1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 14:



Chapter 8


Idea Boni Principis



            Duke Ernst rested his forehead upon his hands. Being a Lutheran, he did not believe in purgatory. He did, however, suspect that purgatory would not have been a necessity for even a Catholic, presuming that said Catholic was upright and God-fearing otherwise than in the matter of being a Papist, who was assigned to work with Johan Banér. Banér provided purgatory on earth.


            Nonetheless, he admonished himself, he could not let his distaste for the man impede him from performing his duties. He had a job to do. Clearly, with young Karl Ludwig being a minor, there had to be a regency. The USE had certainly not wanted to see Ferdinand II establish an imperial regency for the boy. Which he might have tried, if he could have persuaded Don Fernando to transfer custody when he first captured the Winter King’s widow and children.


            But, worse, Don Fernando might try some version what the Spanish had done to William the Silent’s oldest son. They had abducted him to Spain when he was fourteen, converted him to Catholicism, and kept him, basically, as a hostage against his father and brothers for fifty years. Only the mercy of God had granted that his marriage had been sterile—Frederik Hendrik did not, right now, need to contend with Spanish-sponsored claimants from a senior line of the House of Orange.


            If Don Fernando tried hard enough, with tutors, with the insidiously seductive plays and spectacles, with gestures of friendship, feigned or genuine, Karl Ludwig, at sixteen, might actually become a convert to Papistry. God preserve us all. Then how could the king reasonably refuse to reinstate him in his lands?


            So, Gustav Adolf had sent him here, telling him to work with the cadet, Protestant, counts of Pfalz-Neuberg to set up a system that would be terribly hard for a hot-headed young count Palatine to mess with if the Spanish and imperials succeeded in converting Karl Ludwig and in a few years sent him to claim his hereditary property.


            Lifting his head, he turned. “Just what we don’t need,” he muttered to Böcler. “A young bigot on the model of Maximilian or Ferdinand II, planted on the north bank of the Danube and both banks of the Rhine.”


            Böcler seriously wished that he had been able to take notes on whatever train of thought that had led Duke Ernst to that comment. But now the duke was saying, in his normal tone of voice, “Please prepare a memorandum for General Banér, reminding him that John George of Saxony has employed Heinrich Holk. If John George should, for some reason, decide to send Holk’s men south toward us, rather than east toward Bohemia, the general and his regular troops will have plenty to do. Especially if, at the same time, Maximilian should decide to come north or Ferdinand should decide to come west.”


            Then he spoke rather shortly. “Find Zincgref,” he ordered.




            After a half-dozen false starts—Julius Wilhelm Zincgref was not in his own apartments, not in the breakfast room, had not been seen by the clerical staff, and the like—Böcler finally found him in the exercise room, watching Erik Haakansson Hand work out.


            Zincgref spent a fair amount of his time doing that. Hand, or more precisely, Hand’s mother, was a cousin of the king of Sweden. Illegitimate, to be sure, an acknowledged daughter of Eric XIV by one of his mistresses. Zincgref, who harbored a passionate desire to produce a best selling neo-Latin epic poem glorifying the Lion of the North, spent a great deal of time trying to learn more about the omens of greatness that must have clustered around the monarch in childhood.


            Hand couldn’t seem to think of many. He was only a year or so older than the king, about forty, so his memories of the glorious ruler’s infancy were, not surprisingly, rather vague. He had grown up in Germany as a page in the court of one of the dukes Mecklenburg; then learned his trade in the lifeguard regiment of Maurice of Nassau; then started as a lieutenant in the Sm lands infantry in 1615. Captain in 1617; major in 1628; colonel of the Östergötland infantry in 1628.  In 1631, he had been with the king at Breitenfeld and at the crossing of the Lech; at Alte Veste, he had commanded a full brigade, the Östgöta, Jönköping, and Skaraborg regiments, against Wallenstein.  He had been severely wounded, left behind as dead or dying, in the fall of 1632 when the Swedes swept past Ingolstadt, into the Upper Palatinate, in pursuit of the Bavarians.


            He had survived. He spent most of his free time, when he wasn’t training the men who were training and would train the Upper Palatinate’s local militias, in the exercise rooms, determined to regain as much function as possible. It seemed unlikely that he would serve his king in the field again. Today he was talking to Zincgref about his family and about service: his brother Knut, killed in Russia in 1614; his brother Arvid, killed in action at Riga, in Latvia, in 1621. His brother Jan was still alive, though, as were his three brothers-in-law.


            “They haven’t managed to do us in yet,” Hand was saying.


            Böcler had been unable to determine, thus far, whether Hand regarded Zincgref’s persistent questioning as a nuisance or a way to pass the time. Surely, Böcler thought, it could not be interesting to spend hour after hour with one’s right hand in a grip attached to a heavy bar, suspended from the ceiling on chains, which one was trying to move back and forth. But the curve of the bar, marked upon the wall, was longer this morning that it had been last week. In pulling it toward his chest, Hand had gained an inch; in pushing it away, nearly two. Some day, perhaps, the colonel would be able to straighten his right arm again.