Eric Flint: Grantville Gazette.Volume XII

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Most of the Jews lived in the larger towns and were engaged in a wide range of mercantile and even manufacturing activities. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth did not maintain in practice the same tight restrictions on Jewish activity that most realms in Europe did. Unfortunately, a number of them had also moved out into rural areas.

"Unfortunately," from Morris' viewpoint, because these Jews did not spread into the countryside as farmers. Instead, they spread as rent-collectors and overseers of the large landed estates maintained by mostly-absentee Polish magnates. They were universally hated by the Ruthenian peasantry-who, in the nature of things, did not make any fine distinctions between the small class of Jews who oppressed them and the great majority of the Jewish populations in the towns who were simply going about their business.

Wallenstein's shrewdness was evident wherever Morris looked on the map. He proposed to seize Lvov, for instance, but did not propose to take Krakow. Looked at from one angle, that was a little silly. At the end of the year 1633, the population of Krakow was also mostly non-Polish. Wallenstein could even advance a threadbare claim to the city, since it had once been under the authority of the Kingdom of Bohemia.

But the Poles had an emotional attachment to Krakow, since it had once served as their capital city and Krakow Academy was still Poland's most prestigious university. So, Wallenstein would seize everything south of the Vistula, including the little town of Podgorze opposite Krakow-but did not propose to cross the river and seize Krakow itself. Thereby, he'd avoid as best he could stirring up Polish nationalism, while establishing a defensible border.

Sum it all up and what you had was what amounted to Wallenstein's preemptive strike at every existing realm in eastern Europe. He would seize all the territories that each of them claimed-but for which none of them had really established any mutual allegiance. The end result, if his plans worked, would be a Bohemian Empire that rivaled in territory and population any of the nations in Europe.

Morris scanned the map again, west to east. With Prague as the capital-it was already one of the great cities of Europe-and a mostly-rural territory stitched together by a number of major cities. Bratislava, Lvov, Lublin, Kiev-and Pinsk, way to the north, in what would someday become Belarus.

Morris couldn't help but chuckle. Pinsk, which already had a large Jewish population and would, by the end of the nineteenth century, have a population that was ninety percent Jewish.

There weren't many Jews in Bratislava. But Lvov, Lublin and Kiev were heavily Jewish.

"You propose to use us as your cannon fodder," he muttered.

Wallenstein didn't quite sneer. "Yes, of course. It's either that or serve the Cossacks as mincemeat fifteen years from now. Make your choice."

Idly, Morris wondered where he'd gotten the term "mincemeat," which Wallenstein had said in English. Probably from Edith Wild.

Make your choice.

Put that way, it was easy enough.

"I'll need the Brethren," Morris said.

"Yes, you will. Not a problem." Wallenstein's long finger came to rest on Lublin. "There is a very large concentration of the Brethren here, you know. And others, scattered throughout the region."

Morris hadn't know the Brethren had a presence in Lublin, as it happened. The news caused him to relax a little. If the Brethren could also serve as what amounted to Wallenstein's social garrisons in the major cities of his proposed empire, that would remove some of the tension on the Jews. They were themselves Christians, after all.

Well. Of a sort. The Brethren were usually referred to as "Socinians" by other Christians, and were generally considered the biggest heretics around.

Still, it might work-assuming Morris had any chance of translating his pitiful military experience into anything worth a damn on the battlefield.

To his surprise, it was Pappenheim who crystallized the thought that Morris was groping toward.

"Stop thinking of a 'general' in narrow terms," said the man who was perhaps the current world's best exemplar of a general in narrow terms. Pappenheim was a man of the battlefield, with little interest in anything else. "Think of it in broad terms. You simply have to organize the military effort, while you concentrate on the political and social matters. Let others, better suited for the task, lead the troops on the field."

He grinned again in that savage way he had. Then, jabbed a thumb at Wallenstein. "That's what he does, mostly, you know."

Morris stared at Wallenstein. The recently crowned King of Bohemia and proposed usurper of much of eastern Europe stared right back at him.

It was true, actually. Wallenstein hadn't been so much a "general" as what you might call a military contractor. He put together armies-and then found men like Pappenheim to lead them into battle.

Put that way…

It didn't sound quite so bad. Of course, Morris would still have to find his equivalent of Pappenheim, since he had no doubt that Pappenheim himself would be fully occupied in the next few years fighting Bohemia's immediate enemies. That'd be the Austrians, mostly. Probably the Poles, too.

"Yeah, sure." Morris looked back at the map, trying to estimate the territory Wallenstein expected him to seize and hold over the next few years. At a rough guess, somewhere around two hundred thousand square miles. About the size of Mexico, he thought. Just what a former army supply clerk-cum-jeweler had always expected he'd wind up doing.

"Piece of cake," he said.


***

Birdwatching


Garrett W. Vance

Prelude

The flash was so bright it pierced her closed eyelids, waking her from her nap. A thunderclap followed, Pam Miller felt the deep vibration even in bed. Spring storm, maybe I'll get up and watch the show. After a few minutes with no further drama offered by the April skies she went back to sleep.

Awakening hours later in post twilight gloom she felt disoriented. It took her a moment to remember it was Sunday and she was home in bed. A 'mental vacation' she had called her lengthy afternoon nap, although she didn't feel particularly rested. She reached over to switch on her bedside reading light. After several clicks with no response Pam noticed the digital alarm clock was also dead. Great, the power's out. She fumbled around in the bed stand's drawer groping for the flashlight she kept there; finding it she got out of bed with a groan to make her way to the kitchen.

She had left the kitchen door propped open; a chill breeze blew through the screen door, smelling strongly of pine. Her nose wrinkled at the unusually powerful scent. Pam peered out into the darkness of her garden, her flashlight playing across the six foot tall tower of the bird feeder, then the row of large rhododendron bushes that made the border between her yard and the copse of box elders and maples stretching up the hill beyond. There were a few pine trees up there she thought, but couldn't recall them ever putting off such a noticeable smell before. She shivered; the breeze was unseasonably cold so she hastily closed the door. After a dreary dinner of cold pizza which the candlelight failed to lend any romance to, Pam sighed and decided to call it a night. So, this is the exciting life of the divorcee. At least her ex-husband had helped warm the bed sheets.

The next morning she woke up before dawn feeling refreshed, finding the unusually cool air pleasantly invigorating. It must have blown here all the way from Canada! The power was still out so she made a fire in the wood stove that helped save on electricity in the winter. Soon she had a nice cup of rich 'Italian Roast' coffee, milk no sugar, warming her up, and sat down to enjoy the morning show at the little table she had placed beside the picture window looking out on the garden. Breakfast time at the bird feeder! A group of black capped chickadees were already enjoying some sunflower seeds in the pre-dawn grayness. Soon they were joined by a pair of rufous sided towhees, an attractive bird with a black head and rust colored sides. She sipped her coffee enjoying the company.

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