1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 62

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 62

He had none at all. At least, none beyond the common judgment of all heterosexually-inclined males between the ages of twelve and dead that the woman was extraordinarily attractive.

He’d met her during the course of the Congress of Copenhagen, which she’d attended. Several times, in fact. Once, he’d even been seated next to her at a formal banquet and had discovered, a bit to his surprise, that she was a charming conversationalist as well as a great beauty.

But he’d never thought much about her in any other terms, and certainly not in terms of her qualities as a political leader. Without even really thinking about the matter, he took it for granted that she was a cipher. A wife — hardly the first in history — who was able to attend affairs of state and pose as an important figure solely and simply because of the status of her husband.

Strigel, Spartacus, Achterhof — those were his enemies, now that Stearns himself had been shipped off to Bohemia. And Piazza, of course, but Piazza was tied down in Thuringia-Franconia thanks to the shrewd maneuver with the Bavarians.

Strigel was an administrator, Spartacus was a propagandist, and Achterhof was a thug. A very capable administrator, an often dazzling essayist, and a dangerous thug, to be sure — none of them were men you wanted to take lightly. Still, they moved within certain limits.

Those being, of course, the inherent limits of their anarchic rule.

So, the chancellor of Sweden was frustrated. How was it that chaos had not already spread across the Germanies, as the wild men of the CoCs erupted in fury? Chaos which would require a strong hand to suppress. How was it that entire provinces seemed to have remained perfectly calm and orderly?

Even under the pressure of the Bavarian assault, the SoTF was apparently quite stable. Hesse-Kassel had already announced it was maintaining neutrality in what the landgravine — a most aggravating woman, despite her high birth — chose to call “the current turbulence.” As if the situation was the product of the weather instead of anarchy!

She was influencing Brunswick in that direction, too. That was not particularly surprising, any more than it was surprising that Prince Frederik of Denmark was keeping his province of Westphalia on the sidelines. What Oxenstierna hadn’t expected, though, was to see her attitudes beginning to spread further south. It was as if the Rhine was an infected vein carrying a female disease. Now the acting administrator of the Upper Rhine, Johann Moritz of Nassau-Siegen, was starting to coo like a dove!

Nils Brahe, the Swedish general who doubled as the administrator for the Province of the Main, was insisting that he needed to keep all his troops rather than sending some of them to Banér on the grounds that the French were behaving “suspiciously.” While, at the same time, reporting that his province was orderly and undisturbed by CoC agitators.

Oxenstierna was doubtful that Brahe was telling him the truth. But what was worse was that he didn’t know whether he preferred the truth in the first place. The thought that Brahe might be reporting accurately when he said the CoC was quiescent in the Main was in some ways more disturbing than if they’d been running amok.

Finally, there was the ongoing aggravation produced by General Horn in Swabia. What in the world had possessed Oxenstierna, that he’d ever agreed to let his daughter marry that wretched man? Christina’s death four years earlier had had one beneficial effect: at least her father no longer had to associate socially with his ex-son-in-law. But that wasn’t any help under these circumstances, when the association was necessitated by political and — above all — military realities. Except for Banér’s army at the gates of Dresden and the army Oxenstierna was keeping in reserve here in Berlin, Gustav Horn commanded the most powerful Swedish force in the USE. Being fair, Horn’s claims that he needed them to counter the ever-ambitious Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar had a great deal more substance than the similar claims made by Brahe about the French. Oxenstierna was dubious that the French were behaving “suspiciously,” but he didn’t doubt for a moment that Bernhard was.

Horn, moreover, could also argue that he needed some of his troops to maintain order in Württemberg, which had been restive ever since the dying Duke Eberhard had bequeathed his territory to its people. Oxenstierna took a moment, again, to curse the young man’s shade. Eberhard had been filled with a treasonous spirit, obviously. It was reliably reported that the duke’s former concubine was now one of the leading figures among the Dresden rebels. The chancellor wondered from time to time which of them had infected the other with sedition.

Then there was the Tyrol, about which the less said, the better.

Darmstadt, Province of the Main

Upon the conclusion of the meeting, the delegation from Darmstadt’s Committee of Correspondence was politely ushered to the door by the mayor, the head of the city’s militia and three members of the city council. When they’d left the Rathaus, the militia’s commander finally exploded.

“I hate dealing with those radical swine!”

One of the council members made a face, indicating his full agreement with the sentiment. But the expressions on the faces of the other two councilmen indicated a much more skeptical attitude.

The mayor agreed with them, too. He put a friendly hand on the commander’s shoulder — no feigning involved; the two men were good friends, and cousins to boot — and said: “Look, Gerlach, no one likes having to deal with them. But it’s better than the alternative.”

“I could drive them out of the city — entirely out — inside of a day.” He worked his jaw for a moment. “All right, two days. Maybe three.”

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66 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 62

  1. vikingted says:

    So the Ox is surprised by the lack of action… just you wait old man…

  2. Peter says:

    The master choreographer has scripted a dance, but nobody came….they were all dancing at the new American-inspired place down the road.
    This manages to be funny and sad at the same time. I wonder what Axel will do when he finally understands?

  3. dave o says:

    Interesting that Oxensterna doesn’t want to think of Tyrol. Without a map showing independent bishoprics, I can’t tell, but the Tyrol seems to be well positioned to invade Bavaria. With most of his army on the Danube, it’s hard to see how he could counter this. Not that it’s likely, but possible.

    The scene in Darmstadt is also interesting. The powers that be in the towns and cities may not like the COC, but they like unrest even less. Unfortunate for Oxensterna, but if he looked beyond the aristocracy, he might have realized this. Of course, he expected the unrest to come from the COC, not Berlin.

  4. Jeff Ehlers says:

    There is no worse mistake that can be made in a conflict than to assume your enemies will act as you expect them to. I think it was Sun Tzu who said that he who does not understand his enemies will lose at least half of his battles.

  5. Jay Goren says:

    OK we start with Oxensternia mussing about Rebecca, make a transition to the status of the provinces, smoothly done, but then a very rough switch to the Mayor’s office in Darmstadt.

  6. frederic says:

    I’m thinking Ox is missing at least two important players among his opponents:
    + The whole abrabanel familly (not just rebecca or even Nasi). They came on the side of the Americans for full citizenship above all else. Ox’s reform is certain to cost them that. SO the weight of the whole familly banking business is going to go against him. And mercenaries have to be paid….
    + Kristina and Ulrik. How come he has not yet noticed that Kristina hadn’t meekly obeyed his order to come to Berlin? That one will cost him a lot of legitimacy and that will cost him support among the legalist and fence-sitters.

  7. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @5 – frederic

    I suspect that Oxenstierna has noticed that Kristina didn’t come meekly to Berlin, but I also suspect that his opinion of Kristina is like his opinion of Rebecca Abrabanel, i.e., he views her as a cipher (a malleable and useful cipher in this case) because she is a female. I also suspect that Oxenstierna has failed to recognize the depth and strength of Ulrik’s guidance of Kristina. Thus, he may be surprised from yet another direction at some point. :-)

    @4 – Jeff Ehlers

    Excellent point! I was thinking about Sun Tzu when I read this snippet, but my thoughts were stimulated by the Darmstadt militia commander’s obvious mis-estimation of his abilities and those of the CoC.

  8. johan says:

    It will be so much more satisfying when he realises (In all likelihood too late) that his preconceptions and prejudices will have cost him everything and all his plans comes crashing down.

  9. Stanley Leghorn says:

    7@ Ox will never realize that. He will blame his defeat on everyone but the real people who caused it, firm in the belief that only the “nobility” could have done so.That is how narrow his vision is.

  10. tim says:

    Darmstadt militia commander= out of the city in a day, well, two or three, maybe four, could be five . . . weeks, no more. . .six more months and it’s done . . . next year for sure! . . . I only need another 20,000 men and the war will be over . . . Son, I’ve set the stage for victory, now it’s up to you to get out there and make your old man proud!.

  11. Jeff Ehlers says:

    @9: I think his point will be actually that even though he could drive all the active CoC members out, that he couldn’t keep them out and that they’d probably be fighting for years if he did so, with all the attendant damage to the city.

  12. saladin says:

    Then there was the Tyrol, about which the less said, the better.

    ..interesting – anyone knows why?

  13. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @11 I think Eric probably wants us to read all about it in Wars on the Rhine, or something :-)

    But at a guess, the Hapsburg regent there (another woman) probably has been acting in what Ox thinks is a decidedly unfemale way . . .

  14. Bret Hooper says:

    @8 Stanley: “Ox will never realize that.” Do you realize that an American may just be on thin ice when lecturing a Swedish citizen about his Swedish antecedents?

  15. dave o says:

    #12 Ed: My guess is that there’s more to it than sexism. As far as I can tell, Tyrol joined the USE for economic and political reasons, and not by being conquered. Oxensterna, as an aristocrat probably can’t understand either reason. Joining a state run by the COC? Horrors!!!! What respectable noble would consider it for a second? Then there’s the possibility I mentioned in comment 3.

  16. Tim says:

    @13 not to put words in @8’s mouth, but the answer would be @8 asserting “Ox [AS WRITTEN BY FLINT] will…”

  17. Bret Hooper says:

    @14 Tim: OK, but “Ox [AS WRITTEN BY FLINT]” is and will inevitably continue to be associated in readers’ minds with the historical Axel Oxenstierna, many of whose descendants are with us today.

  18. vikingted says:

    Bret(@15) are you asserting that Ox’s descendants would be greatly offended by our dear Mr. Flint’s representation of Ox? If anything he is bringing more notoriety to Ox. History has already shown Ox’s colors and Mr. Flint has just made is estimation about what Ox might do in the scenario of a regency base on his historical profile. Let us enjoy the story and see where it goes!

  19. vikingted says:

    Sorry about my English skills, should have been “…Mr. Flint has just made an estimation about what Ox might do in the scenario of a regency…”

    Just like Jethro Bodine, I have also graduated from 5th grade…

  20. Randy says:

    Am I missing something? Isn’t the Tyrol part of Austria and south of Bavaria. Why would Ox be concerned about it?

  21. robert says:

    @18 Sorry. Meant to say that you should look for a bit of grey S. of Swabia.

  22. Stanley Leghorn says:

    I was refereing to the current charaterization of Ox and his likly response to his defeat. I suspect G2A is NOT going to magically recover and make everything all better. Thus, Ox will be undone by his own underestimation of the skills and control of his opponents. Given the lack of combat outside Brandenburg, I suspect the USE army will come home and settle the situation near Berlin. While Baner gets his pinned up against Dresden.

  23. johan says:

    @Bret, Tim, Stanley

    Please, gentlemen! ;) I’d say the average Swede with an interest in history is most certainly on thin ice himself when it comes to people like Ox. Besides the kings themselves our schools teaches us about veeeery few high statesmen. Oxenstierna is one of the exceptions, and the one covered the most. So any picture I have of him is most likely to be compromised by romanticism. My remark was merely dealing with a common narrative twist.

    @18 Randy

    Sometime before the last book (Eastern Front) the semi-autonomous duchy of Tyrol joined the USE as a full-fledged province. And they are connected with the rest of the USE by a small border in southeastern Swabia. I’d imagine that one of the reasons for Ox’s mental dismissal of Tyrol is becauce the Duchess and her heir (and the province in general) are Catholic. While there are Catholics in many USE provinces they all are run by some kind of protestant, wether Lutheran or Calvinist, IIRC.

  24. Oxenstierna undoubtedly also expects that Kristina is totally incapable of independent thought. She did notice that Magdeburg was quite silent.

  25. ET1swaw says:

    @12 Ed Schoenfeld: Not only regent (along with other appointed regents)for her Hapsburg sons (declared hereditary (but not reigning) nobles for the province of Tyrol), but born a Medici!
    @3 dave o: IIRC most of the Tyrol – Bavarian border is the Alps; not really good terrain to attack across. Swabia and the expanded Imperial City of Augsburg share a border with Bavaria along the Lech River (where Tilly was defeated and killed (NTL $ OTL) in 1632). The border along the Danube River is all with the Oberpfalz until terminating at the Archbishopric of Passau (held by Ferdinand III’s younger brother). The Archbishopric of Salzburg (fully independent under Archbishop Paris von Lodren) is bordered by Tyrol, Bavaria, and Austria-Hungary. The Archbishopric of Freising (with exception of some outlying enclaves in A-H) is enclaved within Bavaria. AFAIK no others border Bavaria. Nurnberg is enclaved between SoTF and Oberpfalz.

    Darmstadt, while in modern Hesse, looks to be in NTL Upper Rhine province (another tie to ‘Wars on the Rhine’?).

    Four Swedish armies and Axel only can access the two smallest. The only other points I can see him drawing from are the training area in Pomerania (I think under Wrangell), Sweden itself, or those garrisoning in the Dominions (with Swedish Prussia being the closest, but also most vulnerable to loss if weakened). Of all the great generals on Sweden’s side in the OTL TYW (Bernhard Wettin, Tortensson, Wrangell, Horn, and Baner (Nils Brahe died from injuries taken at Lutzen; not long after G2A)), only Baner and to a lesser extent Von Thurn are solidly with Axel.

  26. Bret Hooper says:

    @21 Johan: I just assumed you would know more about your country than almost any American (including me) and for one of us to lecture you about it would be much like lecturing the Pope about Catholicism.

  27. saladin says:

    well you can follow the river inn from innsbruck (tyrol) to bavaria (the inn will flow at passau into the danube – well the inn is bigger and has flown longer at passsau than the danube so it should remain the inn but history says otherwise) that was historically the route bavaria tried to invade tyrol – and they can tell you that you should only try it in summer (snow, snow, snow)
    and there are some smaller passes you can use – but hardly with an army and not at all AT this time of the year
    but spring next year……

  28. Johan says:

    @24 Bret Hooper

    In general I’d be inclined to agree, but I’ve found (as I’m sure that you and many others have also) that when it comes to the giants of ones history there tend to be some romantization.

  29. Robert H. Woodman says:

    Two Questions:

    1. Is Axel Oxenstierna’s misogyny, as portrayed here by EF, true to the character of the man OTL? Or is it true to the character of statesmen of his time, even if we don’t know that he himself was possessed of this attitude towards women?

    2. What is the source or basis of the personal acrimony and conflict between Ox and Gustav Horn?

    Thanks to anyone who can shed some light on these two questions.

  30. ET1swaw says:

    @30 Robert H. Woodman: For #1 I have nothing to concretely back up personal opinions, but his dismissal of the distaff was not misogyny per se just patriarchal blindness. At the time in Sweden women suffered under a very restrictive inheritance policy and OTL Kristina was dealt with more as king than queen. For #2 from what I’ve read, despite his position as Axel’s brother-in-law Horn tended to follow the Brahes and other Swedish political opponents of Axel in the Riksdag. There was probably more involved. I think Horn was also from a lower level of nobility prior to the marriage.

  31. ET1swaw says:

    correction: Axel’s son-in-law.

  32. bas says:

    Did I miss something? When Oxenstierna was mentally listing the armies that he had available, there was no mention of Von Arnhem (sp?) and his mercenaries. He realizes that Banér needs help (look at his frustration with Horn), so what gives?

  33. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @31, 32 – ET1swaw


  34. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @28 Taking an army down the Inn means the Tirolers would be invading Salzburg and Passau (independent bishopics) before they ever got to Bavaria. Both Salzburg and Passau would have defensive arrangements with Austria, and bringing is Austria on Max’s side is NOT a good idea.

    (Remember, any political map of the 17th century — even the highly rationalized one created in the Grantville timeline — is way way way more complex than anything in present day OTL Europe.)

    You are right that the FoJ side could do something smaller from Tirol, using smaller passes in spring. Whether they could send enough troops to be meaningful (heck, whether Tirol could *raise* enough troops to be meaningful) is in doubt. There isn’t a big enough hammer available until Horn, etc. make up their minds as to whose side they are really on.

    Remember this whole succession crisis is exactly that — a crisis. It seems to be moving slowly because we all have to wait 48-72 hours between snippets, and the snippets need to cover elements of 4 or 5 significant plot areas (Dresden/Stearns, Ox, Magdeburg, the other states, and Ulrik/Katrina). If the USE is to survive reasonably intact, the crisis cannot be allowed to last until spring.

  35. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @31 Not just dealt with as king, her actual title *was* “King” (not “Queen”) of Sweden. Different laws and powers pertained to the two, after all, and only a King could govern. Checking out this part of Swedish history reminded me of the Egyptian Pharoah Hatshepsut, whose gender baffled scholars for years because all of the surviving depictions showed her with a beard.

  36. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @26 Indeed, she is a Medici — and thus (from certain narrowly pejudiced points of view) from a merchant class family that had bought its way into the nobility. All sorts of reasons for Ox to not think about Tirol.

    Though thinking about Tirol might have been the one thing that could have saved him. It’s well known that her whole family are cunning and sly. What does she know that Ox iosn’t tracking. Alas, Ox had too many mental blinders on.

  37. ET1swaw says:

    @33 bas: Von Arnim and his mercenaries, holed up in Liepzig, are the remains of the Saxony army (minus the Polish survivors) destroyed by the USE divisions in ‘Eastern Front’. They may be available for hire (and unlike Holk will probably not go to the Poles; hopefully even Axel wouldn’t stoop low enough to hire Holk!!!), but no mention is even made of Axel negotiating with Von Arnim.

  38. dave o says:

    #35 Ed: RE Austria: Remember that in OTL, Bavaria was a thorn in the side of Austria for most of the rest of the 17th century and lots of the 18th. As an ally of France it was a continual threat to Austria. In the 19th century, Napoleon used Bavaria to weaken Austria by giving it the Tyrol. Under, i think, Josef, Austria tried to exchange Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria in the last third of the 18th century. Ferdinand almost certainly knows this. It’s only a guess, but my guess is that Ferdinand would be perfectly happy to see the duchy go away.

  39. johan says:

    @36 Ed Schoenfeld

    And yet we still say that we’ve had three reigning Queens. Queen Margerethe I of Denmark (which IIRC was never de jure Queen Regnant), Kristina (who, as you say, was a king) and Ulrika Eleonora who was more of a temporary regent until she married Frederik I. So the only one who can really be called a Queen Regnant both de jure and de facto will be the future Queen Victoria I when the current King croaks. And if this kingdom does not get its Queen I will turn violent.

    @30 Robert E. Woodman

    I really don’t know of anything that can tell us what Axel personally thought of women and women in power. Perhaps there are records or letters but those would be in state records or the Royal Library or somesuch place. Probably he just subscribed to the prejudice in vogue at that time.

    In other news ( ;) ), both Johan Banér and Lennart Torstensson are buried in the same church as Gustav Adolf and (with three exceptions) all monarchs since; the Riddarholms Church.

  40. johan says:


    Sorry, I meant TWO exceptions. (Kristina and Gustav VI Adolf]

  41. Bret Hooper says:

    @40 Robert Woodman: Probably, no, certainly I’m showing my ignorance here, but why doesn’t Elizabeth I of England qualify in this context?

  42. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Bret, Elizabeth I might not qualify because IIRC by English Law of that time her husband would have had the real power if she had married.

    So while she truly ruled, her power would have gone to her husband if she married.

  43. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @42 & 43 Actually, I think johan didn’t mention Elizabeth I of England because he is listing female rulers of Sweden. :-)

    Though Drak is right about what would have happened to the real power in England if Good Queen Bess had married. That possibility (and the succession to a monarch who was not going to ahve any legitimate heirs) was one of the fundamental political issues of her reign.

  44. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @39 The problem isn’t what Austria wants (or doesn’t want) to happen to Bavaria. The problem is Austria’s likely obligation to defend *Salzburg* and *Passau.*

    Kind of like thinking you can keep Britain out of WWI by invading Belgium and only occupying it for a little while (because of course the Schlieffen Plan will be successful, and the Brits won’t mind seeing the French taken down a notch . . .)

  45. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    @40: Well, Long Live the future Victoria of Sweden, then! It would be a shame if some bunch of politicians ended a nice, successful, comfortable constitutional monarchy in some misguided spasm of republicanism.

  46. dave o says:

    #45 Ed: No, Ferdinand might well decided to urge Salzburg and Passau to let Tyrolean troops pass through. Or he might decide to take a hand in the suppression of Bavaria himself. You don’t get to decide Austrian policy. Ferdinand does.

  47. johan says:

    @47 dave o

    I suspect that with the tensions between Austria and the Ottomans, they might have no choice but to focus on the east. And should a war break out I can totally see an alliance-of-convenience between the USE, Austria and perhaps even Bohemia to drive the Turks back. What happens to the small states between the USE and Austria then is anyones guess. (The scenario I hope for, even though I think it unlikely, is that Austria will be thoroughly thrashed by the Turks and they are left with no choice but to apply for statehood in the USE to save themselves.)

    @46 Ed Schoenfeld

    It sure would. (The limits of the Internet, I can’t sense if you’re just being cheeky. I’m going to assume that you’re not. :))

  48. ET1swaw says:

    Rechecked the maps. 3 rivers (Inn, Salzach, and Isar) run from Tyrol through Bavaria to the Danube. Passau is where the Inn meets the Danube. West of Passau along Danube is Oberpfalz border. The Inn though passing close to the A. of Salzburg does not pass through (Kufstein is in NTL Tyrol). The Salzach (a tributary of the Inn) transverses A. of Salzburg (including city of Salzburg) before joining the Inn in Bavaria. The Isar starts (barely) in Tyrol; passes through an outlying enclave of A. of Freising into Bavaria; flows through Munich and the main portion of A. of Freising; before joining the Danube. The Lech also originates in Tyrol but is the NTL approximate western border of Bavaria (with Swabia and I.C. of Augsburg) as the Danube is the northern (with Oberpfalz; Passau both sides of Danube and Inn).

  49. Alan says:

    Long live Urraca of León-Castile who was a successful ruling queen half a millennium before Kristina or Elizabeth.

    @43 Elizabeth’s problem was not legal but political. Mary I continued to rule England after her marriage to Philip and repeatedly overruled his efforts to reach an accommodation with the Protestants.

    Elizabeth could not marry an English noble because that would give a subject and his family too much power. She could not marry a Catholic prince because of her sister’s disastrous marriage to Philip of Spain. (She probably did want to marry the Duke of Anjou but the opposition was too great) There was no suitable Protestant prince for a queen who spent much of her energy staying out of Europe’s wars when she could. There was actually some vague negotiation with Ivan the Terrible and a couple of Scandinavian kings, but that ultimately went nowhere.

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