1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 69:



Chapter 38


Nova Confoederatio



Munich, Bavaria


            The daily routine of the Bavarian court was greatly disrupted by the wedding preparations. Normally, over seven hundred fifty people lived in the Residenz. This week, there were twice that many. The cooks had brought in extra staff from the duke’s other palaces. Still, they had been forced to hire temporary helpers. The usual residents had been relocated to less commodious quarters under the roof to accommodate important guests; the servants who normally slept under the roof were on pallets in the kitchens and cots lined along the back corridors. Even some of the administrative offices had been required to pack their papers in chests and vacate temporarily in order to provide additional lodging.


            Servants of the important guests ran around demanding better rooms and special services for their masters and mistresses—hot water in the rooms, special ways to prepare certain foods, the need to borrow a seamstress, objections to the stabling provided for horses, even greater objections to the duke’s mandate that the hundreds of carriages and baggage wagons, once they had delivered their passengers and trunks, must be parked outside the city walls to avoid clogging the streets. There were constant disputes about diplomatic precedence and protocol.


            That didn’t even count the guests who were not lodged in the Residenz, but who had quarters in inns or private houses and came to the palace during the day for various ceremonial occasions. Nor the visitors who were not invited guests but had come to see the wedding anyway. Nor the vendors who had applied for special licenses, with their wives and children. Nor the day laborers who were heaving and hauling stands and booths into place.


            Diplomatic guests objected strenuously to having their personal possessions searched at the gates in the usual manner. Some of them held written exemptions authorizing them to enter without such a search. Some of them did not have room in their assigned quarters for all the baggage they had brought, so their servants were constantly running back and forth to the wagons to fetch something that had been left behind.


            Every church in town was holding special services. A mass of thanksgiving here, a Te Deum there, a chorale here, a morality play there. People who ordinarily attended their local parish church and had no reason to go farther from their homes than the nearest market square were running all over town to hear and see them.


            The whole city was in complete chaos. Half the time, the regular guards had no idea who the people walking down a given corridor in the palace or street in the city were or why they were there. This made them nervous, but they were under strict orders not to offend if they could avoid it. This was a celebration.


            The extra guards, the ones brought in from the duke’s country palaces and borrowed from garrison regiments outside Munich, by and large didn’t even recognize the usual and customary occupants of the palace. They had no idea whether the people on a street lived there or were strangers, although, usually, they could safely presume that those who were walking around looking at the civic buildings and churches, going “oooh” and “aaah,” were tourists.


            This presumption could not be made about those who were wandering around the walls and fortifications of the city going “oooh” and “aaah.” Any one of them could be a spy for the Swede. These gawkers made the captain of the guards very nervous, but as long as they did not directly trespass, his men were not allowed to chase them away. The commander of the Munich garrison would be very glad when the damned wedding was over and things got back to normal.




            The day after the wedding procession arrived in Munich, Duchess Mechthilde filed formal charges of witchcraft against the two foreign women who were being harbored in Archduchess Maria Anna’s household, thus confirming Duke Maximilian’s growing suspicions of his brother’s disloyalty.


            Duke Maximilian was under considerable pressure from his privy council to do something about it. Not, of course, to do any one thing about it. Donnersberger wanted him to quash the charges. Others, particularly Richel, didn’t. Richel also advocated, quite strongly, making the most of the women’s presence. Although the duke had not, in fact, deliberately obtained them to use as hostages, Richel admitted, he also argued that since they were here, Maximilian might as well use them for maximum leverage. It was unlikely that the Swede himself would pay much attention to the fate of two elderly female commoners. However, perhaps that could be used to divide him from his demonic allies? Or, if the regent in the Upper Palatinate did display concern, possibly one could extract concessions? The status of Leuchtenberg? That annoying south-of-the-Danube enclave at Neuburg? Richel insisted that it would be imprudent to overlook any possible advantages to be obtained from the situation. After all, he pointed out, if it should be determined that they were witches and the duke ultimately decided to handle them accordingly, he could do so without any conscientious scruples.


            Almost reluctantly, Father Contzen agreed with Richel. Whatever the duke might promise the Swede or the up-timers or Duke Ernst in return for concessions, there was, in fact, no obligation to keep faith with heretics. That was the most general conclusion of the moral theologians. It might be considered casuistry, perhaps, but that was the accepted position. If the duke agreed to remand the women to the United States of Europe in return for certain concessions—he would not incur eternal damnation if he changed his mind.


            Father Vervaux cleared his throat. “The Dreeson woman, I believe, is Catholic.”


            Richel, on the basis of the personal experience of his wife, replied that during the course of time, a lot of Catholic women had been burned as witches if the judges determined that they were guilty. Adherence to Catholicism was not, in itself, an impediment to execution as a witch by a Catholic ruler, as demonstrated by the events in Bamberg, for example.


            Most of the privy councillors wanted the duke to remove the women from the custody of the archduchess and imprison them. Or, at the very least, immure them in a convent. Preferably, the nuncio and Dekan Golla suggested, in the convent of the Poor Clares. That had proven to be a very satisfactory solution when the Inquisition had demanded the imprisonment of Mary Ward, the head of the English Ladies.


            Duke Maximilian raised one of his graying black eyebrows. Golla shuddered. When the duke did that, he bore a much greater resemblance to many images of Mephistopheles than to that of a proper champion of the Catholic faith.


            “Let there be a formal hearing for the women.”


            That was that. When the duke said, “let there be,” there was.




            Item the First. Are these women actually who they say they are?


            Item the Second. If so, why are they here?


                                    Item the Third. Is there sufficient credible evidence to justify trying them for witchcraft?


            (Item the Fourth. If not, why did Mechthilde bring the charges?)




            The fourth would not go on the official agenda. It would, however, be very much on the duke’s mind.




            Duke Maximilian looked at the note with disbelief. Archduchess Maria Anna asserted that since she had taken the two women into her household and was therefore responsible for their Schutz und Schirm, she must be present at the formal hearing and be permitted to provide them with competent counsel.


            He waggled the piece of paper at Dr. Donnersberger. At Father Contzen. At Richel. The first two looked very uncomfortable; Richel looked annoyed. It was, in fact, an uncomfortable and annoying meeting of the privy council throughout, especially in light of the exclusion of Duke Albrecht.


            Since the letter arrived on his desk, Duke Maximilian had begun referring to his fiancée as die Habsburgerin. That was not a good omen. Before his first marriage, he had refused to accept any Habsburg bride.


            The privy council, backed with numerous legal opinions from consulting jurists, determined, reluctantly, that the archduchess did in fact have the right to participate.


            “Duchess Elisabeth Renata,” the duke said, “never did anything of the sort.”


            That was most certainly true.


            After the meeting, several of the less important members of the privy council discovered that they had urgent business on their country estates. Business that was too urgent to permit them to remain in Munich between now and the wedding. They would return the following week, they said. Several of the more important members of the council devoutly wished that they could do the same.


            After all, “You have saddled me with a termagant,” was not a promising statement for a bridegroom to make a week before his wedding. Neither was, “God is punishing me for listening to you when you tempted me to break my vow to enter a monastery.” That sort of statement tended to be followed by adverse consequences for the luckless advisors.




            There was a lot of excitement and gossip. After all, Bavaria now had two very prominent, foreign, accused witches right here in Munich. If they were found guilty after a proper investigation, and the duke so decided, the burning might even be part of the wedding festivities. People shivered; some with excitement, some with apprehension.