1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 48

1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 48:


“It’s a trick,” said Achterhof.

Gretchen Richter rolled her eyes. “A trick, Gunther? By whom? Rebecca?”

“And to what purpose?” added Spartacus.

When his paranoid streak was aroused, Gunther Achterhof was as stubborn as the proverbial mule. “No, of course it’s not Rebecca. Just means she’s been tricked herself. By who? That snake of a landgravine, that’s who.”

He swiveled in his seat to face Spartacus, who was perched on a stool in a corner of the large kitchen. “To what purpose? You need to ask? It’s obvious. To lull us into carelessness and relaxation by making us think we face no immediate danger.”

Everyone in the kitchen stared at Achterhof. Not just Gretchen and Spartacus, but the six other CoC leaders present as well. The expressions of all eight people were identical.

After a few seconds, Eduard Gottschalk leaned back against the far wall and said: “Well, of course. How could we not see their scheme? They will trick us into disbanding our militias, dismantling our spy network, and turning all our energies to organizing public festivals.”

“We’ll get rid of all the associations, too,” added Hubert Amsel, who was seated next to Gretchen at the table. He waved his hand. “Insurance co-operatives, sports leagues, the lot — all of them! Into the trash bin. Who needs them, now that we have swooned at the feet of the Hessian lady?”

Achterhof’s jaws tightened. “It’s not funny.”

The young woman standing next to Gottschalk took a step toward the center of the kitchen. “No, but you are. Gunther, this is carrying caution to the point of madness.”

Galiena Kirsch pointed her finger at one of the kitchen windows. It was closed, even in midsummer, at Achterhof’s insistence. To eliminate the risk of eavesdroppers, he said, and never mind that there were over a dozen CoC security people guarding the apartment building on every side. As a result, of course, the kitchen was stiflingly hot. It would be years before up-time air conditioning became a feature of seventeenth century life, outside of perhaps a few palaces — and those, small ones.

“Are you blind?” she demanded. “Or do you think our own intelligence people are tricking us?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know perfectly well,” said Gretchen. “For days, the Crown Loyalist legislators and lobbyists have been leaving the city. They’d only be doing so for one of two reasons. Either Wilhelm Wettin is a mastermind and his political party even more disciplined than we are –”

That was good for a burst of laughter. Even Achterhof joined in.

“– and so they’re dispersing to all parts of the nation to carry out their fiendish scheme.”

“It’s possible,” said Achterhof, in a surly tone of voice. Gretchen rolled her eyes again. So did half of the other CoC leaders present.

“Or,” she continued, “they’re leaving because the pack of squabbling dogs finally got tired of trying to force their nominal leader to do as they wish, especially now that he’s made clear he refuses to do anything of a major nature until the war situation is resolved. So, their innate selfishness taking over, they are all returning to their manors and mansions. Which is what Rebecca thinks is happening. And so do I.”

She decided to try a less confrontational approach. As aggravating as he could sometimes be, Gunther Achterhof was a critical leader in their movement. If he was convinced of the wisdom of a plan and committed to it, then you could be sure the capital city of the nation would remain solid as a rock. In any crisis, that was worth a very great deal.

“Gunther, please. The only specific issue at stake here is whether or not I should move to Dresden. Eduard and Hubert’s stupid joking aside” — here she bestowed a stern look of reproof upon the miscreants — “no one is proposing to relax any of our stances or precautions. So what is the harm?”

She saw a slight change in Achterhof’s expression. From long experience dealing with the man, she recognized the signs. Gunther was shifting from Absolute Opposition to Resolute Disagreement.

Another half hour, she estimated.


“It’s in your own report!” the Austrian emperor exclaimed. Ferdinand jabbed an accusing — approving? — finger at the sheaf of papers in his hand. “You say it yourself. The Turks are invading Persia.”

Janos Drugeth tried to keep his jaws from tightening. He could not, however, prevent his lips from doing so.

“No, unfortunately they are not attacking Persia. If they were, we could relax in the sure and certain knowledge that the Ottomans and the Safavids would be fighting for another decade, at least. They are simply seeking to retake Baghdad, which is in Mesopotamia. And if the results of this same war in that other universe hold true, they will succeed in doing so — and then make a lasting peace with the Safavids. The point being, that while the Turks pose no threat to us this year, they may very well be a threat in the following one.”

Ferdinand waved his hand. “You’re just guessing. And in the meantime, the Swedish bastard is marching into Poland. After taking Saxony and Brandenburg. It’s obvious that once he conquers Poland we’ll be the next meal on his plate.

Janos took a deep, slow breath. Calm, calm. Always essential, when you were arguing with an emperor.

“Ferdinand, ‘once he conquers Poland’ is far easier said than done. And even if he succeeds, why would he come south? He’d have to break his alliance with Wallenstein to get to us. Far more likely he’d go after Muscovy.”

“Yes, exactly!” The emperor leaned forward in his chair, which was not quite a throne but very close. “He’ll keep the alliance with Wallenstein. They’ll both attack.”

Janos saw his chance. “In that case, Ferdinand, the logical thing to do is send all available forces to guard our border with Bohemia.” He squared his shoulders, in the manner of man valiantly taking on a perilous task. “I offer to lead them myself.”

Ferdinand stared at him suspiciously. The logic of the argument was impeccable, but…

The emperor was very far from being a dull-wit. He understood perfectly well that another effect of Drugeth’s proposal would be to keep Austria from taking any irrevocable steps. Any nation had the right to protect its own borders, after all. Gustav Adolf could hardly use such a mobilization as a pretext for invasion. And it would keep Austria’s army close to Prague — and close enough to the frontier with the Turks, should Drugeth’s fears prove justified.

“I’ll think about it,” said Ferdinand, in a surly tone of voice.

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22 Responses to 1635: The Eastern Front — Snippet 48

  1. Summercat says:

    Wow. Ferdinand agreed to think about it.

  2. Well, he’s not his father after all…

  3. Xellos-_^ says:

    i thought he was suppose to be smart?

  4. Todd Bloss says:

    I think Ferdinand is right.
    It still makes no sense for GA2 to go further East.
    He knows his history, even if he takes Poland, he can’t keep it -not with France at his backdoor, ready to fight again next year.

    It makes much more sense to consolidate central Europe. He can take everything from the Baltic to the Med. and KEEP it. Again GA2 knows his history -a united central Europe would be far more stable and richer than anything he could temporarily snatch from the East.

    Poland is feint -Gustavs goal is ultimately Austria.

  5. Blackmoore says:

    G2A may know his history, but he’s also holding a large grudge and a belief that his uptime weapons and support will make a difference this time.

    I don’t think he’s going to be so devious (or crazy) to feint all of his troops into Poland, just to go hundreds of miles south into Austria. Hell – his supply lines can work fast enough to do that.

    However he IS reckless enough to lead a calvary charge into Poland, so that could change things too.

    Ferdinand will stage his troops on the defensive border. and when he is ready they will try to take Bohemia.

  6. dean says:

    3 ok yes what say is logical but u have to remember that Eric wants the east in the story line in for some reason I think our conflicts with France will move to USA a least that’s where I think it’s headed after I’m thinking a stalemate in Europe cause Eric has build up that young general from France who suppose to be military genius but back to my point just look at the title he wants story to go east to Russia if u read is serial from Grantville gazette butterflies from Kremlin you’d with understand we will be butting heads with Russia yes ga2 know his history but pre ring of fire he warred with Russia and it would be bring in a country that was a super power in OTL in from Eric’s serial he said they are 2nd most advance country behind USE who are having a lot problems so like how this book came from his other serial the anaconda project so will a book come from butterflies of Kremlin and the Eric is building up Austria to fight the Turks at full strength and possibly no allies buy ga2 and use and bohemia

  7. robert says:

    @3 Poland is an emotional issue for Gustav. He has serious dynastic problems with them and he really, really hates them. So off he will go, charging headlong (remember that word) into war with Poland.

  8. dave o says:

    G2A already controls the baltic through the union of Kalmar. It’s not clear to me that he wants Poland so much as to destroy the other branch of the Vasa, and of course the Hohenzollerns. As it stands now, he controls, sort of, central Germany. Ferdinando controls the Netherlands and lower Rhine, Bernard controls parts of the upper Rhine. France is working on a civil war for maybe 5 years. Wallenstein wants to take modern Slovakia and conquer eastward to the Ukraine. The other Ferdinand would like to re-conquer Bohemia, and and also would like to conquer the Ottoman Hungary, and eventually modern Serbia, Greece, the western balkans, maybe Bulgaria and Rumania. In Germany, Bavaria is the only large ‘independent’ state, and is in such bad shape that G2A or Austria could take it. It’s more likely to fall to Austria,- it’s not clear that G2A wants more catholics in his control. Russia may be becoming a modern state, and may also be heading to a new time of troubles. And just about everyone is may be facing a civil war in the near future.

  9. Damon says:

    G2A, as I it seems to me Eric has written him, is aware that what he is primarily doing is exporting ideas like democracy, equality and representative government at the point of a bayonet. Any short term gains he may make in territory will be overshadowed by that fact. He has allowed (because they support some of his goals) the creation and proliferation of the CofCs. That genie can’t be put back in the bottle.
    Eventually he will have to try and suppress them, something the character Eric has written doesn’t seem to want to do, or stand by and watch them create a more “modern” society that looks like Europe in OTL, with some significant variations in political topography.
    Every single one of the existing monarchies/kingdoms in that universe are going to be bent to conform to that reality, even the Ottomans, eventually. And the Shoguns, and the Chinese Emperors, and the rulers of India, etc, etc, etc.

  10. Todd Bloss says:

    All good points, but Austra remains a jewel that will fall to the first power that takes it. Austria is currently isolated and could be taken by either Gustav or the Turk and whomever takes it first, will probably be able to keep it. -If GA2 takes Austria and incorporates it into the USE, the Turks can’t attack it without going up against the entire United State. Conversly, if the Turk can take Austria first (perhaps while GA2 is distracted in Poland) then GA2 can’t take Austria (and his gateway to the Med.) without taking on the entire Ottoman Empire.

    Gustav is sending Stearns South -maybe he anticipates getting another Florida?

  11. ronzo says:

    @10 This talk of the Ottoman’s taking baghdad could be an effective disinformation campaign. Austria could quickly find it’s self in trouble if ferdinand takes the bait and sends Janos to aid the Polish. Mike might be able to Grab “another Florida” by coming to Austria’s aid in that case.

  12. cka2nd says:

    I don’t think Gustav has any desire whatsoever to conquer Austria. As Eric had Ferdinand say shortly after he became emperor, Austria would always have to keep an eye on the Ottomans. In effect, Austria has replaced the Byzantines as the eastern bulwark against a (further) Muslim advance into Europe. With everything else going on, why would Gustav want that headache, too? Besides, between Bohemia and the Ottomans, Austria, as Ferdinand may be discovering here, has a full plate itself. Better to build there strength for the inevitable war with Bohemia, one I’m not sure Gustav will be too interested in intervening in, either.

  13. Brian says:

    Sorry, haven’t read GG past number 5, the last paper edition, so I may be missing quite a bit of important stuff from the later GGs. My feel for GA is that he can’t afford to overreach too fast. Today (this year), Saxony, Brandenburg, and conflict with Poland. Tomorrow (next year), too soon to tell. Much depends on the process of digestion of Sax. and Bran., and how things go with the Poles. AND, what the internal state of flux re the Imperial vs the CoC philosophies. If all would go well, the Bavarian question needs to be settled. Can’t see how a stable central Europe would best be served by having it both independent, and a boiling kettle at the same time. In a time of powerful, competing empires, and shifting political landscapes, another Switzerland may simply not be allowed. Whither Austria? Excellent question. Wish I had the answer.

  14. Blackmoore says:

    while G2A accepts the CoC and the American’s ideas he hasn’t relinquished the idea of stomping on his most immediate threats.

    I am curious to see what boundaries he is willing to accept, on the western front, he clearly is going to accept the Netherlands, the territory occupied by Bernhard, and the Swiss. He’s hoping that France will be broiling in a civil war. He had taken some territory from the Empire in the Bavarian crisis; but not enough to trigger a real offensive from a clearly falling Maximilian.

    I would assume that Ferdinand will consolidate control over Bavaria from Maximilian (Can we designate him as Mad Max?) but will that give them enough troop strength to push north, or defend from the USE/Swedish troops who remain there? Ferdinand is is a ripe bit of trouble here too. fueled by a lust to take back Bohemia – and a clear threat from the Ottoman empire, he doesnt have enough troops or infrastructure to wage war on all three fronts.

  15. Rey says:

    “VASA! ALWAYS VASA!”– From Gustav

    Rember, Gustav power comes especially from the peasant class. Remember in the first book it said his grandfather or father crushed the nobles and sided the peasants in all disputes.

    So Gustav knows that his power rests on lower classes which makes up the CoC.

    He also wants his daughter to rule the empire he is building, not step down like they did in the other timeline. Which the nobles would love.

    He had his daughter baking bread at the Golden Arches and in the CoC, his daughter gets the role model of leader — hard as steel– Gretchen.

  16. Jason says:

    I dont see France being a threat in 1636 to the USE for a couple reasons.

    1. Its still lurching about in political turmoil from the loss at Arehsbruck remember and Tourinne is the only i would call loyal military force that Richelleau have.

    2. In the end of 1635 Cannon Law Phillip IV agreed to back Gastone so you might be seeing a Spanish Fifth column in France.

    3. to top it all off The French have to secure its new Colonies stretching from the Caribbean to Newfoundland. And as I see it Puritans are going to like taking orders from Catholic french even less than from Anglican British.

  17. dave o says:

    #16 Not to mention the Dutch on the Hudson. The Swedish colony on the Delaware should be starting just about now.
    Remember that Philadelphia uptime was the second largest city in the British empire by 1776. More access to good farmland in NJ, PA, DE, MD. And good water communication. Philly supplied a lot of western Europe with wheat. Charles Stuart was bought off. Why should Ferdinando or G2A fold? Aren’t they more likely to allay against France?

  18. Blackmoore says:

    The Colonies in 163x aren’t the a good comparison to what we usually think of the American Colonies (we typically think around 177x) in those 140 years they progressed from being trading posts with small populations, to real cities and farms that fed nations. It is much easier to destroy the Dutch Colonies in New Amsterdam at this time, than it would for England to take New York.

    In the North you would expect all wood construction, with simple wood perimeter fortifications. They just have to get in and set it on fire. You wouldn’t take stone with you to build with, and they haven’t had the years it takes to quarry rock or establish brick making industry. Not to say that they are defenseless, Any colony commander worth their salt would make the french hurt, but you aren’t looking at fortifications with huge numbers of defenders.

    Spain in the south would have buildings made of stone and brick and clay materials available; as they have been in central America since 1500’s, and have forced labor to get stuff built; and a much larger presence occupying thsose areas.

    However it also depends on the size of the force France has sent to do this. Richelieu is no fool, but some of his subordinates ARE.

    Anyone who manages to get out ahead of the French could have sent a warning.
    Others could be lured to look for gold in the swamps of florida.

  19. dave o says:

    #18. My point was that the Netherlands and G2a are in a stronger position than the French. They aren’t facing a civil war. It depends on how much backing are willing to give their colonies, but they have the resources to defend them if they want to. And why wouldn’t they want to? My understanding is that the French started in Virginia, which isn’t a tower of strength in 1635. In any event, why is it that the French are not as vulnerable as the Dutch or Swedes?

  20. Cyane says:

    #3 That Eric “young general from France who supposed to be dmilitary genius” IS a military genius. Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, was made a Marshal of France in 1643 at the age of 32, OTL. Probably the best of Louis XIV’s marshals, and he had a lot of really good ones.

    In Chapter 16 of 1633, Richelieu made him a marshal at age 21 so as not to “waste time.”

  21. Why do I get the feeling that the Ottoman empire is gonna try pull the same trick that Gustav is trying (two objectives in one season)?

    They could be attempting to overwhelm Baghdad quickly and move to assault Austria in the same campaign season.

    The main point of the Baghdad maneuver could be to lull Austria into complacency (or let them involve themselves in a war on another front). Actually gaining the city would be nice of course, but it seems that the Ottoman empire can accomplish that goal with a fraction of their units, especially if they have advanced weaponry and air bombs from balloons.

    Austria would be the real prize.

    More importantly, having the Ottoman Empire attack would be fun for story reasons :)

  22. Jason says:

    @18 it is a good point that the Colonies are not as well off as they would be 100 years later but that also makes it even harder for the French to secure the Colonies. For example I believe they sent 1000 troops to Virginia. That’s a huge chunk of mouths to feed. Also what will the indian’s think of this at the time were right between the 1st indian massacre of 1622 and the second of 1644. I mean, if I’m a chief who doesn’t entirely trust the Europeans and I see 1000 armed white men come into the region I might be inclined to do something about it.

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