1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 14

1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 14

Father Yulian considered. “Find us a village and I’ll talk to the priest, see if we can buy some guns or at least some swords.”

Stefan snorted a laugh. “Swords! What use would we have for a sword? Find us axes if you can’t find us guns. At least we know how to handle them.”

***

Finding a village didn’t prove particularly difficult. Gorki was on the Klyazma River, which was just a creek at this point, but it helped with the gardens. The village had a dozen households, not including the village priest and a summer house of the local nobility who were, at the moment, in Moscow. Or perhaps . . . nowhere. They had been associated with the Cherakasky family, who had come out on the bottom in the recent power struggle, so they might well be dead. If so, the village was at least potentially in a great deal of trouble, because they were likely to end up owned by the Sheremetev family. And the Sheremetev family was not known for the gentleness with which they treated their serfs.

“We were attacked by some raiders yesterday, and Madame has decided we need guns,” Father Yulian said, once they were seated with tea.

“You won’t find them here, I’m afraid. We’ve had over a dozen young men and two families run off, and the only thing keeping the young women here is knowing how dangerous it is for a woman alone in the forest.”

“What does that have to do with guns?”

“What we have, we need. And it’s not like we had many to begin with.”

“What’s the news?”

“Sheremetev has announced that Czar Mikhail has been enspelled by Bernie Zeppi, who is a demon, and the new patriarch has confirmed it. But the new patriarch is in Sheremetev’s pocket and everyone knows it. Most of the monasteries have refused to acknowledge him. There are rumors that the Poles or the Swedes are getting ready to attack, but I don’t believe them.”

Father Yulian sighed at the inequities of the world and got back to business. “We have a good blacksmith. If we could get some iron…?”

“What do you have to trade?”

And they were off. The wagon train wasn’t overly well-supplied, but they had done some hunting enroute, so they had some meat. And there was the pony that the raiders had killed. On the other hand, they were in the market for a new pony.

Which, after some serious bargaining, they managed to buy. The local village would send a message to Moscow telling of a pony dying in a raid on the village. Elena’s jewelry box would be a bit lighter. The villagers were in no hurry to take the paper rubles. The Sheremetev faction was using them to pay its debts off, but not taking them when they sold something. In the days since the czar’s flight, the paper rubles were losing value all over Russia.

***

Izabella looked at her mother, who was sitting in the wagon staring off into space. At Gorki she hadn’t actually done anything to cause a problem, but she hadn’t been very helpful, either. And she was sitting there, with her hair undone, and not wearing any makeup. Izabella didn’t think she had ever seen her mother without makeup in the middle of the day before she had caught Izabella and Yulian in the wagon. She shook her head. “Mama, you have to snap out of this. You were no help in Gorki and if you keep this up, they are going to dump you on the side of the road and let the bandits have you.”

“What difference does it make? They could do no more to me than you have already done, you little strumpet.”

Izabella was tempted to leave her mother on the side of the road herself. Not that the others had actually threatened that, though there had been some grumbling. Everyone worked, even Izabella. And Mama’s job was to provide them with a reason for being on the road. She wasn’t doing it. “Did you ever listen to what Father Yulian said?”

“He said he loved me!”

“He said he loved us all. That it was our duty to love one another, and that the way to reach God was not to suppress our desires, but to sate them so that they wouldn’t interfere. Don’t try to pray when you’re hungry or when you’re horny. It gets in the way of caring for God and your fellow men. That’s what he said.”

That at least got Elena’s attention, in the form of a disgusted look.

“I know. I know. Yulian probably adopted that doctrine because that’s where his dick was leading him. But he never lied about what he was doing. And he never told you that you were the only one, I bet.”

“He implied it.”

“You wanted to hear it.” Izabella shook her head. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter now, anyway. These people are desperate, Mama. We’ve lost children to bandits, and we’re all risking our lives. And you have no right to endanger the rest, just because you’re upset.”

“After your betrayal, you think I owe you?”

“Yes! But never mind that. What about the rest? Stefan and Vera, Makar and Liliya, and the others? Especially the ones who have joined us on the road.”

“They’re serfs!”

“So what? If that means anything, it means you owe them more, not less.”

Nothing was really settled, but Elena did start taking a little better care of herself.

On the Volga, Approaching Kazan

July 1636

General Boris Timofeyevich Lebedev, known to his friends as Tim, looked out at his army and concluded that an army did not in fact march on its stomach. It slithered on its stomach like a snake. A particularly lazy snake. Not that what Tim commanded could within reason be called an army. Mob was closer. Aside from the core of troops that were Gorchakov retainers, Tim and Ivan Maslov had been picking up odds and sods since they left Bor after Czar Mikhail escaped.

“They aren’t that bad,” Ivan, the baker’s son, said.

“Yes,” Tim said, “they are, Captain.”

Ivan scratched his scraggly red beard in clear consideration. “Yes,” He conceded, “they are. But they aren’t as bad as they were.”

Tim nodded. It was true. The Gorchakov retainers were good troops, well trained, well supplied, and disciplined. To an extent that was rubbing off on the odds and sods. Especially the small contingent from Bor that had come with Ivan. They were soldiers, at least, though a large number of them were more technician than soldier. They were the people that had built the dirigible, Czarina Evdokia, some of them, anyway. Those who had declared for Czar Mikhail.

“We should have burned the dirigible works at Bor,” Marat Davidovich said again.

“We couldn’t. We would have lost half the soldiers who declared for Czar Mikhail and most of the techs. They may be loyal to Czar Mikhail, but they love the airships.”

Tim and Ivan watched as a family passed them on the road, walking beside a wagon. It was the family of a streltzi from Nizhny Novgorod. After the battle, Tim’s force had gained a good chunk of the garrison, partly out of fear of Sheremetev’s response to their defeat. The streltzi, a man of about forty, tipped his cap as he went by. Tim nodded encouragement. The streltzi of Nizhny Novgorod had brought their families because it wasn’t safe to leave them, and the other groups they had picked up on the road had done the same. The camp followers outnumbered the camp by a considerable margin.

On a good day they would make five miles. On a bad day, two . . . or none. Tim wondered what was happening with Czar Mikhail.

 

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7 Responses to 1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 14

  1. Randomiser says:

    Gorki has 12 households and its own Priest. The original village had 8 households and its own priest. Is that reasonable? Relatively speaking, how many priests did Russia have in the mid 1600’s?

    • Bret Hooper says:

      Good question! Lyttenburgh?

    • Marvin Johnson says:

      This is indeed a little unusual. In a modern context it would be incredibly unusual, but that is in part because so few men pursue the priesthood (and of course in modern Russia there was the bit with atheism being the official religion for nearly a century and official discouragement of any sort of religious worship).

      If there were some local nobility that was of a major house of some kind, they would more likely have a local priest for political reasons. To use an extreme example here, if you were even in a cadet branch of the Hapsburgs (not really royalty, but still in the dynasty as a 5th or 6th cousin to several kings and a distant descendant of royalty at some point in the past and in theory in the line of succession), you would be more likely to have a priest linked to you and your estate as you would still have some influence. The church would play politics in that situation more than the need for a priest over a village.

      I would still be quite surprised to see more than one person enter the priesthood out of between fifty and a hundred though. Between farmers, blacksmiths, coopers, thatchers, herdsmen, and other very common professions there was just too much to be done than to have so many go into the 2nd estate. It was quite common though for a 3rd son (sometimes a 2nd son) in almost any family to go into the priesthood if there was anything that could be inherited. It was pretty rare for a family to have three sons under the living conditions typical for Russia in the 1600’sthough.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “…and of course in modern Russia there was the bit with atheism being the official religion for nearly a century and official discouragement of any sort of religious worship”

        I suggest you take notice of the current developments of the world at large. Maybe you will something new, like that the USSR is no more, or that the atheism is not a religion but a lack of one…

        “If there were some local nobility that was of a major house of some kind, they would more likely have a local priest for political reasons.”

        No, that’s wrong – especially this “major house” nonsense. The appointment of the priesthood had everything to do with parishes administration and was NOT up to nobility. Instead of guessing and drawing some far fetching analogies (Hapsburgs? Really?) better go for the primary sources about the country in question.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      There were two (2) primary types of the rural settlements in Russia back then – derevnya and selo. The chief difference between the two was that “selo” had a parish church. That’s it. There is no direct correspondence or 100% direct connection BUT, usually, churches had been built in much larger/more important places. If you stretch your suspension of disbelief (already stretched by everything else in this book) a bit further, then yes, you might argue that this inapprotiately named “Ruzuka” could have a parish church by the virtue of being close to colonel Utkin’s manor and him being in favor by Sheremetev. BUT! We now for sure that the parish church in his village has existed for some considerable time before that, even before RoF, so that father Yulian could join his “reputation” among the ladies. If the village was just 8 households all those years, well… these does not add up.

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Gorki was on the Klyazma River, which was just a creek at this point, but it helped with the gardens. The village had a dozen households, not including the village priest and a summer house of the local nobility who were, at the moment, in Moscow.”

    First thing first – there is no indication that this particular “Gorki” (i.e. the ones just a few miles from the present day Noginsk, former Rogozhi) had ever existed prior to 19 c. Like – at all.

    Second – there were no such things as “summer houses” for nobility back then. Summer was the time for the service- either campaigning in the military or doing other kind of service as deemed necessary. Estate house – yes, maybe. But it could not be “summer”.

    “But the new patriarch is in Sheremetev’s pocket and everyone knows it. Most of the monasteries have refused to acknowledge him.”

    Wow. That’s… lame, given what we already know from “The Vatican Sanctions”. First of all – monasteries are of no concern here (and Joasaphus was quite popular among the monastics, btw). Second – Joasaphus had been bound to be elected –in the OTL anyway. Third – Joasaphus was okay candidate all things concerned by the virtue of not being Philaret. As a person he was not interested in enriching himself. More so – he actually took lots of efforts to root out the indecency in the church, ergo his persecution of the arch-bishop of Suzdal Józef Kurcewicz (who had not one, but mistresses and abused his power – for which he ended up in Solovki monastery for repentance). And, finally – if this is July 1636 and “The Vatican Sanctions” which has the Patriarch Joasaphus attending this “ecumenical colloquium” in May 1636… things just don’t add up, given time and distance. But that’s what you get when you have a “multi-author universe” to run.

    ““They’re serfs!”
    “So what? If that means anything, it means you owe them more, not less.””

    I fail to see how a noblewoman (either of them present) could possibly jump to such conclusion.

    • Bjorn Hasseler says:

      The solution to Joasaphus’ locations in 1636: The Vatican Sanction and 1637: The Volga Rules is actually in 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught, chapter 17, page 155.

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