FYI April 19, 2017









On this day:

1713 – With no living male heirs, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, issues the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 to ensure that Habsburg lands and the Austrian throne would be inherited by his daughter, Maria Theresa (not actually born until 1717).
The Pragmatic Sanction (Latin: Sanctio Pragmatica) was an edict issued by Charles VI on 19 April 1713, to ensure that the Habsburg hereditary possessions could be inherited by a daughter. The Head of the House of Habsburg ruled the Archduchy of Austria, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Kingdom of Croatia, the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Italian territories awarded to Austria by the Treaty of Utrecht (Duchy of Milan, Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of Sicily), and the Austrian Netherlands. The Pragmatic Sanction did not affect the office of Holy Roman Emperor because the Imperial crown was elective, not hereditary; even though successive elected Habsburg rulers headed the Holy Roman Empire since 1438.

Since their marriage in 1708, Charles and his wife Elizabeth Christine had not had children, and since 1711 Charles had been the sole surviving male member of the House of Habsburg. Charles’s elder brother Joseph I had died without male issue, making accession of a female a very plausible contingency. Because Salic law precluded female inheritance, Charles VI needed to take extraordinary measures to avoid a succession dispute.[1] Charles VI was, indeed, ultimately succeeded by his elder daughter Maria Theresa (born 1717). Despite the promulgation of the Pragmatic Sanction, however, her accession in 1740 resulted in the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession.

Events leading to the Pragmatic Sanction
Main article: Mutual Pact of Succession
In 1700, the senior (oldest, first-in-line) branch of the House of Habsburg became extinct with the death of Charles II of Spain. The War of the Spanish Succession ensued, with Louis XIV of France claiming the crowns of Spain for his grandson Philip and Leopold I claiming them for his son Charles. In 1703, Charles and Joseph, the sons of Leopold, signed the Mutual Pact of Succession, granting succession rights to the daughters of Joseph and Charles in case of complete extinction of the male line, but favouring Joseph’s daughters over Charles’s, because Joseph was older.

In 1705, Leopold I died and was succeeded by his elder son, Joseph I. Six years later, Joseph I died leaving behind two daughters, Archduchesses Maria Josepha and Maria Amalia. Charles succeeded Joseph, according to the Pact, and Maria Josepha became his heir presumptive. However, Charles soon expressed a wish to amend the Pact in order to give his own future daughters precedence over his nieces. On 19 April 1713, the Emperor announced the changes in a secret session of the council.[2]

Securing the right to succeed for his own daughters, who were not even born yet, became Charles’s obsession. The previous succession laws had also forbidden the partition of the Habsburg dominions and provided for succession by females but they had been mostly hypothetical. The Pragmatic Sanction was the first such document to be publicly announced and as such required formal acceptance by the estates of the realms it concerned.[3]

Foreign recognition
For 10 years, Charles VI labored, with the support of his closest advisor Johann Christoph von Bartenstein, to have his sanction accepted by the courts of Europe. Only the Electorate of Saxony and the Electorate of Bavaria did not accept, because it was detrimental to their inheritance rights. (Frederick Augustus II, Elector of Saxony was married to Maria Josepha of Austria and Charles, Elector of Bavaria to Maria Amalia of Austria, both daughters of Charles’s deceased elder brother Joseph I)

France accepted in exchange for the duchy of Lorraine, under the Treaty of Vienna (1738).
Spain’s acceptance was also gained under the Treaty of Vienna (1738). In 1731, the 15-year-old Spanish prince Charles became the Duke of Parma and Piacenza, as Charles I, on the death of his childless granduncle Antonio Farnese. He went on to conquer Naples and Sicily, after which he returned Parma to the Emperor by the Treaty of Vienna (1738). In 1759 he became King of Spain as Charles III.
Great Britain and the Dutch Republic accepted in exchange for the cessation of operations of the Ostend Company.
King Frederick I of Prussia approved for his loyalty to the Emperor.

Charles VI made commitments with Russia and Augustus of Saxony, King of Poland from which came two wars: the War of the Polish Succession against France and Spain, which cost him Naples and Sicily, and the Austro-Russian–Turkish War, which cost him Little Wallachia and northern Serbia, including the Fortress of Belgrade.

Internal recognition
Hungary, which had an elective kingship, had accepted the house of Habsburg as hereditary kings in the male line without election in 1687 but not semi-Salic inheritance. The Emperor-King agreed that if the Habsburg male line became extinct, Hungary would once again have an elective monarchy. This was the rule in the Kingdom of Bohemia too. Maria Theresa, however, still gained the throne of Hungary; the Hungarian Parliament voted its own Pragmatic Sanction in 1723 in which the Kingdom of Hungary accepted female inheritance supporting her to become queen of Hungary.[4] Croatia was one of the crown lands that supported Emperor Charles’s Pragmatic Sanction of 1713[5] and supported Empress Maria Theresa in the War of the Austrian Succession of 1741–48 and the Croatian Parliament in 1712 signed their own Pragmatic Sanction of 1712. Subsequently, the empress made significant contributions to Croatian matters, by making several changes in the administrative control of the Military Frontier, the feudal and tax system. She also gave the independent port of Rijeka to Croatia in 1776.

Sanction’s failure
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Charles VI spent the time of his reign preparing Europe for a female ruler, but he did not prepare his daughter, Maria Theresa. He would not read documents to her, take her to meetings, or allow her to be introduced to ministers or have any preparation for the power she would receive in 1740. It is possible that it was because such instruction would imply an acceptance of his inability to produce a male heir.

Charles VI managed to get the great European powers to agree to the Pragmatic Sanction (for the time being) and died in 1740 with no male heirs. However, France, Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony broke their promises and contested the claims of his daughter Maria Theresa on his Austrian lands, and initiated the War of the Austrian Succession, in which Austria lost Silesia to Prussia. The elective office of Holy Roman Emperor was filled by Joseph I’s son-in-law Charles Albert of Bavaria, marking the first time in several hundred years that the position was not held by a Habsburg.

As Emperor Charles VII, he lost his own country, Bavaria, to the Austrian army of his wife’s cousin Maria Theresa and then died. His son, Maximilian III Joseph, Elector of Bavaria, renounced claims on Austria in exchange for the return of his paternal duchy of Bavaria. Maria Theresa’s husband was elected Holy Roman Emperor as Francis I in 1745. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748, finally recognized Maria Theresa’s rule.



Born on this day:

1787 – Deaf Smith, American soldier (d. 1837)
Erastus “Deaf” Smith (April 19, 1787 – November 30, 1837) was an American frontiersman noted for his part in the Texas Revolution and the Army of the Republic of Texas. He fought at the Grass Fight and the Battle of San Jacinto. After the war, Deaf Smith led a company of Texas Rangers. His name was generally pronounced /ˈdiːf/ DEEF.[citation needed]

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Smith was born in Dutchess County, New York to Chilab and Mary Smith. In 1798, his family moved to Port Gibson, Mississippi, near Natchez. He came to Texas in 1821 for health reasons, but returned to Natchez in 1822. His health apparently recovered, except for a partial loss of hearing, hence the nickname “Deaf”. Smith, also known as “El Sordo,” appeared in many areas of Mexican Texas and was in most significant actions related to development of the region both under Mexico and during evolution of independence.

At San Jose Mission, he introduced a fine stock of Muley cattle from Louisiana to the San Antonio area, where the Longhorn breed was previously popular. He used San Antonio de Bexar as a base. Smith’s family lived at the southwest corner of Presa and Nueva Streets in San Antonio de Bexar.

In 1822, Smith married a Tejana, Guadalupe Ruiz de Durán (b. 12 December 1797), the daughter of Salvador Ruiz de Castaneda and María Ygnacia Robleau. Guadalupe was the widow of Jose María Vicente Durán (m. 1812), by whom she had three children: Refugia, Josefa, and Lucinda. The Smiths had four children: Susan Concepcion (b. August 15, 1823 – d. 22 Jan 1849), Gertrudes (b. 1825; m. Macario Tarin), Travis (b. 1827 – d. 1833) and Simona (b. October 28, 1829, Mission Espada – died November 11, 1890). Susan C. Smith married Nathaniel Fisk (b. September 4, 1815, Scranton, Vermont – died April 5, 1876) in 1839. After her death, Fisk married her sister, Simona, on August 1, 1849.

Deaf Smith moved freely between both Anglo and Hispanic Tejano societies, was known to be a man of few words; fiercely loyal to his superiors and dedicated to the job at hand. Because of his knowledge of both Anglo and Hispanic cultures and the terrain of Texas, he served as a guide, scout, and spy.

Texan Army
Even as many Texas settlers formed an army and marched on San Antonio de Bexar, Smith originally intended to remain neutral. He changed his mind after the Texian Army, led by Stephen F. Austin, initiated a siege of Bexar. As the siege began, Smith and his son-in-law Hendrick Arnold were absent from town, on a hunting trip. The Mexican army increased security in the town, and refused to allow Smith and Arnold to return to their homes within the city. An indignant Smith immediately joined the Texian Army. He wrote to Austin: “I told you yesterday that I would not take sides in this war but, Sir, I now tender you my services as the Mexicans acted rascally with me”.[1]

His intelligence gathering was important at the Battle of Concepcion. In October 1835, he discovered the mule train that brought on the Grass Fight and in December 1835 he guided troops into San Antonio in the Siege and Battle of Bexar where he was wounded atop the Veramendi House at the same time that Ben Milam was killed. After the evacuation of centralista troops from San Antonio in the latter engagement, he moved his family to Columbia. At the Alamo, he served as a courier to William Barrett Travis and carried Travis’s letter from the Alamo on February 15, 1836. He met General Sam Houston at Gonzalez after the signing of the Texan Declaration of Independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas. Dispatched back to Bexar, Houston relied on Smith to determine the fate of the Alamo garrison. He met and escorted Mrs. Almeron Dickinson and party to report to General Houston in Gonzales regarding the fate of the Alamo defenders.

Cavalry Company
In Gonzales, Smith was assigned to Captain Karnes’ Cavalry Company of the 1st Regiment of Volunteers and placed in command of new recruits. Smith operated continuously on the way to, at, and after the Battle of San Jacinto with small groups of volunteers from the cavalry unit and sometimes other units, successfully generating intelligence and special missions almost continuously.[2] At Harrisburg, he captured a Mexican courier with dispatches revealing the strength and position of Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army. On 21 April prior to the Battle of San Jacinto, he and his men destroyed Vince’s Bridge, the means of any retreat or reinforcements of both armies. He joined his unit to participate in the main battle. He was the courier that took the captured Antonio López de Santa Anna’s orders to General Filisola’s army to retreat from Texas. He captured General Cos, who had escaped from the main battle.

Laredo, Texas
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After the Battle of San Jacinto, Deaf Smith returned to Columbia and later moved to Richmond in Fort Bend County. Shortly before his death, Smith raised a company of twenty Texas Rangers, who fought on March 17, 1837, near what is now the Laredo International Airport in Laredo, against a superior Mexican force. Two of Smith’s men were wounded, and ten Mexicans were killed and ten others injured. Smith also captured forty horses. This incident occurred nearly a year after General Lopez de Santa Anna had surrendered at San Jacinto to General Sam Houston. Smith at the time offered no further resistance against the Mexicans, and he guided the Texans back to San Antonio.

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The Republic of Texas legislature in November 1836 had granted Smith “any house and lot in the city of Bexar, which may be confiscated for public use”. Smith died in Richmond, Texas, at age of fifty, at the home of Randall Jones. He is buried in the Episcopal churchyard with a modest marker, “Deaf Smith, The Texas Spy, Died Nov. 30, 1837.” His widow chose the old Granado homeplace at the southeast corner of Main Plaza and Commerce Street in San Antonio. Smith was also granted land for his service to the Texas Republic. His widow returned to San Antonio, died there on May 1, 1849, and is interred at the Catholic Cemetery.

Posthumous legacy
Plaque at the Deaf Smith County Historical Museum in Hereford, Texas, highlights Smith’s career: “A man more brave and honest never lived.” Click to read.

Deaf Smith County, Texas is named in his honor,[3] which unlike his nickname, is pronounced by most residents as /ˈdɛf/ DEFF. Likewise, a brand of peanut butter known as Deaf Smith was manufactured by the Arrowhead Mills company, which was founded in 1960 by Frank Ford, then from Hereford, the seat of Deaf Smith County.

Smith is also honored for his work in South Texas with a historical marker at the entrance to Lake Casa Blanca International Park in Laredo.

Many school districts in Texas name schools after Heroes of the Texas Revolution. There are several schools across the state named for Deaf Smith, including Lamar CISD’s Deaf Smith Elementary in Richmond, Texas.

In popular culture
1915, Martyrs of the Alamo, Smith was played by Sam De Grasse (as “Silent Smith”)
1939, Man of Conquest, Smith was played by Max Terhune.
1956,The First Texan, Smith was played by Chubby Johnson
1958, in “Deaf Smith” episode of The Adventures of Jim Bowie, Deaf Smith was played by Vic Perrin.
1960, The Alamo, Smith was played by Frankie Avalon (as “Smitty”)
1972, Los Amigos (Smith & Johnny Ears) is based on Smith; Anthony Quinn played the Deaf Smith character.
1986, TV Movie Houston: The Legend of Texas, Smith was played by Ivy Pryce.
1998, TNT’s TV Movie Two for Texas, Smith was played by Richard Andrew Jones
2004, Alamo, Smith was played by Michael Crabtree
2015, Texas Rising, Smith was played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan


Deaf Smith Plaque, Hereford, TX




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