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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Thirteen

       Last updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 03:11 EST




May-June, 1634
Mulieres Intrepidae

On the Golden Street

    By the second day, they were about thirty miles northeast of Nürnberg.

    “It’s enough to make you sick.” Marc was looking at the smashed ruins of a hammer mill. His time with Jacob Durre had provided him with some sense of the effort-and money-it would take to rebuild it.

    Mansfeld and Tilly, the Bavarians and the Swedes. Every army that came through the Upper Palatinate for the past dozen years had been acting on the same presumption-if they could not keep a grasp on the wealth of the region themselves, they would at least destroy as much of it as possible, so the enemy could not benefit from it either.

    “There must have been really a lot of iron being processed,” Keith commented. “It’s one thing for someone to tell Ollie so, and for him to send me off to see about getting the place back into production. It’s something else to see these wasted smelters for myself. How much were they turning out, annually, before the war?”

    “Before the war?” Leopold Cavriani looked reflective. “I wish that Durre could have come with us. He would know better than I do. A geographer with a sense of the poetic described the smelters and hammer-mills as ‘strung along every stream in the Upper Palatinate, like pearls on a necklace’. Especially, in addition to the Pegnitz here, along the Vils and the Naab.”

    “Funny way to describe the mess and polution that they must have made,” Mary Simpson commented. “Look at the size of those slag piles.”

    “Iron was pearls,” Leopold answered. “Pearls in the sense of wealth. How many? More than two hundred fifty, I am sure. But no matter how carefully they have managed these forests-the peasants of the Upper Palatinate are forbidden to keep goats, you know, because they are so destructive of the wood if they get loose-there have been constant shortages of charcoal. Without fuel, the smelters have to stand down.”

    “Why didn’t they use coal?” That was Toby Snell, with a question that just came naturally to a Grantville boy.

    “I don’t think there’s any around here,” Keith answered. “None suitable for metalworking, anyway. If they could get a railroad through, from here to Grantville, . . .”

    Leopold resumed his interrupted lecture. “The Emperor Charles IV’s Goldene Strasse, his ‘Golden Street’ from Prague to Nürnberg, the one we are riding on and will continue riding on as far as Sulzbach, was built because of iron, too, not gold. Not by Charles IV, originally. It existed long before. He just improved it, and rerouted parts of it through his own lands.”

    Cavriani looked thoughtful. “It should have been the Eisenstrasse, the ‘Iron Street.’ For four hundred years, at least, it has been iron, in this region. Probably for much longer than that; I don’t know, but that is when the records that I have seen begin. About four centuries ago. Occasionally, however, farmers find pots and iron tools along here that are far, far, older – things from the time of ancient Rome and even before. Look around you. God never meant the thin soil on these hills to grow grain. It is the ore beneath them that made the fortune of the Electors Palatine. The up-timers speak of the Ruhr. Throughout the middle ages, the Upper Palatinate was for the Holy Roman Empire what the Ruhr became for the German Empire so much later.”

    He grinned. “Oh, the Rhine Palatinate is a fine place. Lovely, scenic, civilized. But the wealth that supported that culture, that ancient university, the great library that was stolen from Heidelberg and taken to Rome a few years ago, was wrested out of these hills by men with picks and shovels. This second part of the Palatinate was the center of the south German iron trade. Mining and processing, both. If the iron isn’t brought back into production, nothing else that Duke Ernst can do will help in the long run. In these hills, it is iron or poverty. The proverb runs, ‘Dig iron or eat stones.’”

    He gestured. “It goes on far beyond what we can see here. The Montanbereich. It is about a hundred of your up-time miles long, from Sulzbach and Rosenberg in the west, it runs northeast almost all the way to the border of Bohemia. These little towns, even those no bigger than than a large agricultural village in other parts of Germany, received their city charters in the fourteenth century because of iron.”

    “You can pretty much tell that,” Keith commented. “Everyone in Grantville keeps talking about the importance of industrializing. Around Thuringia, I’ve not seen anything like this. Some around Suhl and Schleusingen, Schmalkalden, but that’s on the south side of the mountains. Just how much of the work force was already out of agriculture down here? Before the war, I mean?”

    Cavriani thought for a moment. “It isn’t like northern Italy or the Netherlands, of course, so it’s hard to compare. It isn’t ‘urbanized,’ as you say. Mining is a rural occupation and so is ore processing. Only the producers of finished goods live mainly in the towns. Or near them, since the forges also benefit from having a source of power from the streams. But probably, of adult men, one out of five; in some places, such as along the Pegnitz River here, or along the Naab, which flows south into the Danube, one out of four, worked in mining or metals.”

    “Looking at this, I can see why Herr Durre and the other metalworkers in Nürnberg are so worried.” Marc was returning to his first thought. “It isn’t just that they are short of materials for making wire and such. Even though, if they can’t get raw materials for the metals trades, it will soon no longer be a proud and wealthy city. It’s the arsenal, too. It’s a manufacturing arsenal. Without iron, without enough iron, . . .”



Approaching Amberg, the Upper Palatinate

    “It was not,” Elias Brechbuhl was saying to Mary Simpson, “an easy time. Nor did the Bavarians intend to allow any Protestants who remained in the city an easy time.” He had been talking about the year 1626. “In September-I recall very well that it was the fifteenth of the month-they held a Catholic mass, a Te Deum, in the main parish church of Amberg to celebrate the Catholic victory over the Danes. And the school children were forced to attend it. That was the day that I decided to go into exile. Whatever the hardships it would bring upon Elisabetha and the children. For in only two more years, my oldest son would start school. And they would have schooled him into a Catholic. I could not permit it, not on my conscience.” He reined his horse in, pausing to look up at the walls of Amberg.

    Veronica drew up her mule next to him. “Yes, I remember that day. Hans was at that service. He was in the Jesuit school. The damned Bavarians had closed the Pädagogium, the Calvinist school, already, three years before that. It was the year before he started his apprenticeship with his father.” She sat, looking up at the walls.

    Brechbuhl looked startled.

    Veronica glowered. “I will say it. Die verdammten Bayer. If you don’t want to hear it, you don’t have to listen.”

    Brechbuhl turned back to Mary Simpson. “This is the first time that I have been back. Margaretha’s first husband was already dead; he was killed by Bavarian troops almost three years before that day. She came with us, as did Lorenz and Hanna. Clara and Matthias weren’t married yet; she was living with Margaretha. So she came with us, as well.” He smiled. “A year later, there was Matthias at our door in Nürnberg. I think she had given up hope, but by waiting longer, he was able to salvage more money from the sale of his father’s house and business than if he had left so quickly. But then, a bachelor is not as constrained as the head of a household. It is easier for him to take some risks.”

    Keith Pilcher frowned. He wasn’t Catholic, but he had gotten to know some of the Jesuits who were working at St. Mary’s in Grantville and liked them. “What do you mean by ‘schooled into a Catholic’,” he asked.

    “The Jesuits in Amberg accepted any boy who turned up at their door, without a charge in money. That,” Brechbuhl said, “I will grant them. Protestants as well as Catholics. Oh, yes, they wanted the Protestant families to send their sons. Not just pupils whose parents could not pay the full fees. They accepted boys with no coats, boys with no shoes, and gave them bread to eat. But there are other ways to impose a cost. On the soul, if not upon the purse. The year that Gustavus Adolphus landed, 1630, that would have been, I received a letter from a friend who had stayed. He said that the schools had been dismissed in the morning, the day before he wrote, so that the children could attend the burning of the books that the Bavarians had confiscated from the Lutherans. ‘So that they could some day tell their descendants about it.’”

    “You were right, you know,” Veronica said. “To leave, if it was so important to you that your children not be schooled as Catholics. Somehow, it did not make that much difference to us. The first time we were plundered, by Mansfeld's ‘Protestant’ troops in support of the Calvinist Winter King, we were still good little Calvinists ourselves, just as the elector declared that his subjects should be. So, my stepson Anton figured, how could becoming Catholic make it worse? We delayed as long as we could; that’s true. We did not leap enthusiastically into the arms of the damned Bavarians, the way Johann Stephan’s brother Kilian did. He threw himself upon their breasts, practically, when they first occupied Amberg in 1621. But in 1628, when Duke Maximilian declared that we must become Catholic or leave, we became Catholic.”

    Nodding at him, she continued. “It isn’t as if Johann Stephan brought up his children the way your father brought you up. He didn’t suffer fools gladly. Even though he died long before this war started, he had more than enough of the back and forth between the Lutherans and the Calvinists-I can only think what he would have said about adding Catholics to the stew. After one of the changes, when the ecclesiastical visitor complained of his apparently minimal familiarity with the doctrines and teachings covered on the questionnaire, he replied, ‘It may be that I do know the answer. I'm just not sure which one you are looking for this time.’”

    “Ah,” Brechbuhl said. “Yes. I do believe that I heard that story from my father.” He smiled. “And many others about Johann Stephan. The various religious changes generated a lot of jobs for printers. Just think of how many copies of the Mandatum de Non Calumniendo were needed when one of the electors decided that the Lutherans and Calvinists had taken their theological disputes to a far from genteel level of rhetoric. ‘Thou shalt not insult one another.’ Indeed, think of all the pamphlets that led to the issuance of the mandate. Such controversies must be very profitable for the printing trade.”

    Veronica also smiled. More grimly. “Gretchen had not been confirmed as a Calvinist. The ministers and teachers were exiled first; she wasn’t old enough for confirmation when they left. Although she accepted the conversion like the rest of us, she was no longer exactly a child, so she has never really been instructed in the teachings of any church at all. Hans was confirmed as a Catholic. He was obliging enough about it, but he was, I think, a little too old when they started teaching him. He was ten. He didn’t really take it all very seriously.” She blinked. “He reminded me of Johann Stephan, in many ways.”

    Then she looked directly at Brechbuhl. “Annalise has no clear memory of having been a Calvinist, ever. She is Catholic, Elias – truly a Catholic, instructed as one and content to be one. So few years, barely six, between the oldest and the youngest, to make such a difference. The years of childhood are very short. We are working in common, now. Someday, maybe, you will have to decide if you will let your children know a cousin who is truly a Catholic. But it isn’t something that we need to face today. Or even tomorrow.”

    Brechbuhl looked down.

    She shook her head. “In 1628, we were plundered again. As Catholics. This time by some of Tilly’s ‘Catholic’ troops in a land that was now ‘Catholic.’ Nor did our obedient change of confession move Duke Maximilian to protect us from his allies. That is when Anton was killed and his wife taken. And we were taken.”

    She looked directly at her stepdaughter’s widower. “I intend to get Johann Stephan’s property back, Elias. I will get it. Enough to send the Catholic granddaughter of a Calvinist publisher to an up-time college headed by a Lutheran abbess. That much, the damned Bavarians owe Anton’s family. Do not expect me to handle things the way I would have done ten years ago. I am not the respectable widow of an established printer any more. Nor am I entirely the wife of the mayor of Grantville. I have seen and done things that even Elisabetha and her sisters, with all the hardships of exile, have not. I am an old hag of a camp follower also, Elias. You will do well not to forget that. Just as people will do well, as time goes on, to remember that Gretchen was a young camp follower. These things do not leave a person the same.”



Amberg, Upper Palatinate

    Duke Ernst had been polite about making the acquaintance of most of the party from Grantville. Not that he wasn’t interested in seeing the up-timers for himself, but he was, after all, a very busy man, with many demands on his time. He suspected that he faced extended conversations with Mary Simpson and Veronica Dreeson. The appointments were on his calendar. He would do his duty. But after their first conversation, he had been utterly enchanted to make the acquaintance of Keith Pilcher. If they were not kindred spirits, they had, at least, a common appreciation of straightforward facts.

    “Boecler,” he said. “Get me my notes.” Turning back to Keith he explained, “We do, of course, have the materials from before the war. The Palatinate has been very well-governed. We have plenty of inventories and surveys. But they are terribly obsolete, because of the destruction. My first project has been to determine just what the current status is. However, here is what there was before the war.”

    Keith nodded. “It’s always good to have a base line for comparison.”

    “You do realize,” Duke Ernst asked, “that not all of this area properly belongs to the Upper Palatinate?”

    “I didn’t know it,” Keith answered. “But I think that I could have guessed. We’ve seen a lot of that sort of thing since we landed in Thuringia. It really complicates life.”

    Duke Ernst, proud of his increasing command of modern English, said “Tell me about it,” and beamed. “The Upper Palatinate proper, the lands of the young Elector Karl Ludwig, is in two main sections, northern and southern. Between them are part of Pfalz-Neuburg, then Amt Vilseck, which belongs to the Bishop of Bamberg and is a great nuisance to your administrators there since it is quite detached from the remainder of the diocese, and, of course, Leuchtenberg. Although we are, currently, administering Leuchtenberg, since the landgrave fled from Pfreimd into Bavaria when the Swedish army arrived in the vicinity.”

    He cocked his head. “You will have become used to the word Amt, I think, for a local administrative district. Here, though, it is called a Pfleggericht. There is very little difference in the functions. Amberg is in the southern main part of the Upper Palatinate, along with Pfaffenhofen, Haimburg, Rieden, Freudenberg, Hirschau, Nabburg, Neunburg vor dem Wald, Wetterfeld, Bruck, Retz, Waldmünchen, Murach, and Treswitz-Tenesberg. In the northern part, you have the districts of Bernau, Eschenbach, Grafenwöhr, Holnberg, Kirchentumbach, Auerbach, and Hartenstein. Plus, just so things don’t become too neat, the treasury Amt of Kemnat, the Landgericht Waldeck and a little free lordship called Rothenberg. Which is not the imperial city of a similar name, which is in Franconia. Plus, there are little exclaves to the west, intermixed with the jurisdictions subject to Nürnberg.”

    As all the place names went rattling past his ears, Keith recognized one familiar word. “Mrs. Dreeson says that she comes from Grafenwöhr. We all caught that. God, that was funny. In our day, it was a huge center for army maneuvers; Americans by the hundreds of thousands trained at Graf. Does this mean that if she wants to go up there, she actually has to go through some spot that doesn’t belong to the Upper Palatinate? That isn’t under your control?”

    “There are some Pfleggerichte belonging to Pfalz-Neuburg in between. Pfalz-Neuburg was set up by the Emperor Maximilian in 1505; it belongs to a cadet line of the Palatinate. The mother of the first counts was the daughter and heiress of Duke Georg of Landshut and most of it was taken from his lands, not those of the Palatinate. It’s divided currently into three parts. Like Gaul. The largest belonged to Wolfgang Wilhelm-the one who married Maximilian of Bavaria’s sister and turned Catholic for the sake of an inheritance on the lower Rhine. Then there are two smaller sections belonging to his younger brothers, who remained Lutheran. Wolfgang Wilhelm, of course, is out of the picture. On behalf of Gustavus Adolphus, I have been working quite closely with his brother Johann Friedrich and his sister-in-law, August’s widow. And fairly successfully. The king, ah, emperor, decided that they should co-administer Wolfgang Wilhelm’s former lands, since they are both Lutheran. Gustavus Adolphus doesn’t wish to seem greedy.”

    Duke Ernst grinned. It made him look like a leprechaun. “Also, it is really more convenient in a way, since there is a nice Pfalz-Neuburg enclave on the south side of the Danube which Maximilian would most certainly gobble up if the king, ah, emperor, claimed it, since General Banér is currently besieging Ingolstadt. As it is, it makes a rather nice base of operations for some things. From our perspective, that is. From Maximilian’s viewpoint, I’m sure that Neuburg and its hinterland are as great an irritant to him as Ingolstadt is to us. Except that they are not half as well-fortified. Few places are as well-fortified as Ingolstadt.”

    Duke Ernst looked up, an idea suddenly striking him. “I don’t suppose that your administration in Franconia would be interested in trading Vilseck to the Upper Palatinate in exchange for something that we may have that is closer to their administrative center? I would certainly be happy to explore the possibility.”

    Keith was a bit taken aback. This was out of his league. But they had come through Bamberg on the way down, so he had a name handy. “You could always drop a note to Vince Marcantonio. He’s the administrator there. He’ll have to buck it up, through Steve Salatto to Ed Piazza. But I expect that they would be willing to talk about it.” That, he thought, should be safe enough. “Don’t expect an answer right away, though. Steve and Vince sort of have their hands full at the moment, what with . . .”

    “Oh, yes,” Duke Ernst answered serenely. “The peasants and their ram. Peasant revolts are always time consuming while they are happening, but things eventually settle down. Boecler, draft a letter please, for my signature, to Herr Marcantonio. I’ll expect to have it in the morning.”

    He returned his attention to the statistical survey of the Upper Palatinate. “According to the survey done in 1609, the Montanbereich had four hundred twenty-eight employers in industries connected with mining and related industries. The mining was mainly iron, but also tin, lead, and calamine, the ore that you call zinc. The related industries were ore processing, and the manufacture of metal goods, mostly wrought iron up to and including something the size of ship anchors.”

    He paused. “And, of course, transporting these. It takes certain specialized wagons, heavy horses, and skilled drivers to get something the size of a ship’s anchor from here to Venice.”

    “I can see that,” Keith agreed.

    Duke Ernst continued. “These businesses directly employed 10,550 miners and other metal workers. With dependent family members, this meant that 36,400 people out of a population of 180,000 in the region were directly supported by mining and metalworking.”

    Keith did some rapid calculations in his head. Dividing 428 employers into 10,550 employees did not come out to a bunch of little one-master shops with a journeyman and a couple of apprentices. Assuming that there had been some little shops, and there were bound to have been, the rest had been big businesses by down-time standards.

    Duke Ernst was marching through the statistics. “That does not include those who worked in transport, with a network that ran into Hungary, northern Italy, and all through Germany. The Upper Palatinate’s teamsters were widely known. The exemptions from toll and tariffs that the emperors granted to them go back to the 14th century in many cases. Back to the time when the Goldene Strasse received its privileges.”

    Keith wished that he could have brought the guy a battery-operated laptop. With a spreadsheet program. He’d love one. “Must have given them a bit of an advantage, trade wise, getting their stuff to market without all those add-ons.”

    “Oh.” Duke Ernst smiled a little smile. “Yes, of course. It was much resented by the robber barons. And not always enforced during times of turmoil. But the principle was well established.”

    He leaned over, turning a few more pages in the ledger. “A lot of the ‘agricultural’ workers were also doing things other than growing food, such as working in the charcoal industry that supported the metal processing industry. Again, according to the 1609 survey, 310,000 measured meters of wood were cut in the Montanbereich that year; there were 1,460 charcoal burners who were counted as industrial workers, but also the 1,100 woodcutters and 1,950 people working in ‘side jobs’ associated with charcoal manufacture who were counted as agricultural. The regulations for managing the forests to maintain the supply of charcoal go back to the late 1300s: replanting, banning of goat-keeping, and the like.”

    He stood up. “Then the war came.”

    Keith nodded. It always seemed to come back to the war.

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