1636 The Vatican Sanctions – Snippet 25

1636 The Vatican Sanctions – Snippet 25

Chapter 13

As Cardinal von Dietrichstein rose to his feet yet again — almost as painful a process for others to watch as for him to carry out — Larry Mazzare chided himself for the most unchristian envy he felt toward Sharon and Ruy. They had an ironclad excuse for not sharing in the tedium of sitting patiently in the Palais Granvelle’s grand salon, listening to every cardinal in Besançon discourse at length upon their opinions of the gathering, its purpose, its inadequacies, and so forth. Sharon and Ruy were not merely exempt: they were, by definition, excluded from the gathering. Convened as a preliminary session of the Cardinal’s Council that would follow the ecumenical colloquium, the doors were sealed and guarded from the outside: what transpired within was Church business, and was only for the ears of the consistory.

Atypically, Urban had begun by revealing — or “publishing,” thanks to the recording secretary — all the various in pectore cardinals in attendance, thereby bringing the attending numbers of the consistory from twenty-five to forty. It was not only a prudent step (one never knew what casualties fate or assassination might wreak upon the group with each passing month or even hour), but also a profound, if subtle, boost to the gathering’s morale and intrinsic sense of legitimacy. They might not be convening in Rome, but they had almost three times the number of cardinals that Borja could scrape together for a consistory of his own, should he attempt to claim the right of sitting upon the cathedra.

So far, Borja had not attempted to formally claim the pontificate, which was not surprising; the current situation did not provide him with a precedent for him to do so. This time, the papacy’s leadership crisis had not been brought about by competing claims during an interregnum, but by a failed attempt to kill the Church’s duly-selected and long-sitting pope. Only once Urban was dead, could Borja begin to move toward succession.

Once the in pectore cardinals had been named and confirmed, Urban had outlined, in broadest terms, the ecumenical ruminations that had been fostered by his reading of the up-time circulars and proclamations collectively known as Vatican II. He wisely avoided translating those inspirations directly into statements of Church policy, thereby giving the cardinals nothing to argue with or against; he was merely reporting the ways in which they stimulated his deeper contemplation upon God’s will, and how that involved putting an end to the internecine strife that had so bloodily riven Christianity for over a century.

These opening acts and remarks had all proceeded smoothly and fairly briskly. There was no disagreement over the heinousness of Borja’s actions or the dire circumstances in which they placed Mother Church. Consequently, there was little debate over the obvious need to reconstitute the consistory’s diminished ranks, and to do so with numbers that dwarfed the comparative handful of cardinals who had remained in Rome, but who had, three weeks ago, been notified of the gathering in Besançon. Of course, most of them had heard murmurs about it weeks before, but Urban had been in no rush to provide Borja’s minions with any concrete information any sooner than he had to. Unsurprisingly, none of the Roman cardinals expressed a willingness to journey to Besançon — and thereby, attract the homicidal ire of their overlord.

So it was that history would record that a papal council had been convened in Besançon on Tuesday, May 6, 1636, at approximately two PM, and then went immediately into a five-day recess, the first four days of which would be dedicated to the Besançon Colloquium.

About which Cardinal Dietrichstein of Austria had more than a little to say. Standing with the aid of a gnarled cane, the formidable soldier of the Counter-Reformation had made it quite clear that he had little enthusiasm for the ecumenical spirit that Urban was trying to foster. On the other hand, he had declared Borja’s actions monstrous, the man an abomination, and had been gratified when Ferdinand of Austria had encouraged him — with funds from the Imperial Treasury — to travel to Besançon to make it clear that Vienna could not and would not abide pontificide. But that did not mean that Dietrichstein was any more enamored of the legitimate pontiff than he had been before the terror in Rome, nor had he warmed to the notion of religious toleration.

Dietrichstein’s tone came as close to sarcasm as a cardinal might safely assay with a pontiff. “Your Holiness, as I understand it then, we shall postpone the Papal Council to chat with heretics, having no definitive aim or purpose, and that we shall then resume the Council to confirm our willingness to accept them as our beloved brothers…along with whatever Orthodox-rite rabble and Jews have deigned to attend?”

Vitelleschi’s assistant, a genial Jesuit by the name of von Spee who had served Larry in a similar role, leaned forward at a glance from his order’s Superior. “Your Eminence, it is difficult to differentiate the serious from the sardonic in your statements, when all your utterances are made in such a tone.”

“You may take all my statements and queries as serious. And as for my tone, that is my affair. And you would do well to watch your own, Father.” Dietrichstein emphasized von Spee’s humble title.

Von Spee nodded patiently, even smiled slightly. No one in the room, including Dietrichstein, could honestly think that the Jesuit’s tone had been anything but deferential. But since the old Austrian cardinal could not strike directly at Vitelleschi, who was clearly the one Urban had assigned to chase the staunch anti-Protestant back into the narrow doctrinal burrow he had dug from the rock of his own inflexible bigotries, he had to satisfy himself by gnawing on the Black Pope’s mild-mannered courser: von Spee.

But von Spee — a choirmaster who had been given the thankless and daunting job of overseeing the selection and performance of sacred music that would suit all the gathered faiths — proved to be up to the task of mollifying the rheumy old Counter-Reformationist. “Well then, Your Eminence, let me reassure you that, as per His Holiness’ initial remarks, the reason that we are suspending the Council during the colloquium is specifically so that you may all converse with those of other faiths in a completely unofficial capacity. The label ‘colloquium’ was chosen with great care and intent, signaling that the gathering is for discourse and deliberation, not decisions and decrees. It is for us to convey the change in Mother Church’s heart without committing Her to any specific policies, and for those of other faiths to reflect on what they have heard. That way, we may later move more easily toward mutually acceptable agreements that shall settle the religious strife that exists and create an understanding that shall prevent its recurrence.”

Dietrichstein raised his chin. “When I was given the privilege to wear the scarlet biretta, that was also the last day I could, in good conscience, speak of faith in an ‘unofficial’ capacity. We do not have the liberty to put aside our responsibilities as the fathers of the Church, von Spee, not for one second, let alone for four days.”

Von Spee spread his hands in response — so quickly that Mazzare realized that Vitelleschi must have coached him to expect this reply, and to have a ready response of his own. “Your Eminence, His Holiness has said nothing to constrain how any of us are to feel about our Reformationist guests, nor about altering our perspective or sense of duty while interacting with them. Such decisions lie within the compass of one’s own conscience. The only constraint is that, for the next four days, the members of this consistory may not presume to speak with the authority of the council that has been convened, particularly since it has not yet heard and decided upon the encyclical on ecumenicism that shall come under consideration when this consistory reconvenes on the twelfth. You speak as individuals. And His Holiness encourages you to listen as individuals as well. And please note: he encourages, not enjoins, you to follow these recommendations.”

Mazzare folded his arms slowly. Von Spee was good, and surprisingly iron-spined for a man with so mild a demeanor. He did a good job of keeping that spine both well-hidden and flexible, which was why Larry had recommended him to Vitelleschi.

Dietrichstein seemed on the verge of making another retort. Then he grimaced as if he’d bitten into a lemon seed and lowered himself back into his chair. Once seated, he grumbled, “I fail to see why, if we must come together with heretics to settle upon some accords, that we do not simply do so in the next four days. Why not get it all done now, rather than forcing us to make two trips to two councils?”

Von Spee was about to reply, but it was Cardinal Luke Wadding who leaned forward from where he sat beside his new and improbable friend Muzio Vitelleschi; the Irishman was as charming, poetic, and Franciscan as the Roman was aloof, austere, and Jesuit. “Brother Dietrichstein, would you choose to share your house with a man on the very day you first met him? Would you not wish to know him longer, engage him in conversation, get the measure of his character and temperament? And so, once he was known to you, then consider making him your housemate?”

Dietrichstein irritably waved the analogy aside. “We know who these Reformationists are. They are men who left the house their Savior built and have done their best to burn it down. If they occasionally follow the will of God, or do one of us a service, well — it is said that even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day.”

Wadding leaned forward, preventing Vitelleschi from uttering the sharp retort that had probably brought him quickly upright. “Your Eminence, when you meet these men tomorrow, I would ask you to observe them carefully. Watch and listen from a distance if you like, or if you must. Because at the end of the day, I will wish to ask you if, in your heart of hearts, you feel them to be any less sincere, any less eager to see the face of God, than those of us in this room. And if you cannot continue to maintain, in good conscience, that they are nothing but frauds playing at charades, then can we not also agree that we have the greatest of all possible common ground from which to work, and from which to rebuild a bond: a hunger to stand, adoring and loved, before our Savior Jesus Christ?”

Dietrichstein tried to stare down Wadding, but the Franciscan’s sky-blue eyes were as unchallenging as a kitten’s. The Austrian looked away. “I will watch them as I always have: carefully. As a soldier ready to fight for the sovereignty and supremacy of Our Savior’s Word.”

If Dietrichstein had meant to end on a tone of truculent defiance, it was either of no importance to, or missed by, Luke Wadding; he simply nodded, smiled, and leaned back.

The next query came from an unexpected source: Cardinal Cornaro, who did not bother to stand. “My brother Cardinal Dietrichstein indirectly raises a point about the colloquium that has not been adequately addressed: why only seventy representatives of other faiths? Although I have no particular desire to be up to my armpits in even more heretics and usurers” — a few chortles arose — “I fear that seventy representatives will be considered too small a selection of those who would wish to hear what His Holiness has to say. In which case, we may find ourselves back here — or, God willing, in some more suitable city — simply to revisit all that we shall discuss here.”

Larry felt eyes — Urban’s, Vitelleschi’s, Wadding’s — on him as he stood. “Although I am determined not to intrude upon your deliberations and discussions, I must answer this, since the size and structure of the colloquium was forced upon us by practical limits. Specifically, by the practical limits of the technology that were used to gather such a convocation so quickly.

“You are all certainly aware that, despite the rapid proliferation of the USE’s more basic model of airship, there were only a limited number at our disposal. Similarly, the number of passengers is also small: usually less than a dozen per flight. You are also aware that, although radios are proliferating even more rapidly, there is no organized relay network outside the borders of the USE as yet, and worse yet, the content of our transmissions cannot be secret unless the same code is in use by both sides.

“Consequently, we faced two challenges: limited ability to communicate swiftly, and limited ability to arrange equally swift transport. And you will all appreciate our need for speed: not only must we consider and prepare steps against Borja’s usurpation of the Holy See with all possible alacrity, but we had to remain mindful of his assassins, who went far abroad in their effort to reduce the numbers of us gathered here today.

 

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

12 Responses to 1636 The Vatican Sanctions – Snippet 25

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Brother Dietrichstein, would you choose to share your house with a man on the very day you first met him?”

    Yes, most definitely:

    “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
    – Luke 6:27-31

    “…it is said that even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day.””

    [Slow sarcastic clap]

    As per the site quoteinvestigator[dot]com

    “The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The Spectator” magazine in 1711. Even in the 1700s dress fashions were ever changing. If one maintained a single clothing style it would become passé, but eventually it would return to “the mode”, i.e., become fashionable again. “The Spectator” employed the clock-based simile when discussing this topic.”

    • Bret Hooper says:

      “Brother Dietrichstein, would you choose to share your house with a man on the very day you first met him?”

      Yes, most definitely:[emphasis added]

      Note that it is Lytt, not Gorg and Paula, who wrote “Yes, most definitely:” Gorg and Paula wrote that Dietrichstein waved Cardinal Wadding’s analogy aside, which seems to me much more in character for Dietrichstein than what Lytt wrote. If Dietrichstein had met a stranger and invited him in, and the invitee had turned out to be one of Borja’s henchmen, Dietrichstein would not have raised any objections at Besançon.

    • jtg452 says:

      So, when is your new book coming out?

      What with your vast and obviously superior knowledge on the subject and all of that.

      I only ask because the only reason that I can see that you are here- and you visit the site religiously to voice your opinion on what the authors did ‘wrong’ on every single snippet- seems to be to ridicule a book that’s already been written, edited, proofread, printed and is about to be released next week.

      In other words, it’s too late to do anything about any errors that may be found, so all you’re doing is knocking the authors.

      Of course, you seem to constantly forget that these books are works of ALTERNATIVE HISTORY and FICTION and as such, the authors can pretty much do what they want. Mr Flint as decided that he wants to keep things in the realm of what he considers possible or at least plausible. And since this is quite literally his world- because he created it- what he says, goes.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “So, when is your new book coming out?”

        That’s the lames excuse ever. EVER. Try again.

        “I only ask because the only reason that I can see that you are here- and you visit the site religiously to voice your opinion on what the authors did ‘wrong’ on every single snippet”

        I don not visit this site “religiously”. I visit it “regularly”. Like so many others btw. When I feel like it, I write comments. Comment is a reaction to the things you experienced (read here). Simple as that.

        “Of course, you seem to constantly forget that these books are works of ALTERNATIVE HISTORY and FICTION and as such, the authors can pretty much do what they want..”

        No, they can’t. It is precisely because these are the books of the alt-hist there are certain limitation which the authors writing in this sub-genre must abide. All authors. It’s not fantasy here. It’s alt-history, i.e. the very same history, which only took a different turn. A turn must be explained – step-by-bloody-step.

        Again – everything I say is already there. All these mistakes, plotholes, stupid stuff – it’s already here. I only pointed at them. Are you angry that I burst your bubble of ignorance?

        • Terranovan says:

          “Lames” excuse ever? I think that you mean “lamest”, and if you can’t be bothered to even proofread your comment, then why should anyone else (including Mr. Huff or Ms. Goodlett) give it any credit? And if you claim to “love” the 1632 series, then why do you compare every book in it to:
          A surgery that leaves the patient gravely ill;
          A car that’s falling apart; or
          A nauseating meal? (https://www.ericflint.net/index.php/2017/11/06/1637-the-volga-rules-snippet-01/)
          If you love the series, then why do you insult it by claiming it’s being trampled into the dirt?

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “if you can’t be bothered to even proofread your comment, then why should anyone else (including Mr. Huff or Ms. Goodlett) give it any credit?”

            You are absolutely right. Typos are excuse to dismiss everything that I said! /sarcasm

            If you are done attacking commenter, instead of the comment and its content, can I see the refutation of the points that I made? Or, what – you can’t?

            “And if you claim to “love” the 1632 series, then why do you compare every book in it to”

            Not “every book”. But, yes, it’s a good thing to demand a quality in everything you acquire from the others. Inb4 – my comments? They are free ;)

            “why do you insult it by claiming it’s being trampled into the dirt?”

            Insult is something unwarranted, slanderous even. What I’m saying is truth. Or you can prove me wrong?

        • jtg452 says:

          No, not particularly.

          I really couldn’t possibly care less about when a clock analogy was first made, when Russians started drinking vodka or the proper correct name of some remote location on the other side of the planet.

          I just don’t see the relevance of nitpicking a work of fiction to death just for the sake of picking nits- oh, and the opportunity to showcase just how smart I am- or at least how strong my Google skills are.

          That’s why I haven’t bothered joining the discussions about the arming of the Czar’s forces or the potential impact of those harmonica guns that were introduced in the first book. You see, while I may not know a whole lot of anything about the way Russian serfs lived in the early and mid 17th Century, I do know quite a bit about the evolution of firearms in the 19th Century.

          By the way, I think you are underestimating the divergence of this timeline from history. Things are moving quickly. Not just technologically but socially as well.

          Of course, I tend to rely suspension of disbelief a lot when I’m reading sci-fi, alternative history and listening to Leftists, so maybe I’m just more willing to let the author tell his story the way he wants to than you are. As long as they keep things reasonably plausible in the first two cases, I’m willing to give them a pass.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “I really couldn’t possibly care less about when a clock analogy was first made, when Russians started drinking vodka or the proper correct name of some remote location on the other side of the planet.”

            A) What *do* you care about?

            B) Seeing how you defend this… “thing”… what were the parts you’ve especially enjoyed so far?

            “By the way, I think you are underestimating the divergence of this timeline from history. Things are moving quickly. Not just technologically but socially as well.”

            Please – enLYTTEN me! Step-by-step. With examples. Because abstract rhetoric (where you’ve fond a safe refuge) is one thing. Reality is another.

        • jtg452 says:

          PS

          The question about when your book’s release date was a logical one, too.

          With all of the holes, failures and mistakes you’ve found in the snippets, it’s obvious that you should be the one doing the writing. Or, at least, that’s what it appears you seem to think- based on how consistent you are pointing things out in the author’s work.

          Either that, or you are truly the smartest person on the internet and have set out to prove it.

          (And we really do need a sarcasm font.)

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “With all of the holes, failures and mistakes you’ve found in the snippets, it’s obvious that you should be the one doing the writing.”

            Why is this “obvious”? If you got a surgery, and instead of cutting a mole they chopped off your healthy feet, would you accept “Everyone is a critic! Go and do the surgery yourself!” as an excuse?

        • Bret Hooper says:

          It’s alt-history, i.e. the very same history, which only took a different turn.

          It can’t be the very same history if it took a different turn. The different turn constitutes a different sequence of events, which is NOT the very same history.

          A turn must be explained – step-by-bloody-step.

          Bullfeathers! Consider Eric Flint’s explanation of the Ring of Fire: “the result of what humans of the day would have called criminal negligence. Caused by a shard of cosmic garbage, a discarded fragment of what, for lack of a better term, could be called a work of art. A shaving, you might say, from a sculpture. The Assisi fancied their solipsist amusements with the fabric of spacetime. They were quite oblivious to the impact of their “art” on the rest of the universe.” This, for the single change allowed as the basis for this greatest of alternate histories, now some ten million words long. A single change, but a “turn” orders of magnitude greater than those of other alternate histories.

          If your mind can’t comprehend the magnitude of the difference between the Ring of Fire hypernovel and all the lesser alternate histories, Lytt, you might ought to consider your criticisms of it more carefully,

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “It can’t be the very same history if it took a different turn. The different turn constitutes a different sequence of events, which is NOT the very same history.”

            By and large, with the exception of one so-called “bifurcation point event” – it REMAINS the same history. Macro-events are less susceptible to petty changes, you know? Even one turn does not invalidate everything that already happened, it does not invalidate the logic that world, our world, the laws which govern it. It is, by and large, the SAME world. If you one day decide to grow a beard/shave it, this won’t change WHO YOU ARE. You just made ONE (1) change. Granted, in the long stream of the “for a want of a nail” ™ events it MIGHT impact your future… or not. If it does, then there must be an explanation.

            “Consider Eric Flint’s explanation of the Ring of Fire”

            Looks like you are unaware of the laws of the genre. Yes, Mr. Flint explained what caused the bifurcation point event. That’s it. There is no more sci-fi stuff in the novel. Nothing. At. All. Just plain old realism and history fiction. Alternative history, thanks to event. But still governed by the same laws and trends, still relying on the history that *already* happened. Not a universal “handwavium”.

Leave a Reply

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