Chapter 15. The Motto



High Street Mansion, Seat of Government for the State of Thuringia-Franconia

President’s Office

Grantville, State of Thuringia-Franconia

December, 1634


            “As long as the Regensburg authorities drop the serious charges,” said Ed Piazza, “we won’t contest the rest. We don’t actually want to let people get the notion that officials of the SoTF can fire a gun anytime and anywhere they please.”

            Josua Mai, one of the down-timers who served the SoTF as legal advisers, seemed hesitant. “Ah… Mr. President. I’m afraid that the charge of fishing without license and with equipment not approved by the fisherman’s guild is a serious charge, in Regensburg. The fine is quite heavy.”

            “Is there any jail time, too?”

            “Not if the fine is paid. Otherwise….” He grimaced.

            Ed nodded. “So we’ll pay the fine. It’s not as if we’re actually broke. Not even close, in fact.”

            The lawyer looked as if he might argue the matter. Despite his good humor, Ed was not in the mood for legal quibbling. “We’ll pay it,” he said firmly. “Noelle’s gone way past her pay grade plenty of times, what she’s been willing to tackle. The least we can do is return the favor. End of discussion.”

            He sat up straight, just to emphasize the point. “Any spin-off problems I need to deal with?”

            Mai looked at his notes. “Well, Grantville will need a new garrison commander, but that’s not something you need to deal with, Mr. President.”

            “I thought it was decided not to fire Knefler. Not that I’d mind it if he quit. Sure, he screwed up, but you can’t fire officers just for making one mistake.”

            “Ah… the problem is of a different nature. It seems that shortly after he returned to Grantville he assaulted Denise Beasley with a quirt. Tried to, at least. According to the report I received from Chief Richards, the girl was actually doing a fair job of defending herself with—ah—” He rummaged in the notes and drew forth another sheet. “Seemingly, every loose object you might find in a roadside tavern, short of a full-size table.”

            Ed chuckled. “Boy, can I picture that. Girl’s got a hell of an arm. Star pitcher for the girl’s baseball team until she lost interest.” Then, he scowled ferociously. “But what I want to know is why we didn’t fire Knefler for that.”

            The lawyer was still examining the report. “He will be discharged for it, Mr. President. After he gets out of the hospital. His injuries were quite severe. A number of bruises and a split lip inflicted by the girl—Chief Richards says she gave as good as she got—and then…” He cleared his throat. “Well. The father arrived. And was apparently in a very foul temper even before Knefler drew his sword. Tried to draw his sword, rather.”

            Both Ed and Carol winced. “Oh, Lord,” she said.


            After the lawyer left, Carol Unruh shook her head. “What was Noelle thinking? She’s usually such a responsible person.”

            Ed leaned back, clasping his hands behind his head. After the news came of Noelle’s arrest, he finally took the time to visit Denise Beasley and get her version of the whole Noelle vs. Captain Drugeth Affair.

            The full, complete, unabridged—nay, annotated and footnoted—Denise Beasley version.

            “Domestic violence can be a terrible thing,” he intoned solemnly.

            Carol frowned at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

            “I don’t know, actually. But it’ll sure be interesting to find out.”


            The day after she got back to Grantville, Noelle did get a tattoo. She’d always secretly harbored a desire for one, she just hadn’t see any way she could pull it off. But she figured three days in the squalid jail Regensburg maintained for women—God only knew what the men’s jail was like—gave her the needed credentials.

            Denise guided her to the tattoo parlor. Offered tons of advice, too, but Noelle ignored almost all of it.

            The design was entirely her own. A death’s head—much more refined than Denise’s, of course; lady-like, topped by a jaunty little feathered cap—with crossed pistols below and the logo above: I Shot The Danube.

            The one and only piece of advice she took from Denise concerned the placement of the tattoo.

            “Me, I put it on my shoulder, where all the pimply twits in high school could see it. You, on the other hand, got a lot more focused target. So put it way down on your hip, over toward the ass, when nobody will ever see it—”

            The grin was as an impudent as ever. “Except.”



Vienna, Austria


            “Interesting idea,” said Emperor Ferdinand III. He got up and went to the window in his palace, looking over the gardens. “Yes, I think so.”

            “Many suppositions, first,” Janos cautioned.

            “Oh, yes. And probably as many problems afterward, assuming it unfolds. But many opportunities also. And you sometimes forget—even you, Janos—who I am.”

            “Your Majesty?”

            The emperor turned away from the window. “Majesty, now, yes. Go back five hundred years and I would have been a mere count in Switzerland or Swabia. Five hundred years before that, who knows? Certainly not a ‘majesty.’ The most ancient figure known in my line is a Carolinian. A nobleman, family tradition insists—but I can’t help think that his cognomen of ‘Guntram the Rich’ casts some doubt on the matter.”

            He resumed his seat. “What I am ultimately, Janos, is a Habsburg. Something which I never forget. And what is our unofficial motto?”

            Understanding, finally, Janos nodded. “Bella gerunt alii, tu, felix Austria, nubes. ‘Let others wage war; you, happy Austria, marry.’”

            “Precisely so. A guiding principle which has stood us in good stead for centuries. So why should we abandon it now?” Ferdinand made a small waving gesture. “At worst, you already have an heir. But I do not think it would come to that. The distinction between noble and morganatic marriages is already fraying. I have no objections to fraying it still more. In fact, I’m inclined in that direction.”

            So, that was that. Simply a problem, now.

            “It wouldn’t be anything quick, anyway,” Janos mused.

            The emperor chuckled again. “Not given the political situation.”

            Janos smiled. “I was actually thinking of the lady in question. The last time I saw her, she was shooting at me.”

            Ferdinand just gazed at him, looking very placid. He’d gotten the entire story by now.

            “Well, not exactly that,” Janos allowed. “Still, it was a dramatic gesture, you have to admit.”

            “When are you going to stop—what is that American expression—ah, yes, ‘beating around the bush’—and ask my advice as well as my permission?” The emperor of Austria-Hungary spread his arms. “Here you are, alone, in the very seat of wisdom when it comes to such matters. If it weren’t beneath my dignity, I could double the Habsburg fortune—count the Spanish bullion fleets in it, too—by starting one of those American businesses… what are they called?”

            “Marriage counseling.”

            “Yes, that one.”

            Janos hesitated. Despite the jocularity, the fact the emperor made the offer meant he took the matter very seriously indeed.

            “I would deeply appreciate it, Your Majesty.”

            “For this—we’re in private, after all—you’d best call me Ferdinand. Very well, my old friend. Start with a rose.”

            “Excuse me?”

            “A rose, Janos. Always start with a rose. Then add something with just that perfect personal touch. And keep the accompanying note brief. Very brief. Lest, by your silly long-windedness, you make the recipient feel like someone hunted, instead of a weary traveler seeing an open door, spilling light to invite them in.”


About Eric Flint

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5 Responses to THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN CONNECTION — snippet 35

  1. Eva Norman says:

    VBG, This was a very nice frase; “instead of a weary traveler seeing an open door, spilling light to invite them in.” Very nice indeed.

    The Lurker from the North

  2. Jim Oberg says:

    “It seems that shortly after he returned to Grantville he assaulted Denise Beasley with a quirt.”

    Don’t you mean ‘Regensburg’?

    Also — Carolinian might shoulda been ‘Carolingian’.

  3. Thomas Richardson says:

    If the tavern fight occurred in Regensberg, then how was it that Pa Beasley showed up?

  4. Mic says:

    Guntram the Rich was not a contemporary of Charlemagne. “Carolinian” is therefore anachronistic.
    Neither was Guntram the Rich a descendant of Charlemagne (Ferdie himself in the snippet acknowledges that Guntram’s antecedents were not known), particularly clearly not in male line. Which is why it would be improper to dub him as Carolingian.
    Guntram the Rich (flourished around 950) was a contemporary of emperor Otto I.

    To know about the existence of Guntram the Rich, one (= here Ferdie) almost needs to know about the Annals of Muri, which were found in the previous century, 1500s. And from those annals (which were contemporary with events they reported, and thus are regarded as one of most reliable type of historical sources) it comes clearer than clear that Guntram held his lands, apparently chiefly in Breisgau, as fief from emperor Otto. No one cannot understand that fact as anything else than Guntram was a nobleman.

    Let me say it in other words: The existence of Guntram the rich was not from Habsburg family lore, it was from contemporary record, Annals of Muri, which were researched in 1500s. Seemingly, the Habsburg family lore had other type of lineage to offer to the family.

    Guntram’s name was a name used by the Frankish, already for several centuries (which speaks for Frankish ethnicity). He was a fiefholder, i.e a lord, in a region populated by Alemannic people but lorded over, at the time, by Frankish – which would be consistent that Guntram also were Frankish. Mayhap the adjective needed here, would best be “Frankish” – not Carolinian.

    I am fairly happy that the character Ferdie here shows practically today standards of assessment of historical and genealogical information (although some could regard it as anachronistic). Because, historically, in Ferdie III’s own days, even serious scholars were drawing ancestral lines for his family deriving (a) through counts of Tusculum, from the Roman family of the Julius, kin of Caesar, (b) from Merovingians, (c) through Merovingians, from some Romans, and/or from Holy Family, or (d) from the family of Pierleoni (which had popes and saints).
    All these of course chiefly based on wishful thinking, and not on historical record.

  5. Ann says:

    Some facts. My mother Maria Pierleoni and all her ancesters were decendants of the Davidic Dynasty. Our family tree is in the Torah and shows when Baruch went to Rome, converted (baptised by Pope), married Nobillity and became Pierleoni thru his sons. Our fortune was from the Royal family, not from usury. Yes, two of my relatives married into and became heads of the Hapsburgs. Sure, their motive was to take over the Roman Cahtolic church. So what? They and other members of this family were doing the same thing thruout Europe. Didn’t happen, but they gave it a try. By the way. We had three blood related Popes..Gregory VI, Gregory VII (inherited the family fortune. Absolutely a family member), Anaclet II. All this IS documented, but ignored by Jew haters.

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