November 02, 2006

Seriously Gratuitous Historickal Geekery Posting


How seriously cool is this? In 1943, Churchill sucessfully negotiated permission from the Portugese to use the Azores for the basing of anti-U-boat forces as well as resupply depots for the trans-Atlantic convoys.

Well, that in itself is not all that terribly exciting. However, what was the basis of the British request? Would you believe the Anglo-Portugese Treaty of 1373, signed by King Edward III of England and Ferdinand & Eleanor of Portugal. This is the Edward III of the Hundred Years' War, the Edward III of the Battle of Crecy, the Edward III of the Black Plague years and the Edward III who established the Order of the Garter.

In other words, this is a 600 year old treaty on which Churchill got to rely. He also got the opportunity to spell the whole thing out in Parliament, discoursing on the original treaty and its subsequent emendations. Knowing what an enormous history buff he was (and being such a one myself), I'm sure this was one of the most pleasurable speeches Winnie ever gave in the Commons.

I'm also sure that to (for example) our pal The Colossus - who knows waaaaay more about Churchill than I do - this is old news. But I'm on my first tour through Closing the Ring and this little footnote is a delightful discovery to me.

Posted by Robert at November 2, 2006 11:44 AM | TrackBack

I was going to say "Robbo must be in 'The Hinge of Fate' right now; but it is in "Closing the Ring", huh?

I always wondered whether if Generalissimo Francisco Franco had joined the Axis how WW II might have played out. The British almost certainly lose Gibraltar; the U.S, invasion of North Africa becomes much more difficult; the occasional convoy that the Admiralty was able to ram through to Malta gets stopped; Malta falls, Rommel's supply lines are cleared, etc., etc. I also think that Portugal would think twice about honoring the treaty of 1373, with all the implications on submarine warfare that implies.

While Franco was an unsavory character, it is interesting how much the allies in WW II were helped by him just saying "No" to Hitler. Now, he's pretty much only remembered as the butt of a Chevy Chase joke.

Posted by: The Colossus at November 2, 2006 01:09 PM

Conversely, what if the Communists had won the Spanish Civil War? Instead of attacking the USSR, would Hitler have been forced to go through the Pyrennes and establish his west flank there, before going east? Or would he have decided he needed a year or two more to work on his wonder weapons like the Me 262. Now that would be frightening, having to fight the Battle of Britian with Spitfires & Hurricanes against jets.

Cool thing about the treaty. See kids, this is why you need to pay attention in history class and learn about musty old treaties. You never know when the fate of Western Civilization rests in part on a centuries old agreement.

Posted by: rbj at November 2, 2006 01:54 PM


I sometimes play a WW II simulation called "Hearts of Iron". One of my favorite maneuvers is for Britain and France to assist the communists in Spain, and then to try to bring about a mnore favorable government there using a simulated coup. I then give all kinds of training and technical assistance to the Spanish army, and when war breaks out on the Western front, those 8-10 Spanish divisions either man the Alps against Italy (depending on Italy's posture) or come to the Western front if Italy is quiet. The beauty of it is, that by controlling Spain you can close the Med to Axis shipping. The Italian fleet gets driven from the sea (if they come out) and Italy is routed out of Africa. Or, if Italy is quiet, the Anzac forces also come into the western front (rather than being poured into Egypt). Often I can hold out in France against the Panzers with the extra troops until either Russia or the U.S. enters the war.

The postwar situation sometimes gets complicated, though. As the game features three sides, I sometimes end up handing a victory to the Soviets, beacause the U.S. stays out, the Western Europeans are on the defensive, and Stalin crushes Hitler and takes over most of Europe.

History turns on small events.

Posted by: The Colossus at November 3, 2006 08:36 AM

Thanks Colossus, I'll have to look into it.

Posted by: rbj at November 3, 2006 11:28 AM