Monday, June 06, 2011

Embryo of trouble

Barcelona, 22nd September 1713

Despite the most recent military successes of the minute Catalan Army under the wise leadership of Marshal Villarroel, the Principality of Catalonia had become dramatically lacking of a clear leadership, so that a cloud of uncertainty had started hanging over its future.

Marquis de Vilana, who was the Principality's Cònsol de Mar (=Overseas Consul, or Foreign Affairs Minister) besides of being the architect of the agreement embryo allowing the French inhibition about the campaign, was missing since several weeks ago. According to the testimony of his escort Lt. Frederick Leibnitz, the Marquis had left Monte-Cristo with destination Versailles, where he expected to meet King Louis and his principal ministers. But nothing was known since about him.

Meanwhile, the beautiful and influential Lady Elisenda had embarked for Vienna, where she had been summoned by Emperor Charles VI with a purpose that was fairly unknown. Even worse, the viceroys of Majorca and Sardinia had joined her in the trip, thus leaving these island kingdoms also devoid of any visible head.

In a country such as Catalonia, where civic Institutions played a role as important as that of the Crown, there should be no problem after such individual issues. Legislative powers of Parliament and executive commission of its General Deputation had to be in theory enough guarantee for the society functioning in the absence of any strong individual leadership; and such Institutions net had actually worked before, such as the 1640-1653 Separation War.

But Catalan institutions were also cropped by paralysis. The ambiguous attitude of the High Clercy about war had deeply conditioned that one of the General Deputation President, who was a clergyman too; besides, his own leadership had become mortally wounded by the sound military defeat starred by the Military Deputy at Tivissa, in such a way that government was now unarmed, paralyzed in the hands of any eventual strong political opposition.

In this context, it was just a matter of time that a political alternative would arise. A republican, revolutionary movement inspired in that one of 60 years earlier had become crystallizing around one of the last charysmatic leaders still in the Principality by the end of Summer 1713: Rafael de Casanova, around whom a political party of popular sign had re-born after decades of silence: the Busca party. After a deliberation with some supporters including his second-in-command N. Feliu de la Penya, Casanova decided to present his application for Major of Barcelona city.

[In former centuries, the political life in Catalonia and the whole Crown of Aragon had been dominated by two confronted parties: Biga (=beam) and Busca (=spill), the first one representing the Barcelonian high class while the second one joined the lower classes. Their endemic clashes had come to an end after the Catalonian Civil War (1462-1472).]

5 comments:

abdul666 said...

"The ambiguous attitude of the High Clergy about war": Church is generally on the side with Big Battalions -which is not Galatea.

And the High Clergy is certainly bigaire...

Salvador said...

About the clergy, at least the low one was undoubtedly and absolutely pro resistance. The Biga was a patrician party BUT it was totally pro Catalan institutions and more republican like. The Busca was middle class dominated and favoured the kings which favoured them against the oligarchy, mainly for economic and political reasons, to win more power for the monarchy.
The Biga wanted free trade while the Busca demanded protectionist measures.
Also, Biga was more revolutionary and was willing to make Catalunya a Venetian or Genoan like state. Busca did not have such separatist and revolutionary will altough its democratic demands were evolutionary by their own, although not driven by democratic ideals but by wanting of power sharing...
So it's not really applicable here. The XVIIIth c. Catalunya was not a place were to revive such a confrontation; pro bourbon wouldn't ever name themselves as Biga, obviously!

Salvador said...

And the pope Clement XI proclaimed Charles as king of Spain, after all...

Soldadets said...

Salvador, please have in mind that it isn't our will to exactly reproduce History in our pages; we have merely started instead from a historical setup to "let it run" and potentially diverge from actual historic facts. This is precisely the fun of 'what-ifs'.

And it has really started to substantially diverge from History, so that our guessings of today about the evolution of the Principality are based, not in History, but on provisions and hypothesis on the situation resulting from our own gaming actions.

For instance: there actually existed a hard political struggle inside the Catalans during war, hard enough to historically produce an internal "coup d'état" by the Barcelona Town Council against the General Deputation during the 1713-1714 campaign -when the parliamentary institution became financially bankrupted after the war effort and the lack of income due to the Spanish occupation of most countryside.

However, given the extremely satisfactory military results of the Catalan Army so far in our campaign, a great deal of our Imagi-Nations has been kept free from occupation -and this means General Deputation is far from bankrupcy, because they're still able to collect taxes. Therefore, there are no objective reasons for the Barcelona Town Council to take control on the Institutions by force.

Nevertheless, we ourselves have provoked a huge power 'vacuum' as explained in the post, sending all our most signified characters abroad in search for international support. In our opinion, such 'vacuum' would have been considered a likely opportunity for any capable and ambitious politician to seize power.

This way, we have imagined an hypothetical political scenario with at least two or three different parties, so that our latest post depicts the formation of one of these factions.

We've arbitrarily assigned to two of these parties the historical names of 'Biga' and 'Busca', with the aim to reflect parallelisms with English History ('Tories' and 'Whigs'), although a third faction is to altere this duality.

Things to come, be patient...

Soldadets said...

As you Salvador say, commitment of Catalan-Aragonese Lower Clergy to Archduke Charles was a constant during all war; however, I wouldn't bid a bean on the attitude of a number of members of the High Clergy... (that is, Bishops and Archbishops)

As a matter of fact, for instance: by these times the Order of Malta was in hands of a Catalan-Aragonese subject for the first time in a couple of centuries (because the Spanish Crown had sistematically supported Castilian appliants), and nevertheless that man (Ramon de Perellós) was a stubborn supporter of Philip d'Anjou despite all pressures exerted either by the Pope or lesser-ranked knights of the Order... So shocking to our eyes was to unveil such underground struggle inside the Order of Malta, that our associated Roleplaying Master has already created a complex plot involving our dear Marquis de Vilana...