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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Count Lowendahl was made a marshal of France


On

the 19th of July, Common-Sense Belle-Isle (_Bon-Sens de Belle-Isle_), as the Chevalier was called at court, to distinguish him from his brother the marshal, nicknamed _Imagination,_ attacked, with a considerable body of troops, the Piedmontese intrenchments at the Assietta Pass, between the fortresses of Exilles and Fenestrelles; at the same time, Marshal Belle-Isle was seeking a passage over the Stura Pass, and the Spanish army was attacking Piedmont by the way of the Apennines. The engagement at the heights of Assietta was obstinate; Chevalier Belle-Isle, wounded in both arms, threw himself bodily upon the palisades, to tear them down with his teeth; he was killed, and the French sustained a terrible defeat;--five thousand men were left on the battle-field. The campaign of Italy was stopped. The King of Spain, Philip V., enfeebled and exhausted almost in infancy, had died on the 9th of July, 1746. The fidelity of his successor, Ferdinand VI., married to a Portuguese princess, appeared doubtful; he had placed at the head of his forces in Italy the Marquis of Las Minas, with orders to preserve to Spain her only army. "The Spanish soldiers are of no more use to us than if they were so much cardboard," said the French troops. Europe was tired of the war. England avenged herself for her reverses upon the Continent by her successes at sea; the French navy, neglected systematically by Cardinal Fleury, did not even suffice for the protection of commerce. The Hollanders, who had
for a long while been undecided, and had at last engaged in the struggle against France without any declaration of war, bore, in 1747, the burden of the hostilities. Count Lowendahl, a friend of Marshal Saxe, and, like him, in the service of France, had taken Sluys and Sas-de-Gand; Bergen-op-Zoom was besieged; on the 1st of July, Marshal Saxe had gained, under the king's own eye, the battle of Lawfeldt. As in 1672, the French invasion had been the signal for a political revolution in Holland; the aristocratical burgessdom, which had resumed power, succumbed once more beneath the efforts of the popular party, directed by the house of Nassau and supported by England. "The republic has need of a chief against an ambitious and perfidious neighbor who sports with the faith of treaties," said a deputy of the States-general on the day of the proclamation of the stadtholderate, re-established in favor of William IV., grand-nephew of the great William III., and son-in-law of the King of England, George II. Louis XV. did not let himself be put out by this outburst. "The Hollanders are good folks," he wrote to Marshal Noailles: "it is said, however, that they are going to declare war against us; they will lose quite as much as we shall."

Bergen-op-Zoom was taken and plundered on the 16th of September. Count Lowendahl was made a marshal of France. "Peace is in Maestricht, Sir," was Maurice of Saxony's constant remark to the king. On the 9th of April, 1748, the place was invested, before the thirty-five thousand Russians, promised to England by the Czarina Elizabeth, had found time to make their appearance on the Rhine. A congress was already assembled at Aix-la-Chapelle to treat for peace. The Hollanders, whom the Marquis of Argenson before his disgrace used always to call "the ambassadors of England," took fright at the spectacle of Maestricht besieged; from parleys they proceeded to the most vehement urgency; and England yielded. The preliminaries of peace were signed on the 30th of April; it was not long before Austria and Spain gave in their adhesion. On the 18th of October the definitive treaty was concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle. France generously restored all her conquests, without claiming other advantages beyond the assurance of the duchies of Parma and Piacenza to the Infante Don Philip, son-in-law of Louis XV. England surrendered to France the Island of Cape Breton and the colony of Louisbourg, the only territory she had preserved from her numerous expeditions against the French colonies and from the immense losses inflicted upon French commerce. The Great Frederic kept Silesia; the King of Sardinia the territories already ceded by Austria. Only France had made great conquests; and only she retained no increment of territory. She recognized the Pragmatic-Sanction in favor of Austria and the Protestant succession in favor of George II. Prince Charles Edward, a refugee in France, refused to quit the hospitable soil which had but lately offered so magnificent an asylum to the unfortunates of his house: he was, however, carried off, whilst at the Opera, forced into a carriage, and conveyed far from the frontier. "As stupid as the peace!" was the bitter saying in the streets of Paris.


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