1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 15

The wand-tip came back to Swabia. “This map doesn’t reflect it yet, because it’s still not formally established. But the fact is that in the real world the former duchy of Württemberg has seceded from Swabia and is operating as its own republican province. So far, Horn hasn’t used force to squash them. But he can always claim that what few forces he doesn’t need to stare down Bernhard will be needed to keep order in Württemberg.”

Ed lowered the wand again and went back to thoughtful leg-tapping.

“Horn has plenty of excuses — perfectly legitimate ones, mind you — to keep his army effectively neutral in any civil war. ‘Neutral,’ at least, so far as the rest of the USE is concerned. I don’t doubt he’ll rule Swabia with a firm hand and keep Württemberg under his thumb. So what it all comes down to is his own temperament and inclinations.”

Piazza smiled, quite wickedly. “Happily for us, Axel Oxenstierna was the father of Horn’s wife, while she was still alive. By all reports, Horn detested his father-in-law. And still does. So I think it’s not likely that he’ll be inclined to do as the chancellor says, so long as he can claim a legitimate reason to refuse.”

Piazza now pointed further north on the map, to the adjoining provinces of the Upper Rhine and the Main. “There’s another sizeable Swedish army here, under General Nils Brahe. This one’s legally as well as practically under the Swedish crown, so there’s no ambiguities involved. But my estimate right now is that Brahe will do about the same as Horn. He’ll keep the Main and the Upper Rhine stable — that’s a genteel way of saying that he’ll squash the CoCs there if they get rambunctious — but he won’t intervene in any conflicts elsewhere.”

“Why wouldn’t he?” asked Strigel. The question was not a challenge, simply the product of curiosity.

“I’m guessing, you understand. But, first, Brahe’s army isn’t as strong as it used to be. I doubt if he even has ten thousand men left. Gustav Adolf figured the French would still be licking their wounds so he could afford to draw down Brahe’s forces in order to bolster the ones he was taking into Poland. And while that was probably true then, will it still be true if the USE gets convulsed by a civil war? Cardinal Richelieu is under a lot of political pressure. He might be tempted to relieve it by getting back some of the territory they lost after Ahrensbök.”

“Or Monsieur Gaston might go haring off on his own expedition, just to show how it’s properly done,” chimed in Helene.

“Finally,” Ed said, “I think Brahe will stay put along the Rhine because he may have another problem to deal with, which is up here in Westphalia.” The wand now moved to indicate the USE’s large northwestern province.

“Ah! Of course.” That came from Constantin Ableidinger, who suddenly broke into a grin. “I hadn’t been thinking of that. If Oxenstierna launches a civil war here in the USE, he will be creating a gigantic Danish headache for himself, won’t he?”

“I don’t think there’s much doubt about it,” agreed Ed, nodding. “With Gustav Adolf incapacitated and given the still-fuzzy laws of the Union of Kalmar, you could make a good case that King Christian IV is now Kalmar’s regent.”

Rebecca smiled. “And I will bet that even as we speak the king of Denmark has every lawyer on his payroll assembling that case.”

“Don’t anybody take that bet,” cautioned Piazza. “Yes, I’m sure he is. More directly to the point, the governor of Westphalia is none other than Christian’s son Frederik. Who, I will remind everyone, is still petitioning to have his title changed to ‘Prince of Westphalia.’ So what are the chances he will be paying much attention to Oxenstierna?”

“The CoCs are quite strong in Westphalia,” said Albert Bugenhagen, “especially in the big cities. They’re politically sophisticated, too. If Frederik decides to thwart Oxenstierna, they’ll give him tacit support.”

“That’s what I figure,” said Ed, “and it’s the final reason I think Brahe won’t move far from the Rhineland.”

His expression got a lot more grim as he shifted the wand to the east. “We have quite a different situation with the final Swedish force of any size within the USE, Báner’s army marching to Saxony from the Oberpfalz. Báner’s a brute, pure and simple. A capable one, but still a brute. He doesn’t much like Oxenstierna, but then he doesn’t much like anyone. He’ll still do what Oxenstierna wants him to do, partly because he’ll see that as his best route for advancement but mostly for the good and simple reason that he agrees with Oxenstierna.”

Ed lowered the wand and took a deep breath. “Things are going to heat up in Saxony before much longer. If there is a civil war, that’ll be the cockpit.”