Sunday, February 09, 2014

Debate at Parliament

Barcelona, 14th December 1713

At the Generality Palace, the catalan parlamentarians waited for being called in the Pati dels Tarongers (="Orange Trees Courtyard"), while forming either dense and vociferous crowds, or smaller groups that quietly deliberated while walking around the gothic yard.

Nervousness was visible all around; rumors about Princess Elisenda death were running hard, so that deep disagreements had arisen about how to respond to King Philip's offer to start a peace talk. The “Busca” Republican party, who incidentally had forced the session call, had ben spreading intensely a version that such offer was actually a trap. Public opinion in Barcelona city was opposed to any negotiations, but neither those deputies the most moderate nor General Villaroel himself felt any happy at the prospective of shutting doors to negotiation.

Once the session started, who started speaking was Francesc d'Areny, Baron of Claret: --Sirs, we first let the Queen to leave, later we've let Princess Elisenda to leave too, and now only God knows where the Princess is. If rumours are right, we are lost. The whole country is plenty with such rumours about Her death, that unavoidably must have already been echoed by any of the myriad spies infesting this city. Once Versailles gets clear there is no longer a Princess in Catalonia, what do you believe they're going to do? It becomes clar to me that we shall have to face not solely the armies of King Philip, but those of King Louis too! How long do you believe we would resist such combined strength?

He deliberately stopped to check his speech effect. A deep silence spread all through the hall. Satisfied, he then retook: --Sirs, every official statement or response from this Chamber must assume the Princess is alive and actually inspiring us, no matter what each one of us actually believes. If otherwise is decided, I shall resign right tomorrow.

General Villarroel stood in silence, montionless as a statue. However, the Major of Barcelona city Rafael Casanova, who was also the leader of "Busca" popular party, seemed about to explode. Anger was visible on most Republican deputies' faces.

Areny then continued: --Wherever She is now, it's impossible for the Princess to attend the proposed meeting at Cartagena in due time. So that I propose this Chamber to answer that no Catalan legation will leave for Cartagena before Epiphany, arguing that Christmas is not a good time for starting a negotiation. This Chamber might even suggest Candlemas as a best starting date... and then we all should begin seeking Princess Elisenda wherever She is, and let Her know King Philip's proposal, so that She can decide.

The Baron abruptly stopped and glanced intensely to Casanova: --For Princess Elisenda IS alive and reigning, isn't She?

The Major delayed his response for a few, tense seconds. He then simply nodded, and said: --And if She is incapable of attending the meeting, the Saint Christ of Lepanto will.

[This latter is a typical Catalan nonsense voice, here meaning that no one actually will. The so-called Saint Christ of Lepanto is an image of Jesus at the Cross held at Barcelona cathedral, that allegedly was present at Lepanto Battle (1571).]