Sunday, September 09, 2012

Dilatory manoeuvre

Madrid, 20th November 1713

As expected, King Philip held an urgent meeting with his Council of State to deal with the increasing diplomatical pressure on the Kingdom for putting an end to war. It was agreed that such pressure had become too insistent and risky to ignore. However, the recent victories of the Spanish Army on the field strongly suggested that Catalan resistance was close to breaking down.

It was finally agreed a dilatory manoeuvre, hopefully enough to keep calm the Chancelleries of Europe for a while: a formal request would be sent to Catalonian authorities for a first round of peace conversations, to be held at Cartagena in Christmas Day.

--Nothing must be passed to that Lady Elisenda, however --Alberoni remarked sharply--. She must be kept unaware of such invitation.

The French Ambassador, who was a permanent member of King Philip's Council of State, reluctantly agreed to send word to Versailles asking for Princess Elisenda to be retained in Paris with some etiquette excuses. Not without a previous bitter discussion, however.

Simultaneously, orders would be delivered to the supreme commander of the Spanish Army in Catalonia, so that a significant victory ought to be sought before Christmas Day, through an ultimate offensive over Barcelona.

So, following the orders received, Marquis of Aitona put his army on the march on Igualada, where the Catalan column of Marquis de Poal had withdrawn the week before. Reinforcement troops from Lleida and Tarragona were also called for, and the Spanish southern Army was mobilized again toward Vilafranca, where another Catalan force had entrenched itself deeply.

The cards were on table. The following month would be decisive.


abdul666 said...

Will the Duc d'Orléans comply?
Will not word reach the Lady following other canals?

Soldadets said...

Hummmmm... who would take the risk?

Not the Princesse des Ursins I believe, for her reputation faded away in Versailles after the Duc de Vendôme affair. Would she be trusted?

However, she is admittedly the one with a stronger interest in frustrating Alberoni's plans, whose ascendancy is threatening her openly.

On his side, what would the French Ambassador do? Would it be likely for him performing as agreed in the Council of State and simultaneously sending an alert to Duc d'Orléans?

ColCampbell50 said...

Did you deliberately put the picture of Phillip in upside down?


Soldadets said...

Of course I did!

As a matter of fact, however, I haven't handled the picture in any way. The portrait is that way, actually.

The original portrait is preserved in the Almodí Museum, in Xàtiva town (old Kingdom of Valencia), as a perpetual recall of the burning to ashes of Xativa at hands of Philip d'Anjou's army, little after Almansa battle.

Such has become a common way of depicting Philip d'Anjou in Catalonia and Valencia.

Besides, here in Catalonia it is popular referring to W.C. as "Philip V". --Beg your pardon, I'm going to visit Philip V...

Soldadets said...

--For fun, just google a bit using the Catalan words "Felip V Xàtiva".

abdul666 said...

For long the Princesse des Ursins has been the real agent of Louis XIV in Madrid; if she feels her power declining she's likely to try a counter-stroke. So much the more as she often showed more concern about the Spanish interests than many high born Spaniards: the obvious ambitions of the Farnese family would be detrimental to Spain.

In Versailles the fortune of the Bontemps family kept growing during the Régence, suggesting good relations with the Duc D'Orléans. Nothing said, whispered, done or even written in Versailles (not only the palace but the town, of which Bontemps was also intendant) escaped the Premier Valet whom Louis XIV used to spy on the courtiers ans ministers. The man was utterly devoted to the king and aware of the ambitions of the Duc du Maine....

abdul666 said...

As for the French ambassador, he knew -like everybody- that given the ages of Louis XIV and his heir apparent, there would soon be a regency under the Duc d'Orléans.
Given his position, he was certainly aware of the ambitions of the Duc d'Anjou on the French crown.
The man in 1714 was the Duc de Saint-Aignan, whom the Duc d'Orléans raised to the French Conseil de Régence during the War of the Quadruple Alliance, giving him for life the juicy charge of governor of Le Havre: this suggests a firm alignment with the Régent's cause....

ColCampbell50 said...


Interesting historical tidbits, thanks! Here in the southern USA, General Sherman has been treated the same way by many people.


Soldadets said...


I had the unique opportunity of visiting Old South for tourism some years ago with my wife --and observed lots of testimonies of Southerners' beloved heritage.

PS: I still have a CSA passport purchased at Richmond's Museum of the Confederacy; it was scrupulously completed with my photo and fulfilled at each stage of our journey, naturally ;)