1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 32
“We may never come to it anyway,” said Tom.
Engels, who was his immediate superior, shook his head. “That Bavarian shithead will jump on us with both boots if he sees a chance. Duke Maximilian’s the worst of a bad lot — and that’s saying something, when you’re talking about hochadel.”
Hochadel was the German term for the upper nobility, the small elite crust — no more than a few dozen families — who lorded it over the much more numerous lower nobility, the Niederadel. Engels came from the fringes of that Niederadel class, but he’d adopted the radical attitudes of the CoCs, most of whose members were commoners.
How much of Engels’ political viewpoint stemmed from serious consideration of the issues themselves was unclear. Tom Simpson had once told Ed that he thought his commanding officer was just tickled pink — tickled red, rather — when he discovered he had exactly the same name as the very famous close friend and associate of Karl Marx in another universe.
“That ‘more revolutionary than thou’ act on Fred’s part is mostly for show,” Tom had said. “The truth is that he’s a professional soldier and doesn’t really think that much about politics. He sure as hell doesn’t read any political tracts. Although” — the huge American major had grinned — “he was mightily pleased when I gave him a copy of his namesake’s Socialism: Utopian and Scientific for his birthday.”
“Where in God’s name did you get that book? I didn’t know any of our libraries had a copy.”
“They wouldn’t have sold it to me even if they had,” pointed out Tom. He was still grinning. “From Melissa, who else? The book’s more in the way of a pamphlet, actually, and she had a stack of them in her basement. Well, did have a stack. She says she gave most of them to Red Sybolt before he left for Poland.”
Ed rolled his eyes. The thought of Red Sybolt — before the Ring of Fire, Marion County’s most notorious labor organizer — loose in Poland with a pile of flaming socialist pamphlets wasâ€¦
Well, rather charming, actually. By all accounts, Poland’s aristocracy could stand to have its feet held to the fire.
“Don’t fool yourself, Tom” said Heinrich Schmidt, after they left the SoTF president’s office. “Leaving aside the great Murphy’s principles, Colonel Engels has the right of it. Maximilian has not forgiven us for taking Ingolstadt from him. If a civil war breaks out in the USE, he will surely try to take it back.”
Sardonic as always, Schmidt gave the two USE officers a half-jeer. “At which point, the two of you will have to hold the bastard off with your one little regiment while I” — his chest came out, in a parody of self-importance — “marshal the mighty forces of the SoTF to come to your rescue.”
Unlike Simpson and Engels, in their field-gray USE uniforms, Heinrich Schmidt was wearing the blue uniform of the State of Thuringia-Franconia’s National Guard. He’d transferred from the USE army a year earlier when Ed Piazza had waved a brigadier’s star under his nose as an enticement.
Schmidt wasn’t the National Guard’s commander. That was Cliff Priest, who’d been the military administrator for Bamberg before the SoTF’s capital was moved there from Grantville. There’d been a vague, lingering sentiment, given the peculiar history of the province, that the formal commander of the National Guard — it had even been named after its up-time counterparts — should continue be an American. So Priest, whom everyone agreed was a good administrator, got the title. But it was privately understood and agreed that operational control of the soldiers and combat leadership would be provided by the top down-time officers. Those were Heinrich Schmidt and Hartman Menninger, each of whom commanded a brigade.
In the event hostilities broke out with Bavaria in the Oberpfalz again, Schmidt would march there immediately with his entire brigade. He’d be joined by one of the regiments from Menninger’s 1st Brigade, the 3rd Regiment, stationed in EichstÃ¤tt. (The SoTF National Guard didn’t have the USE army’s custom of naming regiments.) Brigadier Menninger would stay behind in order to protect the SoTF and maintain order with his two remaining regiments.
Like all such plans, neither Heinrich nor Tom expected it to last long once contact with the enemy was made. Neither did Engels, if Tom was correctly interpreting his occasional mutterings on the dialectic.
Munich, capital of Bavaria
“We are agreed, then.” The count of Nassau-Hadamar rose from his chair and extended his hand to the duke of Bavaria. Maximilian rose quite a bit more slowly and his handshake was perfunctory. He was being just short of rude.
He couldn’t help it. Duke Maximilian despised Johann Ludwig. He was quite sure the count of Nassau-Hadamar had converted to Catholicism in 1629 simply to prevent Ferdinand II from seizing his family’s possessions. Prior to that time, Johann Ludwig had been a partisan for Protestant causes. As a youth, he’d been friends with Friedrick V of the Palatinate — the same man who later, as the notorious “Winter King,” had triggered off the great religious war when he accepted the throne of Bohemia offered to him by heretic rebels. The count had also fought on the side of the Protestant Dutch rebels against their Spanish Catholic monarch.
A man, in short, to whom treason came as naturally as waddling to a duck — and here he was, once again engaged in treason.
To be sure, it could be argued — rightfully argued, in Maximilian’s opinion — that the so-called United States of Europe was a bastard state to begin with. Stabbing it in the back could hardly be called treason; it was more akin to summarily executing a criminal. Still, the motives of the man who committed such an act had an odious stench to them.
The count was still standing there, as if waiting for something. Whatâ€¦?
Ah, of course. By the nature of their own nature, traitors needed constant reassurance.
“I will invade the Oberpfalz as soon as the opportunity arises, be sure of it.” He cocked his head and gave Johann Ludwig a look so stern it bordered on accusation. “And in return, tell that damn chancellor of yours I will expect him to keep the USE’s army from coming into things.”
The count smiled and held a finger alongside his nose. “Please! No names. I am acting solely on my own recognizance.”
Where in the name of all that was holy did the scoundrel come up with that absurd phrase? It was blindingly obvious he was acting as Sweden’s envoy. Probably not on Wettin’s behalf, from subtle shadings of Johann Ludwig’s remarks; but certainly on behalf of Oxenstierna.
Maximilian reminded himself that expecting logic from heretics was foolish. Indeed, might border on heresy itself. And none of it mattered, anyway.
The count was still standing there, as if expecting something. Whatâ€¦?
The duke’s jaws tightened as he restrained his anger.
No. Absolutely not. Under no condition would he personally escort the swine out of the palace. He snapped his fingers, summoning a servant.
Not even an armed retainer. A house servant. Let the man comprehend his true place in the scheme of things.
“Show the count his way out,” said Bavaria’s ruler. He turned away to examine one of the portraits on the wall of the audience chamber. Hearing a slight gasp of outrage behind him, he bestowed a smile upon the image of his ancestor.
The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, as it happened.
Take Ingolstadt from him, would they? The duke of Bavaria would have it back, and the rest of the Oberpfalz with it.