Friday, February 03, 2012

Not even a moment to relax

Le Havre, 18th October 1713

He was admittedly satisfied. His visit to the port of Le Havre had proved to be highly profitable, and now he was returning back to Paris relaxed and enjoying renewed spirits, in time for the upcoming arrival of Princess Elisenda.

Marquis de Vilana had not gone to Le Havre just for pleasure, or to get relaxed of the rigid protocol imposed by French authorities, but with a risky personal enterprise in mind. By making use of his influences, he had contacted a Flemish wealthy businessman, who had agreed to finance his project. They would share benefits by halves.

Counting his personal fortune along with the Flemish tradesman support, Marquis de Vilana had purchased at Le Havre a 36-guns, 400 tons frigate the French Navy was about to scrap as outdated. Once improved and upgunned in Rotterdam, she would be given the name of Santa Madrona.

The ship had been designed for Atlantic waters, so that she would barely behave that good in the Mediterranean. But Marquis de Vilana was not by any means worried by such detail, because he had no aims of making the ship cross the Strait of Gibraltar. She would remain in Atlantic waters --that was a key part of his plan.

When he arrived in Paris, a letter was waiting for him, from the Catalan Ambassador in the Netherlands. An expression of concern emerged on his face while reading the letter: thanks to informations of Dutch spies, the Ambassador had been acknowledged that Philip V had started withdrawing His Army in Flanders. Apparently, that shouldn't worry him anymore, because it was formally no more than a performance of Utrecht Treaty, but... but why not simply disbanding those 15 or even 20 regiments of foot and horse? After all, most of them were formed by native Walloon soldiers. Why repatriating them in the Peninsula? All European Nations had started reducing their respective armies' size just after Peace had been signed... all, but Spain.

It could only have one meaning: king Philip had no intention of ceasing war. Those were bad news indeed.

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