dimecres, 26 d’octubre de 2011

On uniforms, equipment and training matters – D'afers sobre uniformes, equipament i instruccions.

As you may have seen in the last post about the Generalitat Infantry Regiment, the Catalan uniforms not only resemble but are identical to British uniforms of the mid XVIIIth century times. That is on purpose. After the War for Independence, a strong British influence was common in Catalàunia. Catalan units had already been training and fighting following British styles, platoon firing for example, in the War for Independence, and were also equipped with loads of British accoutrements, weapons and pieces of equipment. In later times, Catalan strategic interests were in line with British ones, eager as Catalans were to shake any chance to be retained or regained by a foreign yoke and to fend off any possible influence by their big neighbours, France and Spain. They formed a natural alliance with Britain, Portugal and the Netherlands, and willingly looked for a look distinct to that of their neighbours and which still remembered these same neighbours of which were the Catalan allegiances and where did their friendships lay. And also incidentally what could mean to mess with Catalàunia.

Also, The dire need for a naval branch of the armed forces which could both fence off piracy and keep a measure of independence of action against any potential threat called for an invigorated interest in the British navy, which was seen as professional and capable. More of it, the resulting situation put the Catalans as natural British allies, and not only that but staunch ones too. And obviously, the Catalan claims to sovereignty over (or comparted with) the Balearic Isles needed to be founded in practicality on a capable enough navy and that again called for both cooperation with the British and the rising and keeping of a similarly professional and able navy.

Finally, the main commercial interests of Catalàunia laid directly in Britain and the Netherlands and also now in the Americas. It had been so since the late XVIIth century. The spirits and wine northern European markets were very participated by the Catalan merchants and these were the beachhead for other Catalan made products like finished textiles, fine weapons and others. The final, particular triumph in the War for Independence had kept these interests alive and had augmented them. Also Catalans were able now to circumvent former limitations in commerce with the Americas which were imposed on them by former Spanish monarchs. Now the enterprising Catalan merchants were capable to deal with the Americas directly or by way of British and Dutch intermediaries and the Catalan economy had experienced a correspondent growing by which Catalàunia was justly nicknamed as the Mediterranean Holland.

All in all, not only were Catalans strategically interested in a number of ways to share views with Britain but also keen to share military experiences with a nation which like Catalàunia itself had to rely in a comparatively small and so a professional and stout army and a powerful navy too. To this the Catalans copied even the uniforms and, to their possibilities, the ways to remain free both militarily and economically.

Com podeu haver vist a la darrera entrada sobre el Regiment d'Infanteria de la Generalitat, els uniformes catalans no només s'assemblen, sinó que són idèntics als uniformes britànics de l'època de mitjans del segle XVIII. Això és a propòsit. Després de la Guerra de la Independència, una forta influència britànica es va fer comuna a Catalàunia. Les unitats catalanes ja havien estat practicant i lluitant seguint estils britànics, disparant per pelotons per exemple, durant la Guerra d'Independència, i també van ser equipats amb un munt de pertrets, armes i peces d'equipament britànics. Als darrers temps, els interessos estratègics catalans estaven en línia amb els britànics, desitjosos com estaven els catalans a fer trontollar qualsevol possibilitat de ser retinguts o recuperats per un jou estranger i per a defensar-se de qualsevol possible influència dels seus grans veïns, França i Espanya. Es va formar una aliança natural amb Gran Bretanya, Portugal i els Països Baixos, i voluntàriament es va cercar un aspecte diferent de la dels veïns i que recordés aquests mateixos veïns a on eren les lleialtats catalanes i a on eren les seves amistats. I també per cert el que podria significar ficar-se amb Catalàunia.

A més, la urgent necessitat d'una branca naval de les forces armades que pogués enfrontar-se a la pirateria i mantenir una certa independència d'acció davant de qualsevol amenaça potencial, promogué un interès vigoritzat a la marina britànica, que era considerada com a professional i capaç. Més encara, la situació resultant posava als catalans com aliats naturals i ferms dels britànics. I, òbviament, la reivindicació catalana de sobirania sobre (o compartida amb) les Illes Balears necessitava fundar-se a la pràctica a tenir una marina amb capacitat suficient i que de nou demanava una cooperació amb els britànics i l'augment i manteniment d'una flota professional i capaç de manera similar a la britànica.

Finalment, els principals interessos comercials de Catalàunia se situaven directament a la Gran Bretanya i els Països Baixos i ara també a les Amèriques. Hi havien estat des de finals del segle XVII. Els mercats dels aiguardents i del vi del nord d'Europa eren participats molt activament pels comerciants catalans i aquests van ser els caps de pont per a altres productes catalans, com els acabats tèxtils, les armes de qualitat i altres. El triomf final i particular a la Guerra d'Independència havia mantingut vius aquests interessos i els havia augmentat. També els catalans van ser capaços ara d'eludir les limitacions anteriors en el comerç amb les Amèriques, que els van ser imposades per antics monarques espanyols. Ara els emprenedors comerciants catalans van ser capaços de comerciar a les Amèriques directament o a través d'intermediaris britànics i holandesos, i l'economia catalana va experimentar un creixement corresponent tal què Catalàunia era anomenada amb justícia com l'Holanda del Mediterrani.

Amb tot, no només eren els catalans estratègicament interessat en un bon nombre de punts a compartir punts de vista amb Gran Bretanya, sinó també molt interessats a compartir experiències militars amb una nació que igual que Catalàunia havia de confiar en un exèrcit proporcionalment petit i per tant professional i robust i també una poderosa armada. Per això els catalans copiaren fins i tot els uniformes i, fins a les seves possibilitats, les formes de romandre lliures militarment i econòmicament.

9 comentaris:

  1. Quite logical, or at least perfectly self-consistent with your initial choices.
    Yet the Guàrdies Granaders de la Generalitat display a (very good-looking, even gorgeous) uniform of British *cut* but original colors. As such they are fittingly reminding of the late Napoleonic Spanish 'New Model' army and part of re-aligned Dutch army, which look very much like wearing British uniforms dyed in 'other' colors..

  2. Yes, that's the general trend, at least in the infantry. Dragoons and Lights differ but share a common likeness, you'll see later.

  3. According to Wiki Catalunya is the name of Catalogne (I like to use the French name, the endings in '-ogne' being typically and purely French: Conan's Aquilonia would become 'Aquilogne' in a good French translation / dubbing!) in Català. Indeed it makes sense to use (as you did in your 2nd post) the phonetic equivalent Catalaunia in English texts, to mark the 'What-if?' nature of your 'Catalonia'. Yet in practice -just like Lluis with Galatea / Galatan- for obvious and perfectly understandable reason you forget it and routinely use 'Catalan', and thus implicitely 'Catalonia'.
    Yet, both of your Catalunyas are Imagi-Nations, and furthermore each in an 'universe' of its own (parallel but *not identical*: by the time corresponding to the cut of your uniforms, Galatea, if it survived so far, would probably be ruled by Queen Elisenda on behalf of the Habsburgs and with the approval and support of the French crown). Thus I feel it would be better if neither of you uses 'Catalonia / Catalan', but 'Catalunia / Catalunian' and 'Galatea / Galatan' respectively?

    Btw, according to the 'founding legend' of Catalunia, by the time of Mary Magdalene it extended as far as the 'Saintes Maries de la Mer' / Lei Santei Marias de la Mar? Well, it's true that at a time the County of Toulouse, culturally so close to Catalonia, included a part of Provence, but I'm not sure Kamarg (as it's called in Monte-Cristo!) was part of it :) :)

    About Sara la Negra of the Gitanos, given they came from India and call her Sara e Kali I like the idea of a (secret, of course!) 'Stranglers' Cult among them. May be a good ingredient for 18th c. 'Lacepulp' adventures...?

  4. The case for Catalaunia/Catalan or Catalogne/Catalan is the same as in the "real" world. A similar case seems to happem with Bretagne/Breton so in the end Catalan is not that wrong and helps to keep the link with "real" world Catalunya. After all, people says "german" too when referring to several Imagi-Nations of that area... (Note that Lluís most usually says Catalan/Galatan or viceversa so it's not that easy to mistake both Imagi-Nations). In the end I must confess there is a strong sentimental component in keeping the name. ;)

  5. Mon cher ami,
    the origin of Catalunya lays in Occitania as it was the Occitans who after defeating the muslims reconquered the lands which would become Catalunya. As you can see here: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croisade_des_Albigeois
    and here: http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitxer:Occit%C3%A0nia_i_Arag%C3%B3_en_1213.svg
    Camargue was in fact a part of the Catalan state as a vassal territory (half of it, the other half was part of the Nimes possessions which were vassals of Toulouse which in turn were infeuded to the Catalan sovereign).

    A matter of consideration is that the original Iberian territory extended by the Mediterranean coast from the southern part of the peninsula right to the italian frontier (more or less) and that the Narbonensis and Tarraconensis (its Catalan part) were the first romanized areas in their respective "big" countries. These same areas would become the heart of the Visigothic kingdom until it put its capital in Toletum under Franks pressure.

    Later as I said, the Occitanians reconquered Catalonia, which in turn reunited the Occitan territories until the Albigensian crusade terminated the chance of an Occitan-Catalan "big" state (it can be only dreamed of such a state, but surely histpry would have changed in many ways; at least we would have had a real Arthurian kingdom in Earth). One can see a kind of pattern here too. As if there was somehow a national conscience urging for a common homeland. Catalans still claim for Roussillon! Anyway, it makes both for an interesting area in dispute and for a vague and attractive enough idea for a mystical (irrational?) relationship between Catalàunia and Occitània.

    Finally, it's interesting that what you say about Sara. I have to say that I find interesting the vinculation with all kinds of nomadic groups and with trovadors (troubadours) which can make both for interesting lacepulp and spying adventures...

  6. My God both of us may be of the few making the longest comments, at least in the E.vs.E. community...

  7. LoL!:)
    So true. But I fear I make longer sentences (a defect already in French, far worse in English)!

    Btw, the hypothesis of Mary Magdalene having mated to Jesus and came to Provence with their son is not only well known, but favored in Monte-Cristo.
    Favored by the population as a whole because of the local variant local variant having this son founding and, for a time, ruling the 'Old' Monte-Cristo (depopulated, ruined, almost annihilated during the Wars of Religion).
    This does not prevent (skeptical but eclectic!) Monte-Cristans from fondly remembering (if not actually *worshiping*) an Ancient Goddess known now as La Fada Esterella. Nor from sometimes seeing in the Mermaid of their banner a toned down image of an old 'Sea Demon' (immortal "priestess"?) coaxed to quasi-friendship long ago by their seamen. Nor from having in their very deviant version of the Catholic Crib elements taken from the ancient cult of Isis (in its Roman, monotheistic version as an aspect of the 'Triple Goddess').

    Hypothesis also favored by the scholars because they judge likely that, in an Israeli society encouraging to marry and have children even the priests and the most devout (practicing baptism by immersion such as the Essenes), a reformer of Judaism (a kind of Hebraic Jan Hus, Calvin or Luther) would have wife and children. And that he would associate with the 'Myriam of the fortification' ('magdala' was also the name of ex-Egyptian forts: a more fitting name for a prostitute, even ex-so and converted, than the formal 'Mary of Magdala') fits perfectly with his rejection of conformism and established order.
    But they favor it also because of its theological implications (or rather lack of).

    And the glorified status -beloved and favored apostle,the last to leave and the first to be seen again- given to a *woman* fits so well with the 'modern' vision of human society in the Presipality (even a whore: Monte-Cristans don't forget that most of the female camp followers of the Compagnie Noire, at the origin of a good part of the current 'aristocracy', were actually whores).

  8. Talking about the Camargue, you may be interested in this (if you happen to not know it yet):

    or even better, this:


  9. I know Kamarg - maybe the most original of all Moorcock's settings (but not his best written series, imho) with its bizarre 'science'. A kind of 'Steampunk without steam' rather than Fantasy.