1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 58:
Conjurationes Atque Consilia
Besançon, The Franche-Comté
Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar smiled at Friedrich Kanoffski von Langendorff. “Not only has Cardinal Richelieu formally accepted my explanation that recent troop movements on the part of General Banér in Swabia made it impossible for me to send any significant forces as far north as Holstein—and no matter how furious he is after the catastrophe at Ahrensbök—he will have to acknowledge that it would have had no effect at all for me to send them, anyway. Not given that d’Angoulême had overall command.”
Kanoffski shook his head. “The cardinal will eventually have to acknowledge it. That doesn’t mean he is doing so right now, Your Grace. He is also, very soon, going to realize that aside from Turenne’s cavalry, which is tied down in Paris, your troops in Alsace are the only intact body of effective soldiers under French command. Nominally under French command. He will have to wonder how long that will last.”
Bernard tapped his fingers on the table. “In regard to de Guébriant. I think that we can go beyond making it clear to him that my offer of employment still stands. I think that we can afford to pay his ransom—anonymously, of course—without jeopardizing any of our other projects.” Bernhard raised his eyebrows. Impressive, thick, bushy, eyebrows. “Don’t you?”
“I’m sure of it. It would certainly be a pity for him to languish in USE captivity for years.” Kanoffski rubbed his cheek. “Do you suppose that anyone has mentioned to Werth just how long the Imperials left him to languish in French captivity in that other world?”
“I doubt it. But there’s no reason that someone shouldn’t mention it to him. Just in passing, of course. And leaving out the fact that I’m the one who captured him in the first place.”
Bernhard was still tapping his fingers on the table. “The fact that we have some more time, however, requires us to consider some possible future problems. I’m thinking in particular of the plague that is ‘scheduled’ for next year.”
Kanoffski nodded, immediately understanding the reference. The previous winter, Duke Bernhard had sent a recruiter to Tuebingen, in hopes of acquiring the services of the mathematics professor, Schickard, for his projects in Besançon. After all, Schickard's father had been, and his brother was, public works director. The dukes of Württemberg were not, at present, in any position to construct public works and the university was not holding sessions.
Unfortunately, Schickard had gone off to work for the landgraves of Hesse. However, the recruiter had spoken to one of the other professors who had commented a little pompously, "Well, at least, since he's in Landgrave Hermann's castle in Rotenberg, Wilhelm won't die prematurely in the great plague epidemic that will sweep Alsace, Swabia, and Württemberg in 1635. That's a blessing, since we expect many great things from that brilliant mind."
The recruiter had come home talking plague. A quick examination of the up-time encyclopedia possessed by the duke revealed that the good professors at Tuebingen had the right of it. If all went as it did in that other universe, they would be faced with a major outbreak of the plague next year.
Duke Bernhard had perceived that such a medical emergency—right in his area of interest—might well have disastrous consequences for his plans. He had also heard that the up-timers had methods for combating plague that were measurably more effective than simple quarantine and movement restriction. He had been agreeable to Kanoffski's suggestion of attempting to hire an expert. The recruiter went to Grantville.
“We’ve gotten a response to our discreet queries in Grantville, Your Grace,” said Kanoffski. “Do you recall the ‘Suhl Incident’ in January of last year?”
Duke Bernhard frowned. “Yes, although I can’t recall many of the details. A mutiny by the local garrison, suppressed by the up-timers in alliance with the gun merchants of the city.”
Kanoffski issued a soft, somewhat sarcastic grunt. “Whether it was a ‘mutiny’ or not could be debated. Indeed, it has been debated, and by the up-timers themselves. But the relevant item, from our point of view, is that one of the ringleaders of the so-called mutiny was himself an up-timer. A certain Lt. Johnny Lee Horton, who was killed in the course of the affair—and reportedly at the direct order of the American officer who led the suppression of the garrison.”
Bernhard was still frowning. “And your point is…”
“Lt. Horton left behind a widow—also an up-timer, by the name of Kamala Horton—and their children. What’s relevant is that, first, Frau Horton is quietly seething over the matter; secondly, she is now in straightened financial circumstances; and last but not least, she is herself a trained medical expert. What the up-timers call a ‘nurse,’ although the term has little in common with our own notions of such persons. She will have more medical knowledge than almost any doctor we could find, anywhere in Europe.”
Bernhard’s expression cleared, replaced by a thin smile. “In other words, by their treatment of this mutineer’s widow, the up-timers in Grantville have created their own willing defector.”
“Precisely. Our recruiting agent has spoken with her at some length, and she has agreed to move to Besançon and transfer her services—and her allegiance—to Your Grace. She and her children are expected to arrive here sometime next month. ‘After school is out,’ Mrs. Horton told our recruiter. ‘I want them to finish up the spring semester.’”
Bernhard rose, clapping his hands. “Well, that’s splendid. Well done, Friedrich.”
Kanoffski nodded solemnly, being careful to hide any trace of a smile. There was an added benefit to the matter, but not one that he could raise directly with the duke. Bernhard’s pride was even more sensitive than his stomach, and he would take offense at any suggestion that he was less than completely hale and hearty. But the fact remained that his health was not and never had been as good as he liked to think. So…
If Wallenstein could have an up-time nurse watching over his health, why not Duke Bernhard? Particularly if the duke did not have to publicly acknowledge—or even acknowledge to himself—that watching over him would be one of the Horton woman’s other responsibilities.
Kanoffski was rather pleased with himself. After all, when a man has decided to hitch his wagon to a star, it behooves him to make sure that the star continues to shine.
Amberg, Upper Palatinate
“You don’t expect General Banér to make any serious protest at all?” asked Duke Ernst, his eyebrows raised. “Not even when he learns that some of the reinforcements the emperor has agreed to send him to reduce Ingolstadt will be regiments from Torstensson’s army? Which is to say, CoC regiments, for all practical purposes.”
The duke’s eyebrows climbed still further. “Erik, I must point out that Johan’s expressed opinion of the Committees of Correspondence—very pungently and profanely expressed, I might add, right here in my office, and on more than one occasion—can be boiled down to the proposition that the most suitable use for a CoC agitator’s head is to serve as an adornment for a pike head.”
“Oh, he’ll issue a squawk or two, certainly. But I don’t expect any worse than that.” Colonel Erik Haakansson Hand grinned. “Ernst, I’m afraid your own modest degree of ambition—a very admirable personal trait, I’ll be the first to say it—blinds you to certain realities. Johan Banér was already deeply jealous of General Torstensson’s triumph at Ahrensbök. The news that recently arrived concerning General Brahe’s successes have him positively spitting with fury.”
Ernst frowned, trying to make sense of the matter. Gustav Adolf’s commander in charge of the Swedish forces near Lorraine was Nils Brahe. He was not a general to miss an advantageous opportunity. Once the news arrived of the French defeat at Ahrensbök, he’d placed his forces on full alert. Then—probably as he’d expected, since Brahe was quite shrewd enough to gauge the complicated politics that fractured the French enemy—no sooner did he learn that Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar had withdrawn his forces facing Mainz back into Alsace and the Breisgau, than he’d made a dash to the border of Lorraine. Grabbing, in the process, much of the region that would now be incorporated into the expanding United States of Europe as the new Upper Rhenish Province.
“Oh,” he said. Then, shook his head at the mentality involved. Leave it to Johan Banér to react with greater spite at a success by his own side in a war, than he would to one gained by the enemy—provided, of course, the enemy’s triumph came at the expense of a different general than him.
There were at least three of the seven deadly sins at work here—Wrath, Pride and Envy. A good case could be made for adding Greed to the list, for that matter. Duke Ernst would fear greatly for Banér’s soul, if he hadn’t pretty much concluded that the general’s incessant blasphemy had already condemned him.
So be it. He and Colonel Hand had decided to support Banér in his determination to seize Ingolstadt. Whatever this latest development might portend for the Swedish general’s eternal fate, it boded well for the immediate future. At the very least, Ernst wouldn’t be constantly distracted from his own duties by the need to play peace-maker between Banér and the reinforcements that would soon be arriving.