Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Bay of Biscay

Bayonne, 23rd November 1713

When the corsair brig carrying Princess Elisenda sailed into the Bay of Biscay, a strong storm forced them to seek refuge. Due to obvious reasons, the harbour of Santander was not an option, so they headed back to Bayonne. Along their way numerous Spanish galleons were met but, as they were quite busy seeking a safe haven too, none did pay much attention to them --so they sailed undisturbed. However, Princess Elisenda got worried enough to share her fears with Claire Baizanville and the brig's captain.

--Certainly, I noticed it too, and was disturbing indeed --Claire said.

--They were scattered, but they all seemed to follow a similar route --the captain explained--. I bet it was a single fleet that, surprised by weather, could not avoid losing formation. I guess each one is now looking for any safe haven between Bilbao and Santander.

Claire did not respond, but once their ship had safely anchored in Bayonne, she hurriedly apologized and went away without a word throughout the day. She wouldn't board again until dusk --and she looked pretty serious. When anxiously questioned by Elisenda, Claire tried to look reassuring: --Do not worry, princess. They are'nt seeking us, they even have no idea we're here, so close to them.

--So?

--Well... it seems that, in compliance with the Treaty of Utrecht, King Philip ought to evacuate His troops in Flanders. And He has decided to do it right now, before winter is come. So in an hurry He seems to be, that all available ships in the Atlantic have been committed to this mission.

Elisenda stood silent for a moment, pensive: --I can recall that King Philip I was holding no less than 12 line infantry regiments in Flanders. Are all of them being evacuated?

Claire nodded: -Most of them. Apparently, there's only one left; most probably, this is the one reserved for garrisoning the principality eventually assigned to Princesse des Ursins. A confidant passed me the whole list, here you are it.

Princess Elisenda couldn't reprime a sigh while reading: --Storff, Bournonville, Coupigny, Treffer, Pasfeuquières, Scepeaux... That makes a total of seven Walloon, one Spanish and one botifler regiments, plus the Walloon Guards 2 battalions still remaining in Flanders, horse troops, artillery, engineers... Easy to imagine what is King Philip going to do with them when spring is come, right?

Claire simply grimaced.

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