1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 26

1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 26

But the traditional elites who provided most of the leadership of the Crown Loyalists ignored the criticisms. For them, steeped in paternalistic traditions and customs, the idea seemed perfectly reasonable. Of course all people who live in a province should have their existence reflected in the electoral strength of that province. The decisions made by their legislatures would affect them, would they not? But likewise, of course most of those people shouldn’t actually be allowed to vote. They weren’t competent to do so. You might as well give children in a family the same authority as the parents.

Wilhelm V and Amalie Elizabeth were firmly convinced the end result of forcing limited citizenship on every province would be a civil war. They were not at all sure who would wind up winning that war. But even if they’d been confident their side would win, they didn’t think the enormous destruction was a price worth paying.

The Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel said so again today, to the prime minister who now had the power to make the decision. And the response was the one he and his wife had feared. A man, trapped in quicksand, who insisted that he was just going for a swim.

“In the long run, we don’t have any choice,” Wettin said. His tone was mulish, his gaze was downcast. He reminded Amalie of a petulant child. “If we let them set the terms of citizenship, we’ll wind up with a civil war for sure. The only way to prevent that is to limit their power from the outset.”

Amalie Elizabeth could no longer restrain herself. “Wilhelm, that’s wrong from more angles than I can count! Just to begin with, it’s absurd to think that you can limit the power of the Committees of Correspondence — not to mention someone like Mike Stearns! — by simply fiddling with the voter rolls. It didn’t work in the United States that Grantville came from, did it? What makes you think it will work here?”

Her husband nodded. “Like it or not, their power stems from their political influence over the lower classes. Most of those people are not accustomed to voting anyway. Did the peasants who fought the Peasant War have voting privileges? No. But they still rebelled — and the only thing that crushed them was military force, not stringent voting registrars.”

That last came with a sneer, to which Wettin responded with a glare. But the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was now too angry himself to care about diplomacy.

“And have you given any thought to that little problem? How many of those squabbling petty noblemen and burghers you’re pandering to have volunteered to raise and fund an army? Or are you lunatic enough to believe you can rely on the USE’s army? — which is riddled with CoC agitators and organizers.”

Amalie Elizabeth was no more inclined to be polite herself, any longer, although she refrained from sneering.

“You did notice, I hope — you being the prime minister now — the results of the recent fracas between the CoCs and the anti-Semites?”

Her husband’s sneer had never wavered. “Oh, yes. Wasn’t that splendid? Thousands of reactionaries dead all over the country, the CoCs triumphant everywhere — and you might ask that pack of semi-literate exile noblemen from Mecklenburg why they haven’t returned to their homes. Consider that, Wilhelm, before you get too cocksure about triggering a civil war.”

But it was no use. The prime minister’s expression might as well have been set in stone. The statue of a dwarf king, perhaps, determined to do what he was damn well determined to do, no matter the consequences.


After Rebecca finished speaking, Gretchen nodded. “Thank you for the information. Would you care for some more tea?” With a little smile, she wiggled her fingers at the large tea pot on the kitchen table between them, with its very ample accompanying provisions of sugar and cream. “It turns out I can afford a lot of tea, these days.”

Rebecca shook her head and then cocked it sideways a little. “You don’t seem upset by the news.”

Gretchen shrugged. “I was expecting it. This clash is inevitable, Rebecca. There won’t be any way to negotiate with the Crown Loyalists until they fracture and real political parties emerge from the wreckage. That… thing they call a party is nothing of the sort. It’s an unholy alliance whose sole basis of agreement is seizing and holding power. Wettin is no more in control of it than a wave controls the sea.”

Rebecca sighed. “I fear you may well be right.”

She rose from her seat. “I must leave.” Hearing the sounds of teenagers quarreling in a nearby room, she smiled. “The demands of children. As you well know.”

Gretchen accompanied her to the door. Two Yeoman Warders were waiting in the corridor beyond, ready to escort Rebecca home.

“Thank you,” she repeated.


Gretchen had been notified by Rebecca ahead of time that she’d be visiting this morning. That meant important political news, of course. Gretchen, in turn, had sent word to all the CoC leaders in the city.

So, within half an hour of Rebecca’s departure, most of them had arrived at the apartment building and were gathered in Gretchen’s kitchen. It was a very big kitchen, as it needed to be given that it was the kitchen for the entire complex.

“So it’s definite then?” asked Spartacus, who was standing near one of the stoves.

“As definite as any information from Rebecca,” she replied. “But, certainly on a subject like this one, that’s pretty damn definite.”

Across the table from her, Gunther Achterhof nodded. “Yes, I think we can assume it’s true. As soon as the parliament begins its session, Wettin will introduce bills that will force through the reactionaries’ positions on citizenship and the established church. The only question is: what do we intend to do about it?”

Gretchen reached for the tea pot. “Tea, anyone?”

Achterhof grinned. “Better get a bigger one. We’re going to be here for hours.”

“Days,” predicted Spartacus.

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25 Responses to 1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 26

  1. Peter S says:

    I am fascinated to see how Eric pulls off this one. Can the CoCs control their members well enough to be selective in where the civil unrest hits home? What about assassinations, etc? Especially by the more reactionary ‘Loyalists’? Where will Hesse-kassell end up? And will he vote ‘no’ on this citizenship bill in Parliament, and split his coalition? Or abstain? And either way, is his vote pivotal enough to change the outcome? So very many chunks of meat in this political stew! Looking eagerly forward to the next snippet.

  2. jeff bybee says:

    are the snippets the whole book from the start or does it jump over some things though stay in order?

  3. Sounour says:

    @2: It’s the whole book, chapter by chapter

    @1: I think Hesse-Kassel is not a member of Parliament, but of of the Senate/House of Lords. And I ask myself if this bill has to pass both houses, because the CL do *not* have a majority in the Senate/HoL

  4. Alan says:

    I think the upper house is actually called the Chamber of Princes. It consists of the leaders of each USE province. A quick check of Snippet 23 shows the votes as G2A 4, Prince Frederick of Denmark 1, Georg Friedrich of Baden-Durlach 1, CoC/FoJP 2. Presumably Brandenberg and Saxony don’t get a vote until after they get reintegrated.

    It’s hard to see anything passing the Chamber without G2A’s approval but we don’t know to what extent he’ll favour a Swedish or American franchise. The best hope to avoid civil war is for the Crown Loyalist moderates to bolt the party and force a new government.

  5. Mike says:

    I guess what dissappoints me the most about this snippet is that Wettin seems incapable of admitting the error to Hesse-Kassel and his wife – even in private. The character from 1633 seemed if anything to be quite open in private discussions with Hesse-Kassel about politics and ramifications to elites; compare his conversations with Hesse-Kassel midway through the book when they’re discussing circular letters going out with Wettin’s conversations with Admiral Simpson when they discuss tax law – especially when Wettin clams up and doesn’t clue in one of the speakers to how economically it will destroy the nobles. THAT was the Wettin character that I thought Eric Flint was building up to take over from Stearns. While I understand he’s beholden to special interests, the character in this snippet and the last one doesn’t strike me as being aware of long term repurcussions or willing to talk with a close family friend and political ally. It would have been nice if Wettin had said “well, I personally want X on this and that, but to hold member A,B, and C of the coalition in, I need to do Y, and to hold members D, E,and F, I need to do Z.” Something indicating he is making a trade off.

    Besides, if anyone should be aware of the political costs of maintaining the old order and its inability to work in the new system – wouldn’t it be the former Duke who no longer has legal or political authority over his former Duchy as it was “slid out from under him”, willingly abdicated to take part in the new system, encouraged others to do so, and read scads of books on political science – in particular Reflections on the French Revolution? That same character being oblivious to 1) changing political landscapes, 2) impossibility of reducing power through voter rolls, and that 3)pissing off the lower classes (whether they can vote or not) in the face of possible civil war and it’s probable outcome (guillotine anyone?) just strikes me as very bizarre. It’s disappointing the character turned out this way.

  6. Alan says:


    I tend to agree. The Wettin of 1633 may have been abducted by politically oblivious time-travellers from the planet Mesa and replaced by one of their own.

  7. Mike S says:

    Wettin’s problem is that of any statesman/politician who has made too many deals with too many people and can no longer control his own, much less, his country’s destiny. Compromise is necessary to reach consensus, but compromise doesn’t require you to sell your soul and control over your own destiny, which is what Wettin has done. Regardles if he could return to the Wettin of 1633, he’s already gone to far down the road to pull over or go back. He’s like a man who dug a canal combining many small streams in order to get his boat somewhere only to discover when all the streams come together, they’re too powerful for him to navigate against.

  8. Mark L says:

    @5, 6, 7 – We’ll get the old Willie Wettin that we knew and loved from “1633” back after the Crown Loyalists get their lumps from the CoCs.

    What Wettin’s doing is the 17th century equivalent of refusing to stop to get instructions after you have gotten lost on the highway when you lack GPS, cell-phone internet or other online methods of reorienting yourself. Can’t stop and ask because that would mean you are *wrong.* And *you* can’t be wrong. Only other people.

    Wettin’s off in the weeds, he knows it, he knows other people knows he knows it and he knows they know he knows they know it. But saying those simple words “you know . . . I might be wrong. . . ” costs his pride too much. So he becomes pigheaded. All the pressuring that Wettin is getting just makes him dig in harder. Bujold had it right in one of her Miles Vorkosigan novels when Miles said the trick was not to go through the wall, but to lower it. So they will keep pushing Wettin and he will keep holding his ground until everything goes kaboom.

    Then, afterward, he will be able to admit, yes, maybe being stubborn wasn’t the smartest thing he could have done. And the old Wilhelm will be back.

  9. Tabasco says:

    That’s assuming the current Wilhelm keeps his head. Once the balloon goes up on this fracas, I think the biggest question is just how selective the CoC is willing to be in its targeting. Maybe its leadership will recognize he was guilty of biting off more than he could chew rather than any personal venality.

    I have a sinking suspicion that Wilhelm is going to end up as the USE’s Herbert Hoover, smart guy who basically just didn’t get it.

  10. Alan says:

    @8 That’s assuming the Wettin government survives for any length of time. Wettin is not a president with a fixed term and votes of no confidence and imperial dismissals are a lot easier than impeachment. It’s hard to see how his government can last with an angry emperor and disaffected party members who are clearly thinking about crossing the floor.

  11. ET1swaw says:

    @4 The Senate(uptimers term)/Council of Princes(when CPE)/House of Lords(USE) IS composed of the leaders of the USE provices AND the Imperial cities.
    USE House of Lords (Upper House)/equivalent of the former CPE Council of Princes, but with new elements. It consists of the heads of the states/provinces of the USE; elected and appointed members who are commoners are given the courtesy title of “Senator”; one member per province.
    1. Hesse-Kassel – Landgrave Wilhelm V [Crown Loyalist]
    2. SoTF – Ed Piazza, elected head of state, President of the SoTF
    [Piazza is effectively the Fourth of July party leader in Mike Stearns’ absence as a political general, but sits in the Upper House rather than Commons by virtue of his office as president of the SoTF; vice-president Helene Gundelfinger, down-timer]
    3. Magdeburg Province – Matthias Strigel, an elected head of state, the CoC-supported governor
    4. Brunswick – Duke Georg of Brunswick-Calenberg [deputy, Loring Schultz]
    5. Mecklenburg – Gustavus Adolphus as Duke of Mecklenburg [Crown Loyalist]
    6. Pomerania – Gustavus Adolphus as Duke of Pomerania [Crown Loyalist]
    7. Westphalia Province – Prince Frederik of Denmark as administrator (appointed by GIIA June 1634) [Crown Loyalist]
    8. Province of the Main – Nils Abrahamsson Brahe, Swedish administrator (appointed by GIIA)
    9. Province of the Upper Rhine – Wilhelm Ludwig of Nassau-Saarbrücken as administrator (appointed by GIIA June 1634); he spends most of his time assisting his father-in-law with the Province of Swabia and brings in Johann Moritz of Nassau-Siegen as his deputy (appointed April 1635)
    10. Province of the Upper Palatinate – Duke Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, aka Ernst Wettin, as regent until June 1635, then Christian I of Pfalz-Birkenfeld-Bischweiler as regent for Karl Ludwig of the Palatinate (appointed by GIIA)
    11. Province of Swabia [as of June 1634, to be established once the region has been “fully pacified”] – Margrave Georg Friedrich of Baden-Durlach appointed as administrator by GIIA (by the end of 1635 it will actually consist of what is left after the activities of Württemberg, Duke Bernhard, Tyrol, Egon von Fuerstenburg, and various cities turning Swiss) (appointed)
    12. Tyrol (joined the USE voluntarily in March 1635 under the leadership of the previous regent, Claudia de Medici) – representative designated by the regency council, which is headed by the chancellor, Dr. Wilhelm Bienner
    By the end of 1635:
    13. Duchy of Württemberg, joins the USE as a state under the disputed provisions of Duke Eberhard’s April 1635 will; the late Eberhard III as Perpetual Duke; head of state the Perpetual Regent (elected); next in line the Vice Regent (elected) [Fourth of July Party]
    By the end of 1635 [“returns” – see 1635: The Eastern Front]:
    14. Saxony – administrator appointed by Gustavus Adolphus mid- to late 1635 (Duke Ernst of Saxe-Weimar aka Ernst Wettin)
    15. Brandenburg – Swedish administrator [TBA by Eric Flint, probably Axel Oxenstierna] (as regent for Friedrich Wilhelm, Margrave George William’s fifteen-year-old son, nephew of Gustavus Adolphus’ wife, who became OTL the Great Elector) (appointed)

    Independent Imperial Cities, one elected representative each in the House of Lords:
    16. Magdeburg (elected representative, the mayor, Otto Gericke)
    17. Augsburg (enlarged by most of the Diocese of Augsburg) (elected representative, the mayor)
    18. Luebeck (enlarged) (Dieterich Matthesen, elected representative, the CoC-supported mayor)
    19. Hamburg (enlarged) (Albert Bugenhagen, elected representative, the CoC-supported mayor)
    20. Frankfurt am Main (elected representative, the mayor)
    21. Ulm (with existing hinterland and enlarged) (elected representative, the mayor)
    22. Strassburg (enlarged by much of the Diocese of Strassburg) (elected representative, the mayor)
    By the end of 1635:
    22. Cologne (Independent Imperial City, not the archdiocese of Cologne; joins voluntarily) (elected representative, the mayor)
    24. Bonn (enlarged city-state, former territories of the archdiocese of Cologne on the right bank of the Rhine) (elected representative, the mayor)

    Leaving aside the 7(mid-1635)/9(late-1635) imperial cities, by late 1635 G2A will have direct/indirect control (in Senate at least) of 9 of the 15 provinces (that includes the votes of Georg Friedrich and Prince Frederich). They can be considered CL, but under political direction of G2A and Axel Oxenstierna(I expect to see more of him in later snippets(not snerk, just reason(he’s nobility uber alles))). Hesse-Kassel, Calenburg, and Tyrolean appointed Regent can also be considered CL. Madgeburg, SOTF, and Wurttemberg are FoJP. The imperial cities as elected officials might be considiered FoJP, but except those mentioned earlier probably cross the political spectrum.
    That’s just the upper house! Election results (counting disputed Mecklenburg as CL) gave Wettin and CL 40-some percent of COMMONS and 30-some percent as neither CL nor FoJP allied parties. And some of CL percentage is going to be Oxenstierna’s ringers (outwardly CL, but G2A/Oxenstierna puppets).
    It is going to be a mess!!!! Like Gretchen, I’m waiting for CL to fracture into separate political parties and this citizenship/state church reactionary political assault might do it!! If Wettin tries to push it through, he’ll have no support in the Senate (G2A, Hesse-Kassel, Calenburg, and Tyrol are nothing if not pragmatic) and his support in Commons will shred. Remember 9 of 15 provinces are G2A’s outright!!! And with exception of those listed as CoC, imperial city mayors may not be FoJP or allied!!

  12. dave O says:

    To some extent Gustav views the nobility AND the COC as a threat to his power to run things. He thinks the COC are a bunch of dangerous radicals, and the nobles as a bunch of reactionary obstructionists. From his numerous earlier statements, it’s clear that he WON’T automatically support the nobility, In the end, he will probably come down on the side which supports his aims. If the COC are smart, they will go the non-violent route, and force the nobles to start the violence. Gretchen showed she was willing to do this in the Low Country, and supported Ferdinando. What happens if the COC stops it’s members from volunteering for the army? Anyone want to guess if the COC leadership has studied Ghandi and ML King?

  13. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Ghandi was facing a “higher class foe” than Gretchen is.

    I’ve heard that even Ghandi said that his way would not have worked against the French.

    As for ML King, his way didn’t work against the leaders of the South.

    His way worked to bring whites from the North onto his side.

    IMO the “Crown Loyalists” won’t be stopped by “peaceful resistance”.

    Sure, it is better if the “Crown Loyalists” start the violence but violence will be required to stop them.

  14. Jason says:

    Well it will be interesting what happens, and I’m not so certain it wont be something the Crown Loyalists are expecting. Remember that as some one else mentioned that the CoC’s have been becoming more sophisticated in what they do. I see Gretchen doing something that will undermine and fraction the Crown Loyalists it’s already happening at least among the moderated like Hesse all it needs is a spark.

  15. Alan says:

    The blooper about the prime minister, instead of the emperor, signing laws is a bit unfortunate here, in terms of the way the plot is running.

  16. dave o says:

    #12 The point I was trying to make is that the COC is a lot tactically smarter than the conservatives. I think that they’ll get the cons to start the violence, and thus gain the support of Gustav. He may not like it, but knows how to choose the lesser evil. And then the COC can use as much violence as they need to win.

  17. laclongquan says:

    What do you mean “Wettin is not a president with a fixed term”?

  18. Alan says:

    We’ve been told many times that the USE is a parliamentary system. The essence of parliamentary systems is that the parliament can change the prime minister at will. This is a problem for the civil war scenario, because it is much more likely that parliament would vote its lack of confidence in Wettin or that G2A as the USE head of state, would sack Wettin and find someone else with a majority in parliament, probably Hesse-Kassel. If worst comes to worst, G2A could sack Wettin, commission Stearns to form a government and then grant him a new election.

  19. robert says:

    I think that Gretchen and Co. will not do anything covert. They have become very sophisticated pols. They will work behind the scenes, probably in league with the FoJP and Hesse-Kassel’s faction, to force a parliamentary crisis. I think that they will use every means short of violence, but including blackmail and selective indirect intimidation, and some shrewd deal-making, to get a change in government.

    When I say indirect intimidation, I mean something like “incidents back home” that send a meaningful message as to what the future holds should the MP in question not support a more desirable approach. But there won’t be any violence in the capital-peaceful demonstrations and non-violent resistance may get enough MPs to start the change.

  20. Alan says:

    G2A was one of the brightest men of his time. I’d think there’s a really small chance he will let the home front degenerate into civil war by supporting Wettin or that he wants the CoC to win a civil war while he’s engaged in a shooting war in the east.

  21. baldbastard2 says:

    Is Mike Stearns a Fart Smother Mucker or What? He predicted this all down the line, and instead of trying to hold power and losing it in the end, he let his opposition take over,knowing they would screw it up righteously. Thereby insuring a BIG win the next time around, and an opponent who will stay politically smacked down for years to come. Beautiful.

  22. Alan says:

    @20 Except that a change of government would lead to a whole lot of Crown Loyalists saying we wuz robbed and may delegitimise the USE as a whole in the eyes of CL voters.

  23. wombatcombat says:

    I don’t think stearns would have forseen that the crown loyalist would begin to fall apart this quickly

  24. laclongquan says:

    “Except that a change of government would lead to a whole lot of Crown Loyalists saying we wuz robbed and may delegitimise the USE as a whole in the eyes of CL voters”

    You say that as if the whole lot of them didnt and wont complain vociferously anyway. The nature of that whole lot is intransigent and whiny. Beside, they can complain any way they want, remember that the regiments are in CoC camp, so they will be silent complainers.

  25. Alan says:

    Of course they are all going to behave as you say. All I’m saying is that the Stearns strategy has massive disadvantages. Ultimately you cannot establish a constitutional democracy by wrecking your opponents and relying on the army as a backstop. A seriously Fart Smother Mucker would have passed an electoral law while he was still in power. Somewhere down the road there are also going to be massive problems with a ‘government’ whose powers don’t seem to extend to foreign policy and war which both seem to be in the hands of the emperor.

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