Monday, May 6, 2013
Cardinal Fleury sat his desk reading the latest report from Chevalier Philippe Busset the commander of the French forces in Southern England. The report indicated that all his forces had arrived, that he now had available at Folkstone a force of 8 Regular battalions, 2 artillery Batteries and 2 cavalry Regiments. The Chevalier was still protesting that the force was far too small for the tasks he had been given, however the Cardinal had already advised him when originally interviewing him regarding the operation that it was extremely unlikely he would receive anymore troops as events in Europe were of a more demanding priority right now.
The Chevalier had left the room wandering what could be more important than defeating the English in their own country, this was the first time in such a long time a French force was operating on English soil, and it would be a historic moment for the Chevalier and of course France if he could topple the young English King.
The Cardinal continued reading the report. It seems Chevalier Busset was currently awaiting word from Lord Bedford as to what forces will be joining him, meanwhile he was cautiously moving towards London but had no intention of getting too close until he was sure the so called Confederation Army would be joining him.
The Cardinal was already aware that the Confederation army had suffered two minor setbacks, he wandered about the true commitment of the English parliamentarian people and he was pleased the Chevalier was being cautious.
He placed the message down on his desk and uplifted another, this one from his ambassador in Prussia. It appears there may be a split occurring between the English and the Prussians, brought about of all things over the honour of the Prussian Kings sister and trade in North America. Cardinal Fleury shook his head in amusement at the entanglements diplomatic arguments will lead nations.
Every court in Europe knew that Princess Wilhelmine was the young King of England’s natural mother, yet this peculiar charade was being played out by the Prussian court; it was all very amusing and of course very helpful to French interests. Now the English seem to want to raise the stakes in the dispute by cutting Prussian trade with North America if they couldn’t get a greater commitment from Prussia.
“Ohh this is just to delicious,.” He muttered to himself.
He placed the Prussian ambassadors message down on the table and slowly raised himself, his bones ached and he was tiring already. Fleury cursed his aging body; it was such a disappointment that his body was so weak when his mind was so strong.
He slowly made his way to the grand windows, he looked out at the rain falling, he enjoyed watching the rain; but then he shivered with a sudden chill so he wandered back to the fire and warmed himself for a short moment and then made his way back to his desk.
He lifted or rather dragged the next bundle of papers awaiting his perusal, and there were so many of them, and without looking at the cover Cardianl Fleury knew they concerned the developing crisis in Poland, he sighed as he placed the bundle closer as he sat down once again. It was this crisis that had prevented the French sending more forces to England, because developments in Europe had a far higher priority than merely replacing one leadership faction in England with another. For now and the foreseeable future will be striven by division and civil war, a quick solution to the Polish issue meant France could concentrate on defeating England once and for all.
The fighting in Poland didn’t overly concern Cardianl Fleury or France, it was the gaing influence in Europe `in particular Italy at the expense of the Austrian Court.
Fleury already new thanks to his excellent spies in the English court that the Austrian appeal to England for help had been refused because of their own civil war, which was the very reason Chevalier Busset now sat in southern England.
But now France faced war with Austria over the Duchy of Lorraine and Italy. The Spanish of course were allied to france thanks to the Treaty Escorial which he negotiated just a fews ago, which meant the Spanish were already staking their own claims to Naples and Sicily.
In fact Fleury had just yesterday received word yesterday that Don Carlos the Spanish infante was leading a force of 40,000 men across Tuscany heading to Naples.
The Prussians had made a limited commitment to Austria, though Cardinal Fleury felt that it would not be enough to be off concern, and now with the Prussians bickering with the English Court he felt the Prussian King had more than enough to deal with.
No it was indeed all going very well for France, the cardinal mused to himself.
Frederick so enjoyed playing the flute, it gave him a sense of peace and tranquility and for a while it gave him space from the turmoil’s of running a Kingdom. In playing and listening to the flute the King could envisage himself as a young lowly prince of some small forgotten realm that he would sit beside some peaceful wandering stream playing music and writing poetry, but sadly when the flute was placed aside, the reality of his situation returned at an instant.
He was King of a realm surrounded by enemies or potential enemies; there was not a moment for youthful dreams; yet he yearned for them so much.
However for now he had the Polish issue on hand, but for the moment he was not too interested in becoming involved in this squabble which he felt had little to do with Poland and more to do with French and Austrian claims in Italy, therefore of no gain to Prussia.
What was of concern was this damn annoying young King of England, who does he think he is dealing with to make threats against Prussia.
The King slowly rose from his music stool beside the fire and made his way over to his desk, he took his old pipe from its holder on the desk and walking back to the fire took a small stick with an ember glowing and started puffing on the pipe.
With a cloud of smoke surrounding him, he started pacing, what to do with England?
King Frederick didn’t think he was being unreasonable in that the English loosen their grip on the North American trade in return for armaments for their struggles with the English rebels, yet this boy had the audacity to threaten to close the very markets Prussian had spent so much time and money developing. Not only that he threatened to acknowledge poor Wilhelmina as his mother, and despite this being true he was not going to have his beloved sisters name and honour ridiculed throughout European courts and society.
The smoke cloud deepened around Frederick as the pipe smoking increased with intensity as the Kings temper rose, it rose out of frustration and because he knew he was being out maneuvered by a mere boy King.
What could Frederick do, he could play a major risky hand and support a rebellion in North America against the English, but Prussia simply didn’t have the resources for that, and only France would gain from it.
He could accept the closure of American ports and not give the armaments to England in the hope the boy was quickly defeated, but then that leaves an England under the rebel Parliamentarians which would be very friendly to France and an enemy to Prussia.
Or he could accept that he stays with the status quo, a limited access to North American markets and English trade for selling Prussian armaments to the English.. He knew the answer to that, he had always known the answer since he had received the English demands, what really rankled him was he was being dictated to by a boy.
He puffed some more and then wandered back to his desk, he looked up at the portrait of his lovely Wilhelmina on the wall. He smiled, the boy truly was his mothers son, and as the King mused to himself he acknowledged that the boy was after all a Hohenzollern and had the makings of a great King.