1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 59

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 59

“At least a week, would be my estimate. He’ll want to assemble a large fleet of barges before he comes down the river toward Regensburg.” Heinrich smiled, in that thin and humorless way he had. “No easy task, squeezing barges out of Danube rivermen. They’ll hide them in places you’d never think of — burn them, sometimes, rather than give them up.”

“That should give you –”

“I’ll have the division in Regensburg long before then. We’ll hold the city, Mr. President, never fear. How long it will take to recover Ingolstadt, on the other hand…” He shrugged again. “I would say that mainly depends on how the political situation here in the USE resolves itself.”

“Yes, you’re right. If all goes well –”

“The emperor recovers, Oxenstierna hangs, Wettin hangs — ask me if I care the swine got himself arrested — every other stinking traitor in Berlin hangs, we catch the traitors who sold out Ingolstadt — disembowel those bastards, hanging’s too good for them — proper order is restored, the Prince of Germany is back in power where he belongs, and Maximilian is food for stray mongrels in the streets of Munich.”

Ed stared at him. Heinrich could be…harsh.

“That seems perhaps a bit –”

“Yes, you’re right. Munich’s street curs are innocent parties to the business. Unfair to poison them with such foul meat. We’ll feed the duke to his pigs instead.”


After the general left, Ed dilly-dallied for a few minutes before finally accepting the need to take care of the business he most desperately did not want to take care of.

He’d have to write messages to be radioed to John Chandler Simpson in Luebeck and Mike Stearns in Bohemia. Telling the admiral that his son had vanished into the chaos of war and telling the general that his sister had done the same. Rita Simpson, née Stearns, had been living in Ingolstadt with her husband Tom. God only knew what had happened to her when the Bavarians came pouring in.

Worst of all, he’d have to tell Mary Simpson, Tom’s mother. And this would be no brief, antiseptic radio message. As luck would have it, she was in Bamberg at the moment, raising money for one of her many charities or cultural projects.

The Dame of Magdeburg, they called her. But before the day’s end, she’d just be one of many anguished mothers.

There was something to be said for Heinrich Schmidt’s simple remedies, all things considered. A Swedish chancellor throttled, a Bavarian duke munched on by hogs.

Ed could live with that. It’d still be nice to complete more than every fourth sentence, though.


Princess Kristina was reading the newspaper in Ulrik’s hands by leaning over his shoulder. Most likely, because she found it comforting to rest her hands on his shoulders. It certainly wasn’t because they could only afford one copy of the Hamburg Morgenpost. The money sent by King Christian had arrived the day before. Here as elsewhere, Ulrik’s father had been profligate. If he wanted to — and he was tempted sometimes — the prince could now afford to launch his own newspaper.

The temptation wasn’t as great at the moment, though, as it would have been at most times. Luebeck’s own newspaper was wretched, but the city got quite regular delivery of Hamburg’s largest newspaper. Allowing for its Fourth of July Party bias, the Morgenpost was quite good; one of the three or four best in central Europe, in Ulrik’s opinion. It came out regularly and reliably twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and in time of rapid developments of great public interest — such as right now — they strove to come out daily.

“Should we go right now, Ulrik?” the princess asked anxiously. “They’ve even arrested the prime minister!”

Yes, and what madness possessed Oxenstierna to do that? Ulrik had pondered that question from every angle, and from none of them did the deed look any more intelligent. He’d finally concluded that Baldur’s initial assessment had been correct.

“Wettin found out something — something really damaging — and Oxenstierna had to shut him up.”

At the time, Ulrik had dismissed the notion as being too…Baldurian. Norddahlish? The Norwegian adventurer was fond of imagining dark and fiendish conspiracies in every corner.

In Ulrik’s experience, that gave far too much credit to human ingenuity. Conspiracies existed, to be sure; many of them, and many were dark indeed. But fiendish? Fiendishness required brains. Nine times out of ten, conspirators behaved like buffoons and wound up exposing themselves out of sheer, bumbling incompetence.

He shook his head. “Not yet, Kristina. The more important thing isn’t the news coming out of Berlin, it’s the news coming out of Magdeburg.”

She frowned. “But there isn’t much news coming out of Magdeburg.”

“Yes, precisely. That means someone is keeping things quiet and orderly in that city — much against my expectations, I can tell you that. By now, I’d expected accounts of rioting mobs. Well, mobs, anyway.”

Baldur was sitting at a table in the corner of the salon. “At least a hanging or two!” he exclaimed, looking quite aggrieved. “Surely some nobleman was too stupid or too drunk to get out of the city before Oxenstierna blew everything up. But…nothing. The place seems as boring as a chur — ah…ah…”

Ulrik tried not to laugh, as the Norwegian groped for something — anything — that he found as boring as a church. And could come up with nothing. From the little smile on her face, Kristina was equally amused. Baldur Norddahl was to pastors what oil was to water, except that oil was not sarcastic.

Kristina’s expression became very intent. “Oh! I see what you mean. It’s like the detective says in one of those stories you lent me. The clever up-time English ones.”

Ulrik made the connection almost immediately. “Yes, you’re right. The curious incident of the dog in the night who did nothing — and that was what was curious.”

He set down the paper. “No, I think our initial plan is still the right one. Wait for a while, and let things develop further.” Another up-time expression came to him. “Give Oxenstierna some more rope with which to hang himself.”

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59 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 59

  1. Jeff Ehlers says:

    @34: That is totally beside the point. First off, the Holy Roman Empire is not the USE (I believe it is Austria at this point, in fact). Second, a rose by any other name, et al.

    If you legally strip away anyone’s rights merely because it’s ‘legal’, then you tacitly give permission for other people to do the same thing and you become a hypocrite if you complain about them doing it.

    To paraphrase from another one of Eric Flint’s books, Mother of Demons, when you flail others, you shouldn’t complain when you are flailed in turn. Too many people forget this because they think they have ‘right’ on their side.

    Short-term benefit for long-term loss can only be justified (even from a selfish standpoint) if you can pull out before the long-term rolls around. The up-time Americans can’t! They’re stuck there no matter what happens.

  2. dave o says:

    #51 Jeff: First off, the states which now make up the USE were part of the Holy Roman Empire four or five years ago. The Reichsacht was and still is part of the accepted structure of government. The identity of the emperor may have changed, but the legal structure has not. Second, did you note that American colonies used bills of attainder very extensively during the US revolution. Somehow or other the american system of justice survived anyway. Note that I’m not claiming it’s perfect now, just that no permanent harm was done by the use of BoAs. Third, you do not seem to realize the the USE is in a revolutionary state. It would be nice if it could be ended, and the guilty punished by recognized strictly legal means. But it must be ended, and the guilty punished.

  3. dave o says:

    From the transcript of the trial of Axel Oxensterna:

    Prosecuter: “The court has heard testimony that you ordered General Baner to kill everyone he suspected of being a member of the Committee of Correspondence out of hand.”

    Oxensterna: “That is so. There is no law which forbade me to do so. I am permitted to do anything which the law does not forbid. And I killed no one. What Baner did, he is responsible for, not I.”

    Prosecuter: “The court has heard testimony that you arrested Wilhelm Wettin, the USE’s Prime Minister.

    Oxensterna: “There is no law which forbids this act.””

    Prosecuter: The court has heard testimony that you instructed Count X to persuade Maximillian, the Duke of Bavaria to invade the Upper Palatinate.

    Oxensterna: “I am tired of saying this. There is no law. Whatever you think, unless you can show that I have broken some law, you cannot hold me responsible for my acts.”

    Prosecuter: ” Well, I guess we’ll just have to let you go. then.”

  4. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @53 – dave o

    When I read your trial transcript, the first thought that came to mind was the legal maxim “Better to let ten guilty men go free than one innocent man to hang.” The second thought I had was that, even if Oxenstierna was allowed to go free, he would spend the rest of his short, miserable life looking over his shoulder, waiting for the assassin’s knife or bullet. Even if not convicted, Ox would never be truly “free” until he was dead.

  5. Daryl says:

    @52 & 53 Dave o, my problem with your approach is the statement “and the guilty punished”. Without due process of the law how do you determine guilt? Just declaring someone guilty because they disagree with you or are on the other side is what despots and dictators do. As I said much earlier, civilisation is not something you can apply or not as is convenient to you. This is what has lost the US massive support from the western worlddue to the rendering and Guantanamo process.

  6. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Everybody, I know from the EARC what happens to Oxensterna and nobody has guessed correctly here.

    There is an “over-reach” not related to Oxensterna’s fate by somebody but it is quickly corrected.

    Personally (and unoffically) I think some people are getting too hot under the collar.

  7. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @55 – Daryl

    The primary argument against Bills of Attainder is that they are contrary to the concept of “Rule of Law”. Another argument (albeit a subsidiary one) is that Bills of Attainder violate the concept of Separation of Powers. Your point is well-taken.

    However, dave o has a point also. We don’t know the specifics of the USE Constitution; therefore, we cannot say for sure that Axel Oxenstierna could be convicted under it. I’d like to think that he could be convicted, but in truth, it would be better for Axel to be set free for lack of power under the law to convict him than for Parliament to convict him by Bill of Attainder. That’s my opinion. Everyone is welcome to disagree, though. :-)

  8. Daryl says:

    @57 Robert, I agree totally with you on this. @56 Drak, thanks for the slight snerk & I for one am not in any way hot under the collar. Love a legal rights discussion & feel that it is important that we do discuss such matters, or one day we may discover that we can’t.

  9. ET1swaw says:

    @47 johan: ‘1632’ got me interested and ‘the Bar’ started me surfing to understand tangents brought out in stories, slush and published. All very piecemeal and disconnected. I am -definately- not a subject matter expert!!!!!!! (or even informed layman; maybe a beginning dilletante!)

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