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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Ten

       Last updated: Friday, February 18, 2005 12:39 EST




    “It certainly is nice that so many people came to see us off, isn’t it?” Veronica Dreeson looked at the crowd with pleasure. “It is a great compliment to Henry, I am sure. And to John, of course.”

    Mary Simpson, already mounted, looked out over the crowd. She preferred to ride in formal costume-jodphurs, coat, and bowler, even in the 17th century. The Grantville tailors were by now used to getting odd orders, but this.... Leonhard Kalbacher had just looked at her sketch, sighed, and gone to work with his measuring tape, thanking his lucky stars that the boots and hat were someone else’s problem. Mary Simpson’s stance on horseback was a tribute to what a young ladies’ finishing school could achieve when it deemed a skill to be truly life-essential.

    “Mostly people from the city government,” she confirmed. “Some from the army; they are probably friends of the men who were being trained as radio operators for Duke Ernst. There are a couple of school classes.”

    Veronica leaned around Mary’s shoulder for a better look. She sat on her mule with all the grace of a sack of rye draped over the back of a donkey for its final trip to the grist mill. Riding was not a skill that seventeenth century urban women ordinarily needed. She was less than happy about the decision that the group would go on horseback. Overall, she would much prefer to have walked. It wasn’t so far to Amberg, after all- certainly less than two hundred of the up-time miles. She had told them that she would rather walk. It was much too far, they said. “I walked from Amberg coming here,” she had replied, “and to many other places in between, when we were with the mercenaries.” They had tried to put her on a horse in spite of it; the mule was a compromise. True, they had offered the use of a wagon, but that would have been just as uncomfortable and even slower, not to say, more expensive. It would have been cheaper to walk. And probably, given the personality of this mule, just as fast. This was one animal that would never die of overwork.

    “They are the classes that Keith Pilcher’s children are in,” she identified them for Mary. “And the class taught by his wife. She is the thin woman, if you haven’t met her. The shorter woman next to her is Lena Buehlerin. She is married to Lambert Felser. He is a tinsmith from the Upper Palatinate. His apprenticeship was interrupted by the war. Ollie Reardon hired him. He is going with Keith, to assist him. To translate, if it is needed. They have married since they came to Grantville. Before, they did not know one another. She is from Baden-Durlach. Her first husband was a mercenary. One of those killed at Badenburg.”

    “Can you identify everyone in town?” Mary asked.

    “Oh, no, probably not all. But because Henry is the mayor, I have come to know most, certainly. That is Mary Lou Snell. Her son Toby is with us. She is very glad that he is being sent on this duty. Because there is no fighting. She was afraid that they would send him to Swabia.”

    A tall boy, one of Jeff’s friends, was waving from the back of the crowd. She waved back. “Off to Amberg,” he yelled. “Have a nice time in your home town.”

    “Ach,” she called back. “Amberg is just where we were living; where Johann Stephan had his business. My real home town is several miles beyond there. An easy day’s walk, farther up into the hills.”

    “What’s it called?”

    The boy was closer now and she remembered his name. “Oh, Matt,” she said. “It is just a little, tiny place. No American would ever have heard of it. It is called Grafenwöhr.”

    She had no idea why half of the crowd, especially the middle-aged men, broke out laughing so hard that they threw their heads back. A couple of them howled. But it was nice to have everyone in such a fine mood for the start of their trip. It was a good omen.



    She marked off the days of the trip; from Grantville to Badenburg to Arnstadt, that was one day; from Arnstadt to Suhl, a second. They stopped there for two nights and a day, so that the men could talk to the gun manufacturers; she had been grateful for the rest. Then the only part that might have problems, from Suhl to Coburg; through Lichtenfels to Bamberg. Franconia was uneasy; the upcoming elections were an object of concern. But, no problems; they spent the morning in Bamberg, since some of the men had business with the people in the Grantville administrative offices there. Veronica rested. Mary wanted to go see the cathedral and a statue called the Bamberger Reiter; she said that they were very famous. The administrator sent two men to go with her. In the afternoon they made a very easy day to near Forchheim. The next day, even before the midday meal, Nürnberg came in sight. The road was busy all the way, full of horses, wagons, and people. After all, it was a main trade route. But none of them were fleeing, so it was quite different from what she remembered from three years ago. There were no wandering troops of mercenaries. She noticed that some of the burned villages were even being rebuilt.




    The bottom half of the door was closed, to keep wandering cats and dogs out of the shop, but the top half was open to the morning sun. Standing at the clerk’s counter, Marc Cavriani was bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.

    Jacob Durre smiled at the boy’s impatience. He had enjoyed having this one to train. He knew the family well. His own wife was an aunt of Marc’s mother and, indeed, the boy looked like his mother’s family rather than like the Cavrianis. That meant black hair, with a curl that fell into the middle of his forehead if not strictly restrained, and the bright blue eyes of northern Italy. Marc’s face was a little full, rather than thin like his father's; his nose was slightly pug rather than aquiline like his father's; his build was generally rather more square than angular. He had great endurance for such things as distance hiking, but he was never going to be a sprinter-his legs were too short.

    They were expecting Leopold to arrive today. This would mark the end of Marc’s two years in Nürnberg. Now, for the first time, he would be going with his father on a trading expedition, even if only a very short one, no farther than Amberg. His pere wanted him to observe the negotiations between the up-timers and men who controlled the iron cartel. Jacob knew that Marc was looking forward to this, very much. Negotiations were a valuable skill.

    “Boy,” he called. “Get back to work. There is no point in going out to look. You could miss them on any street or block. Your father knows where you are. Wait. Exercise patience. If you do not, I will send you out to the mill on the Pegnitz to weigh spools of wire for the shipment going to Ulm, and you will not see him until tonight.”

    Marc went back to work quite cheerfully.

    That was a good thing about him,” Durre reflected. He not only worked quite hard and conscientiously, most of the time-at least as much of the time as anyone could expect from a boy of eighteen-but he also displayed irrepressible good temper while doing it, even in the face of balances that refused to be reconciled for hours and shipments that did not arrive on schedule but rather were delayed for weeks and nobody knew just where they were.

    Which was just as well, because it was past the noon sun before Leopold arrived. Marc ran out into the street, Jacob following him more sedately. He kneeled properly, as a son should kneel to his father; then leaped up and kissed him on both cheeks. The two started to chatter in French; then switched to Italian; then back to French.



    “Herr Durre,” Keith asked rather cautiously. “Did you say that the boss guy who authorizes these church services is away from home?”


    “It looks to me like there’s a bunch of bully-boys in the road who think that going to a Calvinist church is the wrong idea.”

    Durre looked. “Oh,” he said. “Drat. That has to be Georg Seyfried Koler von Neunhof. Or his men, to be more precise. It’s not likely that he’s with them. He’s a Lutheran, and the co-possessor of patronage rights over the churches in Beerbach and Neunhof. That means, he thinks that he ought to have the right to appoint a clergyman of his choice rather than the Geuders’ appointing a clergyman of their choice. He would not dare to try this if Frau Sabina were still alive.”

    “Do they normally duke these things out on the public roads?” Keith asked.

    “There’s no duke involved here,” Durre said. “What’s important jurisdictionally is that these are imperial knights-directly subject to the emperor, with no intervening authority. That’s why the landlord of something that looks like an estate of a few hundred acres with a small village on it can exercise the cuius regio principle.”

    “Jurisdictionally,” Leopold Cavriani added, “they are independent of Grantville’s administrators in Franconia. Because the knights are mostly Protestant, this region near Nürnberg was not included in the king of Sweden’s assignment of authority, any more than Nürnberg itself or Ansbach and Bayreuth were.

    Lambert Felser, who had garnered his English vocabulary on the floor of Ollie Reardon’s machine shop rather than from literary works or books on political theory, intervened with an explanation of the alternative meaning of “duke.” Once he had managed to convey the essential meaning of, “duke it out,” Durre averred that they did “duke it out” on the roads and in the streets. Unless, of course, they had resorted to lawsuits. Normally, however, people employed both methods.

    To Keith’s relief, the party had paused during this discussion rather than proceeding onward toward the manor house. He noticed that the riders securing the road had already pulled a couple of wagons containing families to the side, barring them from going any farther.

    However, the riders-armed riders-were now coming toward them. Durre started to move forward slowly. Like everyone else, Keith felt obliged to follow.

    Except, apparently, the Cavriani kid. Rather than moving along the track-it could scarcely be dignified with the name of a road, being two ruts with grass growing between them-he kept sidling his horse a little towards the right, while holding the reins in his left hand. Not much, with any step.



    Marc didn’t like the idea of the families in the wagons being here. Not when two bunches of men, one that had all of them with with guns and the other of which had several of them with guns, were looking at one another belligerently. As the group with Durre advanced, Marc managed to move a few feet to the side of the road. With his right hand, which Koler’s oncoming men could not see because it was hanging down at his side, obscured by his body and the saddle, he made urgent scooping motions, as if he were dipping water. One of the drivers got the idea. With the guards away from the boundary stone, it was time to leave for church. What were a few more hoofbeats when a dozen mounted men were riding toward another dozen or so mounted men? The two wagons started to creep slowly forward. Slowly, at least, until they were past the border and onto the Geuder land; then their pace became quite brisk. Not to say expeditious. From the back of one, a boy turned around and waved.

    Marc started side-stepping back towards the rest of the group, carefully not looking toward the departing wagons. He didn’t keep a horse of his own, of course. There was no need to, in Nürnberg. This was a rental; an elderly gelding of no particular distinction who now demonstrated that he didn’t like sidling to the left. He tossed his head; snorted; turned his head; tossed his head again. Marc started to control him; then realized that something could be gained from this. He assumed the nervous expression of a city man who put very little trust in even the best of horses. He also slipped his feet almost out of the stirrups, loosened his grip on the reins, and gave the stupid beast a sharp pinch with his right hand.

    He landed hard. Koler’s men guffawed. Rubbing his seat dramatically, Marc gestured for permission to go catch his horse. The lead rider, noting that the young idiot from Nürnberg wasn’t carrying anything more threatening than a dirk, waved him on.

    The horse, now that nobody was asking him to side-step to the left was just standing there, looking dumb. He was that kind of horse. Marc remounted and requested that he step to the left again. The horse demurred. Marc and the horse fussed at one another.

    By this time, everyone was laughing. Except, of course, Jacob Durre and Leopold Cavriani, both of whom were just smiling with considerable satisfaction, since they knew perfectly well that the money that Marc’s father had laid out for expensive riding-masters had not gone to waste. By this time, the wagons were out of sight, around a bend in the road. Marc made a demonstration of getting the nag under control and moved back toward the rest of the group by turning him around to the right and ceremoniously riding him all the way around the back of the others, wearing a chagrined expression as he did it.

    Inwardly, he was much relieved that he had gotten away with it. At eighteen, he still had in some ways the mind set of the younger Marc who had gotten his growth spurt considerably later than many of his contemporaries. From thirteen to sixteen, he had found himself obliged to outwit the school bullies rather than outfight them. Oh, he had read stories, just like anyone else, in which the smaller man won the fight. The problem with those stories was that somehow, always, most conveniently, the larger man was a slow, awkward, clumsy, poorly trained oaf, while the smaller man was deft, quick, and much more skilled. How convenient this arrangement must be for the authors. In the real world of the armsmaster’s studio in which he had learned to fight, he had learned by way of the scientific method that if one man was four inches taller and twenty pounds heavier, while both were, because they had the same teacher, more or less equally skilled, the smaller guy would get whomped nine times out of ten. And, based on his observations of the sad example of his classmate Franco Neri, if the smaller guy was the one of the pair who was awkward and slow, he would get whomped ninety-nine times out of a hundred.

    Overall, therefore, Marc’s preferred response to oncoming batches of muscle was still to evade them, if possible. He had no illusions. He had received the amount of training in personal arms that any young middle-class merchant would receive-which meant, basically, that he owned, and knew how to use, a sword and pistol as well as the dirk that he usually carried, and could probably take care of the average mugger. That was what the armsmaster had been hired to teach the students at his school, so that was what he taught them. Purveyors of copper wire and undyed fustian were rarely called upon to display more martial skill than that, nor would they have the time to maintain a higher level if they did learn it. Effective swordsmanship took a lot of continuous practice.

    Marc knew perfectly well that he could not withstand a professionally trained fighter for any length of time-especially not when the fighter was wearing armor and carrying a gun. Koler’s men were doing both. Marc was wearing his best doublet, suitable for a church service. He had a distinct feeling that this was not the best place to undertake heroic actions, if they could possibly be avoided.

    The sergeant in command of Koler’s guards brought a rather different perspective to what he had observed. He was feeling rather glad that the kid was such a dolt; otherwise, he could have been a problem.

    Marc wasn’t given to spending much time either at the gym or looking into the mirror; his apprenticeship with Jacob Durre had kept him very busy the past two years. His only real awareness that he had changed quite a bit between sixteen and eighteen was derived from Frau Durre’s constant complaints that he kept outgrowing his clothes. He hadn’t thought about it much.

    Not, at least, until he had gotten off his knees outside Herr Durre’s shop last week and discovered that he had to lean down a bit to kiss his father’s cheeks rather than reaching up to him.



    Leopold Cavriani looked up the road, behind Koler’s men. He cleared his throat and said, quite politely, “Excuse me, Sir.”

    The sergeant looked at him. “We have our orders from Ritter Koler. We don’t want trouble. Just turn around and go back to Nürnberg. That would suit us nicely. This is a local problem, between the two knights. No problem of yours. No need for you to get involved.”

    “We have recently come through the Catholic sections of Franconia,” Cavriani remarked. “As you may have heard, there is a certain amount of unrest among the peasants, there.”

    He might as well have been commenting on the splendid weather.

    The sergeant nodded.

    “I get the impression,” Cavriani continued casually, “that the unrest may be spreading into this portion of Franconia as well.”

    The sergeant knew better than to be tricked into looking away, but he motioned for one of his men to take a glance in the direction in which Cavriani was looking.

    “About two hundred men coming, Sir, at a fast guess.”

    Cavriani would have estimated fifty. But they did have guns, and a dozen or so were mounted. On clodhopping draft horses, but mounted, which would give them some momentum in a pinch. It wasn’t as if the sergeant and his men were riding the pick of the breed, either.

    The sergeant wheeled his horse with a curse.

    “Damn. They’re from right around here. I recognize several of them – the ones who are close enough. Odds are, I’ll recognize all of them. Ritter Koler didn’t give us any warning of this.”

    Durre motioned his whole party to move to the side. This wasn’t their fight.

    The leader of the oncoming peasants announced that they had a petition to present to Ritter Koler in regard to the annoyance that this silly dispute between the Lutheran and the Calvinist lords was causing the residents of the affected villages.

    “I have no authority to receive such a petition,” the sergeant replied.

    “Don’t expect that you do. Hadn’t really planned to rebel today, anyway.”

    Cavriani caught that “today.” He found it very interesting.

    The farmer continued. “But the weather’s nice for it. Just take us to Ritter Koler. Take us inside the castle-you can do that. Tell him that we’ve got an honest complaint that he needs to listen to. We’ll give him the petition and go home, if he agrees to look at it and give us an answer next court day.”

    “What’s your gripe, this time?”

    “You are.” The farmer waved at the riders. “It’s a big nuisance having soldiers on the road. Another bunch have gone up to talk to Geuder’s steward. All we want is for them to use a little common sense. Instead of sticking guards at the boundary stone, the Geuders should let their Lutheran subjects walk to the nearest Lutheran church and Koler should let the Calvinists in his villages go up to the church on Geuder’s land. It’s Sunday, anyway-not as if we would be working if we didn’t go to church.”

    He paused.

    “They are our lords, but they do not control our consciences.”

    Leopold Cavriani smiled cherubically.



    Marc had the nervous thought that if another group of unhappy farmers was up at the Geuder’s castle, he might not have done the families in the wagons much of a favor by motioning them go on. But no-there they were, coming back down the track, none the worse for wear. The wagons plodded past the boundary unhindered. He looked at his father.

    “I think,” Leopold said, “that it might be excusable to skip church today.” As the sergeant and the farmers argued, Durre’s party turned around and followed the wagons back toward Nürnberg.



    It had been a matter of considerable debate among the three women for several months. Their late brother, unlike themselves and their husbands, had remained in Amberg during the Bavarian occupation. Had converted, at least nominally, to Catholicism. As had his wife and children. As had their stepmother. After the plundering of Amberg, when they never heard from any of their brother’s family again, they had assumed that they were dead. And mourned.

    Until the Battle of Wismar. When the newspapers reported the family and relationships of the dead hero, Hans Richter. Then they had mourned Hans again. And argued with one another, what to do.

    Now, she was in the same city.

    “Do you think,” Hanna asked, “that she will think that we come to see her now only because we, too, can claim a share of Papa’s property if she gets it?

    “Why are we going, if not for that?” Margaretha asked. She was the oldest.

    “Because our nephew and niece are suddenly famous, so we know who she is?” Clara asked.

    “Or,” Hanna interjected, “because sister Elisabetha’s widower, Elias Brechbuhl, is an accountant. Here in Nürnberg, he has barely eked out a living, that is true. But he knows where a lot of the Upper Palatinate’s bodies are buried. Financially speaking, that is. I still think that it would be a good idea if Elias went with her. We can try to persuade her of that. Lorenz is willing that we should take Elisabetha’s children, if Elias goes.”

    Her sisters looked at her. Once upon a time, before the war, Lorenz Mossberger had served as chief clerk to an Amtmann. As an exile, he barely made enough to feed his children as a private notary, serving mainly the Calvinist community. His offer to take in three more children was very generous.

    Margaretha looked down. Her second husband, a prosperous shopkeeper and Nürnberg native, would have been much better placed to make such an offer. But he hadn’t made it. Nor had she suggested it to him.

    As the wagons headed back towards Nürnberg, their debate continued. And reached consensus. This very evening, before she left the city, they would attempt to contact the woman who had once been married to their father, Johann Stephan Richter; who was now married to the mayor of the notorious Grantville. She should at least be given the opportunity to meet her namesakes-the three little Veronicas. Only three, not four. Half of Elisabetha’s children had died.

    At worst, Hanna pointed out, she could only refuse to see them.



    By supper time, Veronica felt considerably restored. Naps were excellent things. She joined the rest of the Grantvillers for supper in the public room of the inn. Keith Pilcher was making a good story of the day’s adventures. Especially of his thoughts about plastic flamingoes.

    Veronica still thought that Maxine Pilcher’s philosophy of education was the height of foolishness. She was rather getting to like the woman’s husband, though.

    The host approached the table. “Gracious lady,” he said, addressing himself to the grandmother of the famous Hans Richter. He paused, waiting for her permission to continue. He had already expressed, several times, how profoundly he was honored by having the Adler’s grandmother lodge at his establishment. Was he going to do it again? Veronica was on the verge of becoming annoyed. “There are three women here who ask to speak to you. They say that they are your stepdaughters. That they live as exiles in Nürnberg.”

    Veronica grasped the edge of the table with both hands. She needed the support. It was never safe to hope.

    “Please,” she said. “Please.” She was not sure whether she was addressing the petition to the innkeeper or to God. “Please ask them to come in.”

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