1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 11

She’d paused for a moment to let the implications of her last statement sink in. Then she added: “And the chancellor of Sweden is most definitely the sort of human material from which ruthless counter-revolutionaries are made. He is and always has been an advocate — I should better say, a true believer — in the principles of aristocratic privilege. It is no secret that he has never been happy with the compromises that Gustav Adolf made with my husband. Neither when they set up the Confederated Principalities of Europe nor — especially! — when they created the United States of Europe.”

Again, she paused briefly. “I think it is now clear what has been happening these past few weeks. Ever since the emperor was badly injured at the battle of Lake Bledno and rendered non compos mentis, Oxenstierna has been taking advantage of Gustav Adolf’s incapacity to prepare a sweeping counter-revolution. That is why he has insisted on keeping the emperor in Berlin, where he can sequester him and keep him under control. That is why he has been assembling a congress of reactionaries in Berlin. They will declare Berlin the new capital. And that is why, finally — this news has now been confirmed also — he has ordered Princess Kristina to join her father in Berlin. So that she too can be kept under control while the chancellor goes about his bloody business.”

One of the members of parliament from Westphalia province spoke up. “But Oxenstierna is simply the chancellor of Sweden. He has no authority in the United States of Europe.”

Ableidinger made a sarcastic snorting sound. “And do you think that little awkwardness is causing him to lose any sleep? Not likely! Not Oxenstierna.”

He swiveled in his chair to look at Rebecca. “I don’t doubt Oxenstierna’s nature is just as you portray it to be. But how can you be so sure that he has reduced the USE’s prime minister to a cipher? Giving the devil his due, Wilhelm Wettin is a capable man and not one I would think to be easily intimidated.”

“No, he’s not — as a man,” said Ed Piazza. “But right now he’s a prime minister also, and in that capacity I’m afraid he can be quite easily intimidated by Oxenstierna.”

Piazza was sitting at the opposite end of the long set of tables from Rebecca, which indicated his own position in the party. Both by virtue of his abilities and his position as the president of the State of Thuringia-Franconia, Piazza wielded as much influence and authority as anyone in the FoJP other than Mike Stearns himself.

But Stearns was hundreds of miles away now, leading his army into Bohemia, and no longer directly part of the political equation.

The man who was probably the third most influential member of the party present at the meeting cocked his head quizzically and said: “I will repeat Constantin’s question: How can you be so sure?”

That was Matthias Strigel, the governor of Magdeburg province. That province and the State of Thuringia-Franconia were the two great power centers of the Fourth of July Party. The SoTF was the wealthiest and most populous province of the USE. But Magdeburg province had now surpassed it as an industrial center.

It was also, of course, the province where the capital was located. The city of Magdeburg had an extraordinarily complex political structure. It was simultaneously the national capital of the USE, the capital of the province of Magdeburg, and an imperial city in its own right. Just to make things still more complicated, there was a legal distinction between the “old city” and the metropolitan area. Otto Gericke was the mayor of metropolitan Magdeburg, but within the narrow confines of the original city his authority was legally — if not always in practice — superseded by that of the city council.

“The reason I can be so sure,” Ed responded, “is because I agree with Becky’s analysis and I’ve looking at the situation from a strictly military standpoint lately. The minute you do that, everything gets very clear, very quickly.”

He leaned forward to give emphasis to his next words. “The reason the chancellor of Sweden can today intimidate and bully the prime minister of a nation which is many times larger is because Oxenstierna has an army — right there with him, in Berlin — and Wettin hasn’t got a damn thing except his own bodyguards.”

This time it was a member of parliament from the Province of the Main who protested, Anselm Keller. “But the USE has its own army.”

“With a Swedish general in command,” said Charlotte Kienitz, one of the leaders of the Fourth of July Party from the province of Mecklenburg.

The mayor of Hamburg shook his head. “Torstensson’s authority no longer derives from Sweden. He was appointed by the Reichstag, not the king and emperor.”

As he usually did in the middle of an argument, Albert Bugenhagen lapsed into a down-timer’s term for the USE’s parliament. Up-timers, speaking English to one another, had a tendency to call it a “congress,” although that wasn’t technically correct. Down-timers, speaking to one another, tended to call it a “Reichstag” — that meant “Imperial Diet” — although wasn’t technically correct either.

For that matter, the official term “Parliament” wasn’t really correct, in the terms that a fussy political scientist might use. When Gustav Adolf and Mike Stearns created the USE in the course of negotiations late in 1633, Mike had deliberately picked a term that was rather foreign to both American up-timers and German down-timers. The USE Parliament was a hybrid two-house creation with elements from up-time America, the down-time Germanies, and both eighteenth-century and twentieth century Britain.