1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 23

1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 23

“The emperor!” the royal flunky said haughtily, and Hayley suppressed a grin.

“Where does His Imperial Majesty want us to set up?” her dad asked.

What followed was confusion and irritation for all concerned, till His Majesty, Emperor Ferdinand III, turned up and put matters right. The new emperor was there to meet them. Well, he was there to meet his new car. It was pretty clear that in his mind the mechanics were secondary. He swept in, asked lots of questions and swept out, leaving them in the care of the same official who now had a different attitude and clear directions.

Cars and wagons were unloaded and made a parade through Vienna.


Father Wilhelm Germain Lamormaini watched the parade through Vienna and knew that Prince Ferdinand had betrayed both his father and church by hiding his pet up-timers till his father died. Even the father’s death was the fault of the Ring of Fire. It had to be. The histories in the Ring of Fire had Ferdinand II living to 1637.

The Ring of Fire must be an act of great evil, not of the Good Lord, because if God had been a party to it the church would have been warned. No, the very fact that it was a surprise to faith was evidence of its evil nature. The Ring of Fire was an act of the great deceiver. Poison coated in honey to distract the poor and weak-willed from eternal salvation. Satan walked the world as he always had, but his agents — knowing or unknowing — were the up-timers.

Yet everyone was being drawn in by Satan’s trap. Even Pope Urban had elevated the up-time priest Mazzare, making him a prince of the church.

Lamormaini turned back to the Hofburg. He still had his rooms there, but who knew how long that would last? He was no longer the emperor’s confessor and his influence at court was greatly diminished. What was the pope thinking to elevate that up-timer who was no true Catholic? Not if he followed the unholy strictures of Vatican II. There must be something he could do. There must be.

Liechtenstein House, Vienna

“Prince Gundaker, it is good of you to see me.” Father Lamormaini bowed as was the due to a person of Gundaker von Liechtenstein’s status, and perhaps a little more.

“You always gave the old emperor good counsel, Father. And I, for one, miss it.” The prince gestured Father Lamormaini to a chair with fine condescension.

“Thank you, Your Serene Highness. It is always good to hear that one’s counsel is appreciated and it’s something I have heard little of late. All I wish is that I didn’t feel that the restoration of Europe to the true faith hadn’t suffered a severe blow when the Ring of Fire happened. It has cast doubt on all our goals as I am increasingly convinced was its intent.”

“You do not believe that it was an act of God?”

“No. I can’t convince myself that God would force us into such a state of doubt. The effect of that event was to separate the wheat from the chaff. There will be an answer in Jerusalem. I think that the six mile circle is the beast itself. Six miles across in height, six miles across in width, and six miles across in length. A perfect sphere of evil to counter the celestial spheres of which it denies the existence.”

Father Lamormaini stopped in sudden realization. He had not thought of that before. He had had a feeling of evil from the place and what it stood for from the moment that he had heard of it. The notion of Catholic and heretic living together in peace was a betrayal of faith so basic as to demand abhorrence from any person who truly sought God’s grace. But until just now, he had never realized that the Bible actually spoke of the place, recorded its evil for those with eyes to see. But there it was.

Prince Gundaker was staring at him in horror. “How could you fail to report this to the Holy See? How could you fail to report it to the old emperor?”

“I failed to see it, Your Serene Highness. I failed to see it till just this moment. The words came out of my mouth before their meaning reached me. They came out of my knowledge of mathematics and they were so simple, so straightforward, that I am shocked that we didn’t see it from the beginning. All of us should have seen it from the very first. The radius of the sphere was three miles, the diameter six. But it was called the Ring of Fire, not the Sphere of Fire. So the terms were wrong. A ring with a radius of three miles. What of six six six is in that? The devil was subtle, but God was more subtle still, and gave us a warning . . . if we had the native wit to see it.

“The American dollar. It rapidly comes to pass that you cannot buy or sell without possession of American dollars. Yet what are they? They are not gold or silver, not even copper or iron. No. They are just marks on paper. As Revelations warned us, it has come to pass that to buy or sell you must be possessed of those marks on paper.”


Gundaker wasn’t convinced that Father Lamormaini was correct . . . but it was a worrying thought. He decided that he would put a watch on the up-timers.


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16 Responses to 1636 The Viennese Waltz – Snippet 23

  1. Vikingted says:

    6 6 6 was an interesting revelation so to speak, I wonder why this was brought up before by the theologians of Europe? Surprizing

    • Joe says:

      That’s 6 6 6 in English miles. There were few standards for measurements of distance, and within HRE they would not have included the English mile. I consider it a rather forced plot device to have it occur to Fr. Lamormaini. It’s still a good story, though.

      • Escape Zeppelin says:

        Not really forced. Any exact measurement of the Ring would be in miles since that’s what Grantville survey equipment would use and its likely that any detailed paper regarding the ring wall would include both miles and local units. Since Lamormaini was searching for detailed information he’d have seen papers noting the number in miles.

      • Mark L says:

        It might be the Austrian mile, not the English statute mile. I thought the Ring of was 5 miles, not six, but I am likely wrong.

        Not that it really matters. All that matters is that 666 gets repeated until enough people think it is true.

    • Terranovan says:

      However, the number of the beast isn’t 6, 6, 6, but six HUNDRED and SIXTY-six. Not that this’ll occur to Father Lamoraimi, Prince Gundaker & Co. with any speed, however.

      • Douglas E. Lampert says:

        True, the Book of Revelations predates Arabic numerals, and the idea that the number is 6-6-6 rather than six hundred sixty six really only makes sense in Arabic numerals. It wouldn’t even occur to someone using Hebrew, Greek, or Roman numerals that it could conceivably be confused nor is there any ambiguity in the alleged original text.

        However, God is all-knowing, he surely anticipated the development of Arabic numerals prior to the Apocalypse and hence could surely choose to give his obscure prophesies a meaning that would only be clear when the time came. Just why the Almighty might choose to do so is left as an exercise for the reader, or for Father Lamoraimi should someone point out the problem.

        It’s certainly not an insolvable theological problem and it’s not like anything much in Revelations is particularly unambiguous.

        • John Cowan says:

          Arabic numerals have been known in Europe for some five centuries, and in widespread use for two. Furthermore, the decimal system of number names has been in use since Indo-European languages arrived in Europe four to six millennia ago, not that anybody knows that in the 1630s. The connection between “seicento sessante sei” and 6, 6, 6 is just as obvious in 17C Italian as the connection between “six hundred and sixty-six” and 6, 6, 6 in 21C English. In 17C English they’d use “six hundred six-and-sixty”, just as 17C and 21C German use “sechshundert sechsundsechzig.” All these names for 666 have a common origin.

          • Phillip Chesson says:

            Fibonacci in a 1202 book Liber Abaci introduced Europe to Hindu-Arabic numerals.

            There is no coordinate system that would associated the triple (6, 6, 6) with a sphere of radius three. A cube of side 6 miles would work for this priest’s argument. But his is just mumbo jumbo numerology.

        • Randomiser says:

          Oh, you wouldn’t believe how people have stretched various bits of Revelation trying to make it apply to their own times. I particularly liked those who identified the Common Market as the beast with ten heads when Britain was wondering about whether to join since it happened to have ten existing members at the time.

          The connection doesn’t have to be logical, it only has to give people who are already afraid some channel to justify and sanctify their anger.

  2. Gary D says:

    Incredible how being out of power concentrates the mind . Almost like teaching a horse to sing.

  3. Stanley Leghorn says:

    This could cause problems, particularly as we have the foreknowledge of the Turkish invasion. Personally, I hope this idiot attempts to hire assassins against the up-timers only to have them fail and himself caught.

    • Lamormaini, you may recall, was the bigot who was extremely upset with Ferd II for writing to Maria Anna that he still loved her, despite her disobedience.

      Rural Urban VIII should post Lamormaini to someplace teeming with Counter-Remonstrant bigots and bigoted rabbis from Amsterdam.

      • Terranovan says:

        What – and risk him offending them even more than he already does? Unless the opinions of the Counter-Remonstrants & rabbis in question don’t matter for some reason.

        • I was just thinking how much they would deserve each other! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have a reservation somewhere far away for all the bigots, and let the rest of us, who know that the overwhelming majority of those whose opinions differ from ours are still good people, just get along with each other as friends and neighbors.

          • John Cowan says:

            Of course, there’s still the problem of corruption. See Heinlein’s “Coventry” and Brin’s Sundiver.

          • Bibliotheca Servare says:

            Yeah! And we could put a little sign over the entrance: work will make you free. One question. Who decides who gets sent to the camp..ahem…reservation? You? That’s what I thought.

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