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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

ML8991

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Name: (His Excellency-his title as determined by Spain and more appropriate, given time scenario, but my looking into this seems to show that all born prior to abolishment of HRE were entitled to HSH, even post death of HRE :), sorry about so much revisionism)
His Serene Highness Alejandro Manuel Felice Juan Francesco de Soneta di Belmonte, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Belmonte,Duke of Acerenza, Marquis of Galontone and Castellabate, Count of Copertino, Grandee First Class
((supplementary titles are vested by heirs but as Alejandro doesn't have any atm, then he still hosts them))
Date of Birth: 20th August 1808

Background: As part of the long line of Princes of Belmonte, Alejandro could have expected a lavish lifestyle. But with the conquests of Emperor Napoleon, as the gentleman styled himself, and the
loss of the Neapolitan lands of Spain hit the family hard. Despite this, many of the family estates were retained, and thus Alejandro lives an affluent, if not as lavish, lifestyle shared by all of his strata in society. He is strongly expansionist, and through Alejandro hopes to rebuild the family fortune and strives to push Spain towards a better and more appropriate position, regaining it’s former lands across the great Atlantic sea, continued by push towards further expansions in the rich spice lands of the Malaccas, and to seek a end to the controlling influence of Spain's neighbours.

And yet he had a liberalised upbringing in general, he is well versed in both classical and modern literature, and thus is proficient in many a European tongue, although his tact for diplomacy is lacking at times. He is capable with either gun or rifle, though not on horseback, but he does favour the now antiquated sabres that were used, with him being very proficient in duelling with such weaponry. Due to his young age, he has faced little of life's challenges yet, and with the recent death of his father, it is now down to him to try help rebuild the Spanish empire, and to serve and support the true Kings and Queen's of the great Spain, as best as he is able.
 
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Riccardo93

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Palacio de Ramalhão, Kingdom of Portugal
3 September 1833

Don Carlos sat in the central courtyard of Ramalhão, the sweltering summer sun now half-eclipsed by the tan walls that surrounded him. Letters from various supporters across the homeland were sprawled out atop the table he had claimed some hours before – his glass of brandy had been full then. Now it was half empty and the once neatly-stacked letters were in their present shape. He leaned back and released a sigh – exile was a calm business, and a boring one. Even in Portugal where his brother-in-law and nephew was engaged in a just war against the usurper Maria and her brazen father, where one would expect great violence and disorder to abound, here in Sintra it remained little more than a quiet town, though the sight of British warships dotting the horizon when he travelled westwards towards the coast was not an especially pleasant sight. He reached for his glass whilst folding the corner of one letter inattentively, listening to the sound of his children from within the palace itself, their muffled voices echoing out from an open door. He smiled wanly as he downed the last of the brandy and turned his focus back to the letters, only three or four left unopened.

They were cries for his return, well-wishers and supporters applauding his every action, and more concerning calls to arms against his brother; Carlos had little desire to battle his brother – had he not proven his devotion to his family time and again? Had he not refused every plot and intrigue against the Crown with the utmost fidelity? Even now, he rebuked those thoughts of rebellion and disloyalty, even as his brother betrayed law and tradition and God with wanton, reckless abandon. Even as he sought to prop up a powerless little girl on the throne, a girl with no learning, no training, no right.

Still Carlos sat there, demure as his fingers unwrapped from their grip of the glass and turned to opening a letter – another call to arms, an invitation to rebellion – he thought as he glanced over it. Perhaps his brother would see the error in his ways, the lies his advisers had foisted upon him, and would recall his most faithful brother from this cruelly dull exile.

He opened another letter, expecting more of the same; it was from a friend still entrenched in the court, one of the few that had not been imprisoned, banished, or removed from any meaningful role in state. Fernando was ill, and gravely so, it seemed. Carlos frowned, his brow furrowed. He would recover, surely. Surely…

But, if he did not… Carlos looked at the various letters that graced the table. He closed his eyes for a moment in contemplation, then called for a servant to fetch him a pen and paper. He would these final few hours of sunlight to good use.
 
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Name: Colonel Roberto Rafael Cortez Allende
Date of Birth: March 17 1808
Bio: Born within a minor merchant family Roberto chose the life of a soldier, idolizing the glory days of the Empire. Seeking to emulate the Conquistadors of old this devout Catholic created a small but growing officers club known as the Spaniards for the New Reconquista made up of nationalists and a smattering of liberal-minded officers all of whom were interested in the advancement of the homeland and the re-emergence of a true Spanish colonial empire.
Personality: Disciplined
Background: School of The Bayonet
 

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Palacio de Ramalhão, Kingdom of Portugal
5 September 1833

Don Carlos handed the last bundle of letters to his servant, who bowed and left briskly. He had not received any more word from Madrid, yet it seems that rumours were now spreading rapidly – the king was gravely ill, the king was dead! – most of it to be discounted. However, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the illness of his brother was doing little else but opening the floodgates of liberalism – already he heard of the Cortes usurping but more royal power, stealing them away from a conniving woman and a foolish child whilst their husband and father, and their king, withered away. It was difficult to stomach.

As the days passed, his hopes of returning home peacefully seemed to fade away; his brother’s illness was indeed severe, far worse than imagined. As such, Carlos’ mind naturally turned to the future; he anticipated his brother would not survive this illness, or at best would be crippled by it, rendered helpless before the Cortes and the ambitions of his most wayward subjects.

Should these letters be found and seized he wondered what would happen; little would happen to him, he knew – were they going to exile him again? He was well aware that the jacobins-in-hiding in the Cortes already despised and feared him, and would relish the opportunity to smear his name even further. He further knew that they were impotent in Portugal, and that he was safely out of their reach. Furthermore, he doubted they were placing importance on him at the moment, concerned as they were with securing their own positions and preparing for the accession of their puppet; he expected he and his cohorts could act with greater impunity than ever before, and be fully prepared for when the inevitable happened.

He would weep for his brother, for the sickness of his body, the weakness of his soul, and the torment and tricks played upon his mind by his treacherous family and subjects, yet he could not spare a moment. He would be able to fully honour his brother once this dark business was done, he knew.

He listened as the servants footsteps faded away; the Infante sighed and turned to look out the window; the sun hung low in the sky, just barely lipped over the woods that lay just beyond the palace grounds and hugged the foothills about the town.

Carlos leaned against the wall for a moment, collecting his thoughts before heading towards the table; he grabbed his pen as he sat down. His hand ached. It mattered not – he had yet more work to do, and the day was still early.

He set his mind to the task, and his pen to the paper, and began to write; after a few moments, he shook his hand and scanned over the words. He frowned and took a clean sheet and began to write again, half-copying and half-revising. More pleased (or rather, not displeased) with this second draft, he stretched and rose from the table; he sauntered over to the far corner of the room and poured himself a drink – a bottle of wine, from a friend in Andalusia. He took a small sip before making his way back towards the table; he had halfway crossed the room when a knock came upon the door; he opened it, allowing the stifling heat from the room to surge in. His servant returned, a new bundle of letters in hand. Thirty. Perhaps forty. Carlos looked back at the table, downed the last of his wine swiftly, and left the room. He preferred to read in the courtyard, he found. And, hot though it was, a pleasant breeze was usually found there.
 

Qwerty7

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Name: Duke Francisco d'Ambrosio de Escalona
Born: February 4th 1800
Occupation: Aristocrat
Biography: The House d'Ambrosio had its roots in Cagliari during the 1400s. The founder is remembered for being an incompetent seadog who was seldom found without some spirits. With such a brilliant start to a dynasty it appeared that the d'Ambrosios were doomed, but history said otherwise. The d'Ambrosios were very influential in the courts of Europe's rulers, planting their seeds of cunning in gardens from Lisbon to London. However, charges of heresy, corruption, and even homosexuality forced the d'Ambrosios out of their highly coveted position as the advisors of Europe. A few branches remained, mostly petty nobles, by the beginning of Isabella's reign, the two most prominent being the Italian line in Cagliari and the Spanish line in Escalona, where the Duke of Escalona, Armando d'Ambrosio, had reigned for over thirty years before his heart decided to take a holiday after it met a musket ball. His son, Francisco was crowned Duke in 1832.

Little is known of Francisco mother, records from the period seem to suggest that she was at least Catholic (although the usual suspects will say she was Jewish) and that she had some royal blood swimming around in her. The young Francisco had an peculiar shape, his excess choosing to take residence slightly above his waist, his head not receiving the memo to grow, and his face always having little interest in whatever was done. This shape had the bright idea of following Francisco into his adulthood, where it strangely gained him both insults and admiration. His body aside. Francisco retained the d'Ambrosio guile and gaiety, it's a popular myth that Francisco's first book was The Prince. When Francisco was eight his aunt wrote in her diary of an interesting occurrence.

"The artful bastard [Author's note: He is of legitimate birth] is going to be a well heeled capitalist one day. He procures some cute candies form the local merchant, then turns around and sells them to his gullible fellows at twice the price!"

The candied entrepreneur didn't grow up to be a tycoon as his aunt had casually predicted, however, he remained astute as he entered into a political career, continuing the d'Ambrosio tradition and being an advisor to King Ferdinand, while also writing on the side. However, historians generally agree that the first major event in Francisco life was when he launched "La Sociedad del Gentilhombres" (The Gentlemen's Society) in 1833.


La Sociedad del Gentilhombre*
(The Gentleman's Society)

The Gentlemen's Society is dedicated to connecting all the gentlemen of Spain to promote nobility and social cohesion.

Principal Gentlemen: Duke Francisco d'Ambrosio de Escalona ((Qwerty7))
Other Notable Members:
2. Alejo María Sastre y Díaz de Santa Ava, 13th Marquis Viver, 7th Marquis Solsona ((Keinwyn))

3. Don Rodrigo Fajardo de Mendoza, Baron of Polop, Grandee of Spain ((mrlifeless))
4. His Serene Highness Alejandro Manuel Felice Juan Francesco de Soneta di Belmonte, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Belmonte,Grandee First Class ((ML8891))

5. Fulgencio Marino de Soria ((Stingrex))
6. Miguel Garcia Fitz-James Stuart y Sylva, Duke of Alba ((Marschalk))
7. Miguel de Costa ((Korona))
8. The Most Excellent Don Erasmo Pedro Manuel Falcon, Marqués de Palau las Islas Encantadas, Comte de Namur ((TJDS))

Principal of the Toledo Branch: Duke Francisco d'Ambrosio de Escalona ((Qwerty7))

Principal of the Barcelona Branch: Alejo María Sastre y Díaz de Santa Ava, 13th Marquis Viver, 7th Marquis Solsona ((Keinwyn))

Principal of the Leon Branch
: Miguel de Costa ((Korona))[/SPOILER]
*May also be "La Sociedad de los gentilhombres" (The Gentlemen's Society)
 
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Don Erasmo Pedro Manuel Falcon in 1833
Name: The Most Excellent Don Erasmo Pedro Manuel Falcon, Marqués de Palau las Islas Encantadas, Comte de Namur
Date of Birth: May 15th 1784
Alma Mater: Leiden University
Background:

Don Erasmo Pedro Manuel Falcon was a Spanish politician, administrator, diplomat and political philosopher born on May 15th 1780 in Paris to Don Carlos Falcon, Marqués de Palau las Islas Encantadas, Spanish Ambassador and Caroline Maria Bourgess de Namur, Comtess de Namur*, to the Court of King Louis XVI of France. From a young age Erasmo was groomed for diplomacy and administration as to succeed his father in what with his grandfather's appointment to Governor-General of the Philippines by the Cortes had become a family practice. Don Carlos, already an old, respected but liberal diplomat with the birth of his heir, (The Comtess was three decades younger) was no longer deemed fit for arguable one of the most important positions for Spanish diplomatic interests, was appointed Ambassador to the Dutch Republic in 1787, which although a de facto demotion, to prolong his stay outside Spanish internal affairs. Erasmo grew up when the armies of the Revolution swept across Europe to spread their ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity and Erasmo, the son of the ambassador of a French (albeit untrusted) ally, was as law student, quickly engaged in the student circles discussion the Revolutionary ideals and the Great Debate of Federalism versus a Unitary State. Although enamoured by democracy and other revolutionary ideals, the failure of the Dutch Democratic Revolution due to the Great Debate ending in a coup d'état supported by the French, scarred his view of democracy with a bitter cynisism, although his believe in the Rule of Law remained untouched.

Returning to Spain in 1804 as the Marqués de Palau las Islas Encantadas with the death of Don Carlos, Don Falcon's work as Magistrate in the Spanish Court as one of the more trustworthy officials of the Crown, which together with his surname and titles, quickly secured him a position as administrator in the Andalusia region, where he saw the result of decades of dinterest of Crown and corrupt officials, and reestablished the rule of law by slowly but surely ridding the region of many of its corrupt officials by filling the guard corps with loyalists and friends. On the eve of the Battle of Trafalgar, Don Falcon became a Member of the Cortes as a Liberal and staunch opponent of Prime Minister de Godoy, through whom he also critized King Carlos IV, whom he found to be a weak and inept ruler. After the Battle of Trafalgar became public, Don Falcon, an armchair admiral and patron of the Spanish Navy, declared before the Cortes that "[the] alliance with France would not only seriously hamper the prestige of our great Empire, but will, in time, bring down the fundaments of this Great Empire and with it the Might and Independence of our Monarchy, for the French have no room for allies, they only have room for subjects!" Don Falcon continued to critizes the De Godoy Ministry, which failed to reform the administration and economy, which were both in deplored states, and ignored the French violation of Spanish Monarchy by the stationing of over 100,000 troops across Spain. The anger which the Spanish people felt towards their king resulted in his abdication, but Napoleon, fearing for his own interests, did not recognize Crown Prince Ferdinand as King of Spain. The resulting Coup d'État forced Don Falcon to flee Madrid, to the pro-Bourbon regions of Andalusia, where he was appointed Ambassador to the United Kingdom by the now established Supreme Junta. Although Don Falcon would never actually set foot on the United Kingdom for the first part of his tenure as Ambassador, he played a vital role as communicator between the British Peninsular Forces and the Junta Army during much of the Peninsular War, while also serving as Member of the Cortes-Generales in Absentia.

Don Falcon was one of the many proponents of the 1812 Constitution and saw his hopes for a Liberal and Modern Spain crushed with the ascension of King Ferdinand VII, who immediatly abolished the constitution. When King Ferdiand was forced to accept a Progresista Government forced through by the army in 1820, Don Falcon, who had become de facto Ambassador-at-Large of Spain and defender of its independence from that powers that be, was asked as a Moderate Liberal to become Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, he reluctantly accepted, fearing that declining would allow more radical elements to assume the powers and duties of the Foreign Ministry. Don Falcon was one of the few moderate liberal members of the Cortes and the Cabinet, which forced him to defend the Concert and the Spanish Foreign Policy from the Radicals that wished to reestablish the Empire while lacking all resources; denounced as a revolutionist by the Conservatives and as a reactionary by the Liberals, he alienated the sympathies of all parties, and his rhetoric earned for him the contemptuous nickname of Falcon the Compromiser. When the Radicals won the 1822 Election, Don Falcon resigned from the foreign office and when King Ferdinand VII returned, Don Falcon went into exile in Paris, there he wrote political works in opposition to the Spanish Monarchy under Ferdinand VII, Carlos IV and Joseph, and his ideal Spain; his most popular work, El nuevo Príncipe, Derecho, Fuerza, Reforma, would become the basis of modern machiavellism.

When Queen Regent Maria Christina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies issued the decree of amnesty of all Liberals, Don Falcon returned immediately, wishing to work tirelessly to prevent another Tyrant to be crowned King of Spain. Whether Don Erasmo Falcon can rise to prominence and prevent Carlos from being crowned remains to be seen.

*The Comtess de Namur inherited the County through Semi-Salic Law passed to allow Maria Theresa to be crowned Archduchess of Austria


Coat of Arms of The Most Excellent Don Erasmo Pedro Manuel Falcon, Marqués de Palau las Islas Encantadas, Comte de Namur, with the Leo Belgicae amd red Stripe on a yellow background of the Comté de Namur and the Avis Palauae Cancatae of the Marqués de Palau las Islas Encantadas.

Titles and Styles:
Don Erasmo Falcon (since 1802)
Marqués de Palau las Islas Encantadas (since 1804)
Señor de las Cortes de los Lores (1805-1808)
Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1808-1820)
Miembro de las Cortes Generales (1810-1822; since 1833)
Comte de Namur (since 1812)
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain (1820-1822)
The Most Excellent Don Erasmo Falcon et c. et c. (since 1822)
First Secretary of State of the Kingdom of Spain (since 1833)
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (since 1833)


 
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Alejandro Fernando de Frías y Sotomayor


Painted in 1804 by Francisco Goya
Name: Don Alejandro Ferdinando de Frías y Sotomayor
Born: March 12 1776; Medina de Pomar, Burgos
Occupation: Politician
Biography:

[To be completed]
 

flyguy117

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Name: Fr. Arturo Benedict O'Neil
Date of Birth: September 11 1810
Profession: Clergyman
Bio: Born into the exiled Irish O'Neil dynasty on the island of Puerto Rico, Arturo moved to Madrid to study to become a priest. There he studied mainly diplomacy and law and was recently ordained into the society of Jesus. While extremely devout, Arturo is politically liberal and nationalistic. He desires Spain to return to her previous glory and maintain what's left of her empire.

Arturo's first clerical assignment was to serve as a parish priest in Bilbao after the original one had joined the Carlist army. Arturo’s time in Bilbao was dominated by the liberal’s siege of the town and the subsequent battle. He helped attend to wounded and bury the fallen. After the civil war he returned to Madrid.
 
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Luftwafer

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((I'm requesting nobody take the Primate of Spain, as I am away from home until Saturday))




Name: Andrés María Cardinal de Porcelli y Vallabriga, Farnesio y Rozas
Date of Birth: August 15 1803
Profession: Archbishop of Toledo
Bio: Born into a moderately wealthy aristocratic family, of an ancient southern house, the Porcellis. Being the youngest son, he was sent to be tutored in safety under the tutorage of the Archbishop of Sevilla, who implanted his strong conservative beliefs into the young and impressionable child. This is what arguably lead him to become the man of God that he is now.

He was also taught the laws of the kingdom as well as its rich history. He became ordained aged 19, quickly rising to an archbishop through questionable circumstances with mumors of corruption and the Archbishop of Sevilla's hand in the promotions, however with Andres blissfully unaware of this he is ready to serve God and the rightful king of Spain, Carlos.
 
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ML8991

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((lol, you and your cardinaling Lufty, got to love you for it deep down))
 

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((Private-Marschalk))
Dear Don Miguel Garcia Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 15th Duke of Alba, 8th Duke of Berwick,

La Sociedad del Gentilhombres admire your honor and virtue. It is our pleasure to formally invite you to join La Sociedad del Gentilhombres. We are an apolitical social club dedicated to preserving rectitude and dignity, and you would only further our cause.

From,
La Sociedad del Gentilhombres
 

Firehound15

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ALEJANDRO MARTÍN ANTONIO CARLOS MARÍA NICOLÁS DE LA CASA
Vizconde de Barbate, Coronel del Ejército de Tierra


Date of Birth:
May 18th, 1786
Occupation:
Officer
Background/Personality:
Expert Raider/Defiant

Biography:
Born in his family's manor (a very small household, with one servant and relatively little influence, even for a Viscount,) De la Casa's family had once earned its "fame" as the managers of various noble households, particularly among the Infantes. This role had come with a subtle and slight grant of rank as time had progressed, but the family's fortunes fell rapidly with the descent of his great-grandfather into a gambling obsession that would cost the family much of what it had worked towards. The debt was so large, in fact, that the prior two generations of the family had to reduce themselves to lower occupations in an attempt to pay off the remaining debt.

Alejandro, however, was not faced with the same issues, and, at the advice of his uncle, a capitán in the Spanish Army, he decided to join himself, quickly seeing action in the War of the Third Coalition, where he had a considerable reputation as a difficult teniente to have assigned to one's unit. This reputation largely inhibited his promotion, which only made his defiance more pronounced.

While by no means a staunch monarchist, supporter of the Old Order, or a Bourbon loyalist, the Bonapartist coup of the Spanish monarchy left a bitter taste in De la Casa's mouth, leading to his desertion from the Bonapartist Spanish Army immediately prior to the Peninsular War. Now freed from many of the chains of his commanding officers, De la Casa was seen as a bright militia commander, resulting in the usurpation of his prior reputation by a new one - as a quick and hard-hitting commander with a penchant for attacking enemy fortifications and supply lines.

Following
the allied victory in the Peninsular War, Alejandro found himself in a reasonable strong position within the Army, which he used to climb the promotional ladder. By 1833, he found himself to be in the position of coronel, prepared to do his service to the Spanish Crown and the will of King Ferdinand VII.

 
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Qwerty7

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((Private-TJDS))
Dear The Most Excellent Don Erasmo Pedro Manuel Falcon, Marqués de Palau las Islas Encantadas, Comte de Namur

La Sociedad del Gentilhombres admire your honor and virtue. It is our pleasure to formally invite you to join La Sociedad del Gentilhombres. We are an apolitical social club dedicated to preserving rectitude and dignity, and you would only further our cause.

From,
La Sociedad del Gentilhombres
 

mrlifeless

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Name: Don Rodrigo Fajardo de Mendoza, Baron of Polop, Grandee of Spain

Date of Birth: 16th January, 1791

Occupation: Lieutenant colonel

Traits: Expert/ Generals Aide

Background: Heir to the centuries-old Barony of Polop in the province of Alicante, Valencia.

Mendoza was raised to join the military, he became an aid-de-camp to then Field Marshal José de Canterac in South America. Upon his return to Spain, Mendoza inherited the Barony but stayed in the army. By 1833, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant colonel.
 

mrlifeless

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((Private Qwerty))

Dear La Sociedad del Gentilhombres,

I, Don Rodrigo Fajardo de Mendoza, Baron of Polop and Benidorm, Grandee of Spain, would like to apply to the Society. I find the social circles of the officer corps to be just a bit lacking, a club for nobility and gentlemen-ship will definitely cure me of that malady.

From

Don Rodrigo Fajardo de Mendoza, Baron of Polop and Benidorm, Grandee of Spain.
 

ML8991

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((Private- of course addressed to @Qwerty7 ))

To the newly founded and elated La Sociedad del Gentilhombres,

Myself, Alejandro de Soneta di Belmonte, humbly requests that I may join your esteemed ranks. I hope that by allowing a diverse selection of individuals, we can truly become a great force in the Spanish Kingdom. May God bless you gentleman, and I hope that you may consider this application,

Yours truly
His Serene Highness Alejandro Manuel Felice Juan Francesco de Soneta di Belmonte, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and of Belmonte, Duke of Acerenza, Marquis of Galontone and Castellabate, Count of Copertino, Grandee First Class.
 

Marschalk

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THE ALBA CHRONICLES (I) - ((Private))
- Damn it! - Miguel Garcia Fitz-James Stuart y Silva lowered his sword, as he missed a thrust. If the blade would not have been blunt and the nobleman did not wear a cuirass, he would have been pierced from his breast to his stomach. The good Duke of Alba wiped sweat from his forehead and looked at the old grey-bearded man in a leather jacket standing near him. Then he grinned, demonstrating fine white teeth. - Good riddance, Señor Montcada, you are excellent at that! How do you do it? The fencing instructor bowed and smiled as well - in a rather reserved manner. He was breathing in a tired way - despite all his skill, years were getting the better of him.

- I have just been doing it all my life, Your Grace. For me the sword is an instrument, like a knife for a cook or a fiddle for a musician. The both gentlemen were now sitting near an elegant fountain shaped as a praying angel. They were in the middle of a large garden, surrounded by lemon trees and arches of white marble. The grounds of Palacio de las Dueñas were truly a magnificent sight - but the interlocutors caref more about Burgundian red wine and duck that were brought to them by a burly servant.

- An instrument, sir? But a sword is an object of honor for a nobleman, and are you not a hidalgo? - the Duke of Alba asked, while sipping his drink. The fencing master nodded, massaging his palms that ached from holding a hilt for that long.

- Aye, Don Miguel, of an ancient line. It is even said that one of my ancestors was a Count of Girona and a general under the Trastamara monarchs... The Duke of Alba did his best not to chuckle - these small landless nobles liked to claim grand lineage. But they were in many way the backbone of the Spanish monarchy - and had to be respected. - ... But we always had less money than honor and lost our documents, so my father was already no more than a retired infantry captain... - Francisco Montcada continued, while helping himself to the meat. Don Miguel was, however, more interested in his fencing skills than tales about his grandfathers, so he decided to return to the topic.

- And so you had to start teaching fencing for living? For how many years were you in the profession?
The old man sighed and looked at the blue Sevillian sky. It was cloudless that day and the sun was very bright - but somehow neither of the noblemen were very happy. For, while talking about fencing, they had other things on their minds. - For fifty years, Your Grace. And you are right, it was not only because of the wages. It is an art that makes your soul better- this is why I mentioned a fiddle..


.The Duke of Alba took the bottle and, despite polite refusals of Montcada, filled his glass again. He twirled his whiskers, before asking. - So, it is experience that makes you so good? Or natural talent? I have been considered one of the best fighters in Madrid, I killed two men officially... Then he lowered his voice, smirking. - But it is more of a seven than two, if we are to be honest...

The both caballieros drank before continuing the discussion. The fencing master thought for a while. His colorless eyes were watery from age - but the gaze was still sharp, like one of a carnivorous beast. - I believe that is mainly experience. I have been fencing each day of my life since I was five, my lord, and when I was a young man, I already taught the little Dauphin, the son to poor King Louis of France...

When this name was mentioned, the facial expressions of both men changed. Montcada bit his lips and blinked - and three vertical creases appeared on the forehead of the Duke of Alba. Both of them could no longer pretend that they thought about fencing, could no longer spend time in courtly chatter. Their minds were again occupied by the matter from which they wanted to rest, by the matter that has been haunting every loyal Spaniard for the last three nasty years. The strife within the royal family, the debate over Pragmatic Sanction, the illness of the Monarch and the inevitable crisis. The ghost of war has been looming over the realm in a more and more threatening fashion - and with each new fit of gout that Ferdinand VII had, which each new portion of the worrisome dispatches received from Portugal it became larger and stronger.

- Don Miguel, you have influence at court, you a friend to the King... Tell me, would not the same that happened to France happen to our country, when His Majesty... - suddenly for himself, asked Francisco Montcada. He wanted to swallow his tongue in the next second - it was a taboo for them to talk politics during the training sessions. And the Duke of Alba looked at the old man rather sternly. - His Majesty is alive, sir. Long live the King! - the descendant of Stuarts raised his glass - and Montcada followed him. After a moment of awkward silence, the Duke spoke up, in a soft manner . - And by Jove, I would not let turn our dear Espania into a Jacobine shithole, you hear me? Then he laughed and shrugged, standing up. - However, enough of such said talks, I bid you a good day, Señor Montcada. He walked towards the palace, but then stopped abruptly and looked at the tutor. - Oh, and you wanted me to do something for your son? Where did he serve again? Oh, well, send me both him and his papers, I would look through...

The Duke of Alba entered the mansion and in fifteen minutes was sitting in a richly the living room. The walls were decorated with heads of gigantic boars and scowling wolves - the deceased brother of Miguel was quite a hunter. There was a Persian rug on the floor and ancient tapestries dating to the Alvarez de Toledo line near the chimney. Don Miguel took quill and paper and positioned himself at the end of a long table. - Well, I would have needed a good slut and a cheroot now, but would have to scribble something first...

To FERDINAND VII, by the Grace of God, King of Castile, Leon, Aragon, of the Two Sicilies, of Jerusalem, of Navarre, of Granada, of Toledo, of Valencia, of Galicia, of Majorca, of Seville, of Sardinia, of Córdoba, of Corsica, of Murcia, of Menorca, of Jaén, the Algarves, Algeciras, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, of the East and West Indies, Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea; Archduke of Austria; Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Milan and Aspurg; Count of Flanders, Tirol and Barcelona; Lord of Biscay and Molina ((naxhi24 - Private))

Your Catholic Majesty,

As a Subject whose loyalty to Your August self are based not only on the Natural Duty of Obedience, as set by the will of the Almighty, but also on deep feelings of gratitude and devotion for all kindness that both Yourself and Your noble ancestors have demonstrated towards our House, I send You my greeting. The news of Your Catholic Majesty being unwell have caused immense grief to me and I sincerely pray to Virgin Mary and all saints to heal the Father of this Nation of all maladies and illnesses.

I, however, do not write to you, Sire, to preoccupy you with empty words, but to sincerely inform my Sovereign on what I have seen during my journey to the provinces and express the doubts that more and more occupy the souls of all devoted subjects of the Spanish King.

While I journeyed to Seville to attend to my manors, I have found all classes of society preoccupied with worries over the great changes in the succession laws and the consequences that a conflict between the blood of Phillip V could cause to the House of Bourbon and the Throne. Magistrates at courts, officers in the regiments, common folk in taverns and shops - all of them exchange wildest rumors. Some claim that Your Catholic Majesty has not installed the reform of 1830 in accordance with Your will, but it was a work of Your advisors - for it is known to the Spanish subjects that You have already once chosen to revoke the new succession law in 1832. Others are afraid that Her Royal Highness the Princess of Asturias is but an infant that would end in the hands of canny ministers and generals who would tear the banner of the Bourbons and Spain into pieces while fighting for power. It is said that Prince Carlos, Your brother, could be waiting for the moment when he is freed from the obligations of duty towards Your Catholic Majesty to leave Portugal and cross the Spanish borders with the army of supporters, starting a civil war which could be an end to the Monarchy itself.

I believe that it is at Your Catholic Majesties best interest to prevent a possible insurrection and disorders within the Spanish realm, especially since many of the people that could join the opponents of the inheritance of Princess Isabel belong to the classes and groups from whose support the Monarchy greatly benefits. Your firm authority and decisiveness held Spain together for many years and they yet may guarantee its unity and peace.

For this reason I take upon the audacity to humbly suggest certain possible decisions to Your Majesty. In order to guarantee a harmonious transfer of royal authority and cohesion of all stratas of the Spanish folk, it may be useful to:

I. Summon a representative Cortes Generales that could give its final opinion of the succession laws of the Kingdom and acquire its approval for any new succession law that may be set. While it is painful for me to suggest taking the matter of the royal succession to assemblies, I must say that, for the peace inside the realm, such measure may be neccessary, for the last session of this body on the matter has taken place secretly and forty years ago and therefore many express doubts about its validity. A current vote of the Cortes Generales on the new law now could lead to pacification and сonsensus.

II. It could be also useful if Your Majesty immediately summoned Don Carlos of Molina to Madrid to participate in a such Cortes Generales or to discuss possible reconcilliation. As this Prince has ever expressed his respect towards Your authority, I believe he would follow Your order to arrive - and therefore would be under Your eye and would not be able to raise arms.

III. It could be also of worth if Your Majesty invited a representative of the Holy See to participate in the deliberation of the royal succession law. The blessing of the Pope could solve the problem of a potential conflict within the religious parts of society, provide sanctity to any transfer of power that may happen.

IV. It could also be of use if Your Majesty set certain bylaws and conditions of any Regency that may happen in the future, so that the rights of the Church, the governing bodies and classes of the Spanish society are not infringed and there is a reasonable system of counters and balances that would prevent an usurpation of power during any possible interregnum.

I hope that my sincere wish to serve my King not only by the sword, but by word, would not be insulting to Your Majesty. I would always be at Your disposal and, until my heart beats, be ready to render any service to my Sovereign


Your obedient servant,
Miguel Garcia Fitz-James Stuart y Sylva,
Duke of Alba
 
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ML8991

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To Don Miguel Garcia Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 15th Duke of Alba and 8th Duke of Berwick, Grandee of Spain 1st Class, etc,
My most elated Excellancy,
I would be most honoured if, after this conflict of interests is over between our royalty is finished, that you could accept my Sister, the young Donna Helené Sophia Agrathria Valentine Jasmina de
Soneta di Belmonte, born in 1812. She is quite well read, so expect a snappy lady, but she is also very tender, and I trust you not to harm or sully her in any way, without her explicit wish.
May the Lord bless thee,
His Serene Highness Alejandro Manuel Felice Juan Francesco de Soneta di Belmonte, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Belmonte,Grandee First Class, etc.
 
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Riccardo93

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Palacio de Ramalhão
7 September 1833


Carlos watched from the window as his wife and sons boarded the carriage before turning his attention back into the room and his letters – since the news of his brother’s illness had spread throughout the fatherland, they had come relentlessly, and always pleading for his return, for a firm rebuking of his brother’s obscene violation of God’s law, and countless other requests. The Infante felt that a change of pace was very much needed, and as such had instructed a servant to arrange a trip to the coast – they would stay at the Palacio del Marqués de Pombal for the night out of the generosity of that family. Moreover, Carlos thought it would be an excellent opportunity to watch the British warships sail into Lisbon, laden with supplies and soldiers. A fervent supporter of his brother and nephew as he was, he still had a great interest in British sea-power, as well as a great anxiety about it. Trafalgar still hung heavy over the hearts of many Spaniards, and the troubles caused by both the Jacobin revolution in France and the destruction of the Spanish fleet in that battle had set in motion the ruin of Spain’s once great empire… with nary an effort from his brother to effectively stem the tide.

Nevertheless, despite these dark thoughts, these painful reminisces, he looked forward to seeing the warships in manoeuvre, their white sails billowing against a clear blue sky. It was a far more pleasant thought, and a useful distraction from his other pressing matters. There was still no word from Madrid, both regarding his brother’s illness and in any potential request for his return. He was surprised by neither. Indeed, it seems that the Jacobins who had infiltrated the court after the liberation had tightened their noose about the throne to frightening new levels in the King’s decline, as there we wont to do. They had no love of country, of God, or of King.

He brushed those thoughts aside as the door closed behind him and he stepped in the early morning sunlight – it was still refreshingly cool outside.

-

The trip had been fast, and as pleasant as he had hoped for. His sons regaled him of their adventures about the palace, and their hopes to see ships-of-the-line fire a volley into the ocean. They arrived by noon, the sun peaking in a blue sky, clouds hanging low on the horizon. Perhaps one last summer storm.

-

Three British ships, a ship-of-the-line and a pair of frigates from the look of them, were sailing perhaps two miles off the coast, escorted by four Portuguese ships, all frigates from the look of them. Don Carlos watched them awhile before turning his attention, invariably, back to the letters he had brought with him. Sat under a palm tree, the Infante skimmed over the various correspondence, more of the usual, and contemplated replies and pleasant nothings.

-

The day drew to a close as the clouds slowly began to sweep over the evening sky, darkening the purples with greys and blacks. Rain harangued the ground, and splattered against the windows of the palace. Don Carlos watched as lightning streaked across the sky, but had returned to his reading by the time the thunder clangoured and boomed.


“And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel: Hearken to their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said to the men of-”


A knock came upon his door; he heard a quiet, small voice, and bade the master of said voice to enter. His youngest son, Fernando, slowly stepped into the room, the baroque walls flickering as the logs in the fireplace crackled – the sound formed an odd harmony to the streaming rain, not unpleasant. Perhaps he had been too focussed on his reading to notice it before.

“Mama asked me to find you, father.” Fernando said, his eyes glancing occasionally over at the fire.

“Whatever for?” the Infante replied, his eyes only just hanging over the lip of his book.

“She requested that you retire for the night, father.” The boy replied swiftly.

Carlos smiled wanly, and rose from his chair. He placed his hand lightly atop his son’s head, and ruffled his hair. “Tell her I shall within the hour, and that she needn’t worry.”

Fernando nodded and dutifully went to inform his mother. Carlos returned to his seat and read for a while longer.

 

Michaelangelo

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The Emerald of Elche: Part I

The night was cold and Esmeralda did her best not to shiver every time the breeze brushed against her skin. She wasn’t exactly properly dressed for the late hour, but she was properly dressed for her profession. Her violet skirt reached down past her knees, but it was cut just right to allow her to show off her shapely legs when needed, and that was usually needed quite a lot. Of course that also let in quite a draft during cold nights like this. Sometimes one had to suffer for a few coins.

The sound of male voices made Esmeralda perk up, coming from the nearby side road. She adjusted her low-cut powder blue blouse, assuring that her two best assets were displayed prominently, a gift from God the young girl had received with the onset of puberty. Certainly the other 15-year-old girls who worked in her profession were jealous that Esmeralda had bloomed into the beautiful flower that she was at such a young age. Of course those girls couldn’t see far enough past their hook noses to realize that it wasn’t just beauty that Esmeralda possessed. Esmeralda was skilled at what she did and she knew it. The other girls lacked such understanding.

As two men turned the corner, deep in conversation, Esmeralda casually placed on hand on her hip and twirled a lock of her lustrous black hair with the other. She eyed the men as they approached with a look that just oozed sex. That only lasted until she recognized one of them. Her hand immediately slumped to the side and the other followed. She wasn’t going to waste the effort impressing this lowlife.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” the man said as he approached. He grinned at Esmeralda, revealing numerous missing teeth and the rest stained brown. Esmeralda did her best not to recoil in disgust.

Deciding that she may as well humour him a bit, Esmeralda said, “Have you finally earned enough coin to pay for my services, Eduardo, or did you spend it all on booze?”

Eduardo let out a deep laugh, straight from the recesses of his potbelly. His friend chuckled along with him. “You know me so well, Esme. Don’t have a coin to my name.”

“It’s Esmeralda,” the young woman said. She had never been fond of that particular pet name some of the local men had given her. It sounded so juvenile.

“But surely we’re close enough to be done with such formalities,” Eduardo said as he tried to run a greasy hand down Esmeralda’s leg. The young woman was wise to such things and swatted his hand away before it got even close.

“We’re only close if you pay to be close, understand?” Esmeralda stared him down, but she wasn’t comfortable with his look. There was a hint of anger in his eyes, and she didn’t want to deal with a violent man.

Confirming her fears, Eduardo grabbed her by the arm, holding her tight. She tried to pry his grip loose, but lacked the strength. He grabbed her other arm and pushed her up against the wall. His friend licked his lips as he watched. Esmeralda tried to keep calm as Eduardo moved closer and his hot breath played against her neck. “Well maybe I’ll just skip the payment and get all up close and personal anyway.”

Esmeralda spat at Eduardo’s face, making him recoil a bit, and said, “Juan will skin you alive for this.”

The other man’s eyes widened and he didn’t seem so supportive of Eduardo’s behaviour now that Esmeralda had invoked the name of her procurer or pimp. Juan’s influence stretched across all of Elche and anyone who messed with one of his ladies did not last long in this city. The friend cleared his throat and said, “Perhaps we should just leave her alone.”

Eduardo released the grip on one of Esmeralda’s arms to turn around and smack his friend. “Shut up, fool. I’m going to have my fun now. Screw Juan.”

With one of her hands free, Esmeralda acted quickly and pulled out the small knife hidden in her belt. Any woman who worked the streets had to be prepared for men such as this and Esmeralda was no exception. As Eduardo turned back to face her, the young woman stabbed him in the side. He let out a groan and doubled over, just as Esmeralda then kneed him in the face and pushed him away.

Eduardo stumbled around for a bit, clutching at his wound. His friend moved to help him, but seemed unsure of what to do. When Eduardo regained his senses, he looked down at the blood welling from his wound, growled angrily, and said, “That bitch stuck me!”

Esmeralda twirled the knife in her hand, letting both men clearly see it. “I’ll stick you again if you try to touch me.”

The two tentatively circled each other as Eduardo drew out his own knife, neither wanting to make a move. The tension was temporarily broken as a carriage rumbled on down the street, an unusual sight for this part of town. No one with a significant amount of wealth in his right mind would ever go into this district, for they’d likely get robbed in short order. The sight distracted the group especially as it stopped in the street in front of them. A man peered out from behind the curtain of his carriage, eyed the three of them, and asked, “Are you all right, senorita?”

Suddenly confronted with the fact that someone of great importance had stumbled upon their dispute, Eduardo turned tail and ran. His friend didn’t notice at first, but started when he looked to his side and found Eduardo missing. He followed suit and was soon gone too. Esmeralda visibly relaxed and slid her knife back into her belt.

The carriage door opened and its occupant stepped out. Esmeralda had never seen a noble before, and perhaps it was for the best because his appearance suddenly made her feel shabby. The man was incredibly well-groomed, his black hair slicked back and mustache finely trimmed. His clothes were spotless and probably worth more than Esmeralda had made selling her body these past years. Esmeralda unconsciously adjusted her blouse and smoothed out her hair, trying to measure up to this man’s obviously high standards. She tried to assume her usual posture when enticing men, but she was thrown off by the recent quarrel and his sudden appearance.

The noble strode up to her, even the way he walked a display of his superior breeding. His face though showed nothing but concern. His chocolate brown eyes examined her body, not in the usual way a man looked at her but as a parent would look at their child after getting hurt. He maintained his distance, as though drawing too close would offend her in some way. “Are you hurt, senorita? I saw those men accosting you and hoped to prevent them from causing you further harm.”

Esmeralda wasn’t sure whether to feel flattered that this man had tried to come to her rescue or insulted that he felt she couldn’t handle herself. She ended up settling on both. “I thank you for your help, but I had things well in hand.”

The nobleman raised his hands, realizing that he may have offended the young woman. He then scrunched his brow and looked at her closer. Esmeralda felt uncomfortably under that gaze. She was used to men looking at her with lust in their eyes, but this was something different. The noble’s eyes suddenly widened as though he realized something. He gave a bow to her, the first she’d ever received and certainly from a noble, and said, “Excuse me for my behaviour, senorita. I did not intend to offend you.”

Esmeralda was completely caught off guard. Never had she met a man like this. All her encounters with them had shown her that men were lustful beings, only wanting her body and nothing else. The way this nobleman shyly watched her, his face reddening under her gaze, was unexpected. Perhaps he had finally realized just who she was and didn’t want to be associated with her any further.

Before Esmeralda could open her mouth to extradite herself from this situation that was clearly making the man uncomfortable, he offered her his hand and said, “This may sound a tad forward, but I was wondering if you would be willing to join me for the night.”

Esmeralda did her best to hide her smirk. There it was, the inevitable pursuit. This man was no different than a commoner deep down; he just had better manners. Now back on familiar ground, the young woman smiled seductively and took the nobleman’s hand. “I would be honoured.”

The noble gave a boyish grin and escorted Esmeralda into the carriage. Things were finally looking up for her. She now had a chance to make an impression with a nobleman. If she impressed him, no longer would she have to work some dingy street corner, sleeping with drunk men with barely enough money to pay her fee. Soon she’d be escorting nobles, fulfilling their every desire and getting paid quite handsomely for it. All she had to do was work her magic and she was set for life.