1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 63
“And then what?” asked one of the councilmen. “Before you know it they’d be back with reinforcements from Frankfurt and we’d have an all-out war on our hands. Remember the mess after the Dreeson Incident?”
“And at what cost?” asked the other councilmen who’d been dubious. “Two or three days of fighting inside the city will leave a third of it in ruins. It’s not worth it. It’s not even close to being worth it.”
The militia commander went back to working his jaw. It was a mannerism he had when he was angry but had no satisfactory way to act upon it.
“We won the election!” he exclaimed.
The mayor shook his head. “Not the way it turned out. I figured — so did you — that the duke of Saxe-Weimar would be the prime minister. Instead, he’s in prison and we’ve got Oxenstierna in the saddle.”
There was a gloomy silence for a few seconds. Then one of the councilmen said: “I didn’t like Stearns, not one bit. But let’s be honest — whatever else, he kept the Swedes off our neck. Now here they are, back in charge again.”
Augsburg, one of the USE’s seven independent imperial cities
The commander of Augsburg’s militia had a very different viewpoint than his counterpart in Darmstadt. Nor was he a cousin of Jeremias Jacob Stenglin, the head of the city council, and they certainly weren’t friends.
Augsburg didn’t have a mayor, as such. Stenglin played a somewhat similar role as head of the council, but his actual title was that of Stadtpfleger — “city caretaker.”
“Fine, then,” the militia commander snarled at Stenglin. “I’ll resign and you can try to stand off the Bavarians when they come.”
“If they come,” muttered one of the councilmen at the meeting.
The militia commander shifted his glare to the muttering fellow. “We’re talking about Duke Maximilian, Herr Langenmantel, not your betrothed. He’ll come, if he takes the Oberpfalz.”
That was a low blow. The councilman’s intended had failed to carry through on her vows. She’d left the city altogether, in fact, eloping with their young parson. It had been quite the scandal.
While the councilman was spluttering indignantly, the head of the militia went back to glaring at the rest of the council. “I told you and I will tell you again. We’re right on the border and Maximilian is running wild again. We can’t hold the city against him without the co-operation of the CoC and its armed contingents and the support of the SoTF — which is controlled by the Fourth of July Party. Not against the Bavarian army.”
Stenglin ran fingers across his scalp. Looking for the hair that was no longer there, perhaps. “I don’t like those shitheads!”
The militia commander shrugged. “Who does? But the one thing about them is that they’ll fight. They aren’t good for much else, but they are good for that.”
A tavern in Melsungen, in the province of Hesse-Kassel
“Here’s to the health of our landgravine!” shouted one of the revelers, holding up his stein of beer. “Long may she reign!”
The tavern was full, as it often was on a winter’s eve. Not a single stein failed to come up to join the toast.
Other provinces might suffer — would suffer, for a certainty, some of them — but not Hesse-Kassel. Not so long as Amalie Elisabeth of Hanau-Münzenberg sat in the provincial palace. The landgrave’s blessed widow would keep the storm away.
A fishing boat in the Pomeranian Bay
“I wish now I’d voted for the bastard, instead of that useless Wettin.” One of the two fishermen in the boat heaved at the net.
His partner frowned. “Stearns? He’s too radical.”
“Yes, I know. That’s why I voted for the other fellow. And look what happened! When Stearns was running things, he drove all the foreign armies out of Germany. For the first time in years, we had peace. Didn’t we?”
His companion made a face, but after a couple of seconds grunted his agreement.
“Right. Then we put in the duke and the first thing he does is get himself arrested and here we are, with the Swedes back on top.”
He paused at their labor and stared out over the sea, gloomily. “I’ll tell you this, for sure. The damn Swedes wouldn’t have arrested the Prince. They wouldn’t have dared.”
His partner grunted agreement again. Immediately.
The noblemen’s expedition never got to Schwerin. It got no farther than the southern shore of Lake Müritz. By then, CoC contingents from all over the province had gathered to meet the invaders.
They had no trouble finding them. As they had done during Operation Kristallnacht, the supposedly neutral USE Air Force had maintained reconnaissance patrols out of Wismar and provided the CoC contingents with regular reports on the location of their enemy.
Colonel Jesse Wood denied doing so, every time someone asked. But he’d kept a straight face while doing that, during Kristallnacht. Now he didn’t bother to hide the grin.
The battle that followed lasted less than three hours. Once again, the Mecklenburger nobility found itself outclassed when it had to face a large force of CoC fighters coming out of the bigger cities like Schwerin and Rostock. Many of those men were not from the militias. They were former soldiers in the USE’s army; some of them, veterans of the great battle at Ahrensbök.
But except for Mecklenburg — and Dresden, of course — the Germanies remained remarkably calm. There were scuffles aplenty; harsh words exchanged beyond counting; the same for threats. But rarely was any blood shed by anything more deadly than a fist or a cudgel.
The chancellor’s frustration mounted and mounted. His puzzlement, as well.
What was keeping the anarchists from anarchy?