Sunday, March 25, 2012

Negotiations: third round

Versailles, 4th November 1713

Princess Elisenda watched at the map they had been delivered by the French Legation a few minutes earlier. The coloured engraving was intended to graphically represent the French conditions for their acceptance of the Catalan proposal over Roussillon & Cerdaigne. As she was catching the map details, she got plainly appalled. The contents of French counter-proposal were nearly draconian to her eyes.

--Oh Lord, this is horrible --she muttered to Vilana--. We cannot give our consent to such butchery.

--This is how things use to go --the veteran legate sadly responded--. It's unavoidable, Eli. It's they who are in the position to make claims, not us.

--Oh please Ramon, don't ask me to sign this! ...I would be shamed for this until the end of time! Do you want me to be forever called "Elisenda I the Faint-hearted"? --her voice revealed real anguish.

--Eli, it would be far worse to be called "Elisenda I the Suicide" --he sweetly answered-- Can you imagine what would happen if peace wasn't achieved? All the might of France would be launched upon our nationals in a few weeks' time. Can you imagine our small Army dealing with 40 or 50 additional battalions of the best army in world? We would be swept away as leaves in the wind.

--However, the new King of Britain might... --rather than responding, she implored.

Marquis of Vilana slowly nodded: --Perhaps. Or maybe not. Or simply not in the degree we would need. Whole Europe is exhausted after so many years of war, Eli. And England is by no means an exception. Ironically, such is precisely our only asset in this negotiation: exhaustion, enemy exhaustion.

Princess Elisenda hid the face behind her hands, not to be seen a first tear running along her cheek.

--However, I've said nothing about giving up yet --Vilana suddenly added, with a cunning smile on face--. I believe there are a few ways to reverse the French proposal like a socket. Listen...

[Just a couple of foot notes on this scene: 1) The conditions proposed by the French legation are based on the actual claims of France in the 1659 negotiations. I thought it would be a natural reaction from them to a request of border lines revision, I've by no means intended to present these as an "evil" manoeuvre, just a logical one. And 2) Marquis of Vilana provisions on an eventual French reaction are in fact quite optimistic, as attested by the French military and historian Marquis of Quincy. Not less than 68 Infantry battalions were actually launched by France against the Principality in 1714.]


abdul666 said...

Appears natural that France replied to a Catalan claim over the Rousillon North of a Pyrenees, by a symmetrical claim for of foothold South of the natural frontier.
Thus, if one side withdraws its claim, the other can 'bide down' without loosing face?

Rittmeister Krefeld said...

this is a very uneven negociacion, of a large powerfull bully against a small nation. But lets not forget that this is not just a discussion betwen Catalonia and France. With the vicereality, given to Elisenda by the emperor of the Holy Roman empire, wasn't there also a delimitation of what exactly this territory is? :) If france is exhausted, but facing another war against a large neighbour and a revitalized alliance of Austria + Britain, maybe they will cede a little more willingly? And didn't the emperor mention something about the crown of aragon... something about valencia... Maybe you lose the pyrenees, but gain valencia? The spanish might not want 68 battalions of french bearing down o them now ;)

Soldadets said...

You both are right, and such is what I tried to simulate through this French counter-proposal. Such diplomatic attitude is implicitly meaning "Are you willing to revise borders? well, our latest claims on the matter were those you can see on map...". As explained in the foot note itself, I do consider it as entirely natural and understandable from a political point of view. Ultimately, the French legation is warning the Catalans that an eventual border lines revision is to imply more issues than those provided by them...

As you Stephan are cleverly suggesting, there is an additional reassuring factor for the Catalan side they didn't enjoy in 'real' History. Our Versailles story is founded in the waht-if fact that there has actually been agreed a preliminary protocol on the Catalonian issue at Rastatt.

This represents a clear advantage for the Catalan negotiators Marquis of Vilana has ommitted. They are not only backed by the Two Crowns exhaustion after twelve years of war, but on the fact that France must seal an agreement with the Catalans in order to achieve definite peace with Austria.

That isn't by any means a major goal allowing the Catalans to press in excess, but this gives them some more manoeuvre margin than expectable attending solely to size and might proportions...

The sudden death of Queen Anne (some 6 months earlier than historically) can also help, but I suspect that such factor is not adding excessive pressure on French legates at the short term --for in fact, we should agree that French-Catalan conversations have run quite smoothly so far, so that an agreement or another is expectable in very few days.

This will be more of an extremely helpful pressure on Spain instead, at the medium term --in case Philip V stubbornly rejected putting war to an end...

This is why, in spite of the ever-pesimistic perceptions of my gaming mate Jordi (who is leading the Catalan army in our military campaign), it's now when I'm nearly certain at 100% that my Imagi-Nation will be finally born.

And this makes me extremely happy --not less than my marriage 25th anniversary, celebrated with family this weekend :)

Soldadets said...
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Soldadets said...

Oh sorry Stephan, about the Crown of Aragon: yes in our story Emperor Charles has agreed restoring the Crown of Aragon.

Of course this has little practical effect, for two of the Crown's own major territories (Aragon and Valencia) are not in his hands but in those of Philip d'Anjou. And he hasn't completely lose control on Majorca or Sardinia either. In fact, he has authorised a co-ordination between the Principality, Majorca and Sardinia. But this is a huge step forward for the Catalan hopes to see their former Nation fully restored.

Rittmeister Krefeld said...

Happy aniversary!!

i guess in the end these are preliminary discussions,and that at some stage all 4 or even 5 nations(Franca, catalonia, Spain, Austria, and England) will have to sit down and talk... They are all faced with war, so this involves all of them.

How are valencia/Aragon btw... they must know whats in play... is there no "guerilla" movement of Valencian mountain fusiliers, harassing the supply lines of the castillian army? If they drove out the grande Armee, they should be able to handle some spaniards? ;)

Jordi said...

In Barcelona someone is whispering about "guerrillas" in Valencia and other kind of actions there.

Salvador said...

Yep, as there were Catalan guerrilla for years after 1714 in real life, there could be such in València and Aragon in this timeline if Catalonia survives, as inhabitants of those territories won't bow down easily.

But one can't help to remember that harsh, remorseless repression was and had been put by bourbon authorities to suppress just such a chance.

Anyways it can make for an interesting situation as their situation could repeat that of history in the (second) Peninsula campaign, and with active foreign backing, routinely make life a hell for bourbon invaders...

Soldadets said...
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Soldadets said...

Well Stephan, as a matter of fact I had imagined these Catalan-French negotiations as the product of a wider, generic agreement among Major Powers achieved at Rastatt. I am imagining that this is precisely the preliminary discussion already held --naturally involving a wide range of issues, being Catalonia just one of these.

Through such preliminary agreement of Rastatt (Catalan liberties in exchange for a pro-French principality in Flanders, Limburg likely), France would have committed itself to the sector conversations currently held with my beloved Princess and my Marquis de Vilana "alter ego".

I wonder that, once signed at Versailles an eventual French-Catalan agreement, it would be later presented to the discussing parties at Rastatt, for verification that the particular clause regarding Catalonia has been fulfilled.

Don't know how do such negotiations work "in the real life", but I found quite convenient a procedure like that :)

Soldadets said...

True, Jordi and I have been long discussing the matter of eventual unrest in Valencia and Aragon.

We shouldn't forget the Spanish Kingdoms are currently not less ravaged, empoverished by war than the rest of Europe. Some parts, like Valencia or eastern Aragon, have been almost literally reduced to ashes. Besides, repression has been so ferocious that common people have lost all hopes under it, so that probably their only wish is to take out their children from complete starvation.

Therefore, I am plainly doubtful whether an eventual "guerrilla" inside Valencia would enjoy any support from population at this stage. Too overhelmed and scary to bring any help, I guess. Even contrary, collaborative.

Not to say that a high number of those with the skills and courage to build an internal guerrilla have actually fleed to Catalonia instead. They are all now fighting in the ranks of Catalonia's own Army.

Salvador said...

Off topic, I saw your comment about 28mm. miquelets coming out, went into Eureka, found the SYW "Spanish" Mtn. Fusileers and ordered a good many of 'em (ouch!).

When they come, they'll make for the last remaining niches in my WSS 28 mm. army. I know of folks by Girona who are on the same "league". Will you by chance fall into it With the Wargames Factory WSS plastics, it is reasonable enough and you don't need big units. If we happen to meet I'm sure enough of us will be making the same Catalan and alike looking bourbon units to make for good numbers.

Moreover, can I put you in contact with 'em? A Catalan Front WSS 28 mm. battle later this year would be awesome.


Soldadets said...

Off topic Salvador: as pointed on TMP --where a topic on the Miquelets was posted yesterday--, my suggestion to another user for waiting a bit before scratch-building his own Miquelets was founded on something quite different from submissions to Eureka, or any other to-day manufacturer.

Can't publicly explain anything else so far.

abdul666 said...

You're planning to make and commercialize your own, I suspect?

As for Limburg... Far away from the French border (and Flemish-speaking), to prevent any idea of annexation to France, as Lorraine later was?
On the other hand, since an agreement was reached for Lorraine in 1735, why not in 1714?

Soldadets said...

Too soon to speak yet, Jean-Louis... Certainly there's some work in progress ;)

As for Limburg, I admit to have mentioned it by heart. Can't actually ensure which one was the principality offered to Mme. de la Trémoille :S


Well, let's get back into the scene. Vilana's aim would be accepting French legacy conditions, albeit with some remarks:

1 - As for the extension of Andorra co-principality, it should be conditioned to acceptance by the Bishop of Urgell --the other Andorran co-prince, besides of Louis XIV (true that, as a feudal Lord, Bishop of Urgell is vassal to Princess Elisenda, but it seems wise to let him know first and ask for his own opinion).

2 - The "extended Andorra" fortresses wouldn't be held by neither Catalonia or France, but naturals themselves.

(Oh wow, I'd have 2 Imagi-Nations born for the price of one!!!)

3 - In place of being annexated to France, Aran Valley would be incorporated to that "extended Andorra".

Does it sound thoughtful to you Sirs?

Salvador said...

Dammit! I am too eager... And I can't stand suspense... Aaaarrrggghhh...

On topic. Looks like a win for the Catalans; gaining (partial?) sovereignty over the whole Roussillon (with the Capcir, Fenolleda, Conflent and the whole Cerdanya) with Perpinyà (that's Perpignan) seems a deal with just "sharing" sovereignty over some mountain valleys and La Seu d'Urgell.

Surely the bishop would look upon it merrily, gaining much territory and so influence of his own... Can't say if the patricians at Barcelona would wholeheartedly agree to a comeback of Perpinyà (they were not that unhappy to lose a commercial competitor when the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed back in 1659).

It strikes me a bit that a joint French-Catalan sovereignty over both those areas has not been proposed. It could come from Vilana and (specially) Elisenda as a means so the feudal stage of the Andorran condominium could be overcome. I guess the young countess (princess to be) won't be much pleased to have a powerful bishop as a ruler on Catalan territories. Surely her Montecristan education has not done much for her growing up much respect for the ecclesiastical lot.

Also it would ease administrative work for the French. In fact France could end having strong diplomatic ties with Catalonia and two buffer territories to their south.

Interesting if the Catalans end up controlling the Balearic islands and Sardinia. And maybe Charles of Austria would not look badly on it regarding Austrian relationship with France (finding the a common ground?). So France keeps the western as her area of influence while Austria keeps the whole centre and east). Interesting for a future projection of hegemony over German states and French intervention in the Americas. And a strong alliance? Sorry, I am digressing...

By the way and even more importantly it would make for a bigger new Imagi-Nation with more people and resources of its own. With Poictesme in the limbo, we'd have a partly Occitanian Imagi-Nation at last...

abdul666 said...

Given that a successful negotiation is a matter of mutual concessions, Elisenda is right to initially set the bar very high, in order to be allowed to amply lower it.
But not *too* high, either, or the negotiations would come to an abrupt end! Catalonia has much more to lose than France.

With regard to Rousillon, the constant French objective since Richelieu is a pré carré surrounded with natural frontiers. Don't dream, the very best Elisenda can hope for there is a mutual agreement on the TdP.
Salvador, don't forget Lluis' Catalonia is a 'historical What-if?' Nation, not an Imagi-Nation!
Then, to switch the discussion *laterally* to Andorra, on the other hand, can be received more favorably.

Then I'm sure France would prefer Lorraine (a buffer state closer to natural frontiers) over Limburg as a French-aligned independent principality (or even Franco-Austrian co-dominion), and would made larger concessions in exchange
But unfortunately neither Versailles nor Vienna know that a future common threat is rising in Prussia...

Soldadets said...


I'm making my Legates work on a rather unknown premise, which consists on the late 17th - early 18th century French priorities about 'natural boundaries'. It can be deducted from French 'realpolitik' that their northern borders were perceived by them as far weaker, or more critical, than sothern ones.

Contrary to what 19th century French perception of 'natural boundaries' would assert, our 'contemporary' French politicians had not digested the annexation of Roussillon yet --to say it plainly, they didn't know what to do with that newly acquired region yet.

My hypothesis is that, by these times, Roussillon was still conceived by Versailles as a temporary possession, that could be dealt with in exchange for strategically more advantegous enclaves.

A consistent proof of it is that, after each one of the two major rebellions happened in Roussillon after the annexation, Versailles fruitlessly tried to give Roussillon back to Spain in exchange for some equivalent territory in nowadays' Belgium.

This way, I'm assuming that 'our times' French legates wouldn't discard an eventual deal allowing them to get rid of that newly acquired territory, if given the opportunity. And of course, if something substantial enough is offered to them in exchange.

Naturally, such perception of Roussillon as a 'temporary possession' would substantially change in Revolutionary times, so that my Galatan Legacy's bid would be plainly impossible from late 18th century onwards.

Such is the main factor I'm playing with, in this series of scenes.


It would be easy for me to solve the issue by simply stating that Vienna agrees using Lorraine as a pawn --all this is a fiction after all. Too easy to be stylish. In our Imagi-world, style is all.


Therefore, the prize to be dealt with by Catalans is themselves. Either by heavily bonding to France, or by extreme territorial concessions, or anything else judged as interesting enough by France to allow them loose hand on Roussillon and still feel having diplomatically won.


Don't get fooled by the might unbalance between both Nations: my what-if Catalonia must be cautious, but Versailles cannot neglect the issue either. Their definite peace with Vienna depends on it. Naturally, survival of France itself does not depend on it --and Catalonian one positively does!!


So, would it be acceptable Vilana's counter-proposal? What would French legates clarify?

Oddball said...

I may be of pessimistic nature. But one can see, at least, some “clouds on the horizon” for the near future. The Catalan legation in France is been forced to take very important decisions on the march. Though the fact that the situation in the Principality is critical and that all the diplomatic maneuvers are focused to solve this point, some of the decisions taken by Elisenda or Vilana will arise a lot of controversial when known in Catalonia. It’s easy to imagine some of the criticisms that they will have to face once back in the Principality. First, our strong parliamentary tradition will cause that some factions put in doubt the legitimacy of some of the decisions taken by the legacy. To put a simple example, the loan of a mountain fusilier battalion of Catalan origin to the French service can seem a good idea on the paper. But, accordingly to Catalan laws, it’s not a decisions that Elisenda or Vilana could take without asking the Catalan government institutions. Popular classes will feel the natural relief to see the end of this war but we can not forget that some of our most beleaguered units, like Mountain Fusilers, are extracted from this same popular classes and seems reasonably to assume that they are imbued by an strong anti-French feelings. This anti-French tendency will cause a difficult background once the negotiations are finished and any opposing faction inside the Principality could argue that the presence of well garrisoned French troops in the northern territories will be the equivalent set the path for a future easy invasion or to became a kind of kidnapped Principality, always with the French sword on the neck. The recent Catalan victories and the apparent inactivity of France in this last stage of the war could feed the opinion that the situation in the Principality is not so desperate to justify the diplomatic concessions make by our legacy in France.

To be brief, the sacrifices and efforts of Elisenda and Vilana could have saved the immediate future of the Principality, but the prize could be their own political weakness once they come back.

abdul666 said...

Tongue in cheek !
While you are building 'Catalan' Imagi-Nations, what about adding TRYPHEME?

The size of this tiny statelet is grossly exaggerated on the (French) map: no more than a single small town and its surrounding countryside with 7 villages. Closer in side to Monaco than to Saint Barthélemy! # corresponding to Cerbère + Portbou, or set between? According to Pierre Louys a very pleasant place at the end of a 19th C., then even lighter as the setting of an opérette: as a co-dominion, would provide a link for friendly exchanges between France and Catalonia. So much the more as (reportedly!) the French paradise for partner swapping couples is the Cap d'Agde, not further North: this may reflect how the area is propitious to peaceful exchanges and fuzzy limits :) :)

Soldadets said...

Something similar to Tryphème is a quite interesting possibility indeed. However, not that particular one, for its geographical location denies any coastline to my own setting.

I'd like best to devote my efforts to achieving a likely positive diplomatic climate without having to use a completely fictional Nation for easing things. My main bid at this particular campaign was likeliness.


After much thought, I believe to have gone too far in my attempts of bringing an alternate "happy end" --as you readers have wisely remarked. Perhaps better not to force things in excess and let events unleash... :(