1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS — snippet 67


1634: THE BAVARIAN CRISIS – snippet 67:





            Marc’s mood brightened perceptibly when his father told him that he could come along to Munich. They left Neuburg on horseback, quite openly. They were still merchants. Not, however, from Geneva. Bavarian border authorities were quite picky about allowing Protestants into Bavaria’s sacred precincts—almost as bad as they were about prohibiting the import of Protestant books and pamphlets. The Cavrianis, father and son, were now Italian cloth merchants who had been visiting a branch of the family firm in one of Switzerland’s Catholic cantons and were returning home by way of Bozen—Bolzano to Italians—in the Tyrol, in order to consult with the firm’s factor there.


            Marc wished that they could have been disguised. Unfortunately, Italian Catholic merchants looked remarkably like Genevan Calvinist merchants, with the addition of a religious amulet here and there and a neat little case containing a rosary fastened at one’s waistline.


            Every paper that they carried was impeccable. They were even as rubbed and shopworn as anyone would normally expect them to be after two months of being put into and pulled out of their wallets. Marc had spent one whole day, while listening to his father and his Neuburg factor, Veit Egli, make plans, putting those papers into a leather case and pulling them out again; unfolding them, re-folding them, holding them close to a candle, dog-earing an occasional corner, rubbing a bit of dirt on the margin of one, flicking a couple of drops of water to give the impression that at some check point they had been presented on a rainy day, putting them into the leather case, pulling them out again. By far the best way to make a document look well-used was to give it the appropriate amount of use.


            Marc didn’t have to worry about aging the seals. They were both authentic and authentically worn, having been carefully removed from other papers issued to other Cavrianis at other times and other places. Cavriani Frères de Genève had quite a collection of these, both at headquarters and in the various branch offices; one never knew when they might come in handy.


            Egli pointed out to Marc the importance of leaving such seals attached to their original documents until one actually needed them. In the event of such an undesirable phenomenon as a large number of some angry ruler’s minions inspecting one’s business premises, a drawer full of detached seals would excite suspicion. An unlocked, battered chest full of old business travel papers and expense vouchers would not.


            “Once you take the seal off an old passport, burn the paper. Inspectors may also regard the spot with the removed seal as questionable. Keep the expense vouchers, though. You never know when you may need them.”


            Marc nodded solemnly.




            For travel reading, Marc picked up several of the latest Bavarian propaganda pamphlets in regard to the situation in the Upper Palatinate. He found their illustrations of Duke Ernst rather amusing, especially the woodcuts that depicted him with cloven hoofs, horns, and a forked tail.


            The woodcuts had been recycled, of course. A discriminating reader could tell that Duke Ernst’s head had been remodeled, and rather amateurishly at that. It seemed likely that the originals had, at some time, included a papal tiara. Marc found the manifestations of political and theological controversy that were aimed at the general public to be endlessly entertaining.



Bavaria, south of Neuburg


            Maximilian Adam, oldest son of the landgrave of Leuchtenberg, knew that he was not at his best this morning. The hangover probably had something to do with it. The officers of his regiment were noted for their hard drinking, even as professional soldiers went, so he was used to hangovers. They were a quite regular part of his daily routine, so that could not be the problem. He was dressed to ride. Presumably he had dressed without thinking about it. Why had he been drinking, last night?


            Oh, yes. He had learned he was not going to be assigned to the Ingolstadt garrison, as he had hoped. He had made strenuous representations to Duke Maximilian’s Kriegsrat to the effect that he wished to be transferred to a different regiment, if at all possible. He had asked to be assigned to the fortress, where he could earn glory in the process of beating back General Banér’s siege. He had not phrased his letters quite that way, of course. He had emphasized the increased opportunity for service to the cause of Catholicism, supported by the importance of having officers who were willing to share the deprivations that were inevitably suffered by the common soldiers in a closed city.


            Or, more accurately, his father’s chaplain had emphasized those things. The chaplain had actually written the letters. Composition had never been Landgrave Maximilian Adam’s strongest subject. He could not remember that his tutors had ever described any topic of study as his strongest subject. More frequently, they had complained that his brother, although two years younger, made more progress than he did.


            Not that he had ever studied more than they could make him. He had received quite a few thrashings in his time from irritated pedagogues.


            He had signed the letter, though, he thought with some satisfaction. His handwriting wasn’t bad at all, at least not for someone whose tutors had pronounced it completely hopeless and never likely to be legible when he was eight years old.


            The letters had not helped, though. The war council had refused the transfer, so he was still stuck out here at the Bavarian camp in the countryside south of Ingolstadt, supervising things like forage resupply.


            Or, at least, getting on his horse and following for several hours every day a sergeant who understood things like forage resupply. And who kept trying to explain it to him. It actually would not be so bad if the sergeant didn’t have this peculiar idea that he ought to learn about it himself. Surely, that was what the sergeant was for.




            Leopold Cavriani drew up his horse. There was clearly a problem involving a damaged bridge floor and a carriage wheel that had plunged through it, plus, it would appear, three women with seven small children in the carriage. The coachman had managed to cut the horses free and lead them to the other side of the stream. He was standing there, looking at the carriage. The bridge was far too narrow for the occupants to get out on either side. The wheel kept sliding a little farther; then a little farther.


            “We can lift you out the back,” Leopold called as he dismounted. “Start by handing us the children, one at a time.”


            “The back is too high,” one of the women squealed nervously. “And the bridge is narrow. There are no railings. If the children get out before we do, one of them might fall off the edge. Or stray away. Or be trampled by one of your horses. There is no way we can tell if they are well-trained.”


            “I want,” one of the other women said, “to get out from the front. First. On the same side as our coachman, whom I trust. Then, when I am there, my sisters may hand over the children, one by one.”


            Leopold sighed and started to marshal his powers of persuasion.


            Marc tossed the bridle of his horse to his father, swung himself hand-over-hand along the side of the bridge, and bounced up in front of the carriage. He then handed the first woman out, followed by the rest of the passengers. He looked mildly startled when the last of the women, before coming, passed him a picnic chest to carry to the bank. Then she climbed out; the women proceeded to unpack their lunch.


            Marc looked at the coachman. The coachman shrugged.


            “We can lift it, I think, up through the broken board, if all three of us work,” Marc suggested. “You lift from the front. My father can lift from the back of the coach. I’ll climb under the bridge and push up on the wheel.”


            “Too high,” the coachman diagnosed. “No way you can reach the wheel from the creek bed.”


            “I can stand on one of the girders and push up.”


            “They don’t look all that strong to me,” the coachman said dubiously.


            Marc pulled off his boots and stockings; then hopped down into the creek and shook them. “They’ll last long enough for me to heave the carriage up so we can haul it off the bridge.”


            The one that he chose to stand on did last long enough. Just barely. The carriage was on a good part of the flooring before the girder dumped him into the water. Undiscouraged, if dripping, he climbed back up onto the bridge and pushed the broken wheel as far back onto the axle as it would go, anchoring it with a piece of the broken slat. Cautiously, the coachman and Leopold jockeyed the carriage to the far bank. Marc stood there, staring at the bridge thoughtfully.




            Maximilian Adam of Leuchtenberg was not really watching where he was going.


            “Keep your damned horse off the bridge flooring,” was not something he was expecting to hear. Even though it possibly prevented him from putting the animal’s leg through the hole and breaking it.


            “Speak to your betters with a little more respect, lout!” he replied.


            “Ah, Your Grace,” the sergeant said, clearing his throat. “Perhaps we had better wait.”


            “It’s not just the board. The girder went, too,” came the disembodied voice from under the bridge. “I’m trying to shore it up, but if you put a thousand pounds of horse on it right now, the whole thing will go. I can prop up the bridge, probably, but I can’t build you a new one from scratch.”




            The picnic party was watching with interest. Leopold and the coachman were watching with concern.


            Mark scrambled out from under the bridge.


            “Why aren’t you in the army?” the officer demanded.


            “Ah, I’m not Bavarian, sir,” Marc answered quietly enough. “I’m Italian. We are merchants. My father, across the stream, is carrying our papers.”


            The officer looked across the stream to where Leopold, who had also stripped to his shirt and slops, was pushing mightily while the coachman tried to fit the broken spokes back into the wheel rim. “If he is, he shows remarkably little respect for his station in life. And you even less.”


            Marc looked down at his feet. Mentally, he was biting his tongue; physically, he was biting his upper lip. The misbehaving curl slipped into the middle of his forehead as he looked back up.


            “Sergeant, we shall dismount and cross on foot,” pronounced the officer. “Tether the horses here. When the lout finishes his work, he can lead them across for us.” The officer dismounted and looked at Marc—rather, looked up at him. “Bring them a couple of buckets of water, while you are at it.”


            Marc nodded.


            The carriage repaired, at least enough to get to the next village, the coachman handed his passengers into it and proceeded down the road.


            Two hours later, Marc estimated that the bridge was strong enough that he could lead the two army horses across it. Which he did.


            The sergeant thanked him. The officer demanded to see his papers.


            Leopold, who had put his stockings, boots, doublet, and hat back on as soon as the carriage drove away, brought the papers out of their case.


            The officer eyed them. “You do not look much like father and son,” he said.


            “My wife assures me that we are,” Cavriani replied with impeccable politeness.


            The sergeant snorted.


            The officer looked slightly bewildered. “I will remember you if I see you again,” he said to Marc. “I am Maximilian Adam, son of the Landgrave of Leuchtenberg.”


            There seemed no particular purpose to that last sentence. But Marc let him get out of hearing before commenting on the matter.




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