1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 20

“Sorry, I slipped in an up-timer English word. It means tall and awkward. And it’s true she is more at home with books than sports or dances. But there’s a vibrancy to her that is hard to see till you get to know her.”

“Is she Catholic?”

“No. Her family belongs to a Protestant sect that is vaguely similar to the Anabaptist. They are called Baptist. However, she is not devout. It’s not that she lacks faith. She once told me that you couldn’t go through the Ring of Fire and not believe in something. But she is doubtful of the certainty–” Karl paused a moment. “–professed by so many of what it means. She tends toward Pastor Steffan Schultheiss’ sect.”


“A Lutheran pastor from Badenburg. He didn’t see the Ring of Fire itself, but you can see the Ring from the walls of Badenburg. He has come to some disturbing conclusions about what God was saying when he delivered the town of Grantville to our time.”

Clearly, Aunt Beth wasn’t going to be distracted, even though her conversion to Catholicism was almost as unwilling as her marriage to Gundaker. “What about you, Karl? When last we spoke in person, you were almost as Catholic as your uncle, if less vicious about it. Can you live with a Protestant and not try to force her to become Catholic?”

“For myself, yes certainly. The Ring of Fire provides faith, but for me at least, it also instilled doubts. Politically, it would be better if she were Catholic and we will discuss the possibility of a conversion if we get that far. I won’t attempt to force her, but you should know, Aunt Beth, that the Catholic church of Grantville is not the Catholic church of Ferdinand II’s court. Oh, have you gotten the news yet that the emperor is dead?”

“It was in the letters. I didn’t know either the father or the son well, so I hesitate to guess what it might mean to us here.”


Elisabeth Lukretia von Teschen watched her nephew ride away, smiling. The news, from her point of view, was almost universally good. She had several letters from King Albrecht, and from what Karl had said there were good opportunities to get loans to repair the damage done by the Danes a few years before the Ring of Fire.

And Karl was falling for a girl who was not even Catholic. Gundaker would have a fit. With a bit of luck, he might even expire from it.

The railroad going from her capital of Teschen to Vienna would happen. At least on the Teschen side of the border. Better, there would also be a rail line, wooden rails, from Prague to her capital. Between the two, they would make her capital a transshipment location for goods going to half of Europe. Aside from the trade advantages, it would turn long, uncomfortable trips into relatively short, comfortable ones. At least, that’s what Karl said.

In a way, her little Cieszyn had weathered the war so far fairly well. Most of her tax base was intact. She had told little Karl, not so little anymore, that he would have support for the part of the railroads that went through her lands. Beth wanted to visit Grantville.

Meanwhile, she heard from friends, Grantville was having an influence on Vienna. Someone in Grantville had had a tourist guide book on Vienna. An enterprising merchant had brought it to Vienna, and somehow it had become fashionable to copy from the book. Perhaps because it was both modern and, in a way, traditional. Grantville’s windup record players had made their way to Vienna and along with them quite a bit of the up-timer music. It was all the rage among the younger set. Fashions were another issue. People were picking from four hundred years of fashion, and different years, decades, or even centuries, appealed to different people. Some people — she shuddered — mixed and matched with little regard to what went with what.

Liechtenstein House, Vienna

Karl was still visiting his aunt when his letters reached Vienna. Gundaker von Liechtenstein threw the letter across the room. “How dare he! The arrogant little pup. We need that money to be able to make the loan to the crown.”

“And we’ll get it, most of it anyway,” Maximillian told his brother. “From what we have heard, he did quite well in Amsterdam. Those investments in our lands will pay handsomely.”

“He should be removed as head of the family.”

“On what grounds?” Maximillian asked.

“Treason against the empire,” Gundaker said. “He swore fealty to Wallenstein.”

Maximillian said, “Drop the whole matter. We have very little leverage over our nephew, Gundaker. If you force a breach, there will be no funds at all forthcoming and you would give Wallenstein a casus belli against the emperor of Austria-Hungary. Not all the family lands are in Bohemia, you know. Karl Eusebius owns this house, according to the family charter. Which would allow Wallenstein to invade Austria in defense of his new vassal’s property rights. More likely, Wallenstein would simply seize the property in Bohemia if we challenged Karl Eusebius, and probably give it to one of his henchmen. We were lucky, or Karl Eusebius talked really fast, to avoid having Wallenstein do that in the first place.”

“Bah. Now that he is claiming to be a king, Wallenstein is trying to reform his image.”

“Certainly in part. It might also have helped that Karl Eusebius was on good terms with the up-timers. But if we repudiate Karl, or the new emperor repudiates Karl, most of our lands and most of our wealth disappears at a stroke . . . as does all of our influence at court and any hope we have of helping the empire.”

“I am not thrilled with Ferdinand III, Maximillian. Did you know that Father Lamormaini was denied access to the old emperor while the boy forced him to revoke the Edict of Restitution? What happened to faith and the will of God?”