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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Who was able to deceive even Isabel Farnesio


[Sidenote:

Ripperd? and the Austrian alliance.]

The second reign of Philip V was dominated as before by the Italian ambitions of Isabel Farnesio, with the French aspirations of the king remaining a factor. By this time the Baron of Ripperd?, an adventurer who had previously been the Dutch representative at the Spanish court, had become the agent through whom Isabel hoped to achieve her ends. Few more unconscionable liars and intriguers are recorded in history than this audacious courtier, who was able to deceive even Isabel Farnesio. It occurred to the queen that the vexed question of the Italian duchies might be settled through an embassy to Vienna. Accordingly, Ripperd? was sent, with the principal object of procuring the betrothal of two Austrian archduchesses to Isabel's sons, Charles and Philip. Ripperd? found Charles VI disinclined to consent to the betrothals, but lied both to the emperor and to Philip, telling each that the other accepted his petitions. His deceptions would certainly have been unmasked, had it not been for an unexpected turn in events. In 1725 the French regent, fearful lest Louis XV might die without issue, sent back the Spanish princess who had been betrothed to him, because she was still too young to marry. The natural consequence was a rupture between France and Spain, facilitating a treaty between Charles VI and Philip V. The matter of the marriage was now secondary to the political need of support. Charles and Philip agreed

to the terms proposed to the latter in 1718 by the quadruple alliance. In addition Philip guaranteed the Pragmatic Sanction, whereby the succession of Charles VI's eldest daughter to his Austrian estates was to be secured, and gave extensive commercial privileges to Austria, particularly to the Ostend Company of the Catholic, or Austrian, Netherlands, enabling that company to secure trading rights in Spain and the Americas. A defensive alliance was arranged, one feature of which was the emperor's agreement to use his good offices to cause England to fulfil her promised restoration of Gibraltar and Minorca to Spain. Finally, Charles VI definitely abandoned his oft-repeated demand for the recognition of the Catalan _fueros_. For his triumphs of 1725 Ripperd? was made a grandee of Spain, owing his promotion, in part at least, to his assurance that the marriage alliances were practically secure. He became first minister at the Spanish court, a post which he asked for, falsely asserting that Charles VI desired it. Such a tissue of lies could not be sustained indefinitely. His duplicity having been discovered he lost his position in 1726, and was imprisoned when he seemed to confess guilt by taking refuge in the English embassy. Escaping in 1728 he went to northern Africa, where he passed the remaining nine years of his life.

[Sidenote: The acquisition of Naples for Isabel's son Charles.]

The Austrian treaties of 1725 were to have important consequences. England, France, the Protestant Netherlands, Prussia, Sweden, and Denmark immediately formed an alliance, and war seemed imminent. Spain desired it, but Austria declined to engage, much to the resentment of the Spanish court. Spain made a fruitless attempt to recapture Gibraltar, however, in 1727, but consented to peace in the same year without attaining her ends, although the definitive


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