The Sad Incident in London of 1661
Luis XIV a todo anteponía su propia «gloria»,
termino que se conesponde con lo que para los
Austrias era la «reputacion»
In introducing the topic of precedence—which can seem to the modern citizen as nothing more than childish behavior—one must also remember the importance of such acts in defining and structuring society. The concept of primitive accumulation as described in Capital by Karl Marx is useful in understanding the role of such behaviors. Marx wrote that “the usurpation of feudal and clan property, and its transformation into modern private property under circumstances of reckless terrorism, were just so many idyllic methods of primitive accumulation.” Here he describes the process by which invaders appropriate themselves of a land and then, through the feudal system, create a higher class for themselves from which they dominate the masses. This higher class is not separate from the people unless they give themselves names, ranks, and protocol. The Spanish nobility in the Reconquista was formed in such a way; they were invaders in their own land. They recuperated their old land from the moors. To solidify the position of the nobility, protocol, titles, and privileges were decreed. Thus, the lower class was separated from the possibility of social upward movement. The nobility was also segregated, and a strict protocol was created and adapted to keep them stratified and immobile. The protocol defined with strictness every act one could perform in public. In this manner, public perception became the honor of the nobility. Morals were only an outward appearance of protocol.
With these concepts in mind, the sad incident of 1661 involving Spain and France occurred in London. This incident can be seen as a true reality of the time. M.A. Ochoa Brun in the article “El incidente diplomático hispano-francés de 1661” explains the controversy of precedence between Spain and France. Ochoa sustains that the dispute of the precedency is rooted into both countries long histories. Spaniards believed they should have precedence over France because: “Heredero de Carlos V y de Felipe II y dueño de un vastísimo elenco de territorios que le conferían un carácter verdaderamente universal” (99). The French also rooted their precedency in their lineage. “Su Rey era el heredero de Carlomagno y sus derechos habían sido reconocidos por Papas y Concilios” (99-100). Both powers claimed precedence. The times favored France—who was stronger both economically and militarily. France also had the Pope in their favor. France was stronger at the moment, but Spain historically had the larger empire. In the courts of Europe, ambassadors represented their kings for the position of precedence. The first position of precedency was for the ambassador of the “Santa Sede” (99), and second was the ambassador of the “Sacro Imperio” (99). France and Spain were fighting for the third position. With commissions from their respective kings,...