1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 13

1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 13

Chapter 7

Marseilles, Provence

“Now that is a view.”

Philippe de la Mothe-Houdancourt, Governor of Bellegarde, leaned on the rampart of Florentine limestone that comprised the sea-facing wall of Notre-Dame de la Garde, basilica and fortress of Marseilles, and took a deep draught of sea air. From up here, a few hundred feet above the sprawl and stink of the city, the air was clear and the sky was deep blue. The sun sparkled on the Mediterranean Sea . . . and somewhere beyond to the west, over the horizon, was Spain.

“It is beautiful. When I think of my city, Philippe, I think of it this way.” Cosme de Valbelle, Seigneur de Brunelles, came up to stand by his young friend. “I’m surprised you’ve never been up here.”

“There are a great many places I have never been. This is quite a remarkable place: a fortress that is also a church.”

“The monks of Saint Victor didn’t want to give it up, but it’s a perfect place to build a fort. Our lord François thought so a century ago, and it’s been defending the city against all comers ever since — outsiders and insiders.”

“Do tell.”

“There have been plenty of intrigues in Marseilles over the years.”

“But none since it has become the firm possession of la Famille Valbelle, or so I understand.”

Valbelle smiled. “That’s more my great-uncle and father’s doing. Nowadays I merely offer good government and fair trade.” He made an adjustment to the lace on one cuff. “Everyone wins, even the Church.”

“I’m sure His Eminence is pleased.”

“You know very well that Cardinal Richelieu is a great friend to my family, and I am loyal to him and to King Louis. I have made certain that he knows that, and that our family is properly represented at court. But . . . you’re not here to question that, are you, Philippe?”

“No. Of course not. I am here on behalf of my lord Tour d’Auvergne, Marshal Turenne. Some of your vaunted commerce –” he waved a hand toward the port below — “provisions and equips our forces.”

“So you think there’ll be war?”

“My dear Cosme,” de la Mothe answered. “There is always war. In the best instance it is possible for men to bring it about on terms of their own choosing.”

“If it were up to me, the terms I would choose would be accommodation. War is bad for business, and we here in Marseilles gain nothing by fighting with Spain or Savoy or Naples or, honestly, anywhere else.” He sighed. “But if the cardinal wills it, then we must needs obey.”

De la Mothe looked back out across the city. Valbelle was a politician: a former conseil of the city, now merely a private citizen. But no one achieved any office in Marseilles without his help or consent. So it had been for decades. Cosme de Valbelle, the second of the name, had been elected for the first time in 1618 when he was in his early forties, and for a second, shorter term a few years ago. Now the first consulship was in the hands of the Sieur d’Aiglun, a bland nonentity. But no one — not de la Mothe, not Turenne, and certainly not the cardinal himself — had any illusions about who really ran the city.

Valbelle loved to perform the stately pavane, the game of bons mots, rather than get to the point. De la Mothe, for his part, had spent too much time in military service — fifteen years, man and boy — to be anything less than direct; but he knew that to achieve anything with Valbelle meant to play the game.

“Your note said that you had someone you wanted me to meet.”

“Yes. It’s part of the reason I invited you to la Garde. She’s up here receiving some sort of medical treatment from the priory’s hospitaller; she didn’t trust the quacks and frauds down in the city.”

“‘She’?”

“Yes, she. The lady is an up-timer, Philippe. And a very fierce example of that unusual race. I’m sure you’ll find her interesting.”

****

Interesting was hardly enough to describe how Philippe de la Mothe-Houdancourt found Sherrilyn Maddox when he first met her that soft early-autumn day in the fortress-priory above Marseilles. She truly was fierce.

When Valbelle led him into the priory, passing beneath the escutcheon of François I and the lamb of the Apostle John bearing the Christian banner, the first thing he heard was the sound of feet on stone. He was on his guard at once, and nearly drew his blade when someone came running along the vaulted gallery. The person was in loose-fitting clothing with a queue of hair neatly tied behind, and came to a halt a few paces away, bent over slightly with hands on thighs, panting as if the exercise had been difficult.

He removed his hand from the hilt of his sword and looked at Valbelle, perplexed.

“Give it a moment,” the older man said quietly.

De la Mothe said nothing and waited. At last the other person stood up straight. Though dressed in a long-sleeved blouse and some sort of pantaloons, he could see at once that it was a woman. Not unattractive, but she had clearly made no particular effort to enhance her appearance. Without saying a word — or asking leave of either Valbelle or himself — she walked somewhat gingerly to a stone bench that ran along the gallery and dropped to a seat.

“Sorry,” she managed. “Still trying to get back in shape.”

De la Mothe understood the words, but wasn’t sure of the meaning. “Allow me to present myself,” he said at last. “I am Philippe, Comte de la Mothe-Houdancourt, Governor of Bellegarde, General of France.” He made a leg.

“Sherrilyn Maddox,” she said. “Thuringian Rifles. Glad to meet you.” She extended her hand, and when he took it with the intent of offering his lips she grabbed his palm and shook it.

When this unusual introduction was over, she let her hand fall to her sides and looked him up and down. De la Mothe was dressed in proper attire that befit a count. He had left off his breastplate and other armor, retaining only his blade — and not the one he used when fighting with the cavalry. He had donned his best wig, and bore a decoration of the chevau-légers that he had earned at Saint Martin-de-Ré a decade before.

“I hope I’ve not offended you, Comte. Monsieur. I’m not sure what title I should use.”

“Do not trouble yourself, Madame — Mademoiselle –”

“Just call me Sherrilyn. My students at Grantville High had to call me ‘Ms. Maddox’, but most people just stick to my first name.”

“Then you may call me Philippe.”

“Suits me fine,” she answered. “Would you sit down, Philippe? Monsieur Valbelle said you had something you wanted to talk to me about. I was just running a few laps — this knee” she slapped one of her legs — “has been giving me problems, and I’m not a damn bit of good to anyone if I don’t get back to form. No less than Harry Lefferts took me off the first team.”

 

This entry was posted in 1632Snippet, Snippets. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to 1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 13

  1. daveo says:

    It appears that France is about to start a war with Spain. I would have thought it would be the other way around. The Spanish have declared their intention of meddling in French politics, largely by supporting and funding Gaston. Is Richelieu planning a preventative war? Despite recent defeats, Spain’s military reputation still makes this a risky business.

    In previous snippets, the question of whether Gaston’s radio messages could be intercepted. Leaving aside the code question, it appears to me that Richelieu need not try to intercept everything. He knows Gaston is his enemy, so all he has to do is try to monitor his messages. This is a lot easier.

    • laclongquan says:

      “France/Spain is always the enemy” is the common sayings in two nations, at that time, due to their location and power balance. Even if Richelieu move his focus to Sweden and CPE, it doesnt mean that all France follow his focus, let alone Spain.
      On the other hand, if war with Spain is inevitable, the current time is the ‘interesting’ time frame, with Spain fallen far behind on both tech advances and military power, but France just lose a major war. The potential civil war in the offing would paralyze France’s official rersources, while the various hot spots in Spanish empire distract their attention and resources.
      Which means it’s possible that a French great noble may feel tempted to do a short , victorious, and private war against the traditional enemy to gain political advantage. Not Gaston, for various reasons, but some great nobles, the which France has a horde.

  2. Hutch says:

    daveo, I don’t think Richelieu wants a war with Spain, I remember from one of the earlier books (1633?) that he commented on the OTL fact that France and Spain exhusted themselves in a series of wars about this time that led to very few cahnges in the border. A man as canny as the Cardinal is not likely to repeat that history. The mention of Spain was the thought of a man (Cosme de Valbelle, Seigneur de Brunelles) who apparently is not in the inner circles, as far as I can tell and may not know how things have deteriorated with Gaston.

    That said, Spain is going to meddle, and we’ll have to see where that goes….

    That said, Sherrilyn Maddox is back, which promises some action. I wonder if Captain Hastings of the Hiberians is also around (the Papal Stakes indicated that she did care a bit for him).

    • Escape Zeppelin says:

      While I can’t find the reference I am pretty sure it was mentioned at least once that France and Spain had largely settled the border issues after reading the Grantville histories. They’re too evenly matched and in our history the wars went on for a very long time with very little progress on either side.

  3. lyttenstadt says:

    I always though that 1633 main plot, this whole “League of Ostend” was rather… hard to buy. Ultimately, Richelieu’s plan (mostly) failed. The reason for a constant, nearly century long animosity between France and Hapsburgs was the fact, that Hapsburg holdings literally surrounded France. Well, now Richelieu has united Netherlands not under Madrid’s direct control. Uhm, yay?

    For a person of his mental capabilities, his “kunnin’ plan” was rather very shortsighted. He lost 2 reliable and powerful allies (Sweden and Holland), wasted a lot of money (purchasing colonies from England and on all those armies defeated in 1634), earned animosity of even more powerful people in France, and got a bunch of new “allies” – Denmark (switched sides in 1634), England (in deep internal crisis and in no shape to do anything) and Spain (which is rightfully pissed off all French skullduggery).

    The threat of war between Spain and France will exist always, till both countries resolve their territorial disputes – one way or another. Now, Spain has absolutely no reason to abandon territories in Switzerland and Northern Italy occupied by its forces, especially after the “loss” of Spanish Netherlands. And all those colonies acquired by France in the New World would only set it on collision course with Spain’s interests in Americas.

    So, yes – there will be war. Whatever Richelieu planned in 1633 to prevent it obviously failed.

    • Bibliotheca Servare says:

      Nicely put. ;)

    • Positroll says:

      What Richelieu wanted in 1633 he mostly got:
      Most of North America, esp the waterways of the Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence (without English interference this time), and secure southern borders in Northern America vis-a-vis Spain.

      Yes, France will still have troubles with the Dutch and the up-timers (and one day the Japanese?), but France (inlcuding Gaston) now understands the importance of N.A. No Louisiana purchase this time. With strong forts and cities on the Mississippi (Nouvelle Orleans) and Saint Lawrence deltas and steam ships on the Mississipi, 40% of N.A. is assured for France. Looking at it from Richelieus perspective, that’s a heck of a deal even for the price of the loss of a few thousand troops and some small territories in Central Europe …

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        What Richelieu wanted in 1633 he mostly got:
        Most of North America, esp the waterways of the Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence (without English interference this time), and secure southern borders in Northern America vis-a-vis Spain.

        I doubt that this is what he really wanted, or that it was so high on his list of priorities.

        – He is not owning “most of North America”. For doing that he needs people and more colonies. Right now French prsence is still meager here. THe only thing the got is a “legal” claim, that could be always disputed in war – i.e. that’s not worth a parchment it’s written on.

        – Once again – all this “secure borders” might turn into frontlines the moment France and Spain began the war due to all their competition and hoslility in Europe.

        Before beginning the process of massive colonisation of the New World Richelieu should’ve take care of France’s European situation with its neighbours.

        • Escape Zeppelin says:

          “– He is not owning “most of North America”. For doing that he needs people and more colonies. Right now French prsence is still meager here. The only thing the got is a “legal” claim, that could be always disputed in war – i.e. that’s not worth a parchment it’s written on.”

          While I agree, hasn’t Richelieu spent the last three years shipping religious minorities to the colonies? The French hold on the land is still weak but he’s taken definite steps toward making it permanently French.

          • Lyttenstadt says:

            While I agree, hasn’t Richelieu spent the last three years shipping religious minorities to the colonies? The French hold on the land is still weak but he’s taken definite steps toward making it permanently French.

            I remember that part – in now discontinued “North-Western passage” series of GG. So, I’m not sure how is it “official” right now. Even here, it was only one ship in 1634/35 (?).

            Next, there is a question of loylties of these Hugenot “Pilgrims” and where they might take the development of these”New” French territories. I think, certain similiarities and historical parallels won’t be lost to Richelieu ;)

            Finally, the siege of La Rochelle notwithstanding, our good Cardinal was rather tolerant to the Hugenots. Why, none other than Turenne himself was from very prominent Hugenot family!

            • Bjorn Hasseler says:

              The “Northwest Passage” stories by Herb Sakalaucks have been completed and published as _The Danish Scheme_, by Ring of Fire Press. With a story by Eric Flint.

      • Not so fast: Eddie Cantrell (1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies) has planted a group to take over the Louisiana oil fields. If they can remain unnoticed until a while after Richy’s assassination and the rise of the Bourbonic Plague (Gassy), France will be too occupied at home, and its leadership too incompetent. to be very likely to dislodge the USE contingent in Louisiana.
        Anyone want to bet that between them, Becky, Mike, G2A, and Christian IV won’t outthink Louie and Gassy?

        • Tweeky says:

          A good point about the Louisiana group which never occurred to me and I think the combination of Mike Stearns, Rebecca Abranel, Gustavus Adolphus and Christian IV will run rings around Gaston, I suspect Gaston himself won’t be on the throne all that long before his incompetence gets himself assassinated.

        • Joe says:

          Don’t forget that Mazarin is waiting in the wings. He is Richelieu’s chosen successor even more in NTL as in OTL. He is a gambler with a flare for the dramatic, as well as being as good as his predecessor in the diplomacy department. Plus, he has ties all over western Europe – with Harry Lefferts, among others. In the end, I can’t see that Gaston and his allies will ever come much closer than sniffing distance of the French throne.

          • Positroll says:

            1) Quebec is already heavily settled by the French (see short story “12. Les Ailes du Papillon” in ROF III).
            2) The English colonies have officially been ceded to the French and by now have either sworn allegiance to France, declared independence from England or been destroyed. Richelieu had 3 years to get more colonists to Louisina – I can’t imagine him squandering this occasion after willfully creating it in the first place. In other words, there will have been lots more than 1 ship sailing to Louisiana.
            3) Of course Gaston will not win. Just compare Turennes’ exploits to the comedie of errors of Gaston in Lorraine! Which means the future King of France will have Mazarin as an unofficial father + minister, and close relative (sister?) of the Queen of the Netherlands and the Emperor of Austria – Hungary as Mother/Regent. Once they win the war over the arch -catholics and Gaston, they will join the ranks of the modernized Habsburg countries, giving full citizenship to Hugenots etc.
            4) Being already at war with Spain and with the Russians and Poles in the north and the Ottomans in the south set to be deadly opposed to them, you think the USE is really willing to risk going to war with France again over some oil fields in Lousisiana? Much more likely is a deal whereby “modern “France allows them to prospect for oil while getting e.g. 1/2 of the produce.
            5) Lets not forget that the Uptimers can’t really campaign for settling North America, considering Miss Mailey tought them about all the atrocities re: the American natives this would include.

  4. hank says:

    Remember that since 1633 a new possible cause for war ‘twixt France and Spain has arisen with the events in the last couple Italian thread books.
    Every Roman Catholic country now has to decide which pope to support and it could quite well come to war(s.)
    The guidence available from the histories of a future that came back with Grantville are of less use (other than as the kind of general reference all histories provide) as events diverge more and more from the old Time line.

  5. Gary D says:

    Don’t forget in one of the books Turene’s Army gets stationed in Paris . So this could be a internal fight with the USE helping the French . To keep the Spanish as stretched out as possible after all you have 1Borja in Italy X amount of troops 2 Catalan and Portoguse Revolts 3Naples and the rest of Italy tired of being occupied. And Cantrell in the carribean. So many trouble spots too few troops and cash to pay them

    • Lyttenstadt says:

      Well, somehow in the OTL Spanish managed similar demands of the projection of power… adequately. Not fine, but adequately. We are talking about globe spanning Empire here, weakened by many factors, but still quite powerful.

      Catalan and Portuguese revolts won’t happened – either at all or the way they’d happened in the OTL.

      But I suspect that in a few years all of this will become irrelevant and European states gonna broker some sort of ceasefire in the face of Turkish threat.

    • But Turenne is in very bad odor with the French military establishment for succeeding so brilliantly while Valois et al. failed so ignominiously. With Richy gone, Turenne may have to get the **** out of France to stay alive, and he just might remember Mike’s letter re Quentin.

      Interesting times!

      • The above was in reply to Gary D.
        P.S. to it: Sure, Turenne would be unwilling to fight against France, but Mike’s next job is to relieve Mad Max of his duties in Bavaria.

        • Tweeky says:

          Mad Max is long overdue for an appointment with the headman’s axe along with all of his hangmen too.

          • Positroll says:

            I just hope Bavaria (and Salzburg, too) end up as part of Austria, so they regain some strategic depth after this series stole Bohemia, Silesia, Moravia and Tirol from them. Can’t imagine the (arch-catholic) Bavarian population being happy as part of the USE (could be a nasty guerilla war); way easier to instate Mad Max’s brother as Regent/Duke, having him join Austria-Hungaria and then start slowly reforming Bavaria …

            • daveo says:

              Agreed. I think it would be nice if the entire Wittlesbach family disappeared. Perhaps if the Spanish suffered a disaster or two, the Austrian branch could also take of Milan and much of Northern Italy too.

            • Positroll: Eric Flint has written: “1636: The Ottoman Onslaught is my next solo novel in the 1632 series” The Ottomen will be taking over Austria, and I expect Ferd the Third & family will be granted asylum in USE territory, which, I expect, will include Bavaria by then. I could, of course, be wrong about most everything, but I expect that Mike will let Mad Max be under “house arrest” in a monastery; Mike and Becky don’t like to overwork the headsmen.

  6. Lyttenstadt says:

    Answering Positroll points:

    1) Quebec is already heavily settled by the French (see short story “12. Les Ailes du Papillon” in ROF III).

    Well, that depends on what you consider to be “heavely settled”, n’est pas? ;)

    Wikipedia have this interestig tidbit:

    “After 1627, King Louis XIII of France allowed the Company of New France to introduced the seigneurial system and forbade settlement in New France by anyone other than Roman Catholics. New France became a Royal Province in 1663 under King Louis XIV of France with a Sovereign Council that included intendant Jean Talon. The population grew slowly under French rule, thus remained relatively low as growth was largely achieved through natural births, rather than by immigration. To encourage population growth and to redress the severe imbalance between single men and women, King Louis XIV sponsored the passage of approximately 800 young French women (known as les filles du roi) to the colony. Most of the French were farmers (“Canadiens” or “Habitants”), and the rate of population growth among the settlers themselves was very high”

    As for the population:

    “In 1608, sponsored by Henry IV, Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons and Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec with 28 men, the second permanent French settlement in the colony of Canada. Colonization was slow and difficult. Many settlers died early, because of harsh weather and diseases. In 1630, there were only 103 colonists living in the settlement, but by 1640, the population had reached 355

    That’s hardly something you can call “heavily settled”. And nothing in RoF books implies that situation is much different.

    2) The English colonies have officially been ceded to the French and by now have either sworn allegiance to France, declared independence from England or been destroyed. Richelieu had 3 years to get more colonists to Louisina – I can’t imagine him squandering this occasion after willfully creating it in the first place. In other words, there will have been lots more than 1 ship sailing to Louisiana.

    Probably – but there is nothing in GGs or books that confirms that. If anything, the official material shows the corruption and incomptence of France’s Colonial Office. I won’t extrapolate here.

    Besides, do you understand how it’s costly for the state to establish such colonies, how to organise expeditions and divert ships for that? French coffers are not exactly inexhaustable.

    4) Being already at war with Spain and with the Russians and Poles in the north and the Ottomans in the south set to be deadly opposed to them, you think the USE is really willing to risk going to war with France again over some oil fields in Lousisiana? Much more likely is a deal whereby “modern “France allows them to prospect for oil while getting e.g. 1/2 of the produce.

    Uhm, what? First, the USE is not technically at war with Spain. Second – we don’t know yet what kind of war it would be with Ottomans in 1636/37. For all I know, it could be just a standoff between USE armies on Danube with overextended and exhausted Turks, who would then decide not to press their luck and go home. Finally – believe it or not, but no – Russia is not at war with the USE. This leaves Poland and a “strange war” near Krakow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *