1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 9:
“So you would have me break my vow to God?”
Duke Maximilian looked around the council table. Three weeks after the duchess’ death, this was his first return to the chamber.
Contzen’s views aside, almost all of the privy council, his staff and advisors, had—after some reflection—been appalled by Maximilian’s decision to withdraw from secular life. For Contzen his position was based on a very strong belief that the duke was more valuable to the Church as head of the Catholic League than in a monastery. For most of them, however, the tipping point had been the almost universal perception of bureaucrats that a change in bosses (followed, inevitably, by a change in personnel on the staff) is a catastrophe. They had immediately started to cast around for ways to persuade the duke to abandon his decision.
Within the past two hours, depending on the individual, Maximilian had been told that he had a duty to stand by Ferdinand II against the problems that Wallenstein was causing him in Bohemia, that he had a duty to attempt to expel the heretical Swedes from the Upper Palatinate and once more take up the cause of restoring its population to Catholicism, that various prior treaty obligations could be interpreted as requiring him to defer carrying out the most recent vow until he had completed them; that, in fact, he must not abdicate.
“Albrecht?” Maximilian looked at his brother.
“I will not attempt to constrain your conscience.” Duke Albrecht considered himself to be in a very tight spot. He would, after all, from a worldly perspective, be the primary beneficiary of Maximilian’s decision to retire.
Joachim Donnersberger’s decision had not been easy; at heart, he still believed that the duke should follow his conscience. Still, there had been so many occasions over the years when Duke Albrecht had intervened with the privy council on behalf of the less progressive party. Donnersberger was strongly committed to Father Contzen’s views on the proper nature of governance. Peace could exist only where there was one universal Catholic faith. But, once that one true faith had been ensured, once there was harmony within a realm, rulers had duties to their subjects. Donnersberger was not yet quite willing to give up the dream of an ideal Christian commonwealth. Reluctantly, he replied, “Your Grace. Bavaria still has need of you.”
“You cannot abdicate, Your Grace. Not without taking upon your conscience the guilt of once more plunging the Austrian lands into chaos and permitting the rampant spread of heresy. Wallenstein has proclaimed free exercise of religion; the walls of the ghetto are down. We need your decisiveness, your unswerving dedication, the power of your convictions.”
Adam Contzen laid two pieces of paper upon the table. “Your Grace, if I may. These are copies, sent me from this Grantville, from the encyclopedias of the men from the future.”
Duke Maximilian frowned.
Encyclopedias, Duke Albrecht thought, the wondrous encyclopedias.
If the future had learned nothing else from the Jesuits, he mused wryly, it had learned the Art of Extraction that they taught so painstakingly to their students—how to go through a nearly unmanageable body of material, reduce it to its essence, and take notes with marginal indices that enabled one to find the needed reference again without immense waste of time. The books of the up-timers were all very well, but Father Contzen had complained to him more than once that finding something in them was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Which book might have it, if, indeed, any book had it at all? But the encyclopedias, all of them: alphabetically arranged, with cross references at the end of one article indicating where the researcher may find related material in the compendium. Not just the great one, the 1911 Britannica, which they guarded so carefully, but all of them—the later Britannica editions, the World Book and Americana, Columbia, and Funk and Wagnalls, old and new, large and small. Some more useful than others, but each one a treasure trove.
Duke Albrecht had been told that Father Kircher devoted all the time that he could spare to encyclopedias. But more, there were a half dozen other young Jesuits, five of them from the English College and thus able to handle the language more effectively, whom the order was subsidizing to spend their days sitting in Grantville’s libraries. Once they translated their valuable discoveries into Latin, of course, the information was available to every man of learning in Europe.
“If I may?” Contzen repeated. Maximilian nodded his head.
“These are two short biographies of the life that you lived in that world. In that world, you did not abdicate.”
“Perhaps, in that world, I had not taken a vow to enter a monastery?”
“There is not sufficient detail here to tell us whether you did or not.”
“What became of the rest of my life?”
“You took a second wife, who bore you sons. The elder succeeded you as duke and elector. You defended the Catholic cause to the end.”
Duke Maximilian bowed his head.
Duke Albrecht sat, his face impassive. Why hadn’t anyone bring this to his attention earlier? What would his wife Mechthilde say to this—that all her efforts in bearing and rearing their children are to be made irrelevant to the future of Bavaria?
He wondered if he could get a copy of those biographies from Contzen. Or from someone else.
Duke Maximilian looked up again. “Father Vervaux?”
Johannes Vervaux looked at the duke, making sure that his face hid the pity that he felt. It did not do to pity Maximilian of Bavaria. “Your Grace. Reluctantly, I concur with Dr. Donnersberger. Bavaria still needs you, at whatever sacrifice of yourself.”
“Thank you, gentlemen. I shall now retire to my meditations. Please be assured that I will take the advice of each of you into account.” The duke rose, the councillors rising with him. As he prepared to withdraw to his oratory, Duke Maximilian asked, “What did I name my sons?”
He did not ask, “Who was my second wife?” That, apparently, was a matter of complete indifference to him.