Saturday, September 18, 2010

Diplomacy at harbour

Monte-Cristo, 2nd August 1713

-I feel more relaxed if talking at home... -had said Sir Robert Walpole, so that they finally met aboard the frigate HMS Courageous, which was anchored in Monte-Cristo harbour. The Catalan xebec captain Joan Ventura got so impressed at the beautiful ship that her captain proudly offered himself for a guided tour, thus leaving Sir Walpole and Marquis of Vilana alone.

-I must confess, my friend -Walpole started- that your latest proposal about a Co-Principality in Catalonia has strongly suprised me... It is quite far away from the theses defended by Lord Dalmases, your ambassador to London, and so far assumed by Her Gracious Majesty's Government; I mean, the tutelage of your Principality -if not the whole Crown of Aragon- by Emperor Charles alone...

-You are right Robert, but things are changing despite our wish -Vilana responded -and you know, as well as I do too, that the position of your "Tory" government is plainly artificial. They have no real intention of pressing France and Spain in that direction, but only...

-...reassuring Her Gracious Majesty conscience about this matter, so freeing their hands to forward plans on a peace terms which are widely favorable to their own particular interest, my friend. I am fully aware of this. -Walpole agreed- This is the reason why they are conforming to the guarantees given by King Philip about setting the Catalans on equal terms than His Castilian subjects.

-However, such presumed equality means the abolition of the core Constitutions of our Principality, Robert. It is no more than an annexation, just as King Philip has already done with Valencia and Aragon. The name for it is subjugation!

-...but in your aim to avoid that fate, you are throwing yourselves into the hands of King Louis, aren't you? You'll be doing nothing else with your Co-Principality settlement, Ramon -answered Walpole, adopting a severe criticizing tone.

-Help us then, for God's sake! -Vilana bitterly complained- Void of the support of your Nation, which was our most relied ally, what do you expect us to do alone?

Then Walpole reconcilingly raised hands: -My dear Ramon, I cannot promise you what is not in my hands. It is the "Tories" who are in charge of the Nation now, not we the "Whigs". The Duke of Marlborough has been removed from the Army High Command, and Stanhope and Peterborough have been put aside too. I've recently spent six months in prison thanks to Lord Bolingbroke... Many of us are still being closely watched. The only help we can offer you is from the opposition benches in Parliament -and this means a quite limited help, as you can imagine. Look, on last April our Party launched a parliamentary offensive, denouncing that the Government was violating the 1705 Pact of Genoa with Catalonia, therefore abandoning one of Britain's most loyal allies at the mercy of their enemies. And you know what...? Her Gracious Majesty herself intervened to cut off discussion!

-But then...

-I bet the "Tory" government will certainly agree with your Co-Principality settlement proposal, provided that King Louis also supports it, because what they want most is to ensure actual peace terms, besides of allowing them to state having accomplished with the Pact of Genoa. From the point of view of us "Whigs", I must admit to fully understand the reasons for your actual proposal. If this is what you are to state, we will also assume it... This is our commitment.

Vilana was about to respond Walpole, but he suddenly made gesture to continue talking: -But I'd like to understand that the stated Co-Principality is no more than a minimum proposal, which you would no longer formulate if better conditions were met...

-If other winds were blowing, we would certainly get back to our initial requirements -Vilana agreed, somewhat puzzled. What was Sir Robert Walpole going around?

-if so, -Walpole carefully answered- I must understand that Catalonia would also eagerly fulfill their commitments with England...

- ...?

Walpole raised a finger: -Free trade at all your harbours.

-Of course -Vilana quickly answered-, provided this is reciprocal.

He raised a second finger: -Mutual military assistance in the Western Mediterranean.

Vilana hesitated for a moment: -If strictly defensive...

-At request -Walpole's voice was incisive.

-I'll do my best to convince our Parliament -Vilana resigned.

-Ratifying the cession of Minorca -a third finger was raised.

-Not under the conditions that you agreed with King Philip -Vilana protested-, but under a leasing contract instead -for an implicitly extendable term of, let's say, from 50 to 50 years.

-I'll have to see it with my Party colleagues -Walpole cunningly answered; and then he stood up saying: -Done?

-Done. -And both men shook hands.


Salvador said...

It seems like Msr. Vilana has hit the nail in the head!
Oh the thrill...
Can we still expect a timely intervention by the british?
Can we hope the quill and words to stop Phillip's unfair and brutal policies?
Can we hope reason to end the carnage on catalan soil?
Stay tuned for the next episode!

Soldadets said...

Don't get fooled by the *real* meaning of this scene, Salvador.

Sir R. Walpole has limited himself to ratifying an already known commitment -that of the 'Whig' Party... Historically they had no chance to regain power until Queen Anne's death, and this is unlikely to happen at a short term...

In my oppinion, most remarkable in this scene are the musings of Sir R. Walpole about the ruling 'Tories' eventual attitude with respect to the Marquis de Vilana's unhistorical Co-Principality proposal -as well as the oppinion of 'Whigs' themselves, who were more likely to re-start war with France.

My guessing is that Marquis de Vilana has achieved a double goal in these conversations: he's got reassured of the 'Tory' agreement to the Co-Principality proposal if Louis XIV also agrees, while at the same time re-confirmed 'Whig' commitment if power regained by them.

Some possible inconveniencies, or eventual future troubles, have also been pointed in the article:

For example, a mutual military alliance can have a strong deterrent effect in troubled times, but can also become a Damocles Sword if your ally involves you in undesired conflicts too often...

A second conflict source is, of course, the cession of Minorca, and the risky 3-sides game an eventual devolution might unleash... (devolution to whom? Catalonia or Spain?)

abdul666 said...

The Rosbifs ('roast beef') -or Saozons, as they are still called in Brittany as in the time of King Arthur- are hard bargainers. Then, any country in dire straits has to expect to be squeezed / pressed like a lemon by its so-called allies....
But de Vilana's proposal could be winning a precious opening to a satisfaying cessation of hostilities...
Will victorious Galatea soon be dragged into the 'War of the Quintuple Allaince'?

Of course Claire Baizanville could not follow de Vilana aboard the Courageous, and by courtesy did not asked, nor even mentioned the meeting: but be sure she is -with a few colleagues- unobtrusively waiting for the rowboat bringing back the Marquis to dry land... As for Friedrich Leibnitz, I guess he is wondering how to overcome his embarrassment and face de Vilana?

Soldadets said...

Salvador, there is still a little chance for an English change of mind, provided Queen Anne was dead 'in time' (my most sincere apologies for such a thought) and 'Tories' were replaced by 'Whigs' by King George -as historically happened... too late for us.

We've provided such chance in our campaign rules, under form of a solwly increasing probability of Queen Anne's death, that must be checked at the end of each turn according to the formula ([number of turn - 1] x 2)%

So that at the end of 1st turn the chance of that to happen was ([1 - - 1] x 2) = 0%,

At the end of 2nd turn it was ([2 - 1] x 2) = 2%,

And after this 3rd turn it will be ([3 - 1] x 2) = 4%

By means of this formula, you won't have a 100% chance of the event to happen until 51st turn; that is, till the end of June 1714. If I'm not wrong, she was actually dead by April or May.

Salvador said...

Mmm... Sorry, I meant such a proposal by Vilana could actually delay the french intervention in Catalunya by giving Louis something to think about in the coming months (in face of Phillip's open hyper aggresiveness and the more than predictable will to both regain any lost region from allied hands and the right for the crown o' France). This way he would give up enough time for the british change of government to turn the situation. A city besieged but provided by sea with ammunition, equipment and food could have lasted more time, particularly if Berwick was not arriving by summer but by fall or even winter. Louis would feel even closer to death and become suspicious about Philip's intentions, willing to have a foothold in Spain. Or, at least, depriving his descendant of such a strategic region.
Also, given more time, the new whig government would have surely seen the potential in having a grateful ally in such a strategic position.
All in all it gives way to most interesting speculation and possibilities. I stand paying attention and taking notes...
Thank you!