Saturday, April 14, 2012

Negotiations: fourth round

Versailles, 7th November 1713

Conversations were retaken on Monday 6th, but all day passed away amidst neverending arguments and counter-arguments. It was a really disappointing session for both sides so that, on the next day, Marquis de Vilana asked for a short speech, to recapitulate his Legation position.

Once obtained the agreement of their French counter-part, it was Princess Elisenda who stood up to speak instead: --Dear gentlemen: never before in History our Western Pyrenean passages have been used for invasions, either northwards or southwards. Therefore, there are no reasons for France to fear anything from that side. In consequence, we firmly object any border modification is needed there, and will not consent the segregation of our northwestern counties from the Principality. Especially Aran Valley, our sovereignity over which is tied to their explicit will, and cannot be dealt without their consent.

--Listen gentlemen --she said--, the most outstanding disagreement between us is that one concerning the counties of Roussillon and Cerdaigne, where any concept of natural border gets virtually dilluted amidst a real labyrinth of easy passages, that have often eased attacks and invasions from either side.

Princess Elisenda stopped for a moment to look around. French legates remained motionless and attentive, with their glances severely fixed on her. She restlessly sought the gaze of Vilana, who nodded imperceptibly as a sign of encouragement. She then continued: --We do admit there would be strong objective reasons for France to assure such passages... provided the Nation lying at the opposite side of Pyrenees was hostile to you.

She then stopped again to glance at each one of the French legates: --However, I beg you to consider the real significance of the treaty we are suggesting to you: we are proposing not less than finally cancelling all vestiges of enmity between our respective Nations. You would have to worry never again about your south-eastern borders, because you'd have a friendly Nation defending them with determination. Our only condition for such to be achieved is the devolution of Roussillon and Cerdaigne --even if partially, as we already suggested.

A slight waving of the back room courtains distracted the Princess for a moment. Duke Philippe d'Orléans discretely entered the room and sat without a noise, far apart from his legates as not to disturb them. His glance was also fixed on her.

She noticed the accelerated beating of her heart, but forced herself not to panic: --Otherwise, it would be plainly useless to keep arguing about borders. Please gentlemen, let's omit such "small detail" off the treaty specifications, as if there were no disputes on the matter, and we shall eagerly sign the rest of agreements reached so far. For we have no intention of impeding the achievement of your so yearned peace with Austria...

--But if such the case --she lifted a finger in a theatrical gesture--, I'm compelled to warn you that France will forever lose a best opportunity to turn our traditional enmity into an everlasting friendship. For we haven't recognized so far the 1659 partition of our country --and shall never do it. There is nothing else we can say on this particular.


abdul666 said...

Daring! But it's the Holy Game of Poker.

Salvador said...


No wonder this girl can be a future sovereign. Looks like the kind of leader to whom one feels compelled to follow with utmost loyalty and determination.

Soldadets said...

Daring, but realistic indeed. The Catalan Legation is fully leaving in their counter-parts' hands the Roussillon issue, perfectly aware as they are that no further territorial concessions would be authorized in exchange by the Catalan Corts, or Parliament.

It's up to the French legation therefore to decide whether to resign a small, still undigested territory in exchange for a new strong alliance; or to rely entirely on their own, comparatively immense power to impose de facto the 1659 borders to the new Principality... in perfectly consciousness, however, that such small southern neighbour will take advantage on any eventual, future opportunity to set the claim up again.

Of course, we do have a key advantage with respect to our story's characters; for their future is our past, and we know what such key events are to be.

If we were able to, we would travel back in time to whisper in the ear of our French legates something like "take into account that, in one century's time, an Emperor of France is going to appeal to the self-pride and love for Liberty of (southern-) Catalans --and is going to fail miserably, for no one in Catalonia will trust on him."

Of course, we cannot. We can only hope that, in an unmatched effort of historical perspective and sagacity, the French legacy choses the apparently uneasier way: devolution.

We enjoy an historical prospective they don't, so that I personally can bid about the side my Principality will join when Napoléon comes to power in one century's time.

Someone might be tempted to neglect to role of a Catalonia-sized Nation in the Great Powers' game. It's only a matter to reflect on how would have things affected Austria if there wasn't Bavaria there. Or, inversely, how would have Modern History affected France if it had a similarly hostile Bavaria-sized Nation at South...

Of course, our French legates can by no means be affected by such thoughts (which must be attributed to ourselves as gamers, nobody's else). And it's entirely up to their reasonings: whichever is their choice, there will be a treaty with Catalonia, so that no obstacles will remain to the ultimate peace with Austria.

Soldadets said...

Dear Salvador, let's be proper:

not "quins COLLONS", but "quins OVARIS" ("i quins ulls, i quins... de tot!")

("Així sí que es pot ser monàrquic, oi?" --sorry, too politically incorrect to be translated... ;)

Rittmeister Krefeld said...

Si penjis alguna foto de la elisenda cazan elefants, em desvinculo del teu blog :P

Oddball said...

Mmmmm… I have a little suggestion which could be considered by our Vilana. The War for the Spanish Succesion was one of the first wars were the belligerent factions try to influence their own public opinion through pamphlets and articles in the incipient newspapers. I’m sure that a skilled writer could highlight the key role of Elisenda in the negotiations with the French, reinforcing their daring and brave attitude, inspired for the love she fells for her country and its people. I’m sure that the members of the “Academia dels desconfiats” could find a good way to make that this type of information takes roots in the Catalan people and making Elisenda a more familiar and admirable figure before she returns to the Principality. A catchy song or some humorous verses or a funny drawing about Elisenda treating with the Frenchs could be a very popular product. Even with the “Busca Party” ascending in the Principality, people could find a hero in the brilliant personality of Elisenda. A favourable environment created by the knowing of her achievements before her own return could help to disable the plans of any political opposing faction. I’d go ever so far as to stay that the right use of some of these “propaganda” methods could contribute to create a warm and popular welcome or Elisenda once back in the Principality. Such a welcome will give to any opposition a lot of things to think before trying to twist what Elisenda have achieved in France.

Salvador said...

Something to take into account; Catalonia saw her sizeable share of media use by factions in the Reapers War half a century before (see La Guerra dels Segadors a través de la premsa del seu temps, by Henry Ettinghausen, 4 volumes with more than 3000 gazettes referred to).

Certainly one could think the Duke of Orleans could personally gain much of a personal role in the treaty, in view of a possible future regency and the chance d'Anjou does not honour a renounce to the French crown, which could not be toss aside at the moment. After all the sun king is very elderly as eveybody knows...

P.S.: as Lluís guesses, the Catalan variation can unleash a seemingly disproportionate chain of chances. In Napoleonic times, Euskadi/Navarre could well follow that path, although that doesn't completely rule out guerrilla in that country. But Catalonia was the region where guerrilla activity was at its height, with rebel armies throughout the whole of the conflict...

Soldadets said...

Stefan, no problem: she's devoted to Archaeology as a hobby, not to ordnance-gunning at wildlife.

Oddball and Salvador, thanks for your suggestions, have for sure I'll have them into account.

About French Legation's ultimate decision: as said before, we should fall in error if considered French choices as a function of History to come. Our greatest goal would be figuring out what contemporary-to-their-time considerations would impulse them to choose.

Of course, the presence of Duke of Orleans in the scene is far from accidental, for it's aimed to help us giving the necessary reasonings depth to their deliberations process.

As commented before, we compulsorly need now to get into their minds, not in those of our own grand-grandfathers.