1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 41

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 41

She hadn’t said so, but Ernst was quite sure that it had been Richter herself who saw to it that the rural folk had plenty of representation on the new Committee. She’d understood that Dresden had to have the support of the surrounding countryside — all of Saxony, not just the city itself — if it was to withstand a siege by an army the strength of Banér’s. And that same support would be a constant drain on the besiegers.

Regardless of who sat on the Committee, the driving will was Richter’s. She made even the notoriously harsh Georg Kresse seem soft, once she’d decided on a course of action. The woman had always been polite and pleasant in her dealings with him, but Ernst had not fooled himself. Beneath that attractive surface lay a granite mind; as unyielding as the Alps and as ruthless as an avalanche.

They had no idea what they were unleashing, those idiots in Berlin. They dreamed of another bloodbath like the one that had drowned the rebellion during the Peasant War, that would once again restore their power and privileges. But even that slaughter had only stemmed the tide for a century.

What was a century? Nothing, if a man was capable of stepping back and measuring human affairs by a yardstick longer than his own life — and what was a life? Also nothing, if a man was capable of stepping back and measuring his soul against eternity.

But… they listened to those parsons they chose to listen to. The ones who assured them that the Almighty who created the sun and the moon and the heavens favored the wealthy and powerful — never mind what the Christ said — and would approve of their butchery. The God who filled oceans would gaze with favor upon the men who filled abattoirs.

Idiots, now; greater idiots still, when they faced judgment.

For butchery it would have to be. Richter would not yield, and neither would her followers — who now included hundreds of soldiers from the regular army’s Third Division. Whose commander had somehow forgotten them.

That would be Mike Stearns. The same man whom Ernst’s brother had once described, half-angrily and half-admiringly, with the up-time expression “he’s got a mind like a steel trap.”

That would be his brother Wilhelm, now one of the idiots in Berlin. What had happened to him? How and when had he lost his judgment and his good sense?

What did Wilhelm think would happen when those soldiers in Dresden came under fire from a Swedish army? Did he — did that still greater idiot Oxenstierna — think Stearns would remain obediently in Bohemia?

For a time, maybe. Probably, in fact. In his own way, Stearns was every bit as ruthless as Richter. He was quite capable of biding his time while the defenders of Dresden bled Banér’s army — and von Arnim’s too, if he ventured out of Leipzig.

But sooner or later, he would be back. Leading the same soldiers who defeated the Poles at Zwenkau and Zielona Góra, and now had their comrades threatened by Banér. Did they think those soldiers would refuse to follow Stearns?

Were they mad?

And what did they think Torstensson would do with the rest of the USE army? At best, he would hold them in Poland, out of the fray — because if they joined that fray, they would certainly not join it on behalf of Oxenstierna.

The whole nation would dissolve into civil war. There was no way of knowing in advance who would win, but if Ernst had been a gambling man — which he most certainly was not — he would not have placed his wager on Berlin.

There was a blindness that came with power, if the man who wielded it was not careful. One got accustomed to obedience, to having one’s will enforced. The idea that it could be thwarted — certainly by a wretch who’d been no more than a printer’s daughter and a near-prostitute — faded into the shadows. Became unthinkable, even. The practical realities of power transmuted as if by a philosopher’s stone into a self-evident law of nature.

I am mighty because I am, and therefore always will be.

He sighed, shook his head, and returned to his desk. Sitting down, he pulled some sheets of paper from a drawer and took out his pen.

No miserable quill pen, this. He only used those for public display. This was an up-time fountain pen, which he’d purchased in Grantville. The type that could be continually refilled, not the much cheaper kind that had to be thrown away after a while. He’d had it for two years now, and adored the thing. It was worth every dollar — the very many dollars — he’d spent on it.

Later, he’d write to his brother Wilhelm. That letter would be useless anyway, since Wilhelm had made it quite clear he was no longer listening. Ernst would write it purely out of a sense of family obligation.

The letter he would write first would be equally useless, of course, if you looked at it solely in terms of its immediate effect. But Ernst was not one of those idiots who confused days with months and years with centuries.

He would give no legitimacy to this madness. Come what may, to him as well as the city. He also did not confuse a life with eternity.

He did not bother with the customary salutations. Under the circumstances, flowery prose was just silly.

General Johan Banér —

I remind you that I am the administrator of Saxony. The appointment was given to me directly by Gustav II Adolf, Emperor of the United States of Europe, and has not been rescinded by him.

Dresden is in good order. There is neither cause nor justification for your army to enter the city. I therefore order you to keep a distance of fifteen miles, lest your presence provoke disturbances.

Ernst Wettin, Administrator of Saxony, Duke of Saxe-Weimar

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39 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 41

  1. Peter says:

    Ahh, good! Ernst has the long view! This will serve the USE very well, and be invaluable to Gretchen in the coming crisis. Love it!

  2. Robert H. Woodman says:

    My suspicion is that Ernst’s letter likely will provoke the opposite reaction in Baner, which will prove his, and ultimately Oxenstierna’s, undoing.

  3. Bret Hooper says:

    @2 Robert: My suspicion is that he won’t enter Dresden, albeit he may try to (but won’t that be at least tantamount to treason? Certainly it would be disobedience of a lawful order! And if he does try to enter Dresden, you are absolutely right: it “will prove his, and ultimately Oxenstierna’s, undoing.”

  4. Jan B says:

    @3 Bret: It isn’t disobedience of a lawful order. Ernst is in the USE Civil Service and Banér is in the Swedish Army. But yes it can be considerd treason, an investigation after the fact will probably find that whoever won acted accordingly and the other one of Banér and Ernst was\is a traitor.

  5. Jan B says:

    And it is vialoation of a allied powers teritorium.

  6. Stephen says:

    I admit, I was a little confused by the shift in tone in this snippet. All of a sudden it got a lot more theoretical and theological, and seemed far too sophisticated for Eric Krenz.

    Then it finally got obvious even to my thick skull that the viewpoint had shifted to Duke Ernst, who is definitely that sophisticated! Somehow I read the “Ernst” in the first sentence as “Eric.” That’s the fault of my eye, not the typist :).

    I take it as a good sign about Eric’s writing, that even though I had completely missed the explicit change of viewpoint, that the style shifted enough for me to tell that it wasn’t “right” for the character I thought I was reading about.

  7. dave o says:

    #3 & 4 Baner has one set of orders from Ernst and another from Berlin. In Oberpfalz, Baner was clearly, if reluctantly, subordinate to Ernst, and both took orders from G2A. The situation is the same in Saxony, as far as I can tell. With G2A disabled, who can act for him? He gets to decide which to follow. Given his character, and his contempt for Ernst and the COC, it’s pretty clear which he’ll follow.

  8. Virgil says:

    Ernst has obviously read the instruction on the sole of the boot. I have been wondering myself who switched Wilhelm on me. The one in this and the last story is not the same one that gave up his Dukedom in order to run for Prime Minster.
    This one got s* for brains.

    If somebody went to Berlin and build a fence around it then burn the city to the groun Germanies problem for the next 100 years would be taken care of.

  9. KimS says:

    Whyis it, other than for the impact of the written word, that the radio isn’t used to pass these messages quicker. The mail takes longer and is more formal but why let him get that close. Maybe send the letter to William so there is a delay in his actions.

  10. ET1swaw says:

    @9 KimS: Baner is old school, he really doesn’t like the ROF changes and barely tolerates their use.
    Ernst has declared for the good guys, YAY!! Then again, in Oberpfalz he was one of the most progressive administrators around: pushed religious toleration/freedom; formed militia units from Jaegers and RiverRats; began to set up a widespread school system both secular and religious (RC, Lutheran, and Calvinist alike); and was pushing economic expansion. Even more so than Hesse-Kassel, he was the closest CLs came to the platform of CoC/FoJP/Ram.
    VonA mentioned again. Wonder what is coming down the pike? Is it a light at the end of a tunnel or the headlight of an oncoming train.
    A line has been drawn. Gretchen has her fig leaf for closing the city and Mike will soon have political cover (sparse but there) for a return to Saxony,

  11. John says:

    @9 – A letter is CYA documentation so that afterwards, he can say (and most importantly, prove) he did everything he could to keep Baner away.

  12. Paul says:

    Re: @3 Bret: “Treason never prospers, for if it prospers, none dare call it Treason”.

  13. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @11 I think the letter is a bit more than that. It is also a final declaration by Ernst that he considers Coc/FoJP/Ram program politically legitimate, even if he disagrees with some methods and goals. I think we are going to see more of the ‘moderate’ CLs (Sophie, Torstensson, Horn, Calenberg, even Christian IV) making declarations like this through the rest of the book; in a way this part of the story is the climax of the political plot arc for the whole series — Ox’s willingness to risk/cause a civil war is going to force decisions that people ordinarily woudl have wanted to delay or avoid completely (and would have been able to delay or avoid if it were not for the crisis Ox is forcing.)

  14. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @8 It was pretty well discussed in snippets earlier (and for Eastern Front) that Wlhelm Wettin is stuck — he made agreements with whacky conservatives that limit his ability to act sensibly and persuade his party to do so. Also, It might be worth remembering that WWs abdication from his duchy was instigated by a conversation with Mike Stearns. Seems like WW hasn’t taken advantage of that source of political advice for some time (honestly, as head of the CL, he can’t be seen to use Mike anyway.) So w/o Mike and a functional GA2, he is in a very hard position with limited maneuverability, and in such circumstances it is a natural reaction (and natural mistake) to ‘bull through’ with a previously planned course of action.

    I think it will be interesting to see what happens with Wilhelm’s character — he may (I think should) become sensible again before the end. Will the expected rescue of GA2 include his Prime Minister, or will WW become an unsung martyr to the cause of constitutional government in the USE?

  15. Terranovan says:

    All hail for the “Committees for a Soft Landing”! They were briefly referenced in The Baltic War IIRC, when their founder, Alessandro Scaglia, laid out the idea for them. Basically, they’ve accepted that democracy is inevitable and are making sure that the nobles and gentry have a soft landing in the future that’s coming.

  16. dave o says:

    As a result of Ernst Wettin’s letter to Baner, Oxenstierna will consider him a traitor, not legally, but to Ox’s program. Wilhelm Wettin will then be forced to choose between Ox and his brother. There has already been hints that he is less than completely enthusiastic about Ox’s plans. And that he feels boxed in by his German “supporters”. I think he will decide that family loyalty is more important to him than Ox or the party. Once he as Prime Minister, makes that decision, the reactionary party loses all pretense of legitimacy. Then most, if not all, of the fence-sitters come down on the other side.

  17. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    dave o, that is an interesting point. Basically you mean family loyalty will give Wilhelm an ‘out’ so that he can have a reason to switch sides other than “I wuz stoopid” (which won’t fly in public even if WW knows it in private).

    My question in reply is what about Bernhard? The Wettins have already demonstrated that family loyalty isn’t something they prize over everything. But maybe Ernst’s second letter will still be ebnough to get WW thinking again.

  18. Doug Lampert says:

    As far as I know Bernhard never did anything that hurt the rest of his family, either in the real world or in the 1632 world.

    In fact, it was in large part an offended feeling of family honor that drove him into defecting in the 1632 world.

  19. Matthew says:

    I think the letter is just a line in the sand that he knows Baner will cross. He knows that Baner will try to enter regardless of what Ernst does, so this letter just determines how illegal that future act is going to be. Making it on the approach to city as opposed to entering, pushes the line of illegality closer to Baner, giving Ernst time to react when Baner decides to cross.

  20. Stanley Leghorn says:

    We shall see is WW manages to escape Berlin. I would not be surprised to find he is under tacit house arrest. The big shift will be when Kristina hits Magdeburg. Ox can say what he wants, EVERYBODY know Kristina has a mind and will equal to G2.

    And so it begins…

  21. robert says:

    What a set of cliffhangers!
    Will Gustav recover his faculties in time to stop the civil war?
    Will Baner attack (is this what is known as a rhetorical question?)?
    Will Baner still be alive when the dust settles? Will Axel O.?
    Will the Princess and her Prince arrive in Magdeburg in time to lead the resistance?
    Will Jeff make it to Dresden to save the day? Will Mike get to Dresden to save the day?
    What is going on in Prague? In Vienna? In Istanbul?

  22. ET1swaw says:

    @21 robert: Don’t Forget:
    Will Josef convince his uncle, Hetman Koniecpolski (almost a PLC sub-king as much of Ukraine is his), of the new needs of his people (at the very least the soft landing approach)?
    What will happen in Oberpfalz (USE traitor has already contacted Mad Max of Bavaria; and with exception of USE SoTF militia support, Oberpfalz has only 1 regiment of USE Army and the Jaeger and RiverRat militia that Ernst formed)?
    What will Von Arnim and his forces in Liepzig do?
    What wiii Von Thurn and his 2 Divisions of Swedish troops (along with the small remainder of Hesse-Kassel troops left by Marchgrifin Amalie Elizabeth (Hesse-Kassel’s widow)) in Berlin do?
    What will Ox have the armsmen of his reactionary supporters do (remember they’re about a step or two below even CoC columns as far as military potenetial goes)?
    Did Ox or Wladyslav hire Holk and how will he be used (Koniecpolski won’t have him among his forces unless by direct order of Sejm and Monarch)?
    And my current itching question: what is happening in Swedish Prussia and Swedish Livonia now that G2A has attacked PLC (Truce of Altmark has expired without a treaty(OTL Treaty of Stuhmsdorf))?

  23. Bret Hooper says:

    Snippet posting now seems to be on Eastern Standard Time instead of Central. Can anyone tell us how come?

  24. ET1swaw says:

    Forgot about the 4th Wettin, a CL in CoC/FoJP/Ram SoTF. Wonder what his take is? His oldest brother is the USE Prime Minister and seemingly intent on raising civil war. His youngest brother is now a self-proclaimed Grand Duke with his own country (Grand Duchy of Burgundy). His other brother is a USE G2A-appointed province administrator for a second time and under threat (from his own forces this time rather than Bavaria).

  25. summertime says:

    The mind reels! Thanks robert and ET for listing some variables. Further afield, what is happening in England, France, Italy. North America?

  26. Erick I. says:

    The importance of being Ernst. Agree with@13, The letter to Baner seems to be the trigger of legitimacy for the revolt that resolves the political tension, is that enough for Simpson?. Baner will ignore the letter and besiege Dresden. Baner does not respect Ernst personally or his authority as is implied in Bavarian Crisis. No supplies or shelter within 10 miles, winter, hostile armed population, contempt for the rabble in Dresden, if Baner demands the surrender of Dresden then assaults the city, the trigger is pulled and the civil war begins.

  27. robert says:

    @22 How could I forget all that? All the plots and sub-plots are making me plotz.

    @25 reels and boggles. I wonder if Eric knew what he was taking on when he wrote “1632” or, if did guess, was it as mind-reeling as we now think. From V. Demarce’s posting on the Bar a while back of the 1632 writers’ group meeting marching orders, I got a picture of balls of yarn and many kittens.

  28. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, ask if Eric knew what he was taking on when he continued the story. [Grin]

    Eric wrote _1632_ as a stand-alone story not as the start of a series. [Smile]

  29. Robert Krawitz says:

    @Drak, I thought 1632 was supposed to be the start of a series…but an entirely different kind of series.

  30. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, Eric wrote it as a stand-alone but people got started talking about it so much on Baen’s Bar that Eric and Jim Baen decided that it had potential for being a series.

    Because of the interest (and posted story ideas) Eric was willing to accept Barfly stories (and stories from other authors) into the universe.

  31. summertime says:

    Many authors have written “stand alone” stories that have then taken off into protracted, multi-volume series. Then, too, authors have written books with little or no follow-up on a fascinating story idea. For example, I would love for S. M. Stirling to do a follow-up to his novel CONQUISTADOR, which ended with kind of a cliff-hanger. We are fortunate that Eric,with lots of help, has blessed us with such a rich harvest of reading pleasure. This pertains not just to the many “1632” books and short stories, but to his other works. My all-time favorite, in six volumes, which I re-read about once a year in it’s entirety, is the DANCE OF TIME series which Eric wrote with David Drake – a masterwork which I commend to all who have not read it

  32. Robert Krawitz says:

    Wasn’t it originally supposed to be the first novel in the ultimate hunting down of the Assiti, whose debris from their space-time artwork cause the RoF (from the prolog to 1632)? Since then, there has only been one book referencing that; the reader (and author) interest has obviously been in the 1632 storyline, not the Assiti.

  33. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Sorry Robert, but IIRC the mention of the Assiti was *only* to “explain” why Grantville disappeared from our time and appeared in Germany during the Thirty Years Wars.

    Now from what I’ve heard there will be a trilogy concerning the Assiti co-written by Sarah Hoyt. IIRC it will partially involve a visit by the Assiti to Shakespearean England.

    Oh I suspect (but not sure) that if there are sequels to _Time Spike_, the Assiti may show up in them. I suspect that the events in _Time Spike_ were deliberately caused by the Assiti.

  34. robert says:

    @28 Drak, thanks for the info. But after reading “1632” all I could think of was that there had to be more to it. There just had to be! And, lo, there was. Anyone here sorry about that? Raise your hand.

  35. Peter says:

    My hand stays down. I’m not a bit sorry.

  36. Bret Hooper says:

    My hand stays down to. I want more and more and more and . . . .

  37. Bret Hooper says:

    ops, typo! My hand stays down too!

  38. Stanley Leghorn says:

    Having been out of contact for a while, I was wondering what happened to the Dutch fleet in SA. They should have had time to effect repairs, if possible. Any word on “The Race for Rubber”? The re-appearance of a Dutch fleet would be a big power shift if they decide the current deal in the Netherlands is unacceptable…

  39. Greg Eatroff says:

    At one point the plan seemed to be using the Assiti to cause multiple “Connecticut Yankee” style alternate universes that could be written about independently. One proposal that I dearly wish would be revived (though I doubt at this point it will be) was having George Washington and Frederick the Great (both with armies, of course) zapped back to 3rd century Rome, where they could offer competing solutions to the crisis that was tearing that empire apart.

    Damn, but that was an intriguing story idea.

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