Legions Of Pestilence – Snippet 47
“In any case, touching or not, it is absolutely necessary, because Claudia is not able to persuade Bernhard to agree to accept Nicolas François and Claude as regents in Lorraine and Bar, a lapse on her part which I consider very disappointing. I believe his final word on the matter was that we were welcome to ship them off somewhere to breed a generation of heirs, but that was as far as he was willing to go, and the ‘somewhere’ had better be as far as possible from anywhere close to here. If, therefore, you have some suitable occupation available for them, preferably on the Hungarian border, Fernando and I would be most grateful. They both really are quite hard-working and competent.”
She nodded. For the time being, it seemed, in the interest of continued cooperation with the County of Burgundy, it would be better to get every Lorrainer but the comparatively staid Duchess Nicole herself well out of the way. Out of sight, out of mind. The grand duke had a choleric temperament. She did not envy Claudia the task of dealing with him.
“Nicole has consented to an October wedding, saying that Charles deserved no mourning period at all, but the citizens of Nancy do deserve a couple of months in which to prepare the appropriate festivities, so if you would be kind enough to send me a patent of ennoblement for Johann Aldringen as expeditiously as possible, I remain, your devoted sister. Maria Anna R.”
Claudia looked at the latest letter. “Signed, ‘Meiner Herrin dinstwolliger treuer freund allezeitt.'”
“My lady’s true friend, willing to serve her at all times,” Marcie said meditatively. “That’s practically effusive.” She looked at Claudia. “The thing is, I’m beginning to think he actually means it. You might want to consider that.”
The grand duchess laughed. “Have you taken a look at the topic?”
Marcie looked at the body of the letter.
Since the up-time encyclopedias indicate that the Moselle valley from Nancy through Metz to Thionville was highly industrialized, with coal-mining and steel manufacture, Fernando would appreciate it if you would send the “steel girl” or up-time engineeress to consult with Aldringen, his administrative staff, and Abraham Fabert on the resources there.
She cleared her throat. “I’m moving again?”
The grand duchess answer was short and to the point. “Yes. To Metz. Fabert, in addition to being a soldier and local politician, is an iron-master. Some years ago, he took over the management of his father’s works at Moyoeuvre. That’s where the Conroy runs into the Orne River, a few miles above Thionville. Since 1632, he has channelized the water power and made such progress that the works now profit him to the amount of approximately sixty thousand livres per year. He is seriously interested in further improvements and modernization.”
“Where’s Matt going to be?”
“I don’t recall at the moment. Check with Motzer if Knorr doesn’t know. You may be excused.”
Marcie bowed herself out of the room.
Claudia picked up a quill and began a letter. “Unser hertzgeliebtester herr unndt gemahl.”
This was, after all, one request from her “most dearly and heartily loved lord and husband” with which she could easily comply with no trouble to anybody.
Now that All the Inquiries Have Come Back
“Nachdem unsere parteyen undt aussgeschickte kuntschaftenwider zurück kommen…”
“On the basis of the intelligence that has come back to all concerned parties,” Hermann of Hesse-Rotenburg said, “with all due respect, Your Majesty, in my office as Secretary of State, it is my duty to inform you that the settlements in the proposed treaty are the best we can hope for. The USE has added the wealth of Cologne itself and its hinterland, Bonn, and the other right-bank territories of the Archdiocese of Cologne, if not the remainder of the left-bank lands, which Fernando has annexed and secularized. The settlements that have been negotiated around the Republic of Essen in regard to the former principalities of Jülich, Cleves, Mark, and Berg are also incorporated. This treaty, combined with the modus vivendi, represents the best we can hope for–in the northeast, in Swabia, and in regard to Lorraine and…” He paused. “Burgundy.”
Wilhelm Wettin looked at the proposed treaty articles with distaste. “At least we’re headed for the cold season and it looks like the plague has been, for the most part, kept out of the USE. There have been no more than the usual occasional report of local outbreaks. For a lot of which, in all honesty, we have to thank my brother Bernhard. Yes, his main interest, without the slightest doubt, was keeping it out of Burgundy and then, after his and Fernando’s maneuvering during the spring and summer, out of Lorraine. That did, though, have the effect of keeping it almost entirely out of the USE, for which we can only be thankful.”
Philipp Sattler nodded. “True. Our earlier considerations were directed toward what benefit we might derive from having Fernando and Bernhard set up a military screen, no matter how narrow, between the USE and France in Lorraine. Now, it seems that a screen can have other benefits–let other countries expend their resources keeping the plague out. That’s been the usual pattern, the public health people tell us. The plague waves start at the Mediterranean and sweep northeast, usually. With quarantines at the French and Italian borders…”
“It can still come in through the Balkans,” Amalie pointed out.
Hermann made a face. “Oh, yes. The Balkans we have always with us. They are like the Biblical poor.”
“So, in the light of everything…”
Philipp Sattler decided to direct people’s attention back to the paperwork lying on the table in front of them. “Given the unexpected strength of the Saxon resistance, the potential problems with Poland, the possibility of chaos in the Balkans, truly, Your Majesty, I, like the honorable Secretary of State, do not really see any practical alternative to compromising with Bernhard and Fernando. You don’t have to like it, given that they have made off with quite a lot of territory that you would have preferred to include in the USE. However, with the ‘carrot’ that has been negotiated in regard to a possible eventual reversion of the Grand Duchy of Burgundy should Claudia de Medici and Bernhard remain childless…” He let his voice trail off.
Gustavus Adolphus, emperor of the United States of Europe, agreed to sign both the modus vivendi and proposed treaty. He would sign reluctantly, but he would sign. On one condition.
“That is absolute,” Gustavus said. “Non-negotiable. The final version of the treaty must include a provision that I have the right to repurchase–using my own funds, not USE tax funds–the Protestant territories that Counts Georg Johann and Georg Gustav of Pfalz-Veldenz first pawned in 1583 and subsequently sold to Lorraine in 1608 in order to establish them as an independent principality for my aunt’s surviving sons and grandsons.
“As it happens,” Gustavus added, a beatifically innocent smile on his face, “Johann Friedrich is already in Mainz, serving in one of Nils Brahe’s regiments. He spent most of the summer in Swabia.”
Wettin looked at him. “Very convenient.”
The emperor nodded. “I thought it would be. I am glad that everyone else finds it so.”
Everyone else agreed to find it so.
The emperor withdrew.
“Convenient?” Hermann of Hesse-Rotenburg raised his eyebrows. “That’s not precisely the word I would use for it, considering that those are the territories constituting Henriette of Lorraine’s little principality of Pfalzburg. She’s currently in deep negotiations with the Province of the Upper Rhine about commerce and industrialization. I’ve received a whole sheaf of reports from Johann Moritz of Nassau-Siegen. For what it’s worth, Scaglia–the Savoyard who has become one of Fernando’s main advisers–considers her to be very clever.”