Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Political spin

Barcelona, 5th November 1713

--Congratulations, gentleman!

--Congratulations and thanks to you for your support, my friend --It was Rafael Casanova who spoke now, while drawing a wide smile to N. Feliu de la Penya, his partner in the "Busca" Party who had just entered the room.

Sortitions for the renovation of Barcelona Municipality main offices had brought a wide victory to their popular party, so that Rafael Casanova had just been elected for Major of the city at the expense of the moderate Manuel de Flix --who had been the Major so far. News spread all around the Principality like a wildfire, and as such had provoked similar "Busca" lightning victories in other municipalities also calling for sortition.

Most major towns in the nation were now in their hands, so that political balance within the Corts or Parliament risked to experience a radical spin from now on. Encouraged by such a prospective, Sir Rafael Casanova did not hesitate for a moment to formally request the renovation of General Deputation offices --delayed since July by the moderates, allegedly due to war circumstances.

--It's time for a change! --his supporters claimed all around the Principality.

--It's our chance, and our duty too! --he stated in turn.

The "Busca" party pleadings were well known and conveniently radical to please the empoverished, mistreated and radicalized lower classes of the Principality: not even a single step backwards.


abdul666 said...

"Realistic" indeed.
Then, Republicans may be bolstered by the political success, but would not a new military drawback make them more... reasonable? Not sure, re. the Commune of Paris in 1871, I know. But was the political tension that extreme in 1714 Catalonia? The Commune was crushed, but the ugly repression left scars still burning: I wish Catalonia and Elisenda will be spared such national catastrophe.

In the end, what will be decisive will probably be the attitude of the Republicans among the *military*, such as General Basset. Men with political convictions but without burning political ambitions, who could understand the meaning of the Republican symbols on Princess Elisenda's personal banner. Men who know what war really is, and what it costs. Acknowledged military heroes with a reputation of 'Hawks' are the only ones who can convince the population to accept concessions in exchange of peace: they are reassuring.

As for loaning battalions of Mountain Fusiliers... politicians can scream about it, but if their destination and role, according to precise Capitulations, restricted to garrisoning lands (Rousillon?) under Catalan-French co-dominion, it can be presented as a little diplomatic *victory*. Besides, men who had lost their job / farm... in the war have more than others to make a living, to feed their wives and children. Better to be contracted soldiers abroad than beggars at home.

Soldadets said...

There actually was some social tension indeed --although not at an as grave extent as in Valencia, where the claim for a land distribution among the poorest led to revolt and scared upper classes, who persuaded Archduke Charles to put General Basset in jail under charge of revolutionary activities.

(He didn't spend much in jail however. After the disaster of Almansa 1707, General Basset was quickly released and put in charge of the remnants of pro-Charles Valencian troops).

Some social tension existed in Catalonia indeed. Most of the aristocratic High Nobility had sided to king Philip (our Lady Elisenda is the brave and charming exception to this), and this helped preserving some cohesion among the rest of social classes around King Charles --city merchantmen and craftsmen, lower nobility and small free farmers, who were more numerous in the Principality than in other parts of Spain.

Our "Busca" party is digging its strength from those among the poorest classes who, after having placed their hopes in Archduke Charles and suffering heavily the deprivations of war, now are claiming in growing anger to the richest not to disappoint such hopes, not to do a single step back in their own profit.

They would feel far more suspicious face to some kind of ageements with their former enemy. I've thought this would simulate well enough some of the likely factors conditioning our beloved Lady Elisenda, as suggested by one contributor.

Salvador said...

Following the informations Msr. Vilalta points out, it can be guessed that inconveniences would come from a "not a step back" position far more than of political faction infighting.

One has to remember that the "Catalan" higher nobility was from the times of the Catalan Civil War (1462-72) increasingly becoming more "castilianized", being the Cardona a fair example of that (and so marking Elisenda as a rare and valiant exception).

Salvador said...

If I can say so (digressing now), rivalry between "Busca" and "Biga" parties could be more one of interest groups (and political ambitions) than one of political convictions, being both parties republican (by now) and confronted to a pro-Bourbon party that by this time would most surely be "exiliated" to Mataró or gone to Spanish (well) controlled territories.

"Busca" members like Feliu de la Penya were prominent bourgeois people with big fortunes and interests and willing to make a profit out of it. To the extreme that one important supply convoy was captured in real history because of the orders given to wait for one of Feliu's ships laden with cargo, which was lagging behind. The arrival of that convoy could allegedly have worked for lengthening the resistance to the siege.

That, or it may perfectly be that this what if nation (thanks for the remembering Jean Louis) inner political workings are different. If Msr. Vilalta can one day enlighten us into that, it would be much appreciated, adding political intriguing to an already thrilling military, espionage and diplomatic campaign, and laying bases for future developments. I say it because I for one would love to see this extended as a series with new seasons beyond the War of Spanish Succession. You see, I'm starting to feel attachment for people like your Vilana, Elisenda, Claire, etc.

Soldadets said...

Briefly, I've started this wargaming & story-telling adventure on the willing of letting it live a life of its own --although from a fully historical starting point.

Therefore, it must be noted that the Imagi-Nation itself has started differing from the 'real' Catalonia in several features --quite difficult to be remarked yet.

The most important one is our admired Princess Elisenda, whose existance allows us to wonder about the likely progressive crystallization of a Monarchist party --probably gathering the cohort of lesser old nobility around her newly founded Princely dinasty. In my former thoughts, that would be the embryo of a re-born "Biga" party.

This way, the recently re-created "Busca" party acquires a totally new raison d'être as acting as a genuine Republican faction (at a former stage of the Imagi-Nation, at least).

With time, I'd like to make both factions to gradually evolve to something similar to British parliamentary life (although as said, political ideas would follow a pattern of its own, instead of merely copying the British model).

Jordi is prone to make an eventual "Biga" party arise from the evolution of formerly pro-Bourbon elements inside a definitely non-Bourbon, independent Catalonia.

Such would unavoidably lead to the formation of a third party, in my opinion --grouping the formerly pro-Charles lesser nobility we've told about before. That third party might be strongly influenced by the pre-enlightened Academy of the Distrustful institution.

I admit that Jordi's schema would allow us to 'recuperate' those pro-Bourbon elements to the profit of the Imagi-Nation in whole --thus preserving its future national cohesion.

abdul666 said...

Very rich and exciting perspectives!
Hope you'll be able to spare Catalonia a Revolution, Terreur and Contre-terreur -years of bloody civil war just to, in the end, replace nobility with bourgeoisie as the acting aristocracy / oligarchy; with compulsory military service as the only 'benefit' for the lower classes.
Can not a soft transition to a form of Constitutional Monarchy be hoped for, specially if crystallizing national return to peace / recovery / unity after the foreign invasion?

I understand that the "Biga" are republican 'by default' only, the only king they can currently think of being the one in Madrid?
How does the clergy fits in the picture?

I do know well Catalan mentality (are men 'machos' Spanish fashion?), but if with similarities with Southern France, a Princess would be more easily accepted than a male ruler?

It could feel 'too easy', but I'm sure France simply could not resist the offer of Lorraine to the Princesse des Ursins and would make drastic concessions in exchange. If such diplomatic success can strengthen Elisenda's position at home... I'm sure Charles is aware of it, given France never missed an opportunity to occupy the Duché.

Off-topic, Lluis, your opinion about the kind of apron sometimes given to reconstructions of French Fusiliers de Montagne of the WAS period? In the 'Nouveau recueil des Troupes Légères de France, 1743-1746' (*the* contemporary source for the uniforms of Uhlans de Saxe, Grassin &c...) the Fusilier de Montagne seems to wear a kind of skirt (like many British sailors of the time) but the caption indeed mentions a tablier. Yet it may be a misinterpretation of oral depictions (the 'cartridge box' below the navel looks more like a sporran...).

abdul666 said...

"It must be noted that the Imagi-Nation itself has started differing from the 'real' Catalonia in several features --quite difficult to be remarked yet. The most important one is our admired Princess Elisenda."
*Absolutely*: She is the major, crucial "What-if?", it's dear Elisenda who gives your campaign all its originality, all its 'individual character'; all revolves around her [if I may, almost in the same way as the 'Alien' series is actually Ripley's saga :-) ].

Thus, while you wrote "I believe to have gone too far in my attempts of bringing an alternate "happy end", to have the Emperor offering Lorraine to the Princesse des Ursins would NOT be that gross a trick. It would be *perfectly consistent* with the peculiar background of your campaign, if Charles is really anxious to save Catalonia and more specially Elisenda. At least keep this card up your sleeve, in case the Catalonian situation turns desperate.

Soldadets said...

Apologies for my long silence, I've been enjoying a few vacation days amidst the heihgts of some natural border my wife is in love with... ;)

Some fast responses:

- About mentalities and 'macho' attitudes... Well, I believe we do not share such mentality --as far as I do not know to what extent it still survives in the rest of Peninsula, to be honest.

However, the real issue here is wondering about what did 18th century Catalans believe. Well, I guess that mentality wasn't that different all around Europe (unfortunately) by those times: women's place is kitchen, and little else. Had Catholic Church already admitted they have a soul too? I'm afraid not yet :S

To our alternate Catalonia, Princess Elisenda is about to revolve a lot of things, however. The Corts or Parliament had already been committed to accept her as a full member a few years ago --thanks to King-Emperor Charles' own intervention--, so that I guess our Imagi-nationals have likely got accustomed to female participation in public life (of some uncommon, charismatic, intelligent, learned women at least, if not all of them).

Not to say about Princess Elisenda's daring bid for an all-female regiment (she, again!)...

A huge step for an early 18th century European Nation, I'd say.

Soldadets said...

- About Lorraine affair. Sincerely, I'd like better not to specify what has already been arranged at Rastatt conversations, in order not to alter real History more than strictly necessary.

I'd prefer to assume instead that Prince Eugène of Savoy has been successful enough at tempting French diplomacy, so that they have already agreed accepting a co-protected independent Catalonia in exchange for that unspecified in our story principality, whichever it is.

The particular issues arosen in Versailles conversations (which are supposed to be a consequence of such wider, international agreement) should be solved or sorted out inside these conversations, therefore.

In the end, I'd like to show through our Versailles tale the eventual titanic efforts of both legations (Catalan and French) to put the most satisfactory possible end to one of the longest quarrels in Europe's history --one of the longest France has ever had, that one with a former province that once dared to dream with a life of its own.

A quarrel that would eventually last until Napoleon times --and a dream still dreamt.

Salvador said...

Now that is a political spin! Original Biga party would care for decentralization and free trade more than anything, while Busca was in for mercantilism-protectionism and more of a centralized power thinking. But after all, in a characteristic trend of Catalan politics, it was all a thing of leaders and followers, family and particular interests and that.

BTW Catalans were rough people, jealous of their institutions and constitutions, with a strong national and identitary vein, strange as it may seem. There is a lot to talk about that, too much for here and now. They had known at least two stages what it was to be under feminine rule (although in the name of the king), with Maria (of Castile, wife to Alfons king of Aragon and Count of Barcelona) and then with Elisabeth of Brunswick, very important for she was wife to... Charles! She left Barcelona in 1713 so Catalans ARE used to a feminine ruler, and Elisenda would be a natural connection.

But definitely they were not "macho" men. And Catalan women had a tradition of warliking and participation in war. They were regarded as having a very important role in 1641 Spanish tercios (crushing) defeat at Montjuïc castle by the French Catalan garrison, for example.

abdul666 said...

Beware demagogs! They stir their followers to demand 'the butter, the money of the butter, and the butt of the milkmaid to boot', as we say in France [and as was already said in Monte-Cristo in the early 18th C.] :-)