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1636: The Saxon Uprising: Chapter Five

       Last updated: Monday, November 8, 2010 07:14 EST



    “Here’s the way it stands, as best as I can figure.” Ed rose from his chair and went over to the wall of the room facing the windows. Where portraits would normally be placed on such a wall in most townhouses of this size, hung instead a very large map of the United States of Europe.

    There was a wand hanging from a hook next to the map. Ed picked it up and began pointing with it.

    “As I said earlier, we have to assume that the SoTF and the Oberpfalz will be pre-occupied with Bavaria.” He swung the tip of the wand northwest to indicate Hesse-Kassel. “And we figure that, for her own reasons, Amalie Elisabeth will keep her province neutral. That brings us to the heart of the opposition’s strength, which today is in Brandenburg.”

    The wand now pointed to the northeastern province’s capital, Berlin. “Oxenstierna has somewhere in the vicinity of twenty thousand Swedish troops here, just about as many men as Torstensson has in his two USE divisions facing Koniecpolski at Poznan'. Those are professional soldiers, skilled and experienced, and will do whatever Chancellor Oxenstierna tells them to do.”

    He swept the wand back and forth across the entire country. “Some provinces with strong and moderate rulers like Hesse-Kassel and Brunswick will try to keep their reactionaries under control. Westphalia too, for somewhat different reasons. But even they won’t succeed entirely. In provinces under direct Swedish control like Pomerania, the Main and the Upper Rhine, they won’t try at all. In fact, you can be sure and certain that Oxenstierna will be doing all he can to whip them up, especially the Mecklenburg noblemen in exile.”

    “You’re still talking in terms of paramilitary units, though, aren’t you?” asked Anselm Keller. “Not much different, really, from the sort of forces the CoCs can put in the field.”

    “Yes… and no. I agree with Becky that the CoCs are overconfident because of their success with Krystalnacht. But there they were fighting only the most extreme anti-Semitic reactionaries. They made it a point not to attack — and the favor was returned in kind — what you might call the more standard sort of reactionaries. Local noblemen, town patricians, guild masters, the like. That meant that they didn’t often come up against regular militias with experienced and seasoned leadership. When they do — which they most certainly will in the event of a full civil war — they’re going to discover things are a lot tougher for them.”

    He paused for a moment, studying the map. “Still, if the war was simply fought between the CoCs and the sort of forces that provincial and local reactionaries could put in the field, I’d bet on the CoCs. Hands down, in fact. The CoCs possess a truly national organization with a national program, where the reactionaries are a sack of potatoes. A collection of inveterate squabblers with a thousand petty privileges to defend and twice that number of petty grievances to avenge. If the CoCs in one province get into trouble, CoC columns from elsewhere will come to their aid — as they did in Mecklenburg during Krystalnacht. Rarely will you see provincial reactionaries behaving likewise. There’s simply no comparison in terms of leadership, especially on the national level. On the one side, you have people like Gretchen Richter, Spartacus, Achterhof. And on the other?”

    He shrugged. “It’s hard to even come up with names. Oxenstierna is a titan surrounded by toads. No, the real danger lies elsewhere. With regular armies, not irregular forces.”

    Pizza moved the tip of the wand all the way across the nation to point to the southernmost province of Swabia. “There are three other large Swedish armies in the USE. The first is here in Swabia, under General Horn.”

    Bugenhagen started to object but Piazza waved him down with the hand not holding the wand. “Please, Albert. Yes, I know Horn’s forces are legally part of the USE army, not the Swedish. But it’s the very definition of a civil war that the rule of law shatters. In practice, Horn’s soldiers are mercenaries, not the sort of often-CoC-inspired volunteers that fill the ranks of Torstensson’s three divisions. They will do whatever Gustav Horn tells them to do, have no doubt about it.”

    “And what do you think Horn will tell them to do?” asked Strigel.

    “Oh, and isn’t that an interesting question.” Piazza lowered the wand and tapped it against his leg a few times. “My guess is that Horn will stay out of it. He’ll do in Swabia what the landgravine of Hesse-Kassel will do in her province. My reasoning is as follows. First –”

    The wand came back up and tapped the area of the map just to the west of Swabia. The only legend there was: controlled by Saxe-Weimar. The map had not been updated to reflect the USE’s formal recognition of Bernhard’s newly-formed County of Burgundy as an independent realm, which had happened only recently.

    “Horn is specifically assigned in Swabia to keep Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar in check. That assignment came directly from Gustav Adolf himself, which gives Horn a good legal pretext to stay put if he chooses to use it. Secondly, while he has more troops than Bernhard does, he doesn’t have that many more. It’s a simple fact that if Horn pulled out a large part of his army that Bernhard could probably overrun Swabia.”

    Rebecca shook her head. “I doubt that he would, Ed.”

    “I don’t think he would either. Bernhard is one of the sharpest pencils in the box. Anybody’s box. He’ll be looking to play both sides against the middle if we fall into civil war and gain whatever advantages he can for that little kingdom-in-all-but-name he’s putting together. But he won’t take the risk of choosing one side over the other — what if his pick loses? — and he won’t try to grab any territory that is clearly under USE jurisdiction. Sooner or later the civil war would end, and whichever side won would come looking for him with blood in their eyes. At which point he’d be a small fox facing an angry bear. No, he’ll stay out of it. Besides…”



    The wand-tip came back to Swabia. “This map doesn’t reflect it yet, because it’s still not formally established. But the fact is that in the real world the former duchy of Württemberg has seceded from Swabia and is operating as its own republican province. So far, Horn hasn’t used force to squash them. But he can always claim that what few forces he doesn’t need to stare down Bernhard will be needed to keep order in Württemberg.”

    Ed lowered the wand again and went back to thoughtful leg-tapping.

    “Horn has plenty of excuses — perfectly legitimate ones, mind you — to keep his army effectively neutral in any civil war. ‘Neutral,’ at least, so far as the rest of the USE is concerned. I don’t doubt he’ll rule Swabia with a firm hand and keep Württemberg under his thumb. So what it all comes down to is his own temperament and inclinations.”

    Piazza smiled, quite wickedly. “Happily for us, Axel Oxenstierna was the father of Horn’s wife, while she was still alive. By all reports, Horn detested his father-in-law. And still does. So I think it’s not likely that he’ll be inclined to do as the chancellor says, so long as he can claim a legitimate reason to refuse.”

    Piazza now pointed further north on the map, to the adjoining provinces of the Upper Rhine and the Main. “There’s another sizeable Swedish army here, under General Nils Brahe. This one’s legally as well as practically under the Swedish crown, so there’s no ambiguities involved. But my estimate right now is that Brahe will do about the same as Horn. He’ll keep the Main and the Upper Rhine stable — that’s a genteel way of saying that he’ll squash the CoCs there if they get rambunctious — but he won’t intervene in any conflicts elsewhere.”

    “Why wouldn’t he?” asked Strigel. The question was not a challenge, simply the product of curiosity.

    “I’m guessing, you understand. But, first, Brahe’s army isn’t as strong as it used to be. I doubt if he even has ten thousand men left. Gustav Adolf figured the French would still be licking their wounds so he could afford to draw down Brahe’s forces in order to bolster the ones he was taking into Poland. And while that was probably true then, will it still be true if the USE gets convulsed by a civil war? Cardinal Richelieu is under a lot of political pressure. He might be tempted to relieve it by getting back some of the territory they lost after Ahrensbök.”

    “Or Monsieur Gaston might go haring off on his own expedition, just to show how it’s properly done,” chimed in Helene.

    “Finally,” Ed said, “I think Brahe will stay put along the Rhine because he may have another problem to deal with, which is up here in Westphalia.” The wand now moved to indicate the USE’s large northwestern province.

    “Ah! Of course.” That came from Constantin Ableidinger, who suddenly broke into a grin. “I hadn’t been thinking of that. If Oxenstierna launches a civil war here in the USE, he will be creating a gigantic Danish headache for himself, won’t he?”

    “I don’t think there’s much doubt about it,” agreed Ed, nodding. “With Gustav Adolf incapacitated and given the still-fuzzy laws of the Union of Kalmar, you could make a good case that King Christian IV is now Kalmar’s regent.”

    Rebecca smiled. “And I will bet that even as we speak the king of Denmark has every lawyer on his payroll assembling that case.”

    “Don’t anybody take that bet,” cautioned Piazza. “Yes, I’m sure he is. More directly to the point, the governor of Westphalia is none other than Christian’s son Frederik. Who, I will remind everyone, is still petitioning to have his title changed to ‘Prince of Westphalia.’ So what are the chances he will be paying much attention to Oxenstierna?”

    “The CoCs are quite strong in Westphalia,” said Albert Bugenhagen, “especially in the big cities. They’re politically sophisticated, too. If Frederik decides to thwart Oxenstierna, they’ll give him tacit support.”

    “That’s what I figure,” said Ed, “and it’s the final reason I think Brahe won’t move far from the Rhineland.”

    His expression got a lot more grim as he shifted the wand to the east. “We have quite a different situation with the final Swedish force of any size within the USE, Báner’s army marching to Saxony from the Oberpfalz. Báner’s a brute, pure and simple. A capable one, but still a brute. He doesn’t much like Oxenstierna, but then he doesn’t much like anyone. He’ll still do what Oxenstierna wants him to do, partly because he’ll see that as his best route for advancement but mostly for the good and simple reason that he agrees with Oxenstierna.”

    Ed lowered the wand and took a deep breath. “Things are going to heat up in Saxony before much longer. If there is a civil war, that’ll be the cockpit.”

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