Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Part the IIIrd - Roads Well Trod

May the 4th, A.D. 1683
From the Palace of Topkapi
In the Realm of the Sublime Porte

To Madame Nelle Lyzzard-Penruddick
Marshalsee Debtor's Goal

Dearest Mother,

You will be happy to learn that I have not been forced to slay myself yet. My interview with the Sultan turned out to be much more pleasant than I expected. And, knowing the question next on your mind, no, my virtue is still intact.

My Gypsy captors took me from the seraglio to a most austere room in the depths of the palace. The ventilation of this room must have been quite poor since it seemed filled by a mirky mist and foul odor. Betimes, I perceived another in the room, a tall handsome woman with red eyes and a icelike cold touch, not unlike Aunt Hecuba but far more personable.

They did not seem to be aware that I spoke the Turkish tongue and were quite free in their conversation regarding me. Apparently, I was to be used as an example of Western womanhood in order to convince the Sultan of a reason to attack the Austrians. I was to be presented by one Count Thokoly who was a Hungarian rebel quite spiteful to the Austrians.

I expressed my thanks for their complements to me but indicated that I did not have the time to participate in their little masque and could I be returned home now.

At this, the woman, who they referred to only as the Countess flew into a rage at not being told that I spoke their tongue. She pointed an accusatory finger at one of my captors and suddenly touched it to him. Since Gypsies are of a hot-blooded temperament, the man fell into a swoon when touched the Countess' cold finger. Personally, I found the coolness of her touch to be not entirely unpleasant, bringing to mind, for some reason, those wonderfully chill winter days I spent making rubbings off tombstones in the churchyard for amusement.

Betimes, I was taken into the Sultan's audience chamber, a most ornate and luxuriously wasteful apartment. The Sultan seemed a kindly man of about forty but well begone in the stupor of his pipe and bowl. He appeared also to be most lustful and surrounded himself even here with numerous indecently clad women of the harem.

With some difficulty, Thokoly explained that a great army was formed in Belgrade under the Grand Vizier, one Kara Mustafa, and whither should this army be sent, against the Austrians or gainst some land called Lechistan. Pointing to me, Thokoly argued that great beauties were to be found in the West, that the Austrians were not hardy soldiers and once crushed, the small states of Germany would fall as so many overripe fruit. This would allow them to meet their allies the French, somewhere near the Rhine, where in typical male fashion they should fall to congratulating one another on the great sack and rapine they has wrought, before they could then turn undistractedly against the fair British Isles.

When I expressed my outrage at this proposed course of action, all the men present were most rude and did caution me repeatedly to silence. They were most horribly put out when I refused to be a party to their plans and asked to be returned home. The Sultan was most seemingly offended by my simplest interjection. He became quite enraged when some of his women attendants showed the temerity of listening to what I had to say.

He finally said he would support the attack upon the Austrians and, in order that I trouble him no more, I should be given unto Kara Mustafa as a prize but only when Vienna falls. I was to take to the Vizier, a green cord tied in knots, about ninety in number. Each day a knot was to be untied and once all were untied, if Vienna had not fallen, Kara Mustafa was to be strangled with the cord and me along with it for failing to provide him with proper encouragement. Have you ever heard a more typically masculine plan, overwrought and overdramatic?

Although I know you had always hoped that I some day marry a wealthy man, I do not think this was what you intended. But never fear for I shall remain upright in my defense of English womanhood in these barbarous lands. Also I shall rather die than assist in their nefarious plans. I shall endeavor to the utmost, in whatever humble manner I can to interfere and frustrate the Turk's plan, even though it mean my death. For God and for England. Amen.

I do hope the pain in your liver has improved.

Your Loving Daughter
5th March 1683
To His Excellency Furst Waldeck, KapitanGeneral der Reichsarmee
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Fahnricka der Reichsarmee

I have the honor of reporting to your Excellency that, per your instructions, I have obtained the adherence of the Most Excellent Colonel Alois van der Snaecht and all of his men to the service of His Imperial Highness, Leopold, Emperor of the Romans. The price agreed for one year's service was higher than anticipated but I believe necessary. The Noble Colonel van der Snaecht presents himself as a most martial man well skilled in the arts of war. I believe that the bargain is well made. His battalions, three in total of near 800 men each are said to be well equipped and well-handled, in cantonment now in the southern provinces of Holland from which employ they have recently been released. Absent misfortune, we should reach the rendezvous in the Rhineland within one month's time from whence the ambitions of the French can be checked.

7th March 1683
To His Excellency Furst Waldeck, KapitanGeneral der Reichsarmee
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Fahnricka der Reichsarmee

…thus ended the incident of the London Turks.

I have had some concern about regarding Good Colonel van der Snaecht's behavior following the incident. Throughout the affray he demonstrated a most cool head and determined skill although not overmuch in the advance, preferring careful back-shooting and back-stabbing. He explained to me afterwards that this was not ungentlemanly conduct but rather fine stratagems. Upon the conclusion of the affray, however, he was found hidden in a corner, reduced to a most poltroonish form, shivering like a schoolgirl. Upon calming, he insisted that it was not cowardice but rather the rapid cooling of his over-heated choler which had rendered him thus. He then took several flagons of Rhenish right off and was quite himself again.

8th April 1683
To His Excellency Furst Waldeck, KapitanGeneral der Reichsarmee
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Fahnricka der Reichsarmee

It was been one month since my last missive to you and I regret to inform Your Excellency that I have only now arrived in Amsterdam. Our departure from London was delayed for over a week due to our attendance upon the Prince Radziwill. We were further delayed for over two weeks whilst Colonel van der Snaecht obtained the outfitting of his own supply, all at the Emperor's expense. I questioned the wisdom of some of his choices but he insisted that he is by far the more experienced soldier and that I should be guided by him. Each time I inquired when he should be ready to depart he put me off with yet another excuse.

Finally growing weary of the delay, I accosted him in his rooms at Radziwill's Turk's Head Inn. I found him well after noon just arisen, in his nightshirt and busy with filling a pisspot with remainder of the previous night's infusion of Rhenish.

Enraged, I informed him that we would sail on the late morning tide the next morrow. To which he replied with a blank stare and belch.

When I returned the next morn, he was still in bed. Fortunately, the gracious Prince Radziwill and his man Zagloba assisted me in evicting the Colonel from his rooms and, only this way, did we make timely to our ship.

Arriving in Amsterdam, the Colonel attempted the same prevarication but this I prevented by the application of sword point and pistol barrel as well as threat of the termination of his company's employment and I expect he shall be more cooperative and motive in the future.

14th April 1683
To His Excellency Furst Waldeck, KapitanGeneral der Reichsarmee
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Fahnricka der Reichsarmee

We have finally arrived in the camp of the Walloon battalions. I was surprised to find that they are less than half the size originally told me by the Colonel. He insists however that there are large numbers absent from camp, either as piquets or embarked upon the constant training with which he enures them to the rigours of campaign. I am mollified somewhat by his explanation especially since he has indicated that his troops shall be ready to march tomorrow.

3rd May 1683
To His Excellency Furst Waldeck, KapitanGeneral der Reichsarmee
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Fahnricka der Reichsarmee

Three weeks have passed and still we have not moved from this cursed camp. The Colonel, refuses to move, citing the needs of first one consignment then another. Today we await a store of flints for his firelocks which are in terrible condition. We also must await his Sergeant Major who rides in search of his Adjutant who has stolen from the regiment and deserted. I come to think we would be better off if the Colonel would go and join him.

The regiment can barely field twelve hundred men, mostly by scouring the nearby village for beggars, old men and idiots. I believe one of the platoons of pike is made up entirely of syphilitics.

As you have suggested, I have sent orders to the Squadron of the Schnitterboch Cuirassiers to report to me here. They being close, most recently in Franconian service, I expect them within the fortnight. Once here, I shall be able to impress my will upon the most reluctant Colonel van der Snaecht.

May 15th , A.D. 1683
To His Holiness, Innocent XI
From Cardinal D., Grand Master of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem

It is with grave concern that I write to Your Holiness of the intentions of the Ottoman armies now gathering in Belgrade in former kingdom of Servia. Now numbering some three hundred thousand, the force has been gathered from throughout the Ottoman lands and is under the personal command of the Grand Vizier, Kara Mustafa. It is said that the Sultan's firman has been sent to the Vizier requiring him to conquer or die.

Our agente in rebus in Constantinople has reported that the expedition shall not be against the Polish lands as originally thought, but shall be against the Hapsburg realm. This is most unfortunate since Leopold has proved to be a most irresolute, petty and unwarlike monarch. He has abandoned much of the defense of his eastern lands in favor of opposing King Louis of Franc in the West. His army is commanded by Charles, Duke of Lorraine, a capable soldier but not of the type to inspire men to acts of great courage. The forces defending the Hapsburg lands are ill-paid, demoralized and number barely fifty thousand all told. They are also scattered widely in garrison towns where they are much more an affliction than comfort to the inhabitants. Little hope of stopping the Turks lies in Austrian arms alone.

Your Holiness knows what lies in Vienna and is most assuredly the true reason for this expedition. We are even now taking steps to prevent the success of this endeavor but the surest means of doing so is to drive the Turks and their Masters as far as possible away from the city. Therefore all effort should be made to enlist the aid of Bavaria, Saxony and the other German states to fly to the aid of the Emperor. Above all King John of Poland should be induced to take the lead in this succor.

There has also been a report of discord within the household of the Vizier. However, this report appears unreliable since it claims that the discord is amongst the Vizier's womenfolk.

15th May 1683
To His Excellency Furst Waldeck, KapitanGeneral der Reichsarmee
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Fahnricka der Reichsarmee

I have confronted the foul Colonel van der Snaecht this day on his delays and he merely put me off. When I asked where the remainder of his troops was, he replied blandly that I have contracted for three battalions and could I not see the three flags.

At this I flew into a rage and cursed him for being a fool. He and his officers laughed until my cuirassiers rode onto the field. His men were so surprised that, when he ordered them to form square, a good third dropped their weapons and pleaded for mercy.

Among the rest however there was a glimmering of soldierlyness and with proper handling these men might yet make a presentable appearance.
2nd July 1683
To His Excellency Furst Waldeck, KapitanGeneral der Reichsarmee
From Georgina, Grafein von Schnitterboch-Falkenburg, Fahnricka der Reichsarmee

It is with horror that I have received your last missive, informing me of the expedition of the Turk against the Austrian lands, the siege of Gyor and their unopposed advance upon Vienna. I shall endeavor to hurry the Walloons unto the grand army forming now at Regensburg. We are currently encamped near the lands of the Elector of Bavaria.

Although their Colonel is a lazy, gluttonous wastrel, the Walloons do appear an adequate regiment and I hope shall acquit themselves well in the coming campaign.


We have begun the march to Regensburg this morn. I expect our journey shall be timely now that I have assigned a troop of heavy horse to act as both fore and rear guard to guide the Walloon regiment. With drawn saber and primed pistol.

June 6th , A.D. 1683
To His Holiness, Innocent XI
From Cardinal D., Grand Master of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem

It is with pleasure that I report that the interests of Holy Mother Church have been secured in the Polish Commonwealth and that an alliance between the Commonwealth and the Emperor Leopold has been approved by the Polish Diet. In this the Church's most loyal agentes in rebus have been quite active and the Church received assistance from one of Her simplest but loyalest sons.

As your Holiness is aware, the Constitution of the Polish Commonwealth is most liberal, bordering at time upon anarchy in its assurances of freedom to its citizens. They have a curious practice called the librum veto which allows a single member of their Diet not only to prevent the passage of a disfavored act but also to dissolve the session entirely. This strange practice is rarely used and he that invokes it is subjected to infamy for life.

Unscrupulous men, led by the ambassador of King Louis and abetted by Prince Sapieha, commander of the army of Lithuania, sought a dupe who could be bribed or persuaded to cast his veto upon the alliance.

The person they hoped to ensnare was the young Prince Ladislas Radziwill of a junior branch of that great family. He had most recently returned from a Grand Tour and was noted for the attractiveness of his personality and the simplicity of his mind. The two conspirators approached the prince and offered him a great bribe to break up the Diet. Relying upon the advice of Sir Octavianus Zaglobianus, his tutor and a most cunning and resolute man, the Prince feigned acceptance of this notorious bribe. However, Sir Octavianus, also an renown artificer, had created for the Prince a most ingeniously wrought camera obscura which secretly caught innumerable images of this act of bribery by Prince Sapieha and the French ambassador which were then available as evidence against them.

This information and proof were given unto King John in private interview. By the noon following, the French ambassador was ordered recalled to his King and Prince Sapieha withdrew from participation in the Diet to his estates, pleading illness.

The vote of the Diet was unanimous in favor of the alliance and all opposition quelled. Most influential proved to be a speech by Prince Radziwill in support of the alliance. Although few could recall the substance of the speech, all agreed that it was most handsomely and personably given that none could resist the Prince's considerable charms.

Even now martial preparation go forward in Poland. Four thousand horse have already been dispatched under Count Lubomirksi to assist the Austrian army while the royal army of King John is raised. It is requested that four hundred thousand gold ducats be presented to King John to assist in these preparation. It is requested that special dispensation be granted to the King to employ the Jewish cabbalists to assist the Royal Artificers and Cannoneers in the rendering of engines of power. As Your Holiness has written, magic wrought in the defense of Christendom is not sin.

It is also requested that fifty thousand gold ducats be presented to Prince Radziwill and he be confirmed in his title of Prince of the States of the Church. He has been given command of the King's regiments of hussars and will be much in need of support, both temporal and moral.

No comments: