Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

be allotted. The Western gamblers wished to see the Spanish Empire partitioned as the Eastern gamblers afterwards partitioned Poland, and it was done. The proposals for partition and the lengthy exhausting wars which followed were the expression of dynastic and commercial fear.

In 1698 the first Partition Treaty was made between the Powers. The sponsors for the proposed rulers of the Spanish Empire were (1) Louis XIV. for the Dauphin, the son of his wife Maria Theresa, elder daughter of Philip IV. of Spain ; (2) Leopold of Austria for his son by his second marriage, the Archduke Charles, on the ground that his mother was a sister of Philip IV., and that his first wife was Margaret Theresa, younger daughter of Philip IV.; (3) the Elector of Bavaria who had married Leopold's daughter Maria for his son the Electoral Prince.

Then Charles II. made a will, leaving all the Spanish Dominions to the Electoral Prince. The Electoral Prince died in 1699. There followed a second Partition Treaty in May, 1700, in which the bear's skin was duly redistributed. Patienza e bayajar. The Spanish Netherlands claimed by both parties were the chief subject of dispute. These treaties were made without notice to Spain, and William signed them without consulting any of his English Ministers except Somers. On October 2nd, 1700, Charles II. made another will, leaving all his dominions to Philip Duke of Anjou, the second son of the Dauphin. In November, 1700,

In November, 1700, Charles died, leaving no issue.

Louis XIV. threw over the partitions and accepted the will. He apparently intended peaceful succession, but he destroyed all hope of peace by sending armies to seize the barrier fortresses in the Spanish Netherlands, garrisoned as against France by Dutch troops, and by a declaration in December reserving the right of Philip to succeed to the throne of France. To cut off absolutely any chance of peace, when James II. died in September, 1701, he recognized the Old Chevalier as James III. of England. Holland calling on England for help, a triple alliance was formed in September, 1701, between England, Austria and Holland. Leopold began wars at once against the Spanish possessions in Italy. William died on March 8th, 1702, unhonoured and unsung, and in May, 1702, the coalition declared war on France and Spain. It was joined in 1702–3 by Savoy, Portugal and most of the States of the Empire.

The ruin of Spain by the internal divisions which prevented her from meeting successfully the varying fortunes of the war may form some material justification for the absolutism which gave unity and power to France. The Federal system followed by Richelieu, Mazarin and Colbert had no counterpart in Spain, where the independent provincial authorities checked the growth of federal power and prevented national union. Louis tried to destroy the authority of the nobles and of the provincial assemblies, but owing to the military disasters of the earlier part of the war in Spain, Flanders and Germany he did not succeed. An example of this provincial jealousy is very much in evidence in our own day, the Catalonians insisting in 1924 on their local independence as they did in 1700. Louis also tried to organize the Spanish finances.

The allied campaigns in Flanders under Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy were hindered and on some occasions ruined by the behaviour of the Dutch, whose generals and civil officials put every obstacle in the way of co-operation. They destroyed every plan of campaign, until in despair Marlborough schemed with Eugene to march into Germany, leaving the Dutch to look after themselves. The result was his great march to the Danube, followed by the two battles of Schellenberg in June, 1704, and Blenheim in August, 1704, where the French and Bavarians were utterly routed. They were said to have lost nearly 40,000 men. These battles were followed by the victories of Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet in Flanders. The allies were at first equally successful in Spain. But in 1707 the Emperor Leopold, wishing to gain possession of Naples, made a secret treaty for the neutrality of Italy with the French, which left them free to operate with renewed force in Flanders and Spain. This forced Marlborough and Eugene to act on the defensive, and greatly influenced the war in Spain.

An expedition, which had been sent from Great Britain in 1704 to Spain to place the Archduke Charles on the throne, in conjunction with an army from Portugal met with chequered success : Charles entered Madrid, and Barcelona was captured by Peterborough's small force, aided by the guns of the British fleet. But Charles was driven out; Galway in 1707 was totally defeated by the French under Berwick at Almanza, and Stanhope with a small force was surrounded at Brighuera by a great body of troops sent over the frontier by Louis, and after a magnificent resistance compelled to surrender. In spite of these reverses the great victory of Oudenarde in July, 1708, by Marlborough and Eugene against a greatly superior French army marked the climax of success of the allies in the war. Louis was so thoroughly beaten that he offered most excellent terms in every respect to the allies, agreeing to withdraw his support of Anjou in Spain. But the Whigs who were then in power refused to treat, unless he would use his French troops to drive his own grandson out of Spain. This he very naturally refused. The opportunity once lost did not occur again.

The war continued without reason and without result, the masterly activity of Marlborough being counterbalanced by losses in other fields. Then in 1710 the Tories in England replaced the Whigs, Godolphin was dismissed, preliminary terms were signed between Great Britain and France, and at the end of 1711 Marlborough, almost our only great general, was accused of fraud, extortion and embezzlement by his political foes, and was dismissed from all public employment. What followed was, I think, one of the most infamous passages in the history of British foreign relations. Marlborough and Eugene, each the complement of the other, had in spite of tremendous obstacles carried the success of the allied arms to the highest point. Loyalty to each other was the keynote of the campaigns of these two great commanders. The Duke of Ormonde was now appointed commander-in-chief, with orders to take the field, but not to fight. He was to negotiate with Villars, the French general, and to desert Eugene. This he did, withdrawing his troops in the face of the enemy from the field amid the groans and hisses of all the men. The German auxiliaries refused to leave, the Dutch refused to allow the retreat through their towns, food was not provided, and a serious mutiny had to be put down.

This was followed by private negotiations leading to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, when England deserted all her allies. It was described by a contemporary as the Peace of God, for" it passeth all human understanding.” How far its terms were in our favour or necessary for ending an unnecessary war may be put to one side. The Dutch had done all in their power to thwart the plans of Marlborough and Eugene throughout the war, and they had increased their trade at our expense. There was certainly no reason why we should show them any consideration. But the principal article of the Treaty was that Philip Duke of Anjou was acknowledged as Philip V. of Spain and the Indies, the catastrophe to prevent which the whole war had been fought.

For the rest, France kept Alsace and Strassburg, the Duke of Saxony received Sicily, the Emperor of Austria received the Spanish Netherlands and the Spanish dominions in Italy to the intense chagrin of Philip who, deserted by all parties, could not oppose the settlement; England took Gibraltar, Minorca, undisputed possession of Hudson's Bay, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, subject to French fishing rights, the French half of St. Kitts, and (the really popular article of the Treaty) the Assiento, the monopoly of the slave supply to the Spanish colonies and the right to trade with them. The forts of Dunkirk were dismantled and the Old Chevalier expelled from France. Certain barrier towns were to be garrisoned by Dutch troops.

The Catalans had been encouraged to come into the war by Great Britain. They had stood loyally by the Austrian Charles. Now they were not only deserted, but, as they refused to acknowledge the Treaty, a British fleet was actually sent against Barcelona, though it was stopped by the House of Lords. Then a French army besieged and stormed the town and committed a frightful massacre. The Protestants of the Cevennes were also deserted and left to the tender mercies of Louis and Madame de Maintenon.

The prosecution of Marlborough and desertion of Eugene in the face of the enemy, and the consequent compact with France, must, as it seems to me, have damaged ab initio any chance of recovery by the Stuarts, whether in 1715, 1745, or any other time, which rested on the assistance of France, the France from which the Protestants had been driven in 1685, apart from the financial and commercial influences which told against the disturbance of any attempt at restoration. When again we fought France in 1756 the permission given to the French at the close of the war to fish off Newfoundland was effectually used against Bute by Chatham. From this time for many years the Tories were a thoroughly discredited party.

ii. William III. The British Army and Navy.-I come back once more to the reign of William the Third. We ought to be very thankful that William and Mary had no children, saving us from becoming an outpost of that country " which scarce deserves the name of land, as but the offscourings of the British sand.” In the short years of his reign he did to England many evil things, two of which bore consequences that are evil to this day.

James II. in his Dublin Parliament had set an example of moderation. Each religion was to pay tithes to its own clergy. The lands stolen from the Irish were to be returned to them in pursuance of the solemn promise of Charles I., renewed by Charles II., and only prevented from being carried out by the North Irish Presbyterians. After the Boyne the stubborn defence of the Irish in 1690 hindered William from carrying out his plans of campaign in Flanders, to which was added the risk of being cut off by storms or by naval disaster from England. The English fleets had suffered defeats in Bantry Bay and off Beachy Head, and the French were strong at sea. By the Treaty of Limerick the Irish agreed to cease their war of defence for the king who had again deserted them, William on his part guaranteeing complete amnesty, restoration of estates and complete freedom of worship as in the time of Charles II. When William was free by this Treaty to turn his whole force against France, the Treaty was torn up.

It is usual among the Whig historians to attribute the evil acts of this man to agents or to Parliaments. William was directly responsible. He did not murder the De Witts or massacre the Highlanders of Glencoe or repudiate the Treaty of Limerick with his own hand. But he ordered or suffered them and took the advantage of the results. As one of his most modern supporters says of him, "he would not be a king without playing the part of a king,"and he ordered and approved the acts of his agents. The Irish Parliament of 1695, composed of Protestants who had taken various oaths against Romanism, destroyed every particle of liberty for the Roman Catholics of Ireland until the accession of George III. The persecution

« AnteriorContinua »