Friday, August 20, 2010

At the Viceroyalty Palace

Cagliari, 21st July 1713

At the sumptuous Viceroy's own Office of the Palazzo Viceregio in Cagliari, two men of noble appearance silently stood face to a large oak desk, where an aged dignatary was sitting, absorbed in the reading of a long missive. Behind him, in discrete attitude, a fourth man was also reading over the shoulder of his lord, with growing concern.

Andreu Roger Count of Erill and Viceroy of Sardinia on behalf of the Emperor and King Charles VI, finally read the last lines of the missive and raised his eyes to the knights, with a severe expression in face: -Lords Amadeu Calvia and Antonio Serra, you have been most gentle taking this missive into my hands.

-Your Highness, such was the commission received from the Marquis of Vilana, who was most concerned the letter was delivered to Your Highness, nobody else -one of the men answered.

A week ago, an armed xebec ship flying Catalan Ensign had arrived in the north-western Sardinian city of Alghero, carrying on board the Catalan legate Marquis of Vilana, who on his way to Monte-Cristo had desired a short stop in that town. Once on land, Vilana had discretely conferred with some personalities of the Municipality -Lords Calvia and Serra among them. At the meeting's end, he handed over them a sealed envelope, which had to be hand-delivered to the Viceroy in person. This was the document the Count of Erill had just read.

-However, milords -then intervened the fourth man, Viceroyalty Counselor Carlo Doria- you can easily imagine why this Kingdom would hardly be able to perform as desired by Lord Vilana...

-...As desired by the Parliament of Catalonia, Sire -Serra rectified, -empowered as it has been by the Aragonese and Valencian Parliaments to act on their behalf too, Your Highness.

-True, true my friends -the Viceroy then mediated- and this is the reason why this missive is being taken into consideration. Nevertheless, Lord Doria is right in recalling back to our memories His Majesty's directives and priorities with respect to this island. We cannot take a potentially displeasing to Him decision on the Catalan demands, at least in the terms the Marquis of Vilana has suggested.

-Your words make most sense, Your Highness -Calvia conceded-. However, there must be some kind of honourable solution to this painful dilemma, because this Kingdom is not less a constituent part of the Crown of Aragon than Catalonia itself, and it would be most unworthy not to respond to their requests for relief... some way.

-An eventual Crown of Aragon membership re-affirmation wouldn't be any harmful to His Majesy's interests, whenever the decision is not unilaterally taken by You, but with the Parliament of Sardinia agreement instead -the Counselor then reflected, -and this implies by no means any harmless subjection of this Kingdom to the Catalans' will.

-The Council of Spain(*) will not be any happy for this, Doria.

-But they enjoy no actual powers upon our Parliament or Your Highness -Calvia replied.

-Nevertheless, this Kingdom would not be able to go beyond such declarative membership assertion -the Viceroy bitterly responded- No material relief can Sardinia provide to Catalonia, for the troops at my disposal are no more than two infantry battalions, one dragoons regiment and a few batteries -and these must be committed in the defence of the island, as His Majesty ordered.

-And, in case we had troops enough, we would have no fleet to escort them to Catalonian shores -the Counselor added.

-Maybe some kind of unofficial relief might be delivered... -then cunningly suggested Serra.

-An unofficial one? What do you mean?

-One that no way would compromise Your Higness or the Kingdom as such -he replied in a wide smile. -As You already know, I earned some money in the past thanks to my overseas trading activity, so that I'm proud to own a small merchant fleet. However, this long war has inevitably damaged business in such a way that... -adopting then a mourningful, complaining voice- It would be a ruin for Alghero city if I was forced to put my enterprise to an end... Maybe a lettre de marque might stimulate me to keep my ships in business...

The Counselor loudly laughed at the eccentric proposal -but his eyes were shining with excitement, for he also shared interests with Serra: -But you still wouldn't have any troops to carry, my friend.

-Here is were I might humbly assist you, milords -then Calvia quietly replied. -Might I ask for a license or comission to raise a regiment with my own funds? There is plenty of honest and resolute men in Alghero who, sadly empowerished by war, would gladly enlist for an expedition into their ancestors' homeland...

(*) [The Council of Spain was the institution Charles VI had for ruling the former Spanish territories in Italy, up to 1720, when he finally gave up his claims for the Spanish throne]


abdul666 said...

Promising... Not very much as yet, but it's a start -and, even more, the sympathies unveiled are auspicious.

abdul666 said...

Or are you preparing a 'Galatea in exile', just in case? Will the most stubborn Galatan diehards end in Austrian service and under Austrian uniform like the 'Free Frenchs' of Bir Hakeim?
In that case, Monte-Cristo would offer Mireia a professorial chair at the Ecole de Medecine des Demoiselles...

Soldadets said...

Quite incisive, Jean-Louis!

It actually happened in 'real' History; the 1714 defeat caused thousands of pro-Austrian supporters to flee for the islands and Naples.

A great number of the Imperial troops defending Sardinia in 1717 against Philip V were fugitive Catalans. Their latest redoubt were the Catalan-speaking city of Alghero and Castellaragonese town, which resisted up to a month after the fall of Cagliari.

(Rivista dell'Istituto di Storia dell'Europa Mediterranea, n. 4, June 2010, pages 337-357)

Many others fleed again when the war approached to Sicily and Naples in 1718, this time into Austria. There, some thousands were taken to garrison and re-populate the Banat, where they founded the so-called "New Barcelona". The experiment failed, however, for the Catalan colonists were decimated by disease.

(Revista Sàpiens, don't remember the issue)

So that yes, a "back door" may still be kept open, just for case...

abdul666 said...

Hopefully you'll not have to use it!
Will your regiment of female volunteers (TMP!) turn the tide?

Galalan Grenzers... what kind of bizarre mixture of Catalan and 'local' clothes could be envisaged?

Soldadets said...

[what kind of bizarre mixture of Catalan and 'local' clothes could be envisaged?]

Wish my Imagi-Nation not to have to experience it!!! :D

...Still quite doubtful about what minis to use for my imagi-regiment... I'll be leaving myself some days to keep going around it, although the Blue Moon sci-fi women are my favourite option so far!