1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 2:
Dona Mencia de Mendoza and her rheumatic knees did not join the birdwatching expedition. Dona Mencia had come from Spain three years before, in 1630, in the entourage of the Infanta Mariana, Maria Anna’s sister-in-law, wife of Maria Anna’s brother Ferdinand.
Almost at once, she and the older of the two archduchesses had liked one another. She had found it no hardship whatsoever to transfer to Maria Anna’s household, even though working for that energetic young woman was sometimes strenuous. If she weren’t doing it, she thought with some amusement, another equally elderly woman would be. What was the function of a chief attendant if not to squelch, when necessary, the youthful exuberance and ebullience to which even Habsburgs were sometimes prone?
Blessed with two to three hours of quiet time, now, she wrapped those aching knees in tubes of toweling loosely stuffed with dried beans that her maid had warmed in front of the fire and settled in to catch up on her correspondence. First, from her mother in Spain. Dona Elvira was not far from her eightieth birthday. If not immortal, she appeared to be giving immortality a good chase. The contents were predictable: land and finances, estates and household, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Not to mention a new recipe for melon relish.
Duty done, Dona Mencia proceeded to a long letter and thick packet of attachments from her brother, Cardinal Bedmar.
Oh, my! Alfonso would be having an interesting year, what with having been assigned to represent the Cardinal-Infante’s interests in Venice while the Americans were there! Her next letter should be addressed to him in Venice.
Dona Mencia leaned back, anticipating a good read.
Duchess Claudia’s Kapellmeister, Johann Stadelmayr, had just completed reading a short biography of a great Austrian composer named Franz Joseph Haydn. This had been located, the master of musicians explained to the audience, in a great compendium of knowledge called an encyclopedia.
Everybody in the audience realized, without question, that this compendium must have been located by someone who had been sent to visit the pestilential ally of the misbegotten Swedish king and the miserably ungrateful Bohemian rebel. The music master tactfully refrained from saying so, of course. But the dates of birth and death that he had listed for the composer made it impossible to doubt that someone from the court of Tirol, or hired by the court of Tirol, had been to this Grantville.
It probably hadn’t been the music master himself, however, Maria Anna thought. He didn’t speak much German, so he had read the biography in Italian. That was fine with the Viennese Hof. Everybody in the upper levels of Austrian society spoke Italian. In Tirol, it was the official language of the court. Maria Anna usually spoke Italian herself, by preference. Her German was fluent but it was also an Austrian dialect; it had never been considered necessary to provide her with formal training in the language. She had learned French and Spanish, of course—those were only prudent preparation for the countries into which she would most probably be married. She had a working reading knowledge of Latin, but didn’t find it easy to produce Latin compositions.
Most of the music was instrumental. For the final piece, however, the singers who had presented The Sound of Music yesterday—and who, by popular demand, would present it again on Thursday, on Saturday, and three times during the following week—returned to the stage. The manager of Duchess Claudia’s musicians was explaining the custom of the “national anthem” as it was called, and that the loyal, outstanding, and pious Haydn had composed such a “national anthem” for Austria. Unfortunately, they had not yet found a copy of the words that were properly sung to this anthem and it appeared that they might not be available. However, they had found a score for “Austria” in which the music had been used as the setting for a Te Deum written, apparently, by an Englishman. In any case, the author was one Christopher Idle. The manager descended from the podium. The music began.
After the introductory measures, the hairs on Archduchess Maria Anna’s arms stood up. Halfway through, the hairs on her head were trying to do the same. For the sheer glory of the thing!
Throughout her afternoon eucharistic devotions before the reserved Host, the melody continued to replay itself in her head. Perhaps a bit guiltily, she assured herself that it was, after all, a hymn.
“I want to know,” Maria Anna said firmly to Father Wilhelm Lamormaini, S.J., her father’s confessor. “It is a reasonable question.”
“How can you expect me to find out?”
“There are Jesuits in this Grantville. Write them. Ask them. Do these words in English, set to this music by Haydn, this Te Deum, mean that in those later days, England had been returned to the fold of the Church? And, if so, how? When? By whom? Through what means? And, if not, why was this man writing a Te Deum in English? Using Austrian music?”
Father Lamormaini looked at the archduchess rather cautiously. He understood the political motives that had caused the emperor to delay arranging marriages for his daughters. However…
Maria Anna was twenty-five years old. By this time, she should have long since been transferred from the authority of a father to that of a husband. She should have been too busy bearing and rearing babies to fret her mind about philosophical and political problems. But, having been permitted to reach adulthood and maturity while still unmarried, she was showing an unfortunate tendency to think for herself and to ask disconcerting questions.
Caution was unquestionably the best tactic.