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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Seven

       Last updated: Friday, January 28, 2005 01:37 EST



Idea Boni Principis

    Duke Ernst rested his forehead upon his hands. Being a Lutheran, he did not believe in purgatory. He did, however, suspect that purgatory would not have been a necessity for even a Catholic, presuming that said Catholic was upright and God-fearing otherwise than in the matter of being a Papist, who was assigned to work with Johan Banér. Banér provided purgatory on earth.

    Nonetheless, he admonished himelf, could not let his distaste for the man impede him from performing his duties. He had a job to do. Clearly, with young Karl Ludwig being a minor, there had to be a regency. The USE had certainly not wanted to see Ferdinand II establish an imperial regency for the boy. Which he might have tried, if he could have persuaded Don Fernando to transfer custody when he first captured the Winter King’s widow and children.

    But, worse, Don Fernando might try some version what the Spanish had done to William the Silent’s oldest son. They had abducted him to Spain when he was fourteen, converted him to Catholicism, and kept him, basically, as a hostage against his father and brothers for fifty years. Only the mercy of God had granted that his marriage had been sterile-Frederik Hendrik did not, right now, need to contend with Spanish-sponsored claimants from a senior line of the House of Orange.

    If Don Fernando tried hard enough, with tutors, with the insidiously seductive plays and spectacles, with gestures of friendship, feigned or genuine, Karl Ludwig, at sixteen, might actually become a convert to Papistry. God preserve us all. Then how could the king reasonably refuse to reinstate him in his lands?

    So, Gustavus Adolphus had sent him here, telling him to work with the cadet, Protestant, counts of Pfalz-Neuberg to set up a system that would be terribly hard for a hot-headed young count Palatine to mess with if the Spanish and imperials succeeded in converting Karl Ludwig and in a few years sent him to claim his hereditary property.

    Lifting his head, he turned. “Just what we don’t need,” he muttered to Boecler. “A young bigot on the model of Maximilian or Ferdinand II, planted on the north bank of the Danube and both banks of the Rhine.”

    Boecler seriously wished that he had been able to take notes on whatever train of thought that had led Duke Ernst to that comment. But now the duke was saying, in his normal tone of voice, “Please prepare a memorandum for General Banér, reminding him that John George of Saxony has employed Heinrich Holk. If John George should, for some reason, decide to send Holk’s men south toward us, rather than east toward Bohemia, the general and his regular troops will have plenty to do. Especially if, at the same time, Maximilian should decide to come north or Ferdinand should decide to come east.”

    Then he spoke rather shortly. “Find Zincgref,” he ordered.



    After a half-dozen false starts-Julius Wilhelm Zincgref was not in his own apartments, not in the breakfast room, had not been seen by the clerical staff, and the like-Boecler finally found him in the exercise room, watching Erik Haakansson Hand work out. Zincgref spent a fair amount of his time doing that. Hand, or more precisely, Hand’s mother, was a cousin of the king of Sweden. Illegitimate, to be sure, an acknowledged daughter of Eric XIV by one of his mistresses. Zincgref, who harbored a passionate desire to produce a best selling neo-Latin epic poem glorifying the Lion of the North, spent a great deal of time trying to learn more about the omens of greatness that must have clustered around the monarch in childhood.

    Hand couldn’t seem to think of many. He was only a year or so older than the king, about forty, so his memories of the glorious ruler’s infancy were, not surprisingly, rather vague. He had grown up in Germany as a page in the court of one of the dukes Mecklenburg; then learned his trade in the lifeguard regiment of Maurice of Nassau; then started as a lieutenant in the Smlands infantry in 1615. Captain in 1617; major in 1628; colonel of the Östergötland infantry in 1628. In 1631, he had been with the king at Breitenfeld and at the crossing of the Lech; at Alte Veste, he had commanded a full brigade, the Östgöta, Jönköping, and Skaraborg regiments, against Wallenstein. He had been severely wounded, left behind as dead or dying, in the fall of 1632 when the Swedes swept past Ingolstadt, into the Upper Palatinate, in pursuit of the Bavarians.

    He had survived. He spent most of his free time, when he wasn’t training the men who were training and would train the Upper Palatinate’s local militias, in the exercise rooms, determined to regain as much function as possible. It seemed unlikely that he would serve his king in the field again. Today he was talking to Zincgref about his family and about service: his brother Knut, killed in Russia in 1614; his brother Arvid, killed in action at Riga, in Latvia, in 1621. His brother Jan was still alive though, as were his three brothers-in-law.

    “They haven’t managed to do us in yet,” Hand was saying.

    Boecler had been unable to determine, thus far, whether Hand regarded Zincgref’s persistent questioning as a nuisance or a way to pass the time. Surely, Boecler thought, it could not be interesting to spend hour after hour with one’s right hand in a grip attached to a heavy bar, suspended from the ceiling on chains, which one was trying to move back and forth. But the curve of the bar, marked upon the wall, was longer this morning that it had been last week. In pulling it toward his chest, Hand had gained an inch; in pushing it away, nearly two. Some day, perhaps, the colonel would be able to straighten his right arm again.



    While his secretary was out of the room in search of the elusive Zincgref, Duke Ernst crossed his arms on the table and put his head down. He had already been up for six hours, which equaled the number of hours that he had slept the night before.

    There was a lot to do in the Upper Palatinate after a dozen years of war and devastation. He was quite prepared to do it: to reorganize, to reconstruct, to locate settlers for abandoned lands and try to find businessmen who were willing to invest in a place that had proved to offer a very chancy return. He would not do it with the political flair of his brother Wilhelm, perhaps, but he was willing to do it. In fact, he rather enjoyed the challenge of trying to create a model administrative system, without having to deal with co-regents. He and his brothers had governed Saxe-Weimar as a committee.

    Even without an outright military invasion going on, he spent a lot of time thinking about how he would cope if Banér and his army weren’t there. Basically, Duke Ernst was of the opinion that General Banér tended to be too impatient. The nature of the war, thus far, was such that if a man stayed in one place, particularly in a strategically located place such as the Upper Palatinate, the war would come and find him. He thought that he might be able to manage to hold, at least. Not with the genius of his brother Bernhard-damn his arrogance and ambition-but to hold, long enough for somebody else to come to the rescue. That would have to do. He was willing to try.

    His head was pillowed on the printed edition of full transcript of the minutes of the Rudolstadt Colloquy. He had read it, all of it, several times, along with the C.F.W. Walther speech. The king of Sweden expected him to turn a province full of cynics- people who under the provisions of cuius regio hadn’t had a full generation as Catholic, Calvinist, or Lutheran for the past century-back into devout Lutherans. The Peace of Augsburg, made between the Holy Roman Emperor and the German princes in 1555, had established the right of the ruler in each principality of the Germanies to determine the religion of his subjects-well, within the limits of whether that religion would be Catholic or Lutheran: Calvinism had not been included, much less the sectarians. Unquestionably, in the eighty years since then, the rulers of the Palatinate had changed their minds more than most, and several had, contrary to the 1555 agreement, become Calvinists and determined that their subjects should be Calvinist as well.

    In the abstract, it would be desirable for all the subjects and residents of the Upper Palatinate to be Lutheran, of course; Duke Ernst had no doubt of that. Lutheranism was right; the doctrinal positions of other faiths, when they differed from Lutheranism, were wrong. The basic principle was quite clear to him. But accomplishing Gustavus Adolphus’ goal or, at least, accomplishing it without the ruthlessness that had marked the enforcement of Catholicism by the version of the Counter-Reformation that Maximilian and Ferdinand II had imposed in Bavaria and Austria-Bohemia, was probably, he had come to think, barring an unexpected divine miracle, impossible. Should he quarter Banér’s troops on Catholic subjects who were unwilling to become Lutheran, as Maximilian had quartered Bavarian troops on Calvinists who were unwilling to become Catholic? At a minimum, that level of repressive action would seriously interfere with both economic reconstruction and military security.

    He asked himself what he was willing to try. After all, everything should be done decently and in order; that was the fundamental principle of existence. What was decent and orderly? The Lutheran counts of the Junge-Pfalz, the younger brothers of Wolfgang Wilhelm, were suggesting a parity arrangement, by which they would tolerate the practice of both Lutheranism and Catholicism, with a shared use of church property.

    How did one translate the principle of decency and order into practice without driving even more people out than had already been driven out? Especially when the current rightful ruler, acknowledged to be so by Gustavus Adolphus, was a Calvinist-a member of a church that had never been included within the provisions of the Peace of Augsburg. In that, the Junge-Pfalz had it easy-they weren’t trying to design a polity that would encompass Calvinism. Especially, how did one establish a system of ecclesiastical polity that embodied the principles of decency and order when the rightful, and currently Calvinist, ruler, under the emperor of the USE, might become a Catholic-a member of a church that was one of the signatories to the provisions of the Peace of Augsburg?

    Would it be wrong of him to do his experimenting with the up-time “no established church” idea on somebody else’s subjects? That is, on those of young Karl Ludwig? There was no point in making a universal principal of it, of course. The king of Sweden would have no reason to institute such an order in his own lands; they were solidly Lutheran. For that matter, until these latest developments, the Wettins would have had no reason to try it with the both solid and stolid population of Lutherans in their Thuringian lands. But should he try it on this inchoate mix of Calvinists, Lutherans, and Catholics, few of whom really knew what they were any more and all too many of whom appeared to be willing to lay claim to any ecclesiastical allegiance that might bolster their wide variety of property claims?

    Perhaps he could try it. But not without money. General Banér was constantly nagging him for more money to support the army, but everything else that needed to be done required money, too. The mines, for example, had continuing problems from the destruction wreaked by Tilly and Mansfeld in the 1620s and early 1630s. They needed pumps; they needed to reopen the shafts when the pumps arrived; they needed transportation to bring the ore out. As manager of the elector's very large share of the joint stock company that financed the iron mines, a major part of his economic development work would be to get them back into full production.

    There were reasons that Bavaria had been so greedy for the lands of the Upper Palatinate. Always, historically, these hills had furnished the financial basis for the wealth of the Palatine electors-they had produced raw materials, above all, iron. Amberg, the administrative residence, was also the center of a landscape that had, for centuries, been marked by mines and smelters. Before the war, its economic ties had extended not only into Bohemia, but also into the great mercantile cities: Regensburg and Nürnberg prime among them. The principality had traded iron for Bohemian tin; had prepared the ore for export as pig iron; had produced multiple types of wrought iron and cast iron products, as large as ship’s anchors, exporting them to Venice and other ports. When he had arrived, these were gone; all gone. Mansfeld’s marauders; Tilly’s plunderers. Iron production had fallen to almost nothing by 1632.

    His first major project had been to find out just what the resources were. It wasn’t that the prior rulers hadn’t kept records. Most certainly they had. But in the nearly fifteen years of war-driven chaos, they had all become obsolete; many files had been damaged or destroyed, burned or stolen; the men who knew how the indexes worked and what all the symbols meant had been driven out during the years that Maximilian of Bavaria held the country. People listed as landholders were frequently fled or dead. Businesses that were listed on tax assessment lists had been burned or smashed, the walls fallen into the basements; their owners also, very often, fled or dead. He scarcely had enough personnel to keep track of the real estate transactions; every piece of property needed to be reassessed; thousands of titles needed to be cleared. For the past six months, his staff had been crossing the territory; questioning the former Amtmaenner and Bavarian Pfleggerichter when they could be found, distributing questionnaires.



    There was a knock on the door. Duke Ernst lifted his head and said, “Enter.” Boecler came in with Zincgref. Duke Ernst did not underestimate himself, but he knew his limitations. Hard-working, conscientious, serious, and competent, “willing to do it” and “willing to try,” were qualities that some people-in fact, quite a lot of people-found to be ultimately boring. He had hired a public relations man.

    Zincgref was having trouble getting with the program. Neo-Latin poetry-that he could furnish almost with a wave of his hand. Admonitions to patriotism and bravery in German-a cinch. A blistering anti-Catholic polemic in either language-be my guest. A product of the late humanist circle at the University of Heidelberg, he had fifteen years of experience as a propagandist for the Palatinate, after all. But . . . .

    “Do I understand Your Grace correctly?” he asked carefully. “You want me to write an inspirational poem, in German, by tomorrow? It is to be called Die Fragebogen? It is to persuade the residents of the Upper Palatinate of the value of filling out questionnaires completely and fully? And it is to be amusing, so the people will willingly read it? Will, in fact, recite it out loud to one another in taverns and inns?”

    “Precisely,” said the regent.

    Boecler included a summary of the instructions in his notes.

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