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1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Forty Six

       Last updated: Monday, October 3, 2005 20:30 EDT



Kloster Lechfeld near Untermeitingen

    Marc was thinking about Augsburg. In 1629, the Bavarians and imperials had forced most of the city’s Lutherans into exile; their churches had first been closed and then pulled down. In 1632, the city had been held for Ferdinand II by a Colonel Breda, with four thousand five hundred men. Gustavus Adolphus had taken it, after Lech am Rain. Breda did the same to the Catholic citizens. Neither set of overlords tolerated Calvinists or smaller reigious groups, of course.

    According to the newspaper he had bought the night they spent there, the Augsburg city council was now floating suggestions that the two confessions should be granted parity-that the council’s right of cuius regio should include the legalization of both at once. That would mean that both Catholics and Lutherans would have same rights in every aspect of life. Neither group was talking about the rights of Calvinists, even now. He made a little face.

    Susanna looked at him. “Stop it. You have been muttering and grumbling and making faces ever since we left Neuburg.”

    “I don’t like the fact that by going south to Untermeitingen, we are only forty miles west of Munich. Too close for comfort. Pilgrimage or no pilgrimage.”

    “We’re almost there. The complex of buildings down the road ought to be the Franciscan monastery. It has a hostel where the pilgrims stay.” Susanna stood on tiptoe, looking down the road, trying to see a little farther. It was all very flat. This was the Lechfeld, of course, where so many battles had been fought over the centuries; where Europe had turned back the Hungarians. A nice open space where men could fight. “Isn’t it exciting to visit Mariahilf-a place where the Virgin Mary helped someone so recently? There could still be people alive who remember it. It was just over thirty years ago. Maybe a coachman. Do you suppose that if there is, he would be here to tell the pilgrims about it?”

    She looked up at Marc, who was raising one of his eyebrows rather doubtfully. “Why,” he asked, “would a coachman be likely to remember it? Whatever it was.”

    Susanna was scandalized. “Don’t you even know?” she asked. She reached into her doublet and brought out a pamphlet. I bought this in Neuburg, to study, so that I could get the most benefit from the pilgrimage. The lady of the castle at Untermeitingen was the widow of the mayor of Augsburg. His name was Raimond Imhof. Her name was Regina Bämlin, from a family at Reinhartshausen. She was traveling at night and lost her way on the Lechfeld. That was in 1602. Naturally, in the dark, off the road, she was afraid that they might accidentally come into a bog or slue, or even into the river itself. So she made a prayer to the Virgin; she vowed that wherever she first saw the lights of her home, there she would build a chapel.” Susanna nodded her head firmly. “She was very pious, of course. And just then, she saw the lights and ordered her coachman to stick his whip into the ground, to mark the exact place.”

    Susanna turned a page. “So she set out to build her chapel. There were all sorts of permits and things that she had to get, of course. There always are. But the bishop of Augsburg, Herr Heinrich von Knoeringen, did give permission to build a chapel in honor of Our Dear Lady, and they laid the foundation stone on April 7, 1603.”

    Marc heaved a sigh. “Why don’t we sit down on the bank?” he suggested. It looked to him like Susanna was prepared to read the whole pamphlet.

    She was. She had thrown herself heart and soul into her pilgrimage. “Then the son of the foundress, his name was Leonhard Imhof and he was a knight of the Order of St. Stephen, had shortly before come back from a trip to Rome. He suggested that the chapel could be built like Santa Maria Rotonda, the Pantheon it is also called, in Rome. A round building, not the ordinary rectangular or cross shape. So the foundress hired an architect in Augsburg, named Elias Holl.”

    Marc did frown now. “Elias Holl is a Lutheran. Always has been. I know that, for sure. He’s famous. He was one of the Augsburg Protestants driven into exile by the emperor in 1629.”

    “I don’t know about that,” Susanna answered. “Anyway, this was a long time before, when the Catholics and Protestants got along better, maybe. And the man had to make a living, I guess, so he took the job and designed the chapel, even if it was Catholic. He designed it, they built it, and it was dedicated on June 3, 1604. That was Trinity Sunday. The high altar is designed in accordance with three visions that the foundress had in dreams, at night. And now we get to the good part.”

    “What do you call the ‘good part’?”

    “The miracles, of course,” Susanna answered simply. “The first one happened already while the chapel was being built. There was a peasant named Veit Müller from Großkitzigkoven. He had a little daughter named Agatha, not even a year old, who had suffered in agonizing pain for six weeks and nobody had been able to relieve her, even though they had asked for advice from the doctors. Finally he made a vow to go to the new chapel and promised to make an offering as soon as it was finished. And from that very hour, the child got better.”

    Susanna smiled brilliantly. “Isn’t that wonderful?”

    Marc said, “Ummmn.”

    “Then so many pilgrims came that the priest in Untermeitingen could not take care of them all and asked for help. So in 1606, Observant Franciscans from the Province of Strassburg came to establish a hospice. Those are the buildings we were looking at, where we will stay while I do my penance.”

    “I would much rather,” Marc said, “camp outside.”

    “That,” Susanna countered, “is where we will stay.” She turned a page. “Soon, the little round chapel was not big enough to accommodate all of the pilgrims. So in 1610 they added an outside pulpit, so more people could hear the homilies at once. They also added a tower with a cupola, which has a lantern burning in it always. Frau Regina Imhof paid for that also, so it would be a permanent beacon for people traveling on the Lechfeld.”

    Marc observed, with considerable thankfulness, that Susanna was coming to the last page of the pamphlet. It was the standard, cheap, eight-page popular type.

    “There have been lots and lots of miracles; the monks keep records of them all. The most important ones are listed here. I’ll lend you the pamphlet, so you can read about them while I’m doing my penance. And now, even during the war, so many people come that they will have to enlarge the church again, as soon as they can,” she finished triumphantly. “Donations are welcome.”

    Marc was not at all sure that he wanted to read the pamphlet while Susanna was inside. Of course, it was good to be reminded regularly that Susanna, however adorable, was an unquestioning adherent of papist superstitions. It was one of those things that assisted him in restraining his impulses. That was a project on which he needed all the help he could get.



    “I think,” Marc said, “that the sensible thing to do is to go back to Augsburg and take the trade route to Ulm. Actually, I think that the sensible thing to do is go back to Neuburg and then to Nürnberg.”

    “Not that again.” Susanna stuck out her tongue. She was feeling greatly relieved in spirit since completing her penance, which tended to show itself in a certain argumentativeness. “We already agreed that we were not going to Nürnberg. And why can’t we go on south? From Landsberg am Lech, we could go to Memmingen, and then follow the Iller to Ulm. If we’re going anyhow, we might as well see some new things.”


    “We’re too late, again. Papa’s friends say that he and his ‘relatives’ left with a convoy a couple of weeks ago. They had paid their way to Donaueschingen. Then it, the rest of the convoy, was going on to Strassburg. He told them that he had business in Basel.”

    “When is the next convoy going out?” Susanna asked.

    “Not this week. Or next, as far as anyone here in Ulm knows. The last one got to Donaueschingen safely-they do know that much. But beyond, about half way between there and Freiburg, things were pretty desolate. One of the mercenary companies hired to guard the convoy that Papa went out with tried to loot its own clients. The other two companies rallied to the defense of their employers and put the attempt down, but not without considerable loss of property and several deaths, both of guards and of civilians. The noise, the shooting and other racket, attracted the attention of a detachment of Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar’s troops. The news is that Bernhard has detained the entire convoy, so nobody is in the mood to try it again.”

    “So what do we do now?”

    “Head for Donaueschingen, I suppose. Without a convoy. I wouldn’t put it past Papa to have intended to go on to Strassburg and just paid the fare part way to throw people off his trail. So that’s the only place we’re likely to be able to find out whether he really did turn off for Basel. Or to find out which way he went from there. I don’t like it, though. It’s ninety miles to Donaueschingen and it will be tricky.”

    Swabia, Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar’s Camp

    “So that’s it,” Raudegen said. After the debacle with the convoy, he had switched into Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar’s service. “That’s why I took service with the convoy. It’s only a suspicion, Your Grace. Nonetheless, I was suspicious enough to take the risk of following them.”

    “If it is the Austrian archduchess, the admiral’s wife, and the mayor’s wife,” Duke Bernhard answered, “it’s more than worth risking a few men to lay hands on them. Take your three men-I’ll give you a few more-and start back toward Ulm. Try to get back on their track. Before you leave, interview everyone in the convoy who is interned here-try to find out the last time anyone saw those four people. Once you find out where they left the convoy, track them from there.”



From Ulm to Donaueschingen

    Every time that Marc and Susanna saw soldiers, they took to the fields again. That was, if they saw them, or heard them, soon enough to get into the fields without being seen themselves. The morning that they crossed paths with Raudegen and his men, they didn’t have time. The riders were moving fast.

    Being seen running attracted attention. Marc had impressed that on Susanna. It gave people the idea that you had some reason to run. This time, the two of them had just moved to the side of the road to let the cavalrymen going the other direction move past.

    Susanna turned her face away from the road. Marc noticed that her hair was starting to grow longer. Not that much time had passed since they left Munich, but he really ought to cut it again. She looked more like a girl when she had hair. Should he cut her hair while he was thinking about the girl-ness of her? Maybe not. Probably not. Definitely not.

    Once the riders were well out of sight and hearing, Susanna said, “The captain. He was with the guards in Bavaria for the wedding procession. I remember him.”

    “He didn’t seem to recognize you. He just glanced; he wasn’t really paying attention.”

    “I wasn’t a boy then.” Susanna sniffed. Then she frowned. “He was very careful, though. Always watching. He never just sat on his horse like some of the soldiers. His eyes went back and forth, all the time. Checking people along the streets. Checking where the group or horses or carriage next in front was going to stop to look at a display. Looking back to see if the procession was starting to bunch up. It could be, after he thinks about it a bit, that he might remember me.”

    “All right, then,” Marc answered. “It’s back to the fields.”

    A half mile later, he regretted his idea. They couldn’t get beyond where they were without fording a good-sized stream; they couldn’t get to the ford because a bunch of men, not upstanding farmers but rural louts, were lolling around at a water hole just above it on this hot autumn afternoon, drinking and splashing.

    Mark looked around. They took refuge in a hay shed to which, presumably, the louts were supposed to be bringing the cut hay that was in the field. Marc climbed the ladder to the loft. It was already full; no reason for the louts to come up there, even if they did eventually start hauling hay.



    Hay was not as comfortable as it looked. It was not the straw. Susanna had slept on straw mattresses all her life. However, that straw had been stuffed inside heavy hempen ticking and, usually, crumpled or softened through use. This hay could not have been in the loft more than a few weeks. It was stiff and prickly. It had weeds and a variety of other stiff and spiky things mixed with it. If she turned one way, it poked her left cheek; if she turned another way, it poked her right forehead. She gave up and sat up.

    Marc was looking at her.

    “Have they gone?” she whispered. “Can we move on?”

    “No, they are still there. Still drinking. Disgustingly drunk, but not dead drunk.”

    Susanna peeked out through a crack that had opened in the daubing. The five men were still sitting by the river, wasting a perfectly good afternoon. She wished that their employer would come. She wished that his wife would come. She wished that his son would come. She wished that his steward would come. She wished that someone would come and drive them back into the fields to gather up the hay shocks or back to whatever else they certainly should have been doing. Lazy, worthless, servants-that was what they were.

    Marc leaned over her shoulder. “You might as well sit back down. I think that they’re going to stay.”

    Susanna looked back. The sun, coming in through the cracked daubing, made a stripe down his face, focusing on the left eye, which he was using to peer out.

    Suddenly, the unfairness of life was too much for her. She flopped down on the crude planks of the floor and sobbed. “Why?”

    “Why what?” Marc asked with pardonable bewilderment.

    “Why does God do it? Look,” she sat up and leaned toward him. “Look at my eyelashes.”

    Marc looked. “Yes. So? I mean, they’re there.”

    “But they’re plain.” Susanna would have wailed, if she hadn’t had to whisper. “They’re light brown, and they’re thin and they’re straight and they’re short.”

    Marc backed away a half-step, looking a little apprehensive.

    “Marc,” she asked. “Have you ever looked at your eyelashes?”

    “Well, no,” he admitted. “At least, not in any detail.”

    “They’re black. They’re thick. They are long and curly and wasted on a boy.” Except, she thought, really, they weren’t wasted. They were very attractive right where they were, even if their possessor didn’t appreciate them properly. “Do you know how much any girl would like to have lashes like that? Do you know how we paint and darken and crimp the poor things trying to get that effect?”

    Marc thought at moment. “We could,” he suggested, “try to exchange them. Since we’re here anyway.”

    “Exchange them?”

    “Yes. Here. Like this. You stay there.” He sat down next to her, facing the other direction. Carefully, he folded his arms behind his back. Then he leaned forward and fluttered his eyelashes against hers. Left eye to right eye; right eye to left eye.

    Startled, Susanna pulled back a little. Still, it wasn’t an unpleasant sensation. She leaned forward and tried it again. It was perhaps ten minutes later that she folded her own arms firmly behind her back. And ten minutes more before she felt compelled to say, “I don’t believe that it’s working.”

    Marc looked at her. “No,” he said judiciously. “I don’t believe that it is.”

    They sat for a few moments. “Your eyelashes are perfectly fine the way they are, you know. They go with the rest of you. It’s all sort of cute, the way it fits together.”

    “Thank you.” She might have said more, but there came the sound of someone opening the door to the barn below. As quietly as possible, they slipped into their respective, separate, piles of hay.



    Raudegen and his men stopped at noon to eat something and rest the horses. He was frowning. There was something. It had been bothering him all morning. No, not all morning. Just since they passed the man and boy. Nothing about the man. He had never seen him before; he was sure of that. The ridiculous curl that fell down in the middle of his forehead made him easy enough to remember. The boy, then. He chewed on his bread, thinking.

    He was looking for the archduchess. If the sight of the boy was bothering him, then it should have something to do with the archduchess. “Just stay here for a few minutes,” he said to the others. Sometimes, looking in water helped him remember; using it like a mirror, letting the reflections carry his mind. He hated to let other men see him doing it; they would think him a fool. He led the rested, cooled, horses down to the brook, standing quietly as each of them drank.

    Passau, he thought. Passau, at the edge of the pavilion. In the archduchess’ household. A girl, standing on her very tiptoes, straining to see to see the ceremony. The line of the neck, the ears. The boy. Neck. Ears. Archduchess. Not a boy; a girl. She had not been traveling with the other four, as far as he knew. But it was worth splitting the party-and he would follow the girl. He sent his corporal and one of the men on toward Ulm, with a copy of the questions they were to ask, and turned back towards Donaueschingen.



    “I know it isn’t safe to travel at night,” Marc said, “but we have to keep moving, I think, as late as we possibly can, every single day. If you recognized that captain, then, if he crossed the convoy that Papa was with, coming this direction, maybe he recognized the archduchess and the other ladies. Maybe they are riding to get assistance. We have to catch up with Papa, now, as fast as we can. Even if we do things that are riskier. We have to warn them.”


    “Nobody here saw Papa when the convoy from Ulm went through. Or any of them.”

    “Maybe they were keeping out of sight,” Susanna suggested. “This town does belong to Count Egon von Fürstenberg. He’s an imperial commander. Sometimes under the Bavarians and sometimes under Tilly. But he’s been in Vienna, sometimes for weeks on end. He would certainly recognize Archduchess Maria Anna if he saw her. So would quite a few of his staff, I think. He isn’t someone she would want to meet while she is running away.” She paused. “He’s not someone I would want to meet.”

    “Would any of the count’s people have been in Bavaria? For the wedding procession, that is, or in Munich? Could they have seen Frau Simpson and Frau Dreeson, also?”

    “Maybe. It’s not as likely, but it’s possible. The count is a powerful man, the right kind of wedding guest for Duke Maximilian to invite.”

    “Well, we can’t just stay here. We have to make up our minds. Let’s just figure that Papa did what he planned. It’s still pretty decent weather. Better, really, than it was last summer; not so hot. Let’s turn south tomorrow morning and go on to Basel. If he isn’t there...” Marc paused, mentally reviewing Susanna’s demonstrated history of being able to finagle him into doing things that he didn’t think were the best idea available. “If he isn’t there, I’m taking you straight to Geneva and letting Mama deal with you. I have four sisters. She’s used to girls.”

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