1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 22


August, 1636

“Didn’t I tell you?” shouted Patriarch Joseph, waving the radio message.

Prince Daniil Ivanovich Dolgorukov looked up. He was a new member of the boyar duma, the royal council appointed after Czar Mikhail had gone into seclusion, but before he had escaped. His position was partly because of ability, but partly because he was a compromise between the Sheremetev and the Morozov families. It was obvious that the Duma was going to have an even greater role in governing Russia from the moment that Czar Mikhail had gone into seclusion. The power shift from the Romanov family to the Sheremetev family had been clear.

“Didn’t you tell us what?” Boris Ivanovich Morozov asked.

“He’s abandoned the faith.” Joseph waved the sheet again, “Under the influence of the up-timer demons, he’s made Kazan a city without a faith. All manner of heresies are now legal in Kazan.”

“No, they aren’t,” said Director-General Sheremetev. “It has already been determined by the duma that Czar Mikhail is acting under demonic influence and so may not issue valid ukase. Whatever proclamations of law Mikhail has issued are invalid.”

“Besides, the agreement on Mikhail’s ascension to the throne didn’t let him issue laws without the support of the duma and the Zemsky sobor . . .” Boris Ivanovich Morozov trailed off.

Daniil hid a grin behind a mostly blank face. It wasn’t so much that what Boris said was invalid, as that it tended to undermine the later statements about the demonic influence. Boris was a bright guy, but he tended to get focused on one issue and fail to calculate the politics as well as he might.

Daniil looked around. “What do you think the political consequences will be?”

“I think it will help us with the monasteries, don’t you?” Ivan Vasilevich Morozov said.

“It depends on the wording,” Prince Ivan Ivanovich Odoevsky said. “May I see that?”

Grudgingly, Patriarch Joseph handed it over. Odoevsky read quickly. “Not as useful as it might be. The proclamation makes it clear he is only talking about Kazan as a permanent free city, and Ufa on a temporary basis. Muslims can continue to practice their faith in Ufa, but if they move there permanently, they must accept Russian Orthodoxy. It’s also not limited to Muslims. It includes ‘all religions.’ Some of the radical monasteries might actually like that.”

What?” Patriarch Joseph roared.

“Oh, sit down, Joseph, and spare us your piety. The only reason you care is that it threatens your power,” Boris Ivanovich Morozov said. That was true enough. The new patriarch had two mistresses, each set up in style in Moscow. And his primary interest was diddling them, demanding ever finer robes, and more jewels for his patriarch’s crown.

“It threatens all of us,” Joseph bit out.

“It may actually turn to our advantage,” Director-General Sheremetev said. “The religious community was tending toward Mikhail before this. But now we may be able to persuade some of them back to our side. Joseph, write up a condemnation of this so-called ukase, but I want to see it before it goes out.”

“Be careful, Director-General,” Prince Odoevsky said. “The stories of Nikon had a lot of the backwoods churches arming to defend their practices from a too-powerful patriarch. Now we have Mikhail saying that in Kazan you can even be a pagan. Some of them are going to figure that they are better off with him than a patriarch trying to impose doctrine that they don’t want.”

“That’s why I want to see it before it goes out.” The Director-General turned back to the patriarch and continued. “I want you to stress that this is in no way an attempt to restrict the practices of good and faithful members of the Russian Orthodox Church, but is instead to protect them from pagan superstition and Muslim heresy.”

A radio station on the Oka River

Yuri read the radio message again. He laughed a little, then got up and walked over to the village church. Father Konstantin was very interested. As it happened, the village’s tradition was to bless with two fingers not the three that the Greeks used. Personally, Yuri didn’t much care, but Father Konstantin was convinced that it was important.

“Well, Patriarch Joseph is condemning Czar Mikhail’s ukase, sure enough, Father.”

“What does it say?”

Yuri started to hand the radio message over, but Father Konstantin waved it away. “You know I don’t read well, Yuri. Just tell me.”

“‘Under the influence of the demonic up-timers, Mikhail Romanov has issued a false ukase.‘” Yuri stopped reading for a second. “Did you notice he’s not calling the czar ‘Czar,’ any more?”

“Yes, yes. Go on.”

Yuri shrugged. “‘False ukase that would abandon the people of Kazan to the influence of Islam and all manner of heresies and false faiths, even paganism and witchcraft.’ ”

“Czar Mikhail didn’t say anything about witchcraft,” Father Konstantin said.

“Well, he did say ‘any faith.’ ”

“Witchcraft isn’t a faith.”

Yuri shrugged again and went back to the message. “The Patriarchy, the Duma, and the Zemsky sobor reject this false ukase and inform all that the practice of heresy is not allowed anywhere in Russia. However, this should not be taken as any condemnation of the minor differences in practice within the Russian Orthodox faith.”

“Well, that’s something, at least,” Father Konstantin said.

Yuri snorted. “For as long as it lasts.”

They talked some more, then Yuri went back to the radio station. He had messages to send and he wanted to know what Petr at the next station thought of this.

All over Russia, the conflicting laws were being discussed by the radio heads who were sharing their views over everything with each other. And that made the discussion one that more of the people in Russia were a party to than had ever been the case before.

Goritsky Monastery

August, 1636

Ludmila came in, looking a little bemused.

“What is it, dear?” Sofia asked.

“I received a letter from a woman in Nizhny Novgorod. It’s very chatty, but I don’t know anyone that it’s chatting about. Do you know a Polina Ivanova Vershinin?”

“Not that I recall.”

“Well, she knows you. Or at least claims to.” Ludmila handed over the letter, pointing at the section that referred to Sofia.

Sofia read. And smiled. “Ludmila, of course you know her. Don’t you recall? She is a dear friend of our friend Natasha.”

“Natasha who . . .” Ludmila started the phrase looking blank, but by the time she stopped a look of comprehension had come over her face. “Your Natasha,” she said, and Sofia nodded.

And thus a link from Goritsky Monastery to the new capital in Ufa was established. It was a tenuous link that involved letters put on steamboats and coded radio messages stepping from radiotelegraph station to radiotelegraph station. And it was an expensive link. Telegraph messages were expensive to begin with and when you added in the smuggling of the letters in the middle of the chain, it was very expensive. But it meant that the women of the monastery had access to the news from Ufa and Ufa, in turn, had access to the analysis of the dozens of women who had lived their lives in the highest halls of the Russian government.


The nuns were not the only people at the monastery. There were servants and, by now, workers. The monastery had sewing machines. They were not Higgins sewing machines. They were Russian-made copies of Higgins sewing machines, made in a factory in old Novgorod. The monastery also had typewriters, Russian-modified copies of typewriters made in the USE. They had adding machines, Russian-made copies of USE-made adding machines. They had already had extensive gardening and minor industries such as pottery and small partnerships with local craftsmen, wood and leather workers. The radio station had added batteries and mica-based capacitors, plus a knowledge of electronics.  Using these machines, the nuns of Goritsky made their living sewing, typing, keeping accounts, as well as with gardening and managing several small businesses.

That wasn’t unique to the convent. It wasn’t even unusual. Over the past few years, with the paper money and especially the radio network, trade and manufacturing had been booming in Russia. Little centers of industry had popped up all over the place, like pimples on a teenager.  The radios allowed ordering of goods and the safe and secure transfer of funds from buyer to seller.

The use of the radios for all these things meant that the radio network had thousands of messages on it, going from here to there, and there to the other place, and back again. Far, far too many radio messages for anyone to keep track of.

So the addition of one more business at Goritsky Monastery, the business of political analysis, went essentially unnoticed by the powers that were. Most of them, anyway.

Grantville Desk, Embassy Bureau, Moscow

Boris Petrov filled out the requisition for additional funds. Being quite vague. The money was to provide greater intelligence on the Polish-USE conflict. And, in part, that was what it was going to do. But it would be analysis, not data-gathering, and the ladies at what he was code-naming Bletchley Park would be analyzing more than just the events on the Polish-USE border. It was a good code name because no one but an expert in up-timer history would recognize the reference. And even if someone did, it wouldn’t point them to the women at Goritsky.