The Extra Girl: For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Dr. Waterhouse, Apr 19, 2018.

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  1. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Nov 12, 2008
    I'll say definitively there is no chattel slavery in the alternate present North America. How the North American Wars of Liberation go down is pretty complicated. Imagine something that looks a bit more like a European war of coalition, with for example Illinois and Louisiana going at it, Louisiana having the initial advantage because of money and people but unable to effectively occupy the vast northern forests it claims as part of its patrimony, various other colonies jumping in on either side to help, some actually doing so against the wishes of the home country, some taking the opportunity to declare their independence, all the colonizing powers using the opportunity to make trouble for the others, completely irrelevant quarrels getting taken up by parties of the conflict out of pure cynicism.

    But the core of the problem once the wars are done is implementing manumission in places where there's not a colonial sovereign or a federal sovereign entity making sure these exploitative processes are not continuing by other names. So there is no slavery, but neither is there a basic enforceable regime of civil rights where they are most needed. Something that is not accidental here is the presence in contemporary alt-Louisiana of the vocabulary of "active" and "passive" citizens (here rendered "active" and "general") from early in the French Revolution. Similar ideas also found currency in various points of the Haitian Revolution too. Basically Louisiana arrives at a "compromise" where everyone's a citizen but only some citizens can exercise that status through things like voting. And the Bourbons being as they are, there's a huge struggle just to divest sovereignty from the person of the king and establish some king of legislature.

    But the fundamentals of the system are sadly not that alien to the United States. In Louisiana, the distinction between active and general citizen is really a property qualification, same as it was in much of OTL's US in the early 19th century. There is no need for an explicit bar on the black vote because there was never any post-liberation land reform, and informal restrictions on property sales to non-white people are rigorously observed by civil society. So you have a small minority of the adult population of all races able to vote, and almost all of those who are are of European descent. Urban immigrants, even the affluent ones, are frozen out because voting is limited by a specific land ownership requirement. Not even a condo, or a bungalow with a small yard, would be sufficient.

    In the end, the screws that work to leverage reforms in some of the more retrograde societies are access to external markets, access to external capital, the threat of civil disorder at home (some of it funded by agents provocateurs from the neighbors), and the threat of an external invasion from you-know-who. The end result is a wide spectrum of resolutions. What's the colonizing power? Who has sovereignty, the colonizing power or the (former) colony? What's the dominant mode of agriculture? Is the economy diversified? What's the nature of the colony/state's external trade relationships? All these factors have a role in generating where a given North American society falls on the spectrum. And I would say Louisiana definitely posits the extreme laggard option.

    EDIT: And as to whether a present-day slavery is necessary to generate the antipathy and passion we see directed towards Louisiana, think about the activism in the US and the UK directed towards South Africa in the 1980's. To my mind this has a very similar feel.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
  2. AmericaninBeijing Not Particularly Well-Known Member

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    May 19, 2016
    So... a cross between the South in 1885 with no North to prod it forward and South Africa in 1985.

    Lovely.

    Let the Ausrissers gut them and have done with it.

    Seriously is Illinois the only state in North America for which we’re not going to have a strong dislike for one reason or another?
     
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  3. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Oh, there are plenty to choose from: Kennebec, Susquehanna, Queensland, Maryland, Neumaehren, Acadia, and so forth. All human societies have their flaws, but surely some of those are pleasant enough. :)
     
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  4. AmericaninBeijing Not Particularly Well-Known Member

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    May 19, 2016
    Fair enough. There's always going to be something that, if it isn't outright wrong, could at least be better. Unfortunately Louisiana doesn't seem to lack for such, and the last timeline's window into Neuprussia suggests that while better it still has a sizable underclass, a la the Bay Area writ large, with little of the welfare net that even the US has.

    Illinois seems pleasant; one can only hope a few of the others are more in that mold.

    The part of the Illinois briefing which hints that its holding up North American economic integration because its worker and environmental protections are too strong does not give me great hope, though.
     
  5. B_Munro Member

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    Albuquerque
    Fascinating as all this is, perhaps we should stop pestering the good Doctor with questions re the present day: after all, we want to see how we get there, and the more we pin him down on points, the more we take away his freedom of action to change stuff.

    (And yes, I am aware I am being a bit hypocritical here, since I started this line of conversation. :coldsweat: )
     
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  6. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Nov 12, 2008
    Well, as it turned out this digression fit my interests well, considering I lost a big chunk of text recounting the next step of the 16th c. narrative a few days ago and hadn't the heart to retrace my footsteps just yet. This kept me involved with the timeline and its world, but simultaneously distracted from my lost work. But the very next thing you see from me on this timeline will be all about Friedrich and Saxony. However, following that I think I'm going to have another alt-present piece that will address some of the issues AmericaninBeijing has been raising.
     
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  7. Unknown Member

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    I've been following this TL and I like the world-building you are doing...

    Waiting for more, of course...
     
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  8. Nyvis Well-Known Member

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    Aug 23, 2013
    Same here. The rest of the continent is probably akin to today's US. Weaker labour and environmental laws, but not absolutely hopeless.

    Louisiana is sad... The RCR is scary. I wonder how small land owners work out for it though, since consolidation and the subsequent urban migration was important to mechanizing agriculture and developing industry in cities. You could achieve it through shared tools in communities, but they don't seem the type since they're not collectivizing.
     
  9. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

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    Nov 12, 2008
    Workshop_of_Lucas_Cranach_(I)_-_Portrait_of_Philip_Melanchton.jpg

    Philip Melanchthon, by the Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder


    from The Anti-Tyrannical Moment: The Saxon Electors and the Birth of Modern Church Government, by Edward Louis Posner

    It was an already an old joke by the eighteenth century that of all the various sects the Elector Friedrich IV had to wrangle, the one the most troublesome for him, and that he would the soonest be rid of, was the Lutherans. The temptation has always been to attribute the trouble to the personal antipathy between the Elector and Luther himself. And in truth, many of Wittenberg's leading Lutheran theologians would continue to refer to Friedrich IV behind his back as "Karlstadt's boy" as long as he lived.

    But this forgets that the most critical disagreements between the Elector and the Lutheran ecclesiastical leadership in this period have precious little to do with personality or temperament. In fact, Friedrich never failed to display a warm courtesy for Luther's successor, Philip Melanchthon, he had denied to Luther himself. There were several accounts of Friedrich, outraged over some difference of opinion with the leading Lutheran theologians, entering his audience chamber in mid-roar, his leading theologians already present, only for him to be stopped mid-sentence by nothing but Melanchthon's mild expression and amiable grin. Quarreling with Melancththon, Friedrich explained in one of his letters to the Calvinists of the western empire, "is like beating a dog who fails to so much as growl at you for the blows. All it works is to make one feel brutish and coarse."

    So instead of preoccupying ourselves with the personalities, vivid though they may be, it is perhaps best to consider these matters through the institutional questions facing the Saxon state and the Lutheran Church in the decades immediately following the Reformation. It was not Friedrich but his father the Elector Johann the Steadfast who established himself as the bishop with whom final spiritual authority for his subjects lay. It of course goes without saying that this closeness of the secular and spiritual authorities was agreeable enough so long as the prince in whom such far-reaching power rested was for the most part under the tutelage of the unquestioned and charismatic leader of the new church.

    Thus Johann's death in 1532 created a crisis, that of what would happen when the awesome power over the church that had been placed in the prince fell to an heir with a substantially, if not a radically, different understanding of many theological questions. Of course the situation was made more, and not less, complicated by the way Lutheranism even then relied on the Elector for legal and military protection, not merely his passive forbearance from prosecuting Luther and his friends for heresy, but the full range of activities required to prevent the organs of imperial state power from being wielded against the Protestants, and present a credible military counterweight to the mighty Habsburgs under an Emperor who seemed to rule half the Earth. To put it simply, one could not ask Friedrich to keep his hands off Lutheran doctrine without running the risk he might leave the whole enterprise to its own devices, and thereby doom it.

    Surely there were figures at his court, namely his mother, who agitated for him to do just this.

    And of course, though Friedrich IV would give his life to the cause of preserving the Reformation, there was no way for the doctors of Wittenberg to know that he would, especially when at the start of his reign Friedrich was subject to outlandish inducements, at times up to and including the English or Danish thrones, in exchange for his surrender of the former monk and return to the Catholic fold. Surely their surviving letters bear witness that both Luther and Melanchthon were well aware of the lavish promises being made to the elector for their abandonment. Seen not from the schloss, but from the Leucorea and the Augustineum, the fundamental problem of Friedrich's early reign was how to diminish the Elector's hold over the new church, but not his commitment. It was a situation that would have taxed even the subtlest of politicians to the utmost. And of course, Luther was by profession no politician, and was anything but subtle.

    Adding to the problem was that the role Friedrich had inherited in the church from his father was expansive. And it did not help that he had as role models figures like his uncle, Henry VIII. But whether because Friedrich was navigating a situation with fewer legal impediments to his power than Henry, or because of the sense of his own power he brought to bear, whereas Henry acted through archbishops, parliaments, and various and sundry appointed bodies, Friedrich had little scruple about changing the official doctrine of the Lutheran Church by means as simple as a letter, written to Luther, telling him what to say and do.

    Frequently these were unceremoniously ignored, which of course made relations between Friedrich and Luther only more testy. It was of course a central tenet of the Reformation in general, and Luther's in particular, that doctrine be determined by rigorous scriptural interpretation, not the application of worldly authority. Even when, as in the discussions at Wittenberg over the nature of the eucharist, a given course would be fruitful for Lutheranism's worldly prospects, or smooth the path for its acceptance, that could not outweigh a determination of scriptural truth to the contrary. And so Luther was put in the uncomfortable situation of having to lodge the same protests against the man he relied on to protect him from the pope he had once made against the pope.

    What added to the irony of the situation was that Friedrich was of course glad to argue against the interference of worldly authority in ecclesiastical matters--so long as the Emperor Charles V or the imperial courts were the ones doing the interfering. He could gleefully aver that being the eldest son of the archduke Philip and the grandson of the Emperor Maximilian could confer many benefits, and royal blood on both sides could convey many things, but that none of them were an understanding of theology. Yet Friedrich could never bring himself to apply that criticism to his own inveterate meddling.

    For the most part, the organs which would enforce doctrinal uniformity were so new, the Reformation itself so improvisatory, and Friedrich's cares so many and overwhelming, that at the level of what Lutheran priests propounded in the churches each Sunday, the endless flow of memoranda from his hand to Luther and his companions made little practical difference. But there was one area in which it did, that of contacts with foreign rulers.

    In 1519 Friedrich's uncle Henry VIII had penned a response to Luther's attack on indulgences, his Defence of the Seven Sacraments. Luther answered, shockingly, with his own treatise Against Henry, King of the English, which showed little deference on account of Henry's title and even less consideration of the family connections between the Ernestine House of Wettin and the Tudor monarch. Because it would have been thought beneath his dignity to respond to that personal attack, Henry had Thomas More (who had been at least involved in the writing of the original Defence) answer for him in the Responsio ad Lutheram of 1523. By this point, the argument had become so heated that one of the leading intellectuals of Christendom was telling another that he would not dirty his hands to clean the shit from the other's mouth.

    And of course Friedrich, when he traveled to England and met Henry in 1534, had heard quite a bit about all these matters from a king not famous for forgiving and forgetting. What the young elector took away from the whole affair was summed up in the rule he first promulgated to the teachers at the Leucorea not long after his return from England: "princes to princes, clerks to clerks." By this he meant that theologians should be free to engage in disputations pertaining to the truth of Christ's church with others of their profession and rank, but that they should not engage in direct correspondence with other rulers, even the emperor who held nominal sovereignty over Saxony; that they should not engage in printed exchanges with said princes or reference said princes in their printed works directly; and that they should in no circumstances attend those princes directly, or attend gatherings organized by those princes for the determining of Christian doctrine, without the prior approval of the elector.

    As strategy, this simple rule held a significance as great as the drive to attack Charles as a breaker of his coronation oath. Its effects were numerous and profound. It included sparing Luther and Melanchthon from having to comment upon the bigamous marriage of Philip of Hesse when the Landgrave tried to involve them in that dispute, but more importantly it barred their involvement in any imperial scheme to resolve the doctrinal disputes between Protestants and Catholics in an ecclesiastical council or other proceeding. Friedrich believed these efforts to have not been undertaken in good faith, and represented little more than an effort to create a venue with which the Habsburg Emperor could either intellectually contort the Protestant faith back into Catholicism, or prosecute Friedrich and the other believers as heretics. Instead, Friedrich instructed Luther and Melanchthon to ignore all requests to present Lutheran doctrine to the Emperor or to the Catholic Church beyond the earlier Augsburg Confession, and to essentially go about formulating doctrine and presenting it as if there was no division within Christianity, but merely on the theological merits of the propositions, as if there were not days during the Spanish War when the columns of smoke from the work of the Duke of Alba's raiding parties were clearly visible from Wittenberg.

    Had the theologians of Wittenberg been forced to chase a likely chimerical promise of reunification with the Catholic Church, their work could have suffered greatly, and their credibility been undermined among the other Protestant churches and figures, who felt less pressure to negotiate or to participate in Charles's neverending schemes for councils. Instead, the only Protestant spiritual leaders who participated were those like Johannes Agricola who were outside the elector's sphere of influence. These scholars were reviled by the other Protestants for this involvement.

    But freed from these troubles, even following the death of Luther in 1545, Wittenberg continued its intellectual ascendancy among Protestant circles, its reputation to some extent tied to the glamor of the elector's military and political success. However just as important was the emergence of a new generation of Reformation scholars more radical and thorough-going than the first. In Wittenberg the leader of these was the Croat theologian Mathias Flacius, who arrived in 1541, was quarreling with Luther by 1544, and not long thereafter was regarded as Melanchthon's rival. Efforts to expel Flacius for his doctrinal radicalism failed, as the Elector was only too glad to intervene on the side of the new blood.

    Several factors intervened to bring these tensions to a boil in the 1550's. First, the elector's preoccupation with the great external crisis of the confrontation with the Emperor had made any interest he had in exercising his power over the Lutheran Church almost completely moot. Even for a prince with as broad an idea of his own abilities as Friedrich, the notion of him implementing reforms of Saxony's state church from the field while on campaign against Charles V, or from his prisons in Spain or the Netherlands, is fanciful. But following the Augsburg Settlement of 1554, suddenly the possibility of him making himself the architect of Saxony's state church became more realistic.

    At the same time, here as in so much else, the loss of English financial support had profound effects on Saxon strategy. Friedrich no longer had the means to wage war against the Habsburgs. For the moment he was confident that the pressures of their ongoing conflicts with the French and the Ottomans and Germany's general exhaustion from the Spanish War meant that Emperor Ferdinand and his immediate heirs would not be likely to restart the war. But he had little faith this situation would hold in the long term. Thus Friedrich began energetically casting about for new allies. The obvious choice was the other states of northern Europe recently converted to Lutheranism. However, from the perspective of these newly Protestant states the Saxon-Imperial conflict did not directly involve them. Especially in the Scandinavian kingdoms, these were national churches aligned with the domestic temporal powers. Wittenberg was a valuable source of ideas, doctrines, training, and cultural material these churches could make use of. But the continued vitality of Protestantism in Wittenberg, not to mention the political survival of the Wettin dynasty, were matters these other Protestant princes, especially those outside the Empire, did not feel directly affected their interests.

    Finally, these other Lutheran states were experiencing their own anxieties about the situation. Though national, their churches relied on a steady stream of priests, texts and art of various types originating in Wittenberg and Saxony. They realized this gave the Elector of Saxony, who maintained, and zealously defended, his active role in the Lutheran Church, an immense influence on what went on within the churches of their own realms. Moreover, the Elector's own tenuous position in the Empire meant that the confrontation between he and the Emperor had become the crucible in which Lutheran thought and belief had been presented to the outside world. In a way entirely separate from the crass matters like the Wettins' political fortunes and the borders of Saxony, the negotiations between the Elector and the Emperor were an important external presentation of Lutheran belief, and could have serious effects on the Lutheran Church in these countries.

    In short, none of them may have been willing to go to war for Saxony the way Friedrich would have liked, but they were all desperately aware Saxony could recklessly affect their fortunes to their collective injury, by say, defining Lutheranism in a way that they never would on their own, or provoking some general reaction to their common faith from the papacy or Catholic Europe. And especially given the rumors that Friedrich himself harbored beliefs outside orthodox Lutheranism, this risk of unforeseen or reckless troublemaking created an unacceptable situation for the Lutheran princes.

    For this reason, virtually by the end of Augsburg in 1554 all the Lutheran princes agreed that a more formal church government would have to be created, the Elector hoping to maximize his power while making the other princes feel involved in the conduct of policy, the other Lutherans believing some more formal structure the best way to wrestle Friedrich into as small a role as possible, and the Wittenberg theologians seeing such a council as their great chance to undermine the religious absolutism that existed within Saxony's Lutheran Church before the Elector began writing doctrine off the top of his head.

    All the parties realized from the outset this would involve agonizing diplomacy just to arrive at a set of parameters for the gathering and a formula to decide the representation of various Lutheran states. Friedrich still enjoyed close relations with Denmark, and soon the ministers of Christian III were deeply involved in the project. From the outset, the participation of the Scandinavian kings and the larger dukedoms was conditional on the recognition of the formal and doctrinal independence of each church within its state. There would be no Lutheran Vatican. By the summer of 1555 a representational scheme was coming into focus for a Wittenberg council to decide a permanent church government: each Lutheran king in recognition of his rank could appoint four delegates; each non-royal territorial prince could appoint three; each free or imperial city, or Lutheran city within a larger polity with license to do so, could send one. Denmark would have eight total delegates in recognition of the separate Norwegian crown, and Saxony would have seven, three for the old Ernestine Saxony, three for Albertine Saxony, and one for Magdeburg. Sweden strongly resented the elector arrogating to himself a delegation greater than itself, and so in the end Friedrich had to leave off his plan of seven for a mere four.

    With mock exasperation, pamphlets across Europe complained that the vaunted Elector of Saxony would have to account himself the equal of a mere king. To some extent however, the notion that Friedrich was without influence has been drastically overstated. Whether Saxony had four or seven delegates seems much less important than it otherwise would, once one understands the combined allocations of the four landgraves of Hesse, over whom Friedrich had enormous influence, was twelve. Likewise, small local figures like the Prince of Anhalt or the Count of Mansfeld who also had three votes would not dream of exposing themselves to any sort of serious displeasure from the Saxons given the relative size and wealth of the states.

    By October 1556 the delegates were convening in Wittenberg, and wrangling had begun in earnest over the creation of a formal church structure. The gathered representatives were emphatic about what they did not want, a reiteration of the structures of the Catholic Church. Instead of a single figure reckoned the representative of God, they chose the humble title of Respondent. Essentially, the title would allow its bearer to summarize existing Lutheran teaching, represent the faith to outsiders, and act in the common interest of all Lutherans. Respondents would be elected by councils such as the one then meeting. Rather than a lifetime term, the Respondent could hold office for ten years, and could not be retained for longer. He could be removed, and in the event of his removal or death a council would convene as soon as practicable.

    Greater difficulty was had in formulating a consistory (and despite the best efforts of the assembled and of succeeding generations, this was exactly what it would be called). Eventually, the delegates hammered out the idea of the heptandron. Put simply, the heptandron was organized from seven men. Initially they would be elected in order, one through seven, by ballots cast by delegates to the present council. In a move to give the more influential and established theologians of Wittenberg a disproportionate role, the members of the heptandron would not have equal voting rights. Rather, the winner of the first seat would have seven, the winner of the second seat six, and so on, until the weakest seat, the seventh, would hold just one. Critically however, after the first election, the voting power of the heptandron would evolve. Newly elected members of the septandron would be junior to all those preceding them, establishing eventually a hierarchy by seniority. Finally, in future elections members of the heptandron would be nominated by the existing members, with those nominations being subsequently ratified by the occasional choices held either every ten years or on the death of a Respondent.

    All that was left was the election of the actual holders of these titles. In the winter of 1556-7 campaigns by letter were conducted across northern Europe. Friedrich and the Lutheran establishment of Wittenberg felt Melanchthon the obvious choice to be Respondent, and Friedrich believed the occasional differences of opinion they had experienced over the 25 years of his rule in Saxony would keep anyone from thinking that Melanchthon was a mere catspaw. Yet when the votes were tabulated, it was Flacius who eked out a victory, capitalizing off his popularity with radicals at the periphery of Lutheran Europe, and especially the desire of the Scandinavians to make sure the Elector's influence on the body was checked by the rejection of a figure as long associated with the court of Wittenberg, which Melanchthon was.

    Unbelievably, the Lutheran Church had elected a non-German its leader. Immediately, the delegates of the council assuaged the injury by declaring the first leader of the Church to have been Luther, and Melanchthon retroactively his successor, followed now by the new Respondent, Flacius. Melanchthon was then duly elected to the first seat on the heptandron and given the additional consolation prize of a new position of chancellor of the Lutheran Church, which was mostly an administrative role. The shock, however, was overwhelming. Though Friedrich's relations with Flacius had been warm, the denial of his obvious preferred candidate had been a reproof to him, if not a humiliation.

    And while Friedrich's role within the Saxon church was still as absolute as it had always been, and in fact the same protections the kings had sought for the protection of their national churches against outside influence worked in his favor now, the truth was he and his successors had been relegated to an extremely minor role in the development of Lutheranism itself. Quite simply, he had been outplayed, co-opted into a drastic limitation of his role in the church. If the doctrinal conservatives of Wittenberg were displeased by the elevation of a radical to the post of Respondent in March 1557, they were cheered by the fact that Friedrich's ability to use the very informality of church institutions to force doctrine upon them was at an end. From then on, Lutheranism would continue to develop past what church historians called its "tyrannical moment", distancing itself from temporal authorities, instituting neutral procedures, resolving matters through majority rule. Thus, Friedrich's own imperial pretense, originating in the dominating role of his father and his own modelling of his early reign after his uncle Henry VIII, had the counter-result of creating a Lutheran religious order in which he and his successors had little power.

    An incomplete list of the allocation of delegates to the 1556 Council of Wittenberg:

    Kingdom of Denmark 8
    Kingdom of Sweden 4
    Electorate of Saxony 4 (Saxony 3, Magdeburg 1)
    Duchy of Courland 3
    Duchy of Prussia 3
    Duchy of Mecklenburg 3
    Duchy of Pomerania 3
    Duchy of Wurttemberg 3
    Duchy of Braunschweig-Calenberg 3
    Landgraviate of Hesse-Rheinfels 3
    Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt 3
    Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel 3
    Landgraviate of Hesse-Marburg 3
    Margraviate of Brandenburg 3
    Margraviate of Brandenburg-Kulmbach 3
    Principality of Ansbach 3
    Principality of Anhalt 3
    County Palatine of the Rhine 3
    County of Mansfeld 3
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
  10. AmericaninBeijing Not Particularly Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2016
    By way of grammatical nitpicking, it seems that the first "not" was in error?

    On a more constructive note, the sidelining of the Saxon elector and state within Lutheranism is likely to prove more a blessing than a curse in the long run; rarely does it turn out that having control over matters of belief and religion within a nation benefits that nation's authorities.

    More specifically, we know that over time Saxony evolves into a tolerant and secular state almost by the backdoor. Neither that evolution nor the economic and commercial advantages it engendered would have been possible without the Electorate losing control over Lutheran doctrine, and with it a loss of one of the tethers that bound their fundamental interests together.

    As the faith is seen to be under less threat from elsewhere, it's this loss of ability to control doctrine that will let the Saxon state evolve away from an established religion in fact if not in name.
     
  11. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    Burroughs1983_crop_b.jpg
    A picture of an American writer, as Bill, the famous intelligencer.

    Profane Lives, Holy Republic: The RCR and its Discontents, by Martin Reid

    FROM THE INSIDE FRONT JACKET: In this collection of interviews and first-person narrative accounts, acclaimed travel writer and ethologist Reid presents the side of the Holy Republic frequently, and all too deliberately, hidden from the outside. Sometimes taking great risks, he explores the underworlds that flourish within the RCR, not merely despite, but in some cases alongside and even with the connivance of, the Republic's famously strict religious authorities.

    In this volume you will meet the aboriginal pagan subculture that proliferates in the Republic's most elite military units, the hidden sapphic network that makes use of the institutional privileges granted convents and lay religious orders to avert prosecution, the men running the Republic's famously violent patroclean organized crime rings, and many other unexpected voices from the Great Power of the South.

    Their stories ring with longing, pain, delight and an intense ambivalence about the Republic in which they live. What does it mean to be loyal to a state that regards you as evil? Is there such a thing as freedom in such a place, if it is won only by hiding? And why stay? Reid applies both his compassion and his keen wit to seeking out answers to these and other questions.

    ***

    Pages 62-65: From the chapter A Man of Substance

    I found him in the Catia suburb of Caracas. I drove my rented palanquin through the streets of the beach town, past the sleepy hotels catering to families on summer holiday, the restaurants offering the local seafood, and the tacky tourist shops selling garish patriotic RCR-themed beachwear. Eventually I found my way into a neighborhood where the houses were larger, their gardens more robust and well-kept. And finally, I found myself in one of those areas I would have been shocked to know existed in the RCR at all, luxury without apology in a society claiming to be defined by Christian egalitarianism.

    The villa, remorselessly modern and expansive, lay far back in a copse of trees to enclose guests in a veil of shaded privacy. Willows shook their branches and the music of the local insects informed me it was midsummer. Making my way up the gravel drive to the door, I was greeted not by the matronly housekeeper I expected, but a young man, smartly dressed in a tailored black suit who explained he was the secretary. It was he who informed me of the rules of the interview: I could not use the name of my subject I had been given, I could not publish my interview until five years after my subject died, and once he declared he did not want a matter discussed or printed his wishes would be respected, absolutely.

    "Or else I'll be killed?" I joked.

    "Yes," the secretary answered, not breaking his smile, but not giving me the first reason to doubt his sincerity.

    From there I was led through what would have been the most uncharacteristic foyer and living room for a home in the RCR. It lacked the first piece of religious artwork or family heirloom rifle, but was lined with bookshelves groaning beneath the weight of countless cheap paper novels, many of them of dubious moral character and unlikely to pass even the most permissive censor.

    A citizen of the Republic I had come to know over the previous few months would, rather than live in such a place, have a hard time explaining why they had not burned the place down. In short, it was the sort of place that might pass for a sophisticated art gallery in London, hosting receptions at which Brandon princesses would be led away drunk.

    At the center of the house, where normally we might expect a Renegade of this social class to have a protected garden for his children to play, was a courtyard centered around an immense pool, far larger than even my hotel's. At the pool's edge, between its blue and the manicured hedges, I saw a crush of tanned and dark-skinned bodies. Apparently I had been invited to a party without my knowing. Attendants passed out towels, glass tumblers heavy with cachasa and rum-based cocktails were handed around, tables with toasts, fruits and cheeses were well-loaded and continually refreshed with new trays.

    For the longest time, as we walked through the crowd I realized something made me uneasy which I could not identify. Only belatedly did I understand there were no women present. There were a few attendees with long hair, and some with eyes and lips painted, but none were women, either by birth or intent. As we walked to where my subject sat, at the far right corner of the pool, I realized the guests were staring at me, some with mild curiosity, but a few with glances that were hard and suggestive. I fumbled awkwardly with my wedding ring hoping to politely announce the necessary; it accomplished nothing.

    Finally we reached him. He was older, thin, careworn, of European features, and looked for all the world like the chauffeur charged with getting the handsome young heirs around him safely home. His manner was curt, but not unfriendly. He had the plainspoken habits of one who had seen something of the world and was not easily awed or fooled. He gestured for me to sit, and I did. I asked him his name, and he confirmed it, and if he would like to start the interview, which he said he did, after draining a glass of cashasa in a way I could only call impressive.

    ...

    I was wondering if you would like to start by commenting on the portrayals of the Patrocleans of the RCR in motionplays and imageboxes.

    Why would I want to do a thing like that?

    Everyone knows the idea presented of you in Renegade culture. It might be helpful for you to address that first, so that they understand the difference between it and the reality.

    Oh dear, so this is how we're beginning? "Where the forbidden costs everything, the profits are unimaginable"? That nonsense?

    Yes.

    Where the first thing I have to tell you is that whole notion that every Patroclean in the RCR from the Rio Grande to the Terra del Fuego is a violent psychopath is the deliberate, planned and strategized work of the state. Even what you see in England. I can sit in the theater, read the list of producers and financiers in the end credits, and recognize the republic moneymen and Jesuit shell companies.

    That's a strong accusation. Some of the motionplays you're talking about are beloved works of art.

    Like Signage?

    Yes.

    Made with 22 million from the Ministry of Culture, funneled through banks in New Netherland.

    But the main characters are so sympathetic.

    They kill each other and themselves and like fifty other people over the course of the movie. If you ask me, the Jesuits got their money's worth with that one.

    So it's all lies, then? What do you do then, to make the money to afford a place like this?

    Oh, I think I like you. Yes, Patrocleans are, because they are so marginalized in the Republic's society, forced disproportionately to take up criminal enterprise. And because they cannot expect the protection of the police like other citizens, they must undertake violence in their own defense, collectively and individually. I will dispute none of that.

    But what the state wants is to say we are this way by virtue of our orientation, that we are corrupt by virtue of it and this corruption finds expression in these horrifying things we do. Whereas the truth is, the Patrocleans of the RCR would quite likely be not that much like those of other nations if left to ourselves.

    You see that boy over there, the one who gave you the hard sell when you walked over?

    Um, yes. The man he gestured to sported the freckles to suggest Irish blood, but had the cheekbones and square build to suggest far more Mestizo ancestors than Hibernian.

    One of my my very best. His job, if you must know, is to provide security for one of my businesses in the city. More particularly, if a customer tries to leave without paying, it's his job to discourage them. And that discouragement can become extreme. To the point where he might allow the customer on his way only with the gift of a small paper bag and the recommendation to find a good surgeon, forthwith.

    Jesus.

    But I'll tell you know before he was expelled from university for uncleanliness, he was on track to become a marine biologist at Santiago de Chile. And to this day he can tell you more about sharks than you will find in any book. Society did not want him for its purposes, but I will make use of him for mine. His great talent was left untapped, so now necessity teaches him new ones.

    So was that how you got your start?

    Some things belong only to myself. But I will tell you how most do, in this life. It's some variant on the theme of rejected by family, by commune, by the state, left to one's devices, on the street. And let us be clear what these devices most likely are. Only some, like your friend over there we were just talking about, have the perfect balance, of the capacity for violence, but also the sanity and restraint necessary to pursue violence as a profession. Most young patrocleans severed from society lack his knack, and so they must sell their bodies. And in the RCR, to have sex with another man is to both learn, and to create, a secret. And a secret of great power, at that.

    Inevitably, those secrets start getting used. It's not a proud or noble thing, and I've heard so many times some patroclean idiot in Neupreussia exclaim how sad it is his RCR brothers prey on each other the way they do, the blackmail, the extortion, the protection. But once again, this is what we are left with when the world takes everything better.

    Now, another inane thing I hear to no end, is why do it, if the consequences are so dire? The answer I dare say is something someone like you can't even understand. You've never lived in a society where the satisfaction of your most basic and necessary human urges are a crime.

    I can imagine--

    Don't spout absurdities. You can't. You really can't. The answer as to why someone would risk everything to scratch that itch is neither more nor less complicated than what the poet calls that somber drumbeat in the blood. Continued life, even to a certain point, has no point if there is no satisfaction. And so the Patrocleans of the RCR satisfy their urges, no matter the punishment, no matter the cost. And with each satisfaction comes the steady flow of secrets. One man runs a plastic surgery clinic. Another is a detective with a key to an evidence locker. Another guards the door to the air-to-air missiles at the military field. Eventually, all are pressed into service. Like I said, life itself is only so valuable if it is without pleasure or hope.

    And so eventually, the secrets and the goods the secrets unlock begin to flow like great rivers, throughout the whole Holy Republic, and beyond. We do wonderful business with the aboriginal countries in the northern plains.

    Does this include illicits?

    You know trafficking in coca, poppies and their derivatives is strictly forbidden in the Republic, and more importantly, does not happen.

    Now I know you're taking the piss.

    Not at all. Just like you do not know what it is like to live in a society where love for another adult is a crime against the state, I do not think you were alive during the Leonine War. Or maybe, if you were, you would have been watching children's imagebox shows or playing cricket or whatever you English brats do. So you have no idea. The assassination of Leo set something off in the church, I think. Something instinctual and primal. Some kind of deep institutional memory. In the RCR, you see, the state has always been Daddy and the church is Mommy, in a very real way. Now Mommy is sometimes unreasonable or impractical and gets ignored, but Daddy's word is always final. Then suddenly, with Leo, a pope is dead, the imagebox is telling us coca traffickers are responsible, and that payoffs to certain judges may have been made, and Mommy just sets Daddy aside as if he's not even there, and suddenly we all find out that if we push her far enough, Mommy is quite ready on her own to drown us all in the tub.

    Now, they tried to tie that noose around our necks. They tried, and tried, and tried, to attribute the murder of Leo to the Patrocleans. But the evidence just did not fit and it was too important for the actual perpetrators to be exterminated for them to engage in the type of shallow moral theater they would have preferred. So instead the Magnificos were correctly identified, were targeted, were destroyed, and you can still see the scorch marks in some of the town squares of New Granada where that bit of nastiness all ended.

    But the end result of the Leonine War was that coca trafficking does not happen, and we are quite serious about this, because no one in the republic wants to see a return to those days. Certain concessions have in fact been made by certain parties to some enterprising Patroclean businessmen, and in return we help the state prevent the emergence of new coca traffickers.

    What about the famous links between RCR Patrocleans to spying and intelligence operations, then?

    Oh, there may be some truth to that. Just a little. The trade in secrets I was discussing, that metaphorical river, extends to and includes the state's secrets that fall into certain hands. Of course here you must keep in mind the propaganda influence is felt there too. The idea that Patrocleans are inherently treacherous is very old. And of course in its way it is true, just no more and no less than all humans are, whoever they happen to fornicate with.

    But yes, one cannot be a Patroclean involved in, let's say, extralegal business and not at some point come across some matter someone in the state might not want you to know. It is much less exciting than you might think.

    There are rumors you knew the famous agent known as Senor Bill. Are they true?

    At the time he crossed my path of course, I had no idea what he was doing. On meeting him I actually thought it would have been impossible for anyone that beholden to hallucinogens and prostitutes, even by the standards of the circles I move in, to be an effective intelligence asset.

    How much do you know about Bill? Was he English, Scottish or from one of the American countries?

    Forgive me, I am not being deliberately obtuse about this, it was impossible to tell. He was an avalanche of contradictory stories, some sold as jokes, some advertised openly as misdirection. It was easy, you see, to see him as a curiosity or a madman or, his favorite pose, a failed writer of obscene stories.

    Though he spoke English, which is usually enough to convince the average Renegade of a man being the devil himself--you would not perchance be hiding horns under that blonde hair of yours?--his oddness made him come off as harmless, which was his trick, until it was too late.

    So there were no signs he planned to infiltrate the Advanced Radiation Weapons Research Facility in Arica Province, steal plans for the Republic's advanced sunsplitter project, abduct a prominent physicist who was his contact on the promise of getting him to Neupreussia, and then kill him once he got him alone?

    None. And believe me, I am sorry to say there were none. Bill was a charming person so far as I remember, and I may have my issues with the republic, but I am far from being inclined to betray it to the English.

    Do you know anything about what may have happened to him? It's one of the twentieth century's great mysteries.

    Little more than the same speculation you will have heard. All we know is that Bill was successful in his mission. Some say he lives as a grace and favor guest of the Brandons at one of the royal palaces in recognition of his service, imposing his attentions on the servants with impunity. Others that he found a home in one of the aboriginal republics on the plains, finding satisfaction in running a small business and consulting on occasional intelligence matters with those governments. And one school of thought here is actually that Bill chose to stay in the RCR. The republic is vast, you see, with rain forests, mountain ranges and deserts that can swallow easily anyone resourceful who truly does not want to be found.

    There is even the rumor, to which I attach no credit, that Bill set himself up as a man of business using the proceeds of his work against the state and has built some kind of criminal empire here.

    But you don't think that's possible.

    The notion is ridiculous. He would have to have completely mastered the language, the accent, the culture, to remain hidden. He would had to have a backstory that would stand up to the authorities he incidentally came into contact with so that they would not suspect who he was and what he had done. And he would have to live in accordance with that backstory, the rest of his life.

    Do you think the Republic would have used the weapon envisioned in the plans?

    Well the idea of killing all the organisms in a given area with radiation and leaving infrastructure intact has military value. But I can't imagine us doing it unprovoked. Well, Fortitude wouldn't. And Hannibal wouldn't. But, ha, Cleanser just might have.

    My Dad used to say that the world is lucky, given a man like Cleanser had access to kernelsplitters, that there's anyone left alive anywhere.

    Well your father is a puta. Cleanser is the reason those candyasses in Wittenberg aren't speaking Russian now. And he was the only one who was willing to avenge--

    I meant no offense--

    Well you offended anyway. All the self-described "civilized" nations, all the crowned heads, all the fancy men, could not do the job. So you came to us. And you came to us, I might add, after spending several hundred years trying to extinguish us to the last man. I can take you to the clioseum in Bogota and show you the scalps Edward VIII's army collected off people who are blood ancestors to the men in this room. And you came to us to ask us to save you. And fools that we are, we did. So I now get to listen you to drink my liquor and insult Cleanser, of all people.

    Maybe we should change the subject.

    Maybe we should.

    Do you regret not having a family?

    I'm sorry?

    The RCR is one of 46 nations left in the world that do not recognize sex-concordant matrimony. Following the events of last week in the Commonwealth of Kuwait, that number is expected to drop to 45. So without marriage, and with an explicit ban on Patroclean adoptions, you don't expect to have a family, do you? Or do you count your friends and community as your family?

    Well, the fact that the Republic has not enacted the reforms you speak of, and is not likely to within my lifetime certainly, is regrettable. But if by matrimony you mean am I paying to keep a woman's arse fat, I know it only too well. And considering all the pleasure I've had from her, I may as well have had congress with a horse. But in this I think I am not too different not even from most husbands who would rather have husbands themselves, but many husbands, period.

    And children?

    Two sons.

    What do they think about you? Specifically, about your orientation?

    Both are dead. One died at Bandar Abbas, the other when the Guadeloupe went down in the Aegean. Neither knew. When the syndic judged me incorrigible but declined to recommend prosecution on account of the avoidable harm to my family, those are the sourest words I ever heard in my life, avoidable harm to my family, the deal was simple: they would not know, I would not see them again, I would support them, and I would stay out of a hard labor facility in the Sonora. An unwritten provision of the bargain was that I would do myself in, but I had other plans, and proved myself inconveniently durable.

    I am very sorry to hear that. All of that.

    No life is perfect. But I have fifty million in the bank, I have to illicitly buy prescriptions to keep up my minimum schedule of sex four times a day with my choice of the young men you see before you, and the weather here is congenial to these old bones. So beyond a certain point, for me to complain about the injustice done me by life would be churlish.

    Yes, about that.

    About what?

    Injustice. How many men have you killed?

    That's actually a rather hard question. For one, they don't just conveniently pop up a flag when the deed is done. Some crawl away, and who knows, maybe they're walking around somewhere right now, staring at their hand-tablets like morons. And then there are all the people who might have had a bad day, or maybe a last bad day, not on account of something I did myself, but something I told someone else to do.

    That many, then?

    ...

    How many you yourself, if you have bothered to keep count, that is?

    Not more than fourteen. Not counting the crawlers.

    Any regrets?

    I do not know if you've been paying attention to anything I've said, but if I had spared time for regrets in the first place, things for me would have ended back there with the syndic.


    ...

    At this point, we were interrupted. A muscular young man with tightly curled hair and aquiline features had walked up, and waited patiently for my subject to acknowledge him. "Yes?" my subject asked, his mock-annoyance betraying no small affection.

    "Bill, you have been sitting over here droning on forever to this stupid Englishman. You said we would do lunch."

    "Well," he leaned towards me with a bewitching smile, like a mischievous child, as he lifted his unfashionable hat, and placed it on his head. "I am called."
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018 at 3:53 PM
  12. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    You are correct. I am not sure why, but for some reason that was the most difficult update I've had to write in both timelines, and for some unknown reason the very basic mechanics of my writing in it was just terrible. I've done two or three read-throughs since I posted it, am still finding errors, and did not even find that one, which as you know, is rather significant.

    As to your other points, Friedrich's religious legacy is a bit like Rashomon, isn't it? Everyone recounts it differently. But his intervention on behalf of religious plurality is actually pretty stellar, definitely by sixteenth century standards. So long as the system he set up is in place, pretty much no one is going to end up running for their lives because their practice is outright forbidden, or subject to state-sanctioned violence. The Saxon state's hand has to be forced with respect to the Catholics, but that is still the case with respect to them. And the test coming up is not going to be about expanding this liberty but finding out how much of it can endure in the world without him.

    There are still significant incentives for Saxon subjects to be Lutheran, in terms of access to schools and the organs of what we would call civil society. And those incentives are going to be there for a while.

    As to whether the new church government take Saxony further down the road of religious pluralism, I'm not sure. Actually, though Lutheranism is less compulsory at this point in that the Fredericine religious settlement leaves open the possibility of different faiths coexisting, Lutheranism is actually stronger than at the same point in our world. This is because its leaders weren't forced to engage in negotiations with the Catholic Church that cost them credibility, and certainly not to make doctrinal concessions that simply were not acceptable within Protestantism. It also enjoys the support of a stronger Saxon state. Finally, the new church government leaves it in the hands of a professional management and in a situation in which it is no longer bound up with the Saxon political situation or the accidents of Saxon succession.

    So it's almost a paradox: the people of Saxony are freer of a mandatory public faith, but for separate reasons that church is healthier.
     
  13. Unknown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, TX
    What's going on in the last update; I get the feeling we're not getting the whole story...
     
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  14. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    The idea is that it's an interview for a book on the lives of sexual minorities in the present-day RCR. It probably should be set up and explained better. Let me think some about how best to do this. Also there is a bit of an easter egg with respect to "Bill." I can work to make that clearer as well.

    EDIT: By the way, when my storytelling is unclear or apparently missing something is when your comments are most valued. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
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  15. Nyvis Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    I'll be honest, I don't know how much I like the fast forward and look ahead.

    The RCR is fascinating, and the earlier parts about Illinois is too, but it kinda feels disconnected and like a whole other TL. One I would probably read, but without reaching it naturally, it feels a bit disjointed.
     
  16. Unknown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, TX
    BTW, @Dr. Waterhouse, congrats at passing over 100k words total, and hoping for much more to come...
     
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  17. FleetMac Patriotic Scalawag

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    VA boy living in a TX world
    Loving this reboot, @Dr. Waterhouse ! I love the fact that Germany remains a colonial contender in this TL in Neupreussen (sic) and *Australia. I wonder just how big the English colonial empire will get as well.

    However, my favorite crazed Irish transplants from the original work certainly do leave an impression...including conquering most of Latin America :eek:. What's the linguistic situation in your mind? On one hand, that's a LOT of Spanish speakers to absorb/unify under the RCR, but on the other hand, does its "kinda-not-really" nationalistic fervor produce a kind of linguistic pluralism mentality compared to OTL?
     
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  18. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    Well, it was a minor detail on the shelter post, but you saw the toggle options for the different languages available. The RCR however is generally majority-hispanophone, precisely because that's how assimilation would more naturally work. Also, like I said, there will be differences in their origins this time that will have an effect.
     
  19. FleetMac Patriotic Scalawag

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    VA boy living in a TX world
    I noticed that, which led me to conclude either 1) it's a multi-lingual state, or 2) its consumption is available outside of RCR borders (what with the "damned English" being included on the options :p). Also, that "Labhair Nua" option is interesting, an American/New World off-shoot of Irish a la Dutch and Afrikaans?

    Also, I enjoy the really spooky references to RCR....activities in Europe with "Cleaner" defending against Russian somebodies. *Shudder*.
     
  20. Dr. Waterhouse A Mighty Fortress Is My TL

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2008
    Yep, that's valid. I think what I want to do is clean up the last alt-present update, and make its relationship to the narrative clearer. Once it's presentable though, I think I will want to leave the RCR alone for a good while. Not stop doing the alt-present stuff necessarily, but play more widely in it. I think that will also help keep it from feeling like two separate timelines, having these other points of contact so that we're really mapping out a terrain of changes, rather than going back and forth between the Europe of the sixteenth century and the contemporary Americas.

    And of course we're going to be going through some big events shortly in the primary narrative, so there'll be plenty to handle with respect to that.
     
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