1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 74

1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 74

” ‘Foolish’ isn’t exactly the right word,” Ulrik said. “A ruler can seem foolish to his subjects and still have legitimacy, because he had it to begin with. But the day Chancellor Oxenstierna started breaking the laws — which he did when he unilaterally moved the capital to Berlin; when he summoned a convention that had no legal authority to act; most of all, when he arrested Prime Minister Wettin — then he placed himself in a position where he had to establish his legitimacy.”

The prince shrugged. “Not an impossible project, by any means. Every usurper in history has faced the same problem — and history is full of successful usurpers. Still, it has to be done. It’s not something that can be allowed to drift. And that’s exactly what Oxenstierna has let happen. He’s drifted. Been set adrift, rather, by the shrewd tactics of his opponents. By now, many people — including many of those who followed him initially, and especially those who followed Wettin — are beginning to doubt him. That means they’ll be relieved to see someone re-establish legitimacy, since the usurper apparently can’t.”

By now, the princess had gotten interested — always the best way, of course, to get Kristina off a tantrum. “Isn’t there anything Uncle Axel can do?”

“Oh, certainly. But it would have to be something very dramatic — even more so once you arrive in Magdeburg.”

“Like what?”

Ulrik didn’t have to think about it. He lay awake at nights worrying — about all things, and he a prince! — that the continent’s most notorious agitator would fail of her purpose.

“Dresden. He has to take Dresden, Kristina. Has to, now — and soon. Dresden has become the symbol of his weakness. Every day that Dresden defies him, he loses legitimacy.”

The girl’s expression got very intent. Eager. “Maybe we should –”

“No! We are not going to Dresden.”

“But it’d be fun!”

Magdeburg, capital of the United States of Europe

There was never any question, Rebecca knew, where they would stay once they got here. It would have to be the royal palace. To stay anywhere else would work at cross-purposes.

That was a pity, in some ways. The palace was still not finished, for one thing. But enough of it was to serve the purpose. An entire wing already had plumbing and electricity. The bigger problem was security. The palace, as you’d expect of a structure designed for Gustav II Adolf, was immense. It had always been assumed, of course, that plenty of troops would be available to guard it. Most likely, given the Swedish king’s nature, different units would be rotated through the assignment. An army base was being constructed very near the palace that would be large enough to accommodate up to an entire battalion, although it would be crowded.

Usually they’d be units from the USE army, but Rebecca was fairly sure that Gustav Adolf had planned to occasionally rotate Swedish and even Danish units into the prestigious assignment.

But none of that could be done now. There were no USE soldiers left in the city, beyond a skeleton cadre at the large training base outside the city. Using Swedish troops was out of the question, of course. Using Danish troops…might be possible, but it would be political unwise.

Rebecca looked around at the very large foyer of her house. It was really too bad they couldn’t just move Ulrik and Kristina here. This townhouse had been designed with security in mind. For all practical purposes, it was a small fortress. And she already had a superb security staff in place, the clan of former Yeoman Warders whom her husband had brought back from England.

But that would be just as politically unwise as using Danish troops for security. Two things were critical, above all.

First, everything possible had to be done to enforce the legitimacy of the pair of royals. That was the whole reason, of course, they couldn’t just smuggle Kristina and Ulrik into the city. As a technical exercise, that would be extremely easy to do and almost entirely risk-free. But legitimate heirs do not skulk about. Their arrival into the capital — their capital — had to be public. Indeed, it had to be turned into a public spectacle.

Second, they had to appear as impartial as possible. In one sense, of course, the mere fact of their coming here would throw impartiality to the winds. They were choosing sides, quite obviously. But choosing sides was one side; favoring factions, something else entirely.

By coming here, Kristina and Ulrik would place their stamp of legitimacy on the existing capital. They would be thumbing their nose at Oxenstierna’s bastard capital in Berlin — and, by implication at least, everything Oxenstierna had done.

But it was still essential that they be seen by most citizens as not being the tools of the Committees of Correspondence. In the end, this peculiar civil war — this half-civil-war, as she often thought of it — would be won because large numbers of the people who voted for the Crown Loyalists in the election would withdraw their support. Some of them would then be willing to give their support to the Fourth of July Party.

Not all. Not even most, in her estimation. But they would be willing to give their support to the dynasty, which would appear to them to be the only thing stable that still remained. Their willingness to do so, however, would depend on the dynasty not looking as if it were anybody’s puppet.

Which meant — once again she was back to squaring the circle — they couldn’t be too closely associated with the Fourth of July Party, much less the Committees of Correspondence.

Who, unfortunately, were the only people in Magdeburg who could provide reliable security for Ulrik and Kristina. Certainly if they moved into that huge palace.

Her daughter Sepharad came charging in, followed by her brother Baruch. “Mommy, Barry and I want to go to the navy yards!”

Rebecca frowned. “Why? The big ironclads are all gone. There’s really not much to see there anymore.”

“Not true,” pronounced Baruch. Despite just having celebrated his third birthday, he spoke with the same surety — so she hoped, at any rate — with which he would someday speak on the most profound questions of metaphysics and ethics. “The Marines change the guard every day at noon. It’s not noon yet.”

Maria Susanna came into the room, smiling. “I can take them, Frau Abrabanel. It’s very nice out today, for January. Sunny and not too cold.”

Maria Susanna was one of the children whom Gretchen Richter had informally adopted in her days as an army camp follower. Once it had become clear that Gretchen was going to be stuck in Dresden for months, the children’s great-grandmother had come to Rebecca.

“I’m not doing it again,” Veronica Richter said firmly. “Enough! I took care of those children the last time my grand-daughter went gallivanting about Europe tossing over apple carts. I’m not doing it again.”

She’d then given Rebecca that stern look that no one could do as well as Veronica. “I think you should do it, this time. Because it’s your fault, ultimately. Well, your husband’s. But he’s off gallivanting around too.”

The logic involved had been circuitous at best. But Rebecca saw no reason to argue the matter. There was enough room in the townhouse to fit four more children into it. The three boys could share a single room, and there was a small room on the top floor that would be suitable for Maria Susanna.

None of them were so young as to require constant supervision. They ranged in ages from twelve to fifteen or so. A very rambunctious age, to be sure, but Rebecca wasn’t concerned about that problem. Not with all the Yeoman Warders and their womenfolk living in the mansion, and their matriarch Patricia Hayes managing the household’s daily affairs.

Then, as it turned out, Maria Susanna made an excellent companion for the younger children. Partly, an older sibling; partly a governess. She had the right temperament for the task.

“Please, Momma!” said Baruch. “I really like to watch the Marines marching around. They’ve got the best uniforms of anybody!”

The Marines…

Out of the mouths of babes, indeed.

“Yes, fine,” Rebecca said, nodding. “Maria Susanna, please have them back no later than two o’clock.”

As soon as the children left, she headed for the radio room upstairs.

Admiral, can we have the use of your Marines here in Magdeburg? I would need as many as possible.

She didn’t need to specify the purpose. Simpson would understand. The political logic would be as clear to him as it was to her.

The navy needed to stay neutral. But the Marines…weren’t exactly the navy. And if he were pressed, Simpson could fall back on his own traditions. In the world he’d come from, Rebecca knew, the Marines had been used for such purposes.

The answer came back almost immediately.

Yes. Will instruct navy yards commander to place all Marines there at your disposal. Will send more from the units I have here in Luebeck, and the entire units from Wismar and Hamburg. And anywhere else I can scrape them up.

They’ll need their dress uniforms, which many of them don’t have. You’ll have to bear that cost.

She thought about that for a moment. How far could she push the admiral…?

It was worth a try.

I can have new uniforms designed for the purpose. Very dressy.

Again, the answer came back quickly.

Grudgingly agree. But no tricorns. Silly damn things.

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38 Responses to 1636: The Saxon Uprising — Snippet 74

  1. yorrick says:

    uniforms… hmm… will she use a picture of the USMC like that chessboard commercial from the 90’s with a knight in shining armor transforming into a Marine?

    Or a picture from the Civil War, making them seem like a Union General or Confederate General, or Union Admiral?

    How about TR’s Rough Riders?

  2. robert says:

    Last year we went to see the Marine Band perform at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Anybody who gets a chance should go see them when they are on tour-they are great and tix are free. Anyway those’d be the uniforms I would choose. The red-jacket, blue pants dress ones. But please Rebecca, not the early 19th century ones with the tall hats, whatever they are called.

  3. Denny says:

    Ah the Marines. I wondered when Eric would finally bring them into the game, esp with all the emphasis placed on the neutral/hands-off positions of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

    Can’t wait for my copy of the book to arrive in a week or two.

  4. Bret Hooper says:

    Yippee! Amazon has shipped 6TSU! It should be here next week!

  5. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @3, 4 — Denny, Bret Hooper

    B&N just emailed me that my book has arrived as is being held for pickup at the store nearest my house.

    @2 — robert

    Are you thinking of the shako? I had to wear a shako in high school band. Very annoying to wear when performing marching drills. If the hat wasn’t strapped on tightly, then it could tilt or even fall off when performing snap turns. Of course, if it was strapped on tightly, then it could make playing my wind instrument a bit difficult. I finally figured out how to strap it on tightly without hurting my ability to play, but it took most of my first marching season to figure it out.

  6. johan says:

    Since it’s Germany, I have to say I’m partial to the plumed pickelhaube, like the riding Royal Guard use in Britain, and the Royal Guard here in Sweden. There is something intrinsicaly Old World about it. Or why not those 19th century Hussar hats? Combined with horizontal braids on the jackets. In any case, something that looks suitably Imperial in splendor.

  7. ET1swaw says:

    B&N has 6TSU on shelves now! Just read my copy. Kratman’s new entry in his series also out.

  8. Terranovan says:

    I presume that by “political unwise”, they mean “politically unwise”.

  9. Pul Ess says:

    I don’t understand what the admiral has agains tricorns ? I think they would look smashing, like http://www.clicket.com/LargerPicture.asp?ProductID=28342-01 :-)

  10. dave o says:

    I just got back from the bookstore with my copy. All these snippets are only 56% of the whole book. Looks like a happy afternoon.

    This not a spoiler,- I haven’t started reading yet. If Becky wants more guards than the Marines, Achterhof could probably supply as many volunteer marine recruits as needed. Once in uniform, who’ll be able to tell?

    The uniform should have frogging, shiny buttons and lots of them, Embroidered cuffs if there’s time. And a gaudy color. The Prince’s Own Regiment of Marines.

  11. dave o says:

    Sorry, The PRINCESSES Own Regiment.

  12. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @9 – Pul Ess

    While tricorns do look fascinating, I imagine that they are a pain to maintain to military standards of crispness. Also, the corner that faces forward on a tricorn looks to me as if it would be a potential hazard during military precision sword/rifle drill. The ideal hat for me for marching and rifle drill is the garrison cap, but it doesn’t really look spiffy enough for drill, so the next best thing is the wheel cap (at least that’s what we called it; I don’t know if that’s the official name). The plumed pickelhaube, suggested by johan @6 is an interesting idea, but I bet it would upset many of the Americans, especially the older ones. Personally, I don’t have an aversion to the pickelhaube, but I do think it looks very silly. That’s just my opinion, though.

  13. Randy says:

    I hope she doesn’t go for gaudy. The up-time marines would mutiny. Either go for the dark blue tunics, lighter blue trousers with the red stripe, and white visored service cap or the scarlet tunics and white pith helmets from the movie Zulu. I would prefer the former with the scarlet tunics reserved for the band. Another possibility would be the gurka/aussie headgear similar to that worn by the Iron Brigade.

    I hope the down-time marines are into precision(silent)drill, which is really impressive and foreboding. Maybe they can issue kukris to the marines as well.

  14. jtl says:

    Since everyone is fixed on head gear, I always had a fancy for the U.S.Cavalry caps from the 1840’s and 1850’s. They seemed to be a transitional style between the Prussian Landwehr caps of 1813-1815 and what we have today. I always thought they were far superior to the kepi’s worn during the Civil War. Anyway they looked good on Errol Flynn in “Santa Fe Trail”.

  15. johan says:

    @13 Robert H. Woodman: I imagine it would upset some of them. The series in the GG’s about the Pentecostal tours and the radio show shows some who basically blames the weather on the fact that Stearns went along with the Feldgrau uniforms. Though they associate it with the Confederacy, strangely enough (or perhaps it’s not strange at all). But I don’t hold out any hope for seeing my plumed helmets. :) I think it might be a bit too much. It’s the kinda thing that would be slightly hilarious if the French started issuing to their Royal Guard.

    @15 Randy: I think there’s less than a handfull of up-time marines, and despite having trained the down-timers, from what the GG’s tell none of them are in overall command of the Marine Corps. I have a slight feeling that many down-timers will jump for joy at being able to wear a snazzy uniform, especially since IIRC there are quite some aristocrats in the Corps. Though the line between tasteful and gaudy can be thin, I admit. In general, late 19th century uniforms are my favorites. Stylish, yet not too over the top.

  16. Baz says:

    Didn’t Gretchen have 2 boys and 2 girls move with her to Magdeburg at the beginning of The Eastern Front?

  17. tomhr says:

    Mild spoiler ahead–

    Now it can be told: The scene of Kristina and Ulrik arriving in Magdeburg gave me goosebumps. EF was on a roll that day.

  18. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @12 — robert

    I checked out the picture in your link. Yes, that’s similar to the shako I really came to dislike in high school band. :-)

    Do you see the white, round caps the Marines are wearing in the background? That was the hat I much preferred for marching. That didn’t happen until my junior year in high school, though. I also wore that style hat in AFROTC as a college undergraduate. It’s a much better hat for marching and for drills (I was on the ROTC color and rifle drill team) than that shako.

  19. robert says:

    @19 Robert. OK Then here is a real 17th century military uniform that does NOT have a shako:


    Amazon shows my copy to be shipped on the 28th, Monday. I have been so desperate for what to read, that I just finished Joe Gores’ “Spade and Archer” (fun and great research) and another re-read of Mission of Honor. So Eric’s will come just in time.

  20. Bret Hooper says:

    How many weeks (months?) will Becky have to get fancy uniforms tailored for dozens of marines? Is there any possibility of them being done by the time Ulrik and Kristina arrive in Magdeburg, or will most of the marines be marching in whatever clothes they have available?

  21. wyrm says:

    If Rebecca wants ‘dressy’ marines, I’d go with the British Royal Marines of the Napoleonic period.


    Copying a “royal” marine uniform, might also be more reassuring for Crown Loyalists than copying a American (i.e. Republican) uniform. Explicitly denoting the unit as Royal (something that was only done for the Royal Marines in 1802) might also reinforce the legitimacy Becky wants to draw from Kristina. Very minor, but it might add another nail to Ox’s coffin.

  22. Willem Meijer says:

    As an ex-consript I prefer uniforms to be as un-flashy as possible. Anything you have to polish has to go (so no brass at all). Anything that has to be starched or ironed has to go. No white leather belts (I hated the modern equivalent of pipe clay as much as I hated blenco (paste to make webbing green)). Why not go for cheap and revolutionary: the pictures of the 1830 (Belgium and France) and 1848 (France, Germany) revolutions show many working class revolutionary fighters wearing a sort of blue smock. For a time (1830-ies) some of the Belgian civil guard units wore these smocks combined with a stovepipe hat as a uniform. Very distinctive and no need for any polishing. Did the ROF happen too early to have DVD’s of Les Miserables in Grantville?

  23. Willem Meijer says:

    @21 make that ex-conscript.

  24. robert says:

    What is really funny is that Simpson tells Becky that they will need their dress uniforms, which many of them don’t have. Meaning that the Admiral has already designed the Marine dress uniform, but she goes off on a redesign tangent all her own. Rather than engage in another skirmish in the war between the sexes, he just surrenders under terms: no tricorns.

  25. tomhr says:

    Robert, I don’t see this as being a permanent Marine dress uniform. Rather, it’s, “Marines, for a special assignment, you take orders from Rebecca Abrabanel; and taking orders includes wearing the uniform she’s designed for the occasion.”

  26. Vince says:

    And so begins a new tradition: The changing of the guards at Magdeburg (or whatever it will be called) schloss (palace).

  27. akira.taylor says:

    @25 robert, @26 romhr – I would see it as Rebecca is designing the (possibly temporary) Royal Guard Unit (size being unspecified from the info in the snippet) Dress Uniform. Whatever dress uniform Simpson approved is still the Marine Dress Uniform. Now, if the Royal Guard becomes a permanent unit, it may retain the special dress uniform, but might (in the future) revert to the standard Marine one.

    So, kind of agreeing with tomhr, but adding to it.

  28. Cobbler says:

    @ 23, Willem Meijer: Eric has described the poor visibility on a downtime battlefield. A volley of musket or cannon fire is a do-it-yourself cloudbank. That’s why the uniforms of the time were so gaudy and distinctive. An officer can get a glimpse of uniform and know it’s the enemy. A soldier can recognize the uniform and know those guys are on his side. Of course, the enemy can see your uniform and know you for a target, but you can’t have everything.

    Dressing like an explosion in a dye factory has been a bad idea since 1914. In an era of black powder blindness, it was the best available option.

  29. summertime says:

    @#20Robert. Desperate for something to read? Buy a Nook or Kindle electronic reader and delve into the library of existing books. I have a Nook and have downloaded more than twenty-five older books I never read, some I did not know existed. This constitutes three percent of the capacity of the device. I can continue to download older works plus newer ones as they come along for less cost, and I can do it via my home computer with wi-fi. Do this and I guarantee you will never run short of good reads!

  30. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @20 — robert

    Ok. Given a choice between a shako and looking like the 4th Regiment of Horse, I’d go for the shako. :-)

    Got my copy of 6TSU today. Wow!!! What a great book! Eric Flint is a masterful writer. He’s far from a perfect writer, but he is truly a masterful writer, and this book delivered some of Eric’s best storytelling. Also, be sure and read EF’s Afterword when you get the book.

  31. Randy says:

    Does anybody else remember how hideous and short lived were uniforms that Nixon had made for the white house guards?

  32. Randy says:

    Does anybody else remember how hideous and short lived were uniforms that Nixon had made for the white house guards?

  33. tomhr says:

    @ 32 (Randy) — proving, as if anyone wondered, that Richard Nixon was no threat to NYC’s Fifth Avenue.

  34. yorrick says:

    Hmm… headgear… how about those bearskins that the guard wears at Buckingham palace? Or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stetson? Come to think of it… the RCMP is a reserve cavalry regiment…

  35. johan says:

    Gaah! I’ll be lucky to even get the book next week. This wait is currently unbearable.

    @28 akira.taylor: I’d guess that when/if normalcy prevails, the Royal/Imperial Palace Guard will have uniforms distinct from the rest of the Armed Forces irregardless of what unit is currently being rotated at the palace. So the uniform will probably be tied to the position and not the Marines/Danish Army/Swedish Army or whoever.

  36. dave o says:

    Fancy, not to say gaudy, uniforms were an important recruitment tool, besides being necessary on the battlefield. What young man didn’t want to impress the girls with his sharp uniform. The problems came later.

    Of course I doubt that there would be much of a problem recruiting more guards for Kristina.

  37. ET1swaw says:

    Up-time camo or up-time snow camo would be unique, but not gaudy enough for dress uniforms.

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