1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 36:
Et Ferrum Ferentes
On the Golden Street
By the second day, they were about thirty miles northeast of Nürnberg.
“It’s enough to make you sick.” Marc was looking at the smashed ruins of a hammer mill. His time with Jacob Durre had provided him with some sense of the effort and money it would take to rebuild it.
Mansfeld and Tilly, the Bavarians and the Swedes. Every army that came through the Upper Palatinate for the past dozen years had been acting on the same presumption. If they could not keep a grasp on the wealth of the region themselves, they would at least destroy as much of it as possible, so the enemy could not benefit from it either.
“There must have been really a lot of iron being processed,” Keith commented. “It’s one thing for someone to tell Ollie so, and for him to send me off to see about getting the place back into production. It’s something else to see these wasted smelters for myself. How much were they turning out, annually, before the war?”
“Before the war?” Leopold Cavriani looked reflective. “I wish that Durre could have come with us. He would know better than I do. A geographer with a sense of the poetic described the smelters and hammer-mills as ‘strung along every stream in the Upper Palatinate, like pearls on a necklace’. Especially, in addition to the Pegnitz here, along the Vils and the Naab.”
“Funny way to describe the mess and pollution that they must have made,” Mary Simpson commented. “Look at the size of those slag piles.”
“Iron was pearls,” Leopold answered. “Pearls in the sense of wealth. How many? More than two hundred fifty, I am sure. But no matter how carefully they have managed these forests—the peasants of the Upper Palatinate are forbidden to keep goats, you know, because they are so destructive of the wood if they get loose—there have been constant shortages of charcoal. Without fuel, the smelters have to stand down.”
“Why didn’t they use coal?” That was Toby Snell, with a question that just came naturally to a Grantville boy.
“I don’t think there’s any around here,” Keith answered. “None suitable for metalworking, anyway. If they could get a railroad through, from here to Grantville….”
Leopold resumed his interrupted lecture. “The Emperor Charles IV’s Goldene Strasse, his ‘Golden Street’ from Prague to Nürnberg, the one we are riding on and will continue riding on as far as Sulzbach, was built because of iron, too, not gold. Not by Charles IV, originally. It existed long before. He just improved it, and rerouted parts of it through his own lands.”
Cavriani looked thoughtful. “It should have been the Eisenstrasse, the ‘Iron Street.’ For four hundred years, at least, it has been iron, in this region. Probably for much longer than that; I don’t know, but that is when the records that I have seen begin. About four centuries ago. Occasionally, however, farmers find pots and iron tools along here that are far, far, older—things from the time of ancient Rome and even before. Look around you. God never meant the thin soil on these hills to grow grain. It is the ore beneath them that made the fortune of the Electors Palatine. The up-timers speak of the Ruhr. Throughout the middle ages, the Upper Palatinate was for the Holy Roman Empire what the Ruhr became for the German Empire so much later.”
He grinned. “Oh, the Rhine Palatinate is a fine place. Lovely, scenic, civilized. But the wealth that supported that culture, that ancient university, the great library that was stolen from Heidelberg and taken to Rome a few years ago, was wrested out of these hills by men with picks and shovels. This second part of the Palatinate was the center of the south German iron trade. Mining and processing, both. If the iron isn’t brought back into production, nothing else that Duke Ernst can do will help in the long run. In these hills, it is iron or poverty. The proverb runs, ‘Dig iron or eat stones.’”
He gestured. “It goes on far beyond what we can see here. The Montanbereich. It is about a hundred of your up-time miles long, from Sulzbach and Rosenberg in the west, it runs northeast almost all the way to the border of Bohemia. These little towns, even those no bigger than a large agricultural village in other parts of Germany, received their city charters in the fourteenth century because of iron.”
“You can pretty much tell that,” Keith commented. “Everyone in Grantville keeps talking about the importance of industrializing. Around Thuringia, I’ve not seen anything like this. Some around Suhl and Schleusingen, Schmalkalden, but that’s on the south side of the mountains. Just how much of the work force was already out of agriculture down here? Before the war, I mean?”
Cavriani thought for a moment. “It isn’t like northern Italy or the Netherlands, of course, so it’s hard to compare. It isn’t ‘urbanized,’ as you say. Mining is a rural occupation and so is ore processing. Only the producers of finished goods live mainly in the towns. Or near them, since the forges also benefit from having a source of power from the streams. But probably, of adult men, one out of five; in some places, such as along the Pegnitz River here, or along the Naab, which flows south into the Danube, one out of four, worked in mining or metals.”
“Looking at this, I can see why Herr Durre and the other metalworkers in Nürnberg are so worried.” Marc was returning to his first thought. “It isn’t just that they are short of materials for making wire and such. Even though, if they can’t get raw materials for the metals trades, it will soon no longer be a proud and wealthy city. It’s the arsenal, too. It’s a manufacturing arsenal. Without iron, without enough iron…”
Approaching Amberg, the Upper Palatinate
“It was not an easy time,” Elias Brechbuhl said Mary Simpson. The widower of Veronica’s step-daughter Elisabetha shook his head. “Nor did the Bavarians intend to allow any Protestants who remained in the city an easy time.” He had been talking about the year 1626. “In September—I recall very well that it was the fifteenth of the month—they held a Catholic mass, a Te Deum, in the main parish church of Amberg to celebrate the Catholic victory over the Danes. And the school children were forced to attend it. That was the day that I decided to go into exile. Whatever the hardships it would bring upon Elisabetha and the children. For in only two more years, my oldest son would start school. And they would have schooled him into a Catholic. I could not permit it, not on my conscience.”
He reined his horse in, pausing to look up at the walls of Amberg.
Veronica drew up her mule next to him. “Yes, I remember that day. Hans was at that service. He was in the Jesuit school. The damned Bavarians had closed the Pädagogium, the Calvinist school, already, three years before that. It was the year before he started his apprenticeship with his father.” She sat, looking up at the walls.
Brechbuhl looked startled.
Veronica glowered. “I will say it. Die verdammten Bayer. If you don’t want to hear it, you don’t have to listen.”
Brechbuhl turned back to Mary Simpson. “This is the first time that I have been back. Margaretha’s first husband was already dead; he was killed by Bavarian troops almost three years before that day. She came with us, as did Lorenz and Hanna. Clara and Matthias weren’t married yet and she was living with Margaretha. So she came with us, as well.” He smiled. “A year later, there was Matthias at our door in Nürnberg. I think she had given up hope, but by waiting longer, he was able to salvage more money from the sale of his father’s house and business than if he had left so quickly. But then, a bachelor is not as constrained as the head of a household. It is easier for him to take some risks.”
Keith Pilcher frowned. He wasn’t Catholic, but he had gotten to know some of the Jesuits who were working at St. Mary’s in Grantville and liked them. “What do you mean by ‘schooled into a Catholic’?” he asked.
“The Jesuits in Amberg accepted any boy who turned up at their door, without a charge in money. That,” Brechbuhl said, “I will grant them. Protestants as well as Catholics. Oh, yes, they wanted the Protestant families to send their sons. Not just pupils whose parents could not pay the full fees. They accepted boys with no coats, boys with no shoes, and gave them bread to eat. But there are other ways to impose a cost. On the soul, if not upon the purse. The year that Gustav Adolf landed, 1630, that would have been, I received a letter from a friend who had stayed. He said that the schools had been dismissed in the morning, the day before he wrote, so that the children could attend the burning of the books that the Bavarians had confiscated from the Lutherans. ‘So that they could some day tell their descendants about it.’”
“You were right, you know,” Veronica said. “To leave, if it was so important to you that your children not be schooled as Catholics. Somehow, it did not make that much difference to us. The first time we were plundered, by Mansfeld's ‘Protestant’ troops in support of the Calvinist Winter King, we were still good little Calvinists ourselves, just as the elector declared that his subjects should be. So, my stepson Anton figured, how could becoming Catholic make it worse? We delayed as long as we could; that’s true. We did not leap enthusiastically into the arms of the damned Bavarians, the way Johann Stephan’s brother Kilian did. He threw himself upon their breasts, practically, when they first occupied Amberg in 1621. But in 1628, when Duke Maximilian declared that we must become Catholic or leave, we became Catholic.”
Nodding at him, she continued. “It isn’t as if Johann Stephan brought up his children the way your father brought you up. He didn’t suffer fools gladly. Even though he died long before this war started, he had more than enough of the back and forth between the Lutherans and the Calvinists. I can only think what he would have said about adding Catholics to the stew. After one of the changes, when the ecclesiastical visitor complained of his apparently minimal familiarity with the doctrines and teachings covered on the questionnaire, he replied, ‘It may be that I do know the answer. I'm just not sure which one you are looking for this time.’”
“Ah,” Brechbuhl said. “Yes. I do believe that I heard that story from my father.” He smiled. “And many others about Johann Stephan. The various religious changes generated a lot of jobs for printers. Just think of how many copies of the Mandatum de Non Calumniendo were needed when one of the electors decided that the Lutherans and Calvinists had taken their theological disputes to a far from genteel level of rhetoric. ‘Thou shalt not insult one another.’ Indeed, think of all the pamphlets that led to the issuance of the mandate. Such controversies must be very profitable for the printing trade.”
Veronica also smiled. More grimly. “Gretchen had not been confirmed as a Calvinist. The ministers and teachers were exiled first; she wasn’t old enough for confirmation when they left. Although she accepted the conversion like the rest of us, she was no longer exactly a child, so she has never really been instructed in the teachings of any church at all. Hans was confirmed as a Catholic. He was obliging enough about it, but he was, I think, a little too old when they started teaching him. He was ten. He didn’t really take it all very seriously.” She blinked. “He reminded me of Johann Stephan, in many ways.”
Then she looked directly at Brechbuhl. “Annalise has no clear memory of having been a Calvinist, ever. She is Catholic, Elias—truly a Catholic, instructed as one and content to be one. So few years, barely six, between the oldest and the youngest, to make such a difference. The years of childhood are very short. We are working in common, now. Someday, maybe, you will have to decide if you will let your children know a cousin who is truly a Catholic. But it isn’t something that we need to face today. Or even tomorrow.”
Brechbuhl looked down.
She shook her head. “In 1628, we were plundered again. As Catholics. This time by some of Tilly’s ‘Catholic’ troops in a land that was now ‘Catholic.’ Nor did our obedient change of confession move Duke Maximilian to protect us from his allies. That is when Anton was killed and his wife taken. And we were taken.”
She looked directly at her stepdaughter’s widower. “I intend to get Johann Stephan’s property back, Elias. I will get it. Enough to send the Catholic granddaughter of a Calvinist publisher to a down-time college teaching up-time subjects headed by a Lutheran abbess. That much, the damned Bavarians owe Anton’s family. Do not expect me to handle things the way I would have done ten years ago. I am not the respectable widow of an established printer any more. Nor am I entirely the wife of the mayor of Grantville. I have seen and done things that even Elisabetha and her sisters, with all the hardships of exile, have not and did not. I am an old hag of a camp follower also, Elias. You will do well not to forget that. Just as people will do well, as time goes on, to remember that Gretchen was a young camp follower. These things do not leave a person the same.”