Showing posts with label spain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spain. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The French and Indian War

The French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Years War, the Third Silesian War, the Pomeranian War, or "that one war that Mrs. Painter talked about for, like, two weeks before we finally got to the Revolution."¹ was the first truly global war. As far as wars go, the French and Indian War is little more than a footnote on American history. On the outside, it may look relatively unimportant, but the French and Indian War changed the political landscape of North America in a way that would be instrumental to the Revolution that would occur twenty years after. And while it's no War of the Oaken Bucket, the French and Indian War merits discussion.

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North America at the beginning of the French
and Indian War
Winston Churchill described The Seven Years' War as being the first world war, and he wasn't wrong. The Seven Years' War was fought across the world, in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean². In Europe, multiple nations were fighting to curb the influence of Frederick the Great of Prussia. In India, the French and English supported various Indian rebel states in attempt to gain more favorable trade situations. In Africa, they tussled over the gum arabic trade. In the Caribbean, they fought over the financially lucrative sugar colonies.

In mainland North America, France, Spain, and England were fighting for land. France claimed to own all of the land watered by the Mississippi River, as well as Quebec and New France. Spain claimed Florida. Britain, by far the greediest of the bunch, claimed that the borders of their colonies continued horizontally from the east coast of the continent to the west coast. The fact that they weren't sure that there even was a west coast was conveniently overlooked.

With these overlapping claims, it's inevitable that the French and English would collide, and collide they did³. Enterprising British settlers, hungry for land, kept moving west, most notably into the lush Upper Ohio River Valley. Meanwhile, the French had been warring with the Meskwaki tribe, and in order to preserve some semblance of a peace, they had rerouted their trade routes, building forts in what was considered English territories.

In this era, forts were vital to controlling the land and protecting the settlers on the land. Because there was no wide police force, all policing had to come from the soldiers in the fort. The fort was also a place for civilians to hide in case of attack, and it protected travelers on the road. Forts were tremendously important, and both the French and the English were very touchy about the other side building forts on their land.

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Drawing of Fort Le Boeuf
Things kicked off in 1753 when the Virginia lieutenant governor, Robert Dinwiddie, sent an enterprising young nobody named George Washington to Fort Le Boeuf to tell the French to get the heck off the metaphorical English lawn. France had built a string of forts between Lake Erie and modern Pittsburgh, and the English were less than pleased. Washington carried out his duty, and the French politely declined his eviction notice. The niceties covered, Dinwiddie declared the French forts an act of aggression, and sent William Trent to build forts of their own, and George Washington to kick the French out of their forts.

Aggression declared, it was time to pick teams. Both the French and the English had been trading with the native tribes, and they realized that having the locals on their side was not only good for business, but it was also good for the war effort. The majority of Native Americans sided with the French, as they were the lesser of two evils. The French were less inclined to settle the land, and they bothered to learn native languages, and try to make friends. The British were increasingly encroaching on traditional hunting grounds, and they didn't seem inclined to stop. For many tribes, siding with the French seemed the best way to ensure their way of life.
Credit: Devan Hurst
However, just because one particular native nation teamed up with the French or the English didn't mean they were friends. In fact, tribes frequently fought with their European allies in between fighting the opposing side. Allying with the Europeans wasn't so much joining together to fight for a common cause as it was attempting to keep the white men too busy fighting each other to steal from tribes.

The most significant native ally to the British was the Iroquois League, or the Haudenosaunee. The Haudenosaunee were a powerful group in the region, and the British claimed them as subjects. This was particularly convenient for them, because the Haudenosaunee, as far as the British understood it, claimed a portion of land that the French were settling on, and this strengthened the English claims to the area.

It's summer of 1754, and George Washington is continuing in his efforts to run the French out of town. The French had defeated William Trent and burned his unfinished fort, building the much nicer Fort Duquesne (pronounced Du-cane) on its ashes. Meanwhile, Washington had defeated a small force of French in Pennsylvania and had captured the French leader, Joseph de Jumonville. Jumonville claimed that he and his men were on a peace mission to warn the English they were trespassing. Washington was, by all accounts, willing to negotiate and let Jumonville and his men go, when his Haudenosaunee ally,⁴ Tanaghrisson, killed Jumonville. Tanaghrisson notoriously hated the French, claiming that the French had boiled and eaten his father.

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Recreation of Fort Necessity
The French were none too pleased about the death of their commander, and George Washington high tailed it to Great Meadows, where he started building a fort appropriately named Fort Necessity. The French arrived at Fort Necessity on July 3rd and soundly beat the English, sending Washington and his men scurrying back to Virginia.

This led to a string of French victories, allowing them to take several English forts, and establish their own forts all along the Ohio river. They were able to do this partly because of their superior military power but also partly because they had support from Paris. London, on the other hand, didn't care about what was happening in the colonies, with King George II stating "Let the Americans fight the Americans." This ambivalence would continue until future Prime Minister, William Pitt, realized that the North American colonies were key to establishing British world dominance.

Meanwhile, up north in Nova Scotia, trouble was brewing. A group of French settlers called the Acadians had been farming the land since the 1600s, when Nova Scotia was still New France. The presence of these Francophone peoples made the British nervous, so nervous that in 1730, the Acadians had been forced to swear an oath of neutrality. However, things were heating up in Nova Scotia, and the British governor, Charles Lawrence, was getting nervous. The French had built an enormous fortress, Fort Louisbourg, on Cape Breton island, and they had built another fort, Fort Beausejour, on the Chignecto river. While storming Fort Beausejour in 1755, a small group of Acadian militiamen were captured, and Lawrence seized upon the incidence as a violation of the Acadians' oath of neutrality made twenty years earlier.

Lawrence gathered a group of Acadian leaders and tried to compel them to take an oath of allegiance to the British. The Acadians, unsurprisingly, refused. Though they had been mostly ignored by their French liege lords, they weren't too fond of the British, who coveted their lands. Lawrence took their refusal as an act of aggression and signed a deportation order. All Acadian lands and possessions were forfeit, and the Acadians were to leave Nova Scotia forthwith.

Depiction of the Acadians by artist Claude Picard
Not trusting the Acadians to go quietly, Lawrence sent his men to surround churches on Sunday mornings when the majority of the Catholic Acadians were attending mass. They captured the men, and sent the women and children running. The English destroyed dykes and fields, and loaded the Acadians onto ships headed to France, Britain, and the colonies of South Carolina, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. While many Acadians fled to the forests and fought back, they were unsuccessful. Approximately 10,000 Acadians were deported, and more than a tenth of them died. Acadians who landed in English colonies landed to a cool reception and were forced to wander in search of a new home. A number of these Acadians ended up in Louisiana, becoming the people who would become to be known as the Cajuns.

Meanwhile, back in London, parliament was finally taking the war seriously. They sent a significant force to the colonies to fight the French, and their newly minted navy to cut off French supplies and reinforcements. The British started winning in the Americas, aided by their fancy new guerilla warfare tactics learned from the Native Americans.

The French were starting to get desperate. The war had been dragging on for eight years, and the French government was going bankrupt. The British were slowly taking away both their trade on mainland North America and their sugar colonies, and they were getting tired of it. They turned to their friends, the Spanish. In an agreement that would be later known as the Family Compact⁵, the Spanish agreed that if the British had not withdrawn from North America by May 1, 1762, Spain would enter the war.

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Map of North America at the end of the French and
Indian War
This was meant to pressure the British into withdrawing. Unfortunately, Spain wasn't very intimidating. The English declared war on Spain in January of 1762 and thoroughly defeated them, taking Cuba, the Philippines, and the French Caribbean islands.

After these defeats, the French were ready to throw in the towel. Spain, France, and Britain signed the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763. In this treaty, Britain got Florida, Canada, and everything east of the Mississippi river. France got everything west of the Mississippi, as well as their sugar colonies. Spain got Cuba and the Philippines.

As the dust settled, the people in the Americas, native and non, realized that they had been massively screwed over. The Native Americans had hoped that fighting with the French and British would ensure that settlers kept off their lands in the Ohio River Valley. Unfortunately, with the French driven out, the British were free to settle where they pleased. Native Lands were snapped up at an alarming pace, and it was becoming increasingly impossible to keep settlers at bay.

Additionally, the war had been enormously expensive for the British government, and they had to find some way to pay for it. What better way to pay for it than taxing their colonies? These taxes would infuriate the colonists and ignite the spark that started the American Revolution.

¹Thanks, Mrs. Painter!
²Okay, sure, the Caribbean is technically a part of North America, but it's easy to forget that.
³At this point in the war, Spain was keeping itself to itself. They didn't have a horse in the Upper Ohio River Valley race. They wouldn't enter the war until later.
⁴Tanaghrisson was, specifically Seneca, though he may have been born into a different tribe. He was a significant Haudenosaunee leader, known by Europeans as "half-king."
⁵The French and Spanish kings were cousins.

This article edited by Mara Kellogg. Infographic made by Devan Hurst.

Who Fought in the French and Indian War?
French and Indian War-Ohio History Central
French and Indian War-Encyclopedia Britannica
French and Indian War/Seven Years' War
Incidents Leading Up to the French and Indian War
French and Indian War-History
Acadian Expulsion (The Great Upheaval)
Acadian Deportation, Migration, and Resettlement
French and Indian War-US History
French and Indian War Forts
The Battle of Fort Necessity
French and Indian War-Michigan State University

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Kingdom of Navarre

Navarre from beginning to end wielded a significant amount of power, especially for its size and relative lack of natural resources. Caught between France and Spain, located in a strategic point in the Pyrenees mountains, it's no surprise that Navarre's powerful neighbors eventually gobbled it up, leaving the only remnants of Navarre in regional toponyms. However, in the seven centuries between its inception and it's ultimate absorption into larger kingdoms, Navarre managed to be one of the most progressive of the medieval kingdoms, practicing religious tolerance and allowing women to inherit the throne, making it one of the best places to be a woman or non-Christian in medieval Europe.

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Navarre, 1000
Navarre was blessed by location. A mountainous kingdom, it controlled the only pass through the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. It controlled several pilgrim routes and served at various times in its history as a buffer state between Gascony/England/France and Castille/Aragon/Leon.¹ Because of this, alliances with Navarre were very attractive, especially given that Navarre wasn't the type to go quietly into the night.

Navarre began ethnically Basque. There's quite a bit of debate as to where the first Basques came from, but by the 700s when Navarre first started out as the Kingdom of Pamplona, the region was comprised of Basques, Moors, and Basque-Moors, the results of Basque-Moor intermarriage and conversion to Islam after the Basque kings agreed to subordination under the Caliphates. As French influence grew in the 1200s the human landscape of Navarre began to include more Francophonic characteristics. French became a co-language with Navarro-Aragonese (Occitan).

It is difficult to piece together the story of Navarre. Much of what we know about Navarre today comes from the stories of its rulers. Unlike other countries of the time, there isn't a good record about daily life for peasants or nobles. However, there are really good records of who Navarre fought, which was more or less everyone around them. To get even a general idea of Navarrese history, you have to go deep into the history of its royal families. Such depth would require a several hundred-page-long book, and we don't have that sort of time. So, to sum it up:

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Navarrese flag
Navarre was wrested from the Cordoba Caliphate in 824 by Inigo Arista, founder of the House of Iniguez. Navarre was, initially, named "The Kingdom of Pamplona", and in fact didn't come to be known as Navarre until the mid-1100s. The Kingdom of Pamplona was, unsurprisingly, located around the now Spanish city of Pamplona and extended into modern French territory. Inigo and his two successors spent their lives fighting against the Cordoba Caliphate, who were the major power in the region. Though they were briefly forced into vassalage to the Cordobas, Navarre ultimately remained an independent kingdom.

The House of Jimenez oversaw Navarre's most successful military expansions, reaching its greatest size under the aptly named Alfonso the Battler. He gained control of most of Castile and Leon through marriage to Urraca of Leon. Unfortunately, he and Urraca couldn't stand each other, and he lost his new territories in the divorce.

Jimenez also oversaw Navarre's vassalage to the Holy See, usually known as the Vatican. Unlike it's vassalage to Cordoba, or later to Aragon and France, this was voluntary. For most of Navarre's existence as a country, it was a profoundly Catholic nation, participating in two crusades, and swearing fealty to at least three popes.

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Alfonso the Battler and groupies
Despite this decidedly pro-Catholic stance, Jimenez Navarre, and Navarre for the rest of its inception, was remarkably protective of its Jews, welcoming in Jews that had been expelled from other countries, and allowing them to participate in their own governance.

Navarre passed into French control in 1234, and though it maintained nominal independence, it was, essentially, the red-headed stepchild of France, governed by a series of oppressive French governors. Still, this era saw the codification of law and the rise of a middle class. Two houses ruled during this era of French domination: the House of Blois² and the House of Capet. Several of the rulers of this era never even stepped foot in Navarre. Each of these houses produced one queen regnant--Joan I and Joan II.

With the death of Joan I, Navarre passed to her daughter Joan II, who straddled the House of Capet, and the House of Evreux. Joan II was queen regnant in her own right. Navarre has no adherent of Salic Law. However, her husband, Phillip,  got his knickers in a twist. Having been denied the throne of France, he was irritated that his wife got to rule a country but he didn't. After extensive lobbying, both Joan and Philip were crowned as co-rulers.

This new House of Evreux oversaw some of the most turbulent and progressive times of Navarrese history. The monarchs after Joan II and Philip were the first in more than a century to actually have been born in Navarre. The Navarrese monarchs of the time had significant holdings in France, which saw expansion and deflation, depending on the day. Protections were put in place to protect Navarrese Muslims, and a Supreme Court was established.

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Jeanne III, also known as Jean d'Albret
Unfortunately, the death of Navarre's third Queen Regnant--Blanche I--in 1441 spelled the beginning of the end for Navarre. The throne was grabbed by Blanche's Aragonese Trastamara husband instead of her son, sparking a civil war that weakened the country. The House of Trastamara saw only two monarchs, and the succeeding House of Foix saw only two as well before Upper Navarre (Navarre on the Spanish side) was conquered by Aragon.

With only Lower Navarre (the French side) left, Navarre was ruled by the House of d'Albret, a two-ruler house that boasted Navarre's most impressive Queen Regnant--Jeanne III.

Jeanne was a Renaissance princess, and she was swept up in the Reformation. Like Henry VIII, she had her country converted to Protestantism (though with less bloodshed). She also threw her weight behind the French Huguenots, who were a constant thorn in the side of the Catholic French monarchs. Her constant warring with France, and the concessions she was forced into, saw Lower Navarre absorbed into France for good on her death.

The Middle Ages saw a large amount of small states rise and fall, especially on the turbulent Iberian Peninsula. Many of them are more or less forgotten today. We remember Navarre because of its longevity, its political power, and its progressive (for the time) stance on human rights.

Navarre lasted as an independent entity in some form from its inception in 824 until the absorption of Lower Navarre into France in 1620. It saw nine royal houses and 38 individual monarchs. Several periods of this time included vassalage to the Cordoba Caliphate, Aragon, France, or the Holy See. Despite this, Navarre maintained a separate identity, still remaining distinctly Navarrese.

Navarrese royal crest
Navarre's political power was backed both by impressive political skills and by a fearsome fighting force. Navarrese royalty intermarried with royals from Castile, Leon, Aragon, the Cordoba Caliphate, France, and England. Notorious fourteenth-century monarch, Charles the Bad, was especially wily, playing France and England off each other to expand his territory. Jeanne d'Albret, the last truly Navarrese ruler of Navarre, skillfully negotiated with Catherine de Medici to maintain Navarrese sovereignty and freedom of religion.

Words were backed up with a strong arm. From its very inception, Navarre had been a state with a strong military. In the years of the House of Iniguez and the House of Jimenez, it was constantly at war with the Muslim forces that occupied the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula or with its neighbor, Aragon. After its first vassalage to France, Navarre became a sort of mercenary farm, used by French-Navarrese monarchs to pad out their French army and to advance their interest militarily in the Iberian peninsula and the south of France. After the reign of Charles the Bad, the most notorious Navarrese warmonger, Navarrese mercenaries become popular all over the continent.

Navarre was an incredible country--progressive for a medieval state, incredibly powerful, and long-lived. While it has been more or less forgotten today, it left a large mark on history and was instrumental in making modern European nations what they are today.

¹It is worth mentioning that Spain and France as modern states did not exist for much of Navarre's history but were instead split up into a series of smaller states continually at war with each other.
²Or the house of champagne, depending on how you want to split things.

This article was edited by Mara Kellogg

Pamplona. Navarre. History of Early Christian Kingdoms