1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS — snippet 43

 

1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 43:

 

 

Chapter 23

 

Difficultas Laborque Discendi

 

 

Vienna

 

            Maria Anna rested her chin on the heel of her hand, her elbow on the table, while she watched her younger brother.

 

            Leopold Wilhelm had collected a half-dozen different chess sets and spread them out. On the basis of the latest news, he was replaying what had happened. At Hamburg. At Luebeck Bay. At Copenhagen. At Ahrensbök. Since his ambitions were not nautical, he was devoting at least eighty percent of his time to Ahrensbök, proclaiming to anyone who would listen that even he, at the age of twenty, with no practical military experience, could have done better than the French generals.

 

            She smiled. Leo had made it very clear that, in his opinion, de Valois had learned nothing by living an additional thirty years.

 

            Then there was the Wietze raid. Turenne.

 

            He grumbled something along the lines of, if only Papa would let me into the field….

 

            “Yes, Leo,” Maria Anna murmured soothingly, for the fourteenth or fifteenth time. She knew as well as the rest of them that the youngest of the family had minimal interest in the ecclesiastical career for which Papa had destined him when he was only five years old. Leo’s enthusiasms ran in the direction of armies. And art.

 

            In practice, of course, a “career in the church” meant that he already held a lot of bishoprics, but had not taken any vows. The family was reserving the right to change its collective mind, in case Ferdinand did not produce surviving male heirs.

 

            Sometimes great families did change their collective minds. Think of Claudia de’ Medici in Tyrol, who had sent them the wonderful music from up-time. Could that have only been in January? It seemed so long ago. Much more than four months.

 

            Claudia’s father had been a cardinal before he resigned and married. Her second husband, Uncle Leopold, Papa’s younger brother, had been a bishop before he resigned and married. In fact, he had been Leo’s predecessor as bishop of Passau and Strassburg. Now Uncle Leopold was dead, but he and Claudia had given the world four young Habsburg heirs.

 

            There was nothing to say that, some day, Leo might not be called upon to marry and take up a secular life.

 

            Still, she knew, at present he found his circumstances–constricting. Not that he wasn’t pious. Not that he didn’t live in such a manner as to avoid scandal. At least, in another year, he would enter the Teutonic Order. Some day, after the death of the incumbent and coadjutor, he would become Grand Master. That had been agreed upon when he was eleven, the same year, 1625, that he succeeded to Uncle Leopold’s two dioceses.

 

            Looked at one way, the Teutonic Order was just another ecclesiastical benefice, among the pluralities he was accumulating. Looked at in another, it would give him a reasonable chance at military action. But it hadn’t happened yet.

 

            Maria Anna frowned, considering the frustrating difficulties of learning what one needed to know from the libraries in Grantville. It was a lot of work, even for Jesuits who were used to doing that sort of thing, and often very slow to produce results.

 

            The encyclopedias said that in 1639, another five years, Ferdinand had entrusted Leo with command of the imperial army and he hadn’t done a shabby job of it, either. At least, he’d had enough sense to listen to more experienced advisers. Plus he had become regent of the Netherlands after Don Fernando. Not to mention that he had been in charge of the ceremony when Queen Kristina of Sweden converted to the Catholic church after her abdication.

 

            All of which she–and he, and Ferdinand, and Doña Mencia–knew, not because the world had remembered Leopold Wilhelm von Habsburg as an archduke of Austria, not because the world had remembered him as a general, not because the world had remembered his efforts to advance the counter-reformation and support the Jesuits, but… Leo was remembered only because he had–would have?–the sense to employ a painter named David Teniers, whom its encyclopedias did remember, as the purchasing agent for his art collection. The author of the article about Teniers had been gracious enough to include a paragraph about his patron.

 

            It had taken the researcher they employed a really long time to find any information at all about her younger brother’s future.

 

            She shifted her position a little. She had been watching Leo for quite a while and was starting to get stiff.

 

            Teniers had made a career of painting peasants. That was the source of his lasting fame. A humbling thought. She should ask Doña Mencia to ask her brother Cardinal Bedmar to find out more about Teniers. He lived in Antwerp, after all.

 

            She looked back at Leo. Actually, that other world had not done too badly by him.

 

            He nodded his head in response to her most recent soothing murmur and returned his attention to the chess sets.

 

****

 

            “Right before your wedding, too,” Cecelia Renata contributed that evening. “I can hardly believe it. Such a terrible defeat. Such horrible, absolutely disastrous, omens for a marriage. Have you checked your horoscope?”

 

            Maria Anna grimaced. She had a horoscope, of course. A very elaborate one. It had been drawn up immediately after her birth and updated regularly. No important person would attempt to go through life without the guidance provided by a horoscope. Astrologers were among the better-paid court personnel, once one got below the ranks of the nobility.

 

            “I don’t need a horoscope to tell me that the Habsburgs came through it all relatively unscathed,” she answered. “Spain was not directly involved this time. At least, not heavily. Perhaps our cousin in Madrid learned something from the way Richelieu sacrificed Admiral Oquendo’s fleet the last time. And Don Fernando….”

 

            She stopped. They were alone. As alone as they ever were most of the time. Papa had returned to his audience chamber after supper, the constant parade of solemn-faced men dressed all in black having redoubled since the news of the League of Ostend’s various disasters in the north reached Vienna two days earlier. Mama had gone to her apartments to rest. But. Not only Doña Mencia was here, but also Cecelia Renata’s chief attendant. And also. She glanced at the servants who stood by the door.

 

            She was not certain that it would be entirely prudent to continue. Rephrase that. She was certain that it would not be prudent to continue. Father Lamormaini knew too much about what occurred in her private chambers. Someone–someone close to her retinue–was reporting to Papa’s intelligence officers.

 

            At least her trousseau was finished. Finally. Frau Stecher and the seamstresses had gone into packing mode. Which meant, unfortunately, that she hadn’t seen little Susanna for several days.

 

            She would discuss Don Fernando’s astonishing level of non-participation with Doña Mencia when they were in private. They actually were in private, sometimes. Doña Mencia slept in her room, after all. An Austrian archduchess did not spend her nights unchaperoned.

 

            Of course, a maid slept on a cot at the foot of her bed, also, in case she should need something during the night. She could always need something during the night and send Magdalena on an errand.

 

            So she looked back at her sister, grinning, “The only thing my horoscope predicts that I will make a splendid marriage. That’s safe enough, of course. If a daughter of the Habsburgs survives long enough, and does not become a nun, it’s the only kind of marriage she’s likely to make. Yours says the same thing.” She pursed her lips. “Of course, it does not say that I will be marrying Uncle Max six weeks from now. Or anyone else, specifically, at any precise time. No more than yours predicts exactly who you will marry. I sometimes suspect that the motto of court astrologers is, ‘Vague is your friend.’”

 

****

 

            “It’s obvious that the up-timers had better libraries.” Maria Anna was afraid that the tone of her voice was a little sulky. So be it. “The books that they do have in Grantville mention them. The Library of Congress, in their own United States of America. The British Museum. The Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. There was a great library in Florence.” She paused a moment and glared at Doña Mencia. “A great library in Vienna.”

 

            “If God had chosen to send Vienna back from up-time, we would not be here ourselves, but somewhere else,” Doña Mencia pointed out.

 

            “I wish you didn’t have to be so reasonable.” Maria Anna tossed her head. “At least, not reasonable all the time. Perhaps God could just have sent the library. Right here, next door to the Hofburg, where we could use it ourselves instead of depending on the Jesuits.”

 

            Somewhere under her breath, Doña Mencia muttered something about spoiled brats who wanted eggs in their beer. Aloud, though, she said, “There was a great library in Munich, also. Since a certain archduchess will be leaving Vienna in less than a week, while she is wishing for the moon, she might devote her efforts to expressing a desire that God had chosen to transfer the Munich library, instead. Or send up a prayer that he had deigned to move all the libraries she listed to Munich, conveniently close to the Residenz. While she is coveting the possession an up-time library that exists nowhere in this world, she might as well make a thorough job of her exercise in futility.”

 

            While it was not a direct reproach, it had that effect. Maria Anna apologized.

 

            Doña Mencia accepted the apology gracefully.

 

            As she said her final rosary of the evening, Maria Anna was glad that Doña Mencia had not been offended. The terrible news in regard to the League of Ostend had burdened everyone’s spirits, but that gave her no right to be rude to her attendants.

 

            Of course, it was the terrible news about the League of Ostend that so burdened her, she assured herself. Not the thought that in six weeks she would be married to Uncle Max. That was just one of the duties that went with her station in life. One of the unvarying duties. Even if the League of Ostend had won a great victories at Hamburg, at Luebeck Bay, at Copenhagen, and at Ahrensbök, in six weeks she would still have become duchess of Bavaria.

 

            Some circumstances did not change. She submitted herself to the will of God.

 

 

About Eric Flint

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Comments

2 Responses to 1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS — snippet 43

  1. jd says:

    The only thing my horoscope predicts [is] that I will make a splendid marriage.

  2. jd says:

    No more than yours predicts exactly who[m] you will marry.

    (I’ll bet Austrian archduchesses tended to use ridiculously “proper” grammar.)

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