Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How far he [Joseph] sought popularity is a difficult issue. Contemporary remarks on this subject can be misleading. ‘Popolare’ in Italian, ‘populaire’ in French and other such adjectives, which were often applied to his conduct, have pejorative connotations reflecting noble disdain at ungentlemanly behaviour […] Joseph’s readiness to be affable to everyone, to eliminate the cost and complexity of traditional dress and etiquette, to behave in a way that put relatively humble members of society at their ease, to throw open the royal parks, to go behind the backs of lords and officials and receive the complaints and petitions of the poorest - all this represented for many observers treason not just to monarchy, but to the entire aristocratic order. Such critics refused to entertain the possibility that an emperor might genuinely sympathise, and think it his duty to sympathise, with the lower classes. […] It was a further black mark against Joseph that, while he was mean in his pleasure and towards the already wealthy, he was generous in rewarding hard cases and those who did him small services in his travels. He never dreamed of asking the advice and opinion of the people as a body; he made no public speeches; and he shrugged off public criticism, speaking savagely of journalists and pamphleteers. When asked about ‘the tribute of public applause’, he said ‘he himself had sometimes been applauded … when he didn’t deserve to be, and vice versa. We must do good according to our own views.’ But he displayed some pleasure in what we call popularity; he sometimes appealed to the public opinion in writing; and he tried to find out what impression he had made during his journeys, ‘as a guide to my future conduct.’


There was something forced about his relationship with ordinary people. He was not one of those very rare monarchs like Peter the Great or Henry IV who could throw off his royalty and talk naturally with all his subjects. However unsatisfactory his education and reading, he was an intellectual. His fastidiousness had blenched at the coarseness even of the king of Naples. But nonetheless it was his own special eccentricity, for which he had no obvious model - and it is striking that it was redarded as so eccentric - to be accessible to all petitioners and, worse still, to act on their petitions.

Derek Beales, Joseph II, Vol. 1, p. 313-314
Condemning in effect a despotic international, Bignon noted that “kings, under this system, constitute a nomadic tribe who go from place to place pitching their tents in different countries.” He added a charge of paranoia: “A free Naples threatens Vienna, a liberated Madrid offends Berlin, a constitutional Lisbon outrages St. Petersburg.” Baron Louis Pierre Édouard Bignon scathingly summing up the Holy Alliance in 1821. Quoted in The four horsemen. Riding to liberty in post-Napoleonic Europe, by Richard Stites, p. 13.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Eritrean colonial troops and their families, Royal Italian Army, 1936 - Drawings by Paolo Caccia Dominioni (1896-1992)
Source

Eritrean colonial troops and their families, Royal Italian Army, 1936 - Drawings by Paolo Caccia Dominioni (1896-1992)

Source

Highlights of Spanish cavalry from the 18th to the early 20th century, in a 1910 illustration set.
Source

Highlights of Spanish cavalry from the 18th to the early 20th century, in a 1910 illustration set.

Source

Soldiers of the Régiment d’Auxerrois in a plate by Lucien Rousselot (1900-1992).
The Anne S.K. Brown Collection caption says it depicts the unit in 1756, but at that time the old Auxerrois regiment had been disbanded and its men incorporated into the Grenadiers de France and the Régiment de Flandre; I think it means 1776, the year when a second Régiment d’Auxerrois was created, and it would also match the cut of the uniforms.
Source

Soldiers of the Régiment d’Auxerrois in a plate by Lucien Rousselot (1900-1992).

The Anne S.K. Brown Collection caption says it depicts the unit in 1756, but at that time the old Auxerrois regiment had been disbanded and its men incorporated into the Grenadiers de France and the Régiment de Flandre; I think it means 1776, the year when a second Régiment d’Auxerrois was created, and it would also match the cut of the uniforms.

Source

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Officer and lower ranks (I think the man in the middle might be a sergeant) of the Swiss guards regiment commanded by Colonel Jaccaud (also spelled Iacaud), later by Colonel Bavois, in the service of Francesco III d’Este, Duke of Modena.
The date at the bottom right of the image is slightly off the mark, as this regiment was raised in 1742.
Source

Officer and lower ranks (I think the man in the middle might be a sergeant) of the Swiss guards regiment commanded by Colonel Jaccaud (also spelled Iacaud), later by Colonel Bavois, in the service of Francesco III d’Este, Duke of Modena.

The date at the bottom right of the image is slightly off the mark, as this regiment was raised in 1742.

Source

Friday, August 1, 2014
An illustration by JOB of the Marquis de Saint-Pern, commander of the regiment of the Grenadiers de France, encouraging his men as they stood in the open under heavy enemy fire at the battle of Minden, 1 August 1759:

Not wishing them to fall back, this officer rode slowly down the front of the line with his snuff-box in his hand and, taking no notice of the bullets, said, “Well, my boys, what’s the matter? Eh, cannon? Well, it kills you, it kills you, that’s all, my boys; march on, and never mind it!”.
(Sir Lees Knowles, Minden and the Seven Years War, p. 25)

Among the French officers of this unit killed on this day, there was the Marquis de Lafayette, lieutenant-colonel and father of the Lafayette of the American revolutionary war:

Ce dernier [Lafayette] éprouva un effet physique bien extraordinaire, au commencement de la cannonade: un tremblement universel agita ses nerfs; mais il sut de roidir contre cet effet fâcheux, en se tenant très-exactement à son poste, appuyé sur le fusil dont il était armé, afin de diminuer son agitation. Il demandait pardon aux grenadiers qu’il comandait de l’effet naturel qu’il éprouvait, et auquel il sut résister, jusqu’au moment où un boulet de canon le partagea par la moitié du corps.
(Mémoires autographes de M. le Prince de Montbarey, Vol. 1, p. 176)

An illustration by JOB of the Marquis de Saint-Pern, commander of the regiment of the Grenadiers de France, encouraging his men as they stood in the open under heavy enemy fire at the battle of Minden, 1 August 1759:

Not wishing them to fall back, this officer rode slowly down the front of the line with his snuff-box in his hand and, taking no notice of the bullets, said, “Well, my boys, what’s the matter? Eh, cannon? Well, it kills you, it kills you, that’s all, my boys; march on, and never mind it!”.

(Sir Lees Knowles, Minden and the Seven Years War, p. 25)

Among the French officers of this unit killed on this day, there was the Marquis de Lafayette, lieutenant-colonel and father of the Lafayette of the American revolutionary war:

Ce dernier [Lafayette] éprouva un effet physique bien extraordinaire, au commencement de la cannonade: un tremblement universel agita ses nerfs; mais il sut de roidir contre cet effet fâcheux, en se tenant très-exactement à son poste, appuyé sur le fusil dont il était armé, afin de diminuer son agitation. Il demandait pardon aux grenadiers qu’il comandait de l’effet naturel qu’il éprouvait, et auquel il sut résister, jusqu’au moment où un boulet de canon le partagea par la moitié du corps.

(Mémoires autographes de M. le Prince de Montbarey, Vol. 1, p. 176)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Botta cried out: “You will ruin the House of Austria, Sire, and damage yourself at the same time.” “It only depends on the Queen [Maria Theresa],” said the King, “to accept the offerings that have been made to her.” This made the marquis fall deep in thought; however, he collected himself and, speaking again in a tone and air of irony, he said: “Sire, your troops are very beautiful, I agree; ours do not have such an appearance, but they have seen the wolf. Think, I beseech you, about what you are going to undertake.” The King lost his patience and replied with vivacity: “You find that my troops are beautiful, and I shall make you agree that they are also good.” The marquis made a few more attempts at delaying the implementation of this project [the invasion of Silesia]: the King made it understood that it was too late, and the Rubicon was passed.

Botta s’écria : « Vous allez ruiner la maison d’Autriche, Sire, et vous abîmer en même temps. » « Il ne dépend que de la Reine, reprit le Roi, d’accepter les offres qui lui sont faites. » Cela rendit le marquis rêveur; il se recueillit cependant, et, reprenant la parole d’un ton de voix et d’un air ironiques, il dit : « Sire, vos troupes sont belles, j’en conviens; les nôtres n’ont pas cette apparence, mais elles ont vu le loup; pensez, je vous en conjure, à ce que vous allez entreprendre. » Le Roi s’impatienta et reprit avec vivacité : « Vous trouvez que mes troupes sont belles, et je vous ferai convenir qu’elles sont bonnes. » Le marquis fit encore des instances pour qu’on différât l’exécution de ce projet : le Roi lui fit comprendre qu’il était trop tard, et que le Rubicon était passé.

Frederick the Great, Histoire de mon temps, Chapter 2, my translation.

In which Marquis Antoniotto Botta Adorno tries to raise his voice, and it backfires (though not quite as horribly as in Genoa, 1746).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cela était si vrai, que dès lors l’Impératrice-Reine préparait dans le silence du cabinet les grands projets qui éclatèrent dans la suite. Cette femme superbe, dévorée d’ambition, voulait aller à la gloire par tous les chemins; elle mit dans ses finances un ordre inconnu à ses ancêtres, et non seulement répara par de bons arrangements ce qu’elle avait perdu par les provinces cédées au roi de Prusse et au roi de Sardaigne, mais elle augmenta encore considérablement ses revenus. Le comte Haugwitz devint contrôleur général de ses finances; sous son administration les revenus de l’Impératrice montèrent à trente-six millions de florins ou vingt-quatre millions d’écus. L’empereur Charles VI son père, possesseur du royaume de Naples, de la Servie et de la Silésie, n’en avait pas eu autant. L’Empereur son époux, qui n’osait se mêler des affaires du gouvernement, se jeta dans celles du négoce : il ménageait tous les ans de grosses sommes de ses revenus de Toscane, qu’il faisait valoir dans le commerce; il établissait des manufactures; il prêtait à gages; il entreprit la livraison des uniformes, des armes, des chevaux et des habits d’ordonnance pour toute l’armée impériale; associé avec un comte Bolza et un marchand nommé Schimmelmann, il avait pris à ferme les douanes de la Saxe, et en l’année 1756 il livra même le fourrage et la farine à l’armée du Roi, tout en guerre qu’il était avec l’Impératrice son épouse. Durant la guerre, l’Empereur avançait des sommes considérables à cette princesse sur de bons nantissements : il était, en un mot, le banquier de la cour; et en qualité de roi de Jérusalem qu’il porte, il se conformait à l’usage immémorial de la nation judaïque.


L’Impératrice avait senti dans les guerres précédentes la nécessité de mieux discipliner son armée : elle choisit des généraux laborieux, et capables d’introduire la discipline dans ses troupes; de vieux officiers, peu propres aux emplois qu’ils occupaient, furent renvoyés avec des pensions, et remplacés par de jeunes gens de condition pleins d’ardeur et d’amour pour le métier de la guerre. On formait toutes les années des camps dans les provinces, où les troupes étaient exercées par des commissaires-inspecteurs instruits et formés aux grandes manœuvres de la guerre; l’Impératrice se rendit elle-même à différentes reprises dans les camps de Prague et d’Olmütz, pour animer les troupes par sa présence et par ses libéralités : elle savait faire valoir mieux qu’aucun prince ces distinctions flatteuses dont leurs serviteurs font tant de cas; elle récompensait les officiers qui lui étaient recommandés par ses généraux, et elle excitait partout l’émulation, les talents, et le désir de lui plaire. En même temps se formait une école d’artillerie sous la direction du prince de Lichtenstein; il porta ce corps à six bataillons, et l’usage des canons à cet abus inouï auquel il est parvenu de nos jours; par zèle pour l’Impératrice il y dépensa au delà de cent mille écus de son propre bien. Enfin, pour ne rien négliger de ce qui pouvait avoir rapport au militaire, l’Impératrice fonda près de Vienne un collége où la jeune noblesse était instruite dans tous les arts qui ont rapport à la guerre; elle attira d’habiles professeurs de géométrie, de fortification, de géographie et d’histoire, qui formèrent des sujets capables; ce qui devint une pépinière d’officiers pour son armée. Par tous ces soins le militaire acquit dans ce pays un degré de perfection où il n’était jamais parvenu sous les Empereurs de la maison d’Autriche, et une femme exécuta des desseins dignes d’un grand homme.

Frederick II of Prussia, Histoire de la Guerre de Sept Ans, Chapter I

In which Frederick pays Maria Theresa the maximum compliments he can gather; not quite sure how much of a compliment it is, on the other hand, to say that Emperor Francis I, as “King of Jerusalem” and de facto banker of the Austrian court, “conformed himself to the immemorial usage of the Jewish nation”…

The years that came and went at the Castle of Fratta, as unvarying, modest and unremarked as humble country folk, bore famous and terrible names in Venice and the rest of the world. They were called 1786, 1787 and 1788: three numbers that are numbers like any other, but which in mankind’s chronology will always stand for one of its greatest upheavals. No one today believes that the French Revolution was the madness of one people alone. The impartial muse of history has shown us that a hidden fever for liberty had long incubated in men’s souls, before it burst out - heedless, inexorable, supreme - in the social order. Where deeds thunder, you can be sure than an idea has struck. The impetuous and reckless French nation was the first to plunge from doctrine to experience; France was considered the brain of humanity when it was but the hand: a bold and dexterous hand that often destroyed its own work, even as the design grew clearer in the universal mind of the people. Ippolito Nievo, Confessions of an Italian, Chapter 6, translation by Frederika Randall