Reims, Marne et Oise
On the campaign trail once again
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Reims had lost no time following the dissolution of the Chamber. He had quickly settled his affairs in the capital, before setting on the path to his see, which was located much closer to Paris than his former southern one. From all accounts, the road to Reims was most pleasant and well maintained a thought that, if voiced, would certainly please the Count of Berstett and the Deputy of the Nord, two men most dedicated to the issues of infrastructure.
The electoral laws were still heavily tilted against the ultraroyalists and this time around, the prelate felt his position more precarious, given that he could not count on his native son status to gather a wider support than realistically possible. He would need all his craft to manage to be elected, but he was certainly a crafty man.
Having arrived in Reims, a rather large gathering of moneyed interests had been set up for the ecclesiastical to impart his first impression on his new parishioners and would be constituents. As he mingled through the crowd, avoiding the pontification of a long speech, he certainly engaged in what would later be called “retail” politics.
“Quite certainly, Monsieur Barlin. While I had solid grounds to oppose the most recent budget, I also felt that the realm was in need of much stability after the sordid murder of the Duke de Berry and the attempt on many deputies’ lives. Let us call it pragmatism and it is what I certainly bring to the table. After all, the realm would have lived a crisis if the budget had failed and provisions for the improvements of our schools, the development of crown lands and the revalue of the clergy had gone unfunded. There was quite simply too much at stake for France at that moment to succumb to the comfort of irreproachable ideology.”
The words seemed to please the merchant, who was rather of a conservative ideology but always guided by his interests. This was no surprise or luck, for during the trip to Reims, the Archbishop had been extensively briefing on the men gathered that day and their personal inclination by his secretaries. That was called tipping the scale.
“I do agree, Monsieur le Comte de Cassel, that this ministry had a smell of impurity about it. I certainly have my qualms against the Minister of Finances, whose moral constitution I find personally questionable, in light, of course, of his eagerness to burden the country with taxation. The inheritance tax would have been for me much insufferable, had it not be limited to two years, which means, in the fact, that one simply will litigate is inheritance long enough for the tax to expire.”
The prelate smiled at the Count, which he knew from prior affairs in Paris and on which he counted most. A meeting would be arranged later, it was already in the works. But for now, so many people to greet.
“ I must admit that, unlike many in the Chamber, I have kept my thought to myself on the Spanish question. There are certainly those who would wish to jump to conclusions and have our army march to Madrid, while other would favour complacency. It is a difficult question, and for me, who abhors war, I must say that we have to draw conclusions from the past thirty years. An evil growing unchecked might certainly become too great to be stopped at small cost. Containment is the key, but by arms or by trade, I am most eager to hear your thoughts about.”
And the courtship continued...