1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 24

1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 24

She stopped and waited for what she expected to be a royal outburst. Gustav Adolf had quite a famous temper, when he unleashed it.

And, indeed, the emperor was glaring at her. His big hands gripped the ends of the armrests, the knuckles standing out prominently.

To her surprise, he took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. Then, still more to her surprise, he got a peculiar expression. It was almost…

Foxlike? Yes — insofar as the term was not absurd, applied to such a heavy face.

“I will agree on one condition,” he said abruptly.


“If you win the election and become the governor of Saxony — or whatever term you choose for the post — we will face the awkward situation of having the chief of state of a province with an established church who does not belong to that church — in fact, belongs to no church at all.”

His expression now became self-righteous; so much so that Gretchen suspected he was putting on an act. “That’s quite unacceptable! So my condition is this — you must cease this unseemly quasi-agnosticism and join a church. The Lutheran church would be ideal, of course. But I will settle for any other –”

She interrupted, trying her best not to seem too foxlike herself. “But — Your Majesty! — as you perhaps may not know, I was raised — ”

Except the Catholic church!” he boomed. “I’ve got too many blasted Catholics in the USE as it is!”

He leaned back in his chair. “That is the condition, Gretchen. Pick a Protestant church — and not one that is too disreputable, like the Anabaptists. A Reformed church is acceptable. We have that already in Hesse-Kassel and Brandenburg.”

She considered outright rebellion, but…

It was not an outrageous condition, given what the emperor was prepared to allow in exchange. And, besides, did it really matter that much any more?


Yes. Some stubborn root at the very heart of Gretchen Richter was choking on the idea. Not because she cared about doctrinal issues — which she never had, even when she’d been a young Catholic girl — but simply because she was being forced.

She was about to refuse when a very foxlike thought came to her. What if…?

Yes. That would do.

“Very well,” she said. “I accept. But I will need a bit of time to make my choice.”

Gustav Adolf waved his hand expansively, magnanimously. “By all means! So long as you have made your choice before you take office.”

He rose to his feet. “That assumes, of course, that you win the election. Which I most certainly hope you do not, since you are a notorious agitator and the fellow running against you, Ernst Wettin, is a far more sensible sort.”

He was smiling when he said it, though.


She spent that evening giving a full report to a large assemblage in Rebecca Abrabanel’s town house. Several of Magdeburg’s CoC leaders were present along with the people from the Fourth of July Party.

The idea she was considering with respect to the church she’d wind up joining herself, however, she discussed with no one except Rebecca.

Who thought the idea was both charming and shrewd. As she put it: “It’s a way to goose the emperor without his being able to take umbrage.”

She then had to explain the bizarre way Americans had turned a goose into a verb.


The next morning, Eddie Junker showed up at the townhouse.

“Where are we flying to now?” he asked. “Back to Dresden?”

“Later. First we go to Grantville.”


Once they were in the air, heading south, Eddie asked Gretchen: “How long will you be in Grantville?”

She didn’t answer immediately because they’d encountered some turbulence. Her left hand was clutching the side of her seat. Her right hand had been clutching the door handle but she’d snatched it away when she realized that if she had a sudden spasm caused by — whatever — she might inadvertently fling open the door — never mind that the wind pressure would be working entirely against that possibility — and then fling herself out of the airplane for no good reason known to man, God or beast.

All her knuckles were bone white. Her jaw was clenched. Her eyes were wide but fixed straight ahead as if she were gazing into the maw of hell.

“Oh, relax,” said Eddie. “Turbulence in the air is nothing to worry about. Look at it this way. If you were on a ship at sea you’d expect to be riding up and down with the waves, wouldn’t you? In fact, if you weren’t you’d be in trouble.”

He waved a hand, indicating the atmosphere through which they were flying. “That’s all this is, too. We’re just riding waves in the air instead of in water. It only seems dangerous because you can’t see these waves.”

“It’s not the same at all,” Gretchen said, through still-clenched teeth. “If a boat comes apart and drops me into the water, I know how to swim. If this airplane falls apart and drops me into the air, I don’t know how to fly.”


After the turbulence had died down and Gretchen had relaxed a bit, Eddie repeated the question.

“I’m not sure,” she said.

“An hour? Two hours? A day? Two days? A week?”

“At least a day. Maybe two. I don’t think it should be longer than that.”

Eddie nodded. “Fine. I need to fly Noelle and Janos Drugeth from Vienna to Prague as soon as possible. I got the message from the radio operator at the Magdeburg airfield just before we left. So after I drop you off in Grantville, I’ll take care of that business before I return. It shouldn’t take more than a day.”

Gretchen said nothing. They’d run into turbulence again.

Grantville, State of Thuringia-Franconia

The door was opened by a woman whom Gretchen knew to be in her early eighties but who didn’t look it to her down-time eyes. Gretchen’s grandmother Veronica was only sixty-one, which many Americans still considered to be “middle-aged,” but she looked older than the woman standing in the doorway.

They’d encountered each other any number of times when Gretchen was living in Grantville after her marriage to Jeff, but she couldn’t recall that they’d ever spoken directly. As always, Gretchen was struck by the old woman’s hair. Snow-white but still full, and extremely curly. It was not hard to understand why she’d been the inspiration for Ewegenia, symbol of the Franconian League of Women Voters during the Ram Rebellion.

“Veleda Riddle?” she asked by way of a formal greeting. “I am Gretchen –”

“I know who you are, dear.” Veleda smiled. “The whole world probably does — well, Europe, anyway — at least by reputation.”

Holding the door open, she moved aside and gestured for Gretchen to enter.

“Come in. Would you care for some coffee? Tea? Broth?”

Gretchen was about to refuse politely when she realized she actually did have a desire — a craving, more like — for a cup of coffee. Her nerves were still a little unsettled from the flight.

And if anyone in Grantville was likely to have good coffee, it would be Veleda Riddle. She was one of the handful of “grand old ladies” among the up-timers. Her son, Chuck Riddle, was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Thuringia-Franconia and while she was now a widow, her husband had been one of Grantville’s few practicing lawyers and had made a better living than most residents of the town before the Ring of Fire.

“Yes, please. Some coffee would be nice.”

After she’d taken a seat in the living room and Veleda returned from preparing the coffee in the kitchen, Gretchen said: “I was sorry to hear of the recent passing of your husband, Mrs. Riddle.”

Veleda handed her a cup of coffee and sat down on the couch positioned at a ninety-degree angle from Gretchen. She had a cup for herself, from which she took a sip before responding.

“I miss him, I surely do. But we all have to pass someday and Tom made it to eighty-four before he died.” She smiled, in fond reminiscence. “On his eightieth birthday I remember him telling me, ‘Okay, hon, I made it as far as anyone can ask from the Lord. I figure whatever’s left is gravy.'”

She took another sip of coffee and set the cup down on the aptly-named coffee table.

“And now, what can I do for you, Gretchen Richter?”


Once Gretchen had explained the purpose of her visit, Veleda drained her cup of coffee.

“Oh, my,” she said, cradling the cup in her lap.

She stared out the window for a time.

“Oh, my,” she said again.


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29 Responses to 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 24

  1. Greg Noel says:

    Oh, my. For a second, I thought Gretchen was going to become a Pastafarian, but that church wasn’t founded until well after Grantville left. What else might there be?

    • Bret Hooper says:

      She could become a UU (Unitarian-Universalist), like Mary Forbes Chandler (and me).
      Actually, that might be the most effective goose possible!

    • Tweeky says:

      I wonder how Europe would react to the church of the Flying spaghetti monster;-)?

      • Cobbler says:

        In good King Charles’s golden days,
        When Loyalty no harm meant;
        A Furious High-Church man I was,
        And so I gain’d Preferment.
        Unto my Flock I daily Preach’d,
        Kings are by God appointed,
        And Damn’d are those who dare resist,
        Or touch the Lord’s Anointed.

        And this is law, I will maintain
        Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
        That whatsoever King may reign,
        I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

        When Royal James possest the crown,
        And popery grew in fashion;
        The Penal Law I houted down,
        And read the Declaration:
        The Church of Rome I found would fit
        Full well my Constitution,
        And I had been a Jesuit,
        But for the Revolution.
        And this is Law, &c.

        When William our Deliverer came,
        To heal the Nation’s Grievance,
        I turn’d the Cat in Pan again,
        And swore to him Allegiance:
        Old Principles I did revoke,
        Set conscience at a distance,
        Passive Obedience is a Joke,
        A Jest is non-resistance.
        And this is Law, &c.

        When Royal Ann became our Queen,
        Then Church of England’s Glory,
        Another face of things was seen,
        And I became a Tory:
        Occasional Conformists base
        I Damn’d, and Moderation,
        And thought the Church in danger was,
        From such Prevarication.
        And this is Law, &c.

        When George in Pudding time came o’er,
        And Moderate Men looked big, Sir,
        My Principles I chang’d once more,
        And so became a Whig, Sir.
        And thus Preferment I procur’d,
        From our Faith’s great Defender,
        And almost every day abjur’d
        The Pope, and the Pretender.
        And this is Law, &c.

        The Illustrious House of Hannover,
        And Protestant succession,
        To these I lustily will swear,
        Whilst they can keep possession:
        For in my Faith, and Loyalty,
        I never once will faulter,
        But George, my lawful king shall be,
        Except the Times shou’d alter.
        And this is Law, &c.

        • Zak Ryerson says:

          As far as I can tell, more people would give the chorus as ..

          “But this position I’ll maintain,
          Until my dying day Sir,
          That whomsoever King may reign.
          Well I’ll be The Vicar of Bray Sir!

          • Cobbler says:

            A song that’s been around for centuries is bound to have variant versions.

            If I were singing yours I’d use “But this position I will maintain”. It scans better.

      • Andy says:

        Poorly. I think the reaction would involve pitch forks and burning stakes.

      • Greg Noel says:

        @Tweeky: I said Pastafarian, not Rastafarian. A Pastafarian is a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    • Owen says:

      The last person we know talked to Veleda Riddle about Religion was Ursula Gerisch, and she became an Episcopalian.

  2. VernonNemitz says:

    I’d like to know why there is an implication that the airplane does not have seat belts:

    “Her right hand had been clutching the door handle but she’d snatched it away when she realized that if she had a sudden spasm caused by — whatever — she might inadvertently fling open the door — never mind that the wind pressure would be working entirely against that possibility — and then fling herself out of the airplane”

    Seat belts would prevent any such flinging-out, and should prevent worries about flinging-out.

    • Cobbler says:

      It does sound that way, doesn’t it? But…

      The first time Eddie flew Gretchen, they both ended up hanging upside down when the airplane flipped. They wore some sort of safety harness then.

      OTOH…Why should a seat belt prevent Gretchen from worrying? She neither likes nor trusts airplanes.

  3. Cobbler says:

    I hope Tom Riddle has successfully trained a new generation of lawyers. Especially in military jurisprudence.

    That was an ongoing project in some GG stories.

    • laclongquan says:

      The only way for them to know for sure is that they successful express their competence in some (in)famous cases.
      Victories would be nice, but showing competence should be fine.

    • Jeff Ehlers says:

      At least this seems to have preceded the Ace Attorney series. I mean, I like it, but can you imagine people assuming that’s how lawyers operated in the 20th century?

  4. Daryl Saal says:

    Possibly Jewish, or Muslim?

  5. AJNolte says:

    I’m guessing Episcopalian.

    There’s an interesting wrinkle as well. As of 1999, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Episcopal Church USA entered into a full communion agreement with one another:

    I’m not sure if this info would have reached Grantville before the Ring of Fire, but if so, there could be interesting implications.

  6. dave o says:

    Methodist is also a possibility. The Episcopal faith is trinitarian.

    • Cobbler says:

      Methodism is an uptime religion. It got started in the eighteenth century. Besides….

      Ranting Methodism? Fanatical Methodism?| Enthusiastic Methodism?| There’s a reason the Anglican Church rejected them. I suspect Gustav would agree.

      That’s the joke in the old song Fireship. The lady of negotiable virtue sings:

      My father is a minister.
      A good and virtuous man.
      My mother is a Methodist.
      I do the best I can.

      • Cobbler says:

        Here’s Wiki on enthusiasm in this sense:

        The word “enthusiastic” was originally used to refer to a person possessed by a god. It comes from the Greek word ἐνθουσιασμός from ἐν and θεός and οὐσία, meaning “possessed by [a] god’s essence”, applied by the Greeks to manifestations of divine possession, by Apollo (as in the case of the Pythia), or by Dionysus (as in the case of the Bacchantes and Maenads), the term enthusiasm was also used in a transferred or figurative sense. Socrates taught that the inspiration of poets is a form of enthusiasm. The term was confined to a belief in religious inspiration, or to intense religious fervour or emotion.

        From this, a Syrian sect of the 4th century was known as the Enthusiasts. They believed that “by perpetual prayer, ascetic practices and contemplation, man could become inspired by the Holy Spirit, in spite of the ruling evil spirit, which the fall had given to him”. From their belief in the efficacy of prayer, they were also known as Euchites.

        Several Protestant sects of the 16th and 17th centuries were called enthusiastic. During the years that immediately followed the Glorious Revolution, “enthusiasm” was a British pejorative term for advocacy of any political or religious cause in public, i.e. fanaticism. Such “enthusiasm” was seen in the time around 1700 as the cause of the previous century’s English Civil War and its attendant atrocities, and thus it was an absolute social sin to remind others of the war by engaging in enthusiasm. The Royal Society bylaws stipulated that any person discussing religion or politics at a Society meeting was to be summarily ejected for being an “enthusiast.”[citation needed] During the 18th century, popular Methodists such as John Wesley or George Whitefield were accused of blind enthusiasm, a charge against which they defended themselves by distinguishing fanaticism from “religion of the heart.”

  7. Deb says:

    Wasn’t Veleda the one who sent Tom Simpson the message that while he was stuck in the Tower of London, he should ask Archbishop Laud for an bishop for the Grantville Episcopal church? That would lead me to believe Episcopal.

  8. Ed Thomas says:

    I am truly amazed this hasn’t come up yet but I will venture that she wants to have a safe abortion.

  9. Matthew says:

    Why does she ask for coffee?

    They’re both rich women but coffee is still a hugely expensive commodity that you wouldn’t just ask of a stranger.

  10. Robert R Victoria says:

    My guess, Unitarian. Respectable uptime, during the current year in book, gooses everyone. Michael Servetus could be considered the Philosophical Founder of Unitarian Universalist Church and was burned at the stake in Geneva when Calvin was there. Michael Servetus was interesting and I think his philosophies were one reason disestablishmentarianism became a word.

  11. Randomiser says:

    I very much doubt that Gustav would accept that Unitarianism was ‘Protestant’, because he wouldn’t see it as being Christian, not being Trinitarian. Not quite sure why non C of E Anglican would be such a wheeze?

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