1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS — snippet 3


1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 3:



            “In this Grantville itself, as I understand it…” Father Lamormaini began.


            “Yes?” The undertone was impatient.


            So. Speed up the response somewhat. “The origins of this town were from the continent of North America. The settlers who came were from all parts of Europe, and were permitted to retain their faith upon settlement. The country became confessionally mixed, as in the case, for example, of the Imperial City of Augsburg. As we know, there are Catholics there…”


            “Considering,” interrupted Maria Anna with clear exasperation, “that their priest has been sent as head of the United States of Europe’s delegation to Venice, I think we may presume that. Please answer my question. Had England, which is here in Europe, been returned to the Church?”


            “To the best of my knowledge…” Father Lamormaini started again.


            “Upon what is your knowledge based?”




            “Thank you, Father.” Maria Anna nodded. “Now, please, what do these reports say about England?”


            “The entire country had not, as a unit, been returned to the fold of the Church. However, it had granted freedom of worship with no civil disabilities to Roman Catholics and had a fairly large number of citizens who belonged to the Church.” Father Lamormaini’s face expressed distaste for the next statement. “However, it was forbidden for the monarch to be Catholic.”


            “And in this America or United States? Was it also forbidden there for the president to be a Catholic?”


            “Well, of course, their president was not properly a monarch. He was elected.”


            Maria Anna frowned. “What is wrong with that? My father was elected. God willing, my brother will be elected, and my nephew after him. So have all the Holy Roman Emperors been elected. So are bishops and abbots. And abbesses. So is the pope. Since God is omnipotent, He can certainly ensure that the electors follow his will when they make their choice.”


            Again, the Emperor’s confessor found himself wishing Maria Anna had been married off at a much younger age. Wherever the archduchess’s train of thought might be going—he could anticipate at least three possible goals—Father Lamormaini found it worrisome. Each of the possibilities he envisioned somehow managed to be more unnerving than the others, which was a remarkable logical achievement.


            “Was it forbidden for this president to be a Catholic?” Maria Anna had not lost track of her original thought. As usual. In a way, Father Lamormaini was proud of her tutors. They had been Jesuits, of course.


            “Ah, no. It was not forbidden,” Father Lamormaini said uncomfortably. “It is my understanding that on one occasion a Catholic had been elected to that office. Once. Out of about forty men chosen over a span of almost two and a quarter centuries. In a country with a population that was almost one-quarter Catholic. Though it is only fair to say that at the level of the provinces, the ‘states,’ Catholics held a higher proportion of the offices.”


            By 1634, one of the proudest and most useful possessions of the Jesuit Order was a 1988 World Almanac and Book of Facts. Friedrich von Spee had found it in a box at a yard sale and sent it to Rome immediately.


            “Was it forbidden, either in England or this America, for the Church to own property? To hold Corpus Christi and other public processions? To establish religious orders? To instruct children in schools?”


            “The Church was permitted to carry on all those functions. Indeed, I understand, in America the constitution was written in such a way that it prohibited the civil administration from interfering in them.”


            “Do you have a copy of this document?”


            Father Lamormaini did. However, he had no intention of corrupting the young archduchess’ mind with it. “I am not in a position to provide you with a copy, Your Highness.”


            Maria Anna appreciated the diplomatic wording of his answer. She’d really just been probing Father Lamormaini, as she often did, to discover the limits she would be officially permitted. As it happened, she already had a copy. In fact, she had read it many times. She wondered if Father Lamormaini realized just how many copies were available in the world as it now was in the year 1634. It seemed like half the presses in Europe were printing them by the thousands. Sometimes spiritual advisors, even Jesuits, were just so…unworldly.


            She reminded herself, as firmly as possible, that that was after all their job. To draw people to God, especially those in positions of power. At least, that was what they were supposed to be for.


            So, her reply was also carefully worded. “I will not press you to get one for me.”


            She paused. “I do have another question, though. Father Lamormaini, I know that you were one of Papa’s advisors who most strongly supported having him issue the Edict of Restitution four years ago. True, this defended the rights of the Church to its temporal goods, to its worldly property. But by demanding that the princes of Germany restore all of the…things…”


            She waved her hand expressively at the top of the table at which they were seated, its golden and bejeweled crucifix, its mother-of-pearl-inlaid box of writing materials, its globe of the world. “By demanding restoration of all of the real estate—which is a form of material things—that the German princes confiscated during the Reformation, back to the way things were in the year 1552, some say that it really caused the intervention of the King of Sweden. He would scarcely have come to defend the free exercise of religion by the Calvinists and sectarians, I should think. The Lutherans like them little more than the Holy Church does. It was the provisions in regard to material things that really, some people say, restarted a war that otherwise might have ended on endurable terms.”


            She picked up a piece of paper and wrote a line on it: What does it profit a man, if he gains the world and loses his soul?


            She handed it to him. “Is it more important that the Church regain all the temporal worldly goods that she once held? Or that she be free to practice her faith unhindered in Protestant territories? If these were placed before a Catholic ruler as a choice, which way should he go?”


            Father Lamormaini swallowed. “I am not your confessor,” he pointed out.


            “I’m not asking you to provide me with guidance, Father,” Maria Anna answered impatiently. “I’m just asking a simple question. A question for people who live in a world where you can’t have exactly what you want—not all of the time; not even most of the time. That’s just as true for emperors and archduchesses as it is for shopkeepers and peasants. So. Which one is more important?”


            After the archduchess left, Father Lamormaini heaved a sigh of relief.


            “We must get her married off,” he muttered to himself. “To the right man. And the sooner the better!”


            “Dona Mencia,” Maria Anna asked. “Would you do something for me?”


            “Of course, if it is within my capacities.”


            “Would you please write to your brother, Cardinal Bedmar, and ask him this question: ‘Is it more important that the Church regain all the temporal worldly goods that she once held? Or that she be free to practice her faith unhindered in Protestant territories? If these were placed before a Catholic ruler as a choice, which way should he go?’”


            “Certainly, Your Highness.”


            Dona Mencia personally saw her letter placed into a diplomatic pouch within the hour.


            Not, however, into the diplomatic pouch going out from the imperial chancery to Venice—although that, also, contained a nice, chatty, letter from Dona Mencia to her brother, covering nieces and nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, and a new recipe for melon relish. She felt quite sure that the emperor’s intelligence agents would try to decipher it. She wished them great joy in their attempts, for it contained nothing other than what she had written on the surface. There was not one veiled reference or cryptic allusion, much less a code. She hoped, with considerable relish that was not made from melons, that someone in the imperial intelligence office wasted hours and hours and hours on it. And on the one she would send the next week. And the week after that.


            This other letter, however, went into the pouch that had come in from Brussels and would be returned there by Cardinal-Infante Don Fernando’s own courier. Brussels could send it on to Alfonso. Among the attachments to Alfonso’s letter had been a sealed certification from the Infante authorizing her to use his pouch at her own discretion.



About Eric Flint

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