Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Diplomacy under a porch

Monte-Cristo, 22nd July 1713

They were sitting under the refreshing shade of the Paris H. Palace Hostel rear porch, comfortably installed in wide raffia chairs while amused following the mischievous evolutions of little Wilhelm, who had then just begun to impertinently solicit the Hostel gardeners.

-Mmmm... I'll be having a good hard work to make Wilhelm understand that "zerokini" Monte-Cristan eccentricity -sighed Lady Louise, arching her eyebrows in a simulated anger, before standing up and telling to the men by her: -I beg your pardon gentlemen, but I must have this naughty boy close tight... This way, you will finally be free to discuss about your things without any nuisance.

-You are never a nuisance, Lady Louise -the Marquis of Vilana and Lord William of Beerstein responded almost simultaneously, while both politely hurried standing up too. Lieutenant Leibnitz wasn't with them, for he hadn't been back to the Hostel by sunrise time yet and, albeit worried, Vilana would have never lost that meeting.

Once seated again, both men stayed looking at each one in silence for a while, before Baron of Beerstein resumed a previous speech in a measured voice: -My dear friend, have for sure His Imperial Majesty is highly concerned with the Principality's future, so that no diplomatic efforts are being spared by His representatives; but King Louis still stays firm in ensuring the integrity of his grandson's kingdom, not to forget that this latter has so far rejected all of our proposals on this particular matter.

-To be sincere, -he continued- our position is weak, Ramon. Too weak. Deprived of the Grand Alliance support, we are having remarkable difficulties to hold the French Army at Flanders. We are about to lose Landau, but this is not all. At any moment they'll be crossing the Rhine, so that all Upper Germany might fall into their hands in a blow's time. Besides, their Ottoman allies are feeling so self-confident after their 1711 victory over Russia than they've started threatening moves in the Balkans with no apparent purpose... No, Ramon: we cannot deliver any troops in the Peninsula. Not even a single battalion.

-Nevertheless, there are still some Imperial regiments left in Catalonia. Maybe these might be counter-ordered not to keep their evacuation schedule...

The Baron of Beerstein briefly closed eyes and sighed, before responding: -I'm afraid we are in a so grave situation than even these troops are to be needed... Austria is being militarily overwhelmed in all fronts. However -he finished-, I'll be asking to His Imperial Majesty his oppinion on this particular demand, Ramon.

The Marquis of Vilana nodded and said: -Thanks for your kind commitment anyway, William. I deduce from this that it would be compulsory for our shared cause to reach an agreed peace with France, before the ways of war deserve to us an ultimate, smashing defeat... and in the meanwhile each one of Emperor Charles' kingdoms must gather all the energies at hand to offer the most resistance by themselves...

-That is.

-This case, -quickly continued Vilana- I would like to emphasize the key importance of rejoining all the former territories of the Crown of Aragon under an unified, co-ordinated leadership... This would allow us to concentrate all our Mediterranean manpower and resources on the most menaced front...

-...which incidentally is Catalonia itself.

-Currently it is. -Vilana admitted -Sure, but tomorrow it might be Majorca, or Sardinia, or even Naples... And the equation would be the very same one. This is not any eccentric proposal, William, for it had been provided in the mutually agreed Constitutions of 1706.

Beerstein sighed again: -As for Sicily, it is plainly impossible, for its administration is currently being transferred to Savoy. And about Naples, His Majesty strongly believes it would be currently counterproductive, due to the high chance of unrest among the numerous Castilian native officials still there. However, as for the kingdoms of Majorca and Sardinia, His Majesty would consent, assuming that the respective Parliaments also agreed.

Vilana thoughtfully nodded and afterwards plunged into a deep silence for a while, until suddenly reviving: -Listen, William. Perhaps...

-Hum?

-Well, you told me before that Eugene of Savoy had lately proposed to King Louis to set a Catalan Republic under Emperor Charles' protectorate in exchange for a Principality in Flanders for the Spanish Queen's First Lady, Princess of the Ursini (*), and...

-...And the French legates were delaying a response, we don't know why. Although most likely King Louis would reject it, unless the protectorate was set under His own protection.

-Well, let's suppose they are then proposed such very setting again, albeit this time under a shared co-protectorate. A mutually agreed Viceroy.

The Baron of Beerstein stared at Vilana, with a dumbfounded expression painted on face that progressively turned into hilarious: -By all the Lily-livered fuzzy-wuzzy bandicoots! © My dear Ramon, you're out of the devil's skin, didn't you know? All right, all right; allow me a few days to acknowledge Eugene of Savoy and His Imperial Majesty himself, and we afterwards meet again.

The Marquis of Vilana simply smiled and raised his Muscat crystal glass: -Most glad you don't dislike the idea, my dear William.

[© Captain Haddock's own]

[(*) Such proposal was actually delivered by Eugene of Savoy to the French representatives at Rastadt in name of Emperor Charles, and was finally rejected.]

13 comments:

Capt Bill said...

Enemies to the right, enemies to the left; what to do, what to do...

abdul666 said...

"My right is in rout, my left recoils, my center is broken through, no hesitation: I attack!"

Seriously, de Vilana's suggestion is a masterpiece of cunning diplomacy. Even more likely to be positively received in Gallia if Versailles begins to harbor doubts about the sincerity of Philip's renunciation to the Gallian crown? And nobody is really happy to learn that someone else -even ones' grand-son- is making unconfessed plans resting on one's death... The ambitions of the Hispanian crown, as they were disclosed as soon as 1715, for sure were already in gestation in some circles by 1714?

Bluebear Jeff said...

Our newest Imagi-Nation is the fledgling Kingdom of Sicily . . . which has just won it's independence:

http://kingdomofsicily.blogspot.com/

Perhaps they might be open to aiding your struggle.


-- Jeff

Soldadets said...

Lots of thanks, Jeff!!

...Contact already tried, let's see results ;)

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis,

Thanks for your appretiations, I'm glad you like the development of this story...

Following a logical sequence, I believe that, after having being ensured the Imperial diplomatic support, Marquis of Vilana's next step would be agreeeing a meeting with British representatives, in order to obtain similar guarantees; but also with the aim to ask for some 'on-the-field' support -so needed to firmly stand while the hard peace negotiations are still running, as pointed during the meeting with the Imperial legate...

Have you noted the absence of Lieutenant Leibnitz at the meeting? I'm currently a bit doubtful whether developing or not a parallel action sequence starred by him and Claire, which would be the ultimate rason for their disappearance... or to attribute all this to a... er... affair between them. This latter would be a bit too much irresponsible on them given the circumstances, don't you believe?

abdul666 said...

As for de Vilana's diplomatic -'diplomatic' indeed- proposal, there is the precedent of the Principat d'Andorra, rather harmoniously 'co-protected' by two Major States since 1278. Isabel de Farnesio can be (is already) pampered for her active support.

As for young Lieutenant Leibnitz and Claire, yed, it would be unlikely that their absence at the meeting would be due to... a personal affair, specially given Claire's extreme professionalism (when 'off duty', on the other hand, it's an entirely different matter). Don't forget street musicians play and people dance all night during the festival: Lieutenant Leibnitz may have been distracted until dawn...

abdul666 said...

Brawls are extremely rare in Monte-Cristo, so unless he met foreigners with a personal hostility to Galatans, Lieutenant Leibnitz was certainly not involved in some unfortunate 'incident' (and if so, the legation would have already be informed). Thus he never noticed (to his deepest bitter regret when he learns it) that Claire was always following him.

The dinner at the Palace was spiced and abundantly washed down, so young Leibnitz had to take a few steps to stretch his legs and clear his mind -and soon met the merry crowd attending free street concerts and dancings. Now, even in (relatively) cold nights singing and dancing that long makes you thirsty; and in such festive nights the marchandes de coco in their goat carts and many other people in improvised stalls sell sparkling Rose, anised absinth and 'Monte-Cristan Green' (for those not revulsed by the green lizard in the bottle) at very, very affordable prices... Thus the Lieutenant is simply sleeping deeply (and probably snoring) -to his mortal shame when he awakes with a painful hangover.

As for Claire, the was on duty so if she drank it was only water, or at most a lemonade. When Leibnitz at last got back to his bedroom in the PHPH -or a perfectly secure, Carabiniers garrisoned inn on his way back- she had to refresh herself, perhaps allow herself a short nap; but be sure she is now watching over de Vilana. Simply, elementary courtesy and discretion forbide her to be obstrusively present at his meeting with the Baron of Beerstein (did you really believe the BSN was not aware of it as sson as it was arranged?). So Claire is covering them closely, hidden in the topiary.
I'm sure none of the two men, engrossed in their worried exchange, noticed to little boy and girl, noisy as they are, playing joyfully hoop and jeu de graces close to them -mere children indeed. The boy, as a descendant of a German mercenary of the Black Company, speaks German and was chosen just in case; the girl, despite her young age, is proficient in Latin: when two educated people with different native tongues meet, they normaly use French, or Latin if really francophobic....
Of course, without knowing it, Wilhem von Beerstein and his family enjoy too a close if discreet protection.

abdul666 said...

Claire is deeply mortified: she did not managed to catch Marquis de Vilana to reassure him about the fate of his young lieutenant before he joined the von Beerstein family. After a long, watchful and at times animated sleepless night, she had to make herself presentable.

Salvador said...

Vilana, our hope lies in your wits...
In fact that proposal had its real chances to diplomatically end this war, as the lady in question (the Princess of Ursinos, not Isabel de Farnesio, who was the over ambitious wife of the crazed bastard which Philip of Anjou was) had a tremendous ascndence over the foolish bourbon; it was De Farnesio's ambition which got into the way. I think our nation still cries for the absence in our history of a fanatic suicide murderer such as the french or british had at one or another moment (perhaps meaningful?).
Nice, Msr. Vilalta. Very entertaining too. Can I hope to meet you at Cardona by the 18th of September, this coming Saturday?

Soldadets said...

Hi Salvador,

I've got a bit doubtful after your kind comment... I'll have to revise my bibliography, just for case. I donp't know the actual role of the Queen of Spain in the diplomatical turmoil, but have read in several places about the strong influence the 'Camarera Mayor' or First Lady, Isabel de Farnese, had over the Queen; as well as the disgustment her ambitions provoked among some Castilian pro-Bourbon noblemen.

Therefore, I believe it was a diplomatically clever Imperial initiative to offer a Principality in Flanders for Lady Farnese in exchange for the Catalan Liberty, so that an influent obstacle to negotiations might be removed.

Why was the proposal finally rejected, then? ...well, I guess there might have been some factors else, that H. H. Eugene of Savoy had not taken into account. Which ones? I do not know, sincerely.

Soldadets said...

Oh Lord...!

please read "have read from several sources" instead of "have read in several places".

Brff...

Salvador said...

Pssst... Isabel de Farnese was the queen, the camarera was the princess of Ursinos. I read somewhere it was the principality of Limburg the one which was offered to soften the catalan affair in real history; it was rejected because of french or dutch or Farnese's negative... I too think it was a clever movement but maybe it was lacking in the diplomatic strength side...

Soldadets said...

Collons...! Salvador, tens raó.

True true true!! You're right Salvador, I mistook by error both ladies' names!

Elisabetta Farnese, or Isabel Farnesio as called in Spain, was the wife of Philip V.

Marie Anne de La Trémoille, Princesse des Ursins, was her 'camarera mayor' or First Lady in Court.

As you told before, Imperial legates historically tempted to put this latter aside, by proposing a principality in Limburg for her in exchange for Catalan Liberties. Louis XIV agreed the exchange, but the proposal was plainly rejected by Madrid.

It should be noted therefore that in our fictional negotiations, Marquis of Vilana's proposal does also point to that very same target. So I'm going to change any reference to Isabel de Farnesio in my posts by the Princess of the Ursini, who's the real proposal target.