An Unexpected Prince

Chapter 107: Oranges Die
Chapter 107: Oranges Die

February, 1712

William bit back a cough and felt the stinging sensation in his chest. This was becoming a regular occurrence now and he knew he didn’t have long left to live. He took a sip of wine and then spoke in what he knew was accented English. “You all know why you are here. This war has been going on for quite some time now and we must find a way to finish it.” He coughed, and this time when he put his handkerchief to his mouth, and wiped his mouth, blood appeared on the chief. He sighed. “I am willing to hear proposals on what should happen next.”

Almost immediately, James Fitzjames, Duke of Berwick and brother to the King of England answered in English. “I think that we must attack the French at once. They are stationed south of the Scheldt, in great numbers. But they are in disarray, with their King ill and the Dauphin having returned to Versailles, they are having to readjust. Consequently, if we strike now and in great numbers we can push them back and keep pushing until they are thrown out of the Spanish Netherlands.”

“I agree with His Grace.” Arnold Von Keppel, a friend of William’s and a leading general in the Republic said. “We cannot let them regather and regroup, we must strike immediately.”

“And in what order?” The Earl of Marlborough and victor of the first and second battles of Scheldt asked. “How are we to structure this, when our own army is facing illnesses?”

“We must consider the limitations of what we can do and then go from there.” Berwick replied. “But I still believe that we can indeed push this through and achieve a victory.”

“A victory yes, but it would be costly, and the French would be expecting us to pursue this strategy.” Marlborough said.

“What makes you say so?” William asked. “If we were fighting King Louis’s father I would agree with you, but we are not. The generals around the French King lack the sense of those who served his father.” The fact that they’d managed to be defeated twice by Marlborough was example of that.

“Even so, it is the most sensible solution to what issue we are facing.” Marlborough said. “They would expect us to come for them where they are gathered. And as such they would plan accordingly.”

“What would you suggest we do then?” William enquired, he started coughing again, and had to put the handkerchief to his mouth once more, this time when he pulled back, it was completely covered in blood. He closed his eyes and felt a spasm of pain in his chest.

Marlborough didn’t reply immediately, instead he looked at the map, and William got the feeling that he was coming up with a strategy then and there. Eventually the man did respond, and William’s suspicions were confirmed. “We must attack the cities where they have garrisons. We have the guns to do it. I suggest we start with Ghent. Ghent is lightly guarded, and intelligence reports suggest that the populous there are not settling well under French rule. Once part of the army has left for Ghent, another part must depart for Alost to ensure that the French do not get suspicious. The part at Alost must engage the French and buy time.”

It was a sensible suggestion, William had to admit. Their reports indicated only thirty men from France’s army garrisoned Ghent, and the populous there was mainly being held in check through fear of retaliation of the bigger French army at Alost. “How many men would you send to Ghent?” William asked.

“Three thousand. One thousand to take the city, and another two thousand to head onwards.” Marlborough said.

“Onwards?” William asked, though he knew what Marlborough would say before he said it.

“To Ostend and Bruges. Those two cities are crucial to French control, if we take Ostend we free up another port for the ships of the Royal Navy to provide supplies to.” Marlborough said.

“You are counting on the enemy not thinking that men would be sent to these places.” Berwick said to the man who William knew was his uncle.

“Indeed, I am. But I am also counting on them thinking that the biggest concern would be Ghent. They will try and get passed the army at Alost, and when they fail to do that, or if they succeed, Ghent will have already fallen and they will be stuck trying to take it again, and this time we will be prepared.” Marlborough said.

“You would send the majority of the army to Alost then?” William asked.

“I think that would be sensible, Your Highness.” Marlborough answered. “It would ensure that nothing had been left to chance.”

William thought on this and due to lacking a better option said. “Very well, you shall command the force that heads to Ghent. Arnold, you shall command the army to march on Alost.”

“Yes, Your Highness.” Both men said.

His nephew Johann Wilhelm Friso then spoke. “And what of you, Your Highness?”

“I will ensure that Brussels remains ours.” William responded. And if I am lucky, I will not die before we have achieved victory.
I think William has tuberculosis it’s just a guess but from the coughing up blood and trouble breathing that seems to Set the diagnosis for consumption.
Maybe it's corona? Jokes aside, it might also be his asthma getting irritated by some other disease. Or tuberculosis, as mentioned earlier. Perhaps it could also be a very bad case of pneumonia? Or a flu, perhaps?
Chapter 108: Finance and War
Chapter 108: Finance and War

May, 1712

James picked up the paper and then put it down again. “Ghent has fallen.” He said simply, that drew cheers from the members of his cabinet.

“That is excellent news, Sire.” Robert Harley, Lord High Treasurer and Chancellor of the Exchequer said.

“Indeed it is, it gives us more access to the Spanish Netherlands. However, there is negative news as well.” James replied. “The allied army lost at Alost and has been pushed back to Brussels, thus meaning that Marlborough is now stranded in Ghent.”

“Which means that the French will no doubt move to lay siege to Ghent to try and take it back.” James Radclyffe, Earl of Derwentwater said.

James nodded. “Indeed, if there is any sense in the heads of their commanders that is what they will do. However, our nephew writes that he has heard tell that the French intend to move on Brussels instead.”

“They want to bring a complete end to this war then.” Derwentwater suggested. “After all we know the Spanish are now on the back foot in Navarre.”

“That leads me to the point I wished to make, Your Majesty.” Harley said. “The Commons is growing restless. The war has been going on for some time now, and the results have until now been minimal. Whilst we have assumed naval dominance, the Spanish Netherlands has fallen on hard times and our army has not been granted the chance to show itself off until very recently. I do not think the Commons will want to grant more money for the war should it be asked to do so.”

James nodded, he had suspected as much and as such he asked. “What type of peace proposal do you suggest we make then?”

“There are three choices as far as I can see them.” Harley responded. “Either we recognise France’s claim to the Spanish Netherlands in its entirety, which nobody would accept due to the damage it would do to our trade. Secondly, we could give the Spanish Netherlands back to Spain, with some other agreement being reached by the French and Spanish. But again, that would likely not happen. Spain is in no position to make any deal like that. Finally, we could propose that what France has conquered so far remains French, and the areas we hold including Ghent, become an Anglo-Dutch governate.”

James considered the choices before him, the first option was completely unacceptable to him and would no doubt strengthen French power, something he could not abide. The second option was fairly ridiculous. The Spanish despite their good showing in Navarre had been shown as incompetent and behind. Only the third option protected England’s interests, and consequently that was the one James was in favour of. “Write to our ambassador in The Hague let us see what the Dutch say when we propose option three to them. We shall write to our nephew Cumberland and tell him to broach the topic with the Prince of Orange.”

“Sire.” Harley said.

James had had a letter from his nephew indicating that the Prince of Orange was near death, and that the man’s cousin Friso would soon inherit everything in the Netherlands. Whilst James thought the information useful, there were more pressing concerns for them to handle at the moment. Including finance. “If the Commons is reluctant to fund more war, then we are going to have to find a way to move ourselves away from dependence on them.” James said. “The Bank of Albion has done a good job in providing loans and credit, but we must expand its services. The investment from senior nobles will only last as long as they are convinced of stability.”

“What would you recommend, Sire?” Harley asked.

“When we were young, we read about the Bill of Exchange that the Dutch issued, and how well that was received. Indeed, during the reigns of our father and uncle, the Dutch were able to gain so much leverage due to those Bills of Exchange.” James said, he saw Harley nod his agreement which encouraged him to go on. “We should introduce such a thing, and ensure that our traders and bankers are able to fully use them.”

“It would make sense, Sire.” Harley said. “It would enable our merchants to trade freely without fear of being caught short handed during times of war, and it would also give the Bank of Albion more to deal with and thus increase their sense of importance.”

“Another reason for peace then.” Derwentwater said. “We cannot introduce this measure if we are at war.”

“Indeed not.” James agreed. “We also believe we must begin investing more within the East India Company and create a new company to take advantage of Spain’s decline.”

“Sire?” Harley asked.

“Spain is declining, soon it will be little more than an irrelevance. We must take advantage of that and try and expand our Empire. To do that we must have a company that can deal with the merchants on an unofficial basis. A company that can bring them some certainty, certainty that will be guaranteed if it is granted a monopoly on trade in the South Seas.” James said.

“It would certainly be advantageous, Sire.” Harley said.

“And would be aided by the union of the Kingdoms, Sire.” Aberdeen said.

“This is true.” Harley agreed.

James nodded, then turned to Aberdeen. “What progress has been made in terms of the union?” He had named Aberdeen as Lord Chancellor of Scotland as the head of discussions for the union of the Kingdoms. He wanted this union and he wanted it now. Two fewer Parliaments to deal with would be all for the best.

“The Commissioners from Ireland have expressed great support for the venture and are happy with the representation they would receive in both houses. As are the Scottish Commissioners. Some of the English commissioners have expressed doubts, but if the South Seas Company is founded then I am sure they can be bought off.” Aberdeen said. “There has only been one main concerted effort to prevent the motion going forward.”

“And who has that come from?” James asked, he was surprised that things had gone quite so well, he had expected more resistance.

“A group of nobles led by the Earl of Mar and involving mainly lords from the Highlands, Sire.” Gordon said. “They fear their traditional rights will be ignored under this union.”

“And why would they think such a thing?” James demanded perplexed.

“It seems the Earl of Mar has convinced them that their rights and privileges will be eroded under a system where control is in London, not Edinburgh. He it seems has taken it into his head to convince as many people as he can that the government will prevent the Highland way of life from continuing.” Aberdeen said.

“Why?” James asked. “We have not said anything of the sort.”

“It seems that he was quite offended at not being named to any high position in the government in Scotland, Sire.” Aberdeen replied. “He thought that he would get something and got nothing.”

James looked at the man in shock. “So, he is spreading chaos and confusion, out of spite?”

“It appears so, Sire.” Aberdeen responded.

James wanted to bang his head on the table. People could be so petty sometimes! He took a deep breath and then said. “Send a letter to the Clan Chiefs who are protesting, invite them to London and tell them we wish to speak with them.”

“Yes, Sire. And what of Mar?” Aberdeen asked.

“We will deal with Mar.” James said, an idea beginning to form in his mind.
While the South Seas and Indian trade is important a faltering Spain means there are lot of New World possessions worth taking....

I can Lord Mars getting a 'plumb' Overseas posting sometime soon- Falklands need a Governor?
While the South Seas and Indian trade is important a faltering Spain means there are lot of New World possessions worth taking....

I can Lord Mars getting a 'plumb' Overseas posting sometime soon- Falklands need a Governor?
Oh aye, the South Seas at this time did refer to the New World tbf :)
Chapter 109: Queen For A Day
Chapter 109: Queen For A Day

August, 1712

Marie Louise watched as the Doctor looked over her husband and then as he stepped back and made some notes before moving forward again to examine the King. Guy Crescent Fagon, physician to the King of France had been appointed during the reign of her uncle the Sun King and kept on by her husband breaking with custom, and as such, he was the only person Marie Louise actually trusted to tell her whether her husband would recover or not.

Eventually Fagon stepped back and closed his little book before turning to her. “Well?” She asked.

“Your Most Christian Majesty,” Fagon began. “I am afraid the symptoms have gotten worse. From what I can observe I think that His Most Christian Majesty has the black lung.”

Marie Louise felt her eyes widen, and she glanced to the corner where the Dauphin was sat, he had leaned forward at that. “You are sure?”

“Yes, the shortness of breath, the coughing up of blood, the sweating and the dizziness are all signs of it.” Fagon replied.

“So, there is nothing that you can do to help him?” Marie Louise asked.

“No, unfortunately not. There is no cure for the black lung, only patience and a willingness to keep going until the end.” Fagon replied.

“Do you know how he could have gotten it?” Marie Louise asked. “He has not been anywhere near the battlefield nor has he been anywhere near those who might be unwell.”

“It is possible that it is a pre-existing condition, I am not sure, Your Most Christian Majesty. I would need to study other patients before I could tell you.” Fagon said.

“Very well, thank you.” Marie Louise indicating that Fagon was dismissed. “And remember, do not tell anyone about this.”

“Of course, Your Most Christian Majesty.” Fagon replied bowing once before departing.

Almost at once her step son got up and walked to her and said. “We cannot keep this hidden for long. The King has already been absent from court for two weeks, people are beginning to talk.”

Marie Louise sighed, her step son was right, but there was no way that she was going to allow her husband’s health to deteriorate further, just so that some stupid ceremonial niceties could be observed. “You will have to take his place at the head of the Council, and as leading representative at the Court.” She replied looking at her step son.

“That will just increase the rumours.” The Dauphin replied. “People are already convinced the King is dead. If word of this gets to the front, then the army will be demoralised.”

“Bugger the army.” Marie Louise said in a most unladylike manner. “We have bigger things to worry about. The Kingdom needs stability; you must go and represent the King at council and court.” She said it in such a manner to make it seem like a request whilst they both knew it was an order.

“And what will you be doing?” The Dauphin asked.

“Looking after the King and the girls.” Marie Louise replied. Their daughters were very young and they were going to lose their father so suddenly, it didn’t seem fair.

The Dauphin looked like he wanted to protest but eventually he nodded, as he was about to leave however, the King grabbed his hand and gestured for him to lean down. Marie Louise looked away, not wanting to interrupt the moment between father and son, though she overheard the King say something about Brussels. She heard the Dauphin grunt in acknowledgement before bowing and leaving.

When he was gone, Marie Louise asked her husband. “What did you say to him?”

Her husband cleared his throat and said. “I told him to accept the peace terms that the English were offering.”

Marie Louise nodded, a sensible decision and one that would end a pointless war.
Chapter 110: Navarrese Problems
Chapter 110: Navarrese Problems

November, 1712

James Sobieski, King by marriage of Castile and Aragon and a whole host of other realms that made up Spain took a deep breath and bit back the desire to scream. Sometimes he wondered why in God’s good name he’d agreed to marry Maria Antonia, why he’d decided to drag himself all the way to Spain to experience something that was close to hell. The Spanish nobles were intransient, they refused to accept change and guarded their privileges jealously, they ensured that his wife’s life was made difficult, and they ensured that he never felt like he could ever measure up to their ridiculous standards. He had few friends at court, and he was beginning to miss Poland, something he had never felt before. He shook his head and tried to suppress the negative thoughts. He had a war council to lead and couldn’t afford to be down on himself.

“What is our status?” He asked the room at large.

“We have lost two thousand men since the campaign started, Sire, and we have currently accumulated perhaps fifty miles of territory.” the Duke of Linares said.

“Fifty miles for two thousand men?” James said, the tone making it sound like a question whilst in reality he was despairing. “And this is all land we’ve had to get back from the French, yes?”

“Yes, Sire.” Linares responded.

James felt a bottomless bit of despair begin to envelope him and he had to try and fight back against it. God, he missed Maria and their children, he wanted to be anywhere else but here. “And how is morale amongst the troops?” He’d been out to visit them as often as he could, showing his face where needed and shaking hands. He wanted the troops to respect him, to know that he hadn’t forgotten them.

“Morale is good, all things considered, Sire.” Linares said. “The troops know that things are improving, they know that the French army’s attention is elsewhere and they are willing to keep pushing onwards.”

The French army had mainly been focused on fighting England and the Netherlands in the Spanish Netherlands and had barely sent anyone to fight in Navarre, and yet they’d still managed to overrun most of it before James had gotten an effective response together. He knew their victories were more down to French laziness than anything else. “Do we have the funds for that?” He asked, acutely aware of just how much debt they were likely accruing to fight this damned war.

The Marquess of Lede, one of the few men in Spain that James could consider an actual friend spoke then. “Yes, Sire. From the accounts, we have enough money to last us another three months, and that includes paying the troops.”

James nodded. “Very well. I will write to the Queen and request some extra funding. I highly doubt that the French will end this war in just three months.” Knowing the French even the death of their King likely wouldn’t stop them.

“If I might make a suggestion, Sire?” Lede asked. James gestured for him to continue. “Perhaps it would be better for us to send someone to request the beginning of talks with the French. It would ensure that we are seen as being proactive and allow us to set the terms. Especially as we are currently in the dominate position.”

“I agree with Lede, Sire,” Linares said. “We have the advantage here.”

James considered it, perhaps he had been too hasty to suggest another prolonged war. He didn’t want to worsen the debt situation and they did have the advantage for now. His wife had told him that she cared more about preserving the integrity of Spain than the far away Spanish Netherlands anyway, so perhaps all would not be lost. “I will send a letter to Her Majesty and get her opinion on the subject.” Was what he said in response.

The commanders around him made noises of agreement, and slowly but surely they got up and left the tent, after James had dismissed them. He remained where he was though, wondering just what to do, and fighting back the urge to take the knife that was at his side and use it. He couldn’t let the dark thoughts win. Not this time.
Hoping James gets over those feelings- esp if the troops like him, and they are 'winning' - if they can get terms then he can get the victory and get home to his wife and family.

Though is it me or does the Queen seem to be in charge of decision making here? Has James not got any authority?
Hoping James gets over those feelings- esp if the troops like him, and they are 'winning' - if they can get terms then he can get the victory and get home to his wife and family.

Though is it me or does the Queen seem to be in charge of decision making here? Has James not got any authority?
When it comes to military matters he does, but the big political decisions? Maria Antonia retains the ultimate say.
Though is it me or does the Queen seem to be in charge of decision making here? Has James not got any authority?
The Crown belongs to MA. J is merely the Queen's consort. However, the Queen has delegated some authority to J, but any such authority is at the behest of MA. He has no innate rights as King as he came by the position through marriage, not through birth.

When the Crown belongs to a female, the actual ruling often depended on the Queen. If she is a strong personality, she may be the head honcho, with the King as a figurehead. Conversely, the Queen may be a timid personality content in being a trophy bride, while the husband wields the true power.
The Crown belongs to MA. J is merely the Queen's consort. However, the Queen has delegated some authority to J, but any such authority is at the behest of MA. He has no innate rights as King as he came by the position through marriage, not through birth.

When the Crown belongs to a female, the actual ruling often depended on the Queen. If she is a strong personality, she may be the head honcho, with the King as a figurehead. Conversely, the Queen may be a timid personality content in being a trophy bride, while the husband wields the true power.
There are also 'Kings by right of Marriage', i.e. the male line died out, the crown went to a woman... BUT it's her husband that is crowned King and does the actual work of ruling due to being a man and her husband.