1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 57

1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 57

Mackay’s shoulders hunched slightly, as if he were bracing himself against a gale. “‘I’m a cavalry officer,” he muttered.

“So what? You can’t engage in Christian charity without losing your spurs or something?”

She pushed into the doorway, forcing Alex to the side. Then, pointed a finger at those portions of Freising which were visible. Which wasn’t all that much, since the domicile the USE army had sequestered for Alex and Julie’s use wasn’t on either of the town’s little squares. All that could be seen was a narrow street — not much more than an alley, really — and some nondescript buildings much like the one they were in. Most of those, as was true of buildings everywhere in Freising, had been seized by the Third Division to provide housing for its officers and men. In the distance beyond, perhaps two hundred yards away, they could see a church spire rising above the roofs.

“There’s a whole family still there one street over — no, two streets, depending on what you call a ‘street’. A husband who’s got some sort of disability, I think from an accident, his wife who’s holding everything together, her mother, who’s so frail I think she’d blow away in a breeze, her mother’s second husband — not her dad, her stepdad — who’s even more frail than Grandma is, and five kids of whom two are orphans she took in. That’s what your” — here she did a fair imitation of Alex’s brogue — “‘desp’rate Bavarian blackguards’ actually look like.”

She lowered the finger. “The oldest kid’s a girl named Mettchen, somewhere around sixteen years old. I already talked to them and Mettchen will be coming over every day to help me out with whatever I need.” The finger of accusation became an open hand, palm up. “For which we are going to pay them, so cough up, buddy.”


“Yes, I insist.”


“Do I need to drag out the Wand of Womanly Persuasion?”



The town’s Rathaus had been one of the very first buildings in Freising seized by the Third Division. Sieges of a major city like Munich were protracted affairs, and the division’s commanding general had seen no reason his troops shouldn’t enjoy their stay in Bavaria as much as possible, within the necessary limits dictated by military discipline.

So, the tavern in the Rathaus’ basement was operating at full capacity, around the clock. There wasn’t much food left, and wouldn’t be until the supply barges coming down the Isar arrived. By now, units of the SoTF National Guard had taken control of the Danube all the way down to Passau, well past the confluence of the Danube with the Isar. That provided the Third Division with an excellent water route down which it could bring all its supplies.

But if the food was low, the beer wasn’t. Since the Hangman Regiment had been established in the first place as the Third Division’s disciplinary unit, it had been placed in charge of the Rathaus. From the point of view of the regiment’s commander, Lt. Colonel Jeff Higgins, that had the up side of providing him with the best quarters in the town. On the down side, it meant he was now in charge of a bunch of drunks.

Would-be drunks, anyway. He’d established a limit of three steins of beer per visit and only two visits a day — with records meticulously kept.

And bribes meticulously taken also, he didn’t doubt. But by now Jeff’s sergeants knew him quite well. The DM didn’t mind soldiers enjoying themselves, but if things got out of hand he’d crack down hard so it was best to make sure everything stayed within reasonable limits.

The sergeants’ task was made easier by the fact that almost all of Freising’s inhabitants had fled and taken refuge inside Munich’s walls. The worst disciplinary problems with soldiers occupying an enemy town or city usually came about when liquor was combined with the presence of young women. But Jeff had had his adjutants check and there was only one family with a teenage girl still in the city — and that family was under the protection of Julie Sims. Jeff saw to it that the word was passed around through the whole division.

Nobody in the USE army was going to annoy Julie Sims, certainly not a unit as heavily made of CoC recruits as the Third Division. Partly, because they knew what an asset she’d been to their cause. Partly also, of course, because they knew that Julie never went anywhere without her Wand of Womanly Persuasion, which no soldier in his right mind — or dead drunk, for that matter — wanted to have applied to him.

All in all, as Lt. Colonel Jeff Higgins relaxed in his quarters on the top floor of the Rathaus, with his feet propped up, a book in one hand and a stein of beer in the other, things were looking good. War still sucked, but some parts of it were a lot less sucky than others.

Royal Palace

Magdeburg, capital of the United States of Europe

Gustav II Adolf, Emperor of the United States of Europe, King of Sweden, High King of the Union of Kalmar, contemplated his next title. Should he stick to the existing “emperor,” with a newly-enlarged empire? Rather greatly enlarged, too, since Bavaria was one of the bigger realms in the continent.

Or should he add “King of Bavaria” to the list? But he only spent a short time considering that option before setting it aside. It simply wouldn’t do for a Lutheran king to be ruling a Catholic kingdom. If he was going to exercise direct power over Bavaria, it would be better to have that power filtered through the USE’s provincial structure.

Except that… For a moment, he silently cursed the religious compromise he’d made with Mike Stearns. By the terms of that agreement, Bavaria would be able to create its own provincial established church if it chose to do so, and he had no doubt at all the stubborn papists would insist on hanging on to their superstitious creed.

Better than being “King of Bavaria,” certainly, but still not good.

That left… What was the term the English usurper had used? The Oliver Cromwell fellow?

The emperor rose from his armchair and went over to one of the bookcases in his library. This one was devoted entirely to down-time copies of up-time texts from Grantville.

He found the volume he was seeking — The Century of Revolution, by someone named Hill — and quickly found the entry he was looking for. As he had many times before, Gustav Adolf silently blessed the American concept of the “index.” Since he still had enormous power as the monarch of his own nation, he’d decreed two years earlier than all books printed in Sweden were required to have indexes. Yes, all of them! There’d be none of this up-time slackness about not requiring indexes in books of fiction.

Lord Protector.

He mused on the matter as he resumed his seat. Yes, he thought, that would do quite nicely. Lord Protector of Bavaria. The very uncertainty of the term — what exactly is a “lord protector”? — would allow him to sidestep the awkward issue of religion. Let the Bavarian heretics manage their own internal affairs, so long as he controlled the duchy’s foreign relations.

That matter settled in his mind, Gustav Adolf decided to re-read the report he’d received yesterday from General Stearns. He rose and went to look for it. That took a bit more time because he couldn’t remember which trash can he’d thrown it into after he balled up the report, cursed it mightily — nothing silent there — and threw it away.

After he found it, he unwadded the report, flattened it out as best as possible, and read through it again.

Which didn’t take long. Mike Stearns had faults — a great many of them, in the emperor’s current mood — but one thing he was not was pointlessly loquacious.


He read through it again.

“I am not fooled,” he growled. But he knew perfectly well that Stearns didn’t think he was fooled. The man was a sneaking duplicitous maneuvering scoundrel, but he wasn’t disrespectful. The purpose of the report was not to fool Gustav Adolf but to fool anyone else to whom the emperor might show the report as a way of demonstrating that his now-public clash with the so-called “Prince of Germany” — ridiculous title, not to mention a presumptuous one — was entirely justified.


“Perhaps it’s just as well,” he mused. Then, rising again, he went over to the small fireplace that was always active whenever he was in residence and tossed the report into the flames. That wasn’t the sort of thing he wanted to leave lying around.

Lord Protector. It did have a nice ring to it.


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24 Responses to 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught – Snippet 57

  1. VernonNemitz says:

    King Charles of England might have a stroke when he hears Gustav using the title of “Lord Protector”. Good riddance!

    • dave o says:

      With his broken hip, Charles probably has bed sores. Hopefully fatal ones.

      It’s good to see that Gustav seems to have no intention to leave any Wittlesbach in power.

    • Tweeky says:

      Or it might give him a heart-attack.

    • Stewart says:

      Since “Cousin Chuck” comes from the more bloody-minded side of the clan and, frankly, the less competent side,
      (1) I am again glad they spell the name wrong
      (2) couldn’t happen to a nicer guy …..

      — Stewart (with the proper spelling)

  2. Gary D says:

    He may be Lord Protector of Bavaria but have Mad Max”s brother Albrect as hereditary senator to keep the natives from getting restless.

  3. Robert H. Woodman says:

    Since he still had enormous power as the monarch of his own nation, he’d decreed two years earlier than all books printed in Sweden were required to have indexes. Yes, all of them! There’d be none of this up-time slackness about not requiring indexes in books of fiction.

    I chuckled at the idea of all works of fiction having indices.

    • So are you proposing that eARCs and ebooks should be rigged so as not to be searchable?

      • Doug Lampert says:

        Assembling an index is non-trivial labor if you’re typesetting by hand. The author can’t do it as the pagination will be set by the typesetter. So it needs to be done at the print-shop, presumably based on the proofs. Thus an index represents a significant investment in labor, presumably by someone other than the author, and thus an expense that acts as a barrier to publication.

        In the case of hand set type, it is an effort and expense that may well need to be repeated for any reprint at a different shop that uses a different font. (AFAIK a punch set cost substantially more than everything else in a print shop combined, people are not going to buy another punch set so they can duplicate the original font.)

        Basically, GA has substantially increased the difficulty of publishing in Sweden. And in the case of fiction the reader will rarely want to know where “every scene that mentions Julie Sims is in the book”, you read fiction sequentially, the index is for non-sequential use. The added expense for fiction is simply a useless barrier to publication.

        Fortunately, printing fiction as a series of pamphlets or unbound sheets, and then letting the purchaser have them bound isn’t that hard. I suspect if GA walked into a bookseller in Sweden he’d find few works of fiction with indices on sale.

        • Bret Hooper says:

          Doug: “Assembling an index is non-trivial labor ,strong>if . . . .” [emphasis mine] Never mind the ,strong>if. Assembling an index is non-trivial labor period. And when the work one is trying to index keeps growing (about ten million words so far and increasing at least every odd-numbered month) Even references by chapter instead of by page, so the index applies to hardcover and mass market paperback and electronic editions (and any others that might be published later), don’t reduce the labor to trivial proportions. The number of entries as of this writing stands at 11,378, and will increase when I finish recording 35MM from my now-completed work file, and more when 35WR arrives from Amazon and I can complete the work file on it and record that data in RoFindex and again in January when 36OO arrives from Amazon, and . . . .

          I think you get the picture.

          • Jeff Ehlers says:

            Be a good way to employ people, though.

          • Robert Krawitz says:

            Computers can make maintaining an index a lot easier by allowing reference links, which are then converted to page numbers when typeset. Creating one in the first place I would think would still take a lot of work; you have to decide which terms and phrases are worth indexing and which aren’t, and which references are significant enough to exit and which aren’t.

            • Robert H. Woodman says:

              In 1990, using an IBM PC XT computer running DOS and an early version of WordPerfect, I had to index my doctoral dissertation. It was one of the more challenging parts of writing that beast, even with a computer. :-)

        • llywrch says:

          Well, that’s if you follow a 20th-century definition of an index.

          I happen to have a photo-reprint of a book published in 1710 — Balthazar Tellez, _The Travels of The Jesuits In Ethiopia — & the original has an index. The non-fiction work also has a number of marginal notes that provide a guide to the text — which was the practice of books at this time. (I don’t know if this was the practice in the 17th century, but I’ve seen it in many of the books published in the 18th century; by the 19th century the material of these marginal notes was gathered at the beginning of each chapter as an abstract of that subdivision.) From a bit of examination, the index appears to have been created from collecting these marginal notes with the page number, & arranging the material in alphabetical order.

          Although the index of this book is not comprehensive — to track the mention of some items in this book I had to compile my own list of pages — it is better than nothing. And is something that a printer of the time could create with a minimum of labor; as long as there were marginal notes, I expect an apprentice with some literacy could be assigned to this task & produce an index with a day’s labor.

          BTW, it was the practice in some countries as late as the 19th century to put the table of contents in the _back_ of the book. Which was a surprise the first couple times I encountered this practice.

      • Robert H. Woodman says:

        By all means make them searchable. I love the searchable features of ebooks (I’ve bought only one eARC and will never do so again). But as others have noted, it is a non-trivial task, and in pre-computer days (as opposed to computers), it was even more laborious. It gave me a chuckle that the Emperor can simply decree that all books, even works of fiction, have an index.

    • Jeff Ehlers says:

      Given the number of times I’ve had to hunt through a fiction book looking for a reference that I recalled but couldn’t locate, I wholly sympathize with Gustav here.

    • Mark L says:

      Juan was taught from out the best edition,
      Expurgated by learnéd men, who place
      Judiciously, from out the schoolboy’s vision,
      The grosser parts; but, fearful to deface
      Too much their modest bard by this omission,
      And pitying sore his mutilated case,
      They only add them all in an appendix,
      Which saves, in fact, the trouble of an index;

      (Don Juan, Canto I, Verse XLIV)

  4. There is certainly here a demonstration of the foolishness of hereditary monarchs, making an error that the head of the local typesetters union would instantly recognize.

  5. Andy says:

    As an Uptime-German I still find the idea of Magdeburg as the capital of the USE hilarious.

    And the Bavarians are still mumbling about breaking loose or raising trouble every now and again.

    • Tweeky says:

      And the Bavarians are still mumbling about breaking loose or raising trouble every now and again.”

      The problem with that is the last time that happened a certain corporal started the second world war.

    • Bret Hooper says:

      Andy: Sie Sprach: “As an Uptime-German I still find the idea of Magdeburg as the capital of the USE hilarious.”

      I wish I could remember genug Deutsch zu schreiben dies alles in Deutsch, aber ich kann nicht.

      Vielleicht ich bin dense, aber ich weiss nicht why es ist hilarious. Bitte mir enlighten. Danke schön.

      • Jeff says:

        Since in OTL Magdeburg didn’t get an Imperial reconstruction programme, it never regained its pre-1630 importance. It’s just a pretty minor city in the here and now.

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