The Great Game: The treaty of Marseilles

The Treaty of Marseilles, when it finally came, was a peace of exhaustion; but for precisely that reason, it was well suited to guaranteeing a lasting peace. The issue for which the war had been fought – the threat of Spanish hegemony – had been decisively settled : Spain would no longer overshadow the European Powers. At the same time, the peace treaty was not so harsh as to embitter the Spanish court beyond bearing : The concessions forced by the victorious Alliance were carefully calculated to bring a maximum of subtle economic effect for a minimum of overt annexation. Thus, England’s annexation of Tangiers broke the Spanish monopoly on trade tolls in and out of the Mediterranean (incidentally increasing that trade by 50%), but no large class of Spanish nobles or influential merchants were hurt. In a similar vein, Norway and Burgundy gained enough American gold mines to significantly reduce Spanish revenue – but as the mines had belonged to the Crown, no recidivism could be whipped up in the Spanish people over such a loss. Lastly, the new Republics of Gran Colombia and Haiti (although their independence was quietly guaranteed by English and Norwegian naval power) were ruled by oligarchies of Spanish noblemen and merchants. Hence their existence gave none of the emotional leverage that outright annexation might have provided.

The vast casualties of the Iberian front had in any case dampened the enthusiasm of all parties (except the Ynglings, who had wisely avoided committing large troop strengths to the deadlock; but Norway, which could only fight Great Powers by mobilising half of the most productive class, had its own problems with drawn-out warfare) for war. The effect was particularly noticeable in Spain proper, in which the sacrifices of the war had been disproportionately hard, and made all the worse by contrast with the previous prosperity of empire. No actual revolts took place in Iberia, but enough rumblings of discontent (particularly along the coasts, exposed to Alliance naval raiding) were heard to make Madrid extremely nervous – justifiably so, in view of open rebellions in the colonies, and a total lack of sea power to suppress them.

Meanwhile, the Alliance had strains of its own; the large German population of Burgundy, in particular, took the opportunity to press for concessions, and got them. Even so, small localised risings against Burgundian rule took place in several places, and were temporarily made to stick in the swamps of Louisiana. Like the Spanish loss of Colombia, such a concession was not going to shatter the viability of the Burgundian state; but the precedent was ominous. Many saw the American troubles as the first rumblings of the avalanche. There was therefore audible relief in Antwerp as much as in Madrid when news of the Treaty arrived – augmented by Burgundy, which had borne the brunt of Alliance losses, being rewarded with the bulk of the Spanish gold mines.

With the threat of hegemony thus averted, the Great Powers settled in for another period of peaceful Balance-of-Power diplomacy, jockeying for position in the colonies, and throwing their weight around in the Far East. This happy expectation, however, was not shared by the cold planners of Håkon’s Hall. For the Ynglings, the peace was merely an opportunity to prepare for the next war, nor did they assume that war was far off.

From Berserker to Battleship : Norway 1066 to 1920, Bergenhus University Press.

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A note on Tangiers : EU2 doesn’t model anything so sophisticated as who can grab tolls off the Gibraltar trade, but its loss did mean that Spain lost land connection to all its African provinces, imposing a 10% income loss on a good third of its empire. The net result of the peace treaty was to bring Spain’s monthly income from 1200 down to a much more reasonable 800, in the same league as Burgundy and England, and not too far ahead of Norway.

Now, maps!

The religious situation in Europe:
Religion 1806

North America:
North America, religion 1806

South America:
South America, religion 1806

And Asia:
Asia, religion 1806

Not many Moslems in this history! On to the political maps. Most important, Europe!

Europe 1806

The Americas; note the two new countries.
America 1806

India, with the vast English empire.
India 1806

It remains to be seen whether we can squeeze another war into the 13 years of EU2 remaining; but we expect to reach 1819, and the Vicky conversion, this week. Stay tuned!

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