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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

This was not the last of piracy and warfare in North Africa


[Sidenote:

Revival of the Family Compact as a force in European politics.]

Spain might justly have abandoned the Family Compact after the Falkland incident, and for a time that treaty did suffer a partial eclipse. Charles III felt that in future he could count only on his own forces, but he continued to increase and equip them, for the danger from England was as great as ever. Self-interest inevitably brought Spain and France together, and with the appearance of the warlike Aranda in France, late in the year 1773, as Spanish ambassador to that court, plans with a view to meeting the common enemy were again discussed. The death of Louis XV, in May, 1774, brought matters still more to a head, for it resulted in a change of ministry in France, whereby Vergennes, believed to be an enthusiastic partisan of the Family Compact, became minister of foreign affairs. Vergennes was in fact an ardent supporter of the Franco-Spanish alliance, although his enthusiasm was tempered in moments of crisis by a clear view of what most favored France, and he did not fail to see that he might employ it as the basis for trade concessions from Spain, the better to build up the resources of France. Nevertheless, the opinion was general that Vergennes intended to adhere to the Family Compact, and consequently England planned to occupy Spain with other affairs, so as to separate her from France, or at least divert her from pursuing a common policy with the last-named country against

England. Two matters were at hand, of which they might avail themselves: Spain's disputes with the sultan of Morocco; and her quarrels with Portugal over boundaries in South America.

[Sidenote: Relations with the Moslem states of the Barbary Coast.]

The never-ending wars with the Moslems of northern Africa were inherited from the preceding era, and continued to occupy Spanish troops and fleets down to the reign of Charles III. In 1767 satisfactory relations between Spain and Morocco seemed to have been reached when the latter agreed to abandon piracy and recognized Spain's title to her establishments on the North African coast. Late in 1774, however, the sultan announced that he would no longer tolerate Christian posts in his empire, and commenced a siege of Melilla. The attack was beaten off, and it was decided to strike what was hoped might be a decisive blow against the dey of Algiers, the ally of the Moroccan sultan. An expedition of some 18,000 men was prepared, and placed under the command of General O'Reilly, reformer of the Spanish army and a man of tremendous reputation, but in the ensuing operations before Algiers O'Reilly was crushingly defeated with a loss of several thousand men. Rightly or wrongly, England was believed to have instigated the Moslem rulers to attack Spain. Years later, Charles came to an understanding with the Moslem states of the Barbary Coast. Between 1782 and 1786 treaties were made, whereby the rulers of those lands agreed once again to give up piracy and also the institution of slavery, besides granting certain religious and commercial privileges to Spaniards in their lands. This was not the last of piracy and warfare in North Africa, however; the former endured for another generation, and the end of the latter, even in the restricted Spanish area, is not yet.

[Sidenote: Disputes with Portugal over boundaries in South America.]


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