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niedziela, 22 lutego 2009

Germain Louis Chauvelin (1685-1762) The Breach between France and Britain 1727-1737 (extract)



From the war of Spanish succession (1702-1714) Britain emerged as victorious European power valued as ally, dreadful as opponent. The bankrupt France agreed with joy and relief in 1715 for British proposals for an Alliance. Versailles had even planned a bribe for British negotiator gen. James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope (1673-1721), who was amused when his French colleague Guillaume Dubois (1656-1723) proposed to take the money. The treaty of an alliance was signed in 1717. From that moment on Britain and France were peace-guardians in Europe. They were also guardians of the status quo elaborated at the congress of Utrecht (1713). Spain had an occasion to convince itself of the strength of Franco-British alliance, when its minister Giulio Alberoni (1664-1752) tried to regain (battle of Sardinia in November 1717, Spanish troops landing on Sicily in July 1718) former Spanish dominions in Italy, given to Austria at the congress of Utrecht and Rastatt (1714), however it’s possible, that France reacted only because of Spanish involvement in the complot against the power of the regent Philipp II d’Orleans, who ruled in the name of young Louis XV. In 1718 Dubois, now the regent’s prime minister, let the complotters to be arrested, and expelled the Spanish ambassador Antonio del Giudica, count Cellamare (1657-1733). From France. Spanish king Philip V never ceased to dream about French crown, although he had resigned of all pretensions to it in 1700.

Although At first somewhat exotic and uncomfortable, Franco-British alliance grew stronger in 1720’s. Both Governments (Walpole’s and Fleury’s) cared for peace and stability. In 1726 the cardinal and preceptor of Louis XV, André Hercule de Fleury (1653-1743) took control over France’s policy after the death of the second regent (Philip d’Orleans died in 1723) Henri count of Bourbon. It was the first political decision made by Louis as ruling king. Henri Bourbon and especially Fleury wanted to strengthen the alliance. French Secretary of State for foreign affaires (1723-1727) Charles Fleuriau, d'Armenonville, count of Morville (1686-1732) would prefer More independence from London, but it was Fleury who had the King’s ear.

The Alliance between Britain and France worked ably till 1727 when Fleury nominated Germain Louis Chauvelin (1685-1762) as the new French foreign minister, although Chauvelin never concealed his hatred towards the British. His views were typical for the old political school of Louis XIV. As an opponent of the British alliance and adherent of the Spanish one, he tried to conduct his own informal diplomacy behind the back of the old cardinal. In 1731 Chauvelin sent a very able French diplomat Anne-Théodore Chevignard de Chavigny (1671-1771), despised by Saint-Simon, and praised by young Voltaire, to spy on the British. Chavigny caused a great embarrassment in king George’ s cabinet because of his contacts with the anti-walpolean opposition, and his proposal to accompany George II to Hannover.
The British knew Chauvelins real feelings, thank to the intercepted letters of the French ambassador in London François Marie de Broglie (1671-1745), but still believed in the good will of the cardinal Fleury, and were trying to persuade him to dismiss the Anglophobe, which followed in 1737 – to late to change the direction given to France by Chauvelin. The awkward situation continued until the war of the Austrian succession (1741-1748). The Chauvelin example can show to us how very fragile and breakable is an alliance of two states who distrust each other.

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