1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 34

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 34

For a moment, she also wished that Ed Piazza were here. But…

Most likely, he wouldn’t be able to help much. The problem was that the most hardcore CoC leaders like Gunther and many of the people around the table — Gretchen Richter too, although she wasn’t present — were suspicious of Americans.

Well… “suspicious” wasn’t really the right term. The CoC hardliners didn’t doubt that most Americans had good intentions. But they viewed the up-timers as squeamish, hesitant, and prone to vacillation.

In a private conversation, Constantin Ableidinger had once said to her: “They led a sheltered life, Rebecca. Study their history. Once they gained their independence, they were only invaded once — and that was two centuries before the Ring of Fire, and it was really just a raid on their coast. In that same stretch of time, at least half a dozen wars and several revolutions were fought on German soil. And that’s not counting everything that came earlier — the Peasant War and all the rest of it.

“They’re good and decent people, by and large, I’ll be the first to say it. And there’s no question that their arrival in the Ring of Fire is what broke everything open. But you just can’t trust them not to flinch and turn aside when the time comes to settle accounts. They’re like a farm boy who gets upset by the sight of blood trying to butcher a hog. They’ll make a bloody, bungled mess of it.”

There was enough truth to his viewpoint to make it hard to argue with. All the more so, because in the four and a half years since the Ring of Fire the Americans had mostly been able to sidestep the problem.

In the first year and a half, to be sure, they’d had to fight off enemies who came right at them — at the Battle of the Crapper, at Jena, at Eisenach and the Wartburg, and the Croat raid on Grantville itself. But those had been simple and straight-forward military clashes, with no political subtleties and complexities involved.

Thereafter, Mike Stearns had always been able to reach a compromise with the king of Sweden that kept the situation reasonably stable. But that was no longer true, and the new situation was completely unlike anything they’d faced before. Either here in the seventeenth century, or in their own world before the Ring of Fire.

How would they react, without Mike Stearns to lead them?

No one really knew.

Rebecca was surprised, therefore, when Constantin Ableidinger spoke up. Unusually for him, he’d been silent thus far in the meeting.

“I’m with Rebecca on this, Gunther.” He matched Achterhof’s hard look with one of his own.

“And stop glaring at me. It’s not my fault you insist on being stupid today. It’s not Rebecca’s fault, either.”

He spent a moment giving everyone at the table that same hard look.

“What is wrong with you people? This is not complicated. If we are seen to be responsible for the coming civil war, then we’ve probably lost it before it even starts.” He jabbed a finger at Matthias Strigel. “You! You need to get out of Magdeburg sometime and travel around the country. You live in a hothouse here. Most of you do.”

Now he jabbed the finger at the Mecklenburger, Charlotte Kienitz. “You too! Spend all your time when you’re not here jabbering with your fellow revolutionaries in the taverns in Schwerin.”

Charlotte didn’t like alcohol, as it happened. But it was true enough that she habituated the capital of Mecklenburg’s radical gathering places whenever she went back home.

Ableidinger now swiveled his finger around the table, as if he were a gunner bringing a cannon to bear.

“That’s the whole trouble!” he boomed. “You spend too much time talking to people who already agree with you and not enough time — no time at all, in the case of some of you! — listening to people out there” — now the finger jabbed at the windows — “who don’t see things the way you do.”

Looked at from one angle, there was something preposterous about Constantin Ableidinger lecturing other people on talking too much and not listening enough. But Rebecca was not about to chide him for it, under the circumstances.

The Franconian leader stood up and went to one of the windows that faced to the west. “This is what will happen if you act too soon.” He stared through the glass for a moment. “First, you give Wettin a lever to force the Hessians to support him — where, if we let him launch the attack, the landgravine will have the excuse she so clearly wants to keep Hesse-Kassel neutral.”

He half-turned, to bestow something very close to a sneer on Achterhof. “You do understand, I hope, why we want Hesse-Kassel to remain neutral, Gunther? We have no chance at all of overthrowing the landgravine — if you don’t believe me, ask her.”

He pointed to Liesel Hahn, a member of Parliament from Hesse-Kassel. Hahn had been looking distinctly unhappy so far in the meeting. Now she nodded her head several times.

“The truth is, she’s pretty popular,” she said. “Even more than her husband Wilhelm was.”

Achterhof looked like he was about to say something, but Constantin drive over him. The Franconian could out-boom just about anybody.

“The last thing we need is to have one of the most powerful provincial armies in the nation fighting on the side of Oxenstierna and Wettin. But it’s not just Hesse-Kassel that’s at stake! Some of the other western provinces are unsteady, and could go either way.”

He stepped away from the window and held up his thumb. “Start with Brunswick, which borders on Magdeburg province. Lucky for us, Brunswick’s ruler is off in Poland with Torstensson, besieging Poznán. Let’s make sure he stays there, shall we? If he does what Torstensson is most likely to do — call down a plague on both houses — then Brunswick also remains neutral. That’s good for us, because we have no more chance of taking power in Brunswick than we do in Hesse-Kassel.”

“What are you talking about?” demanded Albert Bugenhagen. The mayor of Hamburg rose to his own feet and pointed accusingly in the direction of Berlin. “At least half the stinking noblemen — and just about all the hochadel — from Brunswick and Westphalia are in Berlin right now, plotting with Oxenstierna.”

“And there are just as many from my province and the Upper Rhine,” said Anselm Keller. He was a member of Parliament from the Province of the Main.

Now, Constantin sneered openly. “Who cares? The danger doesn’t come from that pack of jackals.”

“Most of them can raise their own armies!” said Bugenhagen.

Ableidinger’s sneer grew more expansive. “‘Armies’ is a bit grandiose, don’t you think? Even the hochadel among them can’t raise more than a few hundred men — and you don’t want to look too closely at them, either. A fair number of those ‘armed retainers’ are sixty years old and missing an arm or an eye. Admit it, Albert — against such as those, our stout CoC contingents will send them packing. Just as we did in Operation Kristallnacht.”

That was a bit of an exaggeration, but it was close enough to the mark that Bugenhagen sat down without pursuing the argument. And while Keller’s jaws were tight, he didn’t contest the matter.

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19 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 34

  1. VernonNemitz says:

    I dunno why the simplest argument of all hasn’t shown up yet. “Are we the good guys or the bad guys in the eyes of the general population? Whoever does the first bad thing, THEY will be the bad guys….”

  2. Bret Hooper says:

    “Achterhof looked like he was about to say something, but Constantin drive [sic] over him.” Please, Eric, change ‘drive’ to ‘drove’ at or before the final edit. Thank you.

    @1 Vernon: Excellent point!

  3. MikeyMikeMikey says:

    @VernonNemitz I think he might be building to that point. However, with an over-eager crowd like that, one has to get to the practical reasons against their rashness before any reasons related to PR. “Keeping the guys on the fence right where they are instead of jumping into the brawl against us” is a far more practical consideration that “we don’t want to look like the bad guys.” Especially since the latter reasoning already hovers dangerously close to the perceived hesitance of the uptimers that a lot of the CoC types don’t like.

  4. dave o says:

    Ableidinger and Becky between them look to convince the majority of their group. However some, especially Achterhof are too radical to be convinced. The danger is that he’ll or some of the other COCers still want to act preemptively. Where is Kristina? If/when she shows up in Magdeburg, it will be a game-changer. With her there, the arguments for delay win.

    In the meanwhile, they ought to give some thought to what kind of propaganda they’ll need to convince people that they *are* the good guys. They have most of the printers, always the most radical craftsmen, on their side, so it should be easy to get the word out. A few atrocities by Ox’s people would be helpful. And likely. Some outrageous political actions in Berlin would also help.

  5. summertime says:

    As Ableidinger points out, it might be good for the COC leaders to be out and about and be seen as regular people by the populace, rather than being sequestered in the city and an unknown quantity, especially since the aristocrats are well known to be staunch supporters of maintaining their privileges and disdain the common folks.

  6. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @4 Agreed. And all of those are additional reasons to be patient.

    The worst possible result would be a situation where the majority of the USE populace sees the reactionaries as having a legitimate agenda, most ‘moderates’ either support the reactionaries or sit things out, and there is a long and bloody conflict between the reactionaries and CoC. Achterhof et. al. might like the chance to kill a lot of Kleinadel bozos, but they need to make a choice between vengeance and victory.

    As far as all those examples of successful first strikes that have been brought up in the previous snippets, lets notice that most share common characteristics:

    1) Surprise attacks
    2) Foreign enemies.

    Neither of those are the case here. The Reactionaries are prepared for conflict (indeed they are pushing for it) and both sides live in the same political entity (can’t quite call USE one country yet).

  7. Todd Bloss says:

    “Good guys”? “Bad guys”? -Now you’re thinking like a sheltered Uptime American ;)

  8. JN says:

    @7 Agreed. PR will play its role, but these people think first in terms of survival, then retribution. Public perceptions are grey areas, and these are people who think in black and white. Hence the discussion of American lack of fiber.

    The PR aspects that matter here are already under discussion, ie the local authorities. They will be swayed by more direct political considerations. Public sentiment is a secondary concern, if that.


  9. ET1swaw says:

    In the previous snippet, it was put out that no one (including Kresse) could be proved to have crossed the line. Hopefully Becky’s and Conrad’s arguments will keep the hotheads suppressed until Axel and/or Baner does. His best point of argument IMO is the narrowness of the hothead’s POV. Reactionaries are gathered in Berlin, but Liberals and Conservatives are both staying at home in support of the status quo. ANY action initiated by FoJP/CoCs will immediately drive them to instictively brand it as rebellion and oppose it in defense of the percieved good. Allowing the reactionaries free reign to put down the rebellion and impose draconian measures to prevent it happening again. Only the assiduous attention to restriction during Krystallnacht allowed no significant backsplash. The common USE citizen would take any action by the dangerous firebrand rebels of the CoCs, EXCEPT in REACTION to illegal and treasonous attacks, as an attack upon themselves and their homeland (county, city, village, NOT country). Remember, the bulk of the four estates are neither in Berlin nor the CoCs. Even the bulk of the Adel are not in Berlin. Mecklenburg during Krystallnacht was accepted as support for G2A over and above the opposing Adel. It is more ‘hearts and minds’ than PR. ATT the wrong move generates ACTIVE OPPOSITION!

  10. dave o says:

    #7 “Good Guys” defined: People who do not steal everything you own, kill you and your sons, rape and kill your wife and your daughters, burn your house, village, or town, reduce everyone left alive to serfdom and leave them to starve since you’ve stolen all their food. “Bad Guys” defined: well you try to guess.

  11. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Not only is the situation not complicated, as Ableidinger put it, it’s actually fairly simple. What he’s laying out is that by striking first against the legitimate elected authority, in effect rebelling, a number of the established nobles who would sit out the whole thing would feel obligated to come in on the side of that legitimate elected authority. Furthermore, the average USE citizen would view such an action as a power grab by the CoCs, which it would be, and would not support it. Neither of those contribute to a winning situation.

    It’s not a matter of good guys or bad guys. It’s just a matter of sensible tactics. In short, until Baner makes the mistake he’s clearly setting up to make, they’d better keep their hands tied.

  12. robert says:

    This situation could resolve itself very easily (and it will, I predict). If Gustav regains his faculties, he will take care of everything. I suspect that the Dresden situation will come to a head before that happens, but Mike has already taken care of that, but only he, his men, Wallenstein and Pappenheim really know that. The Berlin stuff is just a sideshow, meaningless noise, bound to cause grief to the noise makers.

  13. dave o says:

    The FOJ party needs to maintain the neutrality of the princes who are not in Berlin. And the Swedish Generals other than Baner. Just about everyone agrees that the way to do this is to NOT strike first, but leave that to Ox and his cronies. Fine. Who expects Ox et al to announce what he’s doing? What he’ll say is: “we’re suppressing rebellion and anarchy.” What the FOJ needs to do is to publicize all of Ox’s atrocities, and all of his reactionary political decisions.

    The majority of the people in the USE are uncomfortable with all of the changes from the ROF. And all the traditional political arrangements have been set on their head. They need to see reasons why all this is less bad than what Ox is doing. If they’re not convinced, the USE will be like 19th century France: Paris was radical and overthrew governments, but France was conservative. France always won. USE cannot be stable unless most of the population can be brought to support it.

  14. Stanley Leghorn says:

    I’m not so sure the majority is so upset by the ROF. For the people inside the USE, it has brought an end to the constant war, restored trade and the rule of law, and brought massive employment in something other than munitions. I do not see the automatic reactions of the population at large similar to that in OTL France where the populace saw NO good from the revolts.

    But, I agree that they must go slowly until Baner messes up.

    Dave O said:
    The majority of the people in the USE are uncomfortable with all of the changes from the ROF. And all the traditional political arrangements have been set on their head. They need to see reasons why all this is less bad than what Ox is doing. If they’re not convinced, the USE will be like 19th century France: Paris was radical and overthrew governments, but France was conservative. France always won. USE cannot be stable unless most of the population can be brought to support it.

  15. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @14 “Uncomfortable” is not the same as “upset.” Unconfortable can mean “ok with changed but not really happy” or even “its been a good thing so far but I’m not sure how much more of these American customs I want.”

    Also, Rebecca isn’t talking to (or about) the ‘RoF’ (i.e. Americans). She is talking to CoC’s, and it is established in the books that “most people” (especially the estblished middle class sorts) view the CoCs as both radical and dangerous. It would be easy for Reactionary forces to say “We will keep the American technology, but if we keep them under control in little packets belonging to various noblemen they won’t pesent a further danger to society.”

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    “Uncomfortable” can also mean “Change is happening too fast”.

    Most people have problems with continued change to “how *they* do things”.

    The CoCs can seen as people pushing change *before* the majority is ready to make more changes as well as people pushing for changes that the majority may not like.

    Even if the majority aren’t supporting the “Reactionaries”, they could easily see the CoCs as worse.

  17. Todd Bloss says:

    @10 -Yes, per 16th Century rationale, “bad guys” are people that do that to you, so it’s only fair, as soon as you have the power, to do the exact same to them and their people in retribution.

    20th Century rationale is that “Good guys” don’t do that (at least in the First world).
    We may certainly kill you, but we won’t rape or torture you first or purposely target your kids.

    I don’t think the phrase “Two wrongs do not make a right” would make much sense to someone of that time.

    To bring things home, remember what Ableidinger told Becky, “They’re like a farm boy who gets upset by the sight of blood trying to butcher a hog” -That “sight of blood” includes not just killing the Noble or person in question, but their wives, children and babies.

    Ableidinger was probably thinking of the American Military advisor’s reaction to the burning and family massacre of the Schloss at Mitwitz (Chapter 13,Ram Rebellion), when he thought of that statement.

    So, back to our “Sheltered Americanisms”, I don’t care who you are or what’s been done to you or yours, Good Guys don’t murder babies.

  18. Jeff Ehlers says:

    @17: That’s also known as “reprisals”. As in, “an endless cycle of reprisals”. As in, both sides get caught up in committing atrocities to punish previous atrocities and lose sight of everything else, including what originally started it all. The only way to stop the cycle is to short-circuit it, which most 16th century people don’t realize.

  19. Capatin says:

    Articles like this are an example of quick, helpful arnswes.

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