1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 26

1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 26

He’d have given a lot to have just one or two APCs with him. The vehicles weren’t amphibious but they’d do splendidly to drive off enemy cavalry while his engineers threw up the bridges. But in his infinite wisdom — being fair about it, the damn Polish king was being just as pigheaded about keeping the war going — Gustav Adolf insisted that all the functioning APCs had to remain with Torstensson’s forces around Poznań.

“Might as well wish for one or two M1 Abrams main battle tanks, while I’m at it,” Mike muttered.

“I didn’t catch that, sir,” said his adjutant, Christopher Long.

“Nothing. Just dreaming the impossible dream.”

USE naval base


Admiral John Chandler Simpson believed very firmly — as you’d expect from someone raised in the high church Episcopalian tradition — that a man who used profanity thereby demonstrated his inferior intellect and primitive grasp of the glorious English language. But, as he lowered the message from Veleda Riddle he’d just finished reading — the parsimonious old lady had even paid to have it sent by radio transmission, which indicated how agitated she was — he couldn’t help himself.

“Well, fuck me,” he said.


It was hearing someone else express her own deepest qualms that finally settled Veleda Riddle’s mind.

“But she’s not one of us!” exclaimed Christie Kemp.

The statement stuck in Veleda’s craw, as the saying went — all the more so because she completely agreed with it. The woman was not only “not one of us” she was so far removed from “us” that she might as well have been living on Mars.

That was to say, one of the many planets He had created.

“Christie,” she said, trying to keep her tone from being too disapproving, “we are a church, not a country club. I think we need to keep that in mind.”

“I agree with Veleda,” said Marshall Kitt.

“So do I,” added his wife Vanessa.

Christie threw up her hands. “Fine! But you need to face some facts, people. We are not — not, not, not — prepared to deal with this. We have exactly one priest — well, that we’re compatible with — and he’s not leaving Grantville. We have no bishop who could ordain more priests, leaving aside that snot Robert Herrick whom Laud saw fit to make the bishop in Magdeburg. Herrick’s a goof-off anyway and we all know it. That means we’re still completely dependent on Archbishop Laud, who is — pardon my Baptist — an asshole who won’t give us the time of day. Even if he weren’t, he’s in the Netherlands.”

She had a point, as crudely expressed as it might be.

“I will write to him again,” Veleda said.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

“That pestiferous woman!” Laud exclaimed. He held the radio missive clutched in his fist and waved it under Thomas Wentworth’s nose. “She’s at it again!”

“I just came in the door, William,” Wentworth said mildly. “On what I intended to be a simple personal visit. What has you so agitated?”

Politely, he didn’t add this time, as he so easily could have. Exile was a wearing state of affairs for anyone, but his friend the archbishop of Canterbury handled it with particularly poor grace. Perhaps that was due to his age. Laud was now sixty-three and was likely to be feeling his mortality pressing down on him. So much still to do — and now, so little time left in which to do it.

Laud heaved a sigh and sank back into his chair. “It’s the American woman, Veleda Riddle. I’ve told you about her. She keeps pestering me to give the Americans their own bishop. I’ve already sent them some priests! Well. Two priests — and I made one of them the bishop in Magdeburg. And there are only a very small number of American so-called ‘Episcopalians’ anyway. What do they need a bishop of their own for?”

Without waiting for Thomas to reply to that — clearly rhetorical — question, Laud raised his message-clutching fist again and waved it about.

“I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you! They intend to break away from the authority of the true Anglican Church, that’s what! I’m not a fool, you know. I’ve read the history books. In their world the archbishop of Canterbury was just a so-called ‘first among equals.'”

He broke off for a moment, glaring at the inoffensive wall opposite from him. “They called it the ‘Anglican Communion.’ Each national church having its own separate identity and authority, with only token acknowledgement given to the English fountainhead of the church.”

Wentworth had heard this all before — more than once. “Oh, leave off, William!” he said impatiently. “Why do you even care, other than as a matter of personal pride?”

“You don’t understand, Thomas. They’re not part of us.

Wentworth took a seat on the small divan under the window. “No, they’re not. I have met some Americans, you might recall. But the way I see it, that’s all the more reason to let them go their own way.”

He leaned forward, planting elbows on his knees. “William, we have more than enough problems to deal with. One of them — do I need to remind you, of all people? — being to place you back in Canterbury where you belong. Why in the world would you want to pile onto your shoulders this additional distraction?”

Without moving his arms, he spread his hands wide. “So let them have their bishop, why don’t you? Then, hopefully, they’ll go on their way and that woman who aggravates you so mightily won’t bother you any further.”

Laud said nothing for a minute or so, he just continued to glare at the wall. Then, he sighed again.

“I suppose you’re right.” He rose to his feet and moved toward his writing desk. “There’s this much of a blessing, at least. The ancient harridan made a specific recommendation once. If I can find it…”

He rummaged among the papers piled around the desk.

“Ah, here it is.” He handed the letter over to Wentworth. “This will spare me the nuisance of having to send someone to investigate the possibilities.”

Wentworth scanned the letter quickly. When he got to the name of the man whom the Riddle woman had recommended, his eyebrows rose.

“Well, he certainly has the pedigree,” he said.

“In that case, I’ll send the appointment by radio transmission.” The expression on Laud’s face was mischievous; indeed, it bordered on being malicious. “They call it a ‘collect call,’ you know.”

He reached for the bell on a side table and rang for his secretary. “I can’t actually ordain him over the radio, of course. That requires a laying on of hands. But I can appoint him bishop-elect and make the appointment widely known.”


Tom Simpson wouldn’t have paid for the radio message, except for the name of the sender. What would the archbishop of Canterbury want with him?

It took no more than a few seconds to read the message. A few more seconds to re-read it. At least a minute, though, for the meaning to finally register.

“Well, fuck me,” he said.


As he headed toward the entrance, the radio operator called him back. “There’s another message coming in for you, Major Simpson.”

Tom turned around. “From who?”

“Your father, it says.”

After Tom read that message, the situation became much clearer.

“I swear to God,” he muttered, as he emerged back onto the street, “if you planted that woman in the middle of the Gobi desert — oh, hell no, plant her in the middle of Antarctica — she’d find an apple cart to upset. Take her maybe two minutes, tops.”


His wife’s reaction when she read the message from Laud was a variation on the theme.

“Oh, fuck no! Tom, you can’t accept!”

He made a face. “I’ll have to check with Veleda or somebody else who’d know the protocol. But I’m not actually sure I can refuse. Legally speaking — well, ecclesiastically legally speaking — I think this is more like being conscripted than volunteering. You know how it is in this day and age — half of your top clergymen are political appointees.”

“I don’t give a damn! I don’t want my husband to be a fucking bishop! I’m just a trashy country girl hillbilly! I want to get laid once in a while!”

Tom laughed. “Episcopalian clergy aren’t Catholics, honey. They — we — don’t take vows of celibacy.”

“Doesn’t matter! How can I possibly screw a goddam bishop?”

His grin widened. “Come here and I’ll show you.”


An hour or so later, Rita was much calmer. Not quite mollified, but close.

“Well, I guess there’s one upside to the whole thing,” she said, her head nestled on his shoulder.

“Hmm?” Tom’s eyes were closed. He’d have been purring, if humans were equipped to do so.

“You can get Ursula out of our hair. Send her to Dresden to do her proselytizing. Let her drive Gretchen Richer nuts. It’d serve her right since this is all her fault in the first place.”

His eyes opened. “I’m not sure I have the authority to do that. Ursula is just laity, not clergy.”

“Says who?” Rita levered herself up on an elbow and looked down on him. “Your church ordains female priests. I know it does.”

“Well, yeah — up-time. But here…”

His eyes were wide open, now.

Rita laughed and slapped his chest. Which was like slapping a side of beef. “Oh, Laud will have a shit fit! Welcome to the seventeenth century, way-too-smart-for-his-own-good husband of mine. What should we call it? Hey, I know — the Bishop Wars.”


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20 Responses to 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 26

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    Bravo! This was absolutely hilarious! Eric proved that he still can deliver!

    • Greg Noel says:

      Concur! Of all the possibilities, CoE simply never occurred to me.

    • dave o says:

      Gretchen was probably unaware how deeply contemporary Anglicans were committed to Ceasaropapism. This would not be popular with her, nor is it, at least as far as I know, a feature of uptime Episcopalianism.

      If Tom has to take time off to go to the Netherlands to be made Bishop, so that Gretchen can be made an Episcopalian, how will it affect the campaign against Bavaria? Is Tom the only one available who can command the two 10 inch guns to breach Munich’s walls?

      • Cobbler says:

        I don’t get it. You can’t become an Anglican/Episcopalian without the intervention of a bishop? That doesn’t sound right to me. A bishop would have no time for anything but laying hands on new converts—or whatever it is he does. Surely he has better things to do.

        Why not bring Mohammed to the mountain? Gretchen has her own airplane, at least for now. She can fly to Magdeburg or Amsterdam and get inducted or confirmed or whatever.

        Not that this isn’t entertaining. I just don’t get it.

        • Andy says:

          I guess they can’t make Gretchen an Episcopalian without a priest. But you can’t have a priest without a bishop.

          There’s a yak which needs shaving.

          • hank says:

            As what’s called a cradle Episcopalean let me clarify a few things:
            The stance of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (our official title since the 1780’s or ’90’s) is that any person who has recieved a valid Christian Baptism, which only requires that the person performing the ceremony be themselves a baptized Christian and that certain things be said and done correctly (no Priest required) is allowed to partake in any of the Rites and Sacraments of the church. this has been our official position for as long as I can remember, altho it used to be traditional to wait until after recieving the Sacrament of Confirmation before regularly recieving Communion.
            Confirmation is intended as a reaffirmation of baptisimal vows by those who have reached the age of reason and requires a Bishop.
            Ordination to the Deaconate or the Priesthood requires a Bishop.
            Ordination as a Bishop requires 3 Bishop’s. This was a problem faced by the PECUSA in the 1780’s-1790’s as there were no American Bishops and the CofE, at first, refused to ordain anyone who refused to take the Oath of Loyalty to the King of England as part of teh rite. This was finally finessed and a total of 4 Americans had been ordained as Bishop’s by the early 1790’s.
            Some of the groups who have schismed from the PECUSA since the 1970’s for various, IMHO, lame reasons may see things differently but I really couldn’t care less what they think. ( I don’t much like parts of the ’78 prayer book either, but it ain’t worth a schism and as for the ordination of women and LGBT persons as priests, no problem)(I was a teenager when this all went down in the 1970’s and I thought the uproar silly, even if I did, and do, prefer the Elizabethan english versions, Rite I for those who’ve looked through a 1978 PECUSA prayer book, the changes from the 1928 prayer book to Rite I were trivial.)
            D.H. “Hank” Tiffany

        • Doug Lampert says:

          If Gretchen is going to Dresden as an Episcopalian, and needs to publicly demonstrate her membership in the church, then she needs a Priest.

          It’s the need for a Priest for Dresden, not Gretchen’s conversion, that requires a Bishop.

          They have Episcopalian Priests available but not a surplus to send one to Dresden with Gretchen. Once they have a Bishop, he can ordain a priest and send the Priest to Dresden.

          Ursula is specifically mentioned as the likely priest.

          • hank says:

            Ursala could also be ordained to the Deaconate (Transitonal Deacon in current lingo) while she studies up for the Priesthood.
            As a Deacon (or even as a Lay Reader) she could lead Morning and Evening Prayer (aka the Daily Office, until the 1970’s these were the main service, even on Sunday’s, of the PECUSA) and even the occasional Communion (Holy Eucharist, Mass) service if she had access to some Reserved Sacraments consecrated by a Priest at a previous service. Since a Priest would need to come to Dresden to quiz her on her studies from time to time, this could work.
            She could preside at the celebration of a Marriage but could not give the Nuptial Blessing, which is reserved for a Prist.
            Unction is unclear to me, the rubrics only specify “the Minister of the Congregation” without specifying the ecclesastical rank of said Minister. Burial of the Dead may be a Deacon or Ly Reader “When the services of a Priest cannot be obtained.”
            Absolution is strictly the province of a Priest or Bishop.
            All of the above comes from the Rubrics (service instruction in italic print nobody bothers to read :)) in the 1978 PECUSA Book of Common Prayer.

        • Robert Krawitz says:

          She doesn’t want to fly if she can at all possibly avoid it.

  2. LenS says:

    John Simpson just about rounds it out, with Harry Leifferts probably lurking around somewhere. It’s great to have Eric back in sole charge. I’m looking forward to having the old crowd of major characters all together in a single volume again. Though I guess it will be hard to get Eddie back across the Atlantic.

  3. Cobbler says:

    In our timeline Robert Herrick was an Anglican vicar. His benefice—a royal gift—was the Devonshire village of Dean Prior. Robert lost that living during the Commonwealth, but regained it after the Restoration.

    Herrick wasn’t just a vicar. He was also a prolific poet. Many of his verses treasure English rural life through the seasons. The man is best known for his carpe diem poem, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.

    Gather ye rose-buds while ye may, 
    Old Time is still a-flying; 
    And this same flower that smiles today 
    Tomorrow will be dying. 

    The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, 
    The higher he’s a-getting, 
    The sooner will his race be run, 
    And nearer he’s to setting. 

    That age is best which is the first, 
    When youth and blood are warmer; 
    But being spent, the worse, and worst 
    Times still succeed the former. 

    Then be not coy, but use your time, 
    And while ye may, go marry; 
    For having lost but once your prime, 
    You may forever tarry.

    That always struck me as unlikely advice from a vicar. I guess Robert the poet was stronger than Robert the preacher.

    In those days lumber was cheap and metal expensive. Coopers made wooden barrels and buckets and tankards. The barrel was an engineering marvel. A tun barrel, bound with withes, held about 250 wine gallons. The bulge helped keep the barrel liquid-tight. It also let one skilled man roll and steer it. At least on the level ground of wharf and warehouse. Once he got it where it was going, he rocked the barrel back and forth, building enough momentum to flip it on end. Who needs a fork lift? A half tun barrel was called a butt or pipe. George, the Duke of Clarence, drowned in a pipe of Malmsey. A bucket with one stave extended above the rim for a handle was called a piggin. It was an inexpensive way to make a pail, ladle, a drinking vessel.

    Why am I boring on about cooperage? Because the vicar of Dean Prior had a pet pig. Because Herrick taught his cosset pig to drink out of a tankard. Because it would take a better man than I to resist:

    Dean Prior’s prelate-poet’s pig, pigging a piggin of perry.

  4. Robert H. Woodman says:

    This scene was belly-laugh funny.

    Thanks, Eric!

  5. Shanuson says:

    was Tom Simpson not just at the front with Mike Stearn in Mainburg, Bavaria?

    • laclongquan says:

      He lead his remaining troops out of the betrayed fortress back to Regensburg to defend them against Bavarian invasion. His force is not full strength due to the fighting and the withdrawing. Why would the power that be send that under-strengthed regiment to frontline when they have fuller regiments AND the need to defend Regensburg?

      • Steve Z says:

        Tom Simpson lead his retreat to Regensburg in January 1636, this is happening in April 1636, giving plenty of time to elapse for the 3rd Division to move to the area and combine forces.

    • Ed Thomas says:

      So. Rita’s his very own camp follower.

  6. Steve says:

    Gretchen going CoE/Episcopal was the obvious move as soon as it was clear she wouldn’t become a Jew. It is, after all, the Protestant sect that gets derisively called “Catholic Light” or “more Catholic than the Catholics” (depending on who’s deriding it), so it would’ve been a way to follow the letter but not spirit of Gustav’s conditions.

    • hank says:

      “Catholic Light: All the ceremony but only 2/3’s the gilt.” “Catholics who are too lazy to learn Latin.” (thats an old one) and so on are references to the High Church wing of the PECUSA. (not to be confused with “Smells & Bells” which is more properly called Ritualist and not always synonymous with High Church) This is the wing of the church that, more or less, descended from Henry VIII’s “Catholisicm without the Pope.” This wing was in severe eclipse in the USA until ca 1880.
      On the other side are the Low Church (sometimes confused with Liberal, again, not truly synonymous) wing who are, equally loosely, descended from the English clerics who hid out from Henry’s daughter Mary by going to Geneva and got infected with Calvanism. This wing includes those Puritans who did not wind up becoming Presbyterians or Congregationalists in later years.
      The third major wing, sometimes called Broad Church, is much more poorly defined that even those loose definitions, but is basicaly descended from Archbishop Cranmer (who wrote/translated the original Anglican Book of Common Prayer during the reign of Henry’s son Edward, to which Elizabeth I hewed, allowing no changes) and his supporters who were heavily influenced by the Lutherans.
      If that seems well-polished, I’ve given that talk to many a confused person at Coffee Hour (the 8th Sacarment of the PECUSA, not listed in the BCP) over the years.
      As hinted at above, we got lots more ways to divide ourselves up but that gets *really* confusing.
      Oh and the nickname I’ve always thought best is “The Bridge Church” because we balance on the edge between the Roman and/or Greek Catholic/Orthodox and the Protestant side of Christianity. which of course means we’re always loosing, and occasionaly gaining, members from both ends. Such fun
      I have actually met, btw, the occasional Episcopalean fundie (and even one Creationist! and she was a “cradle Episcopalean like me!) but they are thankfully rare.
      ps “the Rupublican Party at Prayer” is another old nickname (mostly from New England, IIRC) that no longer applies. The Moderate and liberal wings of the GOP to which that label reffered are pretty much dead. (heck, what used to be the Far Right wing of the GOP is now being called “moderate” by the pundits!)(full disclosure: I was tossed out of the GOP in 1978 for saying Reagan was a loon.)

  7. Robert Krawitz says:

    One of the funniest passages in 1632-dom I’ve read. And I’m an atheist!

    Mike is going to have a blast with this when he finds out.

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