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

It's just too wanked. I'll note the current population of Latin America is 660 million, although of course they might have had an early enough demographic transition to keep populations rather lower (although the whole "authoritarian literally-more-catholic-than-the-Pope" vibe doesn't seem to indicate a dedication to birth control and small families. )
It's just too wanked. I'll note the current population of Latin America is 660 million, although of course they might have had an early enough demographic transition to keep populations rather lower (although the whole "authoritarian literally-more-catholic-than-the-Pope" vibe doesn't seem to indicate a dedication to birth control and small families. )

Ah, so draka in the sense of a plausibility problem. That's a real issue. At this point it's all prospective, so we can see once we get closer to the moment things start to go down how well the idea of a single state on the whole continent fits the scenario, or whether it's simply too much. One issue I always had with Stirling's draka is that a unified Africa makes so little geographic sense. Like, how do you turn that much territory into a unified contiguous economic and social unit, and moreover do it in so short a time? As I recall, a big part of Stirling's answer to this was blimps, and you know, that's something. But still.

Here, you have similar issues, including high mountain ranges, deserts and jungles that armies have to pass through, including the lack of a unifying river system to knit disparate regions together (squint hard, and maybe the Rio de la Plata could serve such a purpose?)

But of course the counterargument is that if you're talking about a multi-racial revolt of enslaved persons, landed peasantry and the urban poor, propelled by a weaponized reinterpretation of Catholicism, then that might be more, rather than less, likely to find a constituency in Brazil than it would elsewhere on the continent. Maybe we should imagine an RCR where the resistant region in question is in the cone?

Like I said, we'll see how it looks as we get closer. And of course you are entirely right as to those population numbers.
That's a real issue. At this point it's all prospective, so we can see once we get closer to the moment things start to go down how well the idea of a single state on the whole continent

Well, it's one and a half continents, if we're including Mexico and central America, which I assumed in my map.

But of course the counterargument is that if you're talking about a multi-racial revolt of enslaved persons, landed peasantry and the urban poor, propelled by a weaponized reinterpretation of Catholicism, then that might be more, rather than less, likely to find a constituency in Brazil than it would elsewhere on the continent

I'd find an alt version which starts out in Brazil and swallows the southern cone in it's early stages of expansion more plausible, honestly. Might be able to pick up the Andean states in a piecemeal fashion; places like Bolivia [1] and Peru are backwards, poorly armed, a a long way from anywhere and difficult for other nations to bail out in a period in which the only pacific ports are Spanish imperial ones, and not very valuable to said other nations in the era between the decline of silver wealth and the rise of guano. :biggrin:

[1] And once you get Argentina, Bolivia isn't that hard to get to: they were after all joined together in the Viceroyalty of Rio De La Plata during the late Spanish period, and travelers going from eastern to western south America generally found the overland trip by way of Argentina definitely preferable than taking the Straits of Magellan/Southern Ocean route.
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An Atlas of English Imperial History

North America, 1611-1621

The backdrop to any consideration of English settlement and commerce in the wider world during this period is the pas. England's unfettered access to the colonial ports of the Spanish Empire led to an explosive growth in English shipping, whether measured by economic value, bulk tonnage of goods transferred between ports, or the number and capacity of the English ships making the voyages. Because the pas created this strong relationship between England and the Spanish Empire of the Americas, English ports like Bristol, Plymouth, Southampton and London became places where both goods from the Spanish colonial world could be resold to buyers from other European realms, and places where those European realms could also vend their products to be resold in the major Spanish colonial ports like Veracruz, Cartagena or even Manila. English domestic manufactures did find some new customers, althought the lion's share of the products were still goods originating and heading elsewhere. Of secondary importance was the provision of the Treaty of Richmond providing that England receive and provision Spanish ships at its North Sea ports. The business this brought to even small North Sea ports along the entire coast from Dover to Newcastle was incalculable, especially in the south. By 1608 traffic between England and many of those Burgundian ports still in Spanish hands already exceeded their best pre-war year. And that trade bought with it the usual inevitable consequences: in the parish records of Kent and East Anglia during this period one sees a surge in the births of children with Spanish and Flemish surnames after 1606.

If England had emerged as something of a junior partner to Spain in its global trading networks, neither side was the worse for it: England grew richer, and Spain found that the most economical way to deal with its most dangerous rival in the wider world was to engage with it in the normal practices of buying and selling. This meant a profound change in the Atlantic sealanes and the adjoining coastlines: the Spanish no longer feared English piracy siphoning off the proceeds of their New World ventures, and the English no longer feared Spanish predation against their tentative and fragile attempts at settler colonies. The Spanish would not dare return to the days of Drake preying on their galleons, and were terrified that a fresh and sustained English intervention in the Netherlands would mean the loss of those provinces forever. Both sides, then, were doing their utmost to avoid provoking the other.

What follows is a year-by-year description of key events in the development of the English colonies of mainland and coastal North America during this period.

The Bristol Company's late entry into the effort to settle their grant from the crown meets resistance from the Scots at Fort Queen Anne. Traveling south along the coast, running into further trouble from the French presence in the colony of Acadia, they settle along the Kennebec River. There they found Fort Guy, after founder John Guy. Almost immediately it is called Guyville.

King Frederick I of England grants Queensland to lords-proprietor of the Howard family making use of legal guarantees provided by the Duke of York. Explicit in the grant is the king's release of the settlers of Queensland from any obligation to pay the Sunday pennies or taxes on rents required of non-conforming persons in England.

Fort Howard is built on Cape Cod, the first English settlement in Queensland.

The French found a trading post at Castine, on the coast New England. At the same time, they found a second mission on Penobscot Bay.

Due to the urgent need to find land better suited to farming, Queensland colonists found Walsingham, on the St. Edward the Confessor (later shortened to Confessor) River.

The French settlement of Castine is destroyed by an English raid, in which Captain John Smith is killed.

In Virginia, Fort Greville is founded.

Frederick I reserves all Fredericksland not explicitly granted to the colony of Queensland in 1611 for the settlement of non-papist non-conforming Protestants.

Christchurch is founded in Fredericksland on a harbor just west of the mouth of the Quinetuck River.

Sir Walter Ralegh in his Good Report calls for a ban on all imported involuntary labor, whether from Africa or elsewhere. Instead he proposes the exclusive use of Irish Exported persons.

As part of the marriage contract between King Henry I of Scotland and the Princess Henrietta Maria of France, France cedes to Scotland the Island of St. John and Cape Breton Island. The Scottish king promptly renames them in honor of Scottish Presbyterian martyrs Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart.

Frederick I grants the land between the Prince of Wales and Kosalu Rivers to the Duke of Somerset for the founding of the Colony of New Somerset. Months later, Fort Wolf is founded, the first English settlement in the new colony.

Plans for a Scottish settlement on Hamilton Island is canceled because of a lack of funds.

New Somerset becomes the first English colony to ban the use of involuntary labor obtained from Africa. In its place, the duke and his colonial managers plan to exclusively use the Irish Exported.
And that catches us up in North America. I wanted to do this catchall atlas entry to kind of show how it's all working in tandem, and perhaps most importantly what's still "open" on the board. From here we're finally going to pull back from events in England and the Americas to renew our focus on Central and Eastern Europe.

And just so you know, I've not accidentally omitted green fields showing settler penetration around Quebec, Port Royal and St. Augustine. Colonial populations there are still so small that for all intents and purposes, they don't show up in that sense.

I also made the choice to go minimalist on the borders, on the notion that virtually all the exploration done here is seaborne and coastal, so people don't know yet how far the Connecticut/Quinetuck or Savannah/Kosalu Rivers go or what shapes the territories ultimately take. Generally, borders are going to be shaded the color of the colonial power making the claim. At this point, very few powers recognize each other's territories as such. An exception of this is France and Scotland and Scotland and England, following the respective 1619 treaties.

Finally, as we are now beginning to have substantial changes in the colonial empires and the economies supporting them, some visits to India, Africa, and East Asia are going to shortly become necessary.
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The coronation of the Emperor Matthias in Frankfurt, 1612

from Albert Becher, The Empire at Twilight (1970)

The great objective of Alexander's foreign policy, to which all others were subservient, was maintaining peace in the empire. For Alexander the possibility of defeat by the Habsburgs with their near-infinite resources on the battlefield was too great, and the likely costs too dear. So the Habsburg emperors were given the assistance they requested against the Turks, lured into marriage alliances where possible, left unopposed in the all-important imperial elections, and in the great scandal of Alexander's reign, given a huge loan to win the Polish throne, the proceeds of which were quickly lost, never to be recovered. Saxony's indulgent treatment of its non-Lutheran Protestant sects technically violated the peace reached at Augsburg. And occasionally the emperors looked to make mischief, such as when Maximilian II tried to lure Alexander into deposing the Elector of the Palatine, likely with the purpose of starting an inter-Protestant war. But by and large, the wary peace had held. By late in the reigns of the Emperor Rudolf II and the Elector Alexander, it seemed as if the keenest rivalry between Habsburg and Wettin was between the courts of Prague and Wittenberg over which could lure the most prestigious artists and natural philosophers.

But the matter of a lasting peace between the houses of Austria and Saxony was inextricably bound up with the question of who, in particular, was leading those houses. The contrast between Alexander and his grandson Christian is obvious and has occasioned much comment. The old saw, that Christian made a better Alexander, but Alexander made a better Christian, in many ways expresses the truth of it. But for now our focus will be on the opposite side of the ledger, which is to say, the dynastic problems of the Habsburgs during this period, both among themselves, and against the Protestant princes of the empire. While Rudolf II, albeit fitfully, favored Catholicism, and sometimes attempted to introduce religious discipline into the realms he ruled directly, he was unwilling to make the division of the empire between Protestant and Catholic princes a military problem. If differences arose between the understanding of various terms agreed upon at Augsburg fifty or more years before, that did not in his view justify plunging his realm into a new bloody civil war. For this, neither Rudolf's Spanish relations nor a fair number of his Austrian Habsburg brothers and cousins could find it in their heart to forgive him.

By 1600, Rudolf II was under increasing pressure either to abdicate like Charles V had, both with respect to the imperial throne and the various lands Rudolf ruled directly, or to choose a successor, who then as King of the Romans would be the default choice at the next imperial election. Rudolf refused to do either, understanding that elevating a new King of the Romans would only facilitate him being set aside before his death or a time of his choosing. Most persistent in these efforts was his brother Matthias, who was only five years younger than he. Matthias enlisted in his cause another younger brother, Maximilian, and Ferdinand, a nephew of a predeceased brother, Charles. Together they met in secret at Schottwien in 1600, where they agreed to separately and privately approach the Emperor to persuade him to choose Matthias. When they did so and Rudolf, sensing perfidy, declined, the Archdukes Matthias, Maximilian and Ferdinand all concluded an open alliance against him aimed at winning for Matthias the imperial throne.

At this point, it is worth noting that the various arguments being made by his enemies against Rudolf's continued rule included that he was old, mentally compromised, incompetent, and sexually immoral, that he had proven himself toothless in dealing with the Protestant princes of the empire, and incapable of serving as the wartime leader the situation in Hungary required. Matthias's party also fanned the fears that with three of the seven electoral princes of the empire Protestants, the absence of a named successor of the emperor as King of the Romans made it only more possible that they could somehow poach an additional elector (a sufficient bribe to one of the ecclesiastical electors would be all it would take) and win the imperial office itself.

Though Matthias and his allies did not name any names, they did not have to: Alexander, Elector of Saxony through his mother was himself a great-grandson of the Emperor Maximilian I, and his wife Maria Eleonora was a granddaughter of the Emperor Ferdinand I. Whatever obstacles their Lutheranism might make for an imperial election, they had the blood to present one of their offspring as a credible alternative for the imperial office, if they chose. More importantly, by late in Alexander's reign they were beginning to accumulate the wealth to throw behind an effort to win the throne in just such a way. The fact that Alexander went out of his way to quell any speculation about any interest from himself or his family in the imperial throne made no difference for the purpose of the alarm that Matthias was ringing. If the Habsburgs did not take action to see off their Wettin rivals, it was only a matter of time before they lost the imperial throne, the story went. Thus, ironically enough, for all the long, winding, profligate history of claims and counterclaims about Christian's designs on the title kaiser, the first mentions of the possibility came not from any Lutheran pulpit or a Wittenberg press in the pay of the Saxon state, but from Habsburgs fighting other Habsburgs for the imperial throne.

By 1606, with Rudolf still intransigent, Matthias met at Linz with Maximilian, Ferdinand, and Ferdinand's brother, Maximilian Ernst. At this point the archdukes publicly agreed to take steps to remove Rudolf as King of Bohemia, as King of Hungary, and from the archdukedom of Upper and Lower Austria. For his part Rudolf began toying with the possibility of naming another nephew, Leopold, who had not sided against him, his heir. However, somewhat giving the lie to the notion of himself as doddering or disengaged, Rudolf parried the effort to remove him ably. He authorized Matthias to open peace negotiations with the Transylvanian Protestant rebel Istvan Bocksai, and once peace terms were reached with the rebels and the Ottoman Turks, held a diet in 1607. While Rudolf did not go so far as to name him King of the Romans, he appointed Ferdinand, not Matthias, to act with his authority and in his name, thus showing he was willing to begin playing his younger male relatives against each other.

Matthias's next step was to descent upon Rudolf's beloved seat of Prague with an army in 1608. Laying siege, he forced Rudolf into a treaty in which Rudolf remained emperor and king of Bohemia, and surrendered Upper and Lower Austria, the kingdom of Hungary, and the margraviate of Moravia, to Matthias. Crucially, Matthias refused to observe the customary procedures of accession in his new roles, by which traditionally a new feudal master would guarantee the formal and hereditary rights of the estates, and then receive from them the investiture of his office. This procedure rendered accession into a contract by which the lord's acceptance of limitations on his powers occurred before the estates' acceptance of him, which meant his subsequent rejection of those limits could be seen as potentially invalidating his accession. This had been the very notion Friedrich IV had employed to such relentless use against Charles V in the Spanish War, and its abrogation now had incendiary effects. In Upper and Lower Austria, where the majority of the Estates were at this point Protestant, the Horner Bund was formed among those of the Estates who would recognize Matthias only upon his recognition of specific guarantees of limited religious tolerance.

The question of the role of the Estates, which the Habsburgs had long sought to reduce into pure ceremony, was made all the keener by the revolution in Wittenberg. In 1575, when a then-young Rudolf was making his rounds, receiving the ceremonial assent of the various estates of his various realms, the Saxon Estates still existed in its traditional form. Thirty-three years later, and the Saxon Elector had lost his power to summon or dismiss them, they alone could make the rules by which they worked, and they had become the exclusive maker of public law in the Electorate. To the chagrin or amusement of potentates from one end of Europe to the other, a never-ending series of brewers, toymakers, honey merchants and ferry operators had been given the role of vertreter, which to outside eyes consisted of bossing the sovereign and telling him what he could and could not do with the country's tax money. As much as the Habsburgs had feverishly sought to prevent word of all this from penetrating their lands, or from being considered therein as anything other than a ridiculous novelty, the demand of the consent of the governed in their government was now becoming far more than a mere ceremonial thing.

Simultaneous with this intensifying conflict over the succession to the Holy Roman Empire and Rudolf's various other lands was a renewal of religious divisions within the Empire. All sides considered anxiously what would happen once Rudolf was gone and the reins of power were held by someone willing to aggressively force the matter of the confessional question. For the most part in the 1608 diet the Protestant princes were eager to win a guarantee of their right to the former ecclesiastical lands they had already incorporated into their territories. The Catholic princes viewed this as introducing a new term to resolve an ambiguity left behind by the Augsburg settlement, and one they were not willing to concede. Thus in 1609 Saxony, the Palatinate, Brandenburg, Wurttemberg, Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Darmstadt, and numerous smaller states and free cities formed the Protestant Union in their collective defense. Saxony, though it had profited immensely from the annexation of former ecclesiastical lands, including the Archbishopric of Magdeburg and the Bishopric of Halberstadt, was reluctant to join the union, on the ground that the ever-more cautious Alexander did not want to give any pretext for the Juelich succession to be denied to his grandson Christian. Nonetheless, the other Protestant powers imposed upon Alexander that if Saxony continued to go it alone, then in its hour of need it may not find itself able to call on their assistance.

One effect of the long and messy squabble among the male Austrian Habsburg heirs is that it had attracted the notice of their Spanish cousins. Whether because he feared, like Matthias and his brothers and nephews, the Protestants might seize on a moment of weakness on Rudolf's death to seize the imperial throne, or just saw the opportunity for himself, Philip III of Spain had begun considering the possibility of entering the contest for the imperial throne, which could conceivably recreate the Empire of Charles V. If the evangelical princes of the Holy Roman Empire had difficulty deciding their preferences from among Rudolf's various potential heirs in the Austrian House of Habsburg, they were very clear that this would be their worst possible nightmare, meaning quite likely the end of the Dutch Revolt, at the very least. In Philip III's absolutist notions, the argument had little whatsoever to do with the actual institutions of the Holy Roman Empire: in that the Spanish house was descended from the elder brother, Charles V, and the Austrian house from the younger, Maximilian I, the Spanish house had the superior right to the imperial throne.

Finally, in 1611 Matthias had, despite a last-minute effort by Leopold on Rudolf's behalf, managed to pry away the Kingdom of Bohemia from Rudolf's hands, leaving him only the imperial throne. It was in this, humiliatingly limited, role that Rudolf had been willing to countenance Eleonora's terms in the War of the Juelich Succession. Rudolf, his power now reduced to little more than his influence with the imperial courts and his crucial ability to impose the imperial ban on princes of the empire, made a peace with Saxony which short-circuited his ambitious kinsmen's designs on the Juelich inheritance, and spitefully gave Saxony what both what the rogue electorate desperately wanted, and the Habsburgs desperately needed to keep it from having, the rich territories in the Rhineland adjacent to the Dutch states.

Thus when the Emperor Rudolf followed the long ailing Elector Alexander into death in 1612, his kin had mixed feelings. Once Christian had returned to Wittenberg and the Saxon Estates had deposed Eleonora from the regency, Saxony had even reneged on the indemnity and a large ransom it had promised to the dying Rudolf, a final insult. At this point though, as new rulers, Matthias and Christian for all their differences of religion, background and temperament, needed very similar things. The imperial ban for his intemperate seizure of Koln, the denial of the Juelich inheritance, and the nonrecognition of his investiture as elector were all still very real possibilities, although the Saxon estates had already sworn any effort to deny of question Christian's right to Saxony by imperial institutions would be treated as a nullity inside Saxony. In short, if the Empire denied Saxony its elector, Saxony would quit the empire. At the same time, though Matthias's election as emperor was a foregone conclusion, he did not want to face a fiercely contested election.

Thus in 1612, before the imperial electors met in Frankfurt, representatives of Matthias and Christian met to come to some sort of an arrangement at Schandau, on the border of Saxony and Bohemia, where some seventy years before Ferdinand and the Holy Prince had first broached the question of how to end the Spanish War. As ever, Christian had wanted to give Matthias, King of Bohemia, King of Hungary, Archduke of Upper and Lower Austria, nothing more than the back of his hand. It had been left to virtually every person of high birth or significant role in the electoral court, including his normally fawning mother, to wrestle Christian into the realization that compromise was necessary and Saxony was not prepared for a direct conflict with what was still a far larger foe. In the end, the deal was simple and clean: Matthias would confirm Christian in all his lands and titles, including the unified dukedom of Juelich-Cleves-Berg, and Christian would cast his electoral vote for Matthias and henceforth respect Matthias's authority in all his lands and titles. Both sides would proceed to the enjoyment of their undivided inheritances, and peace would be preserved. Implicit now also was that there would be no immediate or drastic change in the religious settlement of the empire, as Matthias was entering into the years when such a momentous exertion, not to mention the war it would trigger, would be beyond him.

At the same time, no one had any illusions. The Treaty of Schandau had merely confirmed two men's reciprocal recognitions of their rights to their inheritances, and it accomplished precious little more than that. But one of these men was 55, and the other barely 20. Matthias' reign would end much before Christian's, and once it did, and the only-too-familiar crisis of confession in the empire again loomed, none of the threats to the legality of his rule or inheritance would curb Christian, and the family and court that had been able to brake him from the pursuit of open provocation and conflict with the Austrian Habsburgs would not be able to do so again. And then, Christian would have, not curbing or braking but stirring him forward, his new young wife Elizabeth of Scotland.

And on top of everything else, he wanted nothing more than to make this king's daughter a queen, and had little scruple as to how many people he might have to kill to do it.
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Castle Hill, Prague, 1606
Christian and Empire

Gerhardt Beu

An Introduction

What did the Elector Christian want, precisely, at the First General War's beginning?

His immediate predecessors in the electoral dignity were, from the time of Friedrich the Wise on, mercurial, secretive or improvisatory, rulers whose guiding principles and inner lives frequently could only be guessed at, not only by the scholars of succeeding generations, but by their own wives, children, fellow rulers, courtiers and the ordinary subjects strolling down the street outside their front door. It cannot be stressed enough how much Christian was unlike any of them: here was a man whose motives were not a puzzle to be solved. Instead he would grab history by the lapels and scream them into its face.

That historians nonetheless still behave as if the last Saxon elector left us any ambiguity as to his intentions is, make no mistake, a mark of the profession's chicanery and love of obfuscation.

But it is also helpful to remember the First General War was fought with printing presses as much as with pikes or field artillery. And if in the eyes of admiring Protestant broadsides Christian was a selfless liberator who would have waged war forever with no thought to his own benefit, to Catholic pamphleteers he was a creature of violent and unyielding personal ambition who would reduce Germany to a field of skulls if he could but sit at its peak. To them, his lifelong goal was that of Holy Roman Emperor, and his great struggle for the Bohemian crown only the preface to a latter effort to grab Charlemagne's crown, or at the very least to deny it to the Habsburgs.

His famous retort as to whether he held such imperial ambitions, delivered to his aunt Eleanore in front of his court upon being offered the crown of Bohemia by that country's Estates, was simply "what need have I for a throne higher than David's?" Such words were of course the sort of florid propaganda Christian could generate with the same ease with which he drew breath. And they were meant to, and did in fact make, many of his devout Lutheran subjects swoon with adoration for their young hero.

Yet the disdain Christian's answer reveals for the Empire and its institutions is revelatory. Gone was Friedrich IV's rhetoric of the Saxon elector as defender of the imperial constitution and the liberties it guaranteed against foreign tyranny and innovation. Instead, Saxony's century-long struggle against what its vigorous print culture portrayed as imperial oppression had done its work: the empire was no longer something to be preserved, it was the threat which had to be guarded against.

Yet on a deeper level, this change was also shaped by the innate Protestant suspicion towards all institutions medieval in origin and Catholic in form, ritual and culture. As reflected in Christian's words, the vocabulary and incidents of kingship had a strong basis in the biblical text. Caesar and Rome, by contrast, were only too readily identified in the New Testament with the persecutors and crucifiers of Christ, and Saxony's long struggle through the sixteenth century against Caesars and against Rome had only reinforced this disdain, and made it visceral.

And as the very words Empire, Caesar, and more so than all the rest, Rome, lost all glamor, and became synonyms for tyranny, paganism and earthly corruption, how could the same fate not befall the word elector, that of an office subordinate and incidental to the rest?

Simultaneously, the strong influence of the model of the Nordic monarchies on Saxon political life cannot be discounted. Even with the Duchess Elisabeth's preferred notion of a coercive state Lutheran Church falling into disfavor following the arrival of Saxony's new Electress, the idea of a king as a guardian of proper religious doctrine and a steward for the souls of all his subjects held a firm grip on the Saxon imagination. In fact, it seemed to many this described better than any the relationship the Saxon electors had assumed to individuals' religious worship back when Friedrich the Wise and Johann the Steadfast had began the Reformation in Saxony in the first place.

This Saxon koenigstumhunger had of course a more than religious dimension too. The territorial expansion of Saxony, whether by conquest during the Spanish Wars, the gradual absorption of the appended realms, and finally the contested Juelich inheritance, created a space in which the Saxon prince was now palpably something more than his forebears who had been content with the title of elector, and also more than the other princes of the empire who held the same title. At the same time, the immense wealth of Saxony increasingly created the impression of something more than an electorate, or technically an agglomeration of duchies, margraviates, and free and imperial cities. It was the new electress, Elizabeth of Scotland who dwelled on the irony that her new home boasted revenues several times greater than her old one, and yet her husband had a liegelord, but not her impoverished, but royal, father.

For the time being, this Saxon appetite for rule by something other, and something higher, than an elector it was felt would be satisfied if the king in question was still Saxon, but king of some place else. It would only be after the first decade of war, with the old imperial institutions and relationships thoroughly steeped in blood, that some more complete renunciation of the old order would begin to feel appropriate and necessary.

Thus Christian's answer, his preference for no throne higher than David, is more than a negative statement. He is, in fact, as he utters the words, preparing to go fetch just such a crown. But the answer's open-endedness does not foreclose the possibility that he would later enthusiastically embrace, that of a coronation, not in St. Vitus's Cathedral in Prague, but the Church by the Oak in Wittenberg.

So what role then, given Christian's apparently sincere disinterest, did the imperial prize play in the Saxon statecraft before the First General War, and in its early stages? Crucial to Saxony's immediate purposes was that it be held by a prince of the Protestant camp who would permit the Bohemian Estates to trade a Habsburg king for a Wettin one, and otherwise not act against Saxony's interest. As Christian fully realized, Europe had no shortage of princes who could conceivably meet such criteria, if properly induced.

Thus Saxony began offering the imperial throne as an inducement to potential military allies. For once Bohemia's vote in imperial elections were added to its own, plus Brandenburg and the Palatinate, it would hold the balance of power against the three ecclesiastical electors presumptively loyal to the Habsburgs. Because the imperial throne was not limited to candidates who were at the time princes of the empire, the famous 1519 election that resulted in the elevation of Charles V having been also contested by Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France, there was no shortage of rulers who would receive the promise of Saxony's votes in the next imperial election, if only said ruler would send an army or disburse money, whether as gift or loan, sufficient to bring the war to a speedy conclusion. Protestant princes approached with such inducements ultimately included Frederick I of England, Henry I of Scotland, and Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden.

Eventually of course, this practice in its desperate profligacy would become antics fit for low comedy. Literally, as was on display in a scene from the 1623 play Ein Wuerdiger Freier, when two layabout zweitemaenner (the name of the middleman private lenders of the sixteenth century having long since become a byword for professional fraud) each produce letters from the Electress Eleonora promising them Saxony's votes for the imperial throne. In the brilliant scene, the zweitemaenner are so despondent upon realizing the worthlessness of what they possess, they don't even contest who has the better claim, but just despair at having both been cozened by a better player of the game than they, the erstwhile Electress of Brandenburg.

But perhaps its in a broader sense we see in Ein Wuerdiger Freier what the imperial throne had become, in the eyes of Saxony and more particularly, its warlike prince: an empty promise, a shell passed around by dirty hands, a pompous absurdity cherished by fools. To Protestant Saxony as it prepared for war, the true prize was not Caesar's purple, but a throne like David's.
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Huzzah! It lives. I am delighted to see this update (and to reread the last one, which I think I might have missed). But it seems that things are about to get exceptionally bloody in the HRE.

That historians nonetheless still behave as if the last Saxon elector left us any ambiguity as to his intentions is, make no mistake, a mark of the profession's chicanery and love of obfuscation.

This made me laugh more than was seemly.
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Scenes from the Execution of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, by Claess Janszoon Visscher

The homunculus

from a lecture by Gerhardt Beu (1970)

I still remember when, attending my local boys' gymnasium in Neupreussia, I heard my first lectures on the start of the First General War. And can still recall, in that early afternoon history class, our lunch of ochse-und-spaetzle eventfully digesting in all our bellies, the complaint go up at the first appearance of Hugo Grotius in the grand narrative of German history, "Who let the Dutchman in?"

It was the same tone of voice someone would use as if they had found out a mouse had been set loose in the throne room of the Schloss Alexanderburg.

And yet, it's not just dust-caked schoolboys who find who find Grotius's rise surprising. However, it does have answer, albeit a somewhat complicated one.

Let us first recall who Hugo Grotius was in 1617. An intellectual prodigy who had trained with many of the pre-eminent Dutch thinkers of the age, it was accompanying the Land Advocate of Holland, Johan de Oldebarnevelt, that Grotius was introduced by Henri IV of France to his court as the Miracle of Holland in 1598. Five years later, Grotius was likewise introduced to Frederick I of England at the latter's coronation. Historiographer of Holland from 1601, Grotius produced his first major work, a history of the Dutch Revolt from its beginning to that time, in 1612, though it was not published until much later in his life.

But in 1604 Grotius was retained by the United Amsterdam Company to defend its seizure of a Portuguese carrack in the Strait of Malacca by producing a legal treatise marshaling his formidable learning. Grotius, then as ever, not one to argue on narrow grounds when universal principles would do, obliged with On the Indies, which would posit new principles of the laws of war and of nations. This was followed in 1609 with The Free Sea, which would expand upon the notion of the seas as areas common to all nations.

Grotius's growing reputation led to him receiving further honors. In 1611 he accompanied Oldebarnevelt on the diplomatic mission to Saxony which brought him for the first time to the attention of Eleonora, Electress of Brandenburg. Two years later, in 1613, he became the pensionary of Rotterdam, even while serving as the Advocate General for the States of Holland and Zealand. It was around this time the controversy between Arminians and Gomarists came to dominate Dutch religious life. Grotius that same year argued in The Piety of the States of Holland for a more capacious notion of religious toleration, contending that different ideas of predestination could fall within Christian orthodoxy. At Oldebarneveldt's direction, Grotius then in his role as Advocate General drafted the edict turning these principles of toleration into the law of Holland with respect to the controversy between the Remonstrants and Counter-Remonstrants. More broadly, Grotius's work on these matters sought to take the state out of the business of deciding theological questions entirely.

Unable to persuade Amsterdam and the rest of the United Provinces to adopt this view, Oldebarnevelt and Grotius decided on a plan whereby Holland would raise a separate military, essentially severing it to some degree from the rest of the United Provinces. Coming as it did towards the close of the Twelve Year Truce with Spain, this meant that the Provinces might soon face renewed warfare with Spain divided among themselves. Stadtholder Moritz of Nassau could not permit this, and proceeded to act against Oldebarnevelt and Grotius. It was as this conflict intensified that Grotius received a visitor to his home.

The years, and the retellings, with various layers of literary invention, have all done their work. You will, I hope, permit me the indulgence.

The visitor claimed to be the local agent of a German lady, who had need of a gift for her nephew, with whom she had had some years previously a terrible row, and for which she had not been forgiven.

Grotius replied that Delft had a great many skilled craftsmen. There had been no mention of the age, but that if the lady sought toys for a child, there were several esteemed houses specializing in the manufacture of toy soldiers--

The visitor answered, that while such would be indeed to the youth's tastes and maturity, his inclinations were larger, and more elaborate.

In short, the visitor explained that gift the lady sought was a detailed legal justification for the feudal estates of a realm to eject their monarch, and select a replacement, Precise details could not be provided, but it should be assumed that the estates in question were of long standing, their competence accepted by well-established practice, the monarch sought to be rid of, a foreigner to that place, and his replacement, likewise. Grotius was not so feckless as to not understand whom his putative client was, or whom the parties were to the controversy he was being asked to write about. Perhaps knowing precisely how dangerous the matter was, he demurred, claiming his duties to Holland and its present quarrels precluded distraction. This applied even where the clients were noble and illustrious, and their cause, just.

So, Grotius sped the visitor on his way, as politely as possible.

Two years later, the same man visited Grotius. Of course now, the eminent lawyer and philosopher was in the jails of Moritz of Nassau. Oldebarnevelt was shortly to be executed, and Grotius for his part faced life imprisonment, their scheme derailed by the timely application of force followed by a trial that observed only the formal pretense of fairness. The Electress Eleonora had pleaded to Moritz to permit Grotius to go into exile instead of serving his sentence, on the condition that he enter her custody and her service, on the solemn promise that he would never return to the United Provinces, hold any office therein, or address in print or speech any controversy thereof. He would leave the Netherlands, and it would be for him as if that place had ceased to exist. Otherwise, Eleonora cautioned, Moritz in jailing or executing such a famous learned man could only cultivate the reputation of a tyrant.

Of course, Eleonora's bribes, and promises of future assistance to Moritz upon the much-feared end of the Truce with the Spaniards, did somewhat help.

Thus Grotius left his homeland, never to return, and in his somewhat melodramatic words, little more than a slave. What Eleonora had bargained for was of course another one of the pet intellectuals the House of Wettin had been accumulating since even before Luther, in the days of Spalatin, and Konrad Mutian performing alchemical experiments in Wittenberg castle. But in that way so definitively established by the Holy Prince in his treatment of Luther, Grotius was hired to write for a public audience, to commit arguments to the presses that would sway, not just the great and good, but the literate masses, to the merits of the Saxon cause throughout Europe.

One can only imagine Eleonora introducing Grotius to his new home: "See, Hugo? This is the desk at which Luther penned Of the Anti-Christ and His Servants. And here is the chair from which my grandfather the Elector glowered at him and muttered threats while he wrote."

Of course, Grotius was a genius. He met, and exceeded the expectations placed upon him in Wittenberg. And he would rise, dizzyingly, in the Wettins' service, with great consequences for the modern world. He would never serve as chancellor, being of insufficient birth to meet what Killinger would call the great prerequisite to be a herrkanzler, that of high enough birth to speak roughly to princes. Nor could he participate in any of the political contests from which the nascent Saxon electoral system produced its vertreters. And of course it needs to be said that Grotius was such a radical in matters of religion he had had enough trouble keeping his head on his shoulders in the 17th century, much less leading a nation.

Instead, though Grotius would receive momentous assignments, perform important tasks, be entrusted with vast projects, if we were to reduce his life in Wittenberg to items on a curriculum vitae for the most part he was merely the private secretary to a noblewoman, a lawyer with some flashy and troublesome clients, and for a time the tutor to a frail boy. And he would write. He would even sometimes write, contrary to the terms on which he was spared the wrath of Moritz of Nassau and whisked off to Wittenberg, against the hand that fed him.

But more of this later.

It was of course this contrast, between the modesty of his beginnings and his status as foreigner, and a heretical one at that, and the grandeur of his end that Grotius would receive the nickname in the Acta of "the homunculus." For in the rude cartoons of the time, Germany was depicted as a hollow giant. And Grotius--disapprovingly-- was seen as the little man inside it, working the gears.
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Grotius! I am delighted to see Grotius take a leading role in shaping the fate of Europe. Also a little frightened.

In short, the visitor explained that gift the lady sought was a detailed legal justification for the feudal estates of a realm to eject their monarch, and select a replacement, Precise details could not be provided

Hold on to your hats, people, this ride is going to get bumpy.
Thanks everyone for the warm responses. I'm definitely enjoying being able to work on the timeline again. I'm still refreshing myself and doing some additional reading, so it may be a bit before I can start back on the core narrative. I just want to make very sure I do this next bit justice, because the story--both OTL's Thirty Years War and TTL's First General War--gets pretty complex.

Battle of the White Mountain, by Peter Snayers

The Knife-Point

Lucia Catanzaro

As a preliminary matter, we should consider the condition of the Saxon military at the troubled generational hand-off of the electoral dignity from Alexander to Christian in 1612, beginning with the infantry.

Generally, European infantries of the time were split between soldiers bearing distance weapons, usually firearms, and those wielding pikes. In the case of the Spanish infantry, which still for the most part subscribed in this period to large massed square formations called tercios, this meant a one-to-one ratio of guns to pikes. By contrast, the Dutch had come to rely more on complicated maneuvers making use of firearms, and so used a two-to-one ratio of guns to pikes. In Dutch tactics, the first line of infantry would fire, peel off to the sides, and then reload, allowing the second line to follow, and so on, until the first line was back to the front and the process repeated. The specific competence of the Dutch was doing this while advancing in a march or, as was frequently necessary in the face of Spanish land power, retreating. Using gunpowder this way rendered the pikes more defensive.

Saxony by the War of the Juelich Succession thought it had improved on the Dutch model by introducing lines composed entirely of distance weapons. The ambassadors of King Frederick, invited to watch the Saxon army train, were aghast to find the only soldiers wielding pikes those assigned to pantomime the likely Spanish enemy. There were several reasons for this controversial innovation, the first of which was simply that Saxony, a sprawling electorate more or less at peace for fifty years and with bursting coffers, had the money to buy expensive firearms in great numbers. But another reason lay deeper, in the mythology that had grown up around the Spanish War.

The Elector Friedrich IV's great victories, most notably at Kreuzberg, had famously been won thanks to the idiosyncratic use by its soldiers of the English longbow. The glamor of Kreuzberg, Plauen and the Battle of the Snows had instilled in Saxon military thinking an obsession first, for distance weapons in general, and more specifically for anything that would compress their rate of fire, and thus increase the rate of speed an individual infantryman could dispatch his opponents. In the small permanent staff seeing to the electorate's armaments during the long years of peace, an incredible amount of time was spent trying to refine the actual firing apparatus, to streamline the physical mechanism of the gun, and to find efficiencies of time in the loading, lighting and firing of the weapons.

Even to contemporary observers, like Frederick I's ambassadors, renouncing pikes seemed foolhardy. Present-day students familiar with the realities of modern firearms and field artillery cannot really imagine the psychological effect on late-medieval and early modern men of a concentrated line of massed pikes, advancing at speed. Many battles were won or lost when facing such, an infantry, even one well-equipped and well-drilled, simply scattered in terror. But that powerful offense was perhaps the least of what the Saxons were giving up. For the mass of pikes was also a ferociously effective defense, especially against cavalry. Even the best-trained war horse could shy from charging towards a thicket of twenty foot-long sharpened poles pointed towards it.

The longbowmen of those fabled Saxon campaigns at mid-century had faced distinct vulnerabilities. They had required fixed positions, defended either by natural barriers or the use of trenches or stakes to hold back the sudden enemy charge. If caught off-guard or overwhelmed, their casualties were appalling, especially given that longbowmen, though their weapons were relatively cheap, were hideously expensive to feed, exercise, train and pay over the course of a lifetime. Thus by the end of the Spanish War there may have been as few as eight longbowmen left in the Elector's service to train their successors. And in seeking to recover the glamor of Friedrich's victories, the Saxon army had recreated in its reliance on guns much of the same fragility in the face of fast-moving offensive forces.

All infantry of the time also carried bladed weapons on their person for close-quarters fighting. Saxony had not stinted its soldiers such, and the generals at the Alexanderburg were content to think that in so doing they had created an effective multi-layered fighting force. Now, Saxony by 1608 had issued to its infantry a standard fire-arm, one of the first militaries to do so. Each such gun was equipped with its own short pole-weapon, a sharpened point of eighteen English inches for bludgeoning, accompanied by an axe on the underside for an efficient hacking motion, very much in the mode of a halberd. Similar in its use to a gasconboy*, this innovation would have a long history. In fact, as recent as the General War of the Autocracy, many tsarist soldiers suffered the telltale abdominal puncture-wounds in the close and desperate Battles of Frankfurt-am-der Oder and the Devil's Dancing Floor.

In circumstances more dire than even that, the Saxon infantry was equipped with a weapon of last resort, a kurfuerstenfreund, also called a dorothea. This was nothing more than a small, short-handled hatchet with a closed and guarded hilt. The idea was that, in close-quarters fighting, if the gun had been lost, each soldier would have a spare, and most likely final, weapon. It took its gallows-humor name from the Battle of Stassfurt, where the Elector Friedrich had actually been forced to make use of one himself. Even in the retelling, this was no exhibition of princely heroics, but a man committing wild-eyed, panicked murder in order to make his escape from the enemy.

Finally, we would be remiss if, in describing the Saxon infantry and the consequences to its composition, tactics and equipage of the prior history of Saxony's experiment with English-style longbows, if we did not note that the longbows were still there.

Of course, the longbows had not somehow become more useful against armor than they had ever been before, though the same Saxon military scientists spending their entire lives trying to speed the rate of fire of a matchlock handgun were also trying in vain to find some way of incorporating gunpowder into a bow and arrow, to usually comic results. However, the same large mass infantry formations that made use of whole forests of pikes were usually less well armored than the elite men-at-arms of prior generations. If enemy soldiers were without the protection of plate, or caught unprepared, the longbowmen for as long as they could hold their position, had a prohibitive advantage and could inflict speedy lethality as surely then as at Agincourt. There was simply no comparison between their reloading speed and any gunpowder distance weapon, and if the longbowmen had the first move advantage, the guns opposite them might never be fired at all.

Still, their meager numbers, prohibitive expense, physically imposing builds, need for a fixed position, and the mystique they enjoyed meant they were most often employed as a close-guard of the Saxon princes. Still, it would be a mistake to see them only as a historical curiosity or aesthetic flourish, for their proximity also meant they were always at hand to be directed into battle against an emergent vulnerability of the enemy, or even sometimes to mount a last ditch desperate defense of the Elector. Their prestige, and the privileged lives they led relative to the other battlefield soldiers of the early seventeenth century had its price, and the Saxon longbowmen understood that.

Thus Saxony's infantry was strongest either when it operated at a distance, in which it could make free and unimpeded use of its projectile weapons, occasionally, but rarely, even incorporating both gunpowder and bows into the Dutch-style rolling attacks of successive lines, or when in extremely close situations it could push beyond the Spanish walls of massed pikes to butcher the men wielding them. But where the Saxons fell short, and this the English ambassadors tried to explain to their hosts, was everywhere in between those two extremes. On an open field, characterized by the fast movement of horses and infantry, there was simply too little other than the rain of their own projectiles to keep the Saxon soldiery from being mowed down.

And this perhaps revealed the most serious deficiency of the Saxon army at the start of the First General War. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, the ideal was that a third of one's army should be veterans, to provide the necessary training, cohesion and discipline. Saxony had already fallen below that threshold by the time of Alexander's succession to the electoral dignity in 1560, and finding veteran soldiers without fighting a war oneself was a constant preoccupation of Alexander's reign, even given the general character of early modern armies as less formations composed from the nations for which they fought than the temporary employees thereof, their origin being of little consequence.

This was not a problem, specifically not for either the Spanish, or for the Saxons' Austrian Habsburg rivals. For Spain's long war in the low countries had left it with a deep reservoir of experienced commanders and warriors, whether Spanish, Burgundian, Italian, Irish or Scottish origin. Likewise, the Austrian Habsburg realms had fought from 1593 to 1606 a major war against the Ottomans, which had attracted into their service some of the most talented military leaders of the day from across Central and Eastern Europe. Saxony's own reluctance to contribute anything to the Ottoman struggle more than coin, on the notion that it did not want to lose in Habsburg service the men it might one day need to deploy against the Habsburgs, now meant it might have to field an army of novices led by an Elector who was only 19 when he succeeded to the electoral dignity. ("He'll be taught to shave by Spanish steel", the jibe went.)

The Saxons however arrived at a solution to this problem even before Christian's accession. Alexander in his final years began aggressively recruiting former Dutch, English and French Protestant commanders who had served in those nations' recent respective wars. The Dutch were especially receptive after the beginning of the Twelve Years' Truce in 1609, and the pivotal ranks of colonels and lieutenant colonels filled with grizzled and battle-hardened Dutchmen. That this made for an army heavily Calvinist in its leadership may have caused disquiet in the Estates, or in the chambers of the new Elector's mother, was of little consequence, given the dire military need for battlefield experience.

Thus as the Bohemian Estates commenced plotting to eject the Habsburgs from its realm and offer the Bohemian crown to Christian, appraisals of Saxony's actual ability to make good its prince's ambitions varied wildly. It was, as they say, a mystery box. But to the one whose opinion mattered most for the moment, that of the young Elector, Saxony's army seemed invincible.

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Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor, by Lucas Valcenborch

A Fatal Birth: The New Reich and the Old

Desiree Grannan

The accession of Christian as Elector of Saxony and the election of Matthias as Emperor had been a neatly reciprocal transaction, whereby each side helped the other to their full inheritance and asked no questions about where that might lead them, or the Holy Roman Empire generally, in the future. Partly this had been because the most obvious alternative to Matthias as Holy Roman Emperor had been the Archduke Albert, who, married to the king of Spain's sister, co-governor of the Netherlands on behalf of Spain during much of the preceding war, and closely aligned with the three ecclesiastical electors, was seen as the more hardline Catholic candidate. Likewise, ironically, if Matthias were to attempt to make a test of his power and deny Christian the Juelich-Cleve-Berg-Mark-Ravenstein inheritance, the most probable ultimate winner of those lands after Christian would be that same Albert, and through him his Spanish backers. Thus, each side were happy with their choice of devils, in that they were not Spanish.

This period in the history of the Wittenberg court was known as the Reign of the Young Bull. The Elector Alexander was in his tomb. The Electress Eleonora, who had wielded the powers of her regency so robustly during her father's incapacity and her nephew's absence during the Juelich War, was consigned to despised obscurity, having been given as a permanent residence the rustic and isolated Wettin family lodge at Lochau. The Duke Friedrich, the elder surviving son of Alexander, whose role in the Juelich War had alternated between that of a general and a babysitter to Christian, now found himself scarcely better off than Eleonora, and preoccupied himself with his own lands and family. Power now rested securely with the new Elector Christian, his new chancellor, Paul von Kellendorf, and his mother, the Duchess Elisabeth of Denmark. Lutheran chauvinism at home and a stern hand dealing with the Habsburgs in the wider empire were the order of the day.

Christian wasted no time. In 1613 he responded to the highly publicized corruption charges against the deceased Rudolf II's imperial treasurer Geizkopfler for embezzlement of funds intended for the Habsburg military frontier against the Ottomans by suspending all Saxon support, including that previously promised or appropriated under the reign of his predecessor. Kellendorf instead proposed to Matthias that Saxony and the other Protestant powers be given some of the strategic border fortresses in Croatia, Hungary and Transylvania to occupy directly, arguing that if the Saxon Elector could have control over how his money was spent, he would be more liberal with his support against the Turks than even what he had previously been paying. And, of course, Kellendorf explained the potential loss of his own soldiers to any Turkish incursion would make him more likely to become directly involved in the event of crisis.

The Habsburgs saw this for what it was, an excuse for Kellendorf, himself a Transylvanian Lutheran of German parentage, to begin a flow of money and weapons east that would be more likely to find ultimate use against the Habsburgs themselves than any invading Turkish army. Thus Christian's counterproposal was summarily rejected, and the controversy over the Eastern Moneys would drag on through countless rounds of negotiation, as Saxony came more and more rely on the relative impoverishment of the Austrian Habsburgs, and their inability to enforce any imperial ban through military means, to flout its duties under the imperial system.

Of greater surprise was that Christian's relations with the Saxon Estates General were little better. The son of a prince who himself died of violence tragically young, long held up as a vehicle for national hopes, of confirmed fervor in the dominant Lutheran faith, and an advocate for a popular and aggressive foreign policy, Christian aligned in every particular with the political positions of the vast majority of the Saxon Estates. That these were almost all men who would die for him overstates the matter only a little. This made the provocations the Estates were forced to endure at the start of his reign unnecessary, and nothing more clearly brings into question the competence of Christian's leadership at its outset.

For Christian had resolved to act toward the Estates as if the constitutional concessions of his grandfather were specific to that reign, contrary to the written terms painstakingly worked out between the parties, now almost forty years before. That there were no great substantive disputes with the Estates General over policy helped keep matters from coming to a head in these first few years. That the present vertreter, Bernhard Pieter Hildburghausen, was willing to go to enormous lengths to defuse the various provocations, also helped.

But beginning from his accession, Christian chose to let the Estates' representative meet with Kellendorf, rather than himself. In the evolving constitutional system that was emerging as the parties implemented and expanded on the terms of the Great Letters, one of the few necessary prerogatives of the vertreter was personal contact with the elector, and with it the opportunity to convey to him the position of his Estates directly. Denying that, and leaving the vertreter to meet with the chancellor, conveyed the message that the relationship of Elector and Estates was not necessary but discretionary, and the Estates themselves not partners in government but servants.

Christian's disdain for the Estates had contributed to his decision to sidestep them entirely in entrusting the question of the uniformity of religious doctrine within Saxony to a committee of Lutheran religious scholars. Lutheranism being one of the qualifications to cast a vote in the election of the Saxon Estates, one has to assume one would be as likely to answer the fundamental questions the same as the other. This strategic insult, preserving the religious question as the personal province of the elector as Alexander had intended, was not lost on the Estates. This left them debating for much of 1613 the non-controversial question of whether Lutheran ministers, who were assuming ever-greater roles for the state as public record-keepers, election-facilitators, and school teachers, needed to receive additional public revenues as compensation, and to, where necessary, hire non-ministerial employees to help.

Then Christian left the country on his extended trip abroad to fetch home a consort, leaving the Duchess Elisabeth his regent and Kellendorf at work as chancellor. It was assumed on his return, the committee having done its work, he would unify the Christians of Saxony under Lutheran orthodoxy, and compel compliance through the criminal law. The attitudes of the Calvinists and others towards the Lord's Supper that had incited such furor for so long would be completely set aside. In Christian's mind this would enable him to position himself in the fraught religious politics of the empire as halfway between the Catholic and Calvinist extremes, with Saxony for the first time fully compliant with the terms of the Peace of Augsburg.

But of course, instead Christian came back to Saxony with as his wife Elizabeth of Scotland, a tall, physically imposing blonde woman enthusiastic for and fluent in several of the religious opinions Christian had previously committed to making illegal. The project of dispensing with the the settlements of the Electors Frederick IV and Alexander was scuttled so quickly the members of the committee found out only when they showed up to the Alexanderburg to find the ceremonial presentation of their report to the young Elector, and his signing it into law, had been canceled.

The new Saxon Electress thus began her career displaying an immense influence with her husband. At the same time though, apart from that husband she was intensely isolated at the court. Much has been made of her commitment to the theological principles of the Church of Scotland in which she was trained, and of her resistance to learning, speaking or writing German. Yet as to the question of language, Elizabeth's preference for French was hardly unique. Several hundred miles to the north, King Gustavus Adolfus was finding his new wife, freshly arrived from Brandenburg, was similarly resistant to learning Swedish. There too, husband and wife had to converse in French.

Elizabeth's isolation was exacerbated by the intense hostility her flamboyant presence and contrarian attitudes found in the mother-in-law who was also her maternal aunt, Elisabeth of Denmark. The Elector's mother had ardently sought the Scottish match in that Danish interests would have been prejudiced by the contrary Swedish choice, but now found that in Elizabeth's unexpectedly powerful character and strong views, she had made a grave mistake. Infuriatingly, the Elector's wife reacted to the Duchess's icy distance by ignoring it, and her, completely. Very quickly the court was forced to choose sides.

Into this situation stepped Eleonora, never one to squander an opportunity. Contriving to meet the new Electress at the Wittenberg house of her brother Julius, she showed herself to be personable and deferential. Elizabeth, finding a woman far different from what Christian had described and badly needing allies, reciprocated and a strategic friendship was struck. The new Electress quickly began making efforts to incorporate Eleonora back into court life, but stopped short of advocating her taking a role in state politics or the administration of the realm that she knew would be in conflict with her husband. Thus, it would be a gradual, halting rehabilitation.

Eleonora was in fact still mostly excluded from substantive politics when, in 1617, her husband the Elector Johann Sigismund of Brandenburg suffered a debilitating stroke. Taking the pose of the solicitous wife, and ignoring her long absence, she asked to come assist with his care and assume whatever role might be allowed her with respect to her son Georg, who would most likely become the new elector and who was not quite of age to rule without a regent. In such a role, Eleonora might have great influence in negotiating the marriages of her daughters. The response she received back from Georg made tersely clear her departure from Brandenburg had been received as an abandonment, and her services were not needed. Beyond that, it was only too plain that the power she sought would not be used for the benefit of Georg, the House of Hohenzollern or Brandenburg, but for Eleonora, the Wettins, and Saxony.

The court thus re-ordered, Christian and Elizabeth got right to the most pressing matters facing the state, that of making new heirs. Anna, their eldest, was born in 1614, barely eight months after the arrival of her parents in Wittenberg, and named after the Electress's mother. She was followed by Friedrich in 1616, named after the Holy Prince, Karl in 1617, August in 1618, and Elisabeth the Younger in 1620. The only child of these to show signs of poor health was Friedrich, who nonetheless survived. Once the First General War began in earnest, the pace of new Saxon princes and princesses would slacken, but never stopped entirely while Christian lived. Many court gossips avidly kept calendars and speculated wildly about whether Elector and Electress had been together during the window of possible conception. Most often, there was a chance meeting or a rendezvous that offered an explanation for the child in question. What mattered though was that Christian, a somewhat passionate and devoted husband, himself never held the slightest doubt.

Almost immediately, Christian and Elizabeth began angling for an English match not just for Anna, but for both the oldest children, hoping to at last replenish the fading family alliance with England. The remaining expatriate English cousins were summoned to serve as language tutors and playmates for just such an eventuality. For his part, Frederick I, long critical of foreign matches for English sovereigns, showed no enthusiasm for matching his children with the Wettin princes, and was downright livid when he later discovered Elizabeth of Scotland had teasingly taken to referring to Anna as the Princess of Wales.

In fact, the new Electress's fecundity made for its own problems. In Scotland, owing to a long tendency to have minor and orphan sovereigns, and the occasional need to protect the heirs from untoward religious and political influences from their parents, there had been a long tradition of setting up the ruler's children in their own establishments. Indeed, this had been Elizabeth's situation, and her foster parents Lord and Lady Livingstone had in fact accompanied her to Wittenberg to help run her household. This stood in stark contrast to the Saxon tradition evolved the Electresses Dorothea and Maria Eleonora and the Duchess Elisabeth, whereby the mother held onto, controlled, and supervised the electoral children and immediate heirs. In fact, since Elizabeth of England a hundred years before, Saxon consorts had fought for this prerogative, and there was every expectation it would not be surrendered easily. Thus, Elizabeth's relative disinterest in her children's day-to-day care seemed out-of-place, if not appalling to the German court. Few of the various attacks on her character from her mother-in-law or her supporters bothered Elizabeth, but these distressed her greatly.

Once again, Eleonora stepped into where she perceived there to be a space, and found no opposition.

Thus the Wittenberg court during these years were fractious, combustible, prosperous, and aggressive. At the center of it all was Kellendorf, who was convinced the long peace between Saxony and Austria would inevitably end, and was determined the make the most of each day before it did. Thus he began building a formidable diplomatic network. His adoption of Christian and Elisabeth of Denmark's Lutheran preference had only ever been to keep their favor, and he was relieved when he could at last set it aside and position Christian within imperial politics as a figure who could lead a nascent alliance, and perhaps a future political order, of Lutheran and Calvinist princes.

Inevitably, at the center of Kellendorf's diplomatic efforts was Saxony's old ally the Palatinate, one of the other two Protestant Electors. The Palatinate was now led by Friedrich V, a first cousin of Christian's of about the same age. Friedrich IV was in Kellendorf's calculations a potential choice for the imperial throne in the event a fourth vote could be somehow poached. The matter of Friedrich's Calvinism would, far from a detriment, be the lure to win the electoral vote of Brandenburg's own young elector, another first cousin of Christian, Georg. The Elector Georg of Brandenburg had been alienated from the Wettin cause by the controversy over his mother and Christian's aunt, Eleanora, but Kellendorf held out the hope that a Protestant imperial candidate other than Christian could sway Brandenburg.

Eleonora's own preferred long game, as Kellendorf understood it, was to favor Brandenburg instead of the Palatinate and win the imperial throne for her son, despite their long alienation. Kellendorf despised this notion as a sacrifice of proper statecraft to sentimentality and familial loyalty.

Of course, Kellendorf maintained a voluminous correspondence with most of the Protestant princes of the Empire, especially those closely related to the electoral family of Wittenberg. But Kellendorf's zeal had always lay in the east, and it was to his eastern correspondence that he gave special attention in these years. Kellendorf cultivated Protestant nobility throughout the Habsburg lands, not merely such men as Count Matyas Thurn in Bohemia, and Karel Zierotin in Moravia, but Georg Tschernembl, the Protestant head of the Estates of Upper Austria. Kellendorf's letters made, of course, contradictory promises, and sought contradictory goals, as all such private diplomatic correspondence would. But the sum of his work left little doubt that his final objective was the overthrow of the Austrian Habsburgs in all their lands, and their replacement with new Protestant princes wherever they held territory in the Empire.

But Kellendorf's machinations went beyond even that. With Alexander I dead, the last brakes to one of his great ambitions were removed. Under the guise of contacts with Transylvanian coreligionists, Kellendorf had even sent emissaries to the Sublime Porte seeking a potential alliance against the Habsburgs. Kellendorf had little trouble recognizing that the Protestants of Hungary and Transylvania had greater freedom as vassals under Ottoman overlordship than as Habsburg subjects, and was willing to cross the line that neither the Holy Prince nor Alexander never would, that of making an alliance with an alien prince to the detriment of a fellow German, here a non-Christian ruler to the detriment of Christian one. In these communications, the abstention of Saxony from military contributions to the Habsburg military frontier took on a wholly different character.

How much Christian knew of Kellendorf's secret diplomacy with the Ottomans in these years is doubtful, to some extent as a result of Kellendorf's own intent. However what is without doubt is Christian's attachment to his chancellor. Then in early 1617 a hostile broadsheet published by an anonymous party revealed that much of Kellendorf's family history had been fabricated, specifically his claims to be Transylvanian nobility, deserving of a wappen and the crucial preposition Von in his name. Kellendorf had apparently made in his early years crucial use of the disorder occasioned by Ottoman rule and repeated warfare in the region to cloud his origins. Likely, had he stayed at the Leucorea and pursued his original career in the church his deceit would never have come to light, but he had, as so many men in equivalent situations are, been undone by his own fame.

The discovery of what had been his apparent fraud made it impossible for Kellendorf to continue as chancellor. Though initially angry, Christian at first refused to accept his resignation. It was only at Kellendorf's own insistence that his continued official employment would compromise Christian's own reputation, that the young elector relented, and permitted his chancellor to leave in disgrace, though with a generous pension. Informally, Christian would continue to call on Kellendorf for advice and for use as an intermediary over the next several years.

Pivotally, it would be later in 1617, when Ferdinand of Styria was in Bohemia seeking election as king by the Estates of the Bohemian Crown, that Christian hatched a scheme to ride into Bohemia himself and openly seek election by the Estates as a rival candidate. This time it would be the Electress Eleonora who would come to Kellendorf and beg him to intercede with Christian and dissuade him from the foolish idea. It was only when Kellendorf, and Christian's mother the Duchess Elisabeth, and the Electress Elizabeth, all begged him not to, that Christian relented from this recognizably daft plan of openly contesting the Habsburgs before the Estates.

The argument that finally prevailed on him was Kellendorf's: it would be better to permit the Habsburgs to win for the moment, and for Ferdinand to then strip the Estates of their liberties and strike fear into the Bohemian Protestants, and for them to then come to Christian as a savior, than for Christian to go to Bohemia, declare his intentions, and position himself as the disruptor and rebel when the evils he warned might not ever happen.

It was thus in this confrontation at which Christian had to be persuaded not to go to Bohemia and seek election as its king, that the plan for him to ultimately do so was agreed upon, by Christian, Kellendorf and the two Elizabeths. The election of Ferdinand of Styria as king was made necessary by the imminent and approaching death of the Emperor Matthias, with the Archduke Maximilian, also old and also in failing health, having endorsed Ferdinand as the best remaining option, not just for the kingship of the various Austrian Habsburg lands, but for the Empire. The plan was as follows: let Ferdinand win his election to the Bohemian lands, let him then repeal the Letter of Majesty granted by Rudolf to the kingdom's Protestants and with it the other powers accumulated by the Estates. Then, when the Emperor Matthias dies, and the Electors gather to elevate Ferdinand as his successor, let Christian dart in to take the crown from the rebellious Estates, having seen clearly the alternative offered by the Habsburgs.

It was a good plan. Or at least as good a plan as they could come up with to do the unimaginable thing they desired.
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How are they related again? Could we get a family tree?

I’m very fond of Eleanora!

First, my apologies for a stupid mistake. The numbering of the Electors of the Palatinate was wrong and has been corrected. We are definitely overdue for some family trees, and maybe it might help if instead of just the big Wettin monster, we did some for the families into which the Wettins are marrying, as is the case here, as is the case with the Hohenzollerns, and through them, the Vasas.

But in short, Alexander's second child and first daughter, Elisabeth, was married to the Elector Friedrich IV in Maria Eleonora's match-making spree in the 1580's. Friedrich V is the heir that union produced. Friedrich IV died in OTL in 1610 having fathered eight children, so it's reasonable to assume that something similar would follow here. This is part of Maria Eleonora's defensive hedge of marriage alliances that define Saxony's close foreign policy. Alexander's children were married into the ruling families of Denmark, the Palatinate, the Netherlands, Brunswick-Lueneberg, and Brandenburg (twice). (See post #420)

Of course the most interesting thing about Frederick V of the Palatinate is that his analog OTL marries Elizabeth Stuart, who has here married Christian, and gets elected King of Bohemia, as Christian does. So they're doppelgangers, in a way. Similarly, Georg of Brandenburg is the analog of our Thirty Year's War's George William, differing in that his mother is our Eleonora, and not Anna of Prussia.

Finally, I know that last update was a lot.

Essentially, I wanted to get some forward movement in the timeline through those critical pre-war years of 1613-7, and just threw several strands that usually get dealt with separately, like the court, diplomatic and family history, into the same hopper of a general introduction narrative history. The result of course might be a bit hard to follow. Everyone should feel free to ask questions. Revisiting this material from different perspectives and frames over the next few updates will probably help. One thing that we still need is a proper introduction to Bohemia at the start of the seventeenth century.

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Florida.A2003044.1605.250m (1).jpg

Eight Surprising Facts about Duchy

1. How Duchy Got its Name.
The full official name is the United Commonwealth of the Seminole, Creek, Affiliated Tribes and the Republic of Free Africans. An unwieldy name for an unwieldy combination of peoples, the United Commonwealth originally corresponded roughly to the somewhat larger Spanish colony of Florida. When England evicted the Spanish from Florida, the colony was renamed New Kent. Very quickly, it became colloquialized as the Duchy. New Kent and the Duchy immediately fell out of use once the planters were sent packing a few decades later. However, in the struggle to build a common national identity, with many indigenous people thinking of themselves as citizens of the Commonwealth, and many persons of African descent loyal specifically to the Republic, Duchy (omitting the article) was hit upon as a common informal neutral term for the nation and country.

2. Duchy is one of two nations in the world which presently has a tricameral legislature, as part of its unique constitutional system. The Great Council of the United Commonwealth is divided into three Houses. The First House is of the Commonwealth. It is so called because it is the representational body of the descendants of the native indigenous peoples present at the time of the Founding. Only they elect its members, and that is the one vote the Electorate of the First House cast in Council elections. The Second House is of the Republic. It is the representational body of the descendants of the rebel and fugitive slaves present in the United Commonwealth until the reforms of 1875, roughly twenty years after the end of slavery in the last holdout settler nation-states of mainland North America. Likewise, only they elect its members, and that is the one vote the Electorate of the Second House cast. The Third House is the residual body established in 1875 for everyone else twenty years of age or older, and as with the first two Houses, citizens of the Third House can only cast one vote for a representative in that House. Because there is substantial intermarriage among all three Electorates, the brightline rule is that membership of First or Second House is determined by patrilineage. People descended from indigenous persons and Africans who were not within the United Commonwealth as of 1875 are part of the Electorate of the Third House.

With very limited exceptions, to have legal effect a measure must be passed in identical form by all three Houses. Recognizing this creates a high bar that can conceivably frustrate necessary action during periods of crisis, the President does not exercise a veto. Rather, he or she has the power to Complete. This means that if a measure is passed by any two of the three Houses, and the third House has not passed a measure negating, denying effect to, or contradicting the terms of the measure during that session of the Great Council, the President can step in and make it law. As one can imagine, this produces no end to litigation in the courts of the United Commonwealth.

If all this is not complicated enough, each house as its own individual, self-determined representational scheme, with the First House being by tribal affiliation, the Second House by district, and the Third by pure proportional representation. The President of the United Commonwealth, however, is determined by one-person, one-vote elections. The demographic split of the Three Electorates is roughly 20 percent for the First, 35 percent for the Second, and 45 for the Third, though this does not necessarily match the demographic breakdown for indigenous persons, persons of African descent, and others. For instance, immigrants from Africa, and Latin Americans of various races, make up roughly half the Third House.

3. Refrigeration transformed Duchy. Almost unthinkable now, in the end Duchy won its independence first from England, defended it in the Consortium War, and then sealed its recognition in the General War of Emancipation (also called the General War of North America) because it was deemed to have too little economic value to be worth the intense warfare necessary to bring the Commonwealth and Republic Coalition to heel. In essence, the renegade slaves and native peoples were left to make a life for themselves in what was taken to be malarial wastelands with a good riddance.

Labor difficulties and the initial era of land reform brought the area's already-struggling plantation economy to a crashing end. The rebirth of agriculture in the area was grounded on small farms, growing food crops to feed their close communities and occasionally to provision ship traffic bound for Europe. Only gradually, due to a dedicated commitment to crop science, modernization, and the advent of the ironroad, did agricultural exports begin in earnest to points north. The introduction of citrus fruits and the development of more intensive berry and vegetable cultivation led to further growth in the agricultural economy. Then, finally, with refrigerated transportation Duchy assumed a huge role in provisioning the entire continent with specialty crops almost unique to it.

Parallel with this growth in export-driven agriculture, refrigeration also led to the summer-chilling of homes, businesses and resorts. What had been only a few tattered coastal resort towns founded during the colonial era, that had been clinging to life by catering to the wealthy of the United Commonwealth, began drawing adventurous tourists from Europe. Eventually, attracted by the year-round sun, vibrant culture, and local potables, including citrus-based liqeuers and variations on rum and cachaca, visitors began to flood the Atlantic coast of Duchy. The territory abandoned first by England, and later by the Consortium settler-states of New Somerset, Maryland and Edwardsland as being not worth the fight is now real estate worth trillions of pounds.

4. Perhaps you are an outsider who would like to buy land there? Best of luck to you. Non-citizens are absolutely prohibited under the UC Constitution from buying arable land in Duchy. Even attempting to make use of straw purchasers or shell companies for this purchase can be a capital crime under Duchy Law. Another constitutional provision exempts First and Second House citizens from paying any taxes on land, allowing families to more easily maintain property through multiple generations. Beyond even that, tying up real estate through will provisions, trusts, equitable servitudes and other instruments has become something of a national art form. Among the old Commonwealth and Republic families, real estate is an obsession. Children are expected to know and to recite on command chains of title for the families' holdings as far back as nine generations.

5. In a divided society, there are a few things everyone can agree on. It is an old saying that the United Commonwealth has civil wars as often as it does hurricanes, and endures them with much the same patience. (One local term for such conflicts in Duchy that captures the somewhat appalling nonchalance with which civic violence is excused, is a gun referendum.) In truth, it has had nine internal conflicts since the founding, the last being a revolt by the farmers of the First and Second House against onerous new environmental regulations. More and more, there is a stark divide between the cosmopolitan, crowded and service and tourism-based economy on the coast and the farmlands of the interior, where political and economic power have traditionally resided. Likewise, it does not help that there is no ethnic or religious core population to the Duchy, but instead two rival patrician communities as often in conflict as in concert.

Perhaps the one institution in society everyone agrees on is the Division of Useful Sciences. Dating from the hardscrabble days of the Consortium War, when the English-speaking settler states were trying to reestablish slavery in the peninsula, the provisional government recognized the pressing need for adult education centered on food cultivation, skills development, and home industries. Thus the government in Biscaina began producing, using the first printing press in the country, regular bulletins from the Division of Useful Sciences. It is entirely possible to find, in the farmhouses of the First and Second House citizens, collections of these bulletins going back a hundred or more years, never thrown out, with detailed notes on where the most useful articles can be found, or which articles have been superseded. New arrivals seeking to assimilate are urged to register for the bulletins, immediately. Disregarding them, or considering them a curiosity of interest only to quaint farmers, marks an immigrant to Duchy as a flathouser.

6. What is a flathouser, and why do you not want to be one? The great majority of Duchy lies on a flat plain, vulnerable to storm surges and other floods. Especially in the earliest days of Commonwealth and Republic, before they even existed as a single government, survival, preserving one's home, and saving one's possessions from loss meant enduring the frequent hurricanes that blow in from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Especially in the swamps and lowlands where indigenes and former enslaved persons sought refuge from colonial armies, this meant building houses elevated on sturdy poles. Later, the same families enjoyed peace, cleared land and developed farms, but the hurricanes did not cease, and so there was never a reason to give up the "high houses", which also provided better security and air circulation.

But there would always be new arrivals who would assume the old ways unnecessary, and build their houses on the ground, only to then find themselves suffering losses, up to and including homelessness, when the next substantial hurricane would come. Thus "flathouser" became a synonym for a fool, more specifically for a person who becomes a burden to others by virtue of not taking the necessary precautions. Even today, in Biscaina your home insurance premiums on a free-standing structure are determined by the vertical distance of the front door from sea level. Urbanization has forced some departures from this preference for high-houses, but only to the head-shaking disapproval of First and Second House traditionalists.

The opposite of a "flathouser" is an "alligatorman", so called because they are perfectly at home in the lowcountry mud. It is pronounced as if it were a surname, and usually used as a compliment or expression of pride. ("Him there is a real alligatorman--his house has lasted nine storms, and he caught those boots himself.")

7. So they don't get along with them? Or them either? The Creek in particular were one of the first peoples to engage with the Irish renegades who would develop into the people who would then become the activated ideological crusading core of the RCR. The conflict was brutal on both sides, and was never forgotten. In addition to that, the religious policies of the RCR are unacceptable to the laissez faire religious attitudes of the United Commonwealth, where indigenous native religions coexist with African faiths both confected and traditional, and a great many Christian Churches, some of them native and unique to Duchy. One old saying about the United Commonwealth is that it has as many religions as it does families.

For its part, the RCR has long seen the stratification of wealth in Duchy, its prosperous trading relationships with its former blood adversaries, and its wildly flourishing tourist economy as unconscionable betrayal, and collective weakness.

While the existential struggle against Edwardsland, Maryland and New Somerset has given way to trade, tourism and a wary informality, the one former slave-owning settler state with which the United Commonwealth has not moderated its stance is Louisiana. Owing to the retrograde political life associated with the surviving legitimist bourbon monarchy, the racial politics of Louisiana are wholly incompatible to the United Commonwealth. In 1940, Neupreussia in its traditional role as the diplomatic bridge between ideological poles, attempted to negotiate the mutual recognition of Louisiana and Duchy.

The first round of talks, in Kaizerin, went without incident. In the second round, hosted by Louisiana in Philippeville, on the third day the private secretary of the foreign minister of Louisiana suffered an epileptic seizure. Three of the seven members of the UC government delegation were arrested, tried and executed for witchcraft on scant evidence. To this day, there is no diplomatic contact between the two countries, despite being less than a day's ride apart and sharing adjacent waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Travelers originating from Louisiana to the United Commonwealth are stopped at airports and border checkpoints and sent home.

8. Duchy--more than oranges and tourism. It should not be assumed that Duchy's economy is all agriculture, real estate, and hotel bars selling the most expensive possible derivations of sugarcane. Duchy has a diversified economy, with flourishing banking, insurance, investment, imagebox recording, shipbuilding, and aerospace sectors.
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