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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Was influential in the choice of Godoy


[Sidenote:

Godoy and the significance of his relations with the queen.]

At the time of his accession to the headship of the Spanish ministry in 1792 Godoy was a mere youth, twenty-five years of age. Formerly a soldier of the royal guard, he had been selected by Charles IV with the specific idea of training him to be his leading minister, for the king believed that the plebeian Godoy would, out of necessity, be devotedly attached to the royal interests. The queen, Mar?a Luisa, was influential in the choice of Godoy, for there is little doubt that she was already the mistress of this upstart youth. Godoy's abilities have perhaps been condemned too harshly. He was a man of ambition and some talent, and had studied assiduously to fit himself for his eventual post. Nevertheless, his sudden rise to high rank in the nobility (for he had been made Duke of Alcudia) and in political office, together with the notoriety of his relations with the queen, caused an indignation in Spain which was to result in the forming of a party opposed to him,--a group which the enemies of Spain were able to manipulate to advantage.

[Sidenote: War with France and the treaty of Basle.]

[Sidenote: Difficulties with England and alliance with France.]

Godoy continued the efforts of his predecessors to save Louis XVI, without more success than they, and when he declined to accede to

the conditions imposed by the French Convention, then ruling in France, that body early in 1793 declared war on Spain. The war against France was joined by most of the countries of western Europe. One by one, however, the continental princes fell away, and urged Spain to do the same. The war itself, so far as Spain was concerned, was not decisive either way, although France had a little the better of it. In 1795 negotiations were undertaken which resulted in the treaty of Basle. The Pyrenean boundary was maintained, but Spain ceded that portion of the island of Hayti, or Santo Domingo, which still belonged to her, thus acknowledging the French title to the whole island.[60] The government of England, with which Spain had allied for the war with France, was exceedingly annoyed by Spain's acceptance of peace, and very soon began to act in a threatening manner. Even as an ally in the recent war England had not been altogether cordial toward Spain. On one occasion a Spanish treasure ship which had been captured by the French was retaken by the English, and retained as a prize; Englishmen had continued to engage in contraband trade, not only in Spanish America, but also in the peninsula itself; they had been responsible for encouraging separatist feelings in Spanish America, well knowing that the independence of Spain's colonies would result in advantages to British commerce; and England had refused to grant Spain a subsidy for the 1795 campaign,--a factor with a bearing on Spain's action, whatever the merits of the case. The resentment of the Spanish court was now provoked by insults which were offered to the Spanish ambassador to London and by attacks on Spanish ships, just as formerly in the reign of Charles III. The natural effect was to drive Spain into the arms of France. An alliance was formed in 1796 which was followed by a declaration of war against England. It is highly probable that Charles IV was induced to form this union by a belief, fostered perhaps by French intrigue, that the French Republic was about to collapse, in which event it seemed likely that a Spanish Bourbon might be called to the throne of France.


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