1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 38:



Chapter 21


Mulieres Intrepidae



Amberg, Upper Palatinate


            The trade delegation had taken quarters in an inn, at Cavriani’s urgent recommendation. Over the past century, there had been numerous episodes of serious tension between the metals cartel, the Hammerinnung comprised of the owners of the mining enterprises, smelters and mills, and the various other businesses that transformed metal into finished products, and the rulers and their officials. Episodes caused, largely, by the suspicion of the owners that the rulers of the Palatinate would be quite happy to impose monopolistic controls on the iron trade, to their own profit. Which, indeed, they would have been. The counts of the Palatinate had been mercantilists before mercantilism, so to speak. It would be bad, Cavriani insisted, to give a first impression that the Grantville delegation was directly sponsored by the regent.


            Moreover, the innkeeper subscribed to several newspapers. Everybody in the delegation waited anxiously for the latest installment of the eagerly expected, distant but very important, spring season soap opera that Keith Pilcher called, “How to Squash the League of Ostend Like a Bug,” starring Gustav Adolf, Lennart Torstensson, and John Simpson with supporting roles to be taken by Mike Stearns and… well, who knew. Perhaps the USE would have some new heroes in the next couple of months.


            The ladies were another matter. Duke Ernst had naturally insisted on providing them with quarters in the Amberg Schloss. At his own expense. And, when he discovered that they had somehow managed to travel without a bevy of maids, with attendants suitable to their station. Chambermaids. Ladies’ maids.


            Mary Simpson thanked him very graciously.


            While Mary was thanking him, Veronica managed to put on her Abbess of Quedlinburg face. Then she did the same, thinking dourly that she was going to have to use that face and voice more often than she wanted to this summer. She had practiced, since that reception in Magdeburg. She had watched the way that women such as Mary and the Abbess did it. She was not dumb; she was not yet too old to learn new tricks. If they were useful.




            One of the chambermaids at the Schloss, Afra Forst, still had family in Pfreimd. Augustin Arndt, Landgrave Wilhelm Georg of Leuchtenberg’s agent in Amberg, was able to use this leverage to persuade her to report to him everything that she observed about the up-time women.


            It was no secret that Arndt was the landgrave’s agent in Amberg, of course. He was a lawyer. His function was to represent the financial and political interests of the exiled ruler to the current government. That was quite normal. It would be peculiar only if Landgrave Wilhelm Georg had not employed an agent. That would have created a great deal of suspicion, indeed.


            The regent and his officials assumed that Arndt spied when he could and sent reports to the landgrave. What else could one expect? He watched them. They watched him—when they had time, of course. The gathering of intelligence on the level of the local bureaucracy tended to be a business in which the two operative sentences were “That’s not my job; that’s his job” and “Who’s paying for this, anyway?”


            Several of the people who had been watching Arndt when they had time were now at Ingolstadt with General Banér. Keeping an eye on Herr Arndt was fairly low on the regent’s priority list.


            Right now, Arndt was operating on the basis of old instructions from the landgrave. For the past eighteen months, all he had received were the payments on his retainer. Those came more or less regularly, transmitted by a steward. As long as they kept coming, he would continue to send reports.


            Kilian Richter’s ties to Arndt were not of any interest to the Amberg authorities. Richter was not a citizen or resident of Amberg, nor did he any longer own property there. The man had entered some, not much, a few years back, but promptly sold it. His interests lay miles to the north. His connection with Arndt was not the obvious one of employer and agent that linked Arndt to Leuchtenberg. Who cared now that Richter had used the attorney’s services once before, for a short time, several years ago. Every practicing lawyer had multiple clients.


            Arndt was not especially happy that Richter, when he had first read the newspaper reports of “that harridan Veronica’s” planned trip to Amberg, had contacted him again. But it shouldn’t involve any adverse consequences for Arndt, himself. It was only natural, after all, that Richter would be hiring a lawyer in the capital to defend his property claims.




            Duke Ernst was more impressed by Veronica Dreeson’s letter of introduction than she had been herself. That was, indeed, an original signature. Or the initials, at least, had not been scribbled by an adjutant. GARS. Gustavus Adolphus Rex Sueciae. The king of Sweden, emperor of the United States of Europe and the prospective head of the renewed Union of Kalmar meant seriously that he himself, Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, should personally lend assistance to the grandmother of Hans Richter, the hero of Wismar. A postscript indicated that Prime Minister Stearns agreed that it would be a good idea.


            The woman was chatting along. “…and the town is so changed that I scarcely recognize it. My stepson-in-law Elias and I have walked around some, and we actually lost our way twice. We had to take a line of sight on Our Lady’s to get back on streets that we recognized. That huge half-finished building on the former site of St. George’s church—why, it spills way over the boundaries of the original lot. They’ve even moved one of the city gates to make room for it. There must have been at least a dozen houses along the wall, there. All gone. Including…”


            Duke Ernst nodded politely.


            “Including our house. The one where Johann Stephan had his print shop. We lived upstairs.” Temporarily losing her Abbess of Quedlinburg face and voice, Veronica glared at him.


            Duke Ernst winced. That “huge half-finished building” was the Jesuit collegium. He knew a great deal about it. The moving of one of the city gates in 1630 had serious technical implications for the defense of the city of Amberg. He and Banér had spent a great deal of time looking at the plans. General Banér had been, profanely and blasphemously, of the opinion that, from a military standpoint, a bastion of Catholicism directly adjacent to the city wall was a really bad thing. Banér had been right, but political considerations had prevailed. He had, thus far, allowed the Jesuits to stay in the building next to the wall. Under careful surveillance, of course.


            He looked back at Veronica. Perhaps Job had a point when he asked God why he did these things to people. Surely, of all the houses in Amberg, the Jesuits could have chosen to build where some other owner had his lot. Almost any other owner.


            “Ah, Mrs. Dreeson. It is the Jesuit school.”


            “When I left Amberg,” Veronica said firmly, “the Jesuits were holding masses at Our Lady’s. They had Latin school in the St. George’s Pfarrhof until 1626, but in 1627 they had just closed down the Calvinist school at St. Martin’s and the Jesuits moved their school into it. That was far more convenient, I’m sure, right in the center of town.”


            “Perhaps it was more convenient. Nevertheless, the year after you left Amberg, the Jesuits traded the St. Martin’s site again, for St. George’s. I understand that the trade involved considerable debate at the time. There was a great deal of building activity during the last years of the Bavarian occupation. They meant for Amberg to be the center of a mission effort for the reconversion of the entire Upper Palatinate to Catholicism. There were visitations by high officials of the order. By early 1631, the Jesuits were running seventeen missions out of Amberg. They hired an Italian architect from Passau to complete a design. One of the—ah, results—of the Ring of Fire was that Duke Maximilian interpreted it as a signal that he should redouble his conversion efforts. In Amberg, that meant his construction efforts. In May of 1631, that spot by the wall was a construction site; the demolition had been completed, but little had been built. When we, the Swedes, took Amberg at the end of 1632, we found what you now see—unfinished, but the start of a great collegium on the model of those in Bavaria, half-completed.”


            “And the section on top of Johann Stephan’s lot is?”


            Duke Ernst glanced behind him. Böcler came forward with a fist full of drawings.


            “The section on top of your late husband’s lot is…” Duke Ernst leafed through a couple of pages, then put his finger down. “The dining hall.”