I hear you’ve just inherited my empire. Congratulations! It’s a great job, but you’ll need to be as tough as Frisian rawhide to protect our multikulti kingdom from its deadliest foes: Lombard cavalry, marauding Brexiteers and Apple’s tax lawyers.
The job’s only getting harder these days. Look at the state of Jean-Claude, duke of Luxembourg, after only five years. I waged 53 campaigns over 46 years to unify Christendom, and still looked fresher in the saddle than that guy. It’s obviously the poor design of your single currency that burned him out. I don’t like to gloat, but my standardized silver pennies were way better.
Now, Ursula, let’s be honest, I’ve had my doubts about you. Although you’re comfortable on horseback, you had a shambolic reputation when running the Rhine armies and — this was what really made my blood run cold — you’re from Lower Saxony. Frankly, the devil shits Saxons. I spent more than 30 years slaughtering you pagan dogs in battle after battle across northern Europe, and I’ll never really trust a Saxon.
But I suppose it’s time to move on. At least you’re good at reading and writing, which I never was! You can always delegate the massacres, though I confess I enjoyed that side of things. I was superhumanly tall, loved muddy sport, ate too much roast meat and could cleave a man from helmet to waist with one stroke of my blade — essentially I was Phil Hogan with a handlebar mustache. While we’re on the subject of your commissioner for trade, I advise you to keep Philippe Le Grand of Kilkenny close: it might not be long before you need some meddlesome MEPs cleft clean in twain.
Obviously I love European values and all that, but a well-timed “nosebleed” can come in very handy.
I’m impressed by your thirst for results in your first 100 days, but we Franks never really believed in frenetic activity over winter. That is when you should don your otter furs, grill spitted hogs over an open hearth and draw up your plans for the Marchfield, the spring council. Yuletide is best spent studying some advice from the one-and-only Father of Europe.
Follow my nine suggestions and you’ll be fine:
Manfred of Bavaria is still alive! What were you thinking? Some will still see him as the true Spitzenkandidat. You don’t want nagging doubts about your legitimacy. For me, the problems were all about my brother Carloman. and my usurpation of his half of the kingdom. It was ever so sad when Carloman suffered a fatal “nosebleed” in 771. Obviously I love European values and all that, but a well-timed “nosebleed” can come in very handy. If this seems too harsh for Manfred, then incarcerate him in the abbey at Prüm. That’s what I did with my rebellious, hunchbacked son. It’s your choice.
Show no mercy to (Anglo) Saxons
No disrespect, Ursula, but Saxons and Anglo-Saxons only understand one language. Don’t let Boris of Uxbridge waste too much of your time. Let him know who is boss. To break the Saxons, I destroyed one of their totemic sacred pillars, the Irminsul, and decapitated 4,500 of their captives, until the River Aller flowed red with blood. My counsellor Alcuin of York ultimately convinced me these kinds of executions and forced conversions were against God’s will, but let’s be practical here. You can safely leave the promotion of European values until later in your reign. A few decapitations just helped soften the Saxons up a bit. (Thankfully, the Anglo-Saxons look quite capable of chopping their own heads off.)
Stay off the booze
Your predecessor Jean-Claude and I never agreed on this point, but I always insisted to courtiers that wine hinders good government. Never drink more than three cups of Moselle straw wine. It is important to keep a clear head over dinner. That’s when your monks should read aloud works on the unfathomable mysteries: the nature of angels, the doctrines of the trinity and how to integrate eco-systems into the Common Agricultural Policy. You really don’t need wine for a fun banquet as long as everyone gets at least one hare each, or a quarter of a sheep. Or a whole peacock. Boy, we had some dinners back in the day.
Top up the budget
The 790s were a good decade for the treasury. We smashed through the defenses of the Avars — nomadic horsemen from God knows where — and loaded 15 groaning ox-carts with looted treasure. There’s nothing like some shameless raiding to hold the finances together. You should lure those hapless American tech tribes into the unforgiving clutches of Margrethe of Jutland again. There’s nothing like a few billion-euro antitrust fines to keep you safe on your throne.
Prevent East-West schisms
Don’t stand for any of this nonsense about the “Latin west.” You are empress of Europe. The whole damn Roman empire. I was the new Constantine. And the new King David. I was protector of the sacred sites of Jerusalem. Don’t let anyone tell you that my vision was limited to the west. One of the greatest moments of my life came in 812, when the Byzantine Greeks came to hail me as basileus (king). Of course, they were on the back foot at the time because, a year earlier, the Bulgarians had turned the skull of their emperor into a wine goblet. Now, that’s a strategy you can use again! If you have any doubts about the loyalty of a schismatic EU leader, Khan Boyko of the Bulgars would, I am sure, be happy to expand his range of drinking vessels.
Govern from your bedchamber
I see you plan to sleep in the imperial palace at Berlaymont. This is an excellent idea. I often governed from the royal bedchamber, where I would summon my officials. This arrangement led to excellent policymaking and 18 children! Or was it 19? I forget. Be sure to get out a lot, though, for a swim in the hot pools at Aachen or a wolf/bear/boar hunt in the Ardennes. Those were the only things that kept me sane.
Stay on the road
Flitting between Brussels and Strasbourg? Family weekends in Hannover? No problem. The Frankish court has always been itinerant. It is a way to parade our power. The only thing that concerns me is the haughty attitude of Emmanuel of Amiens in regard to his estate in Strasbourg. A Frank without a mustache is not to be trusted. You should not be paying his innkeepers and swelling his coffers. Make Emmanuel pay for all the costs of the court’s stay in Strasbourg. Bankrupt him if you need to. Eventually, it’s wiser to spend most of your time in Aachen. Brussels is a marshy, sickly place. People need to know where European power really lies. In a more Rhinelandish direction …
Don’t worry about Muslim takeover
In my day, the Umayyads occupied Spain. Now that they have left Zaragoza, which I failed to take in 778, I have no idea what everyone is worried about. The Arabs don’t even run Andalusia any more! My monks tell me that all this fuss about Muslims is a smokescreen for a deeper malaise. They say the real problem is Christendom’s crisis of faith, and that people no longer believe in anything other than Candy Crush games, shopping malls and mindfulness classes. Don’t worry. I also spent much of my reign wrestling with Europeans’ flimsy spiritual foundations. I rectified this with an all-out program of ecclesiastically-led Latin education. I presume that’s what your Horizon Europe budget is all about.
Appoint better diplomats
My clerks have read through your diplomatic parchments. What on earth do they do in this so-called European External Action Service? My diplomats struck an extraordinary alliance with Harun al-Rashid, caliph of Baghdad. I secured tutelage of the Christian sites in the Holy Land, and Harun helped me undermine both the Byzantines in the east, and the Umayyads in the west. He sent me an elephant called Abul-Abbas, and a water clock with brass balls, cymbals and mechanized horsemen. Now that’s diplomacy! I hear you only received a scarf in Ethiopia. A scarf! Make your displeasure clear to the EEAS. Where are the water clocks? Where, Ursula, are the elephants?