1635: The Wars For The Rhine – Snippet 09

“Well, truly neither do I,” said Maxie smiling warmly, “but Father Johannes assure me that things like the flying machines are quite real, and I suspect that a flight in one of those could drive me more than a little out of my mind. Perhaps your husband experienced something like that, something his mind could not understand or accept, but which Essen embraced, and he therefore would soon find on his northern border. Your husband’s recent behavior certainly seems to indicate that he finds Essen a danger to him.”

“Yes,” Charlotte absentmindedly refilling the glasses, “and Turenne played him like a viola. Will you be staying long in Düsseldorf?”

Magdeburg, House of Hessen

My Dearest Uncle

I write in the hope of finding you and your family in your usual good health, and in the hope that your beloved wife …

Amalie lifted the pen from the paper. No. Better not mention her last skirmish with Ehrengard at all. Uncle Albrecht would have had all the details from his wife anyway — in fact he would probably have had them morning, noon and night ever since last Christmas — and she had to find a way to make the family stand together if they were to retain any kind of prominence. So…

…will permit your lovely daughters to visit me here in Magdeburg, and take advantage of the Abbess of Quedlinburg’s advanced lessons in the new political system. As you know the abbess is an member of the Chamber of Princes and one of the people presently working on the new constitution, but Princess Eleonore von Anhalt-Dessau, whose husband, Wilhelm Wettin, everyone expected to become the next Prime Minister of the USE, and I, have prevailed upon the abbess to offer lessons to those of her former students, who might find themselves in a position, where such knowledge would be to their advantage.

There. Implying that Albrecht’s daughters were expected to make marriages of political importance ought to tickle his vanity. Though from the little Amalie could remember, they were all rather insipid and really difficult to keep apart. But the fences had to be mended, and this invitation — written in her own hand — could only be taken as an extended olive branch. So, now all that was left to write was the usual polite regards and inquiries, and then she could go see what Eleonore had heard about the situation in Denmark.

Cologne, Hatzfeldt House

The four Hatzfeldt brothers had arrived together in Cologne after meeting in Bonn, and the entire family was now gathering in preparation for the youngest brother, Hermann’s, marriage to the heiress Lady Maria Katharina Kaemmerer von Worms-Dalberg on the first Sunday in June.

The fire at Wolfer Hof had not done much damage, but Lady Sophia — with her cousin, Dame Anna, in attendance — had moved to Hatzfeldt House, so she could have her baby away from the fearful fire. They were still in residence along with the nine Wildenburg and Fleckenbuehl cousins, who had been able to come. And even with the twelve Weisweiler and Werther cousins having their own lodgings, and the eight Merten and Schoenstein cousins staying with Margaretha in Wolfer Hof, the Hatzfeldt House was now bursting at the seams, and Father Johannes’ work came to a complete hold.

The orphaned Lady Maria Katharina, called Trinket by the Hatzfeldts for her love of finery, would come to Cologne later together with Archbishop Ferdinand, and stay with him in his palace until the wedding. Fortunately the big feast following the church ceremonial would also be held in the Archbishop’s Palace. That Trinket’s Worm ancestors descended from King Clodomir I of Cologne was almost certainly just a myth, but the archbishop none the less used it as an excuse for a big celebration in Cologne. And to get the council’s permission for him to enter the town to perform the ceremony. Cologne was staunchly Catholic, but also a free trading town with many special privileges, and since the citizens of Cologne had successfully rebelled against their clerical overlord in 1288, the following archbishops could enter the town only with the council’s permission. In Father Johannes opinion, the wedding celebration was a quite clever move, since having the town’s backing and support would most likely be crucial to any plans the archbishop made. And — of course — everybody loves a wedding.

Lucie had stuck to her plan to take all meals — except formal dinners — in the muniment room for as long as Lady Sophia was in residence, and Father Johannes usually kept her company in both places. The formal dinners really weren’t that bad. Sure, Lady Sophia’s overblown histrionics got a bit tiresome with repetition, but usually the dinner was in the honor of this or that cousin’s arrival in Cologne, and even if it wasn’t enlivened by one of the lively feuds the Hatzfeldts entertained themselves with, at least Father Johannes gained major orders for porcelain from the Magdeburg Meissen factory he was part-owner of. The ovens were presently being built in Magdeburg, and hadn’t gone into production yet, but his few test samples fired in Grantville had convinced everybody that he could deliver.

Maxie obviously enjoyed herself hugely by needling Margaretha whenever That Baeckenfoerde Woman had to be invited. And usually Maxie had the enthusiastic help of the Wildenburg, Weissweiler and Werther cousins, while the dignified Fleckenbuehls tried to calm things down and the Merten and Schoenstein cousins sniggered up their sleeves at their unpopular matriarch’s problems with keeping her sharp tongue under control when faced with the archbishop’s favorite cousin. All in all dinner parties from hell — except that everybody seemed to regard it as business as usual, so Father Johannes relaxed and let himself be entertained by the antics.

During the daytime Maxie came to the muniment room whenever she could find the time, and she and Lucie soon included Father Johannes in their old and firm friendship, talking about everything between Heaven and Earth, while sorting and listing the huge piles of paper. Father Johannes sometimes helped the sorting, but usually worked on lists for the restorations, sketches for the new buildings, or — lately — plans for a library — such as shown in the latest number of Simplicissimus Magazine and fast becoming extremely fashionable — to house the family’s collection of books.

Lucie’s four brothers also came to visit the muniment room from time to time. Quiet, calm-looking Heinrich Friedrich, the oldest of the Hatzfeldt brothers, was the least frequent visitor. Old Sebastian had spent most of his life serving the Archbishops of Mainz in one capacity or the other, and he had bought his oldest son an expensive position as a Domherr at St. Alban in Mainz. Here Heinrich had remained during and after the Swedish conquest of the town, and he now spent most of his visit in Cologne with the exiled Archbishop Anselm of Mainz.

All the Hatzfeldt brothers had studied theology for a while in their youth, but only Franz, the sturdy and dark third brother, had taken the priestly wows and made a career within the church, first as a diplomat in the service of the Prince-Bishop of Bamberg, later as a prince-bishop himself in Würzburg. Normally this would have made him the most powerful — and the wealthiest — of the brothers, but with his exile following the Swedish conquest, his prospects were now most uncertain. Especially since his main heritage from his father, the Castle Crottorf, was also behind the present USE borders.

Hermann, the spindly and narrow-shouldered youngest brother, was a Colonel, but well known to be much more of an administrator than a warrior — and always ending up serving as quartermaster of whatever army he was serving in. With none of his three elder brothers showing any signs of marrying, Hermann was now withdrawing from warfare and concentrating on handling the family’s estates and possessions; a life Father Johannes felt certain would suit him just fine. Not to mention that he’d probably get much better results negotiating with the USE for the conquered parts of his family’s lands near Mainz, than he would trying to fight for them.