1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 28:
Brussels, the Spanish Netherlands
“We are, after all, in the middle of a war,” Don Fernando mused to his advisers. “I suppose it is too much to hope for that the lovely Grantville ladies who are now in Amsterdam would be willing to explain the significance of this trip to us.”
There was general consensus that it was far too much to hope for.
He tried asking the delegation that came from Grantville to discuss the disposition of the funds in the Wisselbank. But they said only that, as far as they knew, Veronica Dreeson was going to settle her first husband’s estate and Mary Simpson was looking for funding for the normal school in Magdeburg.
That was no help at all.
Don Fernando and his advisers didn’t spend much time considering the matter, though. At the moment, they were far more interested in the doings of Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, down in the Franche-Comté.
“And you’re certain about this?” Don Fernando asked his advisers. “Bernhard took his forces no further north than Schwarzach on the Rhine?”
Miguel de Manrique waggled his hand back and forth. “Well, not quite. Bernhard himself went no further than Schwarzach, true. But he did send three of his cavalry companies toward Mainz.”
One of the other officers snorted. “Amounts to the same thing. They’re still in no position to come to the aid of the French and Danish armies outside Luebeck.”
Manrique shrugged. “True enough. The gist of it all, Your Highness—and, yes, we believe our reports are accurate—is that it appears Bernhard plans nothing more than a token gesture. Just barely enough to deflect his employer Richelieu’s wrath.”
Don Fernando nodded. Then, rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “There’s another interpretation, you know. Perhaps Bernhard is acting according to secret orders from Richelieu. The cardinal might be planning to betray his Danish allies, the same way he did the Dutch at Dunkirk.”
The cardinal-infante and his officers contemplated the possibility for a moment. Then, almost simultaneously, they all shook their heads.
“No, too complicated,” said Don Fernando. “Even for Richelieu.”
Duke John George was uneasy. He had been uneasy ever since he took Heinrich Holk into his employ after Holk and his army had been driven out of Prague. He needed Holk’s troops as a barrier against Wallenstein, but they were all too likely to turn against his own people. He had felt the need to hold them along his own borders with Bohemia; however, the people of those borders were sending petitions against their presence—and the petitions were becoming increasingly sullen in tone.
He had considered sending Holk south—not authorizing him to operate in the Upper Palatinate, of course. Authorizing him to do something about Leuchtenberg might work. It would involve crossing part of the Upper Palatinate, of course. During the crossing, Holk and his men could forage there. Not in Saxony.
The discussion continued around the conference table. Now this. The woman—the wife of Grantville’s mayor. If they were sending her to Amberg, it could only mean that the Swede was intending to provide significant reinforcements to Banér. If the Swede was intending to provide significant reinforcements to Banér, it must mean that he was very confident of success in the north. If he was very confident in the north, he must have data that John George did not. If he had that confidence, where would he turn next? To the south? To the east? Which way would Banér move, if he were reinforced? Against Ferdinand? Or north, against Saxony?
May it please God in heaven, to the east; not to the north. Not toward or through his poor Saxony. Not again.
They had best hold most of Holk’s troops where they were for the time being. And deal with those increasingly sullen petitions the best they could. Perhaps with just a few companies to make a feint towards Leuchtenberg?
“One thing I am sure of,” Judith Roth said, “is that if Veronica Dreeson says that she’s going to Amberg to settle her first husband’s estate, then she’s going to Amberg to settle her first husband’s estate.”
She made that pronouncement in the great salon of the mansion that she and her husband Morris owned in Bohemia’s capital. Being as Don Morris was one of King Wallenstein’s central advisers, the salon was frequently occupied, of an evening, with a significant percentage of Bohemia’s movers and shakers.
Everyone else in the room begged to differ.
The grandmother of Hans Richter, the hero of Wismar, would not go on so insignificant a mission.
The grandmother of the revolutionary, Gretchen Richter, would not go on so insignificant a mission.
The wife of the up-time admiral really could not be so concerned about the education of teachers that she would leave the national capital of the USE and devote three months of the year to a trip to a much less significant regional capital.
The speculation continued. There must, certainly, be a deeper underlying significance to this trip. Perhaps it portended a major effort of the USE on behalf of Wallenstein; perhaps it indicated that the USE feared that Wallenstein’s situation was precarious and this was an effort to persuade the regent to release Banér’s troops for use in Bohemia; perhaps there was to be a coordinated revolutionary uprising in Bavaria and Austria, led by the Committees of Correspondence.
Judith raised her eyebrows and sighed. She thought that she had an advantage over the others. She had actually met both Veronica Dreeson and Mary Simpson. Numerous times, in fact.
“They are,” she said, “really quite single-minded. Both of them. Trust me.”
The others shook their heads pityingly.
“Why,” Joachim Donnersberger asked, “are they coming? Clearly, it can scarcely be about a bit of property in the Upper Palatinate. There is no way that they can expect us to believe that. The Dreeson woman’s first husband had a small printing business, not a great mercantile concern.”
Contzen and Vervaux looked at one another. The willingness of the Jesuit Order to draw its recruits from all social classes gave many of them a perspective on property rather different from that of the urban patriciate or the nobility. “It may be,” Vervaux suggested, “that the amount is not insignificant to her.”
The remainder of the privy counselors sublimely ignored this absurd idea.
“At least,” Richel interjected, “we do have observers in place. We will know, as soon as can be, what she really spends her time doing. What both of them spend their time doing. If we can get someone else into the household of the Swede’s cousin, we really should. The true intent must be that they are bringing instructions for him. Or for Banér, which amounts to the same thing.”
“There is now,” Duke Albrecht said, “a concentration of Banér’s troops around Ingolstadt. Whatever the instructions the women are bringing, clearly they are so private that the Swede is unwilling to risk the possibility of a disloyal operator of their ‘radio.’” Not, he thought, that this was excessive caution on Gustav Adolf’s part. There would soon be at least one radio operator in Amberg who was willing to transmit information to Bavaria on the rare occasions that he was alone in the room.
Breaking the codes was another matter altogether.
Duchess Mechthilde had a private conversation with her brother, the landgrave of Leuchtenberg. More accurately she tried to, for Wilhelm Georg’s mind was no longer fully reliable. She would have liked to have called in his sons, but one was at Ingolstadt and the other in Vienna. Or should have been in Vienna, if he had not been sent to accompany Ferdinand II’s heir on a tour of inspection of fortifications in Hungary.
Although the family had fled from Leuchtenberg and the Swede’s regent in the Upper Palatinate was now administering it, this did not mean that a significant portion of the population was not loyal to the landgrave and resentful of the usurper. Mechthilde thought that something ought to be done. Duke Maximilian had clearly lost his edge; Bavaria was being run in his name by the privy council. The privy council had no more nerve than the average committee. If something was to be done in the Upper Palatinate, it would be up to Leuchtenberg, but she had no way to do anything. It was frustrating.