1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 17

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 17:

By mid-morning, Ernst had half-forgotten that the young woman he was having such a pleasant discussion with was not only the most notorious political radical in the Germanies but someone whom it could even be argued, given the recent change in the USE’s government, was an outright enemy of the state. By now, he had discovered that Gretchen Richter was perceptive and astute on the issue under discussion, in addition to being personally quite charming. Neither quality was one he had expected from her reputation.

In retrospect, he could see the errors involved. So far as Richter’s understanding of the issue of education was concerned, this was no farm girl or tavern-keeper’s daughter. Her formal education might be somewhat limited, but her father had been a printer. Ernst was aware that up-timers viewed the printer’s trade as being what they called “blue-collar,” signifying work that might require considerable mechanical skills and knowledge but was not in the least bit intellectual. But they came from a world in which the different aspects of most professions had been carved into separate crafts. In the seventeenth century, on the other hand, the distinction between a printer and a publisher and an editor was usually meaningless. A man who owned and ran a print shop did all of those things — and, often enough, served himself as an author as well. Print shops were centers of intellectual discourse and quite often hotbeds of political radicalism. That was the milieu from which Richter came, not milking cows or serving ale.

Then, there was her personality. Allowing for some harshness along the edges, here and there, she was quite pleasant company. Polite and very attentive, among other things.

That should also have been obvious, he now understood. He knew, at least in broad outlines, of the central role she’d played in the siege of Amsterdam. Absurd to think that such a role could have been played by a person who was capable of nothing more than scowling and shouting belligerently!

Eventually, though, albeit reluctantly, he forced himself to remember his duty.

“This has been most pleasant, Frau Richter. Hopefully, productive as well. But now I must return to more immediately pressing matters.” He elided over the fact that they’d never actually begun that discussion, since Richter had driven over it right at the beginning. “I am disturbed — let us say ‘concerned,’ rather — at some of the activities of the Committee of Correspondence here in Dresden.”

Richter nodded. “To be precise — if you will forgive me putting words in your mouth, Your Grace — your concerns center on the following.” She began counting off her fingers. “First, that the city’s militia has largely disintegrated. While a rump of the official force remains, for the most part control of the city in military and police terms has fallen into the hands of the CoC’s guard units. Second, those guard units are armed. Thirdly, they are well-armed, many of them with SRG muskets. A few even have breech-loading rifles. Fourth, much of the daily administration of the city has also fallen into the hands of the CoC or one of its affiliated organizations. In particular, the CoC has taken charge of sanitation and medical practices and is enforcing the needed rules vigorously.”

Vigorously. Ernst stared at her. He knew of at least one tavern-keeper who’d been brutally beaten by a CoC “sanitation patrol.” True, the man had been fouling the streets around his establishment. Quite badly, even by the standards of tavern-keepers. Furthermore, Ernst didn’t doubt for a moment that the CoC’s “vigorously enforced” sanitation rules were lowering the risk of disease and epidemic — always a major concern, especially in times of war and social unrest.


Richter pressed on.

“Fifthly, you are concerned that we are repairing and strengthening the city’s fortifications, as if we are preparing for a siege.”

He cleared his throat. You certainly couldn’t accuse the woman of evading delicate matters. She brought to mind the image of a very attractive, blonde glacier moving toward the sea.

“You are especially concerned because you suspect we are in fact preparing for a siege. Specifically, we are preparing to defend the city against the approaching Swedish army under the command of Johan Banér.”

She paused for an instant, to give him the first look you could really call “cold-eyed” since the meeting began.

“In this suspicion, you are correct. The Swede general Banér is notorious for his brutality and has been specifically known to state that the proper use of a CoC agitator’s head is as an adornment for a pike.” She tapped the side of her skull. “This is one such head, and I have every intention of keeping it where it is. Under no circumstances will we allow Banér and his army into the city.”

Ernst sighed and looked away. He could hardly argue this particular charge. He’d worked with the Swedish general in the Oberpfalz for months. Banér was a brute — a thoroughly unpleasant man — and Ernst himself had heard the general make that remark about CoC agitators and pikes.

Before he could say anything, Richter added: “And please spare us both the pointlessness of arguing that we cannot possibly withstand the Swedes. That’s nonsense, meaning no offense, and you know it just as well as I do. You have considerable experience with sieges yourself, especially at Ingolstadt. Dresden was well fortified to begin with and we are strengthening the city’s defenses still further. The city has a large population, most of whom are highly-motivated to keep Báner and his thugs outside the walls.

“That means that any siege will last for some time, which will require Báner to forage supplies from the Saxon countryside — a countryside which was already in rebellion against the Elector’s depredations and has a large and well-armed military force under the command of the Vogtlander, Goerg Kresse. And while the core of that army of irregulars remains Vogtlander, they have recruited a large number of people from the surrounding area since they came down from the mountains. They can’t defeat Báner in a pitched battle, of course, but they can bleed his army badly. Given the nature of Báner, that will inevitably produce Swedish atrocities against Saxon villagers, which in turn will ensure that your very worse fear comes to pass.

She paused for just an instant. “That is, you are concerned because in addition to the city’s large number of well-trained militiamen — most of whom have now joined the CoC guard contingents — there are also several hundred veterans of the USE’s army in the city, recuperating from their wounds. Most of them are from General Stearns’ Third Division, and almost all of them are on very good terms with the CoC. You are worried that if a clash of arms develops between Dresden and Báner’s army, those USE soldiers will side with Dresden and give the city’s defenders a core military force which has already defeated the French, the Saxons and the Poles in open battle.”

He looked back at her. A blonde glacier indeed — except glaciers didn’t move this fast.

“In this worry, Duke Ernst, you are also correct. You may rest assured that I have, am and will do everything I can to ensure that those veterans do the right thing if and when the time comes. And I am quite certain they will do so.”

Perhaps he should have stayed on the subject of education, after all.

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33 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 17

  1. Peter says:

    LOL! “The right thing” meaning do what Gretchen wants! Poor Ernst – he’s in wayyyyy over his head this time!

  2. dave o says:

    Does anyone want to argue with Gretchen’s analysis?

    Ernst has probably figured out that Gretchen doesn’t bluster. He knows that’s Baner’s stock in trade. Now he has to decide where his loyalty lies. Ox and Baner or Dresden and the CoC. I’m going to re-read his chapters in the Bavarian Crisis, but I think I already know.

  3. alejo says:

    Plots are best enjoyed when thick and viscous. This one’s shaping up to be just what the doctor ordered.

  4. lethargo says:

    @alejo – Nicely put :-)

    This is a good snippet. It would be funny if the next words out of Ernst’s mouth actually were “(Ahem) Anyway, about education, …”

  5. Robert H. Woodman says:

    It will be interesting to see Eric back in action and to see what Georg Kresse’s cavalry can do Baner’s army.

  6. Todd Bloss says:

    I’d completely forgotten about those “recuperating” 3rd Division troops.
    -Nice turn Eric. I enjoy it when I’m surprised.

  7. hank says:

    Hmm. What about those 10″ guns? Last we heard, _Bavarian Crisis_ pg 667, was Eddy & Tom being ordered to take them to Ingolstadt for storage in October of 1634. Baner might just bring them along, or send for them, if he has control of them. Of course that would be a very slow trip & the questons of ammo and ability of his gunners to use them might arise, but Gretchen might not be as secure as she thinks…

  8. John says:

    #7, a Snippet or three ago mentions that Tom and the salvaged naval cannon are still at Ingolstadt as part of the USE army, and will remain there to deter Duke Maximillian of Bavaria.

  9. morgulknight says:

    @7, Don’t those ten-inchers technically still belong to the Navy? If Baner sends for those guns, and Admiral Simpson countermands those orders, who do you think Tom and Eddie are going to obey? Especially when you consider that Mike Stearns is Tom Simpson’s brother-in-law…and knowing Mike, he’s keeping Tom fully apprised of the situation.

  10. Robert H. Woodman says:

    I’ve been reading up on Johan Baner. He was considered one of the best, if not the best, of G2A’s generals. A brute, yes, but a brilliant and brave general. From what I have read, he is also reputed to have been a close friend of G2A, despite the fact that G2A’s father had JB’s father executed on treason charges. JB died in May 1641 in Halberstadt, Saxony. I wonder if he’ll meet his death a bit earlier in the same place in this new time line?

  11. Mike says:

    @7,9 – Two/three snippets ago when the 10 inche guns were stated as being in Oberpfalz under Tom Simpson to ward off Bavarians that more or less was a clue to the reader that force wouldn’t be involved and the author will likely not involve those forces for the internal civil war.

  12. laclongquan says:

    My bet on Enrst being on the side of Princess Kristina. The reasons are followed:

    One: THe actions of Ox and his brother Wettin are highly irregular. They are not precisely doing a coupdetat, but they dont act in the words of law either. In the world of bureaucrats, this half-and-half business is for the dogs. he dont like it, plain and simple.

    Second: He’s not the same as those reckless German nobles. Out of all German allies of Gustavus, he and his brothers are some of the very few took up service with Gustavus, showing that they got foresight. Though The King treat his holdings quite cavalier, he still prosper under him. The actions of his brother Wettin and Ox smell of treason and treachery. If he stand with Wettin, that make three brothers out of four of the same treacherous blood.

    Third: When Kristina is installed in Madeburg, showing that USE still has the heir on the throne, he will get a proper way out and follow her. Thus honor and sense of rightness restored.

    In this situation? Maybe he will stall.

  13. Doug Lampert says:

    @12, Where are Ox and Wettin outside the words of the law? Legally Ox and Wettin are ENTIRELY in the right. Seriously, what’s the legal problem, the king is incapacitated but not dead and his top two officials have taken over the administration. There’s NOTHING suspicious or irregular about that. They’re moving the capital to the king’s current location, but that’s the NORMAL thing to do in a 17th century monarchy. It is HIGHLY unlikely that the law specifies where GA has to summon his government, the capital is where he (or his officials acting in his name) say it is.

    Legally on the other hand Kristina has NOTHING. She’s does not inheret, Gustav is still alive; she’s not the regent, she’s not in line to be regent by any ordinance or reason, her orders have exactly as much force as they did prior to Gustav’s injury (which is a fair amount actually, but nothing close to as much force as Ox and Wettin).

    And if Ox and Wettin summon Kristina to his bedside (and they have) and she doesn’t come then LEGALLY Kristina is the one in the wrong. Royal officials come when summoned ot the king.

    Christian of Denmark can make a reasonable case that HE should be regent and should now be the ruler, anyone else trying to claim legal authority over Ox and Wettin or that they are exceeding their authority is basically blowing hot air.

    I seriously doubt that Mike and Company are even CONSIDERING trying to claim that they are acting within the law once fighting starts. Gretchin certainly is NOT. Can you reread this snippet, where Gretchin more or less boasts of having extra-legally taken over the government of Dresden and of planning to illegally oppose troop movements and tell me with a straight face that concern for LEGALLITY will make someone support her side. Because that’s what you’re doing.

    Until Wettin starts changing laws without actually calling parliment into session he’s entirely within the law (and the day he manages a quorum he can make a snap call and solve that little problem).

  14. Ian Chapman says:

    #13 Ox and Wettin have not strayed beyond the scope of the law, yet. The “yet” part is clearly firmly formost in the mind of both Gen Stearns and Col Higgens. However, the legality is not quite as clear cut as you assume. Ox has no authority to summon Princess Kristina to see the King since the King is not in Sweden but in the USE, and that means Ox has no authority when he makes the summon. Wettin would have to do that, not Ox. A fine point to be sure, but a valid one and one that Ulrik quickly points out to Kristina.

    In fact the only person that can legally summon Kristina right now would be Christian of Denmark.

    Also the CoC has the expert testimony from the (broadly aknowledged) best doctor in the world that G2A is currently unable to rule. This point is not in question by either side. In such a case, traditional precedent is to install a regency and treat the situation as though the monarch had died with the sole proviso that the actual title doesn’t transfer over. Who is G2A’s heir? Princess Kristina. I am sure that Christian IV is going to make that point very loudly along with his demand that he be her regent until she comes of age and marries his son. That puts a powerful nobleman firmly in alliance with the CoC who also will be backing Kristina.

    Ox has no legal authority outside Sweden and Wettin’s support seems shakey at best. I can easily see legal justification then for someone like Ernst to back Kristina once laws have actually been broken. So far no one is planning to do anything other than prepare until this happens, but everyone is expeting this to happen soon.

  15. dave o says:

    #13 Do you have a copy of the legal code for USE? Is there a legal code? I don’t think so. This is a state which has been put together for less than three years. It has no established code of laws that I ever heard of. And anyway, the law which doesn’t exist is beside the point. Nothing in the law could possibly give Ox, Wettin, and Baner the right to massacre large numbers of subjects/citizens, which is what they clearly intend.

    I believe you will find that the princesses name is spelled GretchEn.

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Doug, Ox has no legal authority within the USE only within Sweden.

    Right now, he’s using the “cover” of Wettin (as has been mentioned earlier in the snippets).

    Gretchen is rightly concerned about Baner killing a major “political” group that she is part of.

    I’d note that Duke Ernst is concerned about Baner’s likely actions as well.

    While Wettin could very likely legally call parliment into session in Berlin, there is the “little” problem of only calling his supporters to Berlin.

    While possibly legal, it can easily be seen as violating the spirit of the Law.

    Finally, even if Ox and Wettin had the legal power to oppress their political rivals, those rivals have the moral right to fight back.

  17. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @13 – Doug Lampert

    That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly, ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, the attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for publick uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the public good.” Declaration of Independence, paragraph 2

    Though we don’t have an exact restatement of this in the RoF series or in the Gazettes (so far as I know), we have abundant evidence throughout the RoF series that this principle is important to the FoJP and to CoC. We also know from the end of TEF and the beginning of TSU (this book) that Axel Oxenstierna explicitly plans to undo all of the concessions that G2A made to Mike Stearns. The effect of this will be that the governed (at least in those USE states/provinces that lean towards the FoJP or the CoC) will no longer consent to be governed by those in charge (Axel Oxenstierna and Wilhelm Wettin). Given how new the USE is, I think the principle will trump the letter of the law.

    Also, IMO, EF will likely write in a scene where the Ox and/or WW actually break the rule of law deliberately, thus legitimizing Mike Stearns’ entrance into Saxony. Or G2A will regain his sanity and undo what the Ox is trying to do by calling in Mike to slap down Baner.

    On a different question, does anyone know the proper pronunciation of Johan Baner?

  18. Robert Krawitz says:

    @16, early in _1632_ — at the meeting where Mike takes over — he makes the principle abundantly clear: launch the American Revolution. That pretty well qualifies as an exact restatement to my mind.

  19. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @17, Robert Krawitz

    Yes, I remember that, but remember also that Mike’s plan all along has been to do it through persuasion of the masses and subversion of the nobility while stayng within the bounds and rule of law. What Oxenstierna and Wettin have to do to push Mike into armed conflict is to break the rule of law. They haven’t done that yet, but they are obviously pushing towards that end.

  20. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert H. Woodman, correct, which is why nobody has taken military action against Oxenstierna and Wettin.

    “Everybody” knows what they’re up to but until the “line” has been crossed, they’ll not take military action.

  21. dac says:

    @18 – RK

    I think that is exactly right

  22. robert says:

    @17 accent on the second syllable: BanEr.

  23. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @22 Thanks. I was wondering if it was pronounced the same way that John Boehner (Republican Congressman, taking over Nancy Pelosi’s job as Speaker of the House in January 2011) pronounces his name. That could have become a hilarious joke, even if not intentional on EF’s part. Alas, the Congressman pronounces his name BAY-ner, so no jokes there.

  24. Peter says:

    Thinking about the USE parliament, I am not sure that Wettin can get a quorum without the CoC/4oJ party alliance being present in at least token numbers. If he is aiming to do something within the present USE laws, then he’ll either need 1) a few shanghaied CoC delegates to get his quorum, or 2) he’ll need to break the law openly by governing without one, or 3) he’ll be limited to only those actions that he can take without parliament. That could get very interesting, especially if he refuses #2 and insists on only going with #3. I can’t see Ox being content with #3, but Wetting could be stubborn on this point.

  25. Peter says:

    Wettin, not Wetting – aaargh.

  26. ET1swaw says:

    @24 From what I understand, a true legal quorum in Berlin isn’t possible. The lower house is sparcely represented as most of those invited by Axel seem to be lower nobility. The upper house is just as lacking. Brunswick/Callenburg is with Tortensson. Hesse-Kassel wasn’t invited. Magdeburg, SoTF, and most of the Imperial Cities are FoJP/CoC. And as pointed out in earlier snippets, Brahe and Prince Frederik don’t really support Axel’s hijacking of the USE government. Swabia and Wurttemberg aren’t officially provinces and Tyrol is the new guy. And Mecklenburg and Pomerania are being legally contested. He has the executive with PM Wettin’s cooperation and G2A’s physical prescence, but that’s it!

  27. @20 time appears lacking for such to have started.

    Baner was a respectably good general. Note the Battle of Wittstock, available as a downloadable wargame from wargamedownloads.com . Of course, his battle did not get people anywhere.

  28. Ian Chapman says:

    As was mentioned in the comments on earlier snippets, however, I don’t think Ox really understands the implications of a national legislature which is available on a daily basis and has equal power to the executive in it’s own right. Such things simply did not exist in the 17th century. I am betting that Ox things of USE’s Diet as a Parliament that can be called at the King’s/PM’s discretion once or twice a year and those that arrive are automatically a quorum.

    If Ox makes that mistake, that would be the spark that triggers the civil war since such a thing in the USE would be expressly illegal (passing laws without a quorum).

  29. Doug Lampert says:

    All, I NEVER said that resisting Ox wasn’t justified, but I was replying to a post stating that Ernest would oppose him because of the LEGALITY of the issue, and the fact is as long as he has Wettin backing his orders he’s legally in the right. Not being in Sweeden is IRRELEVANT, because Wettin IS in the USE and IS backing his orders so far.

    Similarly he has NOT yet done anything without a quorum, and we have Gretchen’s EXPLICIT statement that she’s going to use armed force to resist Baner’s movement, that statement was made PRIOR to any hypothetical future illegal action and is straightup treason. Claiming that Ernest having heard this will now support her out of concern for legality is nonscence. Legally Baner is well within his rights to try to enter Dresden, and if the CoC resists they are clearly fighting against the existing legal government. This is a revolution, not a legal argument.

    Mike and especially Gretchen DON’T CARE about the legalities. They PLAN to violate the existing laws and legal structure. Since they don’t know that Kristina is running toward Magdenburg they aren’t even factoring the POSSIBILITY of her providing some sort of legal cover into their plans. Since they are planning to fight anyway they’re not planning a legal argument.

  30. Sounour says:

    Wettin does not have the power to summon Kristina, the heir. Her father is the only one who can do so in the USE. At least that’s how I remember it from TEF.
    And I suspect Kristina and Ulrik have some suprises planed for when they arrive in Magdeburg.
    My guess is they throw a wedding. That should explain Caroline’s suprise at the end of TEF, because the thought of a nine year old, marrying for political benefits would be a big suprise to anyone from our time, although it’s not very unusual for 17th century an explains Ulriks comments about growing up fast.
    At least that should create a whole new basis for people who resist Ox, because even if Kristina is not of age, Ulrik certainly is

  31. KimS says:

    @29 I disagree with your final paragraph. Mike is following his orders. He is planning for the contingency of what to do if and when civil war erupts. Gretchen knows the reality of war from a different perspective. She will never be a victim again. I know that if I were in the USE and an army was moving towards the city I lived in and was already saying I should be killed, where is the protection of the law? I’d join Gretchen and the CoC.

    When civil war begins, legalities are a moot point.

    And why does Baner and his army have the right to enter Dresden? Is it an enemy city? No. Is it in rebellion against the USE? No. Has Wettin invited them in? Not yet. Even in 1633, the Swedish army wasn’t stationed in Magdeberg.

    If Baner doesn’t put Dresden under siege, nothing that Gretchen is doing matters. Baner was only ordered to Saxony by G2A and has no reason, other than to punish the CoC, in going to Dresden.

  32. laclongquan says:

    In case there’s some misunderstanding here, I would like to reiterate again the actions and their implications regarding to Oxentierna and Wettin:

    The Emperor is incapacipated and his chief minister of his USE Empire, namely Wettin, is acting in a highly suspicious move:

    Wettin, or the appearance of it, has still NOT provided his Emperor the best medical care in the best environment possible. ‘

    The incapacitated Emperor does NOT rest in his capital. Contrary to some people’s belief, the capital is not where the emperor king stay, even in medieval times. It’s the capital because he STATE so and make the necessary moves to make it so.

    Wettin does NOT have the power to summon Kristina. This is implied at the end of Eastern Front. Ox does not have the power to do so. If Wettin does have that, he would have Wettin done so. Since he didnt make Wettin do so and did that in his own name, therefore Wettin doesnot have power to summon Kristina.

    This is treacherous behaviours, even for noblemen. Ox? Hah, the man is hypocritical at best. Wettin? He better watch it or he will further blacken his family’s name with treachery, no matter what his intention.

  33. Jan B says:

    29. Mike play within the law. He intend to break it only IF the other side do so, he may not follow the spirit of the law but will not be teh first side that breaks it’s letter. Gretchen on the other hand will not allow Dresden to be sacked if she can stop it, regardless of any laws.

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