Monday, October 24, 2011

Troubled journey (11): Vendôme

Bonnevaux (Dauphiné), 25th August 1713 at dawn

"In Dei nomine. Amén. Sépase por esta pública carta como en la villa de Vinaroz del reyno de Valencia en España a los diez días del mes de junio del año mil setecientos y doce; yo Luis, duque de Vendôme, de Mercaoeur y de Estampes, conde de Drux, príncipe de Anet y de Martigues, par de Francia, general de las Galeras..."
    ["In Dei nomine. Amen. Be it known by this public letter as in the town of Vinaròs in the kingdom of Valencia in Spain, on the tenth day of June 1712, I Louis Duke of Vendôme & Étampes & Mercaoeur, Count of Drux, Prince of Anet & Martigues, Peer of France, Admiral of the Galleys... "]
Louis Joseph de Bourbon Duke of Vendôme, brilliant and stubborn rival to the Prince Eugène of Savoy in their Italian campaigns. Duke of Vendôme, the man comissioned to stabilize situation in Flanders after the Ramillies disaster... Vendôme, who voluntarily retired to his estates after Oudenaarde battle as a complaint about the responsibility of King Louis' grandson in the defeat; the very same man who decisively aborted at Brihuega & Villaviciosa the 1710 Allied offensive on the Spanish heartland... An arbitrary whim of Goddess Fortune had determined that 2 copies of the testament of such a notorious personage to fall into hands of Marquis de Vilana, thanks to the accurate inspection of Fra Dídac Serralta's humble belongings by Claire.

During their trip to Bonnevaux Abbey, Vilana had plunged once and once again at obsessively reading both copies... until reaching for the umpteenth time to the final paragraph:

"...Y su Alteza el Serenísimo Señor Luis, Duque de Vendôme, no firmó por no poder; porque haviendo tomado la pluma para ello y executándolo, no pudo escrivir ni formar letra por cau­sa de temblarle la mano por su gran flaqueza y enfermedad. Firmaron los nombrados testigos de que yo el esmentado doy fe..."
    ["... And his Most Serene Highness Lord Louis Duke of Vendôme, did not sign because he could not, for having taken the pen to perform it, could not write or give form to letters due to hand tremble because of its deep weakness and disease. Named witnesses signed on his behalf, as I the mentioned can attest... "]
At this stage after so many readings, Vilana was nearly able to recite by heart the whole text, including all the minutely detailed life annuities, donations and rewards Vendôme had granted in it, as well as their respective beneficiaries... in both versions of the testament.

...for these 2 copies of Vendôme's wills were not exactly the same. There was one difference between them, only one slight difference close to the wording's end. One small, negligible estate located inside Vinaròs town was listed in one of the versions, but omitted in the other.

Vilana was exhausted, after so many hours restlessly travelling by night. He was persuaded these two slightly differing documents were the key of the mystery Fra Dídac had died for... but he was plainly unable to even guess why.

-Ehem... Sire?

It was Josep who had spoken. Vilana sudenly came back to reality, while the young escort soldier held the stage coach door open for him. Outside, a monk leading a loaded donkey was watching the newcomers with open curiosity. Thay had finally arrived in Bonnevaux Abbey, the secret destination of the deceased Catalan Prior.


Bluebear Jeff said...

Hmmm, most curious, what? I shall look forward to seeing how this works out.

-- Jeff

Salvador said...

Most intriguing, if I may say so...