1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 56

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 56

Chapter 20

Magdeburg

“And here comes the only concession,” Rebecca continued, reading from the sheet in her hand. “It is in the last two items, on matters of religion. ‘Point Eight. All provinces shall be required to designate a single established church, with the exception of the State of Thuringia-Franconia, which may designate several.”

“All of them province-wide?” interjected Constantin Ableidinger. “Or must each provincial district choose a single church?”

He held up a stiff, admonishing forefinger. “I warn you! We Lutherans will not tolerate sloppiness in such matters!”

Rebecca bestowed the smile upon him that she always bestowed on Ableidinger’s antics. The one that exuded long-suffering patience rather than serenity.

“Stop clowning around, Constantin,” grumbled Gunther Achterhof. “What difference does it make? We’re not going to abide by it anyway.”

The little exchange had given Rebecca time for further thought, during the course of which she realized that Ableidinger’s heavy-handed humor might actually contain a serious kernel — whether he realized it or not, which he probably didn’t.

“Maybe we will, Gunther,” she said. She raised her own forefinger in response to the look of outrage on his face. The gesture in this case was one that indicated a desire for forbearance rather than admonishment. “But let us not get ahead of ourselves. There is still one more provision in Point Eight and a final Point Nine in the Charter of Rights and Duties.”

The pitch of her voice shifted back to a slight singsong as she resumed quoting from the sheet. “The remaining provision in Point Eight is that: ‘These churches shall receive financial support from their respective provinces.’ Finally: ‘Point Nine. No church, whether established or not, shall be forbidden to exist, provided that it abides by the laws of the nation and its province.”

She laid down the sheet. “As I said, a concession of sorts, at the very end.”

“Not much of one,” observed Helene Gundelfinger. “All it recognizes is the abstract right of non-established churches to ‘exist.’ That’s a rather metaphysical proposition, taken by itself. The way that provision is couched, it seems to me, a province could recognize a church’s ‘existence’ while simultaneously forbidding its members to meet, to collect funds, or to have church leaders.”

She turned toward Werner von Dalberg, who was seated far enough down the long table to her right that she had to lean forward a little to see him. “Am I right, Werner?”

The FoJP leader from the Oberpfalz was the one person in the group who had extensive legal training.

He grinned. “Metaphysics has nothing on the law. That issue could be contested in the courts for years. In the event — the not-improbable event, actually — that a church so victimized should employ me as their lawyer, I would argue that the term ‘to exist’ implies all those things that were simultaneously banned, and hence the ban is null and void.” His eyes got a slightly-unfocussed, distant look. “Interesting question, actually. I’m sure the judges would rule in my favor when it came to being able to collect funds. Without money on which to operate, any and all human institutions are vacant abstractions. And for much the same reason, I’m pretty sure they’d rule in my favor when it came to the right to meet. The designation of officers of the church, however — by whatever method — is considerably more –”

“Werner!” Rebecca interrupted him. “We can come back to this at a later time. We have more pressing issues to deal with.”

He gave her a rueful, apologetic smile. “Sorry. I got a bit carried away. Lawyers, you know. Philosophers flee at our approach.”

Rebecca gave the sheet on the table in front of her a last, considering look. “Actually, my objection was not to your lawyering but to the specific subject, which for the moment is somewhat trivial. Taken as a whole, I think the right strategy for us in response to this attack from Berlin is precisely ‘to lawyer.'”

Predictably, Gunther Achterhof’s face darkened. “Rebecca, if you think for a minute that we’re going to tolerate –”

“Let. Her. Finish,” said Helene.

“Yes, please,” added Magdeburg province’s governor, Matthias Strigel. “Rebecca, go on.”

“They have made several bad errors, in my opinion. Within the great error of their purpose itself, I should say. The first and the worst was arresting Wilhelm Wettin. The second, and almost as bad, was to convene in Berlin. The two mistakes together make everything they’ve done legally invalid.”

“What difference does it make?” demanded Achterhof. “They’re not going to abide by the law, and neither are we. We’re now in a state of civil war! Almost by definition, the laws of the land are no longer binding on anyone.”

“He’s got a point, Rebecca,” said Albert Bugenhagen. The mayor of Hamburg was sitting at the middle of the table almost directly opposite Helene. His fingers were steepled in front of his face, which, combined with his even tone of voice, made the statement one of judicial observation rather than actual agreement with the substance of Achterhof’s argument.

“Yes — but it is much too broad.” She leaned forward slightly, to give added emphasis to her next words. “What is a ‘civil war’ in the first place? Gunther uses the term as if it were a depiction of a concrete object, like a tree or a table. Something simple and discrete. But the phenomenon is actually very complex, and with no clear boundaries. There are civil wars and there are civil wars, no two of which are exactly the same and any one of which has its own peculiar characteristics.”

By now, either Achterhof or Ableidinger would have started interrupting, had anyone else been talking. But even they had learned that Rebecca’s trains of thoughts were worth following.

“When it comes to this civil war, I would qualify the term with several addenda. As follows.” She began counting off her fingers. “First, it is a civil war triggered off not by the collapse of final authority but by its mere absence — an absence, furthermore, which may well prove temporary.”

Constantin was frowning. “What does that mean?”

Von Dalberg spoke up. “What she means is that the crisis was precipitated by Gustav Adolf’s injury. As opposed, for instance, to one or another side in the conflict rejecting the emperor’s authority in itself. What happens, then, if he recovers?”

Rebecca nodded. “Yes, precisely. This is a critical issue because it drives the pace of Oxenstierna’s actions and maneuvers. If Gustav Adolf recovers before he completes his project, it is likely the project will be discontinued. So the chancellor has no choice but to force the process, risking blunders for the sake of celerity.”

She counted off another finger. “Secondly, it is a civil war clouded by great uncertainty when it comes to the issue of the succession. Or rather, the issue of a regency. The succession itself is clear — Princess Kristina, the emperor’s only child — but she is still a minor and thus cannot take the throne herself. And the USE is not Sweden, which has clear and established rules governing the establishment of a regency. So, as with the state of Gustav Adolf’s own condition, everything is murky — which, again, forces Oxenstierna to drive forward with great haste.

“Thirdly, by convening in Berlin instead of Magdeburg, Oxenstierna and his reactionary plotters have denied themselves the possibility of a quorum. The constitution is quite clear on this point — a majority of the members of Parliament must be present or there is no quorum and Parliament cannot legitimately conduct any business.”

“But…” Liesel Hahn, an MP from Hesse-Kassel, was frowning. “But they have a majority, Rebecca.”

“Ha!” Constantin Ableidinger slapped the table. “Rebecca is right!”

“Yes, she is,” agreed von Dalberg. He looked toward Hahn. “The fact that they have a majority doesn’t matter, Liesel, unless they can get a majority actually present at the session of Parliament.”

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63 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 56

  1. ET1swaw says:

    @46 Ian Chapman: I agree that 3) and 4) are debatable. AFAIK the need of Majority party standing is not set in stone. G2A can appoint a coalition or minority leader on his own authority, but he must come from Commons. Mike (or any other ELECTED Senator) only become eligible upon their resignation from their position as USE Senator (Mike had to resign as President of NUS/SoTF(only SoT at time) and become an MP (from a borough in Magdeburg Province I think) to be appointed PM). Adel must resign their titles (as WW did) to become eligible (Axel’s appointed stooge, as an Adel, is not even eligble by the constitution). The non-resignation of titles is why most MP seats from Pomerania were in dispute even before this situation. Mecklenburg MP seats were in contention after Krystallnacht reset status of power within the province. Even SoTF and Magdeburg have sprinklings of CL MP seats.
    G2A as ‘Head of State’ in the USE is definately not as well defined as in Sweden and her Dominions or even in the Kalmar Union (whose legislative and judicial arms are still in the making). His status as head of the USE Armed Forces is much better defined, though not black and white. It is interesting to note that while USE and Swedish troops were used against Saxony, Brandenburg and the PLC; Kalmar troops were not.
    @47 George Phillies: She is a Lt.Gen. in the USE Army (as is Tortennson, I think (Mike, Dodo, and Brunswick are Major Generals), but has no standing with Swedish forces (von Thurn, Baner, Brahe, and Horn hold command (administratively Jacob de la Gardie)). And as von Thurn’s approximately 30,000 Swedish troops (his 20K and G2A’s survivors) hold Brandenburg under the direction of Axel, her commission doesn’t loom as large as it could.
    It is interesting to me that the ‘radicals (CoC/Ram/FoJP)’ are ‘lawyering’ while the reactionaries are fomenting rebellion (at the very least attempting a coup).

  2. ET1swaw says:

    @48, @49: your posts came in while I was typing, but I agree.

  3. Alan says:

    Just for the record, I assume a bill for a regency act may well be fairly high on the legislative agenda)

  4. robert says:

    HEY EVERYBODY! GO LOOK AT ERIC’S POST IN “MUTTER OF DEMONS” ON THE BAR! A 1632 TV SERIES IS IN THE WORKS, EXCEPT…

  5. Mike says:

    On a completely different point, for the House of Lords, how often is it practical for them to be functional with a quorum? Given that each of their members is the ruler/head of province for their respective provinces or cities, it isn’t feasible for them to be in Magdeburg year-round.
    Especially provinces like Mainz, Upper Rhine, “Swabia” (& Wurtemburg), Tyrol and Oberpfalz that all have civil unrest, foreign military threats or just plain distance in the case of Tyrol – those Senators might not be present the majority of the time.
    If the remaining city and provincial leaders don’t coordinate their schedules, I’d wager that there is rarely a quorum present in Magdeburg to start with anyway. That would give members of the House of Lords – like say Frederick of Westphalia – who have a particular demand a powerful position to not show up on purpose to prevent a quorum.

  6. johan says:

    Speaking of senators, are they all elected? Becky was elected as the Senator from Madgeburg province IIRC, but the Duke of Calenberg (from the stories of geological surveys and pavement in wietze) never struck me as being elected but rather appointed. Perhaps it’s different depending on the province the Senator represents.

    Oh, and as to the question of who is Head of state and who is head of government and how they are elected, I think it was the Eastern Front that said the Parliament had passed a law on copyright and that Wettin signed it into law. Signing is usually something the HoS does, though there are exceptions (in Sweden the King never gets to sign laws).

    Eric (or some writer) really should do a clarification on how PMs, Senators and the Prime Minister is elected and how the Parliament and the branches of government work. Just good fluff. :)

  7. Mike says:

    For another issue that was raised in the snippet (by Ableidinger) but not addressed: For SOTF, it may designate several state churches and Ableidinger questioned if they are all province wide or only by district.
    If all-province-wide, that means that either 1) The same tax rate as in all the other provinces split between multiple churches, or 2) a much higher tax rate to give the same proportional amount as is received in the other provinces. Option 1 might not cause anything more than indignation and anger over violation of principles, but Option 2 would very likely cause major anger for a forced tax several times the amount of other provinces.
    If on a district by district level, that does designate more local autonomy but it makes it no longer a “state” church. Besides, depending on the size of the “districts” that the FOJP/Ram movement decides to make, it is conceivable that quite a few districts might end up with “Heretic” churches – Baptists, Mormons, Pentecostalists, etc. Let alone perhaps a Jewish district if the lines were drawn a certain way. (Even if numbers aren’t quite enough for a Jewish district, the Hebraic home defense guard did build good will among Grantville population with their counter-assault on the mob right after the Dreeson/Wiley assassination.)
    Ableidinger’s point also raises the question of how many more Rudolstadt colloquies you’d have to pick the specific variant of Lutheranism that would be selected.

    That’s quite a bit to lawyer over right there. And that’s one point out of nine.

  8. Alan says:

    @55 In the old Holy Roman Empire princes regularly sent deputies to represent them at the Reichstag. Some electoral princes even sent deputies, under instruction, for imperial elections. I’d guess states regularly send someone apart from their actual leader except for big occasions. Although the USE constitution says ‘parliament’ (Mike’s deliberate choice) lots of downtimers seem to call it the Reichstag and lots of uptimers seem to call it Congress. Princes who had been in the HRE Reichstag are unlikely to have changed their habits.

  9. Stanley Leghorn says:

    I have to agree that the Quorom question is the one most likely to be raised to invalidate the decrees IF they are tried to be put into “law” without being put to debate in a FULL parliment. I doubt Ox will accept that, but if he refuses to allow any debate, this pushes more neutrals away. He may believe he has enough military force to ignore all this, but his generals are going to be more realistic. Unless he already has bought the services of von Arnim(?) and his 10000 troops, he does not have enough troops to overwhelm those forces likely to be opposed.

    And again, Bernard is the big question mark. If all he does is guarantee the border, freeing up Horn to oppose the Bavarians, that tips the equation. Another wild card is Pappenheim. Wallenstien is near death and out of the military equation, but if the Austrians are seen moving troops to prepare against the Turks, he could arrive with Stearns pushing the numbers and troop mix with his cavalry in Stearn’s favor.

  10. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Hey, I just remembered something. Isn’t Gustav a “senator” in something like two or three provinces? If that’s the case, then there’s more legal wrangling – does Oxenstierna have the right to cast votes in lieu of Gustav? If not, then who? Is there a clause in the Constitution to allow for the appointment of a senator by the ruler of a province?

    More legal niceties that Oxenstierna is likely to try to bull over, despite the fact that it’s about the worst thing he could do.

  11. Alan says:

    @56 The USE House of Lords is described in Chapter 23 of The Dreeson Incident. Each province and imperial city gets one senator who must be the province’s leader whether they are a prince or an elected executive, and yeah G2A is 2 senators in his own right,. The votes for his 2 provinces presumably belong in his absence to the regents of Pomerania and Mecklenberg. We don’t know if senators have to attend in person. The structure is very like the college of princes in the old HRE Reichstag where they could send deputies.

    Sweden and Papua-New Guinea are the only exceptions I know to the head of state signing laws, although in both countries the monarch is declared head of state by the constitution. It is canon that the USE prime minister signs laws. I’ve always wondered why G2A, who was used to having an introductory veto in Sweden (bills could only go before the Riksdag with royal consent) would agree to give that right to someone else. There is no snippeted canon I am aware of on how the prime minister is appointed. There is no logic to giving a veto to a parliamentary prime minister who, by definition, has to have a majority to pass any bill in the first place.

  12. Alan says:

    @56 The USE House of Lords is described in Chapter 23 of The Dreeson Incident. Each province and imperial city gets one senator who must be the province’s leader whether they are a prince or an elected executive, and yeah G2A is 2 senators in his own right,. The votes for his 2 provinces presumably belong in his absence to the regents of Pomerania and Mecklenberg. We don’t know if senators have to attend in person. The structure is very like the college of princes in the old HRE Reichstag where they could send deputies.

    Sweden and Papua-New Guinea are the only exceptions I know to the head of state signing laws, although in both countries the monarch is declared head of state by the constitution. It is canon that the USE prime minister signs laws. I’ve always wondered why G2A, who was used to having an introductory veto in Sweden (bills could only go before the Riksdag with royal consent) would agree to give that right to someone else. There is no snippeted canon I am aware of on how the prime minister is appointed. There is no logic to giving a veto to a parliamentary prime minister who, by definition, has to have a majority to pass any bill in the first place.

  13. johan says:

    @62 Alan

    Thanks! Also, in chapter 24 there was a passage about the Prime Minister. The party (or coalition, I assume) with a majority in the House of Commons submit a canditate for Prime Minister and the emperor have to give his consent before s/he can become the PM.

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