1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 57

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 57

Hahn’s frown cleared away. “Oh, of course. Silly of me. But perhaps…”

Rebecca was shaking her head. “There is no chance at all that they had a quorum in Berlin. Their majority is a slim one to begin with — fifty-two percent. No member of our party was present, of course, and probably no more than a third of the people belonging to the small parties. That means the Crown Loyalists would have had to get almost every single one of their MPs to attend the session.”

“Ha!” Ableidinger boomed again. “In Berlin? In winter? Not a chance!”

“It wouldn’t be hard to prove, either,” said Strigel. “In fact, I’d be willing to bet they didn’t even take a roll call.”

“And it gets still worse,” said Rebecca. She counted off her pinkie. “Fourthly, when they arrested Wilhelm Wettin they also removed any legitimacy to the executive branch of the government as well.”

Achterhof was now frowning, and scratching his jaw. “I’ll be the first to say they’re a pack of bastards, Rebecca, but I’m not following you here. Quorum or no quorum, the Crown Loyalists are still the majority party. By our constitution, that gives them the right to form a cabinet of whichever members of their party they select, including the post of prime minister. So if they choose this von Ramsla jackass, they have the right to do so.”

Now Werner slapped the table in glee. “Yes, granted, Gunther — but by the same constitution, the new head of the government is actually a recommendation made to the head of state. Legally speaking, von Ramsla can’t become the prime minister until Gustav II Adolf confirms his appointment. Which he certainly hasn’t done, since he’s still speaking in tongues.”

Rebecca and several other people at the table winced a little at von Dalberg’s indecorous description of their monarch’s condition. But that was a matter of taste; the depiction itself was accurate enough.

“Yes,” she said. “To sum it all up, Oxenstierna has been in such a hurry to launch his counter-revolution that he has jettisoned the legitimacy of his own government’s executive and legislative branches. Which leaves, as the only surviving legitimate branch, the judiciary — who, regardless of how conservative they might be, will be aghast at these reckless procedures.”

“To put it mildly,” said Werner, snorting with amusement. “You can be accused of committing any crime in the books, and a judge will remain calm and even-tempered. Violate established legal protocol, and that same judge will become red-faced and indignant.”

Gunther Achterhof still looked skeptical. “And what does Oxenstierna care, whether a pack of judges rules with or against him? I repeat: we’re in a civil war. He’ll simply have them arrested along with Wettin.”

By the time he finished, however, at least half the heads at the conference table were shaking. Even Gunther seemed to recognized he’d ventured onto thin ice, from the way his forceful tone diminished.

“And lose at least ninety percent of the militias who would otherwise support him,” said Hamburg’s mayor. “I can guarantee that the militia of my city would abandon his cause. They might even be upset enough to support us.”

“The same would be true for most of the provincial governments as well,” said Strigel. “Hesse-Kassel would certainly come out in opposition, and so would Brunswick.”

“Westphalia’s a given, of course,” added Helene Gundelfinger, “with a Danish prince as its administrator and official head of state. Even if he doesn’t much like his younger brother, Frederik would hardly side with the Swedes.”

“It will be true down the line,” said Rebecca. “Oxenstierna has blundered badly. He has handed us on a plate the one single factor that a counter-revolution normally has working in its favor — legitimacy. You are more right than you know, Gunther. Indeed, the chancellor of Sweden and his followers are now the bastards in this conflict.”

“And we — ha! what a charming twist! — are now the champions of the established laws,” said Ableidinger.

“Our strategy and our tactics must be guided by that understanding,” said Rebecca. “As Constantin says, we are the ones defending the laws, not they. So we must be patient, not hasty; considerate of established customs and practices, not dismissive of them; and, most of all, present ourselves as the guardians of order and stability.”

Achterhof was back to scowling. “If by that you’re saying we have to sit on our hands –”

“I said nothing of the sort, Gunther.” Rebecca managed to maintain a cordial tone of voice. The man could sometimes be a real trial. “What matters is not the content of what we do, but the form. So, here in Magdeburg, we seize all the reins of power — what few we don’t already possess, at any rate. But we do so in order to defend the laws, not to overthrow them. Oxenstierna and those outlaws in Berlin are the revolutionaries, not us.”

She looked at Albert Bugenhagen. “Every province and town will have to adopt its own tactics, of course, to suit the local conditions. But the same method should apply everywhere. Thus, in Hamburg, I recommend that you summon the town militia to defend the city’s rights and laws against illegal aggression coming from Berlin.”

Bugenhagen grinned. “They’ll squirm, you watch. But… in the end, they might very well do it.”

“And even if they don’t,” said Constantin, “you can mobilize the CoC’s armed units in the city on the same grounds. You’re not clashing with the militia, you’re — oh, this is truly delightful — coming out to support them in their righteous task.”

Rebecca nodded. “Everywhere, we must follow that course. Defense, not offense. This is no time, in other words, for the CoCs to launch another Operation Kristallnacht. Let the reactionaries start the violence. Let everyone see that they are the instigators of mayhem, just as they are the ones who shredded the nation’s constitution and laws.”

She now looked at Gunther Achterhof. “We are, of course, permitted to act in self-defense, should the outlaws make so bold as to attack us.”

The head of Magdeburg’s Committee of Correspondence looked mollified. Well, somewhat mollified. But Rebecca didn’t think he would be a problem. As pig-headed as he often was, Gunther was not stupid. Once he saw how effective the tactics were, he’d begin applying them with his usual adroit skills as an organizer.

Liesel Hahn spoke up. “I think you should write to the landgravine of Hesse-Kassel immediately, Rebecca. She thinks quite well of you, despite her political differences. She’s told me so herself. Twice, now.”

“I will do better than that, Liesel. I will send her a radio message — and send the same message to the heads of state of every single one of the provinces, even those like Pomerania and the Upper Rhine which we can assume will remain actively hostile. The centerpiece of my message, of course, will be our new motto and principal slogan.”

Her serene smile finally appeared. “Justice for Wilhelm Wettin! We demand that the prime minister be charged in a duly constituted court of law, not some outlaw travesty of a tribunal. We demand that any charges against him be made openly, so that he may exercise his right — guaranteed under the constitution — to confront his accusers. We demand that he be given a fair trial in a USE court of law, not be victimized by foreign Swedish star chamber proceedings. Last but not least, we demand that he be released until such a trial can be convened, in order to resume his duties as the still-rightful head of the USE’s government.”

She stopped. Everyone stared at her.

Then Ableidinger slapped the table again. Hard enough, this time, to make it jump. “Oh, how grand — to live in such splendid times! Where up is down and down is up and everything is finally in its rightful place!”

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30 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 57

  1. Bret Hooper says:

    Looks more and more like Axel really does have Mad Ox Disease! Go, Becky!

  2. papertiger says:

    Legally speaking, von Ramsla can’t become the prime minister until Gustav II Adolf confirms his appointment. Which he certainly hasn’t done, since he’s still speaking in tongues.”

    I know that the book is on the verge of printing if it has not already been printed. Nevertheless is it necessary to mock the belief and practice of a huge portion of modern Christianity. The opinion or belief of the author is not the issue. Religious mockery is always bad. Whether it is the Prophet Muhammad, the Buddah, or those promoting a secular belief such as naturalism. The same point can easily be made with the word ‘gibberish’. Granted it lacks the joke factor but some jokes are never in good taste.

  3. robert says:

    @2 What religious mockery are you talking about? Which “huge portion of modern Christianity” is being mocked. In the time of this novel, the effects of strokes or concussions were not understood and what GA was spouting certainly seemed to the people of the time like “speaking in tongues.” And that is how it was probably described to them–even if Becky knows better, which is not clear. Remember that nobody at the table had heard GA speaking. all they heard was what they were told second hand or worse.

  4. Daryl says:

    @2 Being comprehensively non religious myself I’m probably not qualified to comment, however I do admit to being puzzled by how little tolerance many religious people of any stamp have to others making fun of their particular imaginary friend. Personally I believe that religious mockery is often good fun because many are so pompous about their beliefs. However in this case I just can’t see how mentioning the phenomenon of speaking in tongues could be construed as being insulting to christianity?
    On a more serious note this snippet seems to set the tone and direction for the rest of the book. The paradox of having the CoCs championing the status quo reminds me of how in OTL the conservationists are usually at odds with the conservatives over developments and habitat destruction. The conservatives want to change everything in order to make money which seems not very conservative.

  5. tomhr says:

    @2 — So he should have said instead, something that mocks a disability/handicap (“gimp-brained”)?

    The other characters disapproved of the remark, and thought it in bad taste. That’s enough. (Oddly, you didn’t quote their reaction: “Rebecca and several other people at the table winced a little at von Dalberg’s indecorous description of their monarch’s condition. But that was a matter of taste; the depiction itself was accurate enough.”)

    Besides, political correctness is one part of up-time culture that (thankfully) hasn’t caught on among down-timers. Who in any any case don’t mock other religions, but instead start fistfights with their believers.

  6. Rick Elleman says:

    To elaborate on what I wrote in comment to snippet 54… He’s lost! EVEN if they somehow manage a military victory and take control of the USE, he’s simply given Privilege mastery over Law – and NO polity survives that; not in the world of 1632… not anymore!

  7. dave o says:

    #2,#3,#4 Please, please, please drop the whole subject. I hope people comment on the rest of the snippet, and not just on three words.

  8. TyranA says:

    Now all Rebecca needs is for Kristina and Ulrik to come sailing up the Elbe from Hamburg to Madgeburg in an unmistakable USE ironclad fomenting resistance along the way.

  9. Peter says:

    This is going to be much trickier than it looks. I expect something to spectactularly go wrong for the CoCs very soon now. They are laying the right foundation, but there are many potential slips yet to go. And many potential error-makers rattling about to make them. So far Ox’s bunch have been the ones screwing up, but it won’t be that way all the time.

  10. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @8 — Peter

    I agree. I will point out that the CoC’s have tremendous discipline, and the reactionaries have relatively very little discipline, but when we are talking about dealing with thousands of human beings with their thousands of personalities and degrees of psychological stability, it becomes well-nigh inevitable that screw-ups or just good-faith mistakes will happen to the good guys as well as to the bad ones. I don’t know that something will “spectacularly go wrong for the CoCs very soon now” as you put it, but I do expect one or more somethings to go badly enough wrong that it will keep the pot boiling and keep us on the edge of our seats.

    @7 — TyranA

    I don’t expect Kristina and Ulrik to sail up the Elbe in a USE ironclad. I believe the strategy of keeping the Navy and Air Force in low profile has much to commend it, while the obverse strategy has little to commend it to any except glory hounds, which term characterizes neither John Simpson nor Jesse Wood. However, beside that niggling point, I would expect that now is an excellent time for them to make a conspicuous move from Hamburg to Magdeburg.

  11. Jeff Ehlers says:

    It’s obvious that Oxenstierna, for all his normal savvy, doesn’t have more than the most basic of understandings of how a constitutional system actually works.

    And that’s part of why he’s screwed up so badly.

    Among other things, he had authority over German generals and princes in Swedish service in Gustav’s absence. It’s obvious that he’s thinking of the entire USE in those terms, as being in Swedish service, and the legal and political stuff are just niceties (to him) to keep the Germans happy with Swedish overlordship. He doesn’t appear to have paid much attention to the fine print of the Constitution, as evidenced by his clear disregard for the necessity of a quorum and his appointment of a new prime minister by “acclimation”. He’s just winging it in his attempt to bring these unruly Germans under (to him) proper Swedish authority, meaning Swedish nobility, and has forgotten (if he ever knew) the very simple fact that you have to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ when it comes to legislative reform (and whether or not we agree with his definition of the term, that’s technically what he’s trying to do).

  12. dac says:

    Speaking in tongues is an uptimer thought/speach, not a downtimer thought/speach. Glossolalia during the 1600’s was a very rare occurance, not practiced in either lutheran or catholic circles (outside of the Camisards, certainly no where in the germanies)- i think unlikely that it was part of the vernacular as it is today.

    Eric lifted a common pattern of speach from today and planted it in the 16th century.

  13. saladin says:

    @10
    “and has forgotten (if he ever knew) the very simple fact that you have to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ when it comes to legislative reform”

    only if you do not have the force to destroy the opposition
    legality helps you get the troops to win the battle/war

  14. ronzo says:

    @9 in Reference to @7: Becky’s strategy gives the Airforce and Navy all the ammunition it needs to get off the fence. They have pledged to defend the Contitution from all foe’s foreign and domestic. All the point’s they just made and first and formost the illegal arrest and incarceration of the Prime mister without formal charges. Clearly puts the counter-revolutionaries in the column of domestic threats to the constitution. Remember Simpson was worried about what Wettin, his duly appointed commander-in-chief would order,as Ox’s puppet. Now that its Ox and Von Ramsla,it a different story. Ox’s has effectively ripped the bottom out of his strategy by handing away his legitimacy.

  15. Blackmoore says:

    And the CoC are better set to defend than go on the attack.. now Torrentson; HE could decide that his orders from OX were illegitimate too.

  16. Alan says:

    In the previous book Mike identified G2A as commander-in-chief. Torstensson is already disregarding Berlin’s orders to storm Poznan, so it seems unlikely he’ll be running to their rescue if needed. For that matter Ox no longer has a USE prime minister that Torstensson even needs to go through the motions with. Simpson, Wood and Torstensson would be acting completely reasonably to ask to see a valid appointment (signed by G2A) for von Ramsla. They do not have to pay a lot of attention to the chancellor of another country.

  17. dave o says:

    ‘m waiting to see what happens with the lawyers, judges, cities and nobles who are currently sitting on the fence. My guess is that the majority of them come to the conclusion Ox is acting illegally. Some of them will support the FOJ and COC, even if reluctantly. Most of the rest will become true neutrals and favor neither side. If this happens the FOJ will have the majority of force on their side once it comes to warfare. Torstennson might have residual loyalties to Sweden, but he’s so suspicious of Oxensterna that he’s likely to decide to support the FOJ. I don’t see either Wood or Simpson hesitating in their support.

  18. B Taylor says:

    @17 dave o: Actually, I could see Simpson and Wood sitting out the civil war, even though they have reasonable cause (doing their job) to get involved. The question of legitimacy is arguable, so going against the technical government to support the side they like might be construed as contrary to the principle of the military not being political. Now, it seems to us that they would obviously doing their job, but we are biased towards the CoCs/FoJP ourselves.

  19. Blackmoore says:

    Once the lawyers are in play, then Simpson and Woods have cover to help “defend” the USE from any incoming troops. as we’ve stated before, they don’t have the right tools to go after invading troops by land, but provided the weather is fair, the Airforce can do reconnaissance, the Navy protect what they can from the rivers/canals.

  20. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @14, @18, @19 —

    My point about the USE Navy and USE Air Force staying out of it goes back to what Mike Stearns and Jeff Higgins both said in earlier snippets. The Navy and especially the Air Force are perceived to be uptime “American” institutions. This is a fight for the legitimacy of a down-time European government. Yes, the Navy and the Air Force are filled with down-timers, but the appearance is that of an uptime military organization. That is why Mike and Jeff argued that the Navy and Air Force should stay out of the fight. Even with this very significant development, the legal change has not been sufficient to bring either branch of service into this fight. The question is still open, but at this point, the USE is better off if the Navy and Air Force can sit out the fight.

  21. Jeff Ehlers says:

    The only way I see the Navy or Air Force being involved is if certain of Oxenstierna’s plans (most notably his collusion with Bavaria) come to light. They may sit out of conflicts between the FoJ and the CL, but I doubt they would sit out of an attack by Bavaria on USE territory, or some other group getting involved.

    I agree that right now, those two branches getting involved would do more harm than good. The best thing they can do is set the precedent of not obeying orders from someone not authorized to give them (which Oxenstierna and his ‘fig leaf’ aren’t, at this point), and only acting to protect the country from outside aggression. Down that road lies the equivalent of a Praetorian Guard, and that would be bad.

  22. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Also, while I don’t really care about the religious aspect of “speaking in tongues” at all, I think something like “witless babbling” might actually make the point clearer. Speaking in tongues (glossolaila) comes across more as someone speaking in gibberish that might sound like words, but is incomprehensible; Gustav, from what I’ve seen in these snippets, is speaking comprehensible words, but is not able to string them together into sentences that make sense to the hearer (similar to aphasia).

    Drak, I don’t know how much you pass back to Eric Flint, but you might pass this on to him if you can for his consideration.

  23. dave o says:

    On the discussions of what Simpson and Woods will do in the coming civil war: It’s worth thinking about what the actual capabilities of the air force and navy are.

    The navy dominates the Baltic. It can operate on the Oder, which empties into the Baltic as far upstream as in can be navigated, but probably not as far as Berlin. Considering the problems Simpson had going downstream, dams and the like, he can only operate on the Elbe as far upstream as it is navigable. That would include Hamburg but I don’t know how far above that city, but not as far as Magdeburg. Simpson’s forces west of Jutland are limited to those based in the Netherlands, and possibly a few more ships in Denmark.

    So all the talk in previous comments about whether the navy will remain neutral completely miss the point. The navy has very limited ability to affect the outcome.

    The air force lacks machine guns, and has only small bombs and rockets, It can operate with some effect against city defenses and ships, but is almost useless against troops in the field. What it can do, better than anyone else is scout and deliver messages where radio doesn’t work and there are airfields.

  24. Tweeky says:

    Oxenstiernia has well and truly screwed the pooch in this story, I’m just wondering how long it’ll be before he has a fatal appointment with the Headman’s axe? We haven’t heard anything recent from Ferdinand III so maybe he’s being smart and not getting the Austro-Hungarian empire in a fight with the USE. On the other hand if he’s smart he’ll be looking at new ways to hasten the demise of the Ottoman empire.

  25. robert says:

    If the Navy and the Air Force are “sitting it out” then what is that thing in the sky on the book’s cover illustration? Flying chopped liver?

  26. tomhr says:

    @25 (robert) — recall that there is at least one civilian plane in the 1632verse. F’rinstance, see cover of the dead-tree _Grantville Gazette V_.

  27. tomhr says:

    @ 25 (robert), contd — Not to mention, the artist takes liberties. F’rinstance, the cover of _1634: The Bavarian Crisis_ has all sorts of inaccuracies WRT the text. Eric in an upcoming _Saxon_ chapter maybe wrote somebody building a hang glider, which the artist has then transformed into a B-29.

  28. Alan says:

    Covers are prepared by the publisher, usually with minimal contact between the author and the cover artist.

  29. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @25-28 —

    Don’t forget there is a private airplane inside the city walls of Dresden right now. There is repeated talk of launching it. I suspect that is the plane shown on the cover. And Alan (@28) is correct, covers are often connected only tenuously with the author’s intentions and with the books content.

  30. ET1swaw says:

    @8 TyranA, @10 Peter: Ulrik and Kristina are in Luebeck IIRC, not Hamburg.
    Becky seems to have answered our questions on quorem.
    As for USEAF, USEMC, and USEN staying neutral: 1) as pointed out above they are restricted in capability in an inland civil war (the USEAF did their max during early Krystallnacht (in Mecklenburg where they were prevalent), but it just gained time for CoC militia columns to coalesce); 2) G2A and WW (as legally appointed PM) can give them orders, a coup appointed pretender can not; 3) von Ramsla is Adel, therefore ineligible as PM – USE Armed forces oath (as is modern US) is to protect and defend the Constitution, not the government.
    If the CoC can rein in their hotheads and act defensively, then as Becky says: they are the guardians of government and the constituion against an attempted coup supported by a foriegn government official (Axel).
    Axel has von Thurn’s 30K, and Baner’s 15K (and quite possibly von Arnim’s 10K, unless EF meant them as a red herring). He can also attempt to call on Horn’s and Brahe’s forces as they are still technically bipartisan (both Swedish and USE), but can expect no joy from their commanders IMO.
    As for cover art, EF has stated many times that authors have no control. His ‘game’ that started with Jim Baen to write an extra short for dead tree GGs that related to the cover art has no connection to mainline novels AFAIK.

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