1635: The Eastern Front, snippet 44

1635: The Eastern Front, snippet 44:


September, 1635

The light of setting suns

Chapter 21

Berlin, Capital of Brandenburg

Mike Stearns had never visited Berlin, up-time. But he had a distinct memory of a collection of photographs he’d once seen of the city, especially the Brandenburg Gate and the magnificent tree-lined boulevard Unter den Linden.

Neither was here, now. The Brandenburg Gate didn’t exist at all. And where Unter den Linden would be in a future world, in this one there was nothing more than a bridle path that led to the Elector’s hunting ground in the Tiergarten.

There was really no part of Berlin in the year 1635 to attract sightseers, beyond a couple of churches built during the later middle ages. Those were the Marienkirche near the fortified city gate called the Spandauer Thor, and the Nikolaikirche near the Spree river. The Spree divided the two parts of Berlin, the city proper — what Mike thought was called the Mitte — and its adjoining sister city of Colln.

Both churches were impressive enough, by the standards of the north German plain. But they didn’t really compare with such Gothic masterpieces as Notre Dame or the cathedral at Chartres. Of the two, Mike favored the Marienkirche because of its warm brick construction — which was just as well, since that was where Gustav Adolf had chosen to hold his war council.

Mike found the situation a little amusing, given the religious fervor of the seventeenth century. He’d noticed before that the self-professed profound devotion of people of the time — princes and kings, certainly — never stopped them from trampling their very profane boots over holy ground whenever they found it convenient.

Mike wasn’t really complaining, though. The only alternative venue for such a large war council would have been to hold it in the Elector’s palace. But that had been turned into a gutted shell by a huge fire that swept through it the night before Gustav Adolf marched into the city. The fire hadn’t been caused by the Swedes, though. Apparently it was the product of arson committed by persons unknown, but presumed to be acting on the instructions of the Brandenburg Elector himself.

In the end, George William hadn’t tried to match Gustav Adolf on the battlefield. He’d stayed in his capital until the last minute, and then left with his entourage and his army to seek refuge in Poland.

Mike had found that out the day before he arrived in Berlin. Immediately, he’d understood the implications. There would now be no possibility whatsoever of persuading Gustav Adolf to refrain from launching a war on Poland. There hadn’t been much chance of it anyway, of course. Torstensson had made quite clear to Mike that the emperor was determined to do so, even if he had no better pretext than the presence of a small contingent of Polish hussars fighting with the Saxons at Zwenkau.

Now, Gustav Adolf had the sort of pretext that almost anyone would accept — at least, if they thought the way rulers did in this day and age. Being fair about it, probably any day and age. If Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee had somehow managed to take their government and army into Mexico in 1865, wouldn’t Lincoln have sent Grant and Sherman in pursuit? And if that meant war with Mexico, so much the worse for Mexico.

When Mike entered the vestibule of the church, he found Gustav Adolf there. Waiting for him in order to have a private conversation, clearly enough. None of the Swedish king’s subordinates were standing nearby. He was giving Mike the sort of look an eagle might give a hawk who ventured into its territory.

There was no point beating around the bush. Mike was a skilled and experienced negotiator and had learned long ago that beating a dead horse accomplished nothing but sullying the reputation of the carcass-whacker. He went up to the king and said: “I still think it’s a bad idea, but I won’t dispute the point any further. George William pretty much pulled the rug out from under me.”

Gustav Adolf frowned. “Pulled the rug –? Ah. I understand.”

The frown was replaced by stiff nod. “Thank you, Michael. I would like to be able to concentrate on our military plans at this meeting and not get diverted by quarreling over political issues which are” — he cleared his throat — “no longer matters for debate.”

Now, Gustav Adolf smiled. A very friendly smile, too. “Lennart tells me you accounted for yourself extremely well at Zwenkau. My congratulations. I will tell you that I was not surprised, however.”

“The soldiers did all the work. Mostly, I just sat on a horse and did what my staff suggested I do. And tried to look suitably generallish.”

“Do not make light of it, Michael.” The emperor shook his head. “I have some skills at this myself, you know. Being a good general is much harder than it looks.”

He took Mike by the arm and gestured toward the door leading into the nave. “But let us look to the future. We will face Koniecpolski now. I’ve fought him before. He’s no commander to take lightly.”

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16 Responses to 1635: The Eastern Front, snippet 44

  1. Peter S says:

    Okay, so Gustav’s attention will now be on Poland, instead of integrating Brandenburg and Saxony into the rest of Germany. He’s also going to keep Mike tied up in the east as well. Therefore the COC will likely do much of the integrating. Will we end up with four radical provinces – Magdeburg, SOTF, Saxony, and Brandenburg? Or will the COC concentrate on Saxony as the more important, and let more rural Brandenburg just languish?

  2. Jason says:

    Well it makes sense for George William to head for Poland. As a Prussian he’s at least technically a fiefdom of Poland, or that is why he was against Gustavus marrying his sister.

  3. jeff bybee says:

    do not think that the coc is so short of people that by doing both provences it risks failure by over reach. plus in many ways most of the people needed are already locals so the outside supply of COC orginizers will not be that great

  4. Dave o says:

    60 or 70 years later, up-time, Charles XII managed to beat the Poles pretty regularly. He was, maybe, about as good a general as GA, but nowhere near as good a king. And he had to fight the Danes and Russian at the same time. GA is in a much stronger position down-time, but the Poles are probably are too. This time Austria isn’t worrying about Louis XIV, and who knows what Russia will do. Lots of room for complications.

  5. ET1swaw says:

    And as for excuses for G2A warring with PLC:
    All but Konigsberg of Ducal Prussia’s ports are already under G2A’s rule (take it and inland DP from Brandenburg)
    At expiration of Truce of Altmark with no treaty, Ducal Prussia and PLC are supposed to return areas captured during previous war (Marienburg, etc.) (doubt they will)
    Truce of Altmark to expire Sept. 1635
    Winged hussars in full regalia took part in Saxony’s war (no low profile deniability)
    PLC Baltic coast only part he doesn’t own (he never took Danzig, lost Puck, and never bothered with Polanga (Lithuania) or Duchy of Courland’s ports)
    He took a beating last time (only winning negotiations offset his losing warfare) The Danes spanked him also, but with USE aid, he forced them into a Kalmar Union with him in charge.
    His father took the Swedish throne from G2A’s cousin Sigismund. Now G2A can: at least get quit claim from Sigismund’s sons, at best remove them from Polish succession and rule another conquered territory. (OTL Swedish Vasa ended with Christina, PLC Vasa ended with Sigismund’s youngest surviving son) (Early Deluge and partitions of Poland)
    Unless you count USE or Kalmar Union territory, PLC is many times larger than Sweden Proper and all its Dominions and Possessions put together
    Wallenstein also has eyes on part of PLC (Anaconda)
    Transylvanian leader has eyes on PLC as well (pre-Vasa ruler)
    Cossacks in buildup to rebellions. (the OTL leader was assassinated, that might trigger events early)
    Mike was fighting a losing political battle and Brandenburg’s actions put the icing on the cake.

  6. Tweeky says:

    Since i’ve never studied the relevant history in question, it would seem to me that Mike Stearns would’ve been briefed enough (aside from RL experience) to at least attempt to moderate and stair GAII’s actions to minimise military engagement of PL.

  7. Blackmoore says:

    Come on – this is just the lead into the real story. Will G2A be able to take Poland, and what will the rest of eastern europe do in reaction; and what is the political story in the USE, and what is the CoC going to do in reaction to the political limitations that the old guard is attempting to place upon them? What causes the events that lead to the already announced followup novel? Give Eric some slack- this scene has to be in there to show that Mike is going to accept the invasion; and not fight it from within.

  8. Blackmoore says:

    The Chapter heading is interesting to contemplate – are we seeing the sun set on Gustav, the USE or the old Europe?

  9. morgulknight says:

    Am I the only one who thinks a plausible path for this series to go involves the USE waging a war for independence against Sweden, and, if successful, winding up looking a lot like real-world modern Germany? Keep in mind what Mike said to Becky in 1633 about how Gustav Adolf would, “much as he might hate the necessity,” turn on the uptimers, “in an instant.” Implied in that is that Mike might turn on Gustav if circumstances dictated it; the combination of Wilhelm Wettin and the CoCs could concievably force both their hands.

  10. yelesabekul says:

    @8 that is not a heading, it’s poetry. Eric Flint starts all new sections of this series with bits of a poem

  11. robert says:

    @8 Is it Wordsworth or Byrnes that Eric is quoting here?

  12. robert says:

    @10 Yes, it is a fragment of poetry, but it is also his heading for Part IV. His quotations always seem to have some relevance to the text that follows. That is why I asked whose poetry he was quoting–the fragment, in context, means something.

  13. Tweeky says:

    Aside from as an act of of spite, would George William’s burning down the palace (Heh! That reminds me of that Talking Heads song “Burning down the House”) also hinder GA’s taking over Brandenburg due to the destruction of official records such as a tax collection records? Also could GA’s decision to invade PL be linked to Wallenstein’s plan to invade Bohemia and then parts of southern Poland? In that case the PL army would be fighting a two-front war.

  14. dave o says:

    The quotation is from Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey. The full line is: Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns.

  15. Randy says:

    The light of setting suns : the collected poems of Robert Steel Byrnes

  16. ronzo says:

    @9 It could happen but it’s highly unlikely, because the Hocadel (german nobles) for the most part are universally dispised by the COC. While GA is well liked, and GA and the rest of Vasa Dynasty are well known for siding with the commoners against the nobility. If anything there may be a couple of skirmishes and then GA will remove the Wettin Government before things get too out of hand(thus increasing his popularity). Plus as much as Wettin’s party is called the “Crown loyalist” what really is a many desparate groups banded together mostly for self serving ends. Ultimately anything that ends up weakening the nobility, even at the expense of empowering the citizenry, will end up giving him less headaches in the long run(no more flip-flopping provences at the whim of a Duke, and the like.He will back Sterns, GA knows what he’s gotten himself into with the new model army being full of COC volunteers, and an airforce and navy that are even more likely to turn on him.

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