1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 30:



Chapter 15


Rosa Mystica



Rome, Italy


            Easter would be on April 16 in this year of 1634. The penitential routines of Lent were already upon them. The Golden Rose, the Rose of Virtue, had been blessed and dedicated, as always, on Laetare, the fourth Sunday in Lent.


            Laetare. If you looked at it another way, it was the third Sunday before Easter: the Sunday during Lent when the penitential purple was replaced by rose-colored vestments, signaling hope and joy. The Sunday during Lent when the Mass opened with the command, “Rejoice.” Laetare: rejoice that there is love after hate, joy after sorrow, and fullness after famine.


            When the jeweler to the curia had delivered this year's rose, Cardinal Antonio Barberini the younger had looked at it, phrases from Isaiah floating through his mind There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse. And: A flower shall rise up out of his root.


            “Lo! How a rose e’er blooming.” The hymn of Marian devotion had been sung in the Germanies for well over a century, at least. Some of the printed versions had more than twenty verses. In Antonio’s view, Michael Praetorius’s modern arrangement from his 1609 Musae Sionae was the most magnificent setting of the tune:




Das Roeslein, das ich meine,


  Davon Jesias sagt,


Ist Maria, die reine,


  Die uns das Bluemlein bracht;


Aus Gottes ew’gem Rat


Hat sie ein Kind geboren


  Und blieb ein’ reine Magd.



The rose that I am thinking of,


Of which Isaiah speaks.


Is Mary, the pure,


Who bore the little flower.


By God’s eternal counsel,


She bore a child


And yet remained a virgin.



            The rose was truly golden—an ornament of the purest gold that could be made to hold the shape the artisans gave it—a thorny branch with leaves and several flowers. The largest rose sprang from the top of the stem; the others clustered around it. There was also a ruby at the center of the rose, its color reminding the observer of Christ’s blood. Depending upon the state of the Curia’s exchequer, the rose blessed in any given year might be larger or smaller, more or less bejeweled with diamonds, but always beautifully made. If no one was deemed worthy to receive it, it was kept in Rome. The blessing ceremony occurred every year, but the same rose was re-used until it was given away. Then a new one was made.


            Originally, the rose had been given to men and women, cities and monasteries, persons and institutions, without distinction. Since the beginning of the century, the rose had been sent only to queens and princesses. A militant church had started to bestow blessed swords on kings and princes. The duty of carrying the rose and giving it to recipients who were not in Rome at the time of the ceremony fell to cardinal legates, to nuncios, and to other high church officials.


            Now, nearly a month later, Cardinal Francesco asked, “Who's getting it this year?”


            “The Austrian archduchess, Maria Anna,” Antonio the younger answered. “Uncle Maffeo recognizes quite clearly that marrying Maximilian of Bavaria represents a service to the church that is far beyond the ordinary call of duty.”


            Everybody else in the room stared at him.





May, 1634


There hath past away a glory from the earth




Chapter 16


Quaestiones Diplomaticae





            “Half of Don Fernando’s tercios only? And only as far as Grol?” Maria Anna raised her eyebrows. “That’s in Gelderland. Eastern Gelderland, but they still haven’t moved very far toward the Elbe.”


            “The chancery can safely rely on the reports it has received—as far as they go. It is hard to disguise troop movements. In the nature of things, large bodies of armed men on their way from one place to another are easy to see. Not to mention to hear. And to smell.”


            Doña Mencia’s late father had been a soldier as well as governor of the Canary Islands. Her brother, Cardinal Bedmar, had been a soldier as well before turning to an ecclesiastical career.


            “Particularly in a country as densely populated as the Netherlands,” she continued. “Just as we knew very rapidly that Admiral Simpson had moved the king of Sweden’s ironclads down the Elbe and passed Hamburg successfully. I am sure Don Fernando knew about it several days sooner than the news reached Vienna. It just was not something that the USE could hide. So he moved his troops toward the theater of war.”


            “But not into it. I need to know more.” Maria Anna turned around impatiently. “Not just what Papa chooses to tell me. When he has time. Of course, he’s very busy now.”


             Doña Mencia nodded. Important-looking men, dressed all in black, with solemn faces, had been hurrying in and out of the emperor’s audience chamber for a week.


            “And Father Lamormaini won’t tell me anything at all.”


            Cecelia Renata propped her feet up on a hassock. “Why do we need to know more?”


            Maria Anna frowned. “Why hasn’t he sent them beyond Grol? Is it really because the archbishop of Cologne is refusing reasonable terms for letting him pass through Muenster…?”


            Her voice trailed off and then picked up again. “I know that it’s Ingolstadt that has to be Uncle Max’s main concern right now, but…”


            She was thinking on her feet. “The archbishop…”


            Nota bene.” Cecelia Renata made a face. “Our uncle Ferdinand, as distinguished from our papa Ferdinand and our brother Ferdinand and our nephew Ferdinand. And those are just the ones who are still alive. It doesn’t count our great-uncle Ferdinand, our great-grandfather Ferdinand, or the original Isabella’s husband Ferdinand of Aragon, way back when they caused all these problems with the up-timers to start with by sending Columbus off to America.”


            “…is Uncle Max’s brother,” Maria Anna continued, sturdily ignoring the interruption. “Uncle Max is the head of the Catholic League. So Uncle Ferdinand should be a pillar of support for the League of Ostend in northwestern Germany. It’s unlikely that he would refuse to cooperate with Don Fernando without Bavaria’s tacit consent, at the very least. One of the best things for Bavaria, I would think—”


            She looked at Doña Mencia quizzically, “—would be a huge victory for the League of Ostend in the North, so the Swede would have to pull Banér and Horn out of the south with their armies. Away from Ingolstadt. Away from Swabia. So why won’t the archbishop grant passage to Don Fernando’s troops?”


            Cecelia Renata digressed again. “Given how badly Uncle Ferdinand wants to become a cardinal, it’s unlikely that he would refuse to cooperate without Urban VIII’s tacit consent, either. Not unless he’s arrogant enough to think he can make the pope angry and still end up wearing a red hat.”


            “He is well known for his contentiousness and prickly pride,” Doña Mencia commented mildly.


            “In any case…” Maria Anna looked down at her sister. “Given that I will very soon be the duchess of Bavaria, I need to understand what is happening.” She paused. “That’s need, not just want, Sissy.”


            “We could buy some newspapers,” Cecelia Renata suggested. “They might have more information. Especially if we can find some that Papa’s censors haven’t approved of.”


            “How are we going to manage that? Do you know how to buy a newspaper? Or where? Neither of us can scarcely wander out into the streets alone looking for one.”


            Doña Mencia leaned back. She had her own confidential sources of information in the Netherlands, but she wanted to see if the archduchesses could make satisfactory progress without her help.




            “It came to me while I was standing there for a fitting,” Maria Anna said to Doña Mencia a while later. “That I didn’t know how to buy a newspaper and neither did Sissy, since merchants usually bring the things we might want to purchase to us. But Susanna Allegretti probably does, and she’s able to move about in the city. I thought about asking her to stay behind a few moments when Frau Stecher was ready to leave, but that would just have made more trouble for her. So if you could tell your maid Guiomar to find Susanna and ask her to get us some newspapers? When she has the chance, of course. She won’t be staying with us in Bavaria. She’s employed by the imperial court. She will have to come back and work with Frau Stecher for a year or two more. So I don’t want to get her in a lot of trouble.”


            Maria Anna reached through the slit in her skirt for the pocket that was tied around her waist. “Here’s some money. Will that be enough? What do newspapers cost?”


            “It should be enough.” Doña Mencia thought it would be quite a bit more than enough, but then she had never personally purchased a newspaper, either. She had bought books, though. Right in the shops that sold them, rather than having them delivered. But that was many years ago, when she was visiting her brother Alphonso in Venice.