1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 39

1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 39

Chapter 23


In the last few days, Servien had been thinking a great deal about the comte de Brassac, and his revelations concerning the Company of the Blessed Sacrament. Brassac, he was sure, had violated a principal rule of the Company by revealing it to him, and of his membership in it; but these were difficult, extraordinary times.

He wondered if there were others, elsewhere in the country or beyond, who were just learning of the society.

The servant found him in the library, examining a family history of the Château de Pau’s most famous resident — Henry of Navarre, who had been born here and had embraced the True Faith so that he could become king of France.

“Monsieur le Comte asks that you attend him at once,” the servant said. “By your leave, Monsieur.”

“Of course.”

As they walked down the great staircase, Servien said, “do you know what this is about?”

“I do as I am commanded, Monsieur.”

“A wise course.”

The comte de Brassac was waiting at the bottom of the stair with a younger man who shared his features; indeed, Servien — a careful observer of such things — would have thought that the comte, at half his age, would have looked thus.

“Allow me to present my oldest son Alexandre. He brought me a report that might interest you as well. My son, this is Monsieur Servien, intendant to His Grace the cardinal-duc de Richelieu.”

The man offered a polite bow, which Servien returned. The three began to walk toward the inner courtyard.

“We have visitors,” Brassac said. “They are very well armed and trained — and led by an up-timer.”

“An army?”

“Not in the normal sense,” Alexandre answered. “But given their arms and equipment . . . well, if any two dozen horsemen could be considered an army, then this label might fit.”

“How can I be of service?”

“Very simple, Monsieur Servien. I need you to tell me: are these friends or enemies?”

They emerged into the bright May sunlight to find four riders still mounted, with more than two dozen in Brassac livery keeping close watch upon them. Three were subordinates, but clearly well-equipped as Alexandre had said; they remained still, a few feet apart from each other.

The fourth, a somewhat older woman, dismounted as they approached. She seemed to favor one leg very slightly; at first Servien attributed it to the cavalry sword at her waist, but he concluded that it was in fact a weakness of some sort — perhaps an injury. Still, she walked very steadily to where the comte, his son, and Servien stood.

She nodded to Alexandre, who acknowledged it.

“You must be the comte de Brassac,” she said. She glanced at Servien, but didn’t have anything to say to him.

“Louis de Galard de Brassac et de Béarn,” Brassac answered. “The rest of your command is outside the château?”

“This is my honor guard,” she answered. “Maddox’s Rangers. In service to Marshal Turenne. I’m Sherrilyn Maddox. Colonel Maddox to them; you can call me Sherrilyn.” She stuck her hand out, and neither Brassac nor Alexandre seemed to know what to do; Servien extended his hand to her and took it, and found a firm, steady grip.

“I am Étienne Servien, intendant to the cardinal-Duke de Richelieu,” he said when the handshake was over. “You must be the up-timer of which so much has been heard.”

“You know her, then,” Alexandre said.

“Not personally,” Servien answered. “But I do know that the Marshal engaged the services of a Grantvilleuse” he made sure to use the female version of the noun — “to train some of his troops.”

“Is Marshal Turenne planning to invade my lands?”

“I wouldn’t call it an invasion,” the up-timer answered. “We’re here at his direction. The rest of the army is on its way; we’re just the advance guard.”

“And what are his intentions?”

“Your boss,” she said, looking at Servien, “assumed that there would be trouble coming from the south. When we heard about the death of the king, we packed up and began to move down here. If there’s any sort of invasion, My Lord, it won’t be by the Marshal — it’ll be by the Spanish.”

“And how do I know that you are, indeed, from Marshal Turenne’s army?”

She placed her hand on the hilt of her sword. Everyone in the courtyard tensed; but Brassac held up one hand. Maddox seemed to realize that she had sent the wrong signal.

“If I may be permitted to draw the sword to show it to you, My Lord.”

Brassac nodded. The up-timer looked around her, then slowly drew the blade from its scabbard; she brought it to her shoulder, then extended it, flat across her right forearm, with the hilt so that Brassac could grasp it.

He picked up the sword and examined the guard, which bore the d’Auvergne crest; he noted an inscription along the flat of the blade nearest the hilt.

“A generous gift from the Marshal,” Brassac said, and offered it back, hilt first. Maddox took it, saluted, and replaced it in her scabbard.

“I believe I have given good service in return, My Lord,” she said.

“No doubt.” Brassac turned to Alexandre. “My son, please make these soldiers — and the rest of Colonel Maddox’ command — comfortable. Colonel, I welcome you as our guests for the time being. As for the rest of the army . . .”

“I’m sure they’ll find a place to camp.”

Brassac turned with Servien and they stepped inside the building once more.

“So Marshal Turenne is invading,” Brassac said as they made their way back toward the library. “After a manner of speaking. Perhaps he has news of which I have not heard.”

“I’m sure the Marshal would have the same question for you.”

“An interesting response.”

“May I ask a question, My Lord?”

“Ask away.”

“Who is the king of France?”

Brassac stopped walking. They were at the foot of the grand staircase; he glanced from Maddox to Servien, and then back to the up-timer.

“He is the sovereign lord to whom your commander has pledged his fealty,” Brassac said. “Your understanding may be more clear than mine. Perhaps you should answer the question.”

“I asked you first.”

“And I am a peer of the realm and you are a hired soldier. I know that you up-timers are known for their forthrightness, Colonel Maddox, but you and your command are in my home, in my lands. Courtesy extends so far, and then stops. Who do you believe to be the king of France?”

“I’m not sure,” she said at last. “Marshal Turenne wasn’t sure either. It’s why he moved his army so that Monsieur Gaston could not take command of it.”

“Where is Gaston now?”

“Again, My Lord, I’m not sure. We heard that he was traveling to France from Turin, where he was a guest of his brother-in-law the duke of Savoy. I imagine he’s in Paris by now, or close to it.” She took a deep breath. “And now, Comte, maybe you’ll answer my question.”

Brassac did not respond, but looked at Servien; the intendant inclined his head and spoke.

“The king of France,” Servien said, “is an infant child, ten days old, the son of His Highness Louis XIII and Her Majesty Queen Anne. He was born just before his father was ruthlessly murdered before my eyes.”

There was a very long silence, then Maddox spoke.

“When we passed through Toulouse, there was a royal herald or something proclaiming Gaston d’Orleans as the king. He’s to be crowned in two weeks or so at Reims. Does he know about this baby?”

“We believe he does,” Brassac said, looking at Servien. “We believe that they are in terrible danger.”

“From Gaston?”

“Or his agents. It is unclear whom he has chosen as allies, or what he has promised them. When do you expect your commander to arrive?”

“At least ten days from now. They move at good speed, but it’s still an army. And that’s if they don’t meet up with any opposition.”

“That is not what I fear,” Brassac said. “The question is whether the Spanish themselves will invade before they arrive.”

She smiled slightly. “The Marshal assumes that before the Spanish march over the mountains with their tercios, they’ll send a scouting party to check things out. He thought we might be able to stop them.”

“Stop,” Servien said, “meaning –”

“I think you are being disingenuous, Monsieur Servien,” Brassac said. “Colonel Maddox’ ‘Rangers’ consist of the best marksmen in Marshal Turenne’s army. ‘Stopping’ infiltrators on French soil means exactly what you would assume it means.”

Sherrilyn Maddox smiled even more broadly. “It means target practice.”



When word began to circulate of Monsieur Gaston’s imminent arrival in the capital, members of the elite Cardinal’s Guard began to absent themselves from the precincts of the Louvre, and from their barracks nearby. For fifteen years, the distinctive uniform of Richelieu’s personal troops had been ubiquitous in Paris — Guardsmen were admired, feared, resented, the subject of rumor, and considered a law unto themselves.

Now they were almost impossible to find. This, more than anything else, was demonstration that the cardinal himself had fallen. It was said in the markets of Les Halles and the public places in the city that the new king, Gaston d’Orleans, would surely not retain him in his long-held post; it was Richelieu who had caused Gaston to be exiled from the realm.

And surely, it was said, Gaston will be a better king than his brother. At the least he will provide an heir to the throne . . . something Louis had never done. Had not even the most recent pregnancy, attended with so much fanfare, resulted in another failure? Surely if there was an heir, it would have been announced.

Gaston approached, and the guardsmen had seemed to vanish. Their disappearance was not mourned.


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12 Responses to 1636: The Cardinal Virtues – Snippet 39

  1. Lyttenstadt says:

    Well, this place looks as good as any other, so here’s a question that bugs me since this novel’s beginning.

    What language are they speaking in this scene?

    I can only presume that they speak French, namely – down-time French. I also assume that none of them have “universal translators”.

    Okay. Then why did Sherrilyn Maddox speak to them using undoubtedly up-time English expressions and turns of phrase, that’d make any down-timer scratch their heads wondering the meaning?

    Take for example this phrase:

    “Your boss,” she said, looking at Servien, “assumed that there would be trouble coming from the south.

    Oxford dictionary helpfully points out that the word “boss” originated in “early 19th century (originally US): from Dutch baas ‘master’.” I.e. we have here an up-time word which meaning is rather obscure to most of French down-timers. What our good comte and his son could possibly think upon hearing this from the mouth of Colonel Maddox? It surely sounds like bosse (a hump) or bosser (to work hard). All sorts of confusion could be avoided if only Sherillyn (who, I remind you, supposedly spent more than 6 month amidst the native down-time French speakers) used some different word – like “patron”.

    And this is just one out of many, many other examples when any given up-timer speaks not a foreign language, but up-time English, assuming that all down-timers by now must have learned it.

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      Two thoughts.

      One, some American “terms” could be spreading over Europe.

      Second, Sherillyn could have used an informal down-time French word that had the same “sense” as boss. Said term was “translated” by the authors into “boss”. [Smile]

      • Ed Thomas says:

        You should make sure you have the right link. I’ get the multi-lingual snippet version with the real language and the english translation. It’s fairly easy to differentiate the two because the english is in red.
        Drak can prob’ly help you.

      • Lyttenstadt says:

        They “could” be spreaded. Or – which is more probable – they won’t spread really far and wide. Europeans in 17th centuray are not some easily impressed primitive “natives” eager to ape The Mighty White Men up-timers.

        This also raises another question that is bugging me for a long time. Why is this process so one-way? Why must Europeans adopt en-masse up-time expressions and culture, but this doesn’t work for a miniscule number of up-timers? Even the ones living far away from their frineds and family in totally alien environment?

        Why should everyone and his dog in Europe know the meaning of the word “okey”, who was Elvis and the plot of this or that movie, while the up-timers show neither signs nor inclination to adopt local down-time argot, immeditaley recongize this or that historical reference and knew by heart local bawdy songs?

        Second, Sherillyn could have used an informal down-time French word that had the same “sense” as boss. Said term was “translated” by the authors into “boss”. [Smile]

        And the “informal down-time French word that had the same “sense” as boss” is?.. I’d really like to know. I always like to learn something new about history – even such trivia.

        • Terranovan says:

          Why only one-way? Possibly because learning the history is too much of a headache for the authors. It certainly stretches my limits just to read the story. (Oh, and just in case it seems otherwise – the above isn’t a criticism of any lack of historical detail. It would be very difficult for me to even come close to this level of accuracy.)

  2. Cobbler says:

    I can only presume that they speak French, namely – down-time French. I also assume that none of them have “universal translators”.

    They may not have a universal translator, but we do. His name is Eric.

    Eric tells us the story in English rather than French because, otherwise, he might not win a Hugo. Oh, wait….

    Maybe he just thinks the English language version will sell more books.

  3. jimhacker says:

    The 1632-verse uses a translation convention. As has been stated multiple times.

    • Lyttenstadt says:

      The 1632-verse uses a translation convention. As has been stated multiple times.

      Where and when? And stated by whom?

      • Randomiser says:

        Oh get real. These are books in English, not 17th century German, Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch, Erse, Polish etc etc dialects. The authors certainly can’t write the books in all of those. Not if they want more than a handful of readers anyway! How would it be more authentic to write in some kind of coy weirdly structured English to suggest each of these languages? That would just be patronising NTM a pain to read. Most books in most languages set in a ‘foreign’ language setting just automatically use a translation convention. Next you will be complaining that The asgardian gods in Thor don’t speak Old Norse or General Zod and colleagues don’t speak Kryptonian among themselves on screen.

        • Lyttenstadt says:

          Please, don’t strawman me here. I’ve asked a valid question (well, several in fact) and would like to get an answer.

          If authors of this book allow the occasional monsieur to creep into dialogs (not to mention a rather big passages of untranslated latin) then it’s safe to say that the book is not written entirely in the up-time English. I’m only asking for some inner logic here.

  4. Ed Thomas says:

    Evroux is approximately 150 miles west of Reims. Modern Googlemaps show two large forests between the two cities. Paris is to the immediate south of the two forests. Two driving routes are shown, one passing north of the forests, the other passing through northern Paris south of the forests. A third, walking route, runs between the two, passing through both forests. .The routes are designated as N, W, and S. The greatest distance between N an S is 20 to 25 miles towards the eastern end of the corridor. I’m assuming modern roads would follow old route paths here so the routes presented by Googlemaps seem plausible (to me at least :-) )

    Gassy will know Mazarin has to bring the baby to Reims. I’m guessing he will put most of his resources close to Reims where all three routes converge. Scouts placed on each route 10 to 15 miles west of Reims would be able to give warning to gather all his reources to stop Mazarin. Gassy will have Cesar’s badguys plus quite a few others he can lay his hands on in the Paris area so it’s gonna be tough to get into the city without some sort of large nasty battle.

    Mazarin, of course will know all of this. Sooo… I expect some sort of feint with most or all of his muscle (the young count and the members of the Cardinal’s Guard Tremblay is dispatching north to protect the King). It would be nice if Tremblay’s also able to equip the Cardinal’s Guardsmen with Cardinal rifles he’d just happened to have stashed in a convent outside of Paris.

    So, Maz’s muscle guys will distract Gassy’s bad guys while he and the ladies ride into Reims under a load of turnips, or some other healthy vegetable. Or, they could masquerade as a family of Gassy’s ardent supporters on the way to his coronation. I’m sure Eric will come up with something diabolically clever.

    This is almost as much fun as guessing where DW’s going to send the Charisian armies to destroy the vile Clyntahn.
    Googlemaps link

    • daveo says:

      Mazarin’s highest priority has to be keeping Louis Preemie and Anne alive. He, because he is the only alternative to Gaston, unless Mazarin can come up with the Baby in the Iron Mask as a replacement. She because she is the most probable alternative to Gaston as Regent for Louis. It’s by no means clear that the best way to do this is to get Louis crowned. In the real historical record, Mazarin showed a talent for playing the long game.

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