1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 11:
In a thousand valleys, far and wide
Maria Anna had not been a party to the discussions in her father’s council. Why would she have been? She smiled a little. Was salt ever a party to discussions about tariffs? Did anyone tell a case of wine or bale of silk what the seller and buyer were planning?
She couldn’t sit down. There weren’t any chairs in the anteroom. Even if there had been, it would be contrary to protocol for her to sit on one of them. She ran her rosary through her fingers. That was acceptable etiquette. Twisting her fingers would not be acceptable. In any case, she wasn’t willing to have her ladies-in-waiting observe her uncertainty.
She already knew it would be Bavaria. No one had told her so, but she had observed which diplomats were spending the most time with her father and his advisers. Nothing was happening in the war right now, nor was planned to happen in the war next summer, that would require so much consultation with Uncle Max as head of the Catholic League. So she knew, but not quite in the same way that she would know very soon.
She had not been a party to the negotiations, either. Did it occur to anyone that sheep should be consulted as to their preference when it came to transhumance pasturing that crossed the borders of kingdoms?
She told herself firmly that everything would be well. Well enough. As well as a reasonable person could expect.
Ten Ave Marias. Then, for each large bead, instead of a Pater Noster, count a blessing.
First blessing. Bavaria was Catholic. She was not being sent to marry a heretic and live in a heretical country, as had happened to Henrietta Maria of France. Her husband’s subjects would not hate her for her faith. Nor martyr her for it, although, of course, if it proved to be necessary, she would have the duty to glory in martyrdom. Overall, though, she would prefer not to be a martyr. At least not until she was older. Quite a bit older. In any case, it did not now seem that it would be necessary.
Second blessing. She knew from the up-time encyclopedias that she had, in that other world, borne sons. Heirs for the duchy. She was not barren. The marriage would be fruitful. She would not be scorned as a sterile wife. Not, at least, if things occurred in the same way. Of course, the physicians would have ascertained, before the negotiations began, that Uncle Max was still capable of copulation. That wasn’t something that could be assumed when a man was sixty years old. He would be sixty-one in a couple of months. A year older than her mother, his sister, would have been if she had not died almost twenty years ago.
She glanced up from the rosary. Doña Mencia was watching her, a concerned expression on her face. Maria Anna smiled reassuringly.
Third blessing. She paused, trying to bring a third blessing to mind.
The door to the council chamber opened. She looked up, expecting to be summoned into the presence of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor and her papa.
It was not the doorman, however. Father Lamormaini emerged, briefly greeted her, Doña Mencia, and the younger ladies-in-waiting, and walked away.
She returned to her rosary. Third blessing. She had not died in childbirth. Or, maybe, she would not die in childbirth? These strange verb tenses. Thanks to this strange miracle of Grantville, she was going—would go?—into marriage knowing that she was capable of giving life to a son without sacrificing her own. This was a great comfort and source of confidence. Something that most prospective brides could not know. Her fingers paused a moment while her busy mind focused on the realities of life. Unless the prospective brides were widows with children, of course. Many brides were widows with children.
Fourth blessing. She drew a deep breath. Uncle Max was sixty years old. Of course, the encyclopedias said that he had lived another eighteen years in that other world of God’s creation. But eighteen years was not so bad. In eighteen years she would be in her forties. In her prime. Ready to assume her responsibilities as an adult member of the Habsburg family.
Father Lamormaini returned and re-entered the council chamber. She smiled again, bending her face down so that none of her maids-in-waiting would notice the irreverence. Even Jesuits were not angels and were subject to calls of nature. Another reminder that all men, from the highest in rank to the lowest, were the children of Adam and Eve. Her fingers moved steadily through another decade of the rosary.
The door opened again. This time, it was the doorman.
“It’s fine, Sissy. It’s fine.” Maria Anna hugged her sister.
“But I’ll miss you.” Cecilia Renata was clinging to her. “I know I haven’t been the best sister, and I know I’m stubborn and contrary, and I know I don’t always do what you want me to, but we’ve always been together. Always. We’ve never been apart, not since I was born.”
“Well, then…” Maria Anna paused. “We know that I survived the first eighteen months of my life before I had your company. I have been apart from you, so it should be easier for me to be alone. That is a blessing. And you won’t be all by yourself. You get to stay here, with Mama and Papa. With our brothers and Mariana. At least for a while. Until…” Maria Anna didn’t need to speak the end of that sentence.
Cecilia Renata nodded. They had read the very little that the encyclopedias had to say about her life, too. At least for a while. Until it was her own turn to become a commodity in trade. A far less fortunate commodity than Maria Anna, if the future remained as it had been. Cecilia Renata’s marriage to the Polish king WÅ‚adysÅ‚aw IV in 1637—only three years from now—had not apparently been a happy one.
And she had died young, too, only six years later—although the encyclopedias did not explain the cause. Perhaps it would all be different in this universe.
Cecilian Renata lifted her chin. “I’m not as brave as you are. But I’m brave enough.”
“Oh, Sissy. I’ll miss you, too. So much.”
“It is certainly time she was married,” Father Lamormaini said. “Married to a man with the proper personality to keep her mind from straying along unsuitable paths. Not that I am saying that the archduchess is frivolous or in any way perverse. She is a pious young woman. She is just…” He paused. “Too curious. Too interested in new things.”
Ferdinand II leaned back in his chair. “It is a great comfort to me that Duke Maximilian has such a strong mind and will. He can guide her in the direction she should go. She has reached the age where a husband can direct her much more effectively than a father can.”
The Bavarian ambassador did not reply at first. Then, slowly, he said, “Your Majesty, I am not sure that you can count on the duke’s directing her. Or, from what I have gathered that you hope for, from my earlier conversations with your confessor, controlling her intellectual development.”
Lamormaini breathed in sharply. “Can’t he?”
The envoy looked out the window. “Say, rather, will he? The death of Duchess Elisabeth Renata has affected him deeply. You already know that the duke was… reluctant… to remarry. I am not betraying any diplomatic confidences by telling you that. He may not take the trouble to provide her with the loving guidance that a wife has a reasonable right to expect from her husband.”
Ferdinand II stood up, choleric as usual at being forced to listen to anything he didn’t want to hear. “Then an immediate marriage will benefit the duke, as well, in more ways than providing him with sons. Take his mind off his troubles, and all that. I have no patience with melancholia.” He leaned over, rubbed his right calf, and limped out of the room, followed by the chancellor.
Lamormaini frowned after him, worried. The emperor’s legs had been bothering him for months, aching whenever he sat for too long or tried to move quickly. He turned back to the ambassador. “Were you implying that Maria Anna might come to dominate the duke?”
The Bavarian shook his head slowly. “No. Not precisely.”
“What, then? Can’t he direct her? Control her?”
The ambassador shrugged. “He could have. If he were still the man he was ten years ago. If he were even still the man he was a year ago. As I said to the emperor, ‘Will he?’”
Lamormaini rubbed his temples. He was starting to feel a headache coming on.
“It’s all right, Doña Mencia. At least, you will be coming with me. And staying in Munich. Papa insisted on that, so I won’t be surrounded by strangers right away. I’m counting that as another blessing.” Maria Anna waved her rosary.
“Do you have a full decade of blessings, yet?”
“Almost. Nearly.” Maria Anna jiggled her rosary, pulled her skirts up, and sat down on a hassock, dropping them behind her. Frau Stecher had been harping again on the amount of work that was involved in pressing her everyday clothing while the dressers and seamstresses were so busy putting together a new trousseau, so she had been avoiding chairs the last few days. There just wasn’t any way to keep from wrinkling fabric if a person sat down in a chair. “I’ve also added that at least Uncle Max won’t ever take a mistress—well, the odds are really against it, since he was faithful to Tante Elisabeth Renata for all their lives. So I won’t have that problem to contend with, the way most of the French queens have done.”
Doña Mencia de Mendoza nodded.
“Nor mignons, the way Anne of Austria has had to do in France. And the English king’s Danish mother did.”
Doña Mencia winked. “Is that one blessing or two?”
Maria Anna put on a serious face. “One, I think. At least, I don’t know of any kings who have had both mistresses and mignons. That’s not the same thing as a king just having a favorite. Nobody has ever accused the Count-Duke of Olivares of being a mignon. Just a really close adviser. I think.” She looked across the room. “You know more about the Spanish court than I do. Mariana wouldn’t ever say, of course, even if she did. She’s very loyal to her brother.”
“The count-duke is King Philip’s close adviser and favorite. Only.” Doña Mencia’s tone of voice was firm.
Doña Mencia decided not to mention Philip of Spain’s various mistresses. None of them were quasi-official court figures the way French royal mistresses tended to be.
Maria Anna stretched her arms. “It will be easier in Bavaria, then, from all that I’ve heard, than it is for some new wives. Strict and formal, of course. Uncle Max has political and military advisers and he’s very close to Uncle Albrecht, too, but… not anything else.”
“Nothing else. Not even a rumor of anything else.”
“And Uncle Max has an excellent library.”
“And a wonderful art collection.”
“There are beautiful churches in Munich.”
“Excellent preachers, too. And I’ll have my own confessor. How many is that?”
“How many what?”
“Blessings. ‘No mistresses or mignons’ is the fifth. Library is the sixth. Art is the seventh. If I can count churches, preachers, and my own confessor separately, that would make the decade. Is that quite fair? Aren’t they really just one, altogether? And don’t they really all belong under my first blessing, that Bavaria is Catholic? That at least I am going to a Catholic principality? Maybe these are just… subheadings.”
“Don’t create unnecessary scruples,” Doña Mencia warned.
“I won’t.” Maria Anna nodded. “I’ll try to think of more, different, blessings, though. For instance, since Leopold Wilhelm is bishop of Passau, I will see one of my brothers after my marriage. At least occasionally. That makes an eighth separate blessing. I only need two more.”