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Balance of Power

by on August 5, 2021

Set in 1720 Madrid aristocracy – and in good part, from the view of the servantry – The Cook of Castamar is a reminder of history and a commentary on social interactions between classes. The rich connive with the rich and with the servant class; the servant class plots against one another; some of the rich have a liking for the poor – but would the rich like the poor if the rich knew that the poor were once not poor?

A Spanish production done under the title of La cocinera de Castamar the show perhaps has no reason to elucidate its audience on Spanish history. In 1700 Charles II of Spain died without an heir. This caused the War of the Spanish Succession which led to – says Wikipedia – a redrawing of the balance of power in Europe.

We might remember the Treaty of Westphalia from a history class in high school. The treaty signed at the end of Thirty Years war, in 1648, Westphalia established the modern idea of a balance of power in Europe.

Felipe V de España, Rey de.jpg
Philip V Spain

There’s not a large time gap between 1648 and 1700, the year Charles died. King Louis XIV of France (the “Sun King”) was a monarch during that entire time. Philip of Anjou, the grandson of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa (who was born the infanta of Spain) claimed the throne of Spain when Charles II died. Philip was 16. There were other claimants to the throne of Spain, all fighting for power and/or the balance of power along side their allies.

The thirteen year War of the Spanish Succession, spanning four continents, ended with the Treaty of Utrecht. Philip was recognized as the king of Spain, with the condition that Spain and France would never become a single entity, and several other conditions to maintain and rebalance the balance of power.

In a way, everyone won and and every lost. This seems to be a basic and natural result of a game of balancing power. To this day every nation is engaged in balancing power, and is naturally winning and losing at the same time.

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