Previous Page Next Page

UTC:       Local:

Home Page Index Page

1634: The Bavarian Crisis: Chapter Forty Seven

       Last updated: Friday, October 14, 2005 10:05 EDT




    The bright mid-morning sunshine of a perfect autumn day did not improve Diane Jackson’s mood, which had been very bad for several weeks. After all the trouble she had gone to, coming to Basel to let this son of Gustavus Adolphus’ ally inspect an up-timer for himself, she had hardly spoken to Margrave Friedrich V of Baden-Durlach. Or, more precisely, he had hardly made time in what he asserted was a very, very busy schedule to speak to her. She did not regard guided tours of the Basel region as an adequate substitute, even though her guide was doing his best.

    “So then, Your Excellency” Johann Rudolf Wettstein said, “my father and his brother came to Basel from a little place called Russikon in the administrative district of Kyburg in the canton of Zürich and started to rise in the world. Father became the business manager of the Spital. From what you have told me of your world up-time, that would a kind of combination of an orphanage, a retirement home, and an assisted living center. He did well. When I was sixteen, in 1610, he applied for both of us to become members of the vintners’ guild.”

    Diane blinked. When she had agreed to become an ambassador, she had not realized that everyone would substitute “Your Excellency” for her name. She still had to pause and think that people were talking to her. “How did managing a hospice lead to manufacturing wine?” Diane asked. “Was he starting to sell supplies to this hospital?”

    “Oh, we were not vintners. We had never been vintners; we will probably never be vintners. I was studying to become a notary public, a chancery official. But in Basel, to qualify to participate in city politics, you have to be a member of one of the guilds, and the vintners’ guild is the most influential. He could afford the fee, so that’s the one we joined. Some people are members of more than one guild, to qualify them to be members of different sections of the city council. For instance, for some you need to be in a merchant or finance guild; for others, you need to be in a craft guild. In this city, you do not have to work at either one. Guild membership is, you might say, a figment of the imagination. Of the political imagination. It is not an occupation, not a profession. One does need to be Protestant, of course. The city turned Protestant over a century ago. It threw off the prince bishop of Basel’s claims to lordship and exiled the Catholic families of the old medieval patriciate, so the bishop no longer has rights in the city and hinterland-only in his own territories.”

    “And you have continued to rise in Basel politics ever since your father joined this vintner’s guild?”

    “Not, ah, entirely smoothly. It is not easy for outsiders to enter the Basel political system and many still do consider our family outsiders. Not really part of the oligarchy. In spite of the fact that Basel accepted Protestant refugees from France, Flanders, and Italy as residents, it has not admitted many of them as citizens. The government of the city is still largely in the hands of the leading guilds. For all practical purposes, because the merchants and bankers can purchase membership in more than one guild, in a craft guild also, leadership has stayed in the hands of a small number of wealthy, influential, elite families.”

    “Oh,” Diane answered. “Yes, like the book that I read once. Animal Farm, it was called. The pig says that all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others. This is always true. In Grantville, the UMWA members like Mike and Frank now are somewhat more equal than others, no matter what they say. Not according to the law, but really.” She looked at Wettstein. “I will ask them to send me the book. For you.”

    “When I was in my early twenties,” Wettstein continued, “after a slight difficulty, I entered the Venetian military service for a while-nearly four years.” He looked a little abashed. “It was there, with the Venetians, that I met some persons from the kingdoms of eastern Asia. So when you came to Basel, the city council decided....”

    “That you would be a ‘perfect liaison.’” Diane sniffed. “Then you find out, when I point to spots on the great globe in your city hall, that I am from a place you never heard of. But it is too late, so you must still play guide.”

    Wettstein smiled down at the cynical little woman. Asiatic ambassador sent by the king of Sweden, absurd as that might be. He rather liked her. Although he had more than enough to do in his current job as district supervisor of Riehen, Basel’s territory on the right bank of the Rhine, he had still learned a great deal during their tours. That made them worthwhile for a man with political ambitions. Someday, when his title was, perhaps, mayor of Basel; perhaps, who knew, even ambassador in Magdeburg. These weeks would have been well-enough spent, even if his colleagues were laughing at him behind his back because he had been assigned to watch her. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    “Escorting you is a refreshing change from considering customs and tolls, which are the main concern of the district administrator of Riehen, Your Excellency,” he said. “Or from calculating budget projections for procurement of provisions. The citizens of Basel eat a great deal and the council has no intention that they should starve in case of adverse political events.”

    “In case the French should attack you?” Diane asked.

    “I would prefer not to be too specific,” Wettstein replied. “But certainly, it is always possible that someone might attack the city. It would be a mistake to focus solely upon the French. If you look here, for example,” he gestured to a series of stones mounted in the ground, “this is the boundary between Basel territory and that of Austria, here on the right bank of the river. Basel never thinks of the Austrians as being far away, in Vienna or Prague. We always think of them as being next door. Always. Uneasy neighbors.” He paused. “Some day we Swiss will be legally free of Austria. Not just effectively free of Austria. That is my goal.”

    He shook his head. He tended to tell this little woman more than he should. Damn, but she was shrewd. Not articulate, in the way one ordinarily expected of envoys, but clever and observant.

    “In any case,” he continued, “that is about all there is to see here in Riehen. Tomorrow, I think, if the weather remains fine, we will drive upstream along the Rhine to see the Roman ruins at Pratteln.”

    Diane nodded her head. She expected very little from Roman ruins.



    Margrave Friedrich V of Baden-Durlach was reading his mail. Because he ran the Baden-Durlach government-in-exile for his father, here in Basel, he got a lot of mail, some of it through the postal system and some through private courier. For the predictable number of urgent but brief messages, he kept a pigeon loft. So, as far as he knew, did every major bank and commercial firm in the city.

    The current letter had arrived by pigeon. The signature at the bottom had nothing to do with the sender’s real name. Margrave Friedrich smiled. He appreciated ambitious young men. Ambitious enough to take risks; young enough to take some really stupid risks. Talented, carefully sheltered young men with prosperous middle-class parents who provided them with tutors and Latin schools and university educations in law or in political economy.

    He stood up and thumbed through his files. Johann F. Freinsheim. Age twenty-five, he confirmed. Born in Ulm. Most recently at the University of Strassburg studying history and German literature under Professor Matthaeus Bernegger until he decided to make a journey to France as part of his grand tour and somehow managed to enter the royal household there as a secretary in the interpretation service. In which capacity he met Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar who was, although a traitor to the king of Sweden, nonetheless the brother of William Wettin. And of Duke Ernst in the Upper Palatinate, whose secretary, Heinrich Boecler, had also studied under Bernegger, at the same time as Freinsheim, it so happened. Through which connection, Freinsheim came into correspondence with Margrave Friedrich’s father, who was in the service of Gustavus Adolphus and who had managed to ship the young man a small crate of pigeons who believed that Basel was home. And thus into correspondence with Margrave Friedrich.

    It was astonishing how much a simple secretary in the French interpretation service could learn. It was also gratifying, given the proximity of Baden to Alsace, which until very recently had been the secondary focus of Duke Bernhard’s military operations. Secondary until recently, until Bernhard’s current abandonment of the Mainz front and probe into Swabia. Margrave Friedrich was very concerned about what Duke Bernhard was doing in Swabia.

    The problem had distracted him terribly from what he should have been learning from the up-time ambassadress, Frau Jackson. Or trying to learn. The woman was very close-mouthed. He had been quite gratified, however, to discover that he was considered sufficiently important that the Grantville general had sent his own wife.


    Basel was a natural focus for trade. It had been for four centuries, since the bishop built the first bridge across the Rhine at the site of the city. The road from the bridge ran across the Gotthard Pass into Italy. The city had papermaking and printing; a major university. It traded in ideas as well as in goods. Having a university, it naturally had students of antiquity. For the excursion to Pratteln, Herr Wettstein had acquired a guide.

    Herr Professor Buxtorf. Professor Buxtorf, junior. Professor Buxtorf, senior, an eminent Hebraicist, had been dead for some years. Naturally, a Hebracist also knew Greek and Latin and took a scholarly interest in classical antiquities. He did not, however, know English. He and the ambassadress found one another’s French mutually incomprehensible, so Wettstein was translating.

    Diane was receiving far more second-hand information about Roman ruins than she had ever wanted to know. She had looked at her watch several times. Unfortunately, Wettstein thought, it had not stopped. Time really did move that slowly in the company of Professor Buxtorf. He was only in his mid-thirties, but he had “pedantic” down to an art form.

    Wettstein’s mind wandered. Buxtorf was becoming quite famous in his own right, not just as his father’s son, for his extended academic controversies with a French Huguenot scholar on the topic of whether or not the vowel points and accents in contemporary printed Hebrew had existed in ancient Hebrew. Buxtorf took the position that they must have existed since the Old Testament manuscripts were first recorded in writing, since by definition the text was divinely inspired and completely unchanged. Louis Cappel’s argument for the modern origin of vowel points and accents, which he had published in 1624 contrary to the advice of the older Buxtorf, if it were accepted, would make it much more difficult for Calvinists to argue that the Bible was infallible because had been handed down from the earliest ages without the slightest textual alteration.

    Well, Buxtorf was becoming famous in a limited sort of way, Wettstein admitted to himself. Only a certain number of scholars had strong feelings about the issue, although it did have interesting theological implications, more for Protestantism than for Catholicism. If the whole doctrine of the verbal inspiration of scripture should be undermined by this controversy on Hebrew punctuation, what would be left to keep the Protestants from splintering into endless sects? How many sects had Her Excellency told him co-existed in this little town of Grantville alone? Had, at some point, Cappel’s views prevailed over those of Buxtorf?

    Wettstein pulled his mind back to the matter at hand.

    The two up-timers from the USE embassy guard who never left Diane Jackson’s side when she was out of the embassy building itself were looking impatient. Lee Thomas Swiger, one of them was named. About fifty. He was here, Her Excellency had told Wettstein, because he had “served with Frank in Viet Nam.” Wettstein had not pursued the matter, but was of the opinion that Swiger was a dangerous man-dangerous, at least, to anyone who might threaten General Jackson’s wife during this mission. James Dean Gordon, the other one. “National guard,” Her Excellency had said. Something like militia. Younger than the other man, perhaps thirty-five. Physically abler than Swiger, but less threatening. A half-dozen down-timers, all armed.

    From the road, somebody calling, “Diane! Thank goodness. Diane!”

    Every one of the embassy guards had his gun out at once.

    Johann Rudolf Wettstein was beginning to think that this trip had been a bad idea.

    The woman who had called out the first time yelled again. “Swiger, Gordon, don’t shoot at us, please. That’s all we would need, getting this far and then being shot by our own people.”

    The older up-time soldier dropped the muzzle of his rifle, putting on the safety. The others followed him.

    The woman ran toward them; she and the ambassadress embraced one another.

    Diane Jackson turned to Wettstein. “The embassy has guests,” she said. “I have been notified to expect them. Just not right here. Nobody said anything about Pratteln.”

    The first woman had been joined by three other people. Another woman, another embrace. A third woman and a man; no embraces.

    The man and Professor Buxtorf? A few words about kinship, or at least connections, through the Curio family. Buxtorf’s mother was a Curio, of course; it appeared that the man’s-Herr Cavriani, was it?-wife’s uncle was married to a Curio. Wettstein was no longer surprised-the Italian Protestant emigrant families in Switzerland were closely intertwined.

    Her Excellency extended her hand to the man-Leopold Cavriani-whom she appeared to have met before. She was looking at the third woman with some puzzlement on her face, as were the embassy guards.

    Diane turned again. “Herr Wettstein, this is Mary Simpson, Admiral Simpson’s wife. This is Veronica Dreeson, Henry Dreeson’s wife. He is the mayor of Grantville This is Leopold Cavriani. He does a lot of business in Grantville.” Then she turned to the others. “This is Johann Rudolf Wettstein. He is on the small council of the city of Basel, so he is important. He is not rude. Margrave Friedrich of Baden has been very rude. I told Frank and Mike so. At least, Tony Adducci told them so for me. And I do not know your guest.”

    Mary, Veronica, and Leopold looked at one another. Mary drew in a rather deep breath, then turned to the younger woman. “Your Highness,” she began, “permit me to present to you Mrs. Diane Jackson, ambassadress of the United States of Europe to the city of Basel, and Herr Wettstein of the Basel city council.”

    The tall, tanned, brunette smiled graciously. Mary continued. “Diane, Herr Wettstein, this is Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria.”

    Lee Swiger and Jim Gordon grasped their rifles rather harder than they had before. Mary looked at them. “Thanks, but we’ve managed to get this far without shooting anybody.” She turned her head. “Diane, I do think that all of us would be a little bit easier in our minds if we could get into embassy property, now that we’ve announced ourselves. Just because of diplomatic immunity. We were sort of wondering the best way to come through the city gates, but if we can come in with you and your escort....”

    “Oh,” Diane answered. “Gosh, yes. Welcome, Your Highness.”

    “Yes,” Wettstein seconded. “Welcome to Basel, all of you. Yes, I do think it would be best that your go into the embassy before anyone else, officially or unofficially, knows that you are here.” His mind was very busy, sorting through the implications.




    “I wish,” Veronica said, “that Leopold was staying at the embassy.”

    “He had a point,” Mary answered. “He isn’t a USE citizen, after all, so he might make, as he said, an ‘uneasy guest’ for Diane. And the embassy is a perfectly ordinary town house. It’s already full of people right up into the attics.”

    Diane Jackson nodded.

    “And, as he said, he has business to catch up on, so it makes more sense for him to stay with Professor Buxtorf. At least, he managed to get a bank draft so Maria Anna can get some clean clothes. You’ve given him a draft on the embassy acount to pay him back for what he loaned us to get some stuff when we were in Neuburg and Ulm, haven’t you, Diane? And for the lodgings. The bill came to quite a bit, once we counted it up. He says he sold all the horses that came and went on the trip for more than he paid for them, so we don’t owe him anything for those.”

    “Yes, I pay him already. Or Tony does. Tony does the money here,” Diane answered.

    “But that’s why we arrived without any more than we were carrying,” Mary said. “We left Munich with just what we were wearing and there was never any point in buying a lot. Not just because we were having to borrow money, but, after all, we did have to carry it all. That explains, I’m afraid, why we are all rather dirty.”

    “We do,” Veronica said, “have clean underwear and socks. Since Neuburg, at least. We looked like tramps when we came to Neuburg. So did the English Ladies. We got a few more things in Ulm. Linen towels, for washing our faces and feet. And the shops there already carry baking soda and toothbrushes. We each got a set. Even me, for the false teeth. And scarves to go under the pilgrim hats, to keep dust from our hair. Better clothes. One set each. But that is all.”

    “The archduchess, too?” Diane’s voice clearly indicated her disbelief.

    “Yes,” Mary Simpson answered. “Maria Anna, too.”

    “Perhaps some of my things will fit you,” Diane offered rather doubtfully.

    “Veronica, maybe. But I am five inches taller than you are. And Maria Anna...” Mary’s voice trailed off.

    “She is much taller,” Diane said. “And twice as wide. But it is not safe for her to go shopping. Also, I do not want to let a dressmaker into the embassy. For good reasons. We try to keep strangers from coming in, as much as we can. It is not easy here, right now. The Basel people are nervous. This Margrave Friedrich, who wanted to see an up-timer, is nervous. I said he was rude. Maybe not rude, but he pays no attention to me.”

    “Then,” Veronica said practically, “let’s just wash the clothes we have on. We can sit around wrapped in sheets until they are dry. And make a list. You can send one of the men shopping.”

    “Tony will go shopping,” Diane said. “Tony does the money here. It was not in his job description, but I put it there. It is a big waste to make him a soldier just because runs the radio.”



    News. All three of them were starving for news. They had been walking out in the countryside for a week with no news to be had. Diane updated them with the latest she knew in regard to the three-way negotiations between the king, ah, the emperor, Frederik Hendrik, and Don Fernando.

    Maria Anna looked at Mary and Veronica. Without saying anything, she raised her eyebrows. Mary nodded.

    “Perhaps, Your Excellency,” she began, turning to Diane, “I should explain why I am here. And where I am going.”



    When Cavriani arrived to have supper with them, he brought even more news as well as his banker’s complete collection of newspapers from the past month. They were only on loan, he pointed out conscientiously.

    “I really should write Potentiana,” Cavriani was saying. “I need to explain to her, I think, that I do not know where Marc is?”

    “Why,” Veronica asked.

    “Well. Because I need to tell her that I have misplaced our only son.”

    “So because you feel guilty, you will write a letter and make her worry.” Veronica banged the haft of her knife on the table. “What good will the letter do? She cannot go find him. You do not know for sure that he has problems. Only that he has not caught up with you.”

    Veronica was frowning at Cavriani fiercely. “It is bad enough to know that your son is dead. Or your grandson. If you do not know that it is so, making her worry about it is cruel.”


    “Write her. Tell her that you are in Basel. Tell her the last you know for sure. But do not say that you are afraid for him. If you say that, then she will be afraid for him, too. Each day has troubles enough of its own. If he is dead, she can grieve when you know it is true.”



    Tony Adducci powered up the Basel radio system. It was one of the down-time radios that had been built from up up-time parts-the best that Frank Jackson had been able to get hold of to send along with Diane. On the average, he was able to communicate with Grantville about four hours a day. He could also communicate reliably and consistently with Amsterdam. He could not communicate directly with Magdeburg at all. It was something to do with the length of the jumps.

    So. This was certainly the most exciting information that he had sent out in a long time. Who got it first?

    Tony was a prudent young man. A member of the USE army, to be sure, but still a prudent young man.

    Mary Simpson, Veronica Dreeson, and Archduchess Maria Anna said that the first person to get the news was to be his Aunt Bernadette, who was to tell a nun named Mary Ward that they were safe in Basel.

    Diane Jackson had ordered him to tell Mr. Piazza first, to send it on to Magdeburg.

    The minute he managed to raise up Tanya Newcomb, he sent a message that she should get both Mr. Piazza and his Aunt Bernadette into the same room as the radio, right now, please, if she could.

    She could, she said. Mr. Piazza had just gotten back from Magdeburg that afternoon and was still in his office going through mail; she would phone Bernadette and have her there in a jiffy.

    As soon as she signaled back, Tony sent off the messages. Simultaneously. For the first time since they left Neuburg, somebody in a position of authority inside the USE knew exactly where Maria Anna, Mary, and Veronica were.




    Bernadette Adducci dashed for St. Mary’s rectory, where, as soon as she had talked to Father Kircher for five minutes, she picked up the phone and asked Mary Ward to come over.

    Ed Piazza left Tanya to radio Magdeburg. He would rather be out of the room when the message went through, if only because if John Simpson was still in Magdeburg for the conference, rather than having headed back toward the Dutch border, he would never be rude enough to yell at Tanya. He might, probably, yell at Ed. He told Tanya to call him back if and when Simpson simmered down, or if Mike or anyone else in Amsterdam wanted him.

    Then he went back to his own office and grabbed the phone to notify Henry and Annalise that Veronica was safe, although, for a reason that he was not yet authorized to share with them, in Basel. Yes, Switzerland. Basel was okay, he assured them. Basel was neutral, like the rest of Switzerland. Some way, from Basel, Ed promised, they would manage to get her back home.

    At St. Mary’s, Bernadette told Mary Ward that Maria Anna, Mary, and Veronica were in Basel.

    Mary Ward reached through the slit in her skirt and pulled out the separate pocket she wore. Opening the drawstring, she pulled out a small packet wrapped in oiled cloth. She broke a seal, unwrapped the cloth, and handed a folded piece of paper to Bernadette. “For you,” she said. “From Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria.”

    Bernadette read it. She looked at Father Kircher. “If the two of you will excuse me,” she said, “I need to get back to the radio room before Amsterdam closes down for the evening.”


    Tony Adducci fully expected that radio messages would be coming and going until the window of opportunity closed down. He had not expected to hear from the Netherlands, but something from Becky Stearns or the Stadholder, Frederik Hendrik, was not completely beyond the normal. They kept the various embassies updated on the progress of negotiations, so the ambassadors could be at least a little ahead of the newspapers. Not much, given the wild expansion of journalism in the past couple of years.

    There was one from them. From Becky, rather. Another from Mike Stearns. In Amsterdam? What was Mike doing in Amsterdam? Of course, they were in the middle of negotiations, but they had gotten bogged down by Gustavus Adolphus’ demand for some kind of guarantees from Don Fernando.

    He read everything as it came in, of course. He had to. Becky said thanks for the information sent via Grantville and Magdeburg.


    Mike Stearns was in Amsterdam because there was a truce. Because it had occurred to him that he could gain some brownie points by personally delivering Dona Mencia to her brother. Because he badly wanted to see his wife. Because Gustavus Adolphus had agreed that he could go. The arrangements had been rather complicated.

    He watched. Becky and Frederik Hendrik were having fun writing a note to Don Fernando. Finally it said,

    We know exactly where your intended bride is. We will tell you if you agree to declare yourself ruler of the Spanish Netherlands and make a formal break with Spain, whether the rest of the Habsburgs agree or not. Fish or cut bait. For further information, contact Becky or Fred. Love.

    It was accompanied, of course, by a far more formal communication which said the same things in diplomatically suitable language. The short note would probably only be read by Don Fernando himself. Well, also probably by Cardinal Bedmar, who was now his chancellor, and Dona Mencia.

    Becky had written another note to Dona Mencia. Just, “She is safe. She is well,” in her own hand, with Mike’s co-signature at the bottom. And attached a copy of a radio message from Grantville. “Most honored cousin. If you receive this, I have arrived at the destination you named. We owe patronage to the English Ladies. Maria Anna.”

    Frederik Hendrik was hand delivering both notes to Don Fernando's headquarters at this very moment. Mike and Rebecca were enduring some sputtering by Gretchen, who was far from impressed by the apparent intention of Gustavus Adolphus and the USE to compromise with the prince formerly known as the Cardinal Infante.

    Don Fernando read through the three notes and smiled at Frederik Hendrik. “She is in Basel, then, so I do not need you to tell me. Although, to be sure, I would appreciate knowing ‘exactly’ where in Basel.” He rose. “But, nonetheless. I had intended to wait until after the probate of my great-aunt’s will. Nevertheless, we are as prepared, here, in Brussels and in Antwerp, even in Liege, even in Luxemburg, as we ever are likely to be. So let us do it now.”

    He turned to Cardinal Bedmar. “You have it?”

    “Yes, Your Majesty,” Bedmar said smoothly. “The latest clean draft treaty proposal received from the king of Sweden’s negotiators. And five exact copies. Six exact notarized copies of the infanta’s will.”

    Don Fernando looked at Frederik Hendrik. “It will be faster, if I come to your quarters. If nothing else,” he continued absolutely dead-pan, “that way, perhaps I may see the famous and notorious Gretchen Richter up close. It would be nice to determine whether or not Herr Rubens’ painting does her justice.”


    Intended bride? Tony blinked a minute and then made the connection. Maria Anna, the archduchess. She was going to marry Don Fernando? But he was a cardinal?

    Another message incoming. Reception was fading, but it was short. “Done.” Stearns, prime minister, for the emperor; Fernando, king in the Low Countries; Frederik Hendrik, Stadholder, for the United Provinces.

    King in the Low Countries? Probably not a cardinal. Not any more. Politics. It was none of Tony’s business, of course, but he disapproved. The church shouldn’t operate that way. He wished he could go home and talk to Larry Mazzare about the stuff that was going on.

    The message would have to be short, of course, Tony thought. The window of opportunity would be closing for Amsterdam, too, and they would be trying to get it out to Emperor Gustavus Adolphus, wherever he was; to Mr. Piazza in Grantville; maybe to Chancellor Oxenstierna in Stockholm before things shut down. He copied out the two notes and handed them to Diane. She read them; then got up and went out into the anteroom where the archduchess, Mrs. Simpson, and Mrs. Dreeson were waiting with Mr. Cavriani.

    Not just truce. Peace. At least in one corner of Europe, for the time being, until the Spanish decided what to do about it. And the French, if the French were in a position to do anything about anyone right now, given what Gustavus Adolphus was doing to them.

    It was probably about as good as they were going to get. Tony started packing up the radio gear. There wouldn’t be any more news until morning.



    Maria Anna sat, looking at her copy of the last message from Amsterdam. Somewhere inside her, there was a feeling of quiet satisfaction that she would be marrying a king after all. She noticed this. Pride, certainly; perhaps even arrogance; she would need to mention it at confession.

    But she would much rather, she admitted to herself, be married to a king than to a plain duke. She really would. But she would not say so to Mary and Veronica.

    Herr Cavriani, she suspected, already knew. And would not be surprised.

Home Page Index Page




Previous Page Next Page

Page Counter Image