1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 12

1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 12

Chapter 11

February, 1632

Bernie moved in and settled. It took several days to get his stuff and the other gear that Vladimir had sent. They were also putting together a load of goods to go the other way. Boris wanted to make one more trip to Grantville to make sure the path he’d set up was in good working order both for mail and for goods. That had little to do with Bernie, which he was perfectly happy with. He’d already run into one mine field and didn’t want another. It turned out Natasha was very interested in women’s rights, a subject that Bernie had only a vague knowledge about. In order to hold off her questions a bit he had said, “Look, Natasha, I didn’t mean to have you burn your bra in Red Square. It’s just the way things were up-time.”

Natasha, being Natasha, had come right back with, “What is a bra and why would I want to burn it?”

While Bernie was more than willing to talk about bras and their disposal with servant girls, it wasn’t a place to go with the boss. Which, it had turned out, Natasha was, in fact if not in title. Especially when she had a whole retinue of men at arms who gave Bernie hard looks any time he got within twenty feet of her.

Talking to noble ladies about their undergarments was definitely chancy territory. Bernie got his revenge in a way by directing her to a barmaid who could answer her questions. Brandy Bates was a friend of his who worked at Club 250, where Bernie had drunk until the Gardens got its own building. Bernie talked her up a bit because it seemed like a good idea. Who knew? Maybe the barmaid had something to teach the princess.

Besides, the truth was that Bernie didn’t like the way the peasants were treated here and now. Bernie didn’t think it had been near this bad in Germany. He had to remind himself quite often that he wasn’t here to fix the soul of Russia, just the plumbing. He didn’t like it but he kept his mouth shut. So let the princess learn about bras from the barmaid. Maybe she’d learn something else as well.


Natasha was at her desk, at last. There were several letters to write. She, as was her nature, started with the hardest.

To the Up-timer Citizen of Grantville, United States of America, Miss Brandy Bates,

I make free to write to you at the suggestion of your fellow up-timer, Bernard Zeppi. I hope that this missive finds you in the best of good health.

Natasha hated this part. She was a regular correspondent with several women of Russia and even a few men. But writing to someone new was always a challenge, especially someone from a foreign country. Worse, in this case, because the up-timers probably thought of everyone from this century as barbarians. But she really did need an answer to this question.

Let me apologize if I have failed to include the titles appropriate to your station. It is not with the intent of insult but from simple ignorance. Goodman Zeppi informs me that you are a woman of great accomplishment and considerable status among the up-timers. Also that you are of good family and possessed of a G.E.D.

I gather that the G.E.D. is a title? But I confess my ignorance in how it is to be applied to a salutation. Mr. Zeppi professes ignorance of your other titles, not being a student of heraldry.

I fear this may be a delicate matter to broach on first acquaintance, but what is a bra and why should one burn it in the grand market square?

Natasha filled in the context of the discussion then added her signature. Princess Natalia Petrovna Gorchakovna

Natasha knew she should be saying more, introducing herself more clearly, but she was uncertain of what degree of formality she should use in writing to an unknown up-timer. She set the letter aside and started working on the next. It would go to Vladimir, and would discuss the Grantville Section of the Embassy Bureau and the agreements reached between the family and the government.


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28 Responses to 1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 12

  1. ET1swaw says:

    Burn bra in Red Square – just as good second time around; as is Natasha’s extreme culture gap. ‘Butterflies’ did seem to go for stereotyoes; maybe ‘Games’ will be less so.

  2. kenny says:

    You know if the royalty would read the declaration of independence and understand that to Americans that really is gospel that is on par with or exceeds the bible they might just understand the up timers. After they got over the horrifying shock.

  3. Alejo says:

    A very interesting observation. The Declaration of Independence is only 140 years removed from this time line. I imagine its language and the ways in which it is constructed would probably not be all that hard for someone in the 1630’s to grasp. It would definitely deliver quite a shock to their system, though.

  4. dave o says:

    Is this the start of an ladies underwear business in Russia? Well, customers are limited to non-serfs. What kind of fabric will they use? My guess is wool. Will itchy bras be popular?

    What does Russia have to ship to Grantville? The market for icons must not be too great. Hard for me to think of anything which would be worth the carriage.

  5. ET1swaw says:

    @4 dave o: Muscovy has quite a few resources that Grantville could use (i.e. Mica for capacitors).

  6. Cobbler says:

    Sometime in the early modern period—I don’t remember exactly when—Russia shipped isinglass to England. That was the fish bladder isinglass, not the mica sheets.

    Isinglass was used to clarify beer. Why shouldn’t Grantville want it?

  7. ecsamurai says:

    ok i know this may be off topic but what about the USE having colonies around the world and where will they be

  8. vikingted says:

    I vote for USE colonies in South Africa, so we can get some of the diamonds.

  9. ET1swaw says:

    @8 vikingted: Finland and Swedish Karelia have diamond deposits of their own.

  10. dave o says:

    #5 ET1swaw: Russian mica was used, in Russia, as a substitute for window glass. Karelia is the source for much of Russian mica. Was not Karelia part of Finland in the 17th century? And besides mica, what else that’s worth the carriage.

    #8 Vikingted: While diamonds have a number of valuable industrial uses now, they have much less value in the 17th century. Important resources in 17th century: fish, grains, iron ore, other metals, cloth. If the USE wants colonies, they should look to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New England. The cod fishery was incredibly important then, and until factory farming practically wiped cod out. Not to mention these places are a lot closer than S. Africa.

    Canon assumes that Richlieu’s plan to take over English colonies in N. America is an easy success. I’ve never believed this. The Dutch are in a much stronger position to retain the Hudson valley, the New Englanders will resist being taken over by ‘papists’. In order to succeed, the French will have to create a navy stronger than the Dutch navy. With the unification of the Netherlands, that’s a big task. The Swedish/Danish monarchy could also play a part by supporting colonies on the Delaware and Chesapeake. Uptime, these had only short-term success, but Gustav and later Kristina will have a lot fewer distractions, And a much more powerful navy.

  11. dave o says:

    In my previous post, I forgot to mention the spice trade, which the Dutch were busily taking over. The sugar islands in the Caribbean are also a good place to plant colonies. In the 18th century,many Frenchmen considered them more valuable than Canada

  12. ET1swaw says:

    @10 dave o: Karelia is split between Russia and Sweden. Vyborg Karelia (which includes parts of modern Finland) was part of Sweden Proper just as Finland was ATT. White Sea area and northern Karelia (extending into Murmansk Oblast) was always part of Russia. Southern Karelia (Olonets; southern Lake Onega; from Lava River east around Lake Ladoga to Pogrankondushi) remained consistently Russian as well except for lapse in Winter War / Continuation War where held by Finland. Swedish Karelia and Eastern Finland borders were somewhat indeterminate ATT as EF was just being settled and 60-70% of Ingrian and Karelian populaion emigrated away from Swedish control. I am unsure where the Mica you are talking about came from, so it could be Swedish or Russian territory. Both EF and the Karelias were fairly rich in mineral wealth, but distance inland from nearest easy transport can be a big problem. NTM that the population of Swedish Ingria and Swedish Karelia (not counting Vyborg Karelia) combined was probably less than NTL Magdeburg ATT.

    The Dutch might be in a better position to resist (though confusion of home politics may effect it), but the English (in addition to being sold out by their King legal-wise) are pretty sparse on the ground yet. That would change in 10-20 years OTL (especially with the influx driven by the English Civil War and build-up), but in 1630s I think Dutch population was greater (Penn, Baltimore, and other expeditions were diverted/butterflied after all).
    And don’t forget that ATT France, not England, is the second tier Navy after the Spanish/Portuguese and Dutch (and they took a major hit at Battle of Dunkirk from League of Ostend (their new comrades in arms did as well)). Brittania Ruler of the Seas is not even a glimmer ATT IMO.
    The unrest between Richelieu and Gaston might slow the French as well, but IIRC GG stories have Huguenots being deported to the New World (so major manpower advantage) and some previously other nationality’s expeditions agree to French oversight as well.
    Also look to GGs (Stretching Out, Northwest Passage serials, etc) for colonial efforts as well as Snerkers on Baens Bar for forthcoming efforts. I have no snerk collar as my knowledge is slight but I will abide by the courtesies and mores.

  13. ronzo says:

    I love all the books in this series, but how long will we be waiting for the USE navy to come back into the books as more than just a quick quip from Admiral Simpson? I can’t wait to see what’s going happen now that they aren’t only a riverine fleet.

  14. Vikingted says:

    Understanding that the Spanish and Dutch Fleets were weakened or almost destroyed (respectively) during the one naval battle. How much of the Spainish fleet went home to Iberia after the battle? I remember references to the Spanish Admiral being upset that he received very little support from the two other supporting allied fleets. It makes sense to me that Spain still has a fleet of some sort and the new kingdom in the low countries will have some naval power, but the Dutch fleet from the stories is down to just a few ships. Most of these limped off to there colonies to survive. There were probably 10 or so Dutch ships taken in the battle, so these could be repaired for the uses of the Low Countries Fleet. But most of these would be smaller ships with generally lighter arms (i.e., cannons) compared to other european fleets. Since there is a working agreement between USE and the low countries, the low countries should expect no short term conflict with the USE. I am wondering about the size of the low countries fleet.

  15. dave o says:

    #14 Vikingted I believe that the Dutch were the prime shipbuilding country in europe. If for no other reason than to protect the east indies spice trade, I expect the battle fleet will be rebuilt rather quickly.

    #12 The French were even thinner on the ground. In OTL they remained so to the end. I have no feeling how the Virgina colonist will have reacted to being sold out by Charles. But I’m pretty sure the New Englanders will resist French rule. Shipping a lot of Huguenots won’t necessarily help to swamp them. The Huguenots are probably more in sympathy with the Puritans than with the Catholic French monarchy. And their record of loyalty is dubious at best. Shipping Gaston to the new world is likely to do a lot of harm, since competence was not one of his characteristics.

    As for the way the future of the 1632 series is developing, I think a lot of it, this story not least, is implausible. A good part of it strains my ability to suspend belief beyond the breaking point.

  16. vikingted says:

    15 Dave O…. this is really just a wonderful tall tale to me. I am not as picky on my suspension of disbelief as you seem to be. Different strokes for different folks. I do respect your opinion. Thank you for all your thoughtful comments in this forum. WRT to your thought on the French troops in the new world, I think at first they may take the existing English settlers by surprise along the coast. Those inland may be a big pain to the French though. The French may not want to control anything inland due to expecting any real valuable trade having to go to a port city, which they would control.

  17. vikingted says:

    Drak, I do not know which I like better, the books or the discussions on the snippets prior to the books being released.

  18. ecsamurai says:

    i think the colonits would rebel similar to the way they did prier to the war of independence. but this time get independence. but in the far future like 1700 i can see the USE absorbing all of scandinavia, all of southeast asia mainland, and a few islands in the carribean. and possible a swedish colony in north america if it is not swallowed up by another country or if the colonists rebel

    for russia i can see them having the boder as it is now and siberia is more developed and has a larger population because it doesnt try and attack but focuses on a defensive strategy since they see that moving into the rest of europe is pointless.

    Poland survives and expands south into the areas that would be the Austrian/Hungarian and Ottoman empire

  19. vikingted says:

    #18 ecsamurai…Poland will survive but it will not expand at all, IMO. It will probably lose a lot of non-essential territory. This thought is based on the text in the “Anaconda Project”.

  20. ecsamurai says:

    but how far will that work
    i mean will the USE power go all the way to the Russian border
    take in all of ukraine, romania, etc to the meditation and maintain control while they have to compete with france, england, and russia (if they even decide to take part)

  21. DOUG says:

    @10 While S. African diamonds may not be of much use, the Witwatersrand gold fields are less than 200 miles from the diamond areas and produce approx. 40% of the world total. A secondary reason for African colonies would be to head off racial problems that started with Dutch settlers. A third reason would be to gain control of shipping lanes to Asia.

  22. ET1swaw says:

    @20 ecsamurai: Anaconda Project has Greater Bohemia (possibly under Wallenstein or his infant heir) taking and absorbing parts of AHE (p/o Royal Hungary / Slovakia), parts of PLC (p/o Belarus, p/o Ukraine, Silesia), and possibly parts of Russia, and parts of Ottomans (p/o Transdanubians/Romania, p/o Crimea). Admittedly Roth and some other uptimers would be involved, but it would not be the USE extending their borders.

    Other than what is taken during EF/SU and Lauenberg-Butowland (G2A’s PLC feof), the USE has taken little from the PLC.
    The PLC and Russia share borders with the Swedish Dominions (Swedish Prussia, Swedish Estonia, Swedish Ingria, and Swedish Karelia) part of the Swedish Empire under G2A (and IMO an unofficial 4th crown (1) USE; 2) Kalmar Union (which includes: Denmark (including East Denmark (Scania, etc.)); Norway (including Swedish Norway (Bohuslan, Jamtland, etc.); Iceland; and Danish possessions/colonies (see GGs)); 3) Sweden Proper (Sweden, Finland, and Vyborg Karelia) and her overseas possessions (minimal OTL); and 4) the Swedish Dominions)).

    KLC/Netherlands (Fernando’s), Greater Bohemia (Wallenstein’s), the Grand Duchy of Burgundy (Bernhard), the Republic of Venice, Mantua-Monferrat, the Swiss Confederacy, Essen, Nuernberg, Oldenburg, and even the AHE (Ferdinand III’s) are allies to friendly neutrals. Savoy, Tuscany, the ArchBishopric (AB) of Freising, AB Salzburg, AB Passau, and even some of Spanish Italy (Genoa-Corsica, Naples-Sicily, Papal States, Milan) are neutral to open.
    As the KLC and the GDB isolate the USE from sharing borders with France, where exactly is the USE supposed to expand? Other than voluntary entry (ala Tyrol) or assigned territories (ala Harlingen), I don’t see it.
    I’d love to see a combined Prussia (Swedish Prussia, Ducal Prussia (Brandenburg’s feof), AB Warmia (PLC feof), and the Danzig portion of Royal Prussia) and/or the Duchy of Courland-Semgallia (Kettler’s PLC feof) be added to the USE (Danzig as an Imperial City with environs); get the Channel Islands (Guernsey, Jersey, etc.) from England/France; get Gibralter and some other overseas possessions from Spain/Portugal; see an integral independent Romania (Transdanubians); and get Trieste (Ferdinand III’s) as an Imperial City. Realistically I see none of that though.

  23. ET1swaw says:

    Correction: Swedish Dominions (Swedish Prussia, Swedish Livonia, Swedish Estonia, Swedish Ingria, and Swedish Karelia)

    Lithuanian Duchy/Eldership of Samogitia (semi-independent from PLC) and Inflanty (Polish Livonia) are also in contention, but OTL were respective strongholds.

  24. ecsamurai says:

    but the country of Bohemia is to small to control such a large area
    were the PLC has those resources already. also the PLC was able to stand up to the USE
    and they had rifled muskets and all that tech. But the PLC fought them to equal terms
    Plus you have to remember that the ottamens are moving north to attack Austria
    since the fall of Baghdad. how do u add in that to the mix ?

  25. ET1swaw says:

    Anaconda Project started as a serial in GG (just as ‘Kremlin Games’ started as ‘Butterflies in the Kremlin’) before novelization. The big difference is that AP was originally authored by Eric Flint rather than him being brought in as co-author as in KG. After Eric’s heart attack/surgery and other events, novelization of GG serials kinda took root vice Eric writing/co-writing serials for GG (IMO ‘Kremlin Games’ is the first of the fallout).

    As for how it all adds in, that is up to Eric and I guess we have to wait as fast as we can.

  26. vikingted says:

    #24 ecsamari, please do not forget that USE has the main PLC army tied up in conflict. Bohemia may not meet much resistance in the areas that it wants to take from the PLC. These areas are not core PLC territories.

  27. ecsamurai says:

    #26 vikingted so your telling me that poland will let bohimia have those territories after they bet the USE back
    the polish army could challenge that real easily after peace is declared. due to the fact that is obvious that little will be gained from the war. plus how would austria react, i can see they are going to take there advance lightly since Poland is technically an allies and both consider Bohemia as a enemy

    i admit i just hate to see the PLC fall. in fact i would rather see Austria fall and have Bohemia take over that
    for me it would just seem more logical, ausria will want it back and with the USE as an allies it would be much more easier to defend since its mountainous and when the turks come in it be easier (they would focus on the south then the north.

  28. Munich Michel says:

    The idea of burning bras for freedom is a sad uptime misconception.

    If you mind checking decent sources you will realize that there were no bras in the 1600s. Noble women wore corsets. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_corsets

    The introduction of bras in the 1880s was indeed seen as a huge step towards more personal freedom for women. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_brassieres

    The ideas of burning bras for personal freedom from the 1960s is therefore a little ironic.

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