1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 04

“I’ve been corresponding with King Albrecht and he is supportive of the idea of improvements and so are the Roths,” Karl said. “Silesia is a little more complicated. Well . . . difficult. I will have to convince Aunt Beth that I am not building roads to help my uncle invade.”

“Is your uncle really likely to invade?”

“Not really, but it was a political marriage and was never a happy one,” Karl admitted. He suspected — but didn’t say — that the Wendell women would see what had happened back then as church-sanctioned rape. He was starting to look at it that way himself. In any case, it had left Aunt Beth with a distrust of the church and of men. At this point, after her duchy had been overrun by Protestant Danes, Aunt Beth had little faith in any confession and still less faith in men. But that wasn’t something he wanted to get into with the Wendell women. Instead he continued. “The goal of both families was to unite the lands in Silesia, or at least most of them, under one rule.” Actually, at this point Karl was pretty sure that the whole thing was a put up job and an attempted land grab on the part of his family. But he wasn’t going to say that either. “But my Uncle Gundaker is very dedicated to the Catholic faith, and interpreted the marriage to mean that Aunt Beth’s lands were now his.”

“What about you?” Sarah asked. “About the church, I mean.”

“I was much as my uncle,” Karl admitted. “And in a way I still am. But the Ring of Fire is its own holy writ. God–” Karl looked at Judy the Younger and grinned. “–or little green men if you insist, brought a town from the future and didn’t choose a Catholic town. Anyway, Aunt Beth was always . . . ah . . . iffy . . . about her Catholicism and the enforcement. Besides, she figures she is the ruling duchess and Uncle Gundaker figures he is the man and therefore the head of the woman.”

Sarah and both Judy’s snorted and made various comments about that.

Karl held up his hands and said, “I surrender, I surrender! Come, ladies, it’s not my fault! But Elisabeth Lukretia von Teschen’s lawsuits against Uncle Gundaker and the Holy Roman Empire were in the courts since her brother’s death, until King Albrecht went ahead and confirmed her and her line as the proper heirs to the duchy. In response, though, the HRE found against her and is now claiming the duchy as part of the Habsburg lands. So Aunt Beth is not at all trusting of anything coming out of Vienna. Absent a railroad, she is in Silesia and any attempt to push her would have to go through King Albrecht’s armies. Add in a railroad, and they can take a train right to her doorstep.”


It turned into quite an interesting evening. Surveying equipment and surveyors came up, and Judy the Younger confirmed that Sonny Fortney had worked as a railroad surveyor, as well as a bunch of other things since the Ring of Fire. Micro-financing and micro-industry the way Boot’s Bank in Magdeburg operated were discussed, where to put it and how to set it up. They talked about the things the up-timers had gotten right and the things they had gotten wrong. Local banking and investment could be better done by buying the equipment to set up micro industries, then reselling them to individuals and groups in his lands, either for a share of the business or on credit.

“Don’t try introducing your own money, Karl,” Judy the Younger said. “No one will take it.”

“Judy!” Sarah complained. “There’s no reason to be rude.”

“You said it yourself,” Judy said.

Karl had felt his face go a little stiff when Judy made that comment. Not because it was a surprise, but because it wasn’t. “No, she’s quite right,” he forced himself to say. “I know that my family’s reputation is not good when it comes to the issuing of money.”

“It’s not that we don’t trust you, Prince Karl.” Sarah flushed a little. “The fact is that full faith and credit isn’t dependent on any one person, but on how most people will see the thing. I believe you about what happened in Kipper and Wipper, but my belief won’t make your money good. Besides your territory is too small . . . well, I think it’s too small . . . to be issuing its own currency.”

“When taken altogether, it’s actually about the size of Saxony. But it’s not all in one place . . . or, at this point, even all in one country.”

“That seems like enough territory,” Sarah conceded, “but didn’t you tell me something about it not qualifying as noble lands?”

“Imperial immediacy,” Karl explained. “The princely title is a court title, so it doesn’t involve rulership over any lands. We hold quite a bit of land and often enough we’re the local government, collecting both rent and taxes. Both landlords and lords. However, those lands aren’t held directly from the emperor. Instead some are in fief from the king of Bohemia, some from the king of Austria, and some from the king of Hungary.

“Isn’t Ferdinand II the king of Austria and Hungary,” Sarah said. “I mean, it’s the same guy, right?”

“Actually, he’s the king of Austria and the king of Hungary and the Holy Roman Emperor, plus other stuff. Yes, it’s the same guy, but he’s legally different people. And the only one who matters for a seat in the Council of Princes is the Holy Roman Emperor. Whereas all our lands are held in fief from someone who isn’t the Holy Roman Emperor.”

“Does that mean that Wallenstein is entitled to a seat in the Council of Princes?”

“Well, it would if he swore fealty to Ferdinand II. Of course, the first thing Ferdinand II would do is order him to execute himself for treason. I don’t see him doing that anytime soon.