After the forest of Foixà: a new beginning for the House of Barcelona

Chapter 58: The "King of peace": Carlos II (1730-1757)
Chapter 58: The "King of peace": Carlos II (1730-1757)

In spite of the stagnation of the Empire, Carlos II began his reign with a renovation of the royal palaces and with a wide program of social works. The construction of new roads was mixed with the renewal of the old ones. New gardens were added to the cities along with new buildings, harbours were improved and enlarged and, to the surprise of many, Carlos II imposed a peaceful foreign policy towards Aragon which included a series of trade treaties that opened the New World colonies to the Aragonese merchants. With this Carlos II hoped that the Aragonese competence would force the Hispanic tradesmen to become more competitive and it would give a new strength to the advance of the Hispanic science, technology and wealth thanks to this peaceful competition. The impact on the national mood was rapid and disastrous as many Hispaniards did not understood the true reasons of their monarch. The expensive expansion of the communication system (which included the modernization of the commercial fleet that linked Hispania with its Empire) and the "privileges" given to the Aragonese in a time that the country was suffering under the new taxes introduced to support the construction program of the king caused a subdued anger that bit by bit began to grow. The first riots, centered over the rising costs of bread. broke out in Toledo on March 10, 1741.

All in all, 2,000 rioters marched to the Plaza Mayor, shouting insults against Mendoza, the Food Commissary of the city. They encountered Luis Antonio Fernández de Córdoba y Spínola, 11th Duke of Medinaceli, whom they surrounded and persuaded to present their petitions to the king. The duke reported to the king, who remained calm and apparently not worried at all by the seriousness of the situation. He ordered that bread was at once cooked in the royal kitchen and freely given to the people. On March 14, the situation worsened. The rioters, strengthened in numbers and in confidence, marched towards the king's palace, which was defended by Spanish troops. The soldiers fired and killed several men and women, but a priest managed to make his way to Carlos and present him with the petitions. The priest's tone was ominous, and he warned of an unstoppable revolution if the demands were not met. The rioters' demands included:

That the price of basic goods be lowered.
That the Juntas de Abastos (municipal boards responsible for commodity prices and supplies) be suppressed.
That the troops withdraw to their respective headquarters.
That His Majesty shows himself and speaks from his own mouth his desire to fulfill and satisfy these demands.

The king was inclined to accept the demands, despite being counselled not to do so by several of his ministers. Those ministers who believed he should accept the rioters' demands, emphasized that the riots were not a challenge against royal authority, but that they could develop into such should the demands be ignored. Carlos appeared on the palace balcony. The rioters once again presented their demands. Carlos calmly acceded to their demands and then retired into the palace. This action temporarily calmed the populace.

The king then named a military junta to restore order. The city remained calm. However, upon hearing that Carlos had placed the military in command of the situation, there were fears that a large force of royal troops would enter Madrid and crush the revolt. In reaction to these fears, some 30,000 people, including men, women, and children, surrounded the house of Diego Rojas Contreras, bishop of Toledo, and president of the Council of Castile. The bishop was instructed to inform the king of the popular mood and to draw up a series of demands. The king replied with a letter that stated that he sincerely promised to comply with the demands of his people, and asked for calm and order. This calmed the populace once again. In the following weeks, several of the new taxes were withdrawn and the expenses cut to a half. Then the king placed the government in the hands of his Chief Minister, Sebastián de la Cuadra, 1st Marquess of Villarías. Apparently, the protesters had won. In fact, most of the construction program designed by Carlos II had been finished and the extraordinary taxes were to be cancelled or reduced. Thus, Carlos II had agreed with the reforms just because this suited him. This was to be the cause of future problems between the king and his subjects.

With his confidence renewed, Carlos devoted all his efforts into the last stages of the project, neglecting diplomatic and economic affairs to study his gardens or to chat with his architects. The government lied in the capable hands of Villarías, who is best rembered as the co-founder of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (RABASF; Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando) in 1744 and as a patron of arts. His replacement was José de Carvajal y Lancáster, who carried out an aggresive policy. In 1750, he threatened Portugal with war unless Lisbon accepted the Hispanic claims over the borders of Río de la Plata and Brazil; it was a bluff that worked, as the Colonia del Sacramento was returned to Spain in exchange of some Paraguayan territories.


The new royal apartments in Toledo .

In 1751 Carvajal was forced to raise the taxes again. The delicate situation of the Empire and the expenses of the king threatened to bankrupt it. The size of the army and of the navy was cut by a third. Colonial subjects, until now exempt from such things, had a tax placed upon imports for the first time in 1746. In 1753 another bankruptcy was avoided only after hard negotiations with foreign and domestic debtors, who were given a share in the Real Compañía de Indias (Royal Company of the Indies); part of the American silver was thus used to pay the Hispanic debt. The crisis led to the creation of the Banco Imperial (Imperial Bank), but Aranda was unable to make Carlos II to reduce his waste of money, which ensured the financial crisis was unavoidable.

Looking for money, Carlos II had an idea that horrified Carvajal and most of the king's ministers. The king would make new members of the Parliament in exchange for money. In his primary goal, Carlos succeeded utterly and the royal coffins were filled with gold. Also, the Parliament was filled with new members that owed their seats to the king, who could unseat them if someone offered a better price. However, Parliament became so weakened and corrupted that was hardly an useful institution for the government of the Empire. Carvajal resigned and went into a self-imposed exile as the new Hispanic ambassador in Paris. His replacement as Chief Minister was Jerónimo Grimaldi y Pallavicini, 1st Duke of Grimaldi, in 1755. A corrupt plutocrat, Grimaldi was forced to resign in April 8, 1757, hardly two weeks after the death of Carlos II. The new king, Jaime V, had Grimaldi paying half of his fortune to avoid being jailed and then exiled him to Portugal.
Chapter 59:Jaime V - the home front (1757-1767)
Chapter 59:Jaime V - the home front (1757-1767)

Jaime V (1710-1767, reigned 1754-1767) had the making of a great king. Born in the Imperial Palace of Toledo on February 15, 1710, his birth was seen as a gift from Heaven as his uncle, King Fernando, was not to live long. In this environment and under the strict tutelage of his father, young Jaime developed the rather peculiar temperament. He became a mixture between a hard worker and devoted administrator, and a dilettante prince devoted to ride a favoured horse, hunting, reading a new book or seducing a chamber maid. Young Jaime enjoyed a strong relationship with his grandmother who, in turn, enjoyed the role of matriarch and tutor. It was she who, eventually, tamed Jaime's riotous and rebellious behaviour by separating the young Prince from his father. His tutors struggled to keep him focused on education throughout his childhood and teens and young Jaime spent much of the 1720s being reluctantly taken away from favoured books or hobbies. He adored his grandmother, and he was devastated by her death in 1725, the turning point of his life. who he saw as both wise and good tempered, and occasionally clashed with his grandiose father. Young Jaime found much support in the future Chief Minister, Fernando de Salvaterra, 4th count of Salvaterra de Magos, who became a tutor of the future king in all but in name. It was Salvaterra who introduced him into the world of politics, much to the king's dismay, as father and son seldom agreed on politics or even personal matters. Thus, the king was determinwd not to give any official dduties to his son until he changed his behaviour.

In 1726, at the age of 16, he was wed to Princess Caroline Elizabeth of Great Britain (1713 –1757)- daughter of King George II of Great Britain and Ireland. For unknown reasons, the marriage was an unhappy one. The new queen suffered a deep melancholy that not even her visits to her family back in London could alleviate. in 1743, Caroline's suffered a mental breakdown and retired to the Royal Palace of la Granja de San Idelfonso for many years prior to her own death, accessible to only her husband and closest friends. By then they had been blessed with only one child but, luckily, he was a healthy prince born in 1736.

Jaime was 20 years old when his father became King-Emperor. This fact, along with his marriage and his son, sobered Jaime's temper, who took fully his role as heir of the Empire, while being introduced to matters of government, and was surprised and offended when he saw he watched with shock and disapproval as the widespread waste of money and resources led to the ríots of 1741. He was concerned with the rising power of the old Castilian nobilty, who he identified as a threat to royal authority. With the death of his father in 1754, the new King took little time to show his new powers with Jerónimo Grimaldi y Pallavicini, 1st Duke of Grimaldi, who was dismished as Chief Minister and sent to exile. This was followed by a return to more constitutional rule for the Cortes, which had been eclipsed and sidelined during the reign of his father. With Jaime V the Hispanic Parliament met in a former Palace of Toledo, in what had become the "ministerial" area of the city, close to the Royal Palace and to the houses of the most important (and rich) Hispanic families.

This scheme came to an end around 1765, when, after ten years in power and exhausted with the fights with its rivals to the left and to the right of the Parliament, the Refomists stepped out of power and refused to bend under the pressure of Jaime V, who balked at the idea of having to deal with the "Left Party" and its radical faction, the "Comuneros" ("Commoners"). However, he would not stand them for long, as he died two years later, in 1767. However, the “Electoral Act” of 1766, which modified the requirements for voters to ensure that all adult male landlords could vote. With that, the Leftists hoped, the next king would meet a more active and stronger Cortes than his father.
Chapter 60: Sowing Decay (1767-1780)
Chapter 60: Sowing Decay (1767-1780)

Pedro II (1736-1822) was the first Hispanic monarch who reigned under the heel of the Cortes. Raised under his protective daughter, the future king was a spoiled boy who had everything he asked for, even before he demanded it. By the time of his father’s death, Pedro (who was 31 years old at the time) was ready for the throne. His leisurely and playful childhood was left behind and in his youthhood he seemed to fully grasp the reality of the situation. The economy was crumbling, the nobiliy triumphant, the raising middle class angered and the nation beset by social issues on all sides. Used to have everything he wanted at once, when Pedro faced a problem he could not solve, the young king's mood drakened, becoming rather antisocial and unforgiving. He would come to terms with the state of affairs, in own quiet way. However, he had made few allies while being a prince and, once in the throne, he had to rely in the friends and advisors of his father. At least, this lack of familiarity was a good thing, as he lacked any prejudices against any side and, to sum up, the new monarch represented a chance for a new beginning for the Empire.

In his youth, Pedro II had been married to María de Silva y Álvarez de Toledo (1740-1782), the only daughter of Francisco de Paula de Silva y Álvarez de Toledo, 10th Duke of Huéscar (who was son of Fernando de Silva y Álvarez de Toledo, 12th Duke of Alba de Tormes). Francisco was the head of the Royal Council and Fernando was one of the leaders of the Reformist party. With this it was hoped that the Reformers were to side with the throne. The marriage was rather productive: between 1759 and 1770) three sons and two daughter were born, even if one two boys and one girl would survive into adulthood. María would act as the connexion between his father and uncle (and the Reformers) while the king gathered around him a quadre of supporters. However, gone were the times when kings where the ones who decided the fate of Hispania.

José Moñino, count of Floridablanca (1728-1808), became the first Chief Minister of Pedro II. He was popular among the nobility for his combination of patriotism, cunning and loyalty, something that also endeared him to the king. He was to be one of the more lasting Chief Minister in the history of Spain, has he fufilled that role from 1767 to 1782, and retained some influence on his successors while being Minister of Justice from 1782 and 1793. One of his first actions was to put the Royal Council under the control of the government by having its members being approved by the Council of Ministers. Then he secured that only those with an extense military background could join the Supreme War Council, which, eventually, would be dissolved and its powers transfered to the Ministries of the Army and of the Navy in 1778. However, the military would keep selecting the ministers of those two deparments.

Floridablanca also managed to build around himself a wide coalition of Reformers, include members of the most radical and of the most conservative factions. With this support, in 1780 he replaced the Royal Council with the Executive Council, with the Chief Minister as its head. The Vice Chief Minister was then given responsibility for all foreign affairs, thus becoming the Foreign Minister. The Ministers were still named by the king, but Pedro II trusted Floridablanca and selected the nanes suggested by his Chief Minister. Meanwhile, in the Cortes, Floridablanca wad able to rally around him the support of the moderate Left Party; the "Comuneros", however, refused to even meet with Floridablanca's secretaries. Meanwhile, by 1780 too the King’s efforts to make friends and influence people outside his Chief Minister had largely failed. He was well thought of, even among his prospective rivals in the Diputados (the members of the Parliament) who liked their king and enjoyed his efforts to woo them with his patronage. He was thus reduced to the support of a small but devoted cadre of political followers. The true power was with the Chief Minister. Thus, when a situation requiered to take a firm decission, officials in every branch of government would listen to Floridablanca over the King.

However, the king was able to win some allies by handing out of titles; thus, he ppointed many allies to senior noble titles, hoping to shore up his own position in the Hispanic Pârliament and in the administration of the American Colonies. This, of course, ballooned the Upper House to an even more enormous size than before and, by 1770, it had as many as 525 members, up from 150 just ten years prior. However, when in contact with some of the true "blue bood" noblemen, some of those upstarts, became infatuated with "their" class peers and thus had little problem to change sides. However, by the widespread use of bribes by both sides and this "selling" of tittles, Pedro II had began the process by which the Parliament soon became a corrupt and despicable institution. Then. the Austrian War of Succession changed the balance of power in Central Europe.
Chapter 61: The Austrian War of Succession (1770-1780)
Chapter 61: The Austrian War of Succession (1770-1780)

The Austrian War of Succession had been on the making since the death of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1740. Without a male heir, he was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth (1709 –1763), who had two sons, Karl, the future Karl VI; and Archduke Joseph. While Elizabeth was one of the most popular Austrian monarchs because of her numerous construction projects and her strong opposition to Russian policies, Karl (1727-1775) was an unpopular leader in spiite of his progressive reforms during his short reign. He proclaimed religious freedom and encouraged education, sought to modernize the Austrian army and abolished the secret police, which had been infamous for its extreme violence. Eventually, he was forced to abdicate and was assasinated when he attempted to escape. The leaders of the conspiracy, Ludwig Wilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Baden, and Prince Eugene of Savoy, attempted to have Karl's elder son, Leopold, crowned as Emperor. However, his namesake and uncle launched a widespread rebellion against the conspirators, thus starting the Austria War of Succession om 1775. When Tsar Paul I of Russia sided with Archduke Joseph, the war took an international turn.

By late 1776 the unprepared Swedes collapsed while Archduke Joseph had secured the south of Germany, thus cutting his nephew from any incomming help from the north of the Empire. In January 1778 Sweden finally threw in the towel and signed the Peace of Konigsberg. Losing Estonia and Livonia was a hard pill to swallow, but Gustav III had little option as his army had been crushed and his nobility threatened to depose him. Then, by the treaty of Kaunas, Gustav III joined the German-Russian alliance, using his fleet to support the Prussian and Russian armies moving towards Hamburg. This led to England allying with Emperor Joseph and France financed a small mercenary army to help the belaguered Ausrian monarch, who, with the north of Germany collapsing and Austria in the hands of his uncle, was reduced to Hungary by the summer of 1780. What followed was a hurried succession of peace negotations that failed as allies betrayed each other and promises made were ignored as new players joined the game. Tsar Paul I began the dance when he signed the Peace of Livonia with Emperor Karl I and withdrew from the war. Then, France invaded the Rhine with 100,000 men and Pedro II of Spain and his Chief Minister, Floridablanca, attempted to persuade the two Leopold to settle the issue peacefully. However, the French invading army was crushed in the Battle of Krefeld (June 23, 1780), leaving France out of the war; however, the unexpected death of Paul I of Russia in August led to a spectacular change ib the Russian foreign policy as his son Alexander I (1777 – 1825), still a minor, rose to the tjrone and the Regency council pressed for an alliance with Austria.

To further complicate matters, Aragon declared war to France and invaded New France in the Summer of 1780. This led to a very hot debate in London between the supporters of the French-Austrian Alliance and those who wanted to see the French holdings in English rather in Aragonese hands. thus, September saw the second turnabout of alliances when the English Empire declared war to Joseph's Austria and France and sided with his uncle. In Barcelona, King Lluis I of Aragon (1754 – 1793) ordered his ambassador in England to find a way to divide New France with the English, something that did not sound too appealing to Charles IV of England. In the end, this negotations became useless when the Treaty of Fontenoy ended the Austrian War of Succession; the German Empire was divided in two: its northern part was given to Archduke Leopold, now German Emperor, who annexed the few and spare Swedish territory in Northern Germany, while, in the south, his nephew became the Emperor of Austria and the King of Hungary. This division pushed Austria into an alliance with Russia while Charles IV of England and Pedro II of Spain, worried by the sudden end of the German dominion over Central Europe, the sudden end of the brief rise of Sweden as a continental power and the extension of the Russian influence into the Danube, allied with the German Emperor in the Autumn of 1780. Hardly a month later Lluis I of Aragon would a solution to the New France question; the northern part of the French Empires (IOTL Quebec) would become part of the English Empire while Aragon would annex Hyderabad y el Carnatic. Further, England ceded Madras to the Aragonese in exchange for the Aragonese settlements in Terranova; even if those settlements were little more that small refuges for the Aragonese fishermen, London considered them a risk to their strategy in North America and made everything in their hands to have the Aragonese threat removed. In exchange, Aragon became the main European power in India.
Chapter 62 The Portuguese Revolution (1780-1785)
Chapter 62 The Portuguese Revolution (1780-1785)

The aftermath of the war saw the fall of the Swedish Empire as the civil war (1781-1783) led to the independence of Norway and Denmark and the rise of tensions between the English and the German Empires, as London supported the Danes and send land forces and ships to support them in their fight. To have the English just landing on the backyard of the German Empire was an unwelcomed piece of news that led Berlin to mistrust London. When England allied with both Norway and Denmark, the Anglo-German relations reached a new low point. Thus, Charles IV of England made the first of his many visits to Germany to appease the angered ally.

Meanwhile, neither Pedro II of Spain nor his Chief Minister, Floridablanca, worried about the Northern events. Floridablanca, in fact, was more interested in improving the Spanish relations with Aragon. Many wondered about the real intentions of the Chief Minister, but apparently the strong man of Hispania attempted to put in place a complex plan that, if successful, it could bring Aragon and Occitania into an union with the Hispanic Empire, with the second son of the king, the Infante Fernando, duke of Sevilla, marrying the elder daughter of Lluis I of Aragon, Princess Violante; and Jaime, duke of Urgell, the heir of the throne, would marry Isabel, the elder daughter of Pedro II. However, the Hispanic offer was coldly received as Aragon considered Hispania as a forfeited power that was soon to be devoured by the English and just waited for their chance to take the spoils of the lost empire.

Thus, Floridablanca, after this setback, had to return his attention to America, Pedro III of Portugal has attempted to revitalise his empire following the example of Augustus. With Brazil on the verge of rising against him, Pedro launched a massive military reform, beginning with the modernization of the army following techniques and weaponry developed during the Austrian War of Succession. The rebels, however, were not afraid by those measures and believing themselves the defenders of liberty and equality, defied Pedro over and over again. Eventually, in 1782 Pedro III lost its temper and sailed against the rebels. Against them his reforms proved very effective, even if their cost had almost ruined his already empoverished empire. Having defeated the rebels, Pedro had to face massive riots in Lisboa due to the heavy taxation needed to support the heavy investment not only in the army reforms, but also into educational and infrastructure programmes. However, he seemed not to notice or willngly ingnored the widespread poverty and to the growing rejection of his absolutist ways. He was forced, thus to use the army to restore order and, as this happened, Brazil rose in revolt again. Lacking reinforcements or money to recruits new forces, Francisco, Duke of Braganza, was pushed back to a few coastal cities where he resisted in the hopes that a force send from the mainland would rescue him. With Pedro's realm crumbling around him, he was offered help by Floridablanca, who was afraid that the radical ideologies that were spreading in America and in Portugal like wildfire. It was the beginning of a long war that was eventually, led to Floridablanca's resignation.

By October, 1782, most cities in Brazil were entirely outside of the Emperor’s controls. The Revolutionary Councils that ruled them planned to create a “provisional Brazilian government”. Meanwhile, Lisbon suffered riots lasting weeks. Even as more and more soldiers arrived in the capital to enforce order, the population only grew angrier and angrier, even forming an official “Insurrectionist Committee” to coordinate resistance. By the Spring of 1783 the Portuguese army began to mutiny and the Hispanic Expeditionary Force was forced to replace it. If the Portuguese soldiers were reluctant to fire against his rebellious fewllow countrymen, the Hispanics had not such a qualms. However, with the country falling by pieces around them, eventually its commander, Agustín de Jáuregui y Aldecoa, began to plan a withdrawal to Lisbon to reoccupy the city in great strength and from there retake the lost ground. Howevrer, on March 18th, 1783, revolutionary mobs surrounded the Imperial Palace in Lisbon. In the chaos that followed, with Aldecoa's force leaving the city and with even the Palace Guard revolting against Pedro III, it is hard to tell what happened next. The only thing we know for sure is that the king was killed by the rioters and, with the death of the tyrant, the House of Braganza came to an end.

The Insurrectionist Committee declared the formation of a “Provisional Government of the Portuguese People”, and began inviting delegates from across the country. They also extended invitations to the Brazilians and other parts of the Empire to join the government to arrange either a federation or their independence. Foreign powers looked on with despair and outrage but soon reacted fast. England occupied the Portuguese settlements in Western Africa and Aragon those on their Eastern shores. The German Emperior made a call to the English, Hispanic, Aragonese, French and Russian monarchs to met and discuss some sort of response to the Portuguese crisis. The Pretender to the Portuguese crown, Francisco, Duke of Beja (1751-1802), joined the confered with the hoped that the Great Powers helped him to reconquer his kingdom and reestablish the Portuguese monarchy.

The Congress of Frankfurt (1785) was to bring a new order to Europe.
Chapter 63: The Age of Chaos (1785-1789)
Chapter 63: The Age of Chaos (1785-1789)

The Portuguese Revolution heralded what was called in those times "the Age of Chaos". The expenses and destruction caused by the War of the Four Years (1696-1700) and the last international conflict, the Austrian War of Succession (1770-1780), had started a widespread crisis that only the colonial markets had helped to alleviate the hard times of their motherlands. A first sign of the crisis had been the "Bread Riots" in Madrid (March, 1741) but, as those kinds of events were a common problem in many European cities, it was quickly dismissed. Between 1700 and 1790, the European population grew from an estimated 110 to 190 million. The proportion of the population living in towns increased to 20%, and Paris alone had over 600,000 inhabitants. Peasants comprised about 80% of the population, but the middle classes tripled over the century, reaching almost 10% of the population by 1780. Although the 18th century was a period of increasing prosperity, the benefits were distributed unevenly across countries (and, within the international borders, across regions) and social groups. Those whose income derived from agriculture, rents, interest and trade in goods from the European colonies benefited most, while the living standards of wage labourers and farmers on rented land fell. Increasing inequality led to more social conflict as the century progressed. Economic recession from 1785 and bad harvests in 1787 and 1788 led to high unemployment and food prices which coincided with a financial and political crisis for several countries,

In the English case, the bad administration that characterized the kingship of George II and his son Charles IV led to a series of budgetary crisis during the 18th century, as revenues failed to keep pace with expenditure on the military and state pensions. This was also mirrored by the events in Spain in times of King Carlos II, a contemporary of George II of England. Only with his grandson Pedro the crisis would begin to be tamed by the resourceful Hispanic Chief Minister, Floridablanca, but at the cost of very high taxes. Both in England and in Hispania, even if their economies grew solidly, their tax systems didn't capture the new wealth. Bad harvest also punished both countries and their hungry subjects suffered heavily first in the first wave of famine in the decade of the 1700s and then again in the 1740s. Even worse, in both empires prices rose heavily between 1715 and 1770 (an average of 35% and even a 45% between 1755 and 1765) while the salaries only rose at a 22%. Eventually, the Parliaments of both Empires became essential elements of the policies of their prime ministers, as the refusal to fund them caused the rise and fall of many political careers. Also, any attempts to reform the tax system were blocked by the nobility and soon the parliaments became the battlefield of the showdown between the government and the nobility.

In Hispania, the crisis soon spiralled almost out of control when, on September 16, 1786, Francisco de Saavedra and Mariano Luis de Urquijo, two prominent members of the Cortes, were imprisoned. A few days later, Pedro II issued a statement accusing the twoof “of being part of a cabal which was plotting a coup to depose the government and to force the king to accept their rule”, adding that they had likely been helped by “a foreign power” - something that made many to think about Portugal. With threats, bribes and persuasion, Magnusson ensured a majority in the Cortes and demanded them to pass a law that would reduce the Minister's Council to a merely an adviser body and would give the king full powers. Almost a third of the representatives refused to support the law, and a great part of the other two thirds remained doubtful about the issue. Fruitless negotiations lasted until September 9, those representatives opposed by the law and a number of those who were neutral on the issue left the Cortes and met, two days later, in Burgos, when they declared themselves to be the National Assembly of Hispana. In the following five days, more representatives joined them. Then, on September 20, shaken by this challenge to his authority and with rumours about mutinies among the troops quartered in Toledo, the king agreed to recognize the National Assembly, announced a series of tax and other reforms and stated that no new taxes or loans would be implemented without the consent of the Assembly. However, due to the poor harvest of 1786, an unusually harsh winter and the economic crisis, thousands of Spaniards lost their jobs and thousands of poor people fled the impoverished countryside to the big cities.

To ennact those reforms, the National Assembly named Pedro de Varela (1737 – 1797) as the new Chief Minister; however, de Varela soon went to far in his reformists attempts and Pedro II began to use his right to veto to block many of de Varela's policies and finally dismissed him on October 11.

In England, the harsh situation forced Prime Minister Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, to try, to some extent, to introduce reforms that could alleviate the situation of the most disadvantaged parts of British society, especially to improve the working and living conditions of urban workers. However, Charles IV was persuaded by several of his nobles to reject these measures. This was not a problem as long as wages and prices rose in a similar way, but the poor harvests that began to occur after 1785 began to change this situation very quickly. This was especially serious in London, whose population had tripled since 1715 with the massive arrival of rural emigrants who had problems adjusting to urban life. In fact, most of them exchanged unemployment in the countryside for unemployment in the cities. This increase in population only worsened living conditions in the cities.

Thus, it came as no surprise that, on August 9, 1786, a heated session of the Parliament ended in riots when the king blocked the last reform attempted by Rockingham, who resigned after this. The arrests of journalists critical with the veto of the king did nothing to quiet the country. Then the new prime miniser, William Petty Fitzmaurice, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, made a mistake. At the beginning of his tenure, Rockingham had raised the Home Guard units of London to help to keep the city calm and under control. The Home Guard was mainly formed by units from the main working-class neighbourhoods. Then, on August 10, those soldiers marched to the centre of London and demanded that a new government be elected. They were met by regular army units loyal to the government and the demonstrators eventually dispersed peacefully. On August 11, 5,000 protesters marched to the Houses of the Parliament, demanding immediate municipal elections and rifles. The follwing day, several thousand soldiers from the Home Guard marched to the centre chanting 'Long Live the Republic!", but they also dispersed without incident. The demonstrations resumed on August 15. John Wilkes, the former Mayor of London until 1779, called new demonstrations at the Parliament against Charles IV and the government. Fifteen thousand demonstrators, some of them armed, gathered in front of the Parliament in pouring rain, calling for the resignation of Landsowne and the return of Rockingham. Shots by the soldiers defending the Parliament and the demonstrators crowded into the building, demanding the creation of a new government, and making lists of its proposed members.

The English Revolution had started.
Chapter 64: Two crisis, two ends (1789-1791)
Chapter 64: Two crisis, two ends (1789-1791)

On August 18, after considering demanding help to Germany to "pacify" England, Charles IV finally recognized the demands of the protesters and a reform of his government was left in the capable hands of Rockingham. However, the king was in no mood for making any kind of concessions and most of the reactionary nobility, led by Edward, Prince of Wales, were arming themselves for an uprising while sending demands to the German emperor and even to the Tzar of Russia to back the counter-revolution. On September 9, the Radicals forced a debate over the rights of the Britons in this new regime; Rockingham was thus coerced to appoint a committee to draft a constitution and statement of rights. The drafting process would be marked by constant demonstrations in front of the parliament as the food shortages and the worsening economy caused frustration at the lack of progress, and led to popular unrest not only in London, but also in most of the big cities of England. When part of the soldiers sent to control the mobs joined them on September 15, Rockingham began to feel the pressure. Eventually, the Bill of Rights of 1789 was passed on September 22. The Bill firmly established the principles of frequent parliaments, free elections and freedom of speech within Parliament – known today as Parliamentary Privilege. It also included that no right of taxation without Parliament's agreement, freedom from government interference, the right of petition and just treatment of people by courts.

After the passing of the Bill, England enjoyed a period of calm from October 1789 to spring 1791. The centrist faction in the Parliament created a majority by forging consensus with the royalists. However, there was anger among the London proletariat, who felt excluded from the bill, as many of them had been disenfranchised by the measure. A new independent judiciary, with jury trials for criminal cases was created in July 1790 but by then the popular demands for universal suffrage and labour unions made the moderate deputies to feel uneasy about those proposals. Thus, they attempted, during the winter of 1790, to dismiss the poorer citizens from the -Home Guard and to introduce limits on use of petitions and posters, meeting only moderate success. In fact, as the bulk of the Parliament was made by either moderate MPs or those afraid of the radicals led by Jeremy Bentham, who, in spite of being barely one hundred, they were quite prone to protest any intervention in the Parliament who they deemed to be "too conservative". In fact, Bentham, angered from what he perceived as "the corruption of the reform process by the monarchists" and those moderates who "had betrayed England in exchange for the king's gold", on January 17, 1791, during a heated session in the Parliament, accused them of "conspiring against public liberty and general safety".

The resignation of Rockingham (April 2, 1791) and the ascension of William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, to the premiership further angered Bentham and the radicals, and this led to more demonstrations and to claims that the king was placing his minions to stop the reforms. In fact, Rockingham had suggested Cavendish as his replacement ot the king. Cavendish, who had been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was in fact the visible head of a coalition government that was ruled by Charles James Fox, but Cavendish was deeply uncomfortable with the reforms and devoted his energies to stall any further change in the governance of England. This led to more demonstrations and further inflammatory speeches of Bentham that threatened to cause a revolt. Cavendish's government fell on May 5, 1791 and was replaced by William Pitt, but it was too late. On June 14, a massive protest was held in Birmingham against the rise of the price of bread. Growing angier and the day grew on, the thousands strong crowd was surrounded by a tight cordon of soldiers. The anger did not vanish, but it was translated first into shouts, then into verbal attacks against the soldiers and then to hurl stones. When one soldier was struck and bloodied, his comrades fired. Over 40 protestors were killed in the “Massacre of Birmingham". When the news of the massacre were known, the whole country went aflame: every city was the scenario of widespread popular anger, and the government, in a fit of panic, resigned en masse on the following day.

In Hispania, the Hispanic Cortes were blocked by Pedro II's vetos of most of the measures taken by his Chief Minister and became very angry with de Varela's dissmisal. Thus, the king dissolved the Hispanic parliament and began to rule by himself. However, he needed the Cortes to raise the taxes and to have his revenue passed; he resorted to all the old taxes that he could raise without the approval of the Parliament, but they were too few to support his plans and they only helped to further enrage the country. Thus, on December 7, 1787, he called the Cortes back. Pedro López de Lerena (1734 - 1792) f was appointed as the new Chief Minister. In the first session (January 14, 1788), the parlamentarians, led by López de Lerena, used the king's appeal for money as a chance to discuss grievances against the Crown. As the negotiations went nowhere, Pedro II dissolved the Parliament on February 5. The Cortes were called again in August of the same year, and Pedro II had no better luck. For seven weeks the king battled with his Parlamentarians until he had to admit defeat. This was to be set in stone, as one of the Parlamentarians, Diego López de Tamudo, stated, and a series of Bills were passed reducing the power of the king while greatly empowering the cabinet of ministers. It was the beginning of the so-called "Parlamentarian dictatorship" (1788-1800).
Chapter 65: Sense and sensibility (1791-1797)
Chapter 65: Sense and sensibility (1791-1797)

As soon as Charles James Fox replaced Pitt at the head of an "Extraordinary Cabinet", he launched a widespread repression against the mutineers of June 14. However, he went even further in his measures: radical clubs and newspapers, while their leaders went into exile or hiding. Furthermore, all those members of the Parliament who had expressed their support to the rebels were barred from the next elections, which were to be held in September. As it could be expected, Fox's supporters won the September elections. With 282 of the 800 deputies, Fox controlled the biggest group in the Parliament. His rivals only mustered 242 deputies and the growing factionalism among the parliamentarian ranks allowed Fox to do his bidding for a time, until the Parliament became an ineffective body, compromised by divisions over the role of the monarchy, the rights of the citizens and the power of the Parliament itself. Finally, poor harvests and rising food prices led to unrest among the urban workers, who saw the new regime as failing to meet their demands for bread and work.

The situation became quite explosive when new elections took place in March. Fox saw his group enlarged to 300 deputies, but they were not enough to control the Parliament. The good news was the defeat of the radicals, now led by John Wordsworth, who were reduced to barely 145 deputies. On the bad side was the return of William Pitt at the head of 355 deputies, a centrist faction who switched votes depending on the issue, but many of whom shared doubts as to whether Charles IV was committed to the new constitutional order. By August 1792, Fox's inability to build a consensus in neither the Parliament nor in his political group resulted in its split, with only the moderates remaining at his side and the radical faction, 80 deputies all in all, departed to join Wordsworth's party. While loyalties constantly shifted and controlled roughly only 220 deputies, Fox finally resigned. Meanwhile Wordsworth was accused by his own party fellows of plotting to depose the monarchy and was replaced by Richard Sheridan, who, with 180 deputies, just sat in the Parliament, waiting for an opportunity to rise to power. Wordsworth, leading a small group of only 60 deputies, also waited for his moment. However, Pitt was now in control of the big moderate faction, which was formed now by 360 deputies.

To the great relief of many Britons, Pitt was able to stabilize England. Basing his politics in the ideas of the Enlightenment, Pitt promoted reformist ministers to the government and introduce progerssive reforms such as the provisions to favor the teachings of applied sciences, the protection of the Economic Societies measures of Friends of the Country and the confiscation assets belonging to hospitals, houses of mercy and hospices run by religious communities. His Foreign Policy revolved around a triple alliance with France and Aragon-Occitania, somethiung that it was finally achieved by the so-called "Treaty of Eternal Peace of Paris", signed in the French capital in 1797. By 1798 England was again at peace and its economy boomed under Pitt's reforms. Then, Pitt resigned as he "did not want to become a prime minister for life.

Meanwhile, Italy was in turmoil. Ferdinand Gastone de' Medici (1762 – 9 July 1820), the ninth Medicean Grand Duke of Tuscany, used the internal troubles of Milan to launch a surprise attack against the city and took it in 1797. Then, he added to his titles the Dukedom of Milan and proclaimed himself King of Lombardia. This caused many great worries in Rome, Frankfurt and Barcelona, as the neighbours of the new "king" were quite upset by this change in the Italian status quo. They were soon joined by the Pope Pius VIII. Facing this oppositon, Ferdinand de' Medici proclaimed a new, secular constitution and put an end to the temporal influence of the Papacy over his lands. Then, Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia offered an alliance to Aragon-Occitania. The pact was sealed with a marriage: Jaime, Duke of Urgell (1792-1817). one of the grandsons of the Aragonese king, was to marry Victor Amadeus's elder daugther, Maria Beatrice (1792 – 1840). The Italian chaos seemed to be on the verge of becoming an European war.
Chapter 66: The First Great War (1797-1799)
Chapter 66: The First Great War (1797-1799)

The Occitan-Sardinian alliance kicked out a chain of actions and counter-reactions. The new King, Carles VI (1796-1802), was worried that France and Hispania could unite forces against him if he supported Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia, even more as the German Empire threw its shadow over the North of Italy. Then, Pitt. from London, see the chance to unite his country by going to war. Then, the Hispanic Chief Minister, Diego López de Tamudo, made his move. He only had to take a side and he misjudged the English strength and joined France against Carles and Victor Amadeus. Thus he started a tragedy that would end with his head on a pike, a destroyed Hispania and a different Balkanic stage. But, wrong as López de Tamudo was, he could not foresee an unexpected event that crushed his calculations: the Greek revolution.

In the Summer of 1798 Greece erupted in flames as the whole country rose in arms against its Ottoman rulers. Austria supported the rebels and declared war on the Sultan. Russia, who was watching the developments in the area, jumped at the occasion and attacked too. Germany, fearing that Austria would be just brushed aside by the Russian Bear, who would take the biggest part of the Ottoman despoils, joined the war, too. Fought in the Balkans and in the Caucasus, the First Balkanic War originated in emerging 19th-century Balkan nationalism. Additional factors included the Russian goals of having direct access to the Mediterranean sea and supporting the political movement attempting to free Balkan nations from the Ottoman Empire. For the next three years, Russia, Austria, Germany and the Ottoman Empire would struggle to achieve its aims, with the Sultan fighting alone against his enemies, who were as busy pushing the Ottoman forces back as backstabbing each other. The war would end in 1780, with a British fleet protecting Istanbul and with the German and Russian Empires forcing the Ottoman Empire to recognize the independence of Romania and Greece, while Serbia and Bosnia became two Austrian protectorates. The Russian armies that had landed in Anatolia were forced to re-embark without their prize. As soon as the Ottomans fled, Prince Constantine Hangerli, the ruler of Wallachia, declared the independence of the principate; then the captured Târgoviște, the old Wallachian capital, in October 1798, thus beginning a bitter guerrilla war that ended being crushed by the Russians, who captured and executed Hangerli in 1799. He would be remembered by Vlachs as a martyr and as the first Vlach nationalist.

Meanwhile, the Italian war had extended beyond its borders. The Hispanic public cried out for war, but Diego López de Tamudo hesitated. If he declared war, it would likely entail an Anglo-Occitan-Sardinian Alliance, something which made him to feel uneasy, to say the least, even more with Germany moving away from Italy. However, France made an offer that he could not refuse. With the Occitan spoils France would be able to pay its debts to Hispania. Finally, López de Tamudo and the Cortes agreed as the Hispanic Parliament voted for war. Believing that Hispania was a military giant, on March 5, 1797, López de Tamudo sent the Hispanic armies against Barcelona supported by the bulk of the Hispanic fleet. In the first encounter, the Battle of Almansa (March 20), the Aragonese were pushed back, but the invaders suffered a great number of casualties, and the following attempt to storm Alicante (March 28) ended in defeat after several failed artillery barrages and infantry attacks. Then, the Anglo-Occitan fleet ambushed the Hispanic fleet off Valencia (April 5) and destroyed half of its ships. With this, López de Tamudo should have had enough and put an end to the war, but he was too stubborn to accept the defeat.

The Hispanic public was furious with López Tamudo and his ministers and open calls for his deposition and execution became quite common in the meetings of the Cortes. Meanwhile, the French armies had had no better luck in his invasion of Occitania and even if Victor Amadeus had been stopped dead in his tracks in front of the walls of Rome, no one deny that Toledo and Paris were in a rather sticky situation. Luis María Fernández de Córdoba y Gonzaga, Duke of Medinaceli (1759-1806), proclaimed the independence of Andalusia in January 1799. Meanwhile, English and Occitan fleets were regularly raiding the Hispanic colonies in America as the decimated Hispanic fleet was powerless to stop their forays. Then France declared its bankruptcy and pushed the Hispanic economy into the abyss. It was only a matter of time before someone took matters into their own hands to get rid of López de Tamudo once and for all. When the American colonies rebelled (with British and Occitan help) and declared their independence from Hispania in early February 1799, the question of deposing the Chief Minister was rushed forward. On February 18, 1799, an officer, Captain Luis Daoíz, stormed the Hispanic Parliament with his men and arrested López de Tamudo.

As soon as this was known around Spain, chaos ensued. On February 28, the Navarrese Parliament voted to leave Hispania; Aragon also formed its own country, the Republic of Aragon five days later; General Francisco Castaños, who was in command of the army send to put down Medinaceli, rebelled too and, with the help of his former enemy, formed the Republic of Castilla la Nueva (New Castile). In Toledo, a Provisional Government led by Benito Ramón Hermida Maldonado (1736-1814), deputy for Galicia in the Cortes, attempted to put order in the chaotic situation, but, as secessionist movements rocked not only the Hispanic America but also Hispania, it had little success. On April 20, Luis Rodríguez del Monte (1760-1812) declared the Republic of Galicia; on May 2 the Republic of Asturias was born and Andrés Ángel de la Vega Infanzón (1759-1836) became its first president; it was followed, on July 10, the Basque deputies led by Miguel Antonio de Zumalacárregui e Imaz (1773-1867) and in Bilbao proclaimed the Basque Republic. By the end of that month, Joaquín Maniau Torquemada (1767-1821) proclaimed the Repúblicas Unidas de Nueva Granada (United Provinces of New Granada).


Hispania and its neighbours in August 1799: Galicia (Brown), Asturias (Yellow), Hispania (Red), Basque Republic (Purple); Navarre (Grey)
Aragon (White), New Castile (Green), Andalucia (Blue), Occitània-Aragón (Orange).
Chapter 67: Catharism in the 19th Century (1800)
Chapter 67: Catharism in the 19th Century (1800)

Since the days of Eduardo V the number of Neo-Cathars within the Occitan empire had been on the rise. If by 1650s there were around 45 % of the inhabitants of some áreas in Occitania (Viscounties of Béziers, Carcassonne and Razes) and 30% in the counties of Toulouse, Bigorre, Béarn, Comminges, Foix and viscounty of Albi) or below 10% (Gascony), by 1800 the majority of the Occitans followed that faith . However, in the southern and center parts of Gascony and in Béarn its growth had almost frozen at 45% since 1640, while rose in Foix (to about 55%), Toulouse and Carcassone (60%) and it was estimated that half of the population of Provence and a quarter of the inhabitants of the Quercy were either Neo-Cathar or had some leaning towards that faith. In Catalonia, Neo-Catharism had been confined to Girona, where a third of its inhabitants were of that faith. However, there were small numbers of Neo-Cathars throughout the kingdom, from Barcelona to Alicante. The success of those dissenters who used a common form of public worship and of Christian initiation, shared a common form of organization and, with some variation and held dualist Christian beliefs was accepted not only by King Carles II but also by the government with some degree of fatalistic resignation. After all, several relatives of past and current ministers were among the ranks of the Neo-Cathars.

In Rome, Pius VII raged with impotence. Alexander VII (1655-1667) had sent several diplomatic missions to Occitània to persuade Jaime IV of Aragon not to tolerate heretics in his lands, but the king had managed to keep the pope busy with the accusations of nepotism that rained upon him after his nephew, Cardinal Flavio Chigi, assumed the position of cardinal-nephew. The administration was given largely into the hands of his relatives and Jaime IV used this to fuel the discontent within the Vatican; thanks to the weight of the Hispanic Church, the following popes were more easy to deal with, until Rome resumed its offensive with Innocent XI (1676-1689), who proved to be as cunning as stubborn as a rival. In spite of being focused on persuading the European powers in launching an offensive against the Ottoman Empire, he managed to pester Jaime IV and Enrique V with his demands of intervention against the heretics. The real attack began in 1682 with Alexander VIII (1689-1691), who threatened to excommunicate the Aragonese kings; however, Enrique V, with more pressing issues in mind, kept the Pope at bay by keeping the Neo-Cathars away from any position of power and by deporting some hundreds of them to the Hispanic colonies in Ameriga, first, and then to the settlements around Fuerte Navidad (Fort Christmas - OTL Natal) and El Cabo (Cape - OTL Cape Town). Apparently, this had broken the back of the heretics but, as Pius VII (1800-1823) was just discovering, this was further from the truth. In fact, as we have already seen, the Neo-Cathars had increased their numbers, even if in them their "Perfects" and followers were mixed,

Ironically, Rome's pressure had led to some divisions among the Neo-Cathars, as the group led by Jaume Banatge (1653 – 1723) that emerged in Barcelona around 1718, who rejected the dualist vision and replaced the Good of evil, that is, the Dieus estranh (the Foreign God) by a powerful Devil similar to the Catholic Lucifer, even if they kept the creational myth into place and the Earth and all the material things as being created by the Evil. Eventually, this group would emerge as a very powerful and important Neo-Cathar faction until the 19th Century; another group appeared in Valencia; with a former Catholic priest as its head, Oscar Godofreu, the faction added predestination and that Christ's redemption was only for the elect to the original teachings. This group was quite popular between 1735 and 1749, but, with the death of Godofreu, most of his followers returned to the original Neo-Cathar faith. Ramonet was a Neo-Cathar perfect in Lleida that also included predestination in his teachings; he was really popular in the 1740s, until the Neo-Cathar church send Maxenç Sabatier, who was commissioned to oppose Gottschalk’s teaching, In their public debates in Lleida Ramonet and Sabatier clashed over and over again, with Ramonet defending double predestination, while objecting to the relation of predestination to sin. In the end, Ramonet remained quite active and popular in Lleida until his death in 1769.

However, the most powerful "deviation" appeared in Tolosa during the last Days of December 1799. Francesc Xavier Llop (1728-1805) was a botanist, geologist, mineralist, mountaineer and Jesuit priest. He was born in Girona but his religious vision took him to Occitania and, in Toulouse, he became a central figure of the Occitan-Aragonese culture. He was a very popular figure, praised for his wisdom and culture. And then, barely after Christmas Day, 1799, during mass, he simply faded. Many thought him dead, as he had stopped breathing. And then, suddenly, he opened his eyes and said the words.

-I've seen the Lord.

Apparently, he had been visited by Metraton, the Voice of God. Confused and with a terrible headache, Llop simply brushed aside those who wanted to help him and left the Church of Nostra Senyora de la Daurada (Our Golden Lady) and vanished into his house, where he remained for the next two weeks. Then, on January 10, 1800, he went to his former church, to meet his former parishioners. He had heard the voice of the Lord, he said, that is, the living and true God, the God of light, the Father of the just, the Dieus dreyturier, the Dieus bonesa (God of goodness), to fight against the prince of darkness, Satan, the greatest devil, the serpent, the one the Cathars called the Dieus estranh (the Foreign God). Then, he went to meet the Neo-Cathar Good Men and Good Women, and told them the same. The Lord, el Payre sant, Dieu dreyturier de bons sperit (the Holy Father, righteous God of good spirits) had given him a message to convey to his sons.

As it may be expected, few of his listeners were thrilled by his message. Occitània could be a heaven of religious tolerance, but just on the surface. Deep within their souls, both Catholic and Good Men were convinced of the righthouness of their cause and the wickedness of their rivals. Thus, having Llop telling them that God wanted them united, Metraton dixit or not, was not too appealing to them. In any case, by the end of January 1800, Llop had a small group of followers of both faiths that had been conquered by his speech. However, it was obvious that little had been achieved. Thus, Llop decided to turn Tolosa into a Holy City. First, he devoted himself to write a book, a Holy one, with the words that Metraton had conveyed to him. At the same time, he send his followers to find a church for him. Of course, there were none. No priest was in the mood to give him one. So, he copied the ways of the original Good Men in their beginnings and, on March 1st, 1800, he addressed to the inhabitants of Tolosa from the main square of the city, la Plaça del Rei (King's Square). Surrounded by his followers, Llop began to talk, and kept talking and talking and talking until the sun set. Then, on the following day, he repeated the deed. He kept doing that day after day until Sunday. Then, he rested. By then people flocked to his side by the dozens, including people from outside the city.

Thus Llop began touring the cities of the whole Kingdom, from Tolosa to the North, to Alicante to the South. Many wonder about why so many people in Tolosa were joining Llop's side... until they experienced a sermon by him. Soon his sermons were copied and published around the country as Llop converted his first followers into his deacons and send them to spread the word. All in all, what Llop preached was nothing else that a "pure" version of the two faiths of Occitania. There was only one true God, who had defeated the treacherous Fallen Angel, and sent His Son to spread the Word. All in all, what Llop preached was a blurred mixture of Catholic and Cathar faiths but with high degree of patriotism and racism against those who had attempted to bring down the united Kingdom of Aragon and Catalonia, whose union was clearly devised by the Good God Himself. Amazingly, people were so moved by his sermons that soon his followers were counted by the thousands. Of course, the Neo-Cathar Chuch was horrified by such a message, that mixed their religion with racism and supremacism and, of course, refused to have anything to do with Llop, who, angered, called them false Christians.

The Occitan Catholic church was even more expeditious with Llop: they excomunicated him on March 21, 1800.
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Chapter 68: A new Man for Occitania (1800-1802)
Chapter 68: A new Man for Occitania (1800-1802)

Jaime VI of Occitània-Aragon had a new Chief Minister, Ebrard Seuba Soley, a scion of an old Occitan family which traced its roots to the low nobility of the county of Fox in the 11th Century. As the leader of the Upper House of the Occitan Parliament, Seuba was a quite experienced politician and he had earned a reputation as one of the foremost Conservatives in both sides of the Pyrenees and as a representative of the ultraconservative wing of the party. He had excelled as the "disciplinarian" of the party, keeping in line its members to vote for the right policies. If any high ranking member of the party wanted to rise to the top, Seuba was the man to take care of, until he saw that it was time for him to rise.

His appointment, though, was not universally well received. While those in the Parliament used to his ways where either in his side or sitting in the opposite banks, only those in the Progressive Party distrusted the image that he offered of himself as the firm hand on the ship of the state that the country needed. The general public, less informed about the ways of the Parliament, were in no opinion about the new Chief Minister but for those who read of newspapers that had begun to appear throughout the kingdom and, more informed that the average citizen of the realm, were more doubtful about Seuba. However, the new Chief Minister could not care less about them all. Determined to keep the stability and good governance of the realm, he kept most of the former ministers even if he replaced a few of them with men of his trust. As time was to prove, Seuba was determined to keep himself in power thanks to his deeds and deals and less about the public favour, who he deemed too unreliable and changeable. In front of the changing world, he was dead set on keep the kingdom at peace and as it was when he rose to power.

If some people had doubts about Seuba, his first measure did not endear him to them. A rise in the taxes to balance the treasure was not well taken, but if the "Lleis d'Assistència Pública" (the Aragonese version of the English Poor Laws), a system of poor relief in the kingdom, had to be kept in place, as repealing them would end in a popular revolt, there was no other option. Not willing to anger the landlords or businessmen -as this may led to his fast fall from power-, nor to overburden the poor -as this was an invitation for violence-, hardly had he spent a month as Chief Minister when he held a great meeting with his ministers, and trusted advisors to find a solution that resulted in the Tax Law of 1802, which introduced a series of minor changes, new taxes, reduced tariffs and new government offices to implement those changes. Following the example set in France by Charles Alexandre de Calonne, count of Hannonville (1734 - 1802), the Tax Law of 1801 was to put an end to the fiscal exemptions of the privileged religious orders. The law was followed by a package that included free trade in grain and abolition of the internal customs barriers between Aragon and Occitània. However, in the end Seuba was forced to tax the landlords and the businessmen, even if he had resisted to do so. The Law faced a great barrage of criticism, led by one of the most popular figures of the Conservative Party. Jaume de Copons i Tamarit (1773-1834), 16th Count of Sau, who accused Seuba of being a "dictator".

In spite of the political blacklash caused by the tax rise, Seuba did not suffer a loss, even if many people resented this measure far longer than Seuba had expected. Thus, with this question settled, he turned to foreign events. As England returned to normality, London and Barcelona resurrected their trade agreements and good began to flood their markets as before the English revolution. Meanwhile, the relations with the new Hispanic states were quite varied and, in some cases, quite difficult to deal with. As much as it may dsplease Seuba, the normalization of the diplomatic relations with those states were going to take longer than expected. Closer to home, the Chief Minister, a pragmatists to the chore, accepted and encouraged the alignment with Britain. Both countries agreed in their desire to avoid any commitment in the Ruso-German diplomatic conflict over the Balkans. as the Tsar wanted to have Romania alligned to the Russian interests as a compensation for the creation of Serbia and Bosnia as Austrian protectorates. A conflict seemed inevitable and soon France became allied to Britain and Occitania. Once the treaty of alliance was signed, Paris began to press for the French claims on several German holdings west of the Rhine, even if many of which were still majority German speaking, and this caught London by surprise, as the French made quite clear that a war over these provinces was not just inevitable but also desirable. Occitània, meanwhile, felt that France's policy was unacceptabl. Indeed, the major feeling in both London and Barcelona was one of fear. Tensions continued to rise along all of Germany’s borders and first Britain and then Occitània made plain clesr, by the Spring of 1801, that they would not support any war of aggresion. Ofcourse, Seuba was convinced that any coming French-German conflict would be an expensive disaster, as it would bring Russian into the battlefield, with little to gain for Barcelona. Of course, France found his position very frustrating, but they were determined that, with time, both Britain and Occitània would come to see Germany as the real threat that the Empire was.

Back in Italy, Ferdinand Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, was on the prowl again and, ironically, he caused an inversion of the alliances. Suddenly Occitània and the German Empire united against the warlike Grand Duke, who was supported by France. Seeing this, Britain attempted to persuade Paris not to support Medici, as his victory would put a French ally on the right flank of Occitània, and Barcelona was determined to avoid that threat by all means. Then, on the spring of 1802, to the surpirse of all parts involved, Russia moved closer to Germany. Tsar Alexander III (1777-1825) had been warned by his minister that Russia lacked the military strength to face Germany even if the Empire was divided in a two-front war against France and Russia, So, in order to have time to build up his forces, the Tsar dropped his claims over the Balkans and offered a friendly face to the German Kaiser. Not even the death of the old Emperor and the rise of the unexperience Kronprinz to the throne changed that. Karl VIII (1768-1825), the new ruler of Germania, was determined to crush France in its craddle, and the Russian friendly approach only strengthened his determination to go against France.
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Chapter 69: The Cholera epidemics
Chapter 69: The Cholera epidemics

An unexpected turn of events took place in 1803, when an epidemic ravaged Europe. It was the 1798–1809 cholera pandemic, It began near the city of Calcutta and spread throughout South Asia and Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Eastern Africa. It reached as far as Chin, the Mediterranean Sea (by 1802) and the United Kingdom (1803) before subsiding in 1809. The pandemic spread from Russia to the rest of Europe, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. By 1801, the epidemic had infiltrated Russia's main cities and towns; it brought havoc in Poland in February 1802. There were reported to have been 125,000 cases of cholera and 50,000 deaths in Russia. In 1803, it is estimated that up to 50,000 deaths occurred in Hungary. By early 1803, frequent reports of the spread of the pandemic in Russia prompted the British government to issue quarantine orders for ships sailing from Russia to British ports. By late summer, with the disease appearing more likely to spread to Britain, its board of health, in accordance with the prevailing miasma theory, issued orders recommendin the burning of "decayed articles, such as rags, cordage, papers, old clothes, hangings...filth of every description removed, clothing and furniture should be submitted to copious effusions of water, and boiled in a strong ley (lye); drains and privies thoroughly cleansed by streams of water and chloride of and continued admission of fresh air to all parts of the house and furniture should be enjoined for at least a week". From September 1804 to January 1805, a catastrophic cholera epidemic ravaged the lower Euphrates and Tigris regions of what is now Iraq and Iran. The Mandaean community was hit particularly hard, and, by the end of the plague there were only 150 Mandaean survivors. In Europe, the death toll claimed 15,000 lives in England, 45,000 in France, 55,000 in Occitània and around 65,000 in the Hispanic states. All over the world, millions of people died as a result of this pandemic This was the first of several cholera pandemics to sweep through Asia and Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries. This first pandemic spread over an unprecedented range of territory, affecting almost every country in Asia.

Its second bout (1831-1842) had high fatalities among populations in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. In 1835, which was considered the worst year, 23,000 people died in Great Britain. That year, the Belgian physician Johannes Sneeu, who was working in a poor area of Brussels, identified contaminated water as the means of transmission of the disease. After the 1836 outbreak he had mapped the cases of cholera in the city, and noted a cluster of cases near a water pump in one neighborhood. To test his theory, he convinced officials to remove the pump handle, and the number of cholera cases in the area immediately declined. His breakthrough helped eventually bring the epidemic under control. Sneeu was a founding member of the Belgian Royal Epidemiological Society, formed in response to a cholera outbreak in 1834; its example was soon followed by Grean Britain and Occitània in 1836, and by France and Hispania in 1838. In spite of the medical advances, the third (1863-1869) and fourth bouts (1887-1909) were to cause havoc in Asia, Africa and South America (which had also been badly hit for the first time by the third epidemic), but it was less fatal in Europe and North America.

One of the fatalities caused by the first bout was Ebrard Seuba, who died in 1803. Other notable deaths include several high ranking politicians, as the Hispanian First Minister Fernando Carrillo de Albornoz y Salazar; Pope Leo XIV and a third of the College of Cardinals, something that delayed the naming of a new Bishop of Rome. In Africa, the repeated waves of cholera decimated the emerging local kingdoms. The Funj Sultanate, already in decline since the he 18th century, was so punished by the cholera that it was easily conquered by Egypt in the 1820s. The Sultanate of Darfur followed suit and became also a victim of the Egyptian during their expansion through Sudan. Other kingdoms, like Buganda or Bunyoro, where so weakened by the epidemic that they would become an easy prey for the Euopean expasion towards the end of the 19th Century. In a word, the pandemia had fatally damaged Africa, which was powerless to face the future European onslaught.

The first test for Africa came in 1810, when an English expedition landed in Madagascar. The island, which had resisted the Portuguese and Catalan attempts to establish trade posts in their shores, Spared from the cholera but for minor bouts, Madagascar was weakened by its division between different states which was worsened by the all-out war started by Radama I of Imerina. who embarked in 1810, when he was 17 yeas old, in an attempt to unify the island by conquering all its kingdoms. In 1816, with a bloody stalemate reigning over the frontlines, the arrival of an Occitan ambassador settled the issue. With Occitan help, Radama I was to begin its second attempt to conquer the island, something that he had almost achieved by 1821 when he was murdered. His heir, Rakotobe, his nephew, was to prove an easy pray for the Occitan ambassadors, who had little problems to manipulate him. This would cause a rebellion against the young king, who was deposed and murdered in 1828. His aunt Ranavalona became then queen, but she was even less lucky than his predecessor and was also deposed and murdered in 1839. By then the murderous ways of Ranavalona had decimated the population of Madagascar, which is estimated to have declined from around 5 million to 2.5 million between 1833 and 1839, leaving it open to the Occitan conquest.

However, the most enduring feature of the Cholera epidemic would be the so-called "Epiphany of 1825".
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Chapter 70: The Epiphany of 1825
Chapter 70: The Epiphany of 1825

Ironically, the legacy of Francesc Xavier Llop was to undo his plans. Llop had envisaged the union of Catholic and Neo-Cathars, but in the end he set in motion a series of events that were to enlarge the differences not only between Neo-Cathars and the rest of Christian branches but also between those branches and to give raise to a new age of intolerance and fanaticism unseen since the Middle Ages. Its first spark appeared in Burgos, where Manuel Alonso de Viado (1775-1837) published in 1825 The Biography of Living Men, the first of a series of books centered on "the light of philosophy", which was not only to "banish worries", but also to show other men "the path of virtue", propagate "the sublime principle of tolerance" to drastically change the course of its history; a history marked, "from the most remote antiquity", by religious fanaticism. Viado blamed the Visigoths for all the Hispanic troubles for introducing Christianity, "against the intention of its founder", a religious intolerance to which they attribute the greatest "misfortunes that history describes to us in its annals": the crusades, the wars of religion, the expulsion of Jews... He also recognized that, during the Middle Ages, intolerance was common to all of Christendom. When modernity emerged, the paths of Hispania and Europe diverged. Philosophy and cult tolerance spread in northern Europe. In Hispania, on the contrary, religious superstition and political despotism joined hands in the 16th century "to openly violate the rights of humanity, to oppress the people, to brutalize them and reduce them to the harshest servitude." Thus, the only way to recover the past greatness went through reason, which was placed above divine revelation and down-graded religious authorities. The Hispanic Church, which had been heavily hit by the dissolution of Hispania, was ill-positioned to face this new onslaught.

In Britain, its colonial successes, the outcome of the "Briton Revolution and the Cholera epidemic of 1825 led to a religious fever racing through the isles. In fact, the suffering caused by the cholera was the cause behind the distinctive concept of "calling" that developed among the Britons. Convinced that the ordeals suffered from the end of the One Hundred Years War to the Cholera seemed to be obviously crafted by the hand of God Himself to test the true nature of the Britons. Convinced they were preserved because of God's wisdom and Providence ; furthermore the suffering which they experienced and the strong bonds that they formed in response to it, seemed to confirm this idea at every turn. Their history as a people has a central place in the formation of the British religion. In this way, a distinctive folk character became attached to their beliefs. The experience of the Britons was interpreted through their assurance that their absolutely sovereign Creator and their Lord had shown special grace to them as a favoured people. John Willian Jones led a movement called the Awakening, which was the main driving force through the modernization of the Briton faith. Jones pressed for the introduction of new hymns (instead of just using the Psalms), the creation of Sunday schools and Bible study classes or meetings, and prayer meetings. As the Neo-Cathar had done, Jones gave an enhanced position to women, who were sometimes key figures of the movement. He also created a series of movements (such as scouts) which helped spread the Reformed message across Briton society and created foreign missions organisations to expand the message abroad.

However, the more conservative Britons were opposed to singing some hymns in church and created the Segregated Reformed Church of England in February 1829. Nicknamed as the Puritans, the severity of their doctrine, the austere puritanism of their worship, and even in their distinctive dress and speech, set them in stark contrast to the average Briton Reformed. European influence. Nevertheless, the Puritans, were symbolic of resistance to all things foreign in England, and despite their small size and distinctiveness they were culturally sophisticated and disproportionately influential, even more when they established the Saybrook University. It was there where the theoretical formulation of Afrikaner nationalism would take place. Soon the Puritans were waging an intellectual war not only against the other Reformed Britons but also against the perceived influx of the foreign immigrants that settled in England, lured by the economic boom caused by the colonial trade. The Puritans also refused all the attempts of the Reformed Church of Britain, which was seen by the trekkers as being an agent of the government. There were also religious divisions among the Puritans themselves. The Reformed Scottish Church would emerge as an independent institution both of the Church of England and of the Segregated Reformed Church when it was constituted in 1846.
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Chapter 71: Europe after the cholera epidemic (1800-1805)
Chapter 71: Europe after the cholera epidemic (1800-1805)

Plagues or not, Eduard Banach, the new Chief Minister of the Catalano-Occitanian Kingdom, faced a very volatile international situation. His peers in the Parliament trusted him as he was a competent if conventional politician who had proved himself to be not only a pragmatic politician but also a hard worker during his time as Minister of the Treasury (1795-1800) and during his tenure as Major or Valencia (1792-1794). He was known to be in favour of the so-called "Armed Neutrality”, that is, to build a very powerful Armed Forces to support Britain against Germany but without fully committing to the war. This position was, by 1803, become popular among most of the kingdom and also the king, Jordi II (1793-1801). With the royal backing and his good record, Banach had little trouble securing the support of not only his party but also from the majority of the Parliament mere weeks after his rise to power.

His aim on the European situation was clear: to avoid any direct participation in any conflict. He even made a call for a peace conference to settle disagreements and to find a workable settlement. Thus, letters were sent to the various courts of Europe, offering to mediate in such a conference. This was immediately rejected by Berlin, much to the chagrin of Banach, who was caught by surprise by the sudden rise to power of the Germany War Party. An angered French "ally" simply refused even to accept the letter as the Catalan-Occitan ambassador was labelled as a "traitor" in the French Parliament. By early May, the Briton ambassador in Barcelona made quite clear the mindset of the Briton government: driven by a desire to preserve the balance of power on the continent, London feared that any peaceful settlement would only led to a German onslaught against France and its eventual defeat, making Berlin the effectively unchallenged in Europe. Then, in December 1803, the Catalan branch of the Reform Party unexpectedly threw their weight against the government and the Defence Bill 1803, which oversaw a reduction in the military spending, was defeated. Ironically, this worked in favour of Banach and boosted its policy of “active neutrality”. It was rather amusing that the move of the so-called "Peace Faction" had only worked in favour of the Chief Minister. The final Bill of 1803 was to see an increase in the spending devoted to the Army, which grew at the expense of the Navy, as the budget for new ships was frozen. Banach was sure that the Briton Navy would prove protection against the German fleet.

Hoping then that the increase in the military spending and his "Armed Neutrality" would make Kaiser Karl VIII of Germany gave his assent to his "peace talks”, he redoubled his efforts in January 1804, but they came to naught when the cholera bout reached Europe. As the corpses began to pile up and Banach, as all the Europeans scrambled for solutions. Economies collapsed as governments fell and rose. The administrations took preventive measures to stop the advance, believing in the classic epidemic theories of the time. Banach persuaded King Jordi II to authorize him to send, in June 1804, a medical commission composed of Pere María Rubí, and Francesc Paula i Folch, with the aim of studying the effects of cholera in cities such as Paris, Vienna and Munich; the result of his trip being the report sent from Berlin on May 31, 1805. Some of the measures were based on the creation of sanitary cordons, quarantines in lazarettos, sectorized isolation of the population, and the establishment of hospitals. The hygienic conditions of some populated cities were improved, with streets being cleaned more frequently. A Curative Plan for Morbid Cholera was published. The first controversy arose when the sanitary cordons began to be applied to certain segments of the population: some doctors did not agree with its application because they had dubious efficiency, in addition to paralyzing economic activities. Some doctors, however, agreed with the measures and adopted them at their own discretion since there was no central health authority.

In the end, the epidemic lasted for one year, five months and twenty-two days in Aragon-Occitània; almost 100,000 people were affected, 2% of the population, and half of them died (55,000). This outbreak of cholera was treated very discreetly by the press. For example, in the Barcelona press the real situation was concealed until the outbreak reached the city. It was feared that the disease would paralyze commercial activities. Ironically, the controversies about possible scientific treatments and the discussions about the most effective ones were the real causes of social alarm, even if it is worth highlighting that Banach's vaccination campaign was the most successful in Europe. In any case, the frequent miraculous treatments plagued the population and caused some troubles to the doctors, as there was no shortage of healers who "healed" through prayers, magic words and signs. The level of destitution in the Aragonese-Occitan cities was high; Since the end of the 18th century, the number of people in these conditions in large cities has not stopped growing. This social group was the one that led popular revolts, some directed against the Church and others against other hierarchical bodies of power. Their lifestyle, lacking hygiene, food and basic means, made them one of the targets of the disease. Cities and towns were isolated and suffered access controls. Walled cities used walls as an "access barrier." The suspects were taken to the lazarettos, where the massed arrival of patients increased the rate of mortality.

Even worse, the pandemic destroyed the overseas trade that the the European economies relied on, causeing the Stock Crash of 1804, one of the worst economic disaster in European history. In short, to the devastation caused by the cholera bout we must add the deaths caused by the poverty, unemployment, starvation and social collapse brought by the pandemic and the following crisis that devastated the economies.

By 1805 the devastation brought the masses to despair and, in on March 1805, Venice, devastated by the disaster as the epidemic decimated its population, crowded within its old buildings and decaying infrastructured and suffering of a terrible hangers as the food imports for its supply vanished as the trade collapsed, managed to produce a general anger that ended in riots that, eventually, developed in full revolt as the city fell into chaos an a revolutionary committee seized control of the city on April 12 of that year. Soon similar committees appeared in Torino, Milan and Firenze. Vienna was horrified by this turn of events, so when Kaiser Karl VIII of Germany offered a helping hand to his Austrian cousin, Franz IV, the German troops were meet with exhilarating happiness in Austria but with less enthusiasm in Italy. Thus, when the German and Austrian troops stormed Milan on June, Franz IV rushed to pronmise a deep reform of the Italian states as "their protector and sovereign".

Thus, with the German shadow looming over North Italy, France, Aragon-Occitània and the Briton Empire refused to accept the fait accompli. Russia made clear that it was willing to support Berlin... for a prize.

Hardly recovered from the cholera epidemics, Europe seemed to be on the verge of a war.
Chapter 72: The Second Great War: 1805
Chapter 72: The Second Great War: 1805

The war began in 1805 in the most peculiar way when Ferdinand Gastone de' Medici, King of Lombardia, after putting down the revolts of Torino, Milan and Firenze, proclaimed his intention of reuniting Italy and released his armies against Venice in June 1805, which prompted the Austro-German declaration of war. It is unknown what Medici, the enfant terrible of Italy, hoped to achieve by that, as his correspondence and diary is erratic and, at the best of times, they provide with an inch of useful information. From what historians have managed to understand, de Medici hoped that his intervention and the Austro-German reaction would cause the combined French and Briton reaction that would save him and would help him to achieve his dream of becoming king of Italy. This caused an explosion of activity when President Hugues-Bernard Maret (1763-1839) ordered the French army to invade the pro-German Duchy of Burgundy (July 10, 1805); General Charles-François du Périer Dumouriez, with 20,000 men, crossed the Burgundian border and waited for the Britons to help him with an Expeditionary Force, was the pre-war plans said. Thus, Dumouriez waited in vain at Breda until the German army under Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, crossed the Roer River on 1 March with 39,000 men and drove him back near Aldenhoven. The next day Dumoriez withdrew back to France. Then, he defended the French border, defeating Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel at Maubeuge on 18 March, and again at Valenciennes on 21 March. With the French back to the starting line and with the main offensives taking part in the North of Italy, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel restricted himself to launching a few raids to keep Dumoriez in check, not fully aware of the degree of the French weakness and troubles that Dumouriez had, as Maret was considering to remove him from command.

Meanwhile, the German Army of the Rhine under the command of Frederick von Hesse kept the French and the Aragonese-Occitan attention fixed on the river. Thus, unless a Briton expeditionary force reached Italy in a very short time, the so-called King of Lombardía would be on his own. Initially, the German and Austrian troops numbered about 125,000 men. However, before von Hessen started the campaign in the Rhineland, 25,000 of these men were sent with Sigmund von Wurmser as reinforcements to Italy for the planned offensive there. Thus, as Dumoriez kept quiet in the north, 15,000 were taken from Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel's army and sent to the Rhine. The German strategy was to capture Trier and to use this position on the west bank to strike at each of the French armies in turn. This, with the King of Lombardy utterly crushed, the Allies would be forced to negotiate a very unfavorable peace. However, the Britons were not to act as expected. First, a Briton army (20,000 strong) was sent to France under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor, which was to prove his might just after a few crashes, which forced von Hessen back to a defensive position. The second Briton army landed in Italy. Just as an Aragonese-Occitan army landed in Sardinia, General Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount Lake, joined hands with the King of Lombardy and a small Aragonese-Occitan contingent on the gates of Venice. The Allied Army had thus 80,000 men on the field (40,000 French, 15,000 Aragonese-Occitan and 25,000 Britons) to face Feldzeugmeister Joseph Nikolaus de Vins' 45,000 Austrian soldiers. Under the command of the French General de División François Christophe de Kellermann, the Allied army attacked the Austrian defensive line around Venice (July 24, 1805) and captured a few key positions though it was repulsed and Kellermann ordered a phased withdrawal to a more defensible position by 7 August, 1805.

Having saved Venice, replenished his stocks of food and ammunition and reinforced his army, de Vins marched against Kellerman, and the two armies. 60,000 Austrians soldiers took by surprise the 45,000 strong Allied army when they assaulted the Allied army at Bergamo (24 November 1805), breaking its center and forcing its retreat. Kellerman, leaving behind 40 cannons. withdrew from the field and withdrew behind the fortified line of Milano. Once there, Kellerman was fired as reinforcements rushed to the city and the Aragonese-Occitan General Joan Antoni Meràs took command of the Allied Army. The Allies had lost 10,000 men in the battle for 3,000 French casualties. With the first snow covering the field, the Italian campaign came to an end.

One the Rhine, the German military strategy against France called for a three-pronged invasion to break the front followed by a fast march towards Paris, ideally capturing the city and forcing France to surrender. The French assembled the Army of Sambre and Meuse commanded by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan against the German Army of the Lower Rhine in the north. The Aragonese Army of the Rhine, led by Joan Miramond, covered the southern part of the front. The troubles of Kellerman in Italy forced the transfer of 50,000 men to Italy, weaking the Allied force and a German feint worsened the situation as Jourdan shifted troops to the north. Then, von Hessen crossed the Rhine at the Battle of Strasbourg on 24 June and defeated the French force there. Then, the German armies penetrated deep into western France by late July. To do so, von Hessen extended his lines too thinly and Jourdan was able to leave General Jean Moreau with a weaker army in front of the German southern flank and move the bulk of his army and most of the reinforcements to face the German army in the north. At the Battle of Châlons-en-Champagne (August 24) and the Battle of Sainte-Menehould (September3), Jordan defeated the German northern army and von Hessen, understanding he had overextended himself, retreated first to Nancy. Failing his first move, von Hessen attacked the Aragonese Army of the Rhiney, just to find a very well entrenched and fortified enemy waiting for him. Thus, von Hessen left Franz von Werneck to watch the Aragonese, making sure it did not try to move behind Nancy.

The last battlefield of the first year of the war was Corsica. It was fought in the spring and summer of 1805 by combined Aragonese land and British naval forces against a Corsican rebel army. Just as Ferdinand Gastone de' Medici withdrew the bulk of the garrison to reinforce his army moving towards Venice, the Corsicans, led by Pasquale Paoli, had risen in revolt. The Aragonese saw the opportunity to control the island and launched an invasion with British support. The campaign centred on sieges of three principal towns in Northern Corsica; San Fiorenzo, Bastia and Calvi, which were in turn surrounded, besieged and bombarded until by August 1805 the rebel forces had been crushed.
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Chapter 73: The Second Great War: 1806-1807
Chapter 73: The Second Great War: 1806-1807

The invasion of Corsica added an unexpècted value to the Aragonese-Occitan army: a flood of Corsican volunteers led by a Captain of the Home Guard, Napoleone di Buonaparte. He had proved to be a valuable asset during the liberation of the island and was noticed by the Aragonese commanders. Thus, at the head of the "Corsican Aragonese Brigade", he landed in Italy to join the campaign of General Meràs against the Austrian invaders. On July 10 Johann Beaulieu's forces attacked Genoa. The ensuing battle was decided when Buonaparte's brigade attacked the isolated right wing and forced the Austrian withdrawal. However, the next day Beaulieu defeated the Allied Army at the Battle of Millesimo; two days later it was the turn of the Aragonese, and they won the Second Battle of Dego, driving the Austrians northeast, away from their Piedmontese allies. A week later, on 28 April, the Piedmontese signed an armistice at Cherasco, withdrawing from the hostilities. On 18 May they signed a peace treaty at Barcelona, ceding Savoy and Nice to Aragon-Occitània.

With the Austrians temporarily inert, part of the Aragonese army was sent to reinforce the Rhine front. With them went Buonaparte, who by then had been promoted to Colonel and commanded a whole Division which included his old Brigade. The reinforcements arrived just in time. On May 1 von Hessen carried out a brilliant flanking manoeuvre, and moved to Sainte-Menehould. The French retreated after the Battle of Chaudefontaine, but had their rear-guard mauled at Valmy on 10 May, after which the French retook Sainte-Menehould. Buonaparte crossed the Rhine leading the advance of the Aragonese Army of the Rhine under General Miramond and drove off the Germans in the Battle of Müllheim. In June began the siege of Breisach. During July and August, Germany sent a fresh army to Breisach under Ernst von Rüchel. In spite that von Rüchel was unable to break the siege, in the end Miramond was forced to withdraw and to recross the Rhine due to the lack of supplies.

In September von Hessen resumed his attack against Metz as the Italian front became stalled, but Jourdan had already marched towards Nancy, but he was stopped at the battle of Luneville (September 6) with great losses. Jourdan then withdrew with a large portion of his surviving troops, but he was saved in early October by the arrival of a new army under General Jean-Baptiste Bessières. After Luneville, the armies withdrew to their winter quarters and prepared for the next campaign.

Determined to end the war, King Jordi III (r. 1801-1810) raised Buonaparte to one of the highest ranks of the Aragonese military, that is, General of the Army, and placed him as Commander in Chief of the Italian theatre of war. Hoping that the Rhine would hold, Jordi III staked everything on the success of the Corsican general. However, the Austrian army hir first. Field Marshal Joseph Alvinczy, Freiherr von Berberek's plan was to rush and overwhelm Buonaparte in the mountains east of Lake Garda by concentrating 28,000 men in five separate columns, and thereby gain access to the open country north of Mantua where Austrian superior numbers would be able to defeat the smaller Aragonese Army of Italy. Alvinczi, however wasn't aware of the Aragonese reinforcements sent to Italy and when he attacked Buonaparte on March 12, the Corsican general had 20.000 men with him. Then, Buonaparte held Alvinczi off and then, on March 14, attacked him on favorable ground just north of Rivoli, on the Trambasore Heights. The battle would be a race between Alvinczi's efforts to concentrate his dispersed columns versus the arrival of Aragonese reinforcements to Buonaparte. By the time Alvinczy was able to unite three Austrian columns, Buonaparte attacked and drove the Austrians from the chapel of San Marco. The Austrians viciously counterattacked counterattacked the Aragonese forces on the Trambasore Heights while attempting to turn the Aragonese right via the Rivoli gorge.

Making the best of interior lines and his advantage in artillery, Buonaparte massed a battery of 15 guns and poured canister shot at point blank range into the advancing Austrian column that was emerging from the gorge while the brigade of Carles Lluch laid down heavy flanking fire from San Marco. With the flanking manoeuvre collapsing, Joseph Ocskay renewed his attack in the center but after a vicious fight. By midday Ocskay's troops were driven back to the positions they occupied in the morning. With more Aragonese reinforcements moving towards the battlefield, Alvinczy withdrew his forces. The Aragonese-Occitans lost 3,000 killed and wounded and 1,200 captured, while the Austrians suffered 8,000 killed and wounded, plus 4,000 men and 40 guns captured. Buonaparte stated in his report the Austrians had suffered 14,000 casualties.

On the Rhine, von Hessen was defeated at Valmy by Bessières (March 15, 1807). The French lost 6,000 killed and wounded while the Germans suffered 8,000 killed and wounded, plus 2,000 men and 10 guns captured. In spite of the defeat, von Hessen was able to recross the Rhine with the bulk of his forces. However, with Buonaparte readying his plans to invade Austria, Franz IV made a desperate demand of support to his cousin Karl VIII of Germany while in London there was an increasing pressure to end the war.

Then, Tsar Alexander III of Russia had a cunning plan...
Chapter 74: The Phony War, 1807-1808 (I).
Chapter 74: The Phony War, 1807-1808 (I).

The threat of a Russian intervention led London, Paris and Barcelona to reconsider their options. They had no intention to return to the pre-war situation without a lengthy compensation. Austrsias was positively eager to make peace, and they might well have agreed to terms that would left the borders as they stood in 1804. To have secured a compromise peace, then, would have been comparatively easy. But Karl VIII of Germany was prepared to make no concessions and had to be persuaded by Alexander III of Russia. Eventually, the Treaty of Radstadt (December 21, 1807) ended the first phase of the Second Great War (1805-1807). Beyond the usual clauses of "firm and inviolable peace", the treaty transferred a number of Austrian territories into the hands of Ferdinand Gastone I, King of Lombardia. Lands ceded included tthe Ligurian Republic and the Duchies of Milan and of Parma, while Corsica was confirmed as an independent Republic under an Aragonese protectorate. The Duchies of Mantua, of Modena and Reggio, of Ferrara and of Massa and Carrara were combined into the Great Cisalpine Duchy and given to the younger son of Ferdinand Gastone, Guisseppe (1792 – 9 July 1868).

The second part of the treaty was to prove Alexander's master strike. After lengthy discussions and a great deal of Russian pressure, Karl VIII was able to save his Burgundian ally but he had to renounce to the German Netherlands. And there troubles arose. France wanted to annex the Burgundian Netherlands while both the United Kingdom and the Aragonese-Occitan Union were determined to avoid it, as neither London nor Barcelona wanted France to expand in that direction as it would gave Paris a lever to use in the trade routes of Northern Europe. This topic almost led to a split between the Allies, even if, eventually, it was accepted that France annexed the counties of Artois, Flander, Nevers and Rethel. It was a hard pill to swallow by Franz Johann, Duke of Burgundy (1768 – 1835). Not even the promise of a not too distant revenge pacified the angered Duke.

If the British-French-Aragonese alliance resisted together, Germany was far from defeated in spite of the negative result of the Rhenish campaign. Even worse, King Jordi III of Aragon was beginning to feel attracted by the idea of annexing the Republics of Aragon and Navarre and felt confident that the campaign would be short enough for him to be able to support France in case of German aggression. Thus, the Aragonese-Occitan Generals began to plan the invasion of Aragon and Navarre that was to take place in 1808. Unable to see that his plans only worked in Germanys' favour, Jordi III had opened the gate for a dangerous path that Aragon was to walk during nearly six years. The excuse for the Aragonese expansion was the explosion of popular anger in some areas of the independent Hispanic states against either the oppresive powers that emerged after the declaration of independence or the "ungodly" liberal regimes that followed.

The first example appeared in Aragon and rised the hopes of Jordi III. On May 24, 1806 Ramón Gayán who, with his brother Mariano and his friend Antonio Lomba, issued a proclamation against the "fiendish" liberal government of Juan Polo y Catalina and formed a guerrilla. Audacious and reckless in his guerrilla image, Gayán had such quick and daring resolutions that he confused and deceived the government columns that were pursuing him without being able to reach him. As soon as he appeared in the vicinity of Cuenca or Albarracín or on the slopes of Frasno or the castle of Calatayud. The loyalist troops suffered many casualties in the persecution with too little to show in exchange. Soon Fernando García Marín followed Gayán's steps and launched several raids against the loyalist holdings in the border with the Aragonese kingdom.

In Navarre, Pablo Morillo's guerrilla was quite active around Vitoria, where he was quite successful. In 1806, from June to September of that year, he conquered Vitoria and its surrounding area, where he proclaimed the "Reino de España" with himself as the head of the Regency government "until the return of the king. Using this as an excuse, Jordi III moved part of the Aragonese army of Italy to the Navarrese border and invaded tbe so-called Navarrese Commonwealth in Decembrer 1806 and brutally crushed the under-prepared Navarrese border garrison and marched southwards towards Pamplona. Polo and his ministers fled to Burgos, where he was given assylum by the Potentante of the Great Republic of the New Castile, Hermida Maldonado. At once, Potentate Hermida Maldonado demanded the Aragonese withdrawal from Navarre and closed the Aragonese embassy in Burgos.
Chapter 75: The Phony War, 1807-1808 (II).
Chapter 75: The Phony War, 1807-1808 (II).

In a last ditch attempt, London sent Sir Charles Stuart, son of the Lieutenant-General The Honourable Sir Charles Crichton-Stuart, younger son of Prime-Minister John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. Stuart was sent as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in an effort to persuade New Castile and Aragon to keep peace at all costs. However, it was in vain. Fervor in New Castile was palpable, and flags adorned every house. Thousands of men rushed to the colors and the Castilians flooded the streets in a display of national pride. The honor of the nation was at stake. Meanwhile, in Aragon-Occitania, the people also flocked to the colors, though many were wary of going to war with New Castile when the German threat still loomed on the horizon. King Jordi was a very popular monarch but many feared the whole Navarrese annexation was to turn into a fiasco. If Aragon went to war with New Castile, the German Empire would almost certainly take the chance to attack, forcing them to fight a two-front war.

Jordi II wasn't a stupid man, and knew full-well that to avoid a two-front war, New Castile had to be crushed as soon as possible. On September 5, 1807, the Great Republic of the New Castile declared war upon the United Kingdom of Aragon and Occitania. On September 7, 10,000 men under the command of General Gregorio García de la Cuesta marched towards Zaragpza, but they were stopped by the Aragonese fortifications at Granja de San Pedro. As skirmishers and cavalry patrols clashed around the small village, García de la Cuesta mustered his army for a direct assault against the center of the line, at the village itself. To achieve complete surprise, a feint was organized to pretend that a two-pronged attack was coming. The Aragonese commander, Antonio Malet, did not wait for García de la Cuesta to attack him and deployed in the open field outside the village. In the end, the superior numbers of the New Castilian cavalry decided the day and Malet's men run away just to be chased by the cold steel of the Castilian horsemen. It was a complete rout.

Hoping to catch New Castile busy with Aragon, Luis Joaquín Fernández de Córdoba y Benavides, Duke of Medinaceli, who had succeed his father as the new Dictator of Andalucia, after systematically purging his government of all who opposed him, used the oportunity to launch a surprise attack against Ciudad Real on September 12, 1807. It was then when the former Captain Luis Daoíz (now Marshall Daoíz, President of the Hispanic Republic) decided to move against Andalucia to punish the traitor who had brough the doom to Hispania. As soon as the news of the Hispànic troops entering into Andalucia, Medinaceli stopped the offensive, which had barely started to move foward. Medinaceli was furious and demanded vengeance. His army marched north, torchinig villages along its line of withdrawal. Then, skirmishers and light cavalry awere left behind in New Castille as the bulk of the Army marched against the Hispanic forces. This rearguard launched a vicious campaign of revenge, pillaging and burning frontier towns and taking the scalps of New Castille inhabitants. It was something that New Castille was neither to forget not to forgive.

Just as Hispanic and Andalusian troops skirmished along the border, García de la Cuesta advanced towards Valencia (late October 1807). He aimed to take the Valencian shipyards, cutting a third of the Aragonese naval production and thus damaging its chances to protect its islands. Bringing with him German-made siege morters, García de la Cuesta hoped to take Valencia with ease. However, when December began and the siege was still going on, García de la Cuesta simply lost its temper and ordered a general assault. The Aragonese garrison, aware of their situation, mined the large gaps in the wall and prepared for the imminent assault. With three large breaches in the wall and Jorge III himself on the march to relieve the city, García de la Cuesta ordered his regiments to assault the city at 10:00 a.m. on December 6 and the troops entered with ladders and various tools. As the first waves of the assault troops reached the breaches, the mines exploded and the defenders poured a lethal hail of musket fire at the troops at the base of the gap. The New Castille sodliers arrived in waves and rushed towards the wall, facing a murderous artillery barrage of muskets and grenades, stones, barrels of leaded gunpowder and even bundles of burning hay. The furious barrage of artillery devastated their lines and the gap soon began to fill with dead and wounded. Despite the massacre, the redcoats bravely continued to arrive in waves of great numbers, only to be mowed down by endless volleys and shrapnel from grenades and bombs.

In just two hours, some 4,000 men had been killed or seriously wounded in the main breach, while an unknown number were shot in the other two. Wherever they attacked, the New Castille soldiers were stopped and the carnage was so great that García de la Cuesta ordered to stop the assault. The falling sun revealed the horror of the massacre was revealed at the wall. The bodies were piled up and the blood flowed like rivers in the ditches and trenches. The assault and the previous skirmishes had caused some 6,800 casualties on the New Castille side. The elite Infantry Division had lost 60% of their men. With Jorge III just about to reach the city, García de la Cuesta ordered his battered army to withdraw.
Chapter 76: The Phony War, 1808-1809 (III).
Chapter 76: The Phony War, 1808-1809 (III).

In late 1808, just a Hispanic fleet sailed along the shores of the United Provinces of New Granada, this was felt as the opportune moment for the Loyalists to recover the former Viceroyalty and to join the Hispanic Republic. Rising in arms, the Loyalists led by Juan Pío de Montúfar deposed the president of the Republic, Joaquín Maniau Torquemada. The forces of de Montúfar crushed all of his enemies and prepared himself to take absolute power. Radicals were moving in from Venezuela and there, led by Antonio Villavicencio , they had already established the "Hispanic Republic of Venezuela", united to Hispania but independent from New Granada. In the Peninsula, too removed from the American theatre of war and with a two-front war, Daoiz, the Hispanic Prime Minister, was forced to remain neutral in the incoming conflict, at least while the Peninsular situation remained unsolved.

Meanwhile, in Aragon, General Napoleone di Buonaparte had finally arrived with reinforcements and marched against García de la Cuesta, who had been reinforced with another army, this one led by General Francisco Javier Castaños, However, neither García de la Cuesta nor Castaños were able to stand their grounds and Buonaparte decisively whipped their armies from the field and prepared his forces to march towards Toledo. Then, by early February 1809, a 20,000 strong army departed from Asturias and marched southwards, towards León. With this invasion going on, García de la Cuesta found himself without reinforcements while Castaños, leaving the bulk of his battered forces in the eastern front, was recalled to Ávila to organize the defence against the Asturian invaders. Then, fate struck.

On March 10, 1809, the Briton General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, landed with 20,000 men near San Sebastián and moved fast to secure the Republic before moving east to link with the Aragonese forces. By March 21, Pitt was on the Navarrese border, and there the defenders hailed his arrival with a ferocious bombardment as Pitt attempted to break through the Navarrese fortified line. It was the beginning of the Battle of Leitza (March 21-26, 1809), which ended in an stalemate. Pitt, however, was forced to withdraw to San Sebastián as he had ran out of supplies. The Navarrese army, however, was in no better shape. Around 12,000 troops had filled the Navarrese trenches, but by the end of the battle only 5,500 remained fit for duty.

Then, on April 9, 1809, the war resumed in Europe when the German Archduke Karl invaded France. In the early morning of 10 April, leading elements of the German army crossed into France; there was no formal declaration of war. Bad roads and rain slowed the German advance in the first week, but the opposing French forces (Lefebvre'sand -Davout's Corps), withdrew easterwards towards Nancy to concentrate with other French forces. The German attack had taken the French by surprise and it was not only until April 15 when a general movilization was declared in France. General Louis-Alexandre Berthier was put in command of the overall forces on the Western Front. Berthier, who was more accustomed to staff duties than field command, ordered Davout to defend Sarrebourg "whatever happens"; two days later he ordered Davout to join Lefebvre and Oudinot and to march to Héming. However, Oudinot was still very far away from Héming and Archduke Karl was moving towards Davout and Lefebvre with five corps totalling 80,000 men. However, Davout had anticipated facing overwhelming forces and withdrew most of his forces, leaving a small rearguard to cover his withdrawal towards Avrincourt. Lefebvre, however, had misunderstood Davout's intentions and was moving away from him, withdrawing towards Maizières-lès-Vic.

At Avirncourt, the experienced men of Davout had little trouble to repulse the enemy attacks. Meanwhile, André Masséna's corps, augmented by Oudinot's force, moved towards Moussey. Berthier wanted Davout to pin the Germans while Masséna and Oudinot swept into the German rear. On April 20, Karl, seeing the enemy deployment, withdrew towards Sarrebourg to avoid being cut by Masséna. So far, the German commander had suffered 10,000 casualties and lost 30 guns, but he was still leading a potent fighting force. Reinforced by 40,000 troops under Rosenberg and Hohenzollern, Karl was more than willing to fight.
Chapter 77: The Second Great War: 1809-1810 (I)
Chapter 77: The Second Great War: 1809-1810 (I)

When Albert Taberner replaced Eduard Banach and became the Chief Minister of Aragon, the Conservative Party controlled not only the Parliament but also the Royal Council. Taberner, formed in the Conservative "pragmatic" school, formed a government that included General Napoleone di Buonaparte as the War Minister, who remained as the commander of the Aragonese armies in the Peninsular Front. Hardly two weeks into power, on April 20, just as Archduke Karl withdrew towards Sarrebourg, Taberner reformed his government and, facing the increasing power of the National Front faction within the Conservative ranks, made Jaume Lacomba, a lawyer from Carcassonne that was the rising start of that faction, as the new Minister of Justice. However, this move made the Reformist ministers to leave the government on April 23. Out of desperation, Taberner then moved to pull together a national unity government.

From the start, the odds were against him. He was elected as the leader of the war party, but he was determined to be a figure of stability and to end the war to bring the chaos that had brought the European economy (and thus the Aragonese one) to the brink of collapse. A veteran of the First Great War, he had returned from the front as a pessimistic and sometimes bitter man. His plans for Aragon, Hispania and Europe were mainly practical and he was determined to talk with all the Aragonese political parties and to tied them into a compromise that many dismissed as unreasonable. After a week in government, Taberner's hatred of war was made clear in the Parliament, where he gave a speech about the ongoing war in Hispania and Europe. He began his speech by stating how peace had brought growth and progress to Aragon during the last decades. War was not to bring peace, but only misery. The future of Aragon, he claimed, was not in war and in Europe, but in peace and commerce abroad. . A heated debate ensued, with many voices accusing Taberner of being a coward. In the end, Taberner's peace proposal was passed by the narrowest of margins: 211-180. The public reaction was mixed, with a majority of the Aragonese population favouring the war, allowing Lacomba and the National and war factions to successfully oppose Taberner's peaceful policy, who was accused of lying, of supporting the foes of the nation, even of being a German spy, but he garnered some substantial support when, on May 4, 1809, di Buonaparte defeated Castaños. After two hours of intense fighting, the armies of Castilla La Nueva were defeated. Di Buonaparte lost 7,052 officers and men killed or wounded, while Castilian casualties were 13,000. Castaños was mortally wounded and over the next few days, the bulk of the Castilian armies were unable to mount any serious resistance to di Buonaparte's ruthless pursuit and, on June 5, Toledo was to open its gates to the Aragonese forces. The war was over.

Taberner was to use the victory to the fullest, pressing the defeated Republic to accept the clauses of the peace treaty. After the annexation of Aragon and Navarre, Taberner decided to refrain the expansionist intentions of many in his government and in the Parliament and was happy with placing the Republic of New Castille into the Aragonese side. Through the Treaty of Toledo in June 1809, Aragon made peace with New Castile, which became a client state of the United Kingdom of Aragon and Occitània. No territory was demanded even if, for a while, King Jordi toyed with the idea of annexing the eastern provinces of the Republic and to incorporate them into a new kingdom that would be then given by one of his cousins. In the end, New Castille exited the war without any territorial losses but within the Aragonese sphere of influence.

Meanwhile, free from any threat from New Castile and with the Hispanic attention turned towards Aragon, Luis Fernández de Córdoba, Duke of Medinaceli and Dictator of Andalucia, decided to flex the military muscles of his country against Morocco. Using the commerce raiding at sea by the Barbary corsairs, Medinaceli send a stern warninig to Sulayman bin Mohammed, who was the Sultan of Morocco since 1792. After being informed of the carnage that was taking place in Europe, Sulayman reversed the foreign trade policy of his father, Muhammad III. Trade links with Europe were reduced and foreign businessmen were encouraged to leave Morocco . Then he used the attacks upon merchant shipping in an attempt to extort ransom for the lives of captured sailors, and ultimately tribute from the European states in conflict to avoid further attacks. Thus, when an Andalusian merchant ship in February 1809 was attacked by the Barbary corsairs, Medinaceli jumped into action. The lack of any kind of answer from Sulayman to his warning letter also played a part in the decision of Medinaceli. Thus, a small Andalusian squadron, consisting of three frigates and one schooner, was sent to Morocco on early June 1809 to "protect Andalusian ships and citizens against potential aggression," Although the Andalusian Congress never voted on a formal declaration of war, Medinaceli ordered the commanders of the vessels to seize all vessels and goods of the Sultan of Morocco. The city's European residents fled and the Moroccan army began fortifying and arming the harbour

After a series of inconclusive clashes with the Moroccan ships, Medinacelli sent the bulk of the Andalusian navy to Rabat, which was then shelled from June 27 to July 13, 1809. Then, after a 10½-hour bombardment, with the defenses of the city in ruins and a third of the civilian buildings damaged or destroyed, Andalusian sailors and marines landed and attempted to take control of the blackened ruins of the city. Sulayman, fearing that the Andalusians were trying to capture him, fled the city. Thus, Medinaceli found himself in control of a ruined city and no one to negotiate a peace treaty. Thus, with only two captured Moroccan ships (a frigate and a brig) to show as a prize, the fleet returned to Cadiz and Medinaceli began to look for another target.