The author wishes to express his appreciation to Virginia DeMarce, Gorg Huff and Kerryn Offord, whose contributions to this article were substantial.

Map by Gorg Huff.

General information about Magdeburg:

The general plan of Magdeburg is that the long axis is more or less north/south and the short axis is east/west.

The Elbe River runs along the east side of Magdeburg, with the current flowing north.

Magdeburg in 1631 is shaped roughly like a tall and narrow right triangle, with the hypotenuse running from the southwest corner to the northeast corner. The city is a bit over half a mile (.95 km) wide at the widest point and not quite two miles (approx 3 km) long. This amounts to somewhat less than a square mile of city area. It's small. Buildings are crammed together. OT, the city's population on January 1, 1631, was approximately 36,000, but that probably included several thousand people from the surrounding area that had taken refuge within the city walls. (See further notes about population below.)

Magdeburg is divided into two parts: the old city (Altstadt) to the south, and the new city (Neustadt) to the north. A wide moat encircles the old city, and the northern arm of the moat divides the old city from the new city. The moat flows from the Elbe, around the old city, and back to the Elbe. We think the moat is formally named Der Magdeburg Burggraben, but everyone just calls it Der Grosse Graben—the Big Ditch.

The city had fortification walls surrounding it. The fortifications around the old city appear to have been somewhat stronger than those around the new city.

Roughly two-thirds of the city was owned by private individuals and was subject to the authority of the city council (Rat). The remaining one-third of the city was owned by the arch-bishopric itself, and even though it was contained within the walls of the city, was not subject to the laws and authority of the city council. This consisted mainly of the churches and associated housing, some of which was destroyed in the sack. There were also a few Catholic properties (a couple of monasteries, for example), that were not under the authority of the city council or the arch-bishopric.

The area south of the Altstadt at one time had been built up with buildings and was called the Sudenburg. It was leveled by the Swedish garrison before Tilly and Pappenheim arrived to conduct the siege that led to the sack of the city.

Information about the Sack of Magdeburg and the Ring of Fire:

Pre-sack Magdeburg had approximately 1,900 households, and according to Otto Gericke there was a population within the Altstadt of approximately 26,000. In addition, there were perhaps another 9,000 people who were from the surrounding areas who had the legal right to take refuge in the city, and probably about 2,000 or so garrison troops. (This was not the high point of Magdeburg’s population. In the late 1550s, the city’s population is reliably estimated at about 40,000. A plague in 1597 killed about 13,000 people, and another in 1625-1626 killed several thousand more.)

The city was heavily damaged during Tilly’s sack and systematically leveled by Pappenheim’s occupation forces before he withdrew. The Dom and some buildings near it in the southeast corner of the old city were not destroyed, nor were the fishermen shacks and the tanneries on the riverside, but very little else escaped major damage, and most buildings were burned to their foundations, particularly in the southwest quadrant of the city.

(An interesting side note: Pappenheim would not have been a favorite person amongst the surviving citizens of Magdeburg. Among other things, he:

Packed the cellar of the Dom with 136 tuns [estimated to be about 300,000 pounds/ 136,000 kg] of gunpowder with an eye toward reducing it to rubble. Only the rain and the rapid approach of Swedish troops forestalled that.

Stripped all the metal organ pipes from the Dom’s organ and sold them off for the value of the metal.

Allowed a few remaining residents to sift through the ashes of destroyed houses and salvage any metal objects or blobs that survived the fires, which in effect robbed the actual owners and tenants [or their heirs] of the right of salvage of their own property. [Surviving citizens were surprisingly bitter about this.]

All things considered, ally or no ally, Pappenheim probably shouldn’t show his face in Magdeburg any time soon.)

We are assuming that the butterfly effect touched the Sack of Magdeburg and the subsequent occupation, but that the sack was not quite as severe as it was in our timeline. The sack began with initial breaches in the walls on May 20, 1631, and the Ring of Fire happened on or about May 25, 1631. So, we may not be able to butterfly out the main atrocities against the people, in which some 30,000 residents were reported to have been massacred. Also, in our timeline Pappenheim withdrew from Magdeburg in January 1632 after doing as much destruction as he could. We will posit, however, that post-ROF Gustavus Adolphus moved on Magdeburg sooner, and that Pappenheim actually left Magdeburg in December 1631. However, we can butterfly out some of the damage to the city. Two main effects:

Less destruction by Tilly's troops of the buildings in the city, particularly the churches. This will speed up the rebuilding.

Less destruction of the fortification walls around the city. They will be restored ASAP.

(Why rebuild the walls? Other people lived around that city. They held legal contracts, for which they paid [like modern insurance policies] to the effect that when armies came by, they, their families, and X amount of their possessions could come inside the walls for safety. No walls = many lawsuits for breach of contract, and substantial loss of revenue.

For most of the time, these contracts were a regular and fairly secure source of income for a city or town government, cost them nothing, and reduced the taxes they had to impose on their own citizens. In an emergency, they’re the reason why you find 9,000 refugees packed into Magdeburg on top of the ordinary, much smaller, population.

In addition, in our timeline Gustav II Adolph wanted new and improved fortifications built back ASAP and took a lively interest in it. He had Baner appoint an engineer to begin surveying work to that end almost immediately. We assume that will still be the case in the 1632-verse.)

(Note: not all of the damage in Magdeburg was from the sack or from Pappenheim’s planned destruction. There was a fire in the Neustadt in the 1620’s that destroyed much of that sector of the city. As of 1631, little rebuilding had occurred.)

Information about the rebuilding of Magdeburg:

Ludwig Fürst von Anhalt-Coethen, as Swedish administrator of the archbishoprics of Halberstadt and Magdeburg, on behalf of Gustav Adolph, commissioned Otto Gericke to develop a plan to rebuild the city. His idealized 1632 plan was dated 10 April 1632.

In February 1632, Ludwig of Anhalt-Coethen, on behalf of Gustav Adolph, issued a decree permitting former residents to return to the city. However, they were to build only temporary shelters until such time as Gustav Adolph had approved the new city plan. No permanent buildings were to be constructed, whether homes or businesses, until the new plan was in effect.

As in our timeline, Gustav appointed Otto Gericke as the chief engineer to rebuild the city. Per “In the Navy” (Ring of Fire), we will allow that the big boulevards and squares get built, but otherwise most rebuilding will occur on pre-sack lots and back streets. The fact that many/most of the property owners and lessees were probably killed or displaced in the sack will provide a huge muddle about who owns what, which Gericke with Gustav's authority behind him will be able to take advantage of. By the time heirs are identified, located, and notified, much of the work will have been substantially done, presenting the new owners with a fait accompli of what amounts to eminent domain.

Magdeburg is not large, so most new development and all industrial development will occur outside the walls west and north of the city. “In the Navy” indicates that there is much hurried temporary (and thus probably very shoddy) construction of residential buildings for workers amongst the industrial sites. Up-timers will casually refer to this area as Boomtown.

Churches will be rebuilt on previous sites.

The northeast quarter of the old city was apparently the poorest part of the pre-sack city, centered on St. James/St. Jacob church. That condition still remains. Ironically, that quadrant, particularly around the church, suffered comparatively little damage, even from the looting troops. Sometimes it is an advantage to be poor.

Per the beginning of 1634: The Baltic War, the refinery was south of the old city, presumably covering all or part of what had been known as the Sudenburg.

Per the beginning of 1634: The Baltic War, the navy yard was north of the new city.

The riverside of the old city, at least, should contain warehouses for the major merchants and fishermen houses.

The new opera house and arts complex will be built in the southwest corner of the new city.

Pre-ROF, city hall was a large structure in the center of the old city. It will be rebuilt in its previous location.

Hans Richter Square is beside the Dom, and Gustav's new palace fronts on the square in the location where the archbishop's palace was previously located.

Political status of Magdeburg:

Magdeburg the city was previously a part of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg, nominally under the authority of the Archbishop of Magdeburg. In actuality, the archbishopric had fallen under the influence of Brandenburg around 1541, and had subsequently been governed by Protestant administrators.

The fortunes of war allowed the Catholic Archbishop of Magdeburg and Mainz to reassume administration of the archbishopric in 1631, but post-ROF the actual authority and territory of the archbishop and the Erzstift (the chapter of canons associated with the cathedral) was assumed by Gustav II Adolph in his role as Emperor, after which it becomes the Province of Magdeburg. The property owned by the Erzstift, however, will remain with the stift.

Post-ROF, as Gustav’s capitol, Magdeburg is under his ultimate authority, which he will delegate as he sees fit. However, the rights and privileges accorded to the city by various overlords were recognized and preserved at that time. This will complicate Otto Gericke's life.

Within the empire, Magdeburg City gets Reichsstadt status (presumably because Gustav didn’t want the national capital to have a lower status than Hamburg or Frankfurt). The mayor will represent it in the upper house of the USE parliament; representation in Commons will depend on population.

Magdeburg City Council (Magistrat)

On a day to day basis, the authority within the city is:

First, Ludwig Fürst von Anhalt-Coethen, as Swedish administrator of the archbishoprics of Halberstadt and Magdeburg

Second, Christoff Schultze, former lawyer in private practice, formerly held the position of Möllnvoigt (highest administrative official of the archbishop of Magdeburg in managing the archdiocesan property in the city). From January 1632, Swedish administrator in the city. (Think of him as the city manager.) (He was also the stepfather of Otto Gericke.)

Third, the city council (Magistrat). Post-ROF this is a group of younger men than prior to the Sack. These will mostly be 40-somethings trying to entrench their influence for the next quarter century. Many of them can be characterized as greedy, venal, grasping, corporate raider types who will have trouble recognizing that the world is changing all around them as they fight local political turf wars. Not too different, perhaps, from modern politicians. Definitely recognizable as “suits” to the Grantville miners.

Effective with a major reform in 1630, the Magistrat was composed of 24 persons, of whom each year half would be the “ruling” and half would be the “resting” magistracy, taking yearly turns. The previous annual elections of the Magistrat from and by the guilds was thus wholly given up and abandoned. The new council was chosen for life.

It was specifically laid down in the new provisions that at future elections to fill vacancies, the electors (Körherren, voters) were to consider not only the candidate’s guild membership, but also his competence, patriotism, and prior service.

In the place of the previous citizen’s deputation (bürgerliche Ausschuss) of 100 men, there was put a deputation of 50 men chosen and ordained from the citizenry, half of whom (25) were to be on call at all times to advise the Magistrat. The Rat was to solicit the advice of this deputation on all important matters affecting the city.

All of the newly elected council members in 1630 were zealous Protestants and enthusiastic supporters of Christian Wilhelm of Brandenburg, who at that time was the Lutheran administrator of the archdiocese of Magdeburg.

The city council's civic authority is limited to the space within the walls of the city of Magdeburg. However, the city council as a corporation holds property outside the city walls: farms to supply the hospital, managed forest land to provide fuel, etc. So they will possess the landholders' rights as to those territories. It's quite probable that some or a lot of the industrial development was occurring on land owned by the city council corporation.

According to the von Alemann family records, the councils for 1633 and 1634 in OT are as follows:

Regierender Rat – Ruling Council [active council for the year 1633—a member was usually a Ratsherr.]


Georg Kühlewein / Altbürgermeister [former mayor from the previous council—also suspected by some of having Austrian Imperialist leanings]

Johan Westvol / Bürgermeister [mayor/2nd mayor]

Georg Schmidt / Bürgermeister [mayor/1st mayor] (married to Sophie Gericke, Otto Gericke’s older half-sister)

Oßwalt Matthias / Kämmerer [chamberlain/treasurer]

Hermann Körfer / Ratsmitglied [council member] (multiple spellings of his name)

Marcus Kalfförder / Ratsmitglied

Frantz Schoff / Ratsmitglied

    N. Große / Ratsmitglied

    Otto Gericke / Ratsmitglied

    Steffan Lentge / Ratsmitglied (there are about a dozen ways to spell this name, too)

    Ruhender Rat – Resting Council [dormant 1633; would assume the active role in 1634, and the guys above would get the year off to deal with their private business]

    Georg Kühlewein / Bürgermeister

    Georg Schmidt / Ratsmitglied

    Johan Westvol / Ratsmitglied

    David Braunß / Ratsmitglied

    Hermann Körfer / Kämmerer

    Oßwalt Matthias /Ratsmitglied

    Marcus Kalfförder /Ratsmitglied

    Franz Schoff / E. E. Rat

    N. Große /Ratsmitglied

    Otto Gericke / Ratsmitglied

    Steffan Lentge / Ratsmitglied

    Pascha Thomas Senior / Ratsmitglied

    Matthias Helwig Senior / Ratsmitglied

    Wichard Zecheldorff / Ratsmitglied

    Melchior Teufell / Ratsmitglied

    Steffan Lüddeke / Ratsmitglied

    Johan Fricke / Ratsmitglied

    The numerical discrepancy between the ruling and resting councils is probably due to the fact that the “resting” council had several ex-officio members who were always on it and never “moved up” to the ruling council in the alternate years. This included men such as the Stadtsyndikus (the city council’s lawyer) and the city clerk. They attended council meetings but weren’t elected and didn’t have a vote.

    Because they are in the von Alemann family records, these men probably survived the Sack of Magdeburg. How many of them returned to Magdeburg in the 1632-verse will depend on the authors.

    (Note: Jakob Alemann was father to Margareta Alemann and thus was Otto Gericke’s father-in-law. He studied law, took a degree, and from 1603 to 1630 was a member of the body of consulting jurists (Schöffenstuhl) in Magdeburg, as well as being a city council member (prior to the reform) and city chancellor.

    That indicates that at least one judicial body was separate from the Rat. However, these were the people who issued the briefs and legal opinions when questions came in from other cities and towns. They were not the people who declared the penalty for the local “drunk and disorderly.”)

    (Note: Georg Schmidt and Johan Westvol, the two mayors in the Regierender Rat, do not have a good reputation to this day.)

    One historian gives the Magdeburg administration in this era the term “Vetternwirtschaft” = an economic system based on cousinship. So, as it often is in our times, it may be who you know that gets a person advancement.

    The Capitol District of Magdeburg

    There is a certain swath of land surrounding the city designated by GA to support the capitol and the industrial developments occurring there. Up-timers will call that “the suburbs.”

    Civic law of Magdeburg as established by the charter does not apply outside the walls of the city. Civic law inside the city and rules and regulations outside the city will definitely be different in some respects.

    Gericke was given magisterial authority over the surrounding regions by Gustav Adolph. He probably reports to Ludwig Fürst von Anhalt-Coethen, and on a day to day basis probably coordinates with Christoff Schultze. The boundary of the “suburbs” authority of Gericke and the city police will be “out there” somewhere (vague can still be our friend), where some yet-to-be-defined law enforcement arm of the Province of Magdeburg will take over.

    The Magdeburg Polizei will have authority in Boomtown. At some point in late 1634 Bill Reilly (up-timer) will advance from being captain of the Polizei and City Watch to being Chief of the Polizei.

    Legal network

    Prior to the Sack, Magdeburg was the home location of jurisprudence for a network of cities in Central and Eastern Europe, ranging from locations in Lithuania to cities in the Ukraine. Das Magdeburger Recht (Magdeburg Rights or Magdeburg Law) was the corpus of law that was bestowed on these various cities by their sovereigns at different points in time. Questions of jurisprudence were frequently referred back to Magdeburg for review and decision by a council of jurists, much the way that a Supreme Court operates in the U.S. today.

    All the case files and historical documents from this council of jurists were undoubtedly destroyed in the fires that destroyed the city. In our timeline, this probably dissolved the judicial network. Post-ROF, no one has written stories yet to tell us what happened.


    (Note: Orange areas are those that were burnt during the Sack of Magdeburg.)