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La reconstrucción de la política internacional española

 | 
Joaquim Albareda Salvadó
, 
Núria Sallés Vilaseca

II. — La reacción internacional ante la política española

The Savoyard state between the powers, 1688-1748

Christopher Storrs

Texte intégral

  • 1 British Library, Additional Manuscripts, 23811, fo 334, in Lodge, 1930, p. 57.
  • 2 National Archives (NA) [Kew, United Kingdom], State Papers (SP), serie 92 (Savoy and Sardinia), vo (...)

… a prince who holds the balance in Italy. If you lose him, you lose Italy.
Lord Carteret to Robinson, British minister in Vienna, 8 July 1742 OS1.… it cannot be expected, unless these People [the Court of Turin] are encouraged with the strongest assurances of being supported, and are speedily and effectually so, that they will dare oppose two such powers as France and Spain should they […] force their passage into Italy.
Arthur Villettes to duke of Newcastle, Turin, 3 February 17412.

  • 3 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 33, fo 462, letter from Edward Allen to Newcastle, Turin, 30 September 1730
  • 4 Bianchi, Merlotti, 2017.
  • 5 Scott, 1989.

1In 1730 the abdication of Victor Amadeus II (1675-1730), duke of Savoy and king of Sardinia, astonished Europe3. This was not only because it is always surprising when those exercising power give it up voluntarily —as Philip V did in 1724— but also because Victor Amadeus had transformed his state’s place in Europe. In 1690, the Savoyard state, a typically «composite» state —comprising the county of Nice, the duchy of Savoy, the duchy of Aosta and the principality of Piedmont which was the largest, the most populous and the wealthiest component part of the state, and held together by loyalty to the ruling dynasty, the House of Savoy4—, was a satellite of the French king, Louis XIV. But by 1730 it enjoyed a new independence and importance; it was ruled by a king whose territories now extended beyond the Italian mainland into the Mediterranean, and it was seen as a likely member of what by the middle of the eighteenth century English politicians called the «Old System», the alliance of England (Britain), the Dutch republic and the Austrian Habsburgs which aimed to contain Bourbon France and, after 1700, Philip V’s Spain5.

  • 6 Black, 1983.
  • 7 Baudrillart, 1890-1901.

2This essay seeks to explain this transformation of the Savoyard state between 1690 and 1748, one of the most important structural changes in the sphere of international relations in Europe in that period, and to explore some of its implications. The subject has by no means been ignored by historians. On the contrary, it has attracted considerable historiographical attention, primarily in Italy — witness the work of Domenico Carutti and others, writing in the era of the Risorgimento6. In what follows, I draw on this secondary literature and on contemporary diplomatic sources to suggest that Philip V and his second wife, Isabel Farnese, might have had more success in Italy if they had secured, and made greater efforts to secure, the support of the princes of the House of Savoy, i.e. Victor Amadeus II and his son and successor, Charles Emanuel III (1730-1773) —a subject not fully explored by Baudrillart in his otherwise impressive study of Philip V’s foreign policy7.

  • 8 Storrs, 2008.
  • 9 Lodge, 1930, p. 35.
  • 10 Storrs, 2018, pp. 143-145.
  • 11 Black, 1989.
  • 12 Raviola, 2008; McKay, Scott, 1983.

3In addition, however, while charting and explaining Savoyard success, I also want to suggest that the Risorgimento tradition (which remains influential) puts too positive a gloss on both the situation and achievements of the Savoyard state, a polity too frequently thought of as «exceptional» in the international arena and as almost inevitably destined to later unite «Italy»8, while a belief that the Court of Turin was in control of events often leads to very harsh judgments of its supposed brazen and selfish opportunism9. In fact, strategically valuable states are also vulnerable ones, witness the «failure» of the duchy of Mantua in the War of the Spanish Succession10. Indeed, while the Savoyard state enjoyed real advantages and scored some real successes between 1690 and 1748 it is possible to argue that the princes of the House of Savoy —like their cousins of the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach11, and like some other dynasties and states which did not make the transition from second or third rank status to that of «Great Power» in the eighteenth century— should have done even better than they did in an era in which the Spanish, English (British) and Austrian successions were at the centre of international politics12.

The Nine Years War (1688-1697) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713)

  • 13 Symcox, 1983a, pp. 79-105; Oresko, 2004; Carutti, 1897, pp. 43-155; Storrs, 1990, 1992.

4In order to understand the importance of the Savoyard state to the ambitions of Philip V after 1713, and the attitude to it of Philip and his contemporaries, we must refer to the experience of the two preceding wars, the Nine Years War (1688-1697) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713). In 1688 the Savoyard capital, Turin, was caught between French garrisons in Pinerolo (since 1631) and Casale in Monferrato (since 1681). Victor Amadeus, who had succeeded as a child in 1675, ousted his pro-French mother, the regent, Maria Giovanna Battista in 1685 by means of a coup in which he secured Louis XIV’s support by marrying his niece, Anne-Marie of Orleans, but he resented his dependent situation. However, with a relatively small army he could do little to throw off a French yoke which included a veto on the establishment of diplomatic links between the Courts of Turin and Madrid. Salvation came in the form of the Grand Alliance concluded by William III of England, the Dutch republic, the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold (and later Carlos II of Spain) in 1689 to oppose Louis XIV. The allies planned to invade southern France from Spanish Milan, crossing Piedmont and Savoy. Victor Amadeus, who would be caught up in the war whether he liked it or not, decided to seize his opportunity; he abandoned Louis XIV, joining (1690) the Grand Alliance, which promised him Pinerolo13.

  • 14 Oresko, 2004, pp. 38-39.
  • 15 Storrs, 1997, 1998.

5I want to emphasise here the extent to which Victor Amadeus, who was just 21 years old in 1690, was taking an enormous risk, since the new policy might prove a disaster; many of his subjects, including his mother, opposed it14. Their fears were justified. The duke and his allies sustained two major defeats in Piedmont (in 1690 and 1693), the duchy of Savoy and the county of Nice were both occupied by the French, and Turin itself was often threatened (1691, 1693, 1696). On the other hand, in 1692 Victor Amadeus —supported by his allies, including units of Spain’s Army of Lombardy— invaded France, the sole such invasion throughout the war, and which was only halted when the duke fell ill15.

  • 16 Id., 1999, pp. 20-73.
  • 17 Ibid., pp. 103-109; Id., 2012a.
  • 18 Rowlands, 2000.

6This brings us to the fundamental factor behind the rise of Savoy, its strategic position straddling the Alps between southern France and Italy The duke of Savoy offered his allies unique access to France from the Po valley through the alpine valleys and could also close those same valleys to any attempt to invade Italy —and reach Lombardy— from France. With allied support, the duke’s army could be expanded and ensure full exploitation of these strategic advantages16, while the subsidies promised him by England, the Dutch republic and Spain made good the revenues lost when the French occupied or ravaged his territories17. The duke’s forces also tied down large numbers of French troops whose presence elsewhere —on the Rhine, in Flanders, in Catalonia— might have proved decisive, and thus prevented Louis XIV from delivering a knock-out blow in any of those other theatres and winning the war18. These strategic factors shaped the conduct and outcome of this and most of the other wars fought between 1690 and 1748.

  • 19 Storrs, 1999, pp. 293-311; Onnekink (ed.), 2009.
  • 20 Tabacco, 1939.
  • 21 Symcox, 1983a, pp. 115-116.

7However, Victor Amadeus’s position also had its downside. Wartime alliances are never easy. England and the Dutch republic pressed him to grant toleration to his Protestant Vaudois subjects, suggesting the continued importance of religion in international relations in this period19. Relations with these two powers and with Spain were also troubled by the growing arrears in the payment of the duke’s subsidies. More serious were the rival ambitions of the Austrian Habsburgs as the Emperor —the duke of Savoy’s overlord in respect of those of his territories which fell within the jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Empire20— re-asserted his authority in Italy from 1690 onwards. Increasingly, the Austrian Habsburgs appeared as competitors of the House of Savoy in north Italy. In 1695, therefore, rather than allow the Emperor to replace the French in Casale, Victor Amadeus did a secret deal with Louis XIV to ensure that that fortress, which was then besieged by the allies, was surrendered to its prince, the Gonzaga duke of Mantua, and not to the Emperor, to the disgust of the latter21.

  • 22 Ibid., pp. 116-117; Canestrier, 1934; Handen, 1976.
  • 23 Symcox, 1983a, p. 117; Carutti, 1875-1880, pp. 229-240.

8Victor Amadeus was also increasingly concerned that his more powerful allies would neglect his interests in the peacemaking, a problem facing all of the wartime coalitions fought between 1688 and 1748. In the summer of 1696, therefore, the duke —having failed to obtain Milan from the Spanish Court the year before— concluded another secret deal with Louis XIV, who promised to give him Pinerolo if he abandoned his allies22. The implementation of the deal confirmed the strategic and political importance of the Savoyard state. A Franco-Savoyard conquest of Spanish Milan seemed imminent in the late summer and autumn of 1696. The allies were obliged in October 1696 to agree to the neutrality of Italy, the Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs forcing the hands of William III and the Dutch republic. Louis XIV, now free of the war in the Po valley, was able to reinforce his armies elsewhere and to attempt to deliver the knockout blow, most notably in Catalonia in 1697. Victor Amadeus’s separate peace in 1696 was thus crucial in bringing about the general peace, concluded at Ryswick the following year, which ended the Nine Years War23.

  • 24 Thomson, 1961.
  • 25 Storrs, 1999, p. 159, citing William III’s secretary, William Blathwayt in 1693.
  • 26 Haussonville, 1898-1908.

9The fact that Victor Amadeus had negotiated secretly with Louis XIV to secure his own advantage at the expense of his allies, just as he had negotiated secretly with the allies in 1690 before abandoning the French king, confirmed his reputation not only as an able negotiator but also as treacherous and fundamentally untrustworthy, an image which he and his successor would find difficult to shake off. In many respects this was unfair: the duke’s allies had conducted their own separate, secret negotiations throughout the war24; they had also long known of or at least suspected those of Victor Amadeus25. But this «black legend» of Savoyard duplicity and treachery would endure. For his former allies, finally, the duke, whose eldest daughter, Marie Adelaide, married Louis XIV’s grandson, the duke of Burgundy as part of the 1696 settlement26, also seemed to have returned to the French camp, as before 1690.

  • 27 Storrs, 2016a, pp. 234-245.

10In the years immediately following the conclusion of the war, resentment on the part of both William III and Louis XIV at their treatment by Victor Amadeus in the recent war may have ensured that he failed to gain more from the efforts of those monarchs between 1698 and 1700 —notably in the second Partition Treaty— to prevent a major European war over the Spanish Succession, to which the princes of the House of Savoy had a claim, and also from the Act of Settlement (1701), which determined that the English succession —to which the duke’s wife, Anne-Marie, who was of Stuart ancestry, had a claim— should pass in the event of queen Anne dying childless, to the Protestant House of Hanover, thus setting aside the Savoyard claim27.

  • 28 For what follows, see Symcox, 1983a, pp. 138-141.
  • 29 Sclopis, 1866.

11That Victor Amadeus had returned to the French camp in 1696 seemed to be confirmed by the fact that, in April 1701, he joined Louis XIV and Philip V in a formal alliance at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession28, his other daughter, Marie Louise becoming Philip’s first wife, and the mother of Luis I and Fernando VI of Spain29. In fact, surrounded by the Bourbons, who were now also entrenched in Spanish Milan, Victor Amadeus appeared to have little choice. However, as before 1690 the duke was deeply unhappy with his dependent situation; and, again as in 1690, he seized the opportunity offered by the conclusion (1701) of another Grand Alliance of England, the Dutch republic and the Emperor, which he joined in the autumn of 1703, deserting the Bourbon powers.

  • 30 Symcox, 1983a, pp. 142-156; De Rege di Donato, 1909; Einaudi, 1907, 1908; Symcox, 1983b.
  • 31 Extracts from his end of mission report are published in Relazioni di ambasciatori sabaudi, genove (...)
  • 32 Symcox, 1983a, pp. 157-170.

12I want to insist on the extent to which —as in 1690— this volte-face was a gamble which very nearly failed30. In 1703, before Victor Amadeus switched sides (and arguably forcing him to make that move before he was fully ready for it), the Bourbons effectively took prisoner a large part of his army, and between 1703 and 1706 occupied much of the Savoyard state; Turin itself was besieged in 1705-1706. However, Turin was relieved in 1706, by the duke’s cousin, prince Eugene of Savoy, leading an Austrian Habsburg army, and from that point on Victor Amadeus was fighting a more aggressive and successful war, aided by his allies. Relations between the duke and the Imperial Court were as difficult as in the previous war. However, and despite tensions of the sort which had surfaced in the preceding conflict, Victor Amadeus —who maintained an envoy, the marquis de Trivie at «Charles III’s» Court in Barcelona between 1707 and 171131— remained loyal to his allies and concluded the war in 1713 a member of the victorious anti-Bourbon coalition32.

  • 33 Oresko, 1997; Cozzo, 2013; Gasco, 1935; Bély, 2013.
  • 34 Symcox, 1983a, p. 171.
  • 35 Storrs, 2013; Meyer, 2013.

13Victor Amadeus made various important gains at the peace of Utrecht. These included: an advantageous adjustment of his alpine border with France; territorial gains in the Po valley at the expense of neighbouring Milan; acquisition of the large, rich and strategically important island realm of Sicily and with it a royal title, securing at last the crowned head status to which the princes of the House of Savoy had long aspired33; and, finally, recognition of the Savoyard claims on the Spanish succession with the promise that the House of Savoy should succeed to the Spanish throne if Philip V’s line failed. The future prospects of Victor Amadeus, who was crowned king in Palermo in December 171334, and of the House of Savoy —its reputation now further enhanced— looked excellent35.

1713-1720: the Quadruple Alliance

  • 36 Storrs, 2012b, 2016b; Torres Arce, 2017.
  • 37 Victor Amadeus, following the conclusion of the expensive siege of Barcelona, hoped to buy from Ph (...)
  • 38 The correspondence and end of mission reports of successive Savoyard representatives in Madrid pro (...)
  • 39 Alonso Aguilera, 1977; Symcox, 1983a, pp. 171-189; Storrs, 2016b, pp. 6, 183-186.

14The experience of the quarter of a century preceding the Utrecht settlement would help shape relations between the Courts of Turin and Madrid for the next generation, as would Philip V’s determination to overturn that settlement, and to recover his lost Italian territories, including Sicily36. For this reason, Philip obstructed Victor Amadeus’ efforts to rule effectively there37. At the same time, the death of Philip’s first wife, Victor Amadeus’ daughter —who had supported Savoyard interests at Philip’s Court— and his second marriage, in 1714, to Isabel Farnese weakened the family connection between the Courts of Turin and Madrid. Worse, Isabel preferred to press the interests of her own children —in Italy— rather than those of Philip’s first marriage, while cardinal Alberoni’s reinvigoration of Spanish government would give her and Philip the means to achieve their goals38. In 1717, 10,000 Spanish troops conquered the island of Sardinia, and in 1718 a much larger expeditionary force of 30,000 men invaded Sicily. The Savoyard position in Sicily collapsed surprisingly quickly; Victor Amadeus was not helped by the fact that his rule there was felt to be much harsher than had been that of the Spaniards, such that Philip V’s forces —who had left the island just five years before— were welcomed by most Sicilians39.

  • 40 Baraudon, 1896; Tallone, 1933.
  • 41 Storrs (ed.), 2009, pp. 1-22.
  • 42 Szechi, 2006; Shennan, 1979.
  • 43 McKay, 1971; Fieldhouse, 1935; Corp, 2017.
  • 44 Stoye, 1970.
  • 45 Williams, 1930, pp. 314-352.
  • 46 In 1573, Victor Amadeus’s ancestor, duke Emanuel Philibert, who had made his career in the Spanish (...)
  • 47 See NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 32, fos 129-133 and 136, letters from Hedges to Newcastle, Turin, 4-15  (...)
  • 48 Mattone, 1990; Girgenti, 1990.

15Equally important, however, in view of the weakness of the Savoyard state at sea, was the reaction of the other powers. With the kingdom of Sicily Victor Amadeus had acquired the realm’s galley fleet, which was to be the basis of the creation of a Savoyard navy, but he could not confront alone a Spanish fleet which had been rebuilt since 1713. But why, despite his diplomatic efforts, didn’t the other powers aid Victor Amadeus in 171840? Why didn’t the Spanish invasions of Sardinia and of Sicily trigger another major war? The reluctance to act of Britain, the Dutch republic and France is partly explained by war weariness after the War of the Spanish Succession. In recent decades, historians have drawn attention to the emergence of the so-called «fiscal-military» state, which enabled governments to fund war on a new scale. This was an important development, nevertheless contemporaries still worried about the levels of public debt associated with war; their wish to reduce that burden suggested the advisability of peace abroad and also made some regimes open after 1713 to ambitious schemes to pay off the debt, projects which could go awry, igniting financial crises —the Mississippi affair in France (1719), the South Sea Bubble in Britain (1720)— which might threaten political stability and which also discouraged an adventurous foreign policy41. Britain and France were also going through dynastic crises —the minority of Louis XV in France, the new Hanoverian regime in Britain where the Jacobites had launched a major rebellion in 1715 in support of the exiled Stuarts42. Nor were the Hanoverians fond of Victor Amadeus, who had been the protégé in the peacemaking of 1713 of the last Stuart, queen Anne and of her now disgraced Tory ministers, Bolingbroke and Harley. George I, by contrast, favoured the Whigs and distrusted the Stuart connections of the House of Savoy43. For his part, the Austrian Habsburg Emperor, Charles VI —«Charles III» of Spain— refused to recognise Victor Amadeus as king of Sicily and also resented the territorial concessions the Habsburgs had been obliged to make to him in Italy since 169044. Thus, although a British fleet destroyed at Cape Passaro in July 1718 the Spanish fleet which had carried the expeditionary force to Sicily and was co-operating in the conquest of the island, Victor Amadeus was made to pay the price of the peace plan whereby the English minister, James Stanhope, sought to appease Philip V in 1720 and end the war45. Victor Amadeus was obliged to surrender the large, rich, strategically important kingdom of Sicily for the smaller and poorer island of Sardinia, whose only value to the House of Savoy was the royal title that went with it46. This was a major humiliation and setback for the Court of Turin, one never forgotten47, and exposed the limited bargaining power of the Savoyard state when the major powers —or enough of them— were determined to avoid a general war48.

«Cold War» in Europe (c. 1720-1733)

  • 49 Storrs, 2003, p. 237.
  • 50 Quazza, 1965, pp. 176-178.
  • 51 Archivio di Stato di Torino (AST), Negoziazioni, Spagna, mazzo 7, doc. 18, Memoria showing claim o (...)
  • 52 AST, Lettere Ministri, Spagna, mazzo 64, letter from Arvillars to Charles Emanuel III, 25 January (...)
  • 53 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 32, fo 91 and fo 105, letters from Hedges to Newcastle, Turin, 4 and 7-18 J (...)

16Relations between the Savoyard state and the Spanish Court remained difficult after 1720. For one thing, Philip’s troops had carried off most of Sardinia’s artillery when evacuating the island49. More important, the Court of Turin worried constantly about another Spanish invasion of Sardinia; in 1732 the preparations in Spain for the reconquest of Oran were thought in Turin to be the prelude to a further attempt on that island, prompting the despatch of reinforcements to that island and efforts to secure the promise of British and French support —as guarantors of the peace settlement of 1720— in the event of an attack50. Equally important, Spanish ambitions in Italy threatened those of the House of Savoy. Not surprisingly, Isabel Farnese saw the House of Savoy as the greatest obstacle —after Vienna— to her achievement of her own ambitions (for herself and her sons) in Italy and in Spain51 Increasingly, too, after Philip V’s resumption of the throne in 1724 the court of Turin was associated with the opposition —identified by some as the «Spanish party»— forming in Spain around Victor Amadeus’ grandson, the future Ferdinand VI52. At the same time, however, the Savoyard state remained strategically important in any war fought in Italy. For that reason, following the conclusion of the diplomatic revolution associated with the treaties of Vienna and Hanover in 1725 both sides sought to gain the Court of Turin as the «Cold War» looked to turn into «hot» war. Victor Amadeus was tempted by the prospect of new acquisitions through a major war, but preferred to bide his time and refused to commit himself to either side. This was, testimony, as one English diplomat observed —following the failure of his mission to Turin— to the king’s diplomatic skills, but also suggested that Victor Amadeus might have proved an unreliable ally, proof of the persistence of the «black legend» generated since 169053.

The War of the Polish Succession (1733-1738)

  • 54 The prince of Masserano, a native of Piedmont, but in Philip V’s service, reached Turin in July 17 (...)
  • 55 Merlotti, 2013.
  • 56 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 33, fos 727-730, letter from Allen to Newcastle, 13 May 1732; NA, SP, serie (...)
  • 57 Carutti, 1859, vol. 1, pp. 36-57; Quazza, 1965, pp. 169-234; Traités publics de la royale maison d (...)

17The Court of Turin also hoped to gain some advantage, following the conclusion of the Treaty of Seville (1729) from the threat of an Anglo-Spanish-French intervention in Italy against the Emperor to install Don Carlos, but it could not be entirely happy with the establishment there of a Spanish prince54. Some commentators expected Victor Amadeus’ successor, Charles Emanuel III to accede to the Treaty of Vienna (1731), whereby Britain secured the Emperor’s agreement —without war— to the Infante’s succession in central Italy. The king of Sardinia’s chief minister, the marchese d’Ormea55, was said to hope to secure from the Emperor the port of Finale on the Ligurian coast, which offered easier access from Turin to the Mediterranean than was possible via Nice, but which Charles VI had effectively sold to the Genoese republic, a long-time rival of the Savoyard state, in 171356. For his part, as relations deteriorated between France and Spain on the one hand and the Emperor on the other, Louis XV’s chief minister, cardinal Fleury, insisted that if war was to be fought successfully in the Po valley, the Bourbons must win over Charles Emanuel, going on to conclude an alliance between Louis XV and the king of Sardinia in September 1733, in which the latter was promised the great prize of the duchy of Milan57.

  • 58 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 36, fo 309, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 18 November 1733; NA, SP (...)
  • 59 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 37, not foliated, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 1 November 1734.
  • 60 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 38, not foliated, letter from Villettes to Newcastle, Turin, 4 February 173 (...)
  • 61 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 38, not foliated, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 31 December 1735.
  • 62 Vaucher, 1924, pp. 66-159.

18Charles Emanuel’s apparently strong position in 1733 masked the fact that —like his father in 1690 and 1701— he was taking an enormous risk. Savoyard and Spanish interests remained fundamentally opposed, the Court of Turin fearing that it would be sacrificed to the ambition of the Court of Madrid58. Indeed, while both Courts concluded an alliance with France, they did not formally ally with each other. But Charles Emanuel could not oppose France and Spain unaided. Some in Turin suggested the Court of Turin should «play the old game» and switch allies as in 1690, 1696 and 170359. But this was not possible. Charles Emanuel and Ormea sought to draw Britain into the war, on the side of the Emperor, recreating the Grand Alliance of earlier wars. Ormea, who also worried about the Savoyard succession and about his own position as architect of a Bourbon alliance which had little domestic support, even suggested that Charles Emanuel might marry an English princess60. He also argued that by intervening Britain might secure better guarantees from Spain for its trade61. Unfortunately for the Court of Turin, Robert Walpole preferred to try to mediate rather than to go to the aid of Charles VI, as did the Dutch republic, which since 1713 had largely abandoned an interventionist foreign policy, thus making far more difficult a resurrection of the «Old System»62.

  • 63 For the predicament of the Court of Turin, see NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 38, not foliated, letters fr (...)
  • 64 Carutti, 1859, vol. 1, pp. 104-126; Quazza, 1965, pp. 340-350.

19In the end the anti-Habsburg coalition was undermined by the mutual hostility of the Courts of Turin and Madrid, which was starkly exposed over the question of the disposal of Milan and Mantua, and by Charles Emanuel’s reluctance to recognise Don Carlos as king of Naples63. Cardinal Fleury, exasperated by this antagonism, secretly negotiated separate peace preliminaries with the Court of Vienna (November 1735), to the great annoyance of both Madrid and Turin. Nevertheless, Charles Emanuel reluctantly agreed to those peace preliminaries and later to a peace (1738-1739) which although it brought him some territorial gains in north Italy also obliged him to return his conquest of Milan to the Emperor. More important perhaps, the peace (which also confirmed Don Carlos’ possession of Naples and Sicily) kept the Spaniards out of the Po valley64. The fundamental rivalry between Turin and Madrid had ensured that the Austrian Habsburgs —who looked at one point in the mid to late 1730s to be about to be expelled completely from Italy— remained entrenched there, disappointing the ambitions of Philip and Isabel.

The War of the Austrian Succession (c. 1740-1748)

  • 65 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 42, not foliated, letters from Villettes to Newcastle, Turin, 22 August, 5  (...)
  • 66 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 42, not foliated, letters from Villettes to Newcastle and Harrington, Turin (...)

20The fundamental antagonism between the Courts of Madrid and Turin continued to shape their relations for the rest of Philip V’s reign. On the eve of the outbreak of the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-1748), the Savoyard Court still worried about an increase of Spanish power in Italy. Following the eruption of that conflict, that Court feared that Isabel Farnese —seen in Turin (as elsewhere) as the real motor of Spanish foreign policy and as just as likely to betray allies if it achieved her objectives as Victor Amadeus had ever been— would do anything, including sacrificing Spanish interests across the Atlantic, to secure a peace with Britain which would ensure the establishment in Italy of a second Spanish prince, Don Philip, in Parma, which would be a disaster for the House of Savoy65. After the initial British naval success at Portobello in the Caribbean (1739), therefore, Ormea urged the London government to exploit its advantage to force Spain to a lasting peace66.

  • 67 Lodge, 1930, pp. 31-49. Philip V’s ambassador in Turin refused to accept a copy of Charles Emanuel (...)
  • 68 Wilkinson, 1927, pp. 48-53.

21Following the death of Charles VI, the centre of conflict shifted from the West Indies to Europe. The Spanish Court determined to intervene again in Italy, against the Austrian Habsburgs. To facilitate this, Philip and Isabel crucially accepted —as they had not in 1733— the need to win over the Court of Turin, to ensure it did not obstruct Spanish troops heading for Lombardy via France and the Alps, or via the Tuscan ports, and they opened negotiations to this end. However, the Court of Turin remained anxious about Spanish ambitions in Italy and preferred to try to sell —for a price— its alliance to the Court of Vienna. But while Charles Emanuel might appear to be on top of events, and while the Spanish Court needed to be sure that Savoyard forces would not oppose the Spanish troops marching from Orbitello towards Lombardy in the spring of 1742, that same advance threatened Charles Emanuel and forced his hand. In February 1742, Ormea concluded the Convention of Turin, committing the Savoyard state to military co-operation with the Austrian Habsburgs against Spain, after which the Spanish ambassador left Turin, ending formal —public— links between the two Courts67. The subsequent seizure of the territory of Philip’s ally the duke of Modena by Austrian and Savoyard forces demonstrated once again the importance of Charles Emanuel’s decision for the realisation —or frustration— of the strategy and war aims of Philip and Isabel: Montemar, the commander of the Spanish expeditionary force in Italy, was forced to retreat, ending the Spanish Court’s hopes of securing Lombardy in 174268.

  • 69 Lodge, 1930, pp. 49-79; Traités publics de la royale maison de Savoie, t. III, pp. 7-23; Anderson, (...)

22The fall of Robert Walpole in London in the spring of 1742, to be replaced by a ministry more committed to the war, and one both willing to aid Charles Emanuel and to press Maria Theresa on his behalf, proved crucial, although hammering out a deal acceptable to the Courts of Turin and Vienna took over a year. Indeed, Charles Emanuel and Ormea continued to negotiate with the French Court (and thus indirectly with Madrid). However, agreement with the Spanish Court proved impossible, and in September 1743 Charles Emanuel’s representative at the British Court, Giuseppe Ossorio concluded the Treaty of Worms: Britain promised Charles Emanuel a wartime subsidy to enable him to support Maria Theresia against the Bourbons; Maria Theresa promised the king of Sardinia territorial gains, including (at the expense of the republic of Genoa) the port of Finale69.

  • 70 Revel, 1925; Savio, 1927; Carutti, 1859, vol. 1, pp. 245-278.
  • 71 Carutti, 1859, vol. 2, pp. 298-310; Lodge, 1930, pp. 98-116; Baudrillart, 1890-1901, t. V, pp. 337 (...)

23The Treaty of Worms has been considered a triumph for the Court of Turin, but the alliance was yet another gamble. Spanish troops occupied Nice and Savoy for most of the war and made substantial incursions into Piedmont, while at the end of 1745 the Bourbons —now allied with Genoa— occupied neighbouring Milan on behalf of the Infante Philip70. However, the Court of Versailles, anticipating complete success in Italy but not wishing to see Spain omnipotent there, opened secret peace negotiations with the Court of Turin, which welcomed this as a lifeline, even if only a temporary one. These negotiations, in which the French foreign minister Argenson offered Charles Emanuel the Milanese, contradicting the French monarch’s treaty commitments to the Court of Madrid, ultimately failed, but not before their revelation had seriously weakened relations between the Bourbon allies, triggering fierce and enduring anti-French feeling in Spain71.

  • 72 Lodge, 1930, pp. 361-411.

24Following the failure of those secret negotiations, Charles Emanuel facilitated an allied invasion of France, again demonstrating the strategic value of the Savoyard state. Unfortunately for Charles Emanuel, however, the disastrous belated intervention (1746) in the war, against the Bourbon powers of the Dutch republic meant that in the peacemaking the interests of the Court of Turin were among those sacrificed by its more powerful allies —Britain and Austria— to secure other objectives, including saving that republic: the king of Sardinia made some territorial gains but was denied both Finale, and Piacenza72. Spain achieved some of its own objectives in the conflict, confirming the future Charles III’s possession of Naples and Sicily and establishing the Infante Felipe in Parma and Piacenza, but the Savoyard participation in the conflict had once again helped prevent Philip V (and after his death, Ferdinand VI) from achieving all of their Italian objectives. The Court of Turin could frustrate the agenda and ambitions of others but could not impose its own.

  • 73 Béthencourt Massieu, 1998, p. 589.
  • 74 Frigo, 1991; Storrs, 2000, 2008.

25The Savoyard alliance had been valued by all participants in the international power struggle in western Europe for more than half a century since 1690 for the strategic advantage it offered in north Italy —and beyond— in conflicts involving pitting Habsburgs against Bourbons. Exploited by monarchs who were prepared to take risks and who were widely admired by their contemporaries for their excellent diplomatic skills —and reviled for their readiness to switch sides at a price73—, the Savoyard state seemed to «punch above its weight»74. For that reason, and although the policy of some other states —notably Austria, Britain and France— clearly had a greater importance, Philip V and Isabel Farnese would have done better to win over than to confront the kings of Sicily/Sardinia. This is not to ignore the enormous success of the Spanish monarchs between 1713 and 1748 in ensuring that much of Italy —Naples, Sicily, Parma— were secured for Spanish princes. But they might have secured much more —above all Milan— if it were not for the opposition of the House of Savoy. It may have been the case, however, that the ambitions and interests of the Courts of Madrid and Turin were irreconcilable. The Court of Turin certainly thought so. It is also arguable that diplomatic prowess and switches of alliance were the weapons of the weak, a weakness exposed dramatically in 1718-1720 but also evident on more occasions than the historiography has acknowledged. Decisions for war, and for a switch of alliances were not so straightforward, or risk free, or unattended by domestic debate, and were often forced on the Court of Turin from the outside: other powers were going to wage war in north Italy and the duke/king could only hope to make the best —in the long term— of a difficult job.

  • 75 According to Lodge, 1930, pp. 34-35, 409-411, Britain’s favouring the Savoyard state in the War of (...)
  • 76 Cordero di Pamparato, 1897-1898, pp. 98-120. In 1751, it was reported from Madrid that Barbara of (...)

26After 1748 the Savoyard strategic bargaining chip was further undercut by other developments. The first was the Treaty of Aranjuez (1752), whereby the Courts of Spain and of Vienna recognised each other’s position in Italy. The second was the «Diplomatic Revolution» of 1756, which brought together the Courts of Vienna and Versailles75. This alliance did not always work smoothly, but until the outbreak of the French revolutionary wars, when the earlier antagonism between Austria and France re-surfaced, the Savoyard state could not exploit its strategic position as before 1748. Important, too, was Spain’s «turn to the Atlantic» after 1748, at the expense of Italy, which had loomed so large in Spanish policy hitherto. Paradoxically, this coincided with the succession of a Spanish king, Ferdinand VI, who was very aware of his family connection with the House of Savoy, a connection which was cemented in 1750 with the marriage of Charles Emanuel’s son and successor, the future Victor Amadeus III to an Infanta; Ferdinand thus ensured that another of Isabel Farnese’s children attained a throne in Italy76. Finally, the financial cost of a succession of major wars, even when the cost was in part offset by foreign subsidies, and a sense that reducing the debt should take priority, induced a note of caution in Savoyard foreign policy after 1748. Thereafter the Court of Turin was less anxious about the Italian aspirations of the Court of Madrid, but had less reason to be so anyway.

Notes

1 British Library, Additional Manuscripts, 23811, fo 334, in Lodge, 1930, p. 57.

2 National Archives (NA) [Kew, United Kingdom], State Papers (SP), serie 92 (Savoy and Sardinia), vol. 45.

3 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 33, fo 462, letter from Edward Allen to Newcastle, Turin, 30 September 1730.

4 Bianchi, Merlotti, 2017.

5 Scott, 1989.

6 Black, 1983.

7 Baudrillart, 1890-1901.

8 Storrs, 2008.

9 Lodge, 1930, p. 35.

10 Storrs, 2018, pp. 143-145.

11 Black, 1989.

12 Raviola, 2008; McKay, Scott, 1983.

13 Symcox, 1983a, pp. 79-105; Oresko, 2004; Carutti, 1897, pp. 43-155; Storrs, 1990, 1992.

14 Oresko, 2004, pp. 38-39.

15 Storrs, 1997, 1998.

16 Id., 1999, pp. 20-73.

17 Ibid., pp. 103-109; Id., 2012a.

18 Rowlands, 2000.

19 Storrs, 1999, pp. 293-311; Onnekink (ed.), 2009.

20 Tabacco, 1939.

21 Symcox, 1983a, pp. 115-116.

22 Ibid., pp. 116-117; Canestrier, 1934; Handen, 1976.

23 Symcox, 1983a, p. 117; Carutti, 1875-1880, pp. 229-240.

24 Thomson, 1961.

25 Storrs, 1999, p. 159, citing William III’s secretary, William Blathwayt in 1693.

26 Haussonville, 1898-1908.

27 Storrs, 2016a, pp. 234-245.

28 For what follows, see Symcox, 1983a, pp. 138-141.

29 Sclopis, 1866.

30 Symcox, 1983a, pp. 142-156; De Rege di Donato, 1909; Einaudi, 1907, 1908; Symcox, 1983b.

31 Extracts from his end of mission report are published in Relazioni di ambasciatori sabaudi, genovesi e veneti, ed. Morandi, 1935, pp. 89-140, and in Quazza, 1965, pp. 359-403. As far as I know, no historian has used Trivie’s report or correspondence to study «Charles III»’s regime in Barcelona.

32 Symcox, 1983a, pp. 157-170.

33 Oresko, 1997; Cozzo, 2013; Gasco, 1935; Bély, 2013.

34 Symcox, 1983a, p. 171.

35 Storrs, 2013; Meyer, 2013.

36 Storrs, 2012b, 2016b; Torres Arce, 2017.

37 Victor Amadeus, following the conclusion of the expensive siege of Barcelona, hoped to buy from Philip the Sicilian county of Modica, which had been forfeited by the Almirante and was retained by Philip throughout this period (Letters from Victor Amadeus to Morozzo, Turin, 17 October and 8 December 1714, in Morozzo della Rocca, 1887, pp. 110-111).

38 The correspondence and end of mission reports of successive Savoyard representatives in Madrid provide invaluable insights into and a commentary on Philip V’s rule in Spain between 1713 and 1718: Relazioni sulla corte di Spagna, ed. Carutti, 1861; Morozzo della Rocca, 1887.

39 Alonso Aguilera, 1977; Symcox, 1983a, pp. 171-189; Storrs, 2016b, pp. 6, 183-186.

40 Baraudon, 1896; Tallone, 1933.

41 Storrs (ed.), 2009, pp. 1-22.

42 Szechi, 2006; Shennan, 1979.

43 McKay, 1971; Fieldhouse, 1935; Corp, 2017.

44 Stoye, 1970.

45 Williams, 1930, pp. 314-352.

46 In 1573, Victor Amadeus’s ancestor, duke Emanuel Philibert, who had made his career in the Spanish service, suggested to Philip II that he receive Sardinia in exchange for some of his own mainland territories; Philip refused (Gil Pujol, 2016, p. 127).

47 See NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 32, fos 129-133 and 136, letters from Hedges to Newcastle, Turin, 4-15 February 1727, and from Hedges to Tilson, Turin, 4-15 February 1727.

48 Mattone, 1990; Girgenti, 1990.

49 Storrs, 2003, p. 237.

50 Quazza, 1965, pp. 176-178.

51 Archivio di Stato di Torino (AST), Negoziazioni, Spagna, mazzo 7, doc. 18, Memoria showing claim of House of Savoy to Spanish succession should Philip V die without direct heirs, 1726.

52 AST, Lettere Ministri, Spagna, mazzo 64, letter from Arvillars to Charles Emanuel III, 25 January 1732.

53 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 32, fo 91 and fo 105, letters from Hedges to Newcastle, Turin, 4 and 7-18 January 1726-1727; NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 32, fo 158, letter from Hedges to Robinson, Turin, 8 March 1727; Storrs, 2017, p. 76.

54 The prince of Masserano, a native of Piedmont, but in Philip V’s service, reached Turin in July 1730 and remained there for over a year, NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 33, fos 438, 619, letters from Allen to Newcastle, 29 July 1730 and 8 September 1731.

55 Merlotti, 2013.

56 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 33, fos 727-730, letter from Allen to Newcastle, 13 May 1732; NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 34, fo 79, letters from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 9 and 11 September 1732; NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 35, fo 158, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 13 September 1733; Tallone, 1896-1897.

57 Carutti, 1859, vol. 1, pp. 36-57; Quazza, 1965, pp. 169-234; Traités publics de la royale maison de Savoie, t. II, pp. 444-456; NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 35, fos 259-265, letters from Villettes to Delafaye, and to Newcastle, Turin, 17 October 1733. The revelation that the Court of Turin was negotiating with both sides prompted accusations of bad faith typical of the «black legend», NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 35, fo 235, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 13 October 1733.

58 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 36, fo 309, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 18 November 1733; NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 36, fo 312, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 25 November 1733.

59 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 37, not foliated, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 1 November 1734.

60 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 38, not foliated, letter from Villettes to Newcastle, Turin, 4 February 1735. For opposition within the Savoyard elite to the Bourbon alliance, see NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 36, fos 252-253, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 13 October 1733.

61 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 38, not foliated, letter from Essex to Newcastle, Turin, 31 December 1735.

62 Vaucher, 1924, pp. 66-159.

63 For the predicament of the Court of Turin, see NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 38, not foliated, letters from Villettes to Newcastle, Turin, 28 February 1735, and from Essex to Newcastle, 24 July and 29 October 1735.

64 Carutti, 1859, vol. 1, pp. 104-126; Quazza, 1965, pp. 340-350.

65 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 42, not foliated, letters from Villettes to Newcastle, Turin, 22 August, 5 September and 23 December 1739.

66 NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 42, not foliated, letters from Villettes to Newcastle and Harrington, Turin, 31 August 1740. See the instructions given Emanuele Valguarnera, as Savoyard ambassador to Madrid, AST, Negoziazioni, Spagna, mazzo 1 d’addizione, no 10, 10 Mars 1740.

67 Lodge, 1930, pp. 31-49. Philip V’s ambassador in Turin refused to accept a copy of Charles Emanuel’s rival claim to Milan, which he had published following the death of Charles VI, NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 45, not foliated, letter from Villettes to Couraud, Turin, 20 December 1741; NA, SP, serie 92, vol. 45, not foliated, letter from Villettes to Newcastle, Turin, 6 December 1741; Carutti, 1859, vol. 1, pp. 199-201; Wilkinson, 1927, pp. 41-42; Traités publics de la royale maison de Savoie, t. III, pp. 1-6.

68 Wilkinson, 1927, pp. 48-53.

69 Lodge, 1930, pp. 49-79; Traités publics de la royale maison de Savoie, t. III, pp. 7-23; Anderson, 1995, pp. 122-125.

70 Revel, 1925; Savio, 1927; Carutti, 1859, vol. 1, pp. 245-278.

71 Carutti, 1859, vol. 2, pp. 298-310; Lodge, 1930, pp. 98-116; Baudrillart, 1890-1901, t. V, pp. 337-357; La diplomacia de Fernando VI, ed. Ozanam, 1975, pp. 5-7.

72 Lodge, 1930, pp. 361-411.

73 Béthencourt Massieu, 1998, p. 589.

74 Frigo, 1991; Storrs, 2000, 2008.

75 According to Lodge, 1930, pp. 34-35, 409-411, Britain’s favouring the Savoyard state in the War of the Austrian Succession at the expense of Austria, doomed the «Old System».

76 Cordero di Pamparato, 1897-1898, pp. 98-120. In 1751, it was reported from Madrid that Barbara of Braganza did not care for the House of Savoy fearing that her successor —Ferdinand’s second wife, should Barbara herself die first— would come from there, NA, SP, serie 94 (Spagne), vol. 140, fos 8-20, letter from Keene to Holdernesse, Madrid, 5 August 1751.

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