Tuesday, October 18, 2022

The Asiento and the War of Jenkin’s Ear

I went to an exhibition at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street. Titled Fortune and Folly 1720, it is about the bubble based on land speculation in the New World. Portrayed as the land of milk, honey and gold, no mention was made about swamps, mosquitoes or hostile inhabitants. It burst, as bubbles are wont to do. The economies of France, England and the Netherlands would all crash due to this. It is a moderate sized display, well worth the visit if you have any interest in the topic. All this before bit coin or NFTs. And it is free, a rarity in NYC.

Edit: Here's a link to the exhibition.

What got my attention was the display of the Asiento. For those who don’t know, it was a treaty signed between England and Bourbon Spain in 1713 when England exited the War of the Spanish Succession, leaving their Habsburg allies in the lurch. I had always heard that the Asiento allowed English merchants to bring one ship of enslaved Africans every year to sell in Spanish America. Below is a photo of a printed copy of the Asiento from that period and the accompanying text in the exhibition. 

It turns out the Asiento allowed the English to sell 4,800 Africans every year for 30 years.


English merchants who didn’t get in on the Asiento wanted to make money trading with the Spanish colonies too. So, they smuggled. A number of the “English” smugglers were American colonists. The treaty was due to expire in 1743 or so.


In 1731 one Robert Jenkins’ smuggling brig was boarded by Spanish coast guards. One of them cut off part of Jenkin’s ear. There was some fuss in England that blew over. In 1738 he was paraded in Parliament as cause for a war to force Spanish America to open their markets to English trade. This led to the so-called War of Jenkin’s Ear, a war restricted to the colonies and not fought in Europe. The Spanish call it the War of the Asiento. In 1744 it merged into the War of the Austrian Succession, a general European conflict which raged until 1748.


The major English amphibious attack on Cartagena failed. As in all Caribbean warfare of this period, any attack that didn’t succeed quickly would see the imported Europeans start dying of yellow fever, the dreaded yellow jack. The locals were comparatively immune, the vulnerable having already died or recovered earlier.  The local Spanish garrison put up a stout resistance. Soon infection ran riot through the English forces, killing many and sickening the rest.


This puts me in mind of writing a piece about Napoleon’s attempt to recapture Haiti. It has similarities and kept the infant United States from having one of Napoleon’s armies on its southern border. Another time…

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Twilight of the Romans IV

Another game of the in-progress rules Twilight of the Britons. An ornery cuss, I persist in using these rules on the continent and call it the Twilight of the Romans. The last three games have seen hairy Germanic types take on the Late Western Romans. This game sees Ostrogoths vs. the Huns, not a Roman in sight. My only house rule is light cavalry horse archers can shoot directly to the rear, the old Parthian shot.


The red arrows show charges and impetuous advances, the yellow arrows recoils. These markers are helpful, since a recoil counts as a move and unit may not make any other move that turn. Charges give negative morale modifiers to the target in the next player turn, and impetuous units must charge straight forward unless they pass an action test to hold. I started using casualty markers mid-game to show where a unit routed, but not in a consistent manner. Next time. Most of the tale can be seen in the following photos. The digital camera decides the mat is sometimes brown, sometimes green.


We broke for dinner here. Steve Thomas has suggested that my Huns should have charged the monks in the woods, who thoroughly disrupted my flanking move around the woods. As a result of a previous discussion, the range of the monks is going to be reduced to 2 BW. But I should have winkled them out with cold steel.  

Somewhere in here an armored Ostrogoth cavalry units was routed. The last Ostrogothic turn follows.

A warrior unit recoiled, taking their support with them. The warriors bumped into Huns behind them and could not recoil full distance. The recoiling unit took another hit, routed and put a hit on their supports. Several of my Huns evaded attack. The one that was bumped into did not. Then they checked morale for being in melee with the folks who had backed into them. A low roll failed the morale test. They already had a hit and light troops rout on the second hit. Their tout put a hit on another light unit, it routed and took another with it. This put me at 9 units routed and my army broke. The Ostrogoths had 4 units and a hero off the table, two away from their breakpoint. They had three units that were a hit away from routing, so the game was closer than the 5-9 score would indicate. We both made errors. I hope to run this matchup again.


I must find some 15mm shaman/Druid/any kind of pagan figures.