1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 07

1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 07:


When he got the news that Caroline Platzer would be accompanying them on their voyage to Stockholm, Ulrik did jump for joy. Not very high, true; and he didn’t even think of clicking his heels. But jump he did, grinning from ear to ear.

“Baldur,” he announced, “a hopeless task just became a merely difficult one.”

The Danish prince’s sidekick, technical expert and close friend Baldur Norddahl — take your pick or pick all three — was less sanguine. “The girl’s still who and what she is, and the mother’s still no more than half-sane. And that’s a long way to go, and the Baltic can be treacherous. And I don’t like Stockholm to begin with. Never did.”

Ulrik’s grin stayed in place. “That’s because you were accused of crimes there. Falsely, you say.”

“The charges were preposterous in every particular,” Baldur said stoutly. “Either I was confused for another — the charitable explanation — or the authorities harbored animosity toward me.” He cleared his throat. “For reasons unknown.”

“Ha! But have no fear. I will vouch for you myself. Perhaps more to the point, so will the princess. She’s taken a liking to you, I think.”

Norddahl thought the same himself. He was not sure, though, whether being Kristina’s friend or her foe carried more in the way of risk and excitement.


Thorsten Engler reacted to the news very calmly. Equanimity was something the young German ex-farmer did very well. Normally, that was one of her fiancé’s traits that Caroline cherished. But less so, of late, once it dawned on her that he probably exhibited that same equanimity in the middle of a battle. She’d be a lot happier if he shared more of his friend Eric’s healthy respect for peril. No one would ever accuse Eric Krenz of being a coward, certainly. But the young German ex-gunsmith was the first to say that war was a silly way to settle disputes and that his own happiness and serenity improved in direct measure as he distanced himself from mayhem.

On the other hand, he’d managed somehow to get himself promoted too, so apparently he had some share of damn-foolness as well. What was it about men, Caroline wondered grumpily, that made them so resistant to common sense? With their skills and personality traits — they were both quite charming men, each in his own way — Thorsten and Eric could easily manage to get themselves transferred to much safer assignments, without leaving themselves open to charges of pusillanimity.

They wouldn’t even have to leave the army. Caroline was no expert on military matters, but even she knew that most soldiers never got very close to combat. Any army had a bigger tail than it did teeth, as they put it. For every damn fool leading a flying artillery charge, there were at least three soldiers way back in the rear hauling up the wherewithal that allowed him to be a damn fool in the first place.

“Better to haul a wagon than be hauled away in a hearse,” she muttered.

“What was that, dearest?” asked Thorsten.

Krenz, whose hearing bordered on the supernatural, grinned widely and leaned back in his chair at the table in Caroline’s kitchen. “She fears your imminent demise, on account of your recklessness at the front. Always waving a saber where I — an intelligent man — wield a shovel. That’s why she’s sniffling, too.”

“I’m sniffling because I’m cutting onions,” Caroline said. Wondering if it were true.


Thorsten and Eric left the next morning. General Torstensson had summoned all officers to their posts. The emperor was arriving with his Swedish forces and the USE army was mobilizing to join him. The war against Brandenburg and Saxony was imminent, and everyone expected the Austrians and the Poles to come to their aid. That would turn what might otherwise be labeled a mere suppression of rebellion into an all-out war.

To Thorsten’s surprise, Princess Kristina came to see him off too. He knew she was fond of him — the “Count of Narnia” title bestowed upon him after the battle of Ahrensbök had been at her insistence — but he hadn’t thought she’d go to the trouble. One doesn’t expect headstrong eight-year-old princesses to think of such things.

“Caroline must have put her up to it,” Krenz insisted, after they rode. “It never ceases to amaze me, the way that woman dotes on you.”

Engler smiled. “When are you going to get your own woman, Eric, so you can stop fussing at me about mine?”

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27 Responses to 1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 07

  1. Papertiger says:

    What rank was Thorsten promoted to?

  2. Jason says:

    If the Austrians and the Poles March it’ll be a fine old dust up. But i don’t see the Austrians being too gung-ho about the whole thing. From what ive read they’re more interested in Bohemia, but the Poles well they’ll get really involved.

  3. Sounour says:

    I think there isn’t even a border between Austria and the USE, Brandenburg or Saxony … but they should start a campaign against Wallenstein in Bohemia.

    @1: Thorsten was promotet to Lieutenant after Ahrensböck and should be, if he was promoted again, a Captain now.

  4. Peter S says:

    Yeah, Austria would have to invade the USE through Bavaria or Bohemia or Switzerland, which buffer it from all nearby USE borders. But I imagine attacking a USE ally – Bohemia – would do the job.

  5. wombatcombat says:

    they have a border with poland, but i don’t think the poles will willing let them enter poland but who knows they might?

  6. robert says:

    Where will the Russians come down on this?

    There are Grantvillers in Russia helping one of the factions to modernize but the place is a political mess.

    There was a dust up between the a Polish army and a Russian one. The Russian defenses, created with help from the Americans, were too much for the Poles so they went home.

    There also seems to be a faction forming in Poland whose aim is to change the political and social system in that country.

  7. According to Wikipedia, in our timeline Poland just got done mopping up the floor with a Russian invasion (look up “Smolensk War”) and a minor Ottoman attack. If this holds true in RoFland, then Poland has the men, material still organized and plenty of confidence.

    Also, by now King Wladyslaw IV has probably found out about the big war scheduled for the 1650s, and about Wallenstein’s plans for the Ukraine.

  8. Damon says:

    In “Butterflies in the Kremlin”, in the Grantville Gazette, the Smolensk War didn’t take place, and a Polish incursion was defeated.
    Eric is going to have an interesting time integrating “Butterflies in the Kremlin” and “The Anaconda Project” into into the Eastern Front. So far, he has a modernizing Russia with a strongman government like the Japanese Shogunate, Polish revolutionaries trying to modernize Poland, Morris Roth organizing Eastern European Jewry from Prague, and the beginnings of Cossack and Unity of the Brethren uprisings. Should be fun.

  9. Jason says:

    Wow if thing go right , or wrong depending upon your point of view well have a war involving up to Seven Nations and Three of them namely Saxony, Brandenburg, and Poland all fighting multi front wars.

  10. Summertime says:

    What’s happening in the Baltic – Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania? At one time Lithuania had quite an empire, didn’t it?

  11. Jose says:

    The entity was known as the Polish-Lithunian Commonwealth but it was Poland, ‘Greater’ Lithuania (which included Latvia & Estonia, and more), and the Ukraine except the Ukraine played second fiddle and was never a ‘full-member’ of what should have been the Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian Empire. Eventually the Ukrainians rebelled against the Polish petty nobility that ran the Ukraine very abusively and since a significant number of Jews were the agents of that nobility (since it was just about the only well paying job available to Jews), all Jews took the brunt of the anger and were deciminated in one of the worse massacres of the time.

    Eric is ‘rethinking’ slavery at one end and progroms at the other and trying a gedanken experiment that would have prevented both. Napoleonic reforms two centuries earlier and in Germany rather than France which would reset Europe by shifting reforms eastward geographically and 200 years in temporal terms. An extremely rapid mechanization of the sugar and tobacco processes would eliminate the necessity of slavery, at least in theory. But Napoleonic reforms were not that ‘clean’, and Europe was a lot messier in the 1630’s than in the 1810’s so it is going to get a lot bloodier or Eric is going to ‘simplify’ things much as he did in the Netherlands — he just created a stable 17 province Belenux which failed post Napoleon when Belgium ‘walk-out’ of a union that should have worked. He has also re-created Burgundy as separate from France and stable in order to ‘separate’ France from Germany, and recreated ‘Greater’ Sweden a bit early as a potential stabalizer of Scandinavia instead of as the temporary foil to Russian ambition which develpoped when the Polish-Lithunian Commonwealth collapse due to its inequities.

    It will be good to see how he ‘fixes’ Poland while ensuring that Austria-Hungary focuses south-east and pummels the Ottoman Empire as in did in our timeline and thus prevented Ottoman ambition to spread beyond the Balkans and further into Europe.

  12. bradford m. parkhurst says:

    this is going to be a really fun ride through these political problems and he really does not have to fix all of this in one book the main war on the side of the Germany and sweden against Saxony, Brandenburg, and Poland yes must be finished but there is no reason that the Austria-Hungary could not be attacked after main war by the Ottoman Empire.

  13. robert says:

    @11 Good analysis. Eric also ignored the Belgian language issues (Flemish vs. French) which plagued them well into the late 20th century, but seemed to have calmed down nowadays.

    Here in the USA we don’t often think of language as a problem because in the past most immigrants wanted to learn English ASAP or wanted their kids to do so. I certainly see the American born kids of today’s legal and illegal immigrants being fluent in English, but the problem is with the kids who are illegal. If the parents were smart they would block the Spanish language TV channels.

  14. wombatcombat says:

    50% of the French people didn’t speak french by 1789 so it must have been a lot less in 1632. It was the French Revolution which imposed French on the people as the official language in all the territory of france. And flemish was just another dialect of what is now called dutch in the 1630’s. The first major Dutch bible translation that people from all over the United Provinces could understand was created in 1618, The Dutch language was born in Flanders, grew up in Brabant and reached maturity in Holland as they say

  15. robert says:

    @14 Yes, but imposing a language does get the people to speak it except to officialdom. The French had a lot of dialects almost into the 20th century. I recommend (for those who may be interested) “The Discovery of France” by Graham Robb for a fascinating account of the history of how French became the language of France.

  16. Summertime says:

    A lot of good information. I certainly did not know of the French language stabilization problems. I knew that Spain had competing dialects, Catalan, etc., but that Castilian eventually became official. Did Italy have similar language issues along with their political instability? The problem with appreciating alternate history is that you have to learn real history in order to see the difference.

  17. robert says:

    @15 Even later than 1789. According to Robb just over 100 years ago French was a foreign language to a majority of the population of France. It makes one wonder about the USA during the 60 or 70 years of great migration into this country.

    @16 We have Italian friends who live in the lakes region of Northern Italy. He was born just outside of Como and had to be sent to a different school by his parents in order to learn Italian. Our friends call it “dialect” but it exists mostly in the various Northern border regions where German or French or some odd variation of Latin has persisted and in some cases mixed with the predominant language.

    In Spain, for example, Catalan is neither Spanish nor French but some mixture of both and with a very different pronunciation and many different words. It is a true “Border Language” and was suppressed by the fascist regime under Franco but came back strong immediately after his death. In fact many of the people in the various semi-autonomous regions of Spain like Catalonia or Galicia (never mind the Basque) only speak Castilian outside the home and road signs are in both Castilian and the local dialect or language.

    So in the Ring of Fire universe how many variants of German are spoken? What problems are presented by language barriers? Why do the Grantville Gazetteers write on and on about family relationships when they could be writing about other serious issues of communication? And how did Sharon Nichols learn Italian?

  18. Daryl says:

    Sit in a country village pub in Ireland and half the locals are speaking in Gaelic, and the rest are nearly as difficult to understand in brogue. Road signs in Ireland and Wales are often in both Gaelic and English.

  19. TimC says:

    In ‘Time Spike’ Eric and his co-writer have some soldiers speaking Swabian so he is alive to the issue. I think any US resident would find a Geordie from Newcastle in full voice difficult to understand as I expect a Brit would with some US regional dialects.Of course the French dominated North America of the RoF universe will develop an interesting dialect if it is not taken ‘back’ by Anglophones!

  20. wombatcombat says:

    Todays Italian was adopted by the state after the unification of Italy, is based on the Tuscan dialect, which beforehand, was only available to upper class Florentine society. Its development was also influenced by other Italian dialects and by the Germanic language of the post-Roman invaders (Vandals etc).

    Historically, English originated from several dialects, now collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of the island of Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers beginning in the 5th century. Plus the Norman-French vocabulary brought by the Normans. Todays pronunciation of the English language is a result of the The Great Vowel Shift that took place in the south of England between 1450 and 1750.

    Until the mid-19th century speaking German indicated that the speaker was a merchant, an urbanite, not their nationality. When Martin Luther translated the Bible (the New Testament in 1522 and the Old Testament in 1534) he based his translation mainly on the bureaucratic standard language used in Saxony. A complete standardization of German language in written form came as a result of the 2nd Orthographical Conference of 1901. The first dictionary of the Brothers Grimm, issued between 1852 and 1860, remains the most comprehensive guide to the words of the German language.

  21. robert says:

    The history of languages and their development is just as much fun as Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire series. Notice how these books and stories (and the Heirs of Alexandria series and the Belasarius series) spark questions about history, language, religion, wars, migrations, etc. Eric always does stories that read well and provoke questions about human issues rather than how many missiles does it take to blow up something.

  22. Jose says:

    The French national anthem was originally written in German. Catalan is a form of Provencal and closer to Langue d’Oc than Langue d’Oil so it would at the time been at almost its literary height and closer to what would have been spoken in Aquaitaine – southern France – and south-eastern France – Burgundy. It would be nice to see how Eric resolves Cataluna and Portugal in light of the fact that he has allowed the young Spanish infante to survive, and presumably is half brother Jose which in this time line protected his half-witted brother – Charles II – and kept Cataluna within Spain using a carrot-stick approach while failing to do the same in Portugal (although he nearly suceeded). A german line does not die in Spain and there is no Phillip V but then is the future report commission by Charles II (really Jose as his prime minister) ever get published in the alternate time line thus ending the Inquisition in Spain two centuries early as had been propose by Jose. On the death of Jose, Charles II soon thereafter died, and when Phillip V ask for the report – it had been ‘lost’.

    In northern Italy there are entire towns, etc. that speak German. How does he integrate Venice which is really a de-facto empire competing with Spain via Cataluna’s on one side, with Genoa on another, with Austria-Hungary on another, and with the Ottoman’s on the other. And do the Mongols in Iran align themselves with the French or the Austro-Hungarians against the Ottomans and/or the ‘Egyptians’. Does he re-create another stable German line in southern italy – the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies – or does he transfer southern Italy to the French? Does does he find an alternate in mid to nothern Italy to create the Italian Kingdom two centuries early.

    By the 1630’s Galician which would have been closer to is continuum partner – Portuguese – at the time would have been alive and kicking but on the literary wane. Continental Portuguese would not have yet been heavily influence by an 18th century re-set, and Brazilian Portuguese would not yet have existed as such. But historically, Galicia, Asturias, & Leon viewed themselves as part of Spain; at the time even the Basque country and Navarre would have held “similar” views (and the transfer of the three nothern provinces of Navarre/Basque country when Henri of Navarre became Henri IV – first Bourbon – as he replaced Henri III – last Valois – would have been ‘recent’ history for both France and Spain). It was only Cataluna and Portugal that would have wanted to go their own way and ending the Inquisition – as well as other reforms – would have retain both Cataluna and Portugal within an Iberian Empire than included all possessions of Spain, Portugal, etc.

    It is a lot more complicated. But Eric does seem to streamline!!! The Gedanken Experiment is European Napoleonic reforms and English Industrialization two centuries early!!! Since it all starts in central Europe and expands much like wheat agriculture from a core in the middle east except a lot faster, it should achieve 20th century technological equivalence by the 18th century BUT the instabilities and initial level of warfare will explode in the initial 50 years and socio-economic repercussions will last another 100 years – so say 1782 for stability and 1832 for late 20th century technological parity (to the time of the Ring of Fire). By 1850 technology should have reached 2010 level for a net of 160 years on a 360+ year re-set. Otherwise, a faster parity would create greater dislocation and greater misery and war!!!

  23. Sounour says:

    The official German aka “Hochdeutsch” was not really introduced in northern Germany until the 1870s. Many people only spoke “Plattdeutsch” aka “Platt” which is really a sepereate language. Some mix between German, Dutch and Englisch. That’s the reason there are so many very different big dialects in South- and Middle-Germany and only much smaller in northern Germany: because the southern “states” switched much earlier to “Hochdeutsch” and had centuries more to develop dialects. In northern Germany they developed dialects of “Platt”. My grandparents(!) were tought “Platt” at home and only had to learn “Hochdeutsch” at school. My father tells me, they talked “Platt” at home in his childhood and although I can’t speak it, I still understand most of it.
    I’m German (Westphalia) and I have to say that I have trouble understanding a Saxon or Bavarian in his Dialect.
    I really like, that several people wrote stories for the Gazette about the problems of introducing Uptime English, becaus I believe it experienced similar big evolutions.

  24. Jose says:

    Written Platt is easy of a southern European – it would be easy on Romanians, Italians, Spaniards, and Portuguese, and just a tad harder on northern French but quite easy on southern French. A lot more latin constructs seem to survive on Platt than Hoch so at least for reading purposes it would almost be a lingua franca for Europe so altenate line Europeans would likely adopt German rather than French just as long as English introductions from the Ring of Fire do not ‘damage’ Platt too much.

    And to have Germano-Roman codification earlier than French codification of law would make for a closer representation of late Roman Empire law – Theodosian & Justinian code – and a much more stable Civil Code — a lot better written. Although in our time line the Swiss and Italian are much better (although the Italian does seem to go a bit too far). And the German solution to Roman tort law — to clearly misinterpret one word — did eliminate the need for way too many lawyers that Common Law and most Civil Law suffers from!!!

    It would be nice to see how law codification develops in Eric’s alternate history. The 1606 Leyes de las Indias would be 26 years old at the time of the Ring of Fire which was the Spanish attempt at extending Siete Partidas into their empire – primarily the Americas!!! Dutch-Roman codification would have been nascent at this time. The rest of Europe was …..

  25. Jose says:

    Italy was as fragmented linguistically as Germany if not more.
    A portion of the Balkans would have spoken Italian – the Venetian version that is -, some isolated areas even Catalan.
    The Venetian ‘Empire’ competed quite a bit with the Ottomans.

    1633, Oct 22nd – Ming dynasty fight with Dutch East India Company that Battle of southern Fujian sea (1633), Ming dynasty won great victory.
    1635, May 19th – France declares war on Spain

    Other events, like Poland/Russian battles have been addressed. And maybe the Spanish/French 1635 event has been sidelined by other events. But has the China/Dutch been addressed. And the Dutch fleet arriving at Curacao. How about Massachussetts and Maryland, are both dead based on the English/French deal.

    Do Spain and France with a bit of Dutch the only thing in the Americas? Would the Spanish remain in Jamaica?

  26. cka2nd says:

    @13 You’re generalizing both the past and the present. Immigrant groups of the past had newspapers in their own languages, schools that taught the language, culture and history of the old country, language associations and religious institutions built around their mother tongue. German-Americans had a particularly organized and extensive parallel civil society that was virtually wiped out during the First World War. And what most of the immigrant groups of the past shared with the immigrant groups of today is that the first generation (and often the second and the third) worked like dogs and did not have the time to learn English.

    As it is, talk to anyone involved with English as a Second Language education and you’ll find out that there are many more prospective students than there are the teachers or the classes for them. It’s also less likely with most of the new immigrant communities that women can be kept in the home and remain ignorant of the English language for a generation or two, as was sometimes the case in the past (especially in the Italian community). Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if public education – even with a bilingual component – popular music and reality TV are actually spreading the English language to modern immigrants faster than in the old days.

    Spanish-language TV will outlast the Yiddish theater of yesteryear, if only because it can get content from Latin America, but I doubt it will have any more effect than the Yiddish theater in keeping the children of today’s Spanish-language immigrants from learning English.

  27. cka2nd says:

    @25 Don’t forget the Portuguese in Brazil. And if I were the Spanish, damn right I’d stay in Jamaica.

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