1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 21

1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 21

Chapter 10

Vienna, capital of Austria-Hungary

“So we are in agreement, then?” Janos nodded toward Noelle. “She and I will serve as your envoys to –” He hesitated, but only for a second. However much Ferdinand might detest the necessity, Wallenstein’s new status now had to be formally acknowledged.

“To King Albrecht of Bohemia,” he continued. “I, as your official envoy to the Bohemian monarch; Noelle, as your unofficial envoy to elements in his court.”

That was a roundabout way of saying to the very rich American Jewish couple Morris and Judith Roth, who have a lot of influence over that bastard Wallenstein and — perhaps more to the point — largely determine the way Americans everywhere look on the bastard at the present time.

There was a valuable reminder there, if — no, when; the emperor was a very intelligent man when he wasn’t in a surly mood — Ferdinand had the sense to consider it. Whatever grievances he or Austria had against Wallenstein were miniscule compared to the grudge Americans could hold against him if they chose to do so. The bastard had once tried to slaughter all of their children, after all — yet the Americans had had the wisdom and forbearance to make peace with Wallenstein later, when the circumstances changed.

Ferdinand had been holding his breath long enough that his face was starting to turn red. Now, he exhaled mightily.

“Ah! I almost choke on the thought!”

Janos smiled. “If it eases your soul, Ferdinand, I will be glad to keep calling him Wallenstein when we’re speaking privately.”

“Please do.” The young emperor’s hands tightened on the armrest of his chair. “‘The bastard’ will do nicely, as well. So will –” He gave Noelle a somewhat wary glance.

She grinned at him. “The asshole, perhaps?” They were speaking in German, not Amideutsch, so the term she used was Das Arschloch. “Or perhaps I might introduce Your Majesty to one of our American expressions” — here she slipped into Amideutsch — “the dirty rotten motherfucker.”

Ferdinand burst into laughter. Like most members of the Habsburg dynasty he had an earthy sense of humor. That was something which often surprised Americans who’d never had personal contact with Habsburgs. They tended to view Europe’s premier dynasty as a pack of inbred and sickly hyper-aristocrats — as if such a feeble family could have dominated the continent’s politics for so many centuries, since Rudolf of Habsburg became Rudolf I, King of Germany, in 1273.

Janos was very pleased by the emperor’s reaction — and learning, yet again, that his American betrothed’s somewhat prim physical appearance disguised a spirit that was bold and decisive. This was a woman who had once slain a torturer who was threatening the life of her partner by shoving her pistol barrel under his jaw and blowing his brains out. She’d done that, not because she was bloodthirsty but because she was a terrible shot with any sort of firearm and hadn’t wanted to risk missing.

What had struck Janos the most, when she’d told him that story not long after they’d first met, was the incredible presence of mind that had taken — for anyone, much less a woman with little experience with violence. Drugeth knew many veteran soldiers who, placed in that same situation, would have blasted away wildly.

Of course, none of them would have been as terrible a marksman as Noelle. Her inability to hit anything more than two feet away with a pistol was quite remarkable.

After the emperor’s laughter died away, Ferdinand gave Noelle a very approving look and said: “I like that. So, yes, in private — just among the three of us — I’d enjoy calling Wallenstein the asshole or the motherfucker. Better still! The motherfucking asshole.”

He looked back at Janos. “Are you still sure it’s wise to fly to Prague?”

“The danger is minimal, Your Majesty,” Noelle said. “I’ve flown with Eddie a number of times. He’s a very good pilot and his plane is well-built and — by now — quite well tested. It even survived a crash in Dresden with no harm done to anyone.”

Ferdinand waved his hand dismissively. “I’m not concerned about the physical danger. I’m thinking of the diplomatic risk. Herr Junker is Francisco Nasi’s pilot, and while Don Francisco is not formally connected with the asshole’s court, he is — second only to Don Morris — the most prominent Jew in Prague. Which is the most prominent Jewish city in Europe. The world, for that matter. And everyone knows that the Jews and Wallenstein are closely allied.”

Noelle had a frown on her face. Ferdinand would see in that frown nothing more than thoughtful concern. By now, though, Janos knew her well enough to understand that the expression was disapproving as well. Like most Americans he’d met, she had firm opinions on what they called “anti-Semitism” and she was interpreting the emperor’s remarks as an expression of that attitude, at least in part.

And… At least in part, it probably was. Dealing with Noelle had forced Janos to consider his own attitude toward Judaism. Eventually, he’d concluded that some of his views of the religion and its practitioners were no better than unthinking prejudices. Leaving moral issues aside, Drugeth disapproved of prejudice of any kind for practical reasons. A prejudiced man was likely to behave stupidly.

He understood, however, something that Noelle didn’t. Her grasp of the complexities of European diplomacy was still largely that of a novice, at least at this royal level. What Ferdinand was really expressing was not a bias against Jews but a distaste for appearing dependent in any way on someone whom most people would perceive as a close ally of Wallenstein.

“I don’t think it’s really a problem, Ferdinand,” he said. “Or, if it is a problem, it’s one that speaks to our relationship to the USE. Regardless of who owns the airplane and who flies it, almost anyone in Europe who looks up and sees an airplane passing overhead immediately and automatically thinks: Americans. That is just as true of Bohemians as anyone else, and the fact that when the plane lands one of the disembarking passengers” — he nodded toward Noelle — “is an American will reinforce the impression.”

Noelle issued a peculiar sound, something of a cross between a choke and a laugh.

In response to the emperor’s quizzically cocked eyebrow, she said: “I don’t believe you’ve ever seen the airplane in question, Your Majesty.”

He shook his head. “In the sky, once — at least, I believe it was that particular aircraft. But not up close, no.”

“Well, you will soon, after Eddie gets done with his current shuttle diplomacy with the — ah — Saxons and Gustav Adolf.” Janos was amused to see the deft way she avoided mentioning the specific Saxon being shuttled about. For the emperor of Austria as for most members of the continent’s royalty, the name “Gretchen Richter” was what Noelle called a scandal and a hissing. Best to leave it unspoken in their presence.

“Anyway, when you do,” Noelle went on, “you’ll see that another American is very prominently portrayed on the plane itself. It’s what we call ‘nose art’ because the painting is placed somewhere on the nose of the aircraft. There’s often — usually, in fact — a title that goes with it.”

“Ah.” Ferdinand leaned forward in his chair. “There’s something here you find amusing. I can tell — I’m learning to interpret your expressions. You’ll make quite a good diplomat, by the way. So what is this portrait and this title?”

“The title is Steady Girl — that’s an expression that refers to a sort of betrothal — and the portrait is of Denise Beasley. She is one of my junior associates and Eddie Junker’s betrothed. Well… ‘steady girl,’ I suppose I should say. They’re not betrothed — yet — in the legal German sense of the term.”

The emperor’s head was slightly cocked, and he had a half-smile on his face. “You’re still not telling me everything. Why is this so amusing? Ah, I have it! This portrait is not what you’d call a formal one.”

“Uh… no.” Noelle fluttered her hands. “Nothing like — like… ah…”

Janos had never seen the aircraft up close himself, but he had enough sense of what Noelle was groping for to provide some assistance.

“Nothing like Titian’s Venus of Urbino or Cranach’s Judgment of Paris,” he provided.

“Oh, no, nothing like that! Just, ah… well. Denise is very beautiful and, ah… the American expression is ‘leggy’. We’d call the portrait an example of pin-up art. That refers to… ah…”

She was floundering again. Ferdinand smiled and made another dismissive gesture with his hand. “Never mind the details. What you’re saying, I take it, is that no Bohemian — or anyone else — who sees that plane landing at Prague’s airfield is going to associate the craft with an alliance between cunning Wallenstein and even more cunning Jews.”

“Ah… No. They won’t. Between me and the picture of Denise — mostly the portrait — they’ll be thinking ‘Americans.’ Well, Americanesses.”

Ferdinand leaned back, his expression now thoughtful. “That will be good enough, I think. I simply cannot afford to look as if I am in any way relying on Wallen — the motherfucking asshole — for anything.”

Magdeburg, capital of the United States of Europe

“I think you should do it,” said Gunther Achterhof. Seeing the look of surprise on Gretchen’s face, he smiled. Thinly, but it was a genuine smile.

“Yes, I know,” he said. “Shocking, to see Gunther Achterhof agree to something. But I’m just stubborn, I’m not stupid. I have understood for some time now that the situation we have in the nation is unstable and can’t last. If I had any doubts on the matter, the business with Schardius and Burckardt settled them.”

The names meant nothing to Gretchen, and her expression must have shown that. Galiena Kirsch, one of the other CoC leaders present in the room, leaned over and said: “You’d left for Dresden by then. It was a big murder case that caught the attention of the whole city. We almost got involved directly — and did, at the very end — but we mostly left it to the new police force to handle.”

“You can only be the informal power for so long,” Gunther went on. “If you push it too far, you wear out the public patience. People like stability and order, especially over an extended period of time.”

Most of the other CoC leaders were frowning. One of them — Hubert Amsel — spoke sharply. “What are you suggesting, Gunther? That we disband our organization?”

“No, of course not. What I’m saying is simply that we have to understand the limits within which we must operate. As a political movement, we continue to have a great deal of respect among our people and a very large following. But we now run the risk of seeing that erode if we try to extend our moral authority too far, if we try to assume the content of legal authority without accepting the form of it as well.”


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33 Responses to 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 21

  1. thomas miller says:

    nice snippet!! so instead of going east as was previously hinted at king wally will send his new hussites against the Turks??????

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “king wally will send his new hussites against the Turks??????”

      Hussites are dead and gone – king “Albrecht” has your typical mercenary army. Besides, he’s more interested to grab something for himself – like Silesia.

      • Stanley Leghorn says:

        “Wally” has already hinted his intentions lie to the east. IIRC, Silesia is part of the USE or soon to be. Still waiting to see how the “Waltz” is playing out with the Barbies in charge of Ferdinand the middle’s finances.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “Silesia is part of the USE or soon to be.”

          It is not part of the USE and unlikely to become one

          “Still waiting to see how the “Waltz” is playing out with the Barbies in charge of Ferdinand the middle’s finances.”

          Oh, that’s easy! Imagine their gosh-darn-mary-sue-ish waterpark? Now imagine it completely demolished by the Ottoman army. If you like – replace water with the blood.

      • Bjorn Hasseler says:

        Not exactly – there are Deacon Billek’s troops from “The Wallenstein Gambit” in _Ring of Fire I_.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          With all due respect – they are not true Hussites. More like militia, lacking massive support (and religious fervor, which Wallenstein would surely like to avoid) all around the Bohemia+Moravia

          • Bjorn Hasseler says:

            How do you define “true Hussite”?

            • Cobbler says:

              From Wikipedia

              The Hussites (Czech: Husité or Kališníci; “Chalice People”) were a Christian movement in the Kingdom of Bohemia following the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus (c. 1369–1415), who became the best-known representative of the Bohemian Reformation and one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. This predominantly religious movement was propelled by social issues and strengthened Czech national awareness.

              After the Council of Constance lured Jan Hus in with a letter of indemnity, then tried him for heresy and put him to death at the stake on 6 July 1415,[1] the Hussites fought the Hussite Wars (1420–1434) for their religious and political cause.

              Among present-day Christians, Hussite traditions are represented in the Moravian Church, Unity of the Brethren, and the refounded Czechoslovak Hussite churches.[2]

              In military terms they are famous for their war wagons, chained together in laagers.

            • Lyttenburgh says:

              Cobbler already provided ‘cyclopedic answer. I’d summarise it as massive national religiosuly-political movement. Ethnic German and Good (ha-ha!) Catholic like Wallenstein (and Jesuits educated Pappenheim) won’t allow such a thing. They can tolerate – to a degree – the Moravian church. But they won’t allow them to become a rallying point for his Czech subjects, or as an ideological basis for an army.

              So… no equestrian statue for Jan Žižka in Prague any time soon.

              • Bjorn Hasseler says:

                There’s not really a Moravian Church until Zinzendorf invites them to Herrnhut in 1722. At this point the Unitas Fratrum *is* Hussite. And Wallenstein knows they had his back; that counts for a lot.

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “There’s not really a Moravian Church until Zinzendorf invites them to Herrnhut in 1722.”

                I thought that the butterfly flapped it’s wings in the Wallenstein Gambit and they got it a bit early. Maybe I’m wrong – I read it ages ago.

                At this point the Unitas Fratrum *is* Hussite. And Wallenstein knows they had his back; that counts for a lot.

                Not quite – they are Hussite *remnant*, without the same clout and power as the Hussites of the past. Not even a fraction of it.

                As for having each other’s back – its not guaranteed in the long run. Pappenheim in the OTL was a religious fanatic, and he is bound to become a regent to King Alblecht’s kid.

  2. thomas miller says:

    but in the anaconda project cannon story he is building a new army to free the jews of eastern europe/ukraine based on the bretheren, this should be availible along with the usual mercenary units (the worst buggered units buggered off with Holk i think) the lessons learned from the USE especially when Stearns army was stationed in bohemia for a while would help reform the army into a more proffessional model. anyone for a winter war using USE equipment, the turks would be screwed by attrition not matter what fancy uptimer stuff they have developed i doubt they paid much attention to winterising their kit? plus i hope there will be some airship to airship fighting that would be awsuuuume!

    • Stanley Leghorn says:

      Most likely airplane to airship combat which should be short and humorous for the USE, short and deadly for the Turks.

      • Andy says:

        Maybe, Maybe not. The 1632 universe has come a long way from overly armed rednecks cutting down pikemen. I suspect the Turks are painted as a much more competent adversary.

        I’m not sure what is known about their airships. What do they use for propulsion? Did they acquire some lawn-mowers or something similar? Are they going with steam? Did they invent their own Otto(man)-motor?

        The choices must have been discussed somewhere already.

      • Richard H says:

        From the stories of WWI, airplane-to-balloon is short and humorous for the airplane pilot (assuming incendiary tracers, but I’m not certain that was necessary)… with the caveat that one had to be careful to remember to not fly under the balloon on the way out, or you are liable to have your wing torn off by the anchor line. Apparently, this was a lot more common than one would think, since they also needed to dodge a falling, likely flaming, gasbag.

    • dave o says:

      I doubt small arms fire is enough to bring down a “modern” airship. And it’s hard to imagine an airship can carry even very light artillery. Or that the things are maneuverable enough to use bombs.Still with a model available, someone could develop a real machine gun.

      • Andy says:

        Reportedly a farmer with something like a musket once brought down an Apache attack helicopter. So it’s conceivable small arms fire, especially from modern down-time or even uptimer designs can bring down an airship.

        For that matter, a burning arrow may do the job under lucky circumstances.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “but in the anaconda project cannon story he is building a new army to free the jews of eastern europe/ukraine based on the bretheren”

      I read Anaconda Project chapters in GG… uh… let’s say – ages ago. Lots of stuff happened since. Something got incorporated into new novels (i.e. “Polish plot-line”), other stuff got – somehow – retconned (Piccolomini WAS in Vienna in 1635, employed by his majesty Ferdinand III). I won’t raise my hopes high and consider it “cannon” if Eric himself felt to chage it. A lot. So, better to assume that any Big W’s plans concerning “Anaconda Project” are dead and gone. For now.

      “the lessons learned from the USE especially when Stearns army was stationed in bohemia for a while”

      Yeah! Station for just one winter! Surely, that’s enough to completly revamp the existing pattern of military pratice so succesfully employed by Wallenstein himself!

      [sarcasm: off]

      His army is professional – in 17 c. way. Yes, they (for all intents and purposes) are mercs. No big deal here.

      “anyone for a winter war using USE equipment, the turks would be screwed by attrition not matter what fancy uptimer stuff they have developed”

      That’d require someone willing to engage in the war during the winter. Offensive winter war. And who says that the USE gonna volunteer for that?

      ” i doubt they paid much attention to winterising their kit”

      So… you think Turks won’t have winter clothes because they are… Turks?

      • laclongquan says:

        The Turks are in the warmer climate. They might plan for colder winter but I doubt it bite deep into their psyche.

        Still, that require a colder than normal winter of Hungary.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “The Turks are in the warmer climate. They might plan for colder winter but I doubt it bite deep into their psyche.”

          Ethnic Stereotyping 101. Also featuring – “The French: beret waerin’, baguette munchin’, cheese-eatin’ surrender-monkeys”; “The English – rotten teeth, tea, stiff-upper-lip and bollocks”.

          laclongquan, have you ever studied the military organization of the Turks? What they were wearing, how did they plan their campaigns etc? Or you just pulling facts out of… nowhere?

          • Andy says:

            Fair point. Though I have to say even the Swedes and Russians didn’t “do” winter campaigning before. And they know a thing or two about cold weather.

            My guess is the Turks don’t really plan on campaigning in winter. If they hole up in Vienna or some place else when the time comes, they may be totally fine.

            • Lyttenburgh says:

              Like, sacking and annihilating Vienna, then retreating back to occupied Hungary, only to continue conquest of Austrian lands next spring? Sounds like plan.

  3. Hal Porter says:

    I thought Wallenstein already had at least part of Silesia from a side comment somewhere. The sticking point would appear to be Slovakia (Austro Hungarian now?). Janos Drugoth (sp?) also thought to himself that he would be willing to give up some slavic lands for peace and support. But if the Polish/Lithuanian and Russian nobles decide to support the Turks–more than hinted at in Kremlin stories–it gives Wallenstein a perfect excuse to go charging east, incorporating Ruthenia (part of the original Czechoslovakia) and parts of Ukraine. What Ferdinand needs as a minimum is peace with Bohemia/Moravia and perhaps supplies routed down through the river/rail systems connecting from Linz/Vienna/Danube through Prague to the Elbe and Dresden as well as perhaps a parallel “rail” line through Bratislava/or Brno? following the current RR line through the mountains to Ostrava and Silesia (or is that western Galicia?). Not too many good routes through those mountains.
    Not sure where all this would leave the USE troops outside of Poznan. But Bohemian troops might not be moving in great numbers towards Vienna relief. Austria-Hungary might be compensated with the Hungarian areas Ottoman empire such as Transylvania, and parts of what is 21st century northern Serbia.

    All this can’t be right but …

    • Cobbler says:

      According to The Vienna Waltz,Prince Karl Eusebius von Liechtenstein’s family owns Silesia. Except the part occupied by the Poles. Karl had to swear allegiance to King Albrecht to keep it.

      I think at this time Slovakia was part of Royal Hungary.

      My grandparents grew up in what is now Slovakia. Back then it was part of the Hungarian Crown Lands. They spoke Slovak at home but in school they learned Hungarian and German. You never know who would be ruling you next.

      Grandfather was a Hungarian hussar before coming to America and mining coal.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “Austria-Hungary might be compensated with the Hungarian areas Ottoman empire such as Transylvania, and parts of what is 21st century northern Serbia. “

      *Sigh*. How many times ,ust I repeat this? A-H is in no position to plan that far. Coming decade would be spent trying to reconquer and defending lost lands, followed by a decade of rebuilding and resettling. No gung-ho attacks on the Ottoman’s proper territory and surely no curb-stomp battles.

  4. Hal Porter says:

    Fascinating. Everyone was at least trilingual!
    So it seems like my distant memories are sort of correct. Or that the issues are at least in play, with surprises, no less.

  5. Hal Porter says:

    I gather that there may be a humongous battle stopping, or at least testing. the Turks somewhere on the Danuban plain. I could see an undersupplied Turkish army diminishing or dissolving in retreat, which might open up all sorts of possibilities. A religiously tolerant and well advised Hapsburg monarch might be able to make many different arrangements with a variety of actors, Flint willing. Maybe this is where the main line series ends in a couple of novels. An Ottoman collapse (though maybe not a Turkish collapse) at least in the Balkans, opens up a lot of different avenues in the future, positive and negative. Combined with a reordering of the Castilian (OK, Spanish) Empire, east and west of the Atlantic and sort of a general, relatively enlightened, set of peace accords. Maybe not Utopia, but potentially less bloody.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      All of these is highly unlikely – more like someone’s wishful thinking to “reward” designated good guys, no matter how implausible it sounds. Historically speaking “good guys” don’t win as often as you might wish. OTOH, historically speaking, there is a general lack of the “good guys” to begin with.

      There won’t be Ottoman collapse. No. Don’t even count on that. USE won’t fight instead of A-H. Vienna will fall. A-H would be weakend for decades to come. No happy end for everyone.

      • Andy says:

        I don’t believe Flint will let Vienna fall. Too much effort has been spent to avoid this end, and 1632 is not the kind of universe, where all characters do their best to fight an unavoidable fate. It’s not like Game of Thrones!

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “I don’t believe Flint will let Vienna fall. Too much effort has been spent to avoid this end”

          Absolutely NOTHING had been done to really defend Vienna. What, Bloody Barbie’s waterpark will do the job?

          “1632 is not the kind of universe, where all characters do their best to fight an unavoidable fate.”

          Welcome to a real world. Sometimes bad stuff happens.

          • Drak Bibliophile says:

            ::Glancing at Snerk Collar::

            Taking Vienna is one thing, keeping Vienna is another thing.

            Note, I have not seen the complete book.

        • llywrch says:

          It’s hard to argue for or against any of these outcomes: we don’t know enough at this point to evaluate how much the Ottoman army has changed in this universe from the one in ours. (The use of balloons in the siege of Baghdad is a hint, but only one.) While the Ottomans did not avoid adopting European technology when it was clearly better than what they had, it was an uneven & intermittent adoption. They might have Janissaries equipped with Cardinals, or maybe in this universe the Sultan was unable to field a large enough army to do more than burn & pillage the countryside up to the walls of Vienna.

          Before I say much more, I’d like to know what Ferdinand knows about this threat. Unless he is totally incompetent, he’d have pickets & spies out to provide him information about this threat. (Maybe even a few with some borrowed uptime technology: it wouldn’t be that expensive to set up a heliograph system to provide relatively instantaneous reports.) So far all we have is the reputation of this formidable enemy to speculate about what might happen, & how the characters will respond.

  6. cka2nd says:

    “‘You can only be the informal power for so long,’ Gunther went on. ‘If you push it too far, you wear out the public patience. People like stability and order, especially over an extended period of time.'”

    Exactly. Trust Eric to be familiar with the issue of “dual power” in revolutionary situations.

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