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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Forty

       Last updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 19:25 EDT




    “I am very glad to see you.” Mike Stearns meant it.

    “I hopped a ride in the truck bringing Dona Mencia, since it was coming by way of Magdeburg in any case. We haven’t built any improved roads that make it easy to get from Grantville to the Netherlands on a diagonal; it pretty much has to follow two sides of a rectangle. We dropped her off at John Simpson’s house.”

    “Simpson? Not the palace?”

    “She seemed a little queasy about the palace, even if Gustavus Adolphus isn’t in residence at the moment. Bedmar is her brother, but I get the sense that she hasn’t had any way of knowing just how close we are to getting a settlement of the situation in the northwest. There’s no one there to entertain her, in any case.”

    “What’s your sense of her?”

    “Shrewd.” Ed paused for a minute. “Very much tending to keep her mouth shut, at least with us. Not at all forthcoming about the extent to which she was, or maybe was not, involved in the archduchess’ decision to abandon the Bavarian match. Even less forthcoming about future plans.”

    “Of course,” Francisco Nasi commented, “as you say, she is not aware of how far the negotiations have come.”

    “What does she know?” Mike asked.

    “Since June, I think, since she crossed the Bavarian border at Passau, no more than any other member of the public who buys a newspaper now and then,” Ed answered. “It has been several weeks since she has seen the archduchess. Except, of course, she knows perfectly well that Vervaux brought the young dukes of Bavaria to Amberg and that, as of last week, they were still in the collegium.”

    “I am honestly very surprised,” Don Francisco commented, “that Duke Ernst has been able to hold that information quiet. I myself do not know exactly who is aware of it. But few people, very few people.”

    “Until you just said that,” Ed said, “I did not know it myself. Surmised it, true. But I did not know.”

    Nasi looked at him. He hated being trumped.

    Duke Hermann of Hesse-Rothenburg smiled at Sattler. Who now owed him a bet.



    Mike waited them out. It was Ed who changed the subject. “Well, catch me up to date, will you. Grantville is a bit off the beaten track, these days. How are things coming with the Prince Formerly Known as the Cardinal Infante? Whatever he is calling himself these days?”

    Mike leaned back. Stretched his arms, hunched his back. He had been sitting at this desk too long. “We’re getting there, I think. A new Spanish Netherlands should come out of it, if they ever bring the negotiations to a conclusion. Rebecca and Frederik Hendrik go back and forth, back and forth. Consisting basically of what in our world was day the Netherlands as well as Belgium. Meaning that he’s going to swallow the prince-bishoprics up there, Liege for a certainty. He can’t afford not to have its industry. With maybe some territories in the immediate proximity added as well. What we knew as Luxemburg very likely.”

    “What does that leave for Frederik Hendrik?” Ed asked. “Anything?”

    “Oh, hell yes,” Mike said. “Gustavus Adolphus is in an impossible military situation vis-a-vis Don Fernando. But Don Fernando is in just as impossible a one vis-a-vis Frederik Hendrik, who has his army holed up in Overijssel. With the USE controlling those three northernmost provinces, the Stadholder has a friendly rear area. Even with help from Spain, which isn’t likely to be arriving given the current situation along the Spanish Road, Don Fernando could never manage to dig him out. There's simply no way, even if the USE never gets involved directly in the fighting, that he could overrun the Dutch up there. And with an ongoing USE naval presence in the Zuider Zee, he has no hope of winning the siege of Amsterdam either.”

    “But,” Don Francisco interrupted, “consider the other side. Frederik Hendrik faces an equally impossible situation. He has no hope of driving the Spanish out, either. And if they settle for a division of the Netherlands based on who controls what, then he winds up being the ruler of a dinky little country with no major cities or ports except Amsterdam, which is isolated from the rest, while Don Fernando winds up with almost everything in the Netherlands that counts. Good agriculture, but no industry and not much industrial potential.”

    “Stalemate. Ed nodded. “So what are they aiming at?”

    “If they can reach a good political settlement, Frederik Hendrik can get as many concessions from Don Fernando as possible and wind up being one of the most influential figures in a new reunited Low Countries. So. Frederik Hendrik will officially surrender. Don Fernando will immediately confirm him as the Prince of Orange, highest ranked nobleman in the new political entity. He will agree to sweeping political concessions, including some form of freedom of religion. Not a carbon copy of our up-time version, but a real one nonetheless. With, I suspect, a considerable component of, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Also guarantees for the established political liberties of the Dutch provinces.”

    “How sour will those pickles be?”

    “Not as sour as the last one,” Nasi said. “Gustavus Adolphus will relinquish the Dutch provinces he took. That’s a meaningful concession on his part. Except. Except that at Admiral Simpson’s insistence, he will insist on maintaining what they are calling a ‘Danzig Corridor,’ so that the USE Navy has direct access to the Zuider Zee.”

    “I don’t think,” Ed said, “that either of the Netherlandish gentlemen will like that. But, who knows? It may give them a common interest in the long run.”

    Mike looked at him. “Nobody has said that before, as far as I know.”

    Ed thought for a minute. “What ‘political entity’?”

    “Aye, therein lies the rub,” Duke Hermann said. “We have a truce; we have a cease-fire. But we do not have a peace treaty. Gustavus Adolphus wants some guarantees that the Spanish Netherlands will become, in effect at least, an independent nation. In essence, he's insisting that the Habsburgs have to agree to yet another split in their dynasty. There would now be three branches of the Habsburgs, not two. Naturally, the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs are not keen on the idea at all.”

    “Well,” Ed commented, “the Austrians may not be enthusiastic, but given the pickle they are in at this point, there isn’t much they can do except sputter. From everything we hear, Ferdinand II is on his last legs and there is no prospect at all that his son will ever become Holy Roman Emperor. If there ever is another Holy Roman Emperor.”

    Nasi nodded. “Yes, that too. Which does lead us to the question. Where is Archduchess Maria Anna?”

    Ed smiled. “I was beginning to think that you would never ask.” He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a little packet. “Special delivery from Leopold Cavriani, via the Jesuit grapevine. Drexel, formerly of Munich, brought it when he drove the English Ladies into town.”

    “What English ladies?” Nasi asked.

    Ed stared at him. Well, nobody could be a hundred percent up to speed on everything, all the time. Nuns were probably pretty low on Don Francisco’s list of things to think about.

    “The teaching sisters. Mother Superior Mary Ward’s Jesuitesses. The pope has revoked the dissolution of their institute and moved them into the USE to work under Larry Mazzare. The first batch arrived the day before yesterday; more to come, probably. Drexel picked them up at Neuburg about a week ago. And this from Leopold. I guess he didn’t want to risk the news to the radio.”

    “Ed,” Mike said painfully, “what news?”

    “That Archduchess Maria Anna is currently in Neuburg. Presuming that the sulfa and chloramphenicol have fixed her up, she is about to set out, in the company of our friend Leopold, not to mention Mary and Veronica, for Basel. From which point she is going to the Spanish Netherlands to marry your friend Don Fernando.”

    Deadly silence.

    Ed grinned. “By the way, that leads up to a question of my own. Since when are Rebecca and Frederik Hendrik transmitting radio messages for Don Fernando? From Amsterdam, bouncing through Grantville to Nürnberg to be transcribed and delivered to his lady love in Neuburg. Or, if not his lady love, his intended wife, at any rate?”

    “Ah,” Mike said. “Ah. I didn’t know that they were.”

    “Well, they are. Were. Did.” Ed checked around in his pocket. “This wasn’t in the packet from Cavriani, but Kircher gave me a copy when he came over to bring the other. According to the Jesuits, Don Fernando has already been negotiating with Rome for all the necessary dispensations. Breaking Maria Anna’s betrothal to Maximilian, allowing first cousins to marry, the whole thing. He finds Urban VIII favorably inclined.”

    “Holy smoke.” Mike sat back.

    Sattler looked shocked; then asked, “Why sulfa? Why chloramphenicol? Plague?”

    Ed smiled. “Infected hands from pushing a wheelbarrow. Don’t ask why. It gets complicated. Mary Simpson was in the wheelbarrow with blistered feet.”

    From the other side of the table, Frank Jackson, who had been sitting quietly, a sardonic look on his face, suddenly exploded. “Basel? Basel! Damn it, Mike, Diane is in Basel. Those old...biddies...are going to dump a goddamned major political crisis right on top of Diane.”



    “We absolutely have to keep this under wraps,” Mike said. “For their safety, if for no other reason. Ed, who all knows this?”

    “That she was in Neuburg as of last week? All the English Ladies who left her there. Say, ah, eight or nine women. I didn’t exactly count them.”

    “Two can keep a secret,” Frank said.

    Ed nodded. “If one of them is dead. But as for the rest, how many know where she is going? Well, I don’t know whether any or all of the English Ladies do. Don Fernando and his advisers, presumably. Rebecca or Frederik Hendrik, since one of them has to have sent out the message-or maybe both of them. The pope and how many other people in Rome I can’t guess. Them-the archduchess, Mary, Veronica, Cavriani. Some of the Jesuits, at least.”

    Frank grunted. “Too many. I do not want that fucking madman Maximilian chasing after your blasted archduchess into Basel. If it leaks out that she’s on her way to Basel, somebody is going to end up dead.”

    Don Francisco nodded.



    “Frank isn’t taking this very well, is he?” Ed asked after supper that evening.

    Mike looked down at his beer. “To be perfectly honest, neither is John Simpson. I hate to think what he’s going to say when he hears that Mary was as close as Neuburg. That she had a chance to come home and went haring off again after a political chimaera. Which is how he’s going to see it.”

    “It would bother me too. If Annabelle were off somewhere, like that. If...”

    “If you couldn’t take care of her.” Mike grinned.

    “Didn’t it bother you-Becky penned up in Amsterdam? All that?”

    “Well, of course. I miss her like hell. But I did know in advance that I was marrying Daughter of Super-Spy. That makes a little bit of difference, I guess. But, still. Yeah, it’s hard to swallow. What about Henry?”

    “He loaned Dona Mencia his recliner for the rest of the trip to Brussels. Just told the driver to bring it back safe. Otherwise, he seems to be bearing up under the weight of the orphans.”

    “Is she married? Dona Mencia?” Mike asked.

    “I really don’t know. If there was a husband, he must be dead. I’ve never heard one mentioned, but with the way the Spanish set up their names, it’s hard to tell. Cardinal Bedmar is, as far as I can tell, is Alonso de la Cueva y Benavides Marques of Bedmar. Which might lead a person to suspect that Dona Mencia de Mendoza was a married name. But don’t count on it. Mama is Elvira Carillo de Mendoza y Cardenas, and any of the kids has a perfect right to use any of the multiple surnames that mom and dad tag along with them, just as suits their fancy, as far as I can tell. She has a sister who is a de la Cueva y Mendoza, but she’s married to a Carillo de Mendoza; another sister who goes by de la Cueva y Benavides; a couple just use de la Cueva. I really don’t know. But family that counts for Dona Mencia is made up of her mother, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. Whether they worry about her, I don’t know either.

    “No kids. Dona Mencia, I mean. But she is very fond of the archduchess. Quite genuinely. That came through when we were talking in the back of the truck, on the way up here.” Ed frowned a little. “Leopold didn’t say directly that Mary and Veronica like her, but I get that impression, somehow. They refused to let her go on from Neuburg by herself. They were fussing over her when she was sick.”

    “A Habsburg?”

    Ed nodded. “I don’t think that we can count on all of the Habsburgs being stamped out on the same die. People tend to think of the one with which the Spanish line died out, feeble minded and multiply handicapped. We couldn’t find anything in the encyclopedias about Maria Anna other than that she got married and had children; same for her sister. But both of the brothers seem to have been pretty competent.”

    He finished his wine. “It may be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ If we’ve wished too hard to get rid of Ferdinand II, his successor could be more of a problem. He will succeed in Austria, you know; he’s already king of Hungary. Depending on how we handle it, he could be more of a problem. More reasonable, a better politician, and a lot, lot, brighter than dear old dad.”

    “I wonder,” Mike said. “I wonder how he and his sister get along. If they do. Nothing in the library, I presume.”

    “Not a thing. But Dona Mencia says that they are very close. He’s also married to Don Fernando’s sister, you know. Ferdinand and Mariana; Fernando and Maria Anna coming up.”



    “I suppose,” Mike said finally, “that we ought to radio Basel. Just to let Diane get prepared for visitors. Let’s see if somebody can raise up Tony Adducci.”

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