Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Unexpected guest

Vielha, 13th December 1713

Seated on the old armchair own to his position as Síndic, or Chief Magistrate of Aran Valley, the old man observed attentively that couple of numb with cold young girls who were greedily devouring their bowls of òlha aranesa stew by the living room large fireplace. Despite the undeniable authenticity of the credentials he had been shown, he found it difficult to accept that a princess accustomed to the Europe's Courts luxury and étiquette might have ever had the thought of dropping herself in that remote valley by full December, with such a small entourage. He finally decided to test her:

--So, what are the intentions of... er... Your Highness?

The alluded girl stopped eating and remained silent, absorbed for a moment, before answering with astounding firmness:

--To rule my country in accordance to the mandate I've been entrusted, as well as the will of its people.

The bowl still warming her hands, the girl then paused intentionally before adding: --Such does imply this valley too, of course.

The Síndic got visibly alarmed at this: --What do you mean, Milady?

--Whenever Aranese people does consent, naturally --Princess Elisenda calmly responded, and she later added:

--If I remember correctly, on last June 400 years were met of the Querimònia, the Magna Carta ruling by Aranese people's own will their valley's relationship with the Crown. Maybe it is already time for renewing and updating such agreement, don't you believe?

The old magistrate stayed silent, shocked.

--Modern times, new challenges that can only be approached through wide, extended powers. This is what I firmly believe --Elisenda added mischeviously.

--For sure, Your Highness! --The Aranese magistrate enthusiastically answered --I shall gather the whole Conselh Generau (=General Council) right tomorrow in the morning, to formally celebrate the Fourth Centenary and hold a joint Session with Your Highness.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Doomy hint

El Bruc, 12th December 1713

Crestfallen and deeply worried, young Foix de Rovellats finally left the headquarters tent, where their commander Marquis of Poal had gathered all his officers for a briefing.

During the meeting, the marquis had done his best to avoid even mentioning the disturbing rumours arrived from Barcelona, so that all his speech had dealt with technical, logistic and strategical affairs. Contrarily to his likely expectations, this had kept intact the slowly growing unease amongst his men.

So, Marquis of Poal acknowledged them about his decision to merge into 3 regiments all 4 Miquelets battalions under his command, due to the heavy punishment suffered by them during the battle fought last week. Each of these three new units would keep the 10 companies prescribed by Archduke Charles' Ordnances, albeit signifcantly smaller -less than half the 100 men stated by such Ordnance. As a consequence, these smaller regiments would manoeuvre and perform quite more smoothly than before.

He also tried to rise his officers' morale by announcing the arrival of new reinforcements under General Prado, albeit with little effect. No one among them dared to request about the rumours, but it was ominously present in all minds. Had Princess Elisenda really been murdered by enemy ships in Gulf of Biscay waters, the Principality cause would become orphan of political legitimacy to European Powers' eyes --and they knew.

Deeply sorry, Foix arrived in her regiment's encampment. Once there, she attentively started watching her women. The regiment was intact after last week's battle, with no more than a few lightly injured girls. They should be in good shape. However, their morale was obviously below a minimum, as if they had been heavily decimated.

At that point, one of the sentinel girls alerted her: --Look ahead, Milady: the Spaniards have started moving again...

There was a hint of doom in the young soldier's voice that made Foix de Rovellats shudder.