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“It is a good protocol,” Claudia de' Medici said. “We agree with Dr. Guarinonius that We need for it to be uniform.” She gestured at Dr. Bienner. “Let it occur.”
Bienner, having a considerable amount of experience in understanding the regent, scheduled a “plague summit.” Innsbruck, not Bolzen. Matthias Burglechner, the Innsbruck chancellor, had a fascination with both local history and statistics. He wasn’t young any more, but would certainly want to have one or more of his sons involved in the project. Or, perhaps, he could use it to bait a hook to catch young Motzel. His mind wandered off into only vaguely related topics of personnel and administration.
Diane Jackson showed up from Basel with both of the relevant Baden-Durlach margraves in tow, Georg Friedrich protesting mightily that there were things going on in Swabia that were more important than attending meetings about plague, of all things. Plague, in his opinion, was just a fact of life. She also brought Tony Adducci.
General Horn sent an up-time military medic, Bob Barnes, as his representative—he also sent a letter that he was too busy dealing with the four Irish colonels to come right now or to send any of his senior staff. He apologized that Barnes was so young, barely twenty, but pointed out that the young man’s father, Warner Barnes, had recently transferred from the USE Department of State to the staff of Herr Piazza, the president of the State of Thuringia-Franconia. He expressed a sincere hope that this connection might be perceived as giving the boy sufficient rank that his presence at the table would not offend the well-born and highly esteemed regent of Tyrol, or any other territorial rulers and mayors who might be present in person.
Bernhard sent Raudegen on from from Württemberg, adding a couple of the Englishmen on his staff. Phillip Skippon, from Norfolk, had been on the continent for nearly twenty years and been married to a German wife for a dozen of them. Lawrence Crawford, not much older than Barnes, was Kamala Dunn’s regular translator. They picked up Barnes on the way and spent most of the trip worrying about spread of the plague by the various military units moving around, USE units as well as others. They mapped out a sanitation campaign.
Barnes and Adducci, having been in high school together, expressed their delight at the reunion by first banging each other hard on the shoulders and then starting to wrestle.
Marcie Abruzzo made them stop.
“I’m sorry, Your Grace,” she said that evening. “It’s some kind of a guy thing.”
“A ritual.” The regent nodded. “Rituals are an important part of civilization.”
Section 5. “Das ich bishero etwas unfleisig in schreiben gewesen,
bitte ich nicht in ungutem zu vernehmen, und hatten mich abgehalten
die stets werenden occasionen und travailli.”
Hüfingen in Fürstenberg, Swabia
Count Egon von Fürstenberg, the eighth of his line to bear that name, was born a younger son. Fully realizing that the income he drew from his family’s mountainous hereditary lands could never support the family he hoped some day to have, he entered the service of Austria as a boy.
Faithfully, for a quarter of a century, he carried out the tasks that Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor and advocate of the Counter Reformation, assigned to him. He fought for the Empire, for the Catholic League, and for the Empire again.
Now, having survived both of his older brothers and his younger brother, with only one nephew to claim a share, his income was larger than he had originally expected it ever would be.
So were the calls upon it. He had his family. In the course of their fifteen years of marriage, his wife had borne him eleven children. Ten of them were alive, healthy, flourishing, and likely to grow up. They would need educations, dowries. . . . A fatherly mind boggled at the very thought of the expense involved.
So here he was, in his mid-forties, looking at a world in which the emperor he had served was dead, his heir had replaced the Holy Roman Empire with an Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Austria had abandoned his hereditary lands around Heiligenberg, as far as he could tell, to the un-tender mercies of a Swedish Lutheran, an up-time Calvinist heretic, and a United States of Europe that conducted popular elections.
The fact that Wilhelm Wettin had won the election was no consolation. Wettin was as Lutheran as the Swede, not to mention that he had renounced his title.
He could lie down on the floor.
If you were willing to be a doormat, you would always find someone willing to walk on you.
Or he could do something, before it was too late.
Upper Swabia had one advantage over many parts of the Germanies. It was a long way away from Magdeburg. It was not yet firmly under the Swedish heel.
Count Egon did what a man’s gotta do. He called a meeting.
“While I realize that my status as a former commander in the imperial forces may make my motives suspect in the eyes of some of you, I am in no way ashamed of my allegiance to a Holy Roman Empire that had endured for over eight hundred years until the imprudence of Ferdinand II’s heir . . .” Count Egon von Fürstenberg paused in his oration. He had managed to gather together a considerable delegation from the Catholic Reichsritterschaften and small principalities of southern Swabia. He had no expectation that they would all join him, but . . . while other people—Gustav Horn, mainly, but others as well—were distracted by Irish dragoons in Württemberg, he could focus on what, in his opinion, amounted to saving whatever could be saved from the debacle of the USE and its up-timers.
He wasn’t going to suggest to any of them that they submerge themselves into his own County of Fürstenberg, Heiligenberg sub-line. Aside from its being Catholic, no one here was likely to see much advantage in that offer over being submerged in Gustavus Adolphus’ proposed Province of Swabia. No . . .
“At which time the advantages of forming a wholly voluntary Fürstenberg Union or, if you will a Fürstenberg Confederation on the model of the Swiss cantons in Swabia, occurred to me . . .”
Count Egon glanced around, taking in the temperature of the room. A vigorous man, he had fought under Tilly; fought under Maximilian of Bavaria. Right now, he was fighting for a way of life he had no wish at all to abandon.
“No matter what the Swedish emperor of the United States of Europe may promise us, no matter what provisions in regard to freedom of religion have been placed in their constitution, it remains the case that in June of last year, at the Congress of Copenhagen, he appointed Margrave Georg Friedrich of Lutheran Baden-Durlach as his administrator of their proposed Province of Swabia.”
There were isolated hisses at the name.
“Don’t hiss. Cheer. Remember what happened to him at Wimpfen in 1622.”
A few people did cheer.
“Gustavus Adolphus has kept his Lutheran general, Gustav Horn, at the head of regiments that have been moving through and battening upon our Swabian lands and people for the past three years.”
True enough. No reason to mention that most of Horn’s activities had gone into Fabian tactics designed to keep Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, equally Lutheran, out of those same lands.
“No province governed by such men will be an easy place for Catholics to live.”
He gestured toward his guest of honor, Heinrich von Knöringen, the prince-bishop of Augsburg. Or, more precisely, the bishop of Augsburg who had been a prince-bishop until quite recently when Georg Friedrich of Baden-Durlach had informed him, not too gently, that in the USE, ecclesiastical princes no longer exercised secular jurisdiction.
Not much reaction. People read the newspapers. The margrave’s tame publicists had been careful to ensure that a lot of words about freedom of conscience and untrammeled right to worship had appeared in print, wafting and swirling around the hard fact of the vanishing of Bishop Heinrich’s court system into the developing Province of Swabia’s bureaucracy. Time to lighten the presentation.
“Gentlemen, like so many others, I have sent researchers to the up-time town of Grantville, the source of so much of the technology used in the Swede’s recent successes. I found . . .”
He paused for dramatic effect.
“I found that in another three-hundred-fifty years, the names of our lands had been expunged from the history books. Heiligenberg was a winter spa, to which people came to ski on the mountains and sit on balconies as they admired Lake Constance. The only significant amount of material on a Count Egon von Fürstenberg who existed in the twentieth century that my agents could locate pertained to . . .”
He paused again, to allow the others to realize just how seriously he was willing to embarrass himself for a worthy cause.
“. . . a designer and manufacturer of women’s clothing. Admittedly, the man appears to have been a wealthy, socially prominent, and successful, if somewhat eccentric, designer of women’s clothing—but still, in essence, he was a common tailor. The thought of my descendants having degenerated to that . . .”
He paused again.
“It simply turns my stomach.”
The room erupted in a buzz of whispers.
“On the table in the antechamber . . .”
A servant swept open a curtain that had divided the two rooms.
“On the table in the antechamber, each of you will find what little—and I do emphasize the word ‘little’—my agents were able to locate in their encyclopedias that pertains to your lands as they were known in that world. May I now suggest a pause for refreshments as you take this opportunity to look at these materials that show so clearly what is in store for us if this appalling ‘modernization’ process cannot be halted, or at least slowed.”
Diane Jackson frowned. “You couldn’t persuade your father not to do this?”
Friedrich of Baden-Durlach shook his head. “I know that you think that he should focus primarily on your apprehensions in regard to Bavaria, especially considering that Augsburg is right on the border and very likely to be a first target if Maximilian decides to take advantage of the emperor’s focus on Saxony and Brandenburg this spring. However, the task he has been assigned is the creation of a USE Province of Swabia. With Horn absorbed in the cooperative mission with Brahe and Utt and . . .” He paused. An expression of profound distaste crossed his face. “. . . and Bernhard, he felt obliged to use part of the garrison stationed in Augsburg to, ah, emphasize to several of the smaller territorial rulers along the Swiss border just how unfortunate it would be if they took the temptation being offered by Egon von Fürstenberg seriously.”
“Did it occur to him that such pointed emphasis will only serve to reinforce Count Egon’s fears, and their fears, about how southern Swabian Catholics would be treated in a USE Province of Swabia?”
Friedrich of Baden-Durlach looked surprised. He was. Honestly surprised.
“It’s your problem, Kanoffski.” The grand duke of Burgundy looked exasperated. “Though it’s a real nuisance that now you won’t be available for the Lorraine campaign. Barring the unexpected, the Sundgau and Breisgau are entirely your problem. Consult with Erlach on general policy, of course. However, make sure that everyone—the Landesadel, the city officials from Freiburg down to the most rural of country towns, the village councils—everyone who is anyone—is fully aware that they are now part of Burgundy. Defections will not be tolerated.”
“So, basically, I am to inform the local worthies, ‘It’s best if you don’t even think about allying with Egon von Fürstenberg. Let me assure you, though. If you should think about it, do not act on your thoughts.’ With an addition that if they do act on their thoughts, ‘steps will be taken.’ I should be accompanied on this tour by enough force to make the point clear to even the least perceptive and attentive.”
“Precisely.” Bernhard smiled. “That’s what I like about you, Fritz. You have such a quick grasp of the essence of a situation.”
“Just remember that a lot of them are likely to interpret these purely political measures as religious ones—that the Protestants, being in power, are taking an opportunity to stomp on the rights of the Catholics.”
“Get Moscherosch to write up a batch of propaganda for you. You know what we need. Something along the lines of, ‘It’s all really for your own good. Honestly.’ He has a real talent for manufacturing that sort of thing.”
“Dr. Bienner, this is—coming right at this juncture—immensely annoying.”
The chancellor nodded.
“We do not need distractions in Swabia just as We have reached a critical juncture in Our negotiations with both the USE and Burgundy.”
Bienner nodded again.
“Let Our administrators in every Tyrolese possession in Swabia be made aware that We will take a very, very, very dim view of anyone in the Tyrolese possessions in Swabia who conspires with Egon von Fürstenberg.”
“It shall be done.”
“Add a postscript. Something on the order of, ‘And if you’re in the Breisgau or the Sundgau, or any other historically Tyrolese possession currently administered by the Grand Duchy of Burgundy, including Alsace, just in case you aren’t taking what Grand Duke Bernhard tells you seriously, just try it and you’ll have to deal with Us.’”
Bienner’s secretary added another point to the careful notes he was taking.
“And . . .” The regent tapped a finger on the table. “Contact the imperial administrator of the proposed Province of Swabia. Let him know that We will move two of Our regiments into the Vorarlberg and Vorderösterreich as a precautionary measure against the development of dissent there—and that We are prepared to use them in cooperation with any measures he may feel required to take in regard to dear Egon.”
She smiled. “That should add a certain . . . ecumenical . . . dimension to the persuasive efforts that Georg Friedrich and Bernhard will no doubt feel impelled to make.”
The Imperial City of Leutkirch, Swabia
“I know what it is,” the mayor of Ravensburg said. “The up-timers even have a word for what they are doing. It is ‘big government authoritarianism.’ Some call it ‘totalitarianism.’ I do not believe we must necessarily subject ourselves to it.”
The other heads in the banquet hall swiveled toward him. “Do you have any suggestions?” someone asked. “Any options?”
“A century ago, during the Reformation, some former Swabian imperial cities ‘turned Swiss.’ ”
That lay on the table for a while.
“Be practical. We all realize, if we have given thought to it, that our cities, individually, no longer have the size, wealth, and influence to be recognized as ‘city states’ on the model of Augsburg or Ulm by the USE and given seats in the House of Lords.”
“It’s worse than that. The USE hasn’t even offered us the option of a collective ‘bench’ representative such as the prelates and imperial knights had in the Reichstag. They are determined to reduce us to the status of mediatized small towns within their ‘Province of Swabia,’ no longer self-governing, with all our history lost.”
That lay on the table, too.
“We may not be what we once were under the Hohenstaufen,” the mayor of Lindau said, “but by all that is holy, we are still more than a batch of overgrown villages.”
“Will the Swede allow us to secede, or will our citizens suffer?”
“We wouldn’t actually be ‘seceding from’ the USE, never having been formally accepted into it. The Province of Swabia remains in the ‘planning stage.’ Legally, we will just be declining a proffered invitation.”
“An invitation at gunpoint.” That came loudly, if anonymously, from one of the mayors seated well down the table.
“We can even say, ‘Thank you, very much’ as we decline it,” another mayor snorted.
“How would the cantons respond?” That question, from the influential mayor of Constance, was a signal that the suggestion floated by Ravensberg was not being discussed here as merely a straw in the wind. Some of the cities had been thinking about the possibility before this day’s meeting.
Throughout Swabia, various city councils started to murmur; whisper; think about it; and, a surprisingly short time later, take action.