1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 28

1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 28

“Indeed, he provided me with a letter to be opened in case he was killed or presumed dead. I have opened the letter, and it informs me of the hidden location where the queen is secluded, awaiting the birth of her child. I am instructed to use my judgment in this matter, but if I believe the persons of the queen and the child to be endangered. I may, if I deem it prudent, choose to interpose my forces between them and the danger presented.

“Spain remains the greatest danger to our country, to our Queen, and to the prince — or princess. If the cardinal is still alive, the Spanish are a danger to him as well.”

“What does that mean?” Sherrilyn asked. “We’re going to deploy against an invader? Or are we going to go looking for this marauding band of outlaws that killed the king?”

“I will need to decide,” Turenne said. “I don’t know if finding the king’s killers is practical.”

“I agree. And I agree with the comte de la Mothe,” Sherrilyn said. “From everything I’ve heard about Monsieur Gaston, I have to believe he was involved in this attack.”

“And not the Spanish?”

Sure, she thought. This could have been Pedro Dolor. He could have pulled this off. But it doesn’t feel right . . . it’s something he could do, but not really his style. It’s too obvious, too direct.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “But I do think we need to be where Monsieur Gaston — King Gaston — can’t take control of our forces. If that means marching toward the Spanish border, then we’d better do it. Unless . . .”

The duc de Bouillon, who was still standing next to her, stroked his chin. “Indeed, Mademoiselle Colonel. Unless what?”

“Unless we think that Gaston isn’t legitimately the king. Unless we think we don’t owe him allegiance.”

The room was completely quiet.

“What are you suggesting, Colonel?” Turenne said. “You can speak freely here.”

“If you don’t want Gaston to be king, Marshal, you can make that happen. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, but it’s in your power. In our power.”

“You’re talking about civil war,” Turenne said quietly. “It ripped our country apart half a century ago. People take sides. Innocent people die. It exposes us to the predations of France’s enemies — and believe me, Colonel, France has enemies. Is your USE prepared to take sides in such a conflict?”

“I — I don’t know.”

“Does the Principal know?”

The question caught Sherrilyn by surprise. She wasn’t sure what Turenne was asking — what he implied.

“I have no idea. I don’t work for him anymore, Marshal. I work for you. Do you want me to ask him?”

“Have you not done so already?”

“No. You’ve clearly read my mail,” she said, putting her hands on her hips. She was a little bit scared, but refused to show any of it. “I haven’t asked him a damn thing. I’m guessing that the United States of Europe doesn’t have any interest in nation building, but they’d also prefer that there wasn’t another war going on — there are enough of them happening already.”

“So they will stand by and watch,” Bouillon said. “They will treat Gaston’s actions, direct and indirect, as no more than a sort of coup de theatre.”

I stayed in the back, Sherrilyn thought, to stay out of the way; and now I’m center stage.

“I can’t say. I don’t speak for the government. And other than personal contacts, I don’t speak to the government.” I’m really not a spy, damn it, she thought. Really not. Just someone trying to get along.

And next time I see you, Ed, I’m going to punch you in the mouth.

“Are you looking for advice?” she asked.

“Why, naturally,” Bouillon said. His voice had a bit of an edge to it, but his smile — the Tour d’Auvergne smile, the one Turenne employed to great effect — was broad and cordial. “Say on.”

“Turin is over the mountains, right? A couple of hundred miles. If Gaston is coming from there to France, he’d come this way.” Turenne nodded. “If you’re worried about being conflicted in your loyalty to Monsieur Gaston, then the best thing is not to be along his route. Wherever we go, whatever we decide to do, let’s not meet up with him.”

“We have a radio, Colonel,” Turenne said.

“Does he?”

“There is some indication that he does, and that he has a confederate in Paris with whom he has been in contact. Could he not simply . . . send us an order?”

“He’d have to know how to find us — our call sign, I guess, and our frequency. I was never in the Signal Corps, so I don’t know the details. But there are a hundred reasons why radio contact fails; the best reason is if we just go off the air. Then he’d need to find us — and we could work hard at not being found.”

Turenne beckoned to his brother. Bouillon gave Sherrilyn a slight bow and walked to join him; they conferred very quietly for a few moments. Then Turenne turned to his assembled commanders and said, “You have twenty-four hours to break camp and be prepared to move. The quartermaster and his assistants will organize transportation for equipment not otherwise assigned, including your laboratory, Professor Glauber.” He nodded to his “alchemist,” who looked stunned by the possibility. “We will travel as light as possible, particularly the infantry; tell the men to take only what they must.”

“Where are we headed?” de la Mothe asked.

It was Turenne’s turn to offer the Tour d’Auvergne smile, which he bestowed in Sherrilyn’s direction. “It remains to be seen,” he said. “We will go where we’re needed.”


By the first grey light of the new day, Maddox’s Rangers were ready to ride. Turenne was there to see them off — most of the rest of the officers were still asleep, though a few were working on plans to get their units ready to pull up stakes.

“You will give my respects to those whose lands you traverse,” he said. “If they take issue with you — ”

“They shouldn’t.”

“They could. I know that you will keep the men in line and I won’t receive a report of lands laid waste. But the southerners tend to be prickly about armed forces crossing their territory. Still, I don’t think anyone will be so foolish as to — ”

“Start something.”

Turenne smiled. “As to start something. Up-timers always seem to possess le mot juste. Before I send you on your way, do you have any last minute advice?”

“Actually, yes. I’m concerned about the up-timer team up north, the folks working on the steam engines. They need to know about the king’s death.”

“Surely they know.”

“But there are others who don’t. Before you go silent, I’d like to ask you a favor — send them a message about King Louis’ death and the succession of Monsieur Gaston. But don’t encode it: send it in the clear.”

“Because . . .”

“Because it’ll be overheard.”

“By ‘the Principal.'”

“. . . Yes. And others. They need to know, Marshal. I don’t think they’re our enemy — your enemy. France’s enemy.”

“Plenty of people will overhear, Colonel.”

“I don’t think that’s a problem. Do you?”

Turenne thought for a moment, and then smiled again. “No. I do not.”


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30 Responses to 1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 28

  1. Lyttenstadt says:

    Please, please, please – I beg you! Don’t tell me that the authors want for Monsier to remain “Gaston” when he’ll be crowned as the king of France. That’s not how the naming of monarchs work.

    Oh, and this whole dialogue – what was the point of draggin together all top brass in one room if only Turenne, his big brother and up-timer are the ones who’re allowed to speak?

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      You’re correct on the naming of monarchs *but* IMO it’s a matter of “not confusing the reader”.

      Basically, it’s not a good idea to change a character’s name mid-book.

      If the readers know a character as “George”, the writer shouldn’t start calling him “Fred”.

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        Then this is very sad, that the authors take their potential readers for some brainless dimwits with memory capacity of a mayfly.

        I for one more in favor of historical accuracy, more balanced writing style and not treating of the readers as some “lesser beings”.

        • Drak Bibliophile says:

          Well, you can always write your own books.

          Of course, if you confuse your readers, I’m sure that calling them “brainless dimwits with memory capacity of a mayfly” will keep them paying good money to be confused. [Sarcasm]

          • Lyttenstadt says:

            Well, you can always write your own books.

            Uhm, sorry? What kind of retort is that? Wait, let me answer – this is the last appropriate kind of retort!

            Answerig the criticism from the public with “Oh, yeah? Then why won’t you write/paint/film/code something better?!” is the equivalent of hurling a”Yo mama!..” type of… “jokes” when you understand that you are loosing an argument. Rather mauvais ton type of behavior, if you ask me.

            And, as anyone can see from other commenters, people here are not so easily confused by “idea of changing a character’s name mid-book” – especially, when there is a good explanation and reason for that.

        • Stewart says:

          In the Honorverse, Mike Henke is addressed and referred to alternately as Mike, Michelle, Admiral Henke and Admiral / Countess Gold Peak.

          I haven’t noticed any signs on reader confusion in the chat threads — at least not on Mike’s name.

          Plenty of confusion on other subjects but not on names…..

          — Stewart

      • Cobbler says:

        Basically, it’s not a good idea to change a character’s name mid-book.
        If the readers know a character as “George”, the writer shouldn’t start calling him “Fred”.

        Trust me, Drak. Stay away from Russian novels. They shouldn’t be published without a Dramatis Personae that lists the names and nicknames and titles of each character.

        • Cobbler: Those Russian novelists used very limited casts of characters.

          My favorite hypernovel has more than 5000 named characters. (With the entry of those mentioned so far in the 36CV snippets, the RoFindex data entry spreadsheet is now up to 10783 lines, but this includes many Grantviller Transportees that are on Virginia’s Grid, but not yet mentioned in any stories, and most married women are listed under both maiden and married names, and . . . .)

    • Cobbler says:

      I’m sure Tureen’s little army will run better on rumor and guessing.

      What possible good can come of having all your commanders understand the situation?

    • Randomiser says:

      How are we supposed to know what Gaston’s throne name will be when/if he ever gets crowned? In the interim they are still calling him Gaston. Besides if Turenne’s people start calling Gaston ‘his majesty king xxx’ then turn on him it sure looks a lot more like treason to everyone!

  2. daveo says:

    There’s no indication that Turenne has any idea what Sherrilyn wrote, Only that she did write, and to whom. No need for any kind of fancy code-breaking at all. The fact and the addressee are enough to tell him what he needs to know.

    To Lyttenstadt: Maybe the authors are sparing us a lot of irrelevant dialogue between senior officers which don’t carry the story forward

    • Lyttenstadt says:

      and to Cobbler.

      Basically, in this particuler chapter Turenne, his brother and Sherrilyne were planning a treason. Yes, a treason. And why should the French militry commander be silent and just sit in the background during the discussion of the course of actions, that directly affects their own country’s present – and future?

      And if the authros wanted to spare us some useless dialoge and trivia, while pushinh the plot forweard – there were already plenty of opportunities missed by now.

      • Cobbler says:

        How is it treason? Gaston may become the king. He may become regent for an infant. Legally, that makes more sense to me. Neither possibility matters. Whatever Gaston may be, right now he is an exiled prince. Nobody outside his court is obliged to obey him.

        Beyond that: there’s a good chance that France will have a civil war. What ends up counting as treason, and what counts as loyalty—depends.

        Treason never prospers, what’s the reason?
        Why, if prospers none dare call it treason.

        • Lyttenstadt says:

          But there are also some things to take into consideration:

          1) No one in Turennes camp knows that Her Majesty went into labour earlier than expected. No one!

          2) Monarchy (especially absolutist-monarchy-in-the-making of this period’s France) abhors power vacuum. Gaston, as being the only legitimate heir (so far…) must be delivered to Paris and officially proclaimed as the new ruler of France – whether as the King or some sort of Prince-Regent. With good cardinal out of the picture (and presumed dead) he is the only figure to be officially proclaimed as the Ruler of France.

          Turenne and his brother understand that. France (and foreign powers) must be shown that altough one King is dead – another will replace him immediately. Yet unborn child is ill suited for that role. Newly born is also ill suited – just aks Alexander the Great’s newborn son. That’s right – you can’t.

          So, what they have in mind, is undermining the authority of the sole currently availible heir to the French throne, while risking the future of entire country.

          • Cobbler says:

            Monarchy may abhor a vacuum. But it loves a succession crisis. At least, if you go by a popularity count.

            Will Richelieu’s faction roll over and play dead? That’s not the way to bet. Turenne can give his army to Gaston, and be stuck on that side. No matter who challenges the prince. Even if the emerging claimant is—say—someone sane and competent. Capable of dealing with the domestic and international challenges of a major kingdom. Smarter than Gaston isn’t a high bar to jump.

            Or Turenne can wait and see what develops. He is free to back the better man. Preferably someone who would not wreck the kingdom. That would be an intelligent and loyal service to his homeland.

            If Gaston turns out to be the best available candidate, God help France!

            • Lyttenstadt says:

              The thing is – there ain’t no one (right now) who can replace Gaston as the ruler (I’m not saying “king”) of France. No one.

              Currently, there are no legitimate claimants to the throne, who’d be “sane, competent, capable of dealing with the domestic and international challenges of a major kingdom”. And supporting anyone but Gaston at that particular moment IS treason.

              • Cobbler says:

                I’m sure everyone on every side will call everyone on every other side traitors. That sort of thing is only settled once the succession war has, um, succeeded.

                Let us agree to disagree.

        • Cobbler: When Gassy becomes King, under whatever name, if Gassy says it is treason, then for most practical purposes, and especially for the life expectancy of the accused, it is treason.

  3. Cobbler says:

    “So they will stand by and watch,” Bouillon said. “They will treat Gaston’s actions, direct and indirect, as no more than a sort of coup de theatre.”

    Duc de Bouillon doesn’t lack for brazen gall.

    “How many attacks has poor, innocent, helpless France sent against my nation? How many of my countrymen have you murdered? How much treasure have you destroyed?

    “Now you’re the ones in trouble. And you are shocked, shocked!, that we don’t rush in. You’d like us to preserve the hostile Ancien Regime!. Should we donate artillery for your next attack on us while we’re at it?

    “Please explain again. Exactly why should we should do this?”

    Perhaps Sherrilyn was being politic, keeping her tongue between her teeth.

  4. daveo says:

    There is no such thing as a permanent friend or enemy in international politics. The US is now an ally of both Germany and Japan. There are plenty of other examples, but these should do.

    • Cobbler says:

      There is no such thing as a permanent friend or enemy in international politics. The US is now an ally of both Germany and Japan.

      True enough, they are. But it doesn’t happen instantly.

      I’m pretty sure Isoroku Yamamoto didn’t lose the Battle of Midway and then bitch that America wasn’t sending Japan foreign aid.

      Which is about what de Bouillon sounds like. Right until he was shot, Richelieu was working for France and against the NUS. That’s fair enough. But he led his kingdom to disaster. Now it’s at the door.

      No French Nobleman has any business trying to guilt trip the downtimers because they won’t kiss it and make it better. When he tries he should be laughed to scorn.

      • Surely the USE will let bygones be bygones and do all it can to help Gassy screw up.

      • daveo says:

        As I recall, Richelieu did nothing in particular hostile to the NUS since the battle of Ahrensbok. And nations follow what they perceive as their interests. If Gaston is worse than Richelieu, as he is, than the sides are due for a change.

        • Cobbler says:

          Oh, Wow! The school bully is in real trouble. Hummm…. It’s been a whole month since he last beat me up. I guess I should help him stay in school….


          There may be realpolitik reasons to intervene. They don’t include some arrogant Duke trying to bully an underling into giving France sympathy support.

          Yes, I have taken a scunner to this new character. I also dislike people who pull that sort of thing in real life.

          • Terranovan says:

            The point that I think has been made here is that international politics is a somewhat different game from the social dynamics of an elementary school. Moreover, Richelieu is at worst a villain too intelligent to make the mistake of being Pure Evil – but most of the time he’s just a politician for the other side, kind, courteous, and affable (he’s the sort who reminds me that the middle adjective sounds like it’s French in origin). Gaston, by contrast, makes several of the classic Evil Overlord mistakes and makes Richelieu seem reasonable by comparison.

            • Cobbler says:

              If I was watching from the NUS, I’d be afraid of the uptime French Revolution. Consider the options:

              On the one hand:
              France fallen into chaos.
              Civil wars spread destruction.
              Foreign powers invade.

              On the other hand;
              The nobles abased!
              France ruled by the people!
              France victorious!
              Royalist invasions defeated!
              French armies conquer monarchy after monarchy!
              Vive la France!

              The best thing Michal Sterns et. all. can do is to support broad scale incursion by the CC. Sure, they are rabble rousers, rousing rabble. But they know better than to fall into the rebellion-to-tyrant pattern that traps so many real world revolutions. (America set a terrible pattern for the world. Talk about unrealistic expectations!)

              The point that I think has been made here is that international politics is a somewhat different game from the social dynamics of an elementary school.

              Tell that to the survivors and relicts of the Croat raid.

              International politics is one thing.

              The tiny minority who are not international politicians take such things personally.

              My father’s destroyer escort took a Japanese bomb. I never noticed that he was a fan of the Japs. Nor the Krauts, come to that.

              • David P Stokes says:

                It didn’t have anything to do with how your father or anyone else felt about the Japanese or Germans, but I don’t recall us just standing on the sidelines after WWII and not caring who came to power in Japan and Germany.

  5. Fluffbuff says:

    Michael Stern’s goal is to build a universe in which the Holocaust will not happen. To do this he needs to influence the major countries in Europe. Gaston is a reactionary and probably a dolt as well. We definitely don’t need him on the throne of France. On the other hand, having the King of France in debt to the USE would be a very good thing indeed. For me, working with the Cardinal and the Queen is a no brainer.

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