Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Summoned to Vienna

Cagliari, 9th August 1713

Leaning on the broad window sill of his Palace office, the Count of Erill contemplated for the umpteenth time the letter from Vienna, which a courier had delivered to him as urgent a few days before, stamped with the Imperial seal. He still remembered the surprise experienced at reading it for the first time, signed at hand by Emperor Charles in person, when he learnt his assistance was required in Vienna before the end of September. The Emperor explicitly excused Himself for not revealing reasons in the writing, but placed much emphasis that it was "a matter of utmost importance to the becoming of Sardinia, the survival of the Catalan Nation and peace in Europe". Intrigued, he re-read the whole letter once again, for if there was any clearer indication of the intentions of His Majesty, but it was in vain.

Frustrated, Erill sighed deeply and returned to his armchair. He experienced again the feeling of getting old and tired. His health had deteriorated recently, enough to inspire him planning to ask his replacement as Viceroy of Sardinia before the end of the year, but the unexpected Imperial letter was just twisting his plans. He was a little scared at the prospect of undertaking the long journey to Vienna, but by a sixth sense he intuited the reasons claiming for his presence were that kind of stuff History is made of, and this meant an incentive too powerful for his restless spirit not to accept the challenge of inclusion in a relevant page of History -even as a simple witness. So he had finally taken the determination to delay resignation and go to Vienna, as Emperor Charles had requested. An issue was worrying and making him doubt still, however. He couldn't avoid the feeling that, if leaving the island, he would leave it helpless at the mercy of any unexpected Two Crowns' offensive.

The defense of Sardinia had been his priority since he came to office in 1711. By then, the island's only garrison was a regiment of no more than 300 Catalan infantrymen, which had been destined to Sardinia in 1708 -shortly after Almansa battle-, where they had been literally rotting away until his arrival. He soon got on with its Colonel, Carles Llorach, and jointly they worked for an agreement with the Stamenti (=Sardinian Parliament) for the unit financing, so that they soon were able to complete its theoretical force with 700 enlisted Sardinian naturals, all fully equipped by the Parliament. They even had the chance to create a company of grenadiers, which was filled entirely with those most experienced among the Catalan veterans. As a concession to the Stamenti, Llorach had consented to rename the regiment as "Sant'Antioco" in honor of the island's patron saint, and had accordingly added a Saint Antiochus image to the Regiment flags.

Not yet content with this, the Count of Erill had persuaded the Councils of the island's main towns, Cagliari, Sassari and Alghero, to build a "Coronela" urban militia each one, organized according to the pattern of the Principality, besides of promoting fortifications improvement and even financing with his own money a company of artillery. So, in fact, Sardinia was reasonably well protected in relation to their meager resources and population.

A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts: -Do I have your permission, His Highness?

-Please come in, Colonel Llorach! -the Viceroy answered-. As you know, I must go to Vienna, for I've been called by the Emperor. I wished to personally inform you that I intend to leave you temporarily in charge of the affairs of this Viceroyalty until my return, or until further orders of His Majesty.

-It's a duty that I accept with honor, excellence -the military said-. May I know the reason for the hearing?

-I do not know, Llorach. I've just been told it's a matter of utmost importance.

-Hum... I've heard that the Viceroy of Majorca has also been summoned to Vienna, just like you.

-Oh yes? How do you know this?

-By a Majorcan trader who came yesterday.

-Wow ... Yes it must be really important, then. The Marquis of Rubí and I, both at once? -The Count stood ruminating for a while, and then he asked: -Have you also heard any news or rumor about if anyone else has been called? ...Anyone from the Principality, perhaps?

-Unfortunately I didn't. Everyone wonders, but nobody knows anything.

-Curious. Most curious.


abdul666 said...

Really intringuing! The diplomatic context appears to be evolving at a quick pace?

IR St Antiochus gained in seniority since I perused the Galatan OOB for the last time...

Bluebear Jeff said...

Well, when Emperors command, people listen. Interesting to say the least.

-- Jeff

Soldadets said...

Actually amusing, this storyboard :)

About the new regiment, I've believed it would be interesting to post my thoughts on the matter... So I've just posted them.

abdul666 said...

If a Galatan Lady happens to be summoned (well, *invited*) to Vienna, I suggest she hires a Monte-Cristan chambermaid or female secretary. The kind not leaving her bedroom in the morning without two cavalry pistols strapped to her thighs, a 'pepperbox' pistol and a dagger strapped to her calves, a throwing knife and a mini pistol up her sleeves, throwing stars in her purse, a poisoned hatpin and knuckle-duster masquerading as a comb in her hair... The traditional self-defense weapon of Monte-Cristans of the fair sex, a scythe blade turned into a kind of machete, is too conspicuous and cumbersome to be carried openly when abroad, but remains a reassuring bedmate. Several Monte-Cristan ladies happen to be touring Galatea...

If the Filles de Minerva are mostly soldiers' widows, their battlecry could be something like 'Visqui la mort!'. Hispanic soldiers as well as French Fusiliers de Montagne recruited in the Pyrenees would perfectly understand its meaning -close to that of the Mexican "A Degüello" (btw, the Hollywood version of which I feel more moving than the historical one, as compared here). Then, their Monte-Cristan female 'military advisers' would better come from the (handful of) female Gardes de l'Etrier rather than from the 'spider': the 'atmosphere' would fit the gloomy traditions of the Corps.

abdul666 said...

Then, being Monte-Cristan, even Gardes would hardly refrain from refering to childless (in the mythology) Minerva as 'Santa Minerva de la Contracepción'!

Soldadets said...

"Santa Minerva de la Contracepció" !!!???



Soldadets said...


I'm still trying to extract some kind of encounter scene between Lady Elisenda and such kind of Monte-Cristan lady, either for 'liaison' tasks with her Regiment command, or as an officer/instructor, or even as a theoretical 'secretary', but I'm a little far from results yet... It's not always easy to imagine good scenario ideas :S