inner circle, by 'kicking them upstairs' or simply by ceasing to listen to their political advice while maintaining friendly personal relations. In 1847, with his agreement, the government’s structure was changed in a way suited to the times and to Pedro II’s personal inclinations, with the creation of the office of prime minister. Pedro II retained the considerable powers of calling new parliamentary elections and appointing the prime minister. At this time, the young monarch was described as someone who “was never rude and never lost his temper. He was exceptionally discreet in words and cautious in action”; “the shy and suspicious youth became a man who could be sophisticated and charming in social situations”. Those traits would generally remain constant throughout his life. Even taking into account his political and constitutional position, the above already points to someone not obviously focused on F, who prefers to tone down confrontations for the sake of smooth interactions.

In the exercise of his role as monarch, Pedro mostly focused on keeping the system working smoothly. As in similar parliamentary systems, he appointed as prime ministers leading politicians of the majority party in Parliament and then let the cabinets get on with governing. However, unlike more established parliamentary monarchies, he had more of a personal choice as to who exactly would be appointed. Also, since it was widely acknowledged that the party in power would cheat in elections to some extent (by ballot-stuffing etc.), sometimes Pedro used his personal influence to encourage the rotation in government of the two main parties (Conservative and Liberal, as in Britain), so preventing either one from becoming too powerful. Still, the policies during his reign were mostly those of the prime minister and the cabinet rather than Pedro’s own. This is illustrated precisely by two occasions when he clashed with his cabinet and had to threaten to abdicate to get his way: in 1850, in order to force the government to support a law that would finally enforce the ban on slave trade (in theory already banned in 1831); and in 1865, in the context of the Paraguayan War, when the government and Parliament would not grant him permission to travel to the front himself, as the nominal commander-in-chief. Those episodes are useful because they illustrate not only the limitations of Pedro II's political role in government, but also his unwillingness to clash with the political establishment except in matters about which he felt particularly strongly. Apart from such episodes, his other visible influence in government was that of essentially vetoing the appointment as minister of men whose personal integrity was in any way questionable, a matter in which the party politicians got used to and did not try to overrule. Overall Pedro's approach to his duties seemed to be keeping things running smoothly, guaranteeing the rotation of power between the two main parties, keeping an eye on the personal character of ministers, and mostly not interfering in the policies themselves. This points to R and P rather than L and E as quadra values.

Besides fulfilling his duties as monarch, Pedro spent his time essentially in intellectual pursuits. Those included a general interest in all sciences - he was an amateur astronomer, for instance - and in languages in particular, having become fluent (or at least functional) in the main international languages of the time: French, English, German, Spanish, and Italian, as well as in Guarany (spoken in Paraguay), classical Latin and Greek, and studied even Hebrew and Sanskrit. During his reign he refused to accept increases in the allowance allocated him, and he spent large sums granting student scholarships. That meant he lived in a (relatively) modest style, and he only adopted the 'pomp and circumstance' of his role when formally opening Parliament. In his private letters he even said that he disliked that part of his job, and that in his opinion the noblest profession was that of teacher, since they developed young minds. Again this shows a total disregard for the elements of power and status projection, i.e. E and F, and his interest in a variety of subjects and in developing minds suggest I as a valued function. All of the above already points to Delta as Pedro's quadra.

As soon as his eldest daughter Isabel was of age and could legally act as regent in Pedro's absence, he started a series of travels abroad, in the 1870s and 1880s, mostly through Europe but also to the Middle East and the US. In such trips he did not quite travel in cognito but on a modest budget, with a minimal retinue, and staying in small hotels. In one revealing episode, during his first visit to Paris, he wrote to Victor Hugo asking him to come see him in his hotel. Hugo, annoyed at being often seen as a 'tourist attraction' by important foreigners, curtly wrote back to say that he never left home to visit anyone. To Hugo's surprise, a few days later Pedro II knocked on his door, on his own, asking to see him. As per Hugo's own account, the Emperor was a polite, even shy man.

In 1876 he became the first foreign head of state to visit the United States, and together with President Ulysses S. Grant (SLI) he opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. There, he played a significant role by being fascinated by, and calling attention to, Alexander Graham Bell's invention - the telephone - which had already been overlooked by the exposition's judges. In 1930, AT&T recreated the event in short film. It is significant that this is pretty much the only event of historical relevance in Pedro's foreign trips, and that it was a P and I event. Otherwise, Pedro's trips consisted of him visiting places, and meeting people, that he found interesting, and although not hiding, he certainly downplayed his role as a monarch and sitting head of state, preferring to spend time at the many literary and scientific associations he became a member of, particularly in France. Again, that points to I.

The prestige and power of the monarchy in Brazil was in obvious decline in the 1880s, for several reasons. The new generation of politicians and military officers had no personal recollection of the near-anarchy of the 1830s; the Paraguayan War of 1865-70 had vastly increased the army's sense of self-importance and corporate identity and grievance; the Princess Imperial, Isabel, and her French husband, the Comte d'Eu, were personally unpopular and few believed that she would succeed her father upon his death. An European-style monarchy in the Americas was starting to look increasingly anachronistic. Finally, the agrarian oligarchy ceased to support the monarchy due to its decades-long support for the gradual abolition of slavery, which was completed in 1888. By then Pedro II himself was a prematurely aged 63-year old, suffering from diabetes and mercilessly mocked in newspaper cartoons as falling asleep in official events. From his writings, the Emperor seemed aware that the monarchy would not survive him but he lacked the will, or the inclination, to do something about it (or even the knowledge of what he could do). So in November 1889, a minor military revolt in Rio which at first only intended to demand the replacement of the prime minister quickly escalated into a movement aiming at abolishing the monarchy itself. Rather than attempt any kind of resistance, Pedro II returned by train to Rio from his mountain summer residence, and was ordered by the new military provisional government to leave the country with his family by ship the next night. Too proud to accept the provisional government's offer of a large sum of money, Pedro spent the next two years in Paris, doing pretty much the same he did during his previous visits there, that is, at scientific and academic events, financially supported by wealthy friends and European relatives, until his death from pneumonia in 1891.

The overall picture we have of Pedro II is of a man who, despite his hereditary position, was seen by all who met him as modest and even shy; who obviously disliked the trappings of power and status of his position and who was apparently completely oblivious to, or uninterested in, threats to his personal political position, pointing to such weak and devalued F as to point to F4. Also a man obviously able to project personal charm in close encounters and to defuse conflicts (his only active role at the front of the Paraguayan War was precisely to calmly mediate a conflict of egos among the leaders of the three allied nations) and to manage personal relationships with politicians without seemingly any personally disliking him, which points to strong R as well as some awareness of E at personal level. His interest in a wide variety of subjects and languages, as well as his fascination with science and technology, suggest strong I and valued P but with I stronger - his P seemed more manifest in his attraction to knowledgeable people, pointing to P5.  R1, I2, F4, P5 and E7 all fit well what is known of Pedro II, making EII his likely type.

To learn more about EII, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sources: besides the video linked above, the Wikipedia entries on Pedro II are long and high-quality, sufficing for a good idea of his type.