Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Elisenda I

Barcelona, 21st March 1714

For the coronation ceremony, it was chosen the barcelonese church of Santa Maria del Mar. This was an intentional choice, for it was the same emplacement used seven years ago by Archduke Charles. Ceremony was marked by austerity, for Princess Elisenda rejected any wealth ostentation in these post-war times, not to offend the people. Thus, her own princely crown was little more than a nice diadem, while the orbs globe she would hold on left hand during ceremony was made of gold plated copper. Not even her robes differed that much from those she used to wear in other circumstances.

The only important expense that Elisenda considered essential was the Royal Sword she ought to hold in the right hand, the legendary «Tisó» of James I the Conqueror. As the original Kings of Aragon ceremonial sword had long ago passed to thicken Spain's own Royal Treasury, Princess Elisenda ordered a most faithful copy to be forged in best steel and gold plated grip, to be well balanced too as if conceived for war. She was unwilling to hold just a jewel piece there but a perceivably powerful weapon, so as to convey among attendants a feeling of strength and determination --her own determination to preserve the Nation's regained independence.

Ceremony took place on March 21 in the morning as scheduled, with abundant presence of local authorities and common people –but enjoying very scarce attendance of foreign dignataries, even from the Holy Empire itself or other Allied Nations. Princess Elisenda could have grieved by such absences --but she didn't at all, for in fact she already expected such setback. The new Nation would be carefully tested and observed from now on, so that a long, solitary journey was expected from them for a while. Her people were alone, she was alone herself.

“Well, as the saying says, better off alone than in bad companies”, Princess Elisenda ironically thought. “No need to continually waste time in explanations for everything we do. And it's the time now to start doing the things by ourselves”.

(Official portrait of Princess Elisenda I)

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Exposed coast

Cagliari (Sardinia), 18th March 1714

Colonel Carles Llorach taps nervously on the table without a word, while Lieutenant Colonel Josep d'Erill glances at him with concern. It's this latter who in the end dares to break silence:

--Something should be done, Carles --Erill cautiously points out.

--I know I know, Josep --the alluded promptly answers--. The matter is "what" can be done, current circumstances given. Since your father had to resign for health reasons, this island misses a much needed viceroy. We aren't empowered for taking measures other than using our scarce resources as wisely as we can. How is the Regiment deployed right now?

When Countess Francesca arrived in Cagliari a few days ago, bringing with her terrible news about a Barbary pirate attack on a Southeastern village, Cagliaritan society was plunged into shock. Pirate activity on Sardinian shores had declined in previous years, something that likely had much to do with the lately proliferation of large warships in the Mediterranean. Now that War of the Spanish Succesion was over and most powers had begun downsizing their armies and withdrawing their fleets, pirates had seen a new opportunity and re-started operations on the already overpunished coastal villages. The small force garrisoning the island wasn't prepared for this --not that soon, while still awaiting arrival of a new viceroy.

--Well, our Regiment's deployment is still conceived for facing an eventual major menace from overseas. The Two Crowns, I mean. Four companies here in Cagliari, while the other five companies are garrisoning walled towns such as Alghero, Sassari, Oristano, Bosa and Castel Aragonès. --Erill opens arms wide, as meaning he understands in advance what Llorach might reply to him.

Llorach simply nods: --We must change it. Cagliari no longer needs four companies inside. Let's reassign one in the Southwest, and split another two companies along the Eastern coast. Word should be sent to sheriffs and local Lords requesting them to properly allocate the troops.

Erill nods too and answers: --This should help --his face showing some skepticism, though.

Colonel Llorach stops silent again, thinking for a while before adding: --Let's do something else: I'm going to sail aboard one of our galleys with a small detachment, with the aim to inspect each one of the watchtowers along the Eastern coast, for I suspect some must have been neglected. Otherwise those damned pirates wouldn't have been able to fall that unadverted upon those unfortunate villagers. Please send a courier to Alghero town, ordering their garrison to perform a similar inspection along the Western coast using their own galley.