Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pragmatica Sanctio

Vienna, 1st October 1713

--I am getting old and tired, Your Majesty --it was Count of Erill who started speaking--; this is why I'm begging you to be relieved from the Viceroyalty of Sardinia. Badly sick as I am, I'm afraid not to be able to keep serving you with the most efficience. (1)

Archduke Charles nodded slightly. He gazed for an instant at Guido von Starhemberg, who was also attending the meeting, before replying: --I understand your motivations, dear Count. It would be unworthy not complying with your fair demand. However, this comes to open a significant issue, which further increases our still unsolved vacancies. I'm referring not only to Naples, but also Catalonia. And now Sardinia, too.

It was Lady Elisenda who unexpectedly spoke now: --Well, isn't perhaps Lord Starhemberg still our Viceroy?

--No longer... Milady --although smartly disguised by Starhemberg, Lady Elisenda was nevertheless able to perceive the imperceptible inflection in his voice. She was sure, he'd been about to say something different to "milady", and started getting seriously worried. Meanwhile, Starhemberg continued: --I've just resigned the office too, after being asked to chair the Imperial War Council. As you know anyway, that Viceroyalty was actually no more than a merely formal office.

--But our Principality urgently needs a leader to rely on... --she promptly answered.

--True --Archduke Charles simply said.

Feeling herself encouraged by the Emperor-King assent, she continued: --Why not appointing Marquis de Rubí as Viceroy of Catalonia and Sardinia, besides of his current office at Majorca? Numerous are the precedents of multiple viceroyalties upon one single personality. Besides, by rejoining all three Lieutenantships under our good Marquis, you would finally be able to fulfill your own 1706 assertions about fully restoring the Crown of Aragon... This would be a major goal for your popularity, Your Majesty. (2)

Now it was Marquis of Rubí who got visibly alarmed. He stammered for a moment, but the Empress opportunely intervened with undisguised irony: --...and why not Naples too? Lady Elisenda, your suggestions would result in the creation of something stronger and farther than Hungary, too large to be adequately digested by the Crown... and an appetizing prize for any sorrounding major power. No, I oppose it.

Archduke Charles said nothing at first, but stood in silence for a while instead. But when he spoke, he drastically changed the conversation subject to ask: --Are there any news from Vilana?

--At this stage, he should already be at Versailles and be acknowledged first hand about King Louis' position. However... --replied Marquis de Rubí, who seemed well informed at respect. Links among Academy of the Distrustful members had kept being strong in spite of war events, and not in vain Rubí had been a mentor of Lady Elisenda at the illustrated brotherhood, alongside with Vilana.

--Anyway, we've recently got further news from Eugene of Savoy at Rastatt --Starhemberg intervened--. According to these, the French would be open to discuss the issue at hand.

--So that we might proceed with some reasonable rate of confidence --Archduke Charles concluded. And he then solemnially went a little apart from the small group before speaking again:

--Accordingly to the terms of conversations held with France so far, aimed to give a satisfactory end to this exhausting war, it is compulsory for Us to deal with the Catalonian issue apart from the rest of our vacant Viceroyalties. It's my will the Marquis of Rubí to take charge as Viceroy of Sardinia from now on, while Naples Viceroyalty is to be assigned to Wirich Philipp von Daun. This leaves vacant the Viceroyalty of Majorca, of course, but this matter can be dealt later. It's prioritary to asset the situation of Catalonia in order to satisfy King Louis requirements. (3)

Lady Elisenda was about to start a timid protest, but the Emperor-King wouldn't allow hear to speak. Instead, he continued: --With respect to Catalonia, it is my will to announce the perpetual assigment of my rights to that Principality to a personality designated by me. Such personality ought also to enjoy the explicit agreement of King Louis XIV.

"What!?" Didn't it mean "Philip d'Anjou"?? Did it mean that Archduke Charles had agreed to resignate his sovereignity to King Louis' pretendant? Lady Elisenda was shocked, she could hardly believe! She stared desperately at Rubí and Erill, but none of them seemed as alarmed as herself. Desperately, she tried to change the Emperor-King's mind:

--But Your Majesty, the Catalans wouldn't accept a Bourbon as their king. Not after this horrible war!

--And King Louis wouldn't accept an Habsburg. It's the price of peace, Eli. Everything depends on it --Charles gently responded.

Lady Elisenda blanched; wasn't it an abandonment, she thought? Nearly faint, she could only whisper: --Your Majesty, we need... you can't... not the Anjou...

It was the Empress who intervened now again, using a willingly casual voice: --Dear Eli, hadn't you told me once that, through the Countship of Prades, your Cardona linneage is connected to the Anjous, albeit remote it might be?

Lady Elisenda didn't answer. Shocked as she still was, she was plainly unable to play with hidden meanings. Her brain only started processing words again after the next speaking of Archduke Charles: --As you all know, I am the sole male member of the House of Habsburg still alive. In provision for any sad contingency prematurely affecting my life, I have recently ordered a Pragmatic Sanction to be published, eventually legitimizing female effective inheritance to the Crown ...or any of its parts, if I would. (4)

Herr William Baron of Beerstein, who had been watching in silence so far, then turned towards Lady Elisenda and bowed with a wide smile in face: --Her Highness...


(1) Count of Erill actually resigned due to bad health in 1713. He was dead two years afterwards. Of course, I've forced History with respect to his illness, that would have likely prevented his fictional trip from Sardinia to Vienna.

(2) Historically true. King Charles III had undertaken the restoration of a co-ordinate structure for the States formerly belonging to the Crown of Aragon, thus allowing them a substantial increase of political significance inside the Spanish Empire.

(3) Historically true too, although I've forced a bit its timing. Marquis of Rubí did not undertake the Viceroyalty of Sardinia until the loss of Majorca in 1715. At here I've... er... accelerated the process a couple of years.

(4) And... yes!! The Pragmatica Sanctio that eventually would allow Maria-Theresa's access to the Throne was published in 1713. At this I've simply forced a bit its timing. Historically, it was published in April, while Elisabeth-Christine was still about leaving Barcelona --or had just left the city. Instead I've simply stated that it has been "recently" published --thus allowing a double intentionality.

And last but not least, yes the Majorca Viceroyalty issue is still open. There is a small bit of plot to be unveiled yet!

1 comment:

Jeroen72 said...

From the Dutch Republic: a long and happy reign for Her Hoghness