1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 12:



Chapter 7


Miles Bellicosus



Amberg, Upper Palatinate


            Gustav Adolf’s regent in the Upper Palatinate and his general assigned to the same principality were having a private discussion.


            Duke Ernst’s private secretary, Johann Heinrich Böcler , was seated behind his employer and taking meticulous notes. He sat in on all of his employer’s meetings, at least those that he knew about, and always took careful notes—perhaps even unnecessarily extensive, given that they included marginal comments. But Böcler had been born in the utterly insignificant little town of Cornheim in Franconia, son of a Lutheran pastor and grandson of of a high school principal. Today, in March of 1634, he found himself in a plum post that most twenty-three-year-olds could only dream of obtaining. So, better to err on the side of caution.


            Thank you, Professor Bernegger; thank you, historical faculty of the University of Strassburg; I pledge upon my honor to be worthy of your trust. He intended these notes not only for the duke’s current use, but also as the basis for a history of the exciting events of this great war which he hoped would, some day, make him as immortally famous as Caesar or Livy, Suetonius or Tacitus.


            Böcler pursed his lips primly and invented yet one more shorthand substitute for the… colorful—not to say blasphemous and scatological—terms that peppered General Johan Banér’s vocabulary. Böcler was a bit of a prig. His father and grandfather would have been proud of him.


            “If I don’t get out of this godforsaken Upper Palatinate, my troops will mutiny. They are fighters. I have no talent for keeping the men happy when they are in quarters doing goddamned near nothing. Or, at least, not much.” Banér slammed his tankard of beer down on the dual-purpose breakfast and card table in the conference room in Amberg castle, which was serving the regency of the Upper Palatinate as a capitol building.


            Duke Ernst of Saxe-Weimar had been serving as Gustav Adolf’ss regent in the province—the Oberpfalz or Upper Palatinate, as contrasted with the Rhine or Electoral Palatinate—since late the previous summer. Technically, he was governing in the name of young Karl Ludwig, the rightful ruler, who was in polite and comfortable imprisonment in the Spanish Netherlands at the moment. He had been appointed by the Gustav Adolf and was, as everyone knew perfectly well, managing the region on behalf of the USE. That he was acting for Karl Ludwig had been retained as a polite fiction, however. It was also a useful one, particularly since the USE did not choose to recognize Ferdinand II’s 1628 transfer of the Palatinate’s electoral vote to the other branch of the House of Wittelsbach in the person of Duke Maximilian of Bavaria. In a pinch, if Ferdinand II summoned a diet for the purpose of getting his son elected as King of the Romans, Duke Ernst could challenge, on behalf of Karl Ludwig, Duke Maximilian’s right to vote, which could tie it up in procedural wrangling for a long time. Long enough, perhaps that Ferdinand might die before the electors designated his son as his successor.


            Well—a man could always hope.


            Duke Ernst knew that Banér had his men constantly practicing innovative tactics involving fighting retreats and winter campaigning. He looked at his colleague reproachfully.


            “General, you are fully aware of why you and your regiments must remain stationed in the Upper Palatinate. Your presence here is necessary to guard against any Bavarian incursions across the Danube. Even more, the threat caused by your presence along the Danube keeps Duke Maximilian’s troops tied in place, so that he cannot bring them to the assistance of the Austrians against Wallenstein in Bohemia—nor to the League of Ostend against whom our monarch is waging war in the Baltic. Your task here is not the one which you have just described as ‘doing nothing.’” His face grew a bit tight. “Accompanied, I fear I must say, by a blasphemy that is not acceptable in polite discourse, and which I do not propose to repeat.”


            He decided an additional remark was called for here. “Moreover,” he added, “your troops are being paid. Not as much as they might like, but regularly. That appreciably reduces the immediate risk of mutiny.”


            “Appreciably! Immediate! You know, Your Grace, you have some adverb or adjective just dripping with pious cant that puts a condition on everything you say,” Banér said, all but sneering openly. “The whole Upper Palatinate is an overused cesspit as far as I am concerned! Particularly since my troops, during this winter of 1633-1634, are neither quartered upon the townspeople, whose stores they could eat up, nor allowed to exact more than very limited and rationed contributions, which my honored regent does not permit them to collect themselves—with whatever supplements they might bring in during the process—but is obtaining through contractors with the souls of stiff-necked, constipated bookkeepers and accountants. Calvinist bookkeepers and accountants. Walloons, most of them. Or Genevans!”


            “The honored regent, as you call me, feels obliged to point out that Frederick V of the Palatinate and erstwhile Winter King of Bohemia, whose political ambitions were the immediate trigger of this great war, was a Calvinist—whether you like it or I like it. As was his son Karl Ludwig; so far, at least. It seems only reasonable, therefore, to employ at least a moderate number of Calvinists in the administration of the province. If I engaged only fellow Lutherans in this region, it would cause hard feelings unnecessarily.”


            He leaned back in his chair and continued, in a somewhat milder tone. “The Upper Palatinate is not only that which you rendered so unacceptably as ‘an overused cesspit.’ Although there are times that I too have been tempted to consider it almost ungovernable—if only because there are three sets of legal claimants, duly but separately appointed or authorized by its former Lutheran, Calvinist, and Catholic rulers respectively, to almost every piece of property within its borders. Nonetheless, it has industrial resources that are crucial to the technology of the up-timers. That are, therefore, crucial to the war effort being waged by Gustav Adolf. Who is, if I may remind you once more, your king as well as my emperor, the emperor of the USE. The presence and protection of your troops is necessary if we are to restore the mines to full production. Otherwise, a raid from Austria or Bavaria could destroy the infrastructure once more, just as effectively—and just as fast—as Tilly and Mansfeld, between them, destroyed it during this past decade.”


            Banér, alas, was nothing if not stubborn. He was none too heavily burdened with respect for his superiors, either. “If the king—or, more likely that tight-assed young Torstensson—wants the artillery that might be manufactured from the ore produced by the Upper Palatinate’s mines, smelted with the Upper Palatinate’s charcoal, and processed in the Upper Palatinate’s hammer-mills, then”—here his fist slammed the table—“it should be that fucking Torstensson’s troops who get stuck with the hell-designed duties such as protecting mines, assholes, smelters, latrines, hammer-mills, and chamber-pots.”


            He planted his hands on the armrests of his chair, leaned back, and glared at Duke Ernst. “While real cavalrymen get on with the process of fighting battles.”


            The two men, odd couple though they might be, had learned a lot from one another in the past several months. They had conducted variations on this conversation so frequently that Duke Ernst didn’t even pause.


            “We have to consider the problems presented by the other Upper Palatine territories, as well, especially Leuchtenberg. Duke Maximilian’s brother is married to the sister of the landgrave of Leuchtenberg. Her brother and nephews fled into Bavaria when we came through on our way to Regensburg.”


            Banér snorted. “Of course we fucking occupied the whole region! There’s really no practical way to conquer part of the squares on a game board and pass by the others.”


            Duke Ernst ignored him and looked at Böcler. “For your notes. Wolfgang Wilhelm is the Duke of Pfalz-Neuburg. He married Duke Maximilian’s sister in 1613 and converted to Catholicism in the expedient hope that it would enhance his maternal inheritance expectations in Jülich and Cleves. He’s been in Düsseldorf for years now. For our purposes, even though his Bavarian duchess has been dead for five years and he has remarried, he’s still basically Maximilian’s client. Especially since he’s got the Bavarian duke’s brother, Archbishop Ferdinand of Cologne, looking over his shoulder.”