1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS — snippet 44

 

1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 44:

 

 

PART V

 

June, 1634

 

Those shadowy recollections

 

 

 

Chapter 24

 

Tempora Jucunda

 

 

Vienna

 

            Every item that had personalized her apartments, made them her own, was gone. Packed, some of them. The rest placed into storage. Some day, a daughter of her brother Ferdinand and his wife Mariana would live in these rooms. Until then, they would stand empty except for the bed, chests, and chairs.

 

            Maria Anna walked over to the window and stood watching as the carriages that would take the court to Passau for the ceremony transferring her to Bavaria lined up on the streets below. The wagons were waiting outside the walls. The servants had finished the job of loading the baggage the day before, but things were moving slowly. A woman, the wife of a chancery official from the place of her carriage in the cortege, lost control of a wiggling lapdog. A groom grabbed it before it could spook the horses, thank goodness. A team out of control could have delayed everything for hours. It seemed that every additional minute since breakfast just made her more melancholy.

 

            She turned back in toward the room, fingering her rosary. “Did you manage to get any news this morning?”

 

            Doña Mencia reached into her satchel. “No newspapers. I suppose that Frau Stecher has kept little Susanna too busy to go find any for us. The private secretary to the ambassador from the Spanish Netherlands sent me correspondence that arrived in the diplomatic pouch yesterday evening. Someone delivered it while we were at mass. It doesn’t contain much that we didn’t already know. There’s a list of all the prominent people who are or will be taking part in the Congress of Copenhagen called by Gustavus Adolphus. The official sessions have started. The preliminary official sessions, at least. There’s a lot of discussion of Prince Ulrik’s heroic actions. They’ve caused a great deal of excitement.”

 

            “It must be nice for the nobles to be able to find and talk about at least one heroic prince among all the heroic commoners in this campaign.” Maria Anna’s voice was flat. “What do they say about the Norwegian whose designs and ideas let the prince be heroic? Or what Oxenstierna thinks about the Swedish king’s agreement to negotiate with the Danes?”

 

            “As for the Norwegian, it depends upon who is writing the despatch. Oxenstierna is said to be less than pleased. Both with heroic Danish princes and heroic commoners.” Doña Mencia paused, trying to think of something that would distract the archduchess. “Many of the participants were brought in the up-timers’ airplanes. Scaglia is there as an observer and was able to observe the planes land and take off again.”

 

            “Don Fernando sent an observer to Copenhagen? Was permitted to send one? Isn’t that a little… odd?”

 

            “He was invited to do so by the USE ambassadress. By Rebecca Abrabanel.”

 

            “With the Swede’s permission?”

 

            “Presumably. Although one hears that the Stearns administration often acts on the maxim that it is easier to ask for forgiveness after a fait accompli than to obtain permission in advance. We live in very interesting times.”

 

            “But Don Fernando himself is not going to be in Copenhagen?”

 

            “That would be a little… excessive… under the circumstances. Whatever people expect, whatever people speculate, he has not yet made a formal break with Spain. Although–it is said that Rubens has collected portraits of all the eligible Catholic princesses. Not, it is to be presumed, just on a whim.”

 

            “Before my betrothal to Uncle Max, I would have been among the eligible ones.”

 

            “Indeed, your portrait is among those in Brussels. Presumably, Rubens ordered one before your betrothal became official. Which is interesting, since it indicates that Don Fernando must have been contemplating his next move for several months before the rumors began to circulate.”

 

            Maria Anna went back to the window. She wished that the steward would send someone to summon her. There was nothing left for her in the Hofburg. She might as well leave right now. But people entered the carriages in a certain order, defined by protocol. It would never do for the emperor’s daughter, much less the emperor, to sit waiting while lesser mortals ran back into the palace for forgotten items or grooms repaired a bit of harness that broke at the last minute. She would be called third from the last. Then Mariana, baby Ferdinand, and her ladies in waiting. Then Papa and Mama and their personal attendants. After that, her wedding procession could start on its way.

 

            She placed one hand on the drapery. “Talk to me, Doña Mencia. Tell me a story. ‘Once upon a time…’” She laughed softly. “But leave out the fairy tale ending, please.”

 

 

Besançon, in the Franche-Comté

 

            By the time Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar ended his faked maneuvering in the Breisgau and brought his forces back to his administrative center at Besançon, there was more news from Paris. Some of his aides thought Bernhard had acted precipitously, even rashly, to have ended the maneuvers immediately after receiving the first reports of Torstensson’s crushing defeat of de Valois’ army at Ahrensbök. But the newspaper accounts from Paris that awaited them at Besançon made it obvious that he’d gauged the situation correctly. Bernhard was basking in the sunshine of a bold move that had turned out quite well, and all but sneering at his more timid associates.

 

            Richelieu had summoned Marshal Turenne and his cavalry to Paris. That was a sure sign that the cardinal was now completely pre-occupied with France’s internal situation. Well…

 

            Mostly pre-occupied. Richelieu was quite capable of handling several matters at once, and doing them all very competently. But it really didn’t matter if he did manage to devote some time to gauging the situation with Bernhard in the Franche-Comté. What could he do about it, really, beyond sending stern missives? The only capable army he could rely upon at the moment was Turenne’s, and he needed Turenne guarding Paris and the royal palace at the Louvre.

 

            Bernhard clapped his hands. The gesture was simply one of satisfaction; indeed, exuberant satisfaction. Not only was the political situation developing very nicely, but his indigestion had ceased as well.

 

            “Who says plans never work the way they’re supposed to?” he demanded, smiling slyly at his chief aide, Friedrich von Kanoffski.

 

            “Not I,” replied von Kanoffski. Unlike some others, Friedrich had had the sense to keep his mouth shut.

 

            Bernhard nodded. Then, after a moment, said: “I believe I’ve been a little testy of late.” He cocked an inquisitive eyebrow.

 

            Friedrich shook his head, making sure to maintain a solemn expression. “I can’t say I noticed, Your Grace.”

About Eric Flint

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