How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 22

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 22

That was an interesting change in perspective on Clyntahn’s part, Duchairn thought. It had probably been brewing ever since the Inquisitor decided Mother Church had no choice but to adopt the Charisians’ innovations themselves if they hoped to defeat the heretics. Odd how the line between the acceptable and the anathematized started blurring as soon as Clyntahn realized the kingdom he’d wanted to murder might actually have a chance to win.

“Very well, I’ll accept that,” Trynair responded, although from his tone he still cherished a few reservations. “Convincing the common folk of it may be a little more difficult, however. And ‘deviltry’ or not, the shock of it — not to mention its obvious destructiveness — undoubtedly explains how Bishop Kornylys and his warriors were overcome.”

“I think that’s almost certainly what happened.” Maigwair’s voice was unwontedly quiet. The Group of Four’s least imaginative member clearly realized how thin the ice was underfoot, but his expression was stubborn. “There’s no way Haarpar could have seen this coming. We certainly didn’t! And, frankly, I’m willing to bet the Harchongese got in the way more than they ever helped!”

Clyntahn’s glare grew still sharper. The Harchong Empire’s monolithic loyalty to Mother Church loomed large in the Grand Inquisitor’s thinking. Harchong, the most populous of all the Safeholdian realms, formed an almost bottomless reservoir of manpower upon which the Church might draw and, geographically, it protected the Temple Lands’ western flank. Perhaps even more important from Clyntahn’s perspective, though, was Harchong’s automatic, bone-deep aversion to the sort of innovations and social change which had made Charis so threatening in the Inquisition’s eyes from the very beginning.

Despite which, not even he could pretend Harchong’s contribution to Bishop Kornylys Harpahr’s fleet had constituted anything but a handicap. Poorly manned, worse officered, and in far too many cases completely unarmed thanks to the inefficiency of Harchong’s foundries, they must have been like an anchor tied to Haarpar’s ankle when the Charisians swooped down upon him.

“I get a little tired of hearing about Harchong’s shortcomings,” the Grand Inquisitor said sharply. “I’ll grant they aren’t the best seamen in the world, but at least we can count on them . . . unlike some people I could mention.” He made a harsh, angry sound deep in his throat. “Funny how Searose ended up in Siddarmark of all damned places, isn’t it?”

Duchairn managed not to roll his eyes, but he’d seen that one coming. Clyntahn’s aversion towards and suspicion of Siddarmark were just as deep and automatic as his preference for Harchong.

“I’m sure it was simply a case of Bedard Bay’s being the closest safe port he could reach,” Trynair said.

“Maybe so, but I’d almost be happier to see them on the bottom of the sea,” the inquisitor growled. “The last thing we need is to have our Navy — our surviving Navy, I suppose I should say — getting contaminated by those bastards. The embargo’s leaking like a fucking sieve already; Langhorne only knows how bad it’d get if the people responsible for enforcing it signed on with that pain in the ass Stohnar!”

“Zhaspahr, you know I agree we have to be cautious where Siddarmark is concerned,” the Chancellor said in a careful tone. “And I realize Stohnar is obviously conniving with his own merchants and banking houses to evade the embargo. But Rhobair’s right, too. At this moment, Siddarmark and Silkiah have the most prosperous economies of any of the mainland realms precisely because the embargo is ‘leaking like a sieve’ in their cases. You know that’s true.”

“So we should just sit on our asses and let Stohnar and the others laugh up their sleeves at Mother Church?” Clyntahn challenged harshly. “Let them flout Mother Church’s legitimate authority in the middle of the first true jihad in history and get rich out of it?!”

“Do you think I like that any better than you do?” Trynair demanded. “But we’ve already got one slash lizard by the tail. One war at a time, please, Zhaspahr! And if it’s all the same to you, I’d really like to take care of the one we’re already fighting before we start another one with Siddarmark.”

Clyntahn scowled, and Duchairn heaved a mental sigh. The Church had already lost the tithes from the scattered lands which had joined or been conquered by the Empire of Charis. That was a not insignificant slice of revenue in its own right, but of all the mainland realms, only the Republic of Siddarmark, the Grand Duchy of Silkiah, and the Desnairian Empire were managing to pay anything like their prewar tithes, and it was questionable how much longer that would be true in Desnair’s case.

The only reason the Empire was making ends meet was the depth and richness of its gold mines, and that gold was running like water as the rest of the Desnarian economy slowed drastically. The result was a drastic rise in prices which was crushing the poor and the limited Desnarian middle class, and in the end, far more of the total tithe came from those two classes than from the aristocracy. If they could no longer make ends meet, if their incomes dropped, then so did their ability to pay their tithes, and Duchairn could already see the downward spiral starting to set in.

All of that made the fact that the Republic and the Grand Duchy were able to pay their full prewar tithes even more important. And the reason they were, as Trynair had just reminded Clyntahn, was precisely because they were the only two mainland realms continuing to carry on a brisk trade with Charis. In fact, even though the total level of their trade had dropped significantly because of the need to evade Clyntahn’s prohibition of any commerce with Charis, Siddarmark in particular was actually more prosperous than it had been three years ago.

Everybody knows Siddarmark’s always been the main conduit between Charis and the Temple Lands, whether Zhaspahr wants to admit it or not, the Treasurer thought disgustedly. Their farmers have been cleaning up out of the need to provision all our armed forces, of course, but now that Charisian goods can’t be imported legally into the Temple Lands — thanks to Zhaspahr’s stupid embargo — Siddarmark’s merchants and banking houses are making even more on the transaction. And it’s still costing us less to buy Charisian than to buy anything manufactured here on the mainland. So if we break the Siddarmarkian economy, we break our own!

He knew how much the situation infuriated Clyntahn, but for once the Grand Inquisitor had faced the united opposition of all three of his colleagues. They simply couldn’t afford to kill the wyvern that fetched the golden rabbit — not when Mother Church was pouring so much gold into building the weapons she needed to fight her jihad. That was the argument which had finally brought him — grudgingly, dragging his heels the whole way — into accepting that he had no choice but to close his eyes to the systematic violation of his embargo.

And the fact that it’s his embargo, one he insisted on decreeing without any precedent, only pisses him off worse, Duchairn thought. Bad enough that they should defy God’s will, but Langhorne forbid they should dare to challenge Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s will!

“I think we need to turn our attention back to the matter at hand,” he said before Clyntahn could fire back at Trynair and back himself still further into an untenable corner. “And while I know none of us wanted to hear about any of this, I’d like to point out that all we have so far is Father Greyghor’s preliminary semaphore report. Reports over the semaphore are never as detailed as couriered or wyvern-carried reports. I’m sure he dispatched a courier at the same time he handed his preliminary message to the semaphore clerks, but it’s not going to get here for a while, given the weather, so I think it’s probably a bit early for us to be trying to decide exactly what happened, or how, or who’s to blame for it. There’ll be time enough for that once we know more.”

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34 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 22

  1. tootall says:

    ” We have to burn this (village-city-country) to SAVE it!!”
    It does sound like they are seeing Clytahn’s insanities-and are all scared to death of him. What a mess they’ve gotten themselves into.

  2. Ok, considering all the talk about it not being safe for Vicars outside of the edifice, as well as Maigwair’s being on the “thin ice”, I am going to go ahead and predict now that Maigwair will at some point leave the safety of the tower for some perfunctory reason and end up being accosted, perhaps even assassinated by locals. I’ll even go so far as to further predict that Clyntahn will wave away the incident as Maigwair was quickly becoming superfluous, if not actually detrimental to the war/jihad effort.

    Also, when the courier letter does arrive, with a more detailed synopsis of the battle, I can see Clyntahn nodding in agreement having already had some prior knowledge.

    Since this is a possibility, I’ll even further postulate that in fact he has created a COMPLETELY NEW department WITHIN the Inquisition that is given complete autonomy and also sanction against being affected by the proscriptions, a sort of dark version of the Royal College now instituted in the Empire of Charis. Perhaps they are even going to be coming out some innovations of their own, built upon perhaps by information stolen from Temple Loyalist (clergy) spies in Corisande.

  3. Peter says:

    So far the other three of the Go4 still see Clyntahn as someone they need. At some point he’ll become someone they can’t afford. What happens then? Verrrrryyy Innnnteresting times, I predict. :-)

  4. wyrm says:

    With the problems described within the Desnairian Empire, could it be ripe for a PICA-led peasants’ revolt?

  5. laclongquan says:

    The peasants know how to revolt, thank you very much. We dont need no stinking PICA to do that.

  6. Daryl says:

    Merlin wants the war to continue so as to push innovation. If peace broke out there would be much less desire to develop scientific methodology. The ultimate aim is to transform Safehold into a technological society, and this war is simply one chapter in this endeavour.

  7. ET1swaw says:

    IMO since the purge of the Circle, Clyntahn is the larger of the slash lizards the other three have by the tail. Worse he’s going rabid and Maigwair’s grip is slipping while Trynair’s powerbase is narrowing. Looking like Clyntahn is starting to think of the Go4 as himself and three subordinates. Duchairn seems to be working toward looking at Charis as the lesser evil.

    How long are they going to be able to restrain Clyntahn? In the last book, at least one Siddarmark Archbishop and Circle dependents escaped the purge in and through Siddarmark. Their economy is booming because of their defiance of Clyntahn and his policies. And they spread their defiance of the all powerful Clyntahn to Silkiah, who owe their independence to the CoGA! The power of his Inquisition is growing as he encourages the scourging/execution of Heritics (anyone who disagrees with Clyntahn or his underlings). His Intendents are being forced to allow innovations, by his direct orders, and are being denigrated/demoted to the search for Heresy (Clyntahn’s definition). Thirsk?sp? is on borrowed time as well.

    Dohlar (bordered by Siddarmark and Silkiah) and Harchong economies are struggling and Desnair is treading water by eating their seed corn despite the Go4 pouring gold into them for building their navy. Dohlar and Desnair still have their ships, but most of Harchong’s and almost all of those built elsewhere are gone. Dohlar has built a real navy, but Desnair and Harchong just have ships. AFAIK open season hasn’t yet been called on Desnair shipping and despite Harchong’s recent foray alongside the CoGA ships they are not on the hit list yet either. IMO Dohlar might be able to convoy their merchants (if Clyntahn will let them), but with the exception of the Charis Empire (soon to include Tarot), Siddarmark, and Silkiah every other Merchant Marine on Safehold is SOL. Charis Empire privateers just got a new lease on life.

    The Go4 (and Harchong) still don’t have word of the Harchongese performance/situation. Clynahn is going to go ballistic! A good bloody reign of terror might set him right. His second in command is both Harchongese and the Archbishop for a major section of Harchong, how much s–t is he going to be able to take when Clyntahn goes off?

  8. Robert H. Woodman says:

    How long will it be before Siddarmark joins Charis in rebellion against the CoGA and the Go4? And will it be a case of Charis wooing Siddarmark to an alliance, or Clyntahn driving Siddarmark away, or some combination of both?

  9. PeterZ says:

    Siddermark has very little incentive to join in open alliance with Charis, Robert. This snippet tells us that their neutral/non-beligerant stance is making them rich. They do not have to spend money on a navy because the ICN is more than willing to protect Siddermark flagged vessels. Siddermark is only 1 of 2 nations buying contraband from Charis. They have the clout to buy the goods at discounter prices because no one else CAN legally buy those goods. They sell them at higher prices because those products are illicit where they are sold.

    I suspect that this snippet is one big foreshadow of Desnair being forced to cease hostilities. If they continue producing military supplies at the expense of their civilian needs, their inflation will cripple them. There isn’t enough civilian goods to soak up all that extra gold their mines are spewing forth. What goods there are just happen to require more resources to produce than they would have had to spend/use prior to the Charisian embargo.

    Desnair may not be able continue fighting the war, if Ducharin is correct. If Desnair ceases hostilities, it would be more politically devestating to the CoGA than Siddermark allying with Charis openly. Militarily, Siddermark as an ally would be more significant. I do not have a feel for which would be more damaging in an absolute sense.

  10. Robert H. Woodman says:

    PeterZ, I agree that Siddarmark does not currently have an incentive to join in an alliance with Charis against the CoGA and Go4. For that matter, Charis does not currently have enough of an incentive to try and woo Siddarmark to form an alliance. OTOH, things can change. Specifically,

    –begin quote–

    Duchairn managed not to roll his eyes, but he’d seen that one coming. Clyntahn’s aversion towards and suspicion of Siddarmark were just as deep and automatic as his preference for Harchong.

    * * * * * * *

    “Do you think I like that any better than you do?” Trynair demanded. “But we’ve already got one slash lizard by the tail. One war at a time, please, Zhaspahr! And if it’s all the same to you, I’d really like to take care of the one we’re already fighting before we start another one with Siddarmark.”

    –end quote–

    From that, I extrapolate that Clyntahn is not averse to going to war with Siddarmark. If he ousts the other 3 and becomes the “Group of 1”, then he might decide that war with Siddarmark is preferable to continually having Siddarmark’s leaders “flout Mother Church’s legitimate authority in the middle of the first true jihad in history and get rich out of it”. That was why I asked the questions I did.

    I suspect (and I may be wrong) that Clyntahn will ramp up the pressure on Siddarmark to the point that Siddarmark may see it as being in their own best interest to abandon the Church and join Charis. If Charis sees that also, then they may offer an alliance and just enough pressure of their own to compel Siddarmark to ally with Charis. Such an alliance will cause short-term pain for Siddarmark, but it will in the long run be much better for Safehold generally, and Charis specifically.

  11. PeterZ says:

    Totally agree, Robert. I supose that I am relying on the G4 allowing sleeping dogs to continue sleeping. If the the G4 come down on Siddermark and Silkiah hard for their tricks with ships’ regestries, that may cause what you describe. Since the G4 haven’t done that yet, it suggests that however much Clyntahn may want to fight Siddermark that our fearful foursome will continue to allow the large canine his somnolence.

  12. Peter says:

    Also, the behavior of Clyntahn and his Inquisitors is certainly pissing off lots of people on the mainlands. Leaders on politics and business as well. I wonder whether Inquisitors have begun having unfortunate ‘accidents’ in increasing numbers? If I was a ruler of a smaller entity like Silkiah and felt pinched between the needs of my state and the intransigence of the local Intendant, the temptation to arrange someting, even just to get breathing room for myself, would be very strong.

  13. Bret Hooper says:

    @12 Peter: Right on! For that matter, if I were the chief executive or a legislator of Siddarmark, “and felt pinched between the needs of my state and the intransigence of the local Intendant, the temptation to arrange someting, even just to get breathing room for myself, would be very strong.”

  14. JeffM says:

    Actually, what you folks might want to consider (sorry, haven’t read all comments) are all of the discoveries that the Inquisition has buried over the years–and doubtless still have in their files. No need for them to research anything, just pull out items whose inventors were, say, burnt at the stake ages ago.

  15. Anthony says:

    Not sure arranging the breathing room would be worth the increased scrutiny that would be likely to follow. Better to find out if the local Intendant could be convinced to be a little more reasonable than his boss. Let him see the pain that Clyntahn’s policies are causing, and have a solution at hand, you just need the Intendant’s permission, oh and it will help the war effort too.

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    I’m not sure Jeff, the Intendants wanted inventors to bring their inventions to them to approved or disapproved.

    It is not very likely that inventors were “burnt at the stake” only because their inventions violated the Proscriptions.

    After all, why bring an invention (or an idea) to the Intendants for approval if you’d be killed if it violated the Proscriptions.

    Of course, IMO it is unlikely that any prior inventor developed something more advanced than what Charis has developed.

  17. Scott says:

    Okay, the gang sorry, group of four will let sleeping dogs lie. But what happens if a over zealous underling decides to make an example of a merchant or two for defying muther church?
    Looking the other way only works if everyone plays along.

  18. PeterZ says:

    I suspect everyone expects the occasional overzealous Intendant. Thnk of it as survival of the fitest. Those too stipid to bribe the right amnount and the right people don’t deserve top prosper.

  19. @9

    Interesting thought. I had interpreted Desnair’s gold as going to tithes to be shipped off to Harchong or wherever, which makes the inflation incomprehensible. If the gold is staying in Desnair and being spent on more target dummies, errh, invincible warships, then it would indeed lead to inflation. Thank you for the explanation.

  20. BobG says:

    The question I am still concerned about is how does Clynthyn know about shells? It could be from (1) spies within the metalworks (2) his own R&D people (as suggested above, it didn’t occur to me), or (3) some communications from the Temple AIs, which I would guess was triggered by Merlin’s imitation steam engines.

    All three of those worry me, (2) the least and (3) the most. The latter might give the Church the actual advantage in a technology war.

    I also want to know if Merlin could have detected SNARKs sent out by the Temple to investigate the steam engines.

  21. jgarland says:

    Well we do know that Scheueler left at least two artifacts to his order–although they re in the hands of the “moderates” at the moment. It wouldn’t surprise me if he left a few more lying around in the central office of the Inquisition.

  22. Daryl says:

    @16 Drak, just check OTL history for medieval witch trials in Germany, Saudi Arabia today, or the Inquisition records to see how illogical and mentally imbalanced some religious zealots can be. I’ve wondered at times if such behaviour is part of the religious mind set, or if psychopaths naturally gravitate to such positions to justify their obscenities.

  23. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Daryl, David Weber holds the “religious mind set” as do plenty of Americans.

    The “Witch Hunt Mindset” is part of human nature and usually become “active” during times of turmoil.

    Jgarland, what we know about the two artifacts is that they were left to the Wylsynn family not to his order.

    Not to say that other artifacts exist, just the ones we know about are in the hands of one family.

  24. KenJ says:

    @22 actually, you get that kind of “tunnel thinking” from ANY group-think; be it religious, political, social, whatever. People decide they “know” what is “right”, come up with rationalizations to “confirm” their beliefs, find people who believe what they do, and then consider anyone with a differing viewpoint “stupid” or a “heritic” or “Not-one-of-us” or whatever. It is the rare person who is able to approach even their own beliefs with a truly open mind and accept that they may actually be wrong from time to time.

  25. summertime says:

    @#24, kenj: You are correct, and we need look no further for proof than the current US impasse on the budget. Congress Repubs vs. Pres and Demos, each convinced they are right and have the only correct path out of the situation, seem to illustrate political tunnel vision very well.

  26. PeterZ says:

    @19 George, I suspect that Desnair is trying to produce their own civilian goods. The prolem is that the woirkers are so ineficient. Whatever they make is much or expensive in resources (human and otherwise). Most of the newer workers (recent expansion) are not well trained yet and proabaly come from social classes not well equipped to be craftsmen, extra farm workers or woodsmen as an example.

    The bottom line is that by trying to expand their apprentice system of production and not shift to an assembly line, they will never be as productive. That means shifting away from buying Charisian goods will force Desnair to use more resources to produce the same amount of goods than simply buying the goods from Charis. They also, probably can’t produce the needed consumer goods and produce military goods at the same time. That may be possible if the get more people, but not at current productivity and population. Hence the inflation.

    So we get inflation and perhaps stagflation if prices rise so high and the inquisition gets all touchy about allowing more flexibility in the social matrix. You know, people rising above their station and all.

  27. robert says:

    Is Desnair the Safeholdian equivalent (or becoming the equivalent) of colonial Spain? All that gold, little incentive to industrialize/change, trapped by a rigid religious inflexibility, etc.

  28. Doug Lampert says:

    @26 at the teck level displayed by the books the only movable manufactured good where mass industrial production is both practical and particularly useful is textiles.

    Basically, when DW talks about all the goods Charis exports or used to export and all the missing civilian goods, if it isn’t allmost all cloth there’s a real problem with his economic model.

    Large metal goods like cannon have some production advantages possible. But there’s negligable civilian demand for heavy guns or comparable objects. Other metal-goods are mostly produced by individual craftsmen till rather late in industriallization. Mining and smelting have some industrial advantages possible, but due to transport costs those WILL be at or near the minehead, and raw iron cost isn’t the main price driver of goods people actually buy.

    Cloth on the other hand, everyone needs it, preparing fibers (expecially for cotton and linnen, and IIRC DW has introduced another fibrous plant where separating the usable fibers is difficult), spinning the fibers (especially thin thread for finely made goods as opposed to heavy knit), and weaving are ALL THREE very very labor intensive and all three can be industrialized at about the displayed tech level.

    Substitute labor isn’t high skill for spinning or preparing fiber or weaving plain cloth with a good loom. The problems are (a) getting all the spinning wheels and looms, and (b) the HUGE amount of labor involved in making enough cloth by such methods.

    Prior to industriallization Food, Clothing, and Shelter are about 90% of what people produce, and clothing and other cloth is a big chunk of that, and the only one where beginning industrialization really helps.

  29. PeterZ says:

    Doug, all those new tools and machines to make the cloth require worked metal. If expanding the forging industry requires 5-10 times (wag) the resources buying them would take, then additional production resources must come from some other industry to maintain the production levels to meet the demand. That’s where the inflation comes in as industries bid up trained labor.

    Suppose the mainland retrains workers make more metal stocks. Ther there will be fewer workers available to make things out of those metal stocks as metal workers would be easiest to retrain. New metal workers/smiths need to be trained. Where do they come from? Other crafts? If so, then the cycle cointinues. If the new workers are from farm families and woodsmen, then they need more training and education. Even so there are fewer people growing food and managing the forest/timber. This entire process reduces productivity still more. After they are all retrained several years down the road they still cannot match Charis’ producitivty their system is not nearly as levered on non-muscle energy and so not as productive per capita.

    The bottom line is that without the productivity enhancements in key industries like smelting, textiles and farming, mainland industry will not free up enough workers to expand their economy without Charis’ help. There is an absolute limit in production tied to population and per capita productivity.

    Ducharin is pretty much suggesting that Desnair is approaching that level in trying to out-build the Charisian war industry and maintain consumer production. Their only options are to redirect production away from the military, destroy their lower classes or increase productivity a la Charis.

  30. Doug Lampert says:

    @29, Actually they don’t need significant metal parts. Building industriallized cloth production is HARD unless someone else tells you how too, but homespun requires negligable metal tools. Seperating fibers from plants is hand work, no tools at all. A spinning wheel and loom can be almost entirely non-metal.

    It takes some skilled craftsmen to build the wheels and looms, but they are craftsmen of routine cottage industry types where Charis has NO competitive advantage whatsoever, and hence isn’t likely to be the supplier.

    “All” it takes is about 30% of your TOTAL LABOR POOL. Which is FAR FAR WORSE then any handful of metal tools.

    Losing cloth imports could easily be a 20% or more drop in the average standard of living, even once they get the tools built. As I said, the only problem is the HUGE amount of labor involved. (Emphasis was there the first time.)

  31. Bret Hooper says:

    @30 Doug: “Actually they don’t need significant metal parts.” How many threads per square inch can be woven with an all-wooden loom?

    “Separating fibers from plants is hand work, no tools at all.” Not even a cotton gin?

    Surely a loom can be made which operates on power from a water wheel. It might need an attendant or two, but if it produces 3 or more times as much cloth per hour as a hand loom, it might be practicable.

  32. Separating seeds from cotton without a gin is usable only for luxury goods. There are examples of linen goods from ancient Egypt in which the threads per inch are higher than I can easily buy commercially.

    Threads per inch, for woolens, is fairly low.

    The hard part of loom production is realizing that the machine should throw the widgit going back and forth rather than attempting to pass it. Water driven fabric production requires 1800 technology, meaning very limited precision parts, and has a huge productive advantage.

    @28 You are completely right. The third material is steelthistle. From the description Chisholmian infantry will by and by go into battle wearing steel thistle long underwear, meaning (if it is really like silk) that the field surgeons can pull bullets out of wounds by grasping the cloth and pulling, minimizing dirt in the wounds. The cloth deforms as it does not stop the bullet, but it is still strong enough to do this, eliminating probing.

  33. XofDallas says:

    I just realized something. From the earlier part of this conversation, in the previous snippet, Clyntahn is receiving reports that include at least some information on the newest weaponry. We also know the priest who was a communication go-between with respect to the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Queen Sharleyanne was never caught. My bet is, it’s the head of the Patent Office in Charis.

  34. KenJ says:

    @33: Petyer Wylsin? I really, truly doubt it. Not after the death of his father and uncle at the hands of Clynthan’s lackeys.

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