Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chapter 8

Chapter 8 –

In the last week Duke Constantine had gone through a whole host of emotions, the anxiety of sending his two sons to war, both in their first campaigns as commanders, then the exhilaration of hearing both his sons had notable victories.
The concerns came when he received the dispatch from Leopold warning him of Anne Lehmann’s imminent arrival and the nature of her message. It had always been one of his greatest fears that one day the mad Duke or the Iberians would decide it was easier to not have Princess Charlotte around any longer.  It seemed that Anne’s warning indicated that the fear was most likely about to become a reality.
For years Constantine harboured the frustration of not being able to do anything to help her, Rechburg had too many enemies to risk a single war against Bergatonia, so his options were practically nil, all he had left were diplomatic initiatives and they all had been rebuffed by his bastard son the “Mad Duke” of Bergatonia. It was as if Rupert deliberately dangled his mother before him, enticing him to try some desperate action knowing that Bergatonia would immediately have the Iberian Empire to support him and even worse possibly the Hapburgian Empire. Over the last few years Rechburg had done all it could to avoid becoming involved in wars, the fact that this year it was involved in two wars was due purely to actions of two mad men on its borders.
It had been some years since the Rechburgian army had been in any wars and the battles of the last few weeks had encouraged him to believe the army had not lost any of its mettle and that he had two sons quite capable of holding field commands. Sadly Constantine also understood the actions started by the Bishop of Ulrichstein could very easily escalate into a full scale war against the Hapburgian Imperial Empire, especially now both realms had forces locked in battle. They were on a scale of Empire wars small engagements but Constantine was all to aware that these small wars escalated quickly into larger and more complicated affairs.

He had expected a quick campaign in Ulrichstein, a sudden strike at the Diocese Guard to punish them for their atrocities and then back into the Protestant regions of Ulrichstein to protect the remaining protestant people living there. He had hoped then to renegotiate the treaty with Hapburgia, to re-establish the protective treaty the Protestants had in Ulrichstein before the Bishop had decided to break the treaty. Sadly that was being diminished by the day, the Imperial forces had suffered a considerable bleeding nose in their defeat at Hamelin and that meant a loss of prestige, Constantine knew only too well how prickly the Hapburgian Emperor could be over his honour and prestige; he would seek retribution.
The Hapburgian Empire was huge, but it also had considerable issues of its own, those being mainly the war weariness of its people and the failing health of its Emperor. The death of the Hapburgian Emperor not only raised the spectre of succession for the Hapburgian throne but his death would leave a vacancy for the Papal seat. So Constantine had to believe that the prospects of the current war carrying through to the summer campaign season were as unpalatable to the Empire as it was to Rechburg.

The Bergatonian war had been a mild surprise if not totally unexpected, knowing the Duke from his past record Constantine suspected he might try some sort of provocation against Rechburg in the expectation that the Herzogtum was too involved in Ulrichstein to react. That was why he had sent his son Leopold to take command of the militia in the south, Leopold and the militia had seen to the Bergatonian threat in the Battle of Briel so for now the south was quiet. Unfortunately it did leave Rechburg in a state of war with Bergatonia, though at this stage he was not sure how the Iberian Empire would react if the Mad Duke called upon its ally. The main consolation for Constantine was Bergatonia was land locked and Iberia did not have a common border with their ally, any Iberian troop movements had to have the approval of either the Franconian Empire which was unlikely considering the distance an Iberian army would have to march and forage across Franconian territory or the approval of the Duchy of Neider, or even less likely the Kingdom of Hollandaise. Neider was a Franconian ally and a Catholic state so in that respect it was the most likely route for the Iberians to take, however currently there were greater issues at stake than simply Neider allowing Iberia to land troops on its coast and then permitting them to march to Bergatonia. Those issues revolved around the Papal Succession, Neider being a Franconian ally and having a vote on the electoral college needed to heed Franconian interests. When it came to Iberia gaining a foothold with an army on Franconia’s northern border in Bergatonia, regardless of the pretext that was a situation Constantine did not think the Franconian Emperor would allow.

Constantine then really only had to fear the Iberian Navy, and considering Rechburg relied largely on maritime trade that threat was a very real one; to counter the danger to his maritime trade Constantine was hoping the Britannic Empire would honour their alliance obligations. He expected to hear any day whether they would honour their alliance.
To the North Constantine had the Kingdom of Danemark to consider, never a friendly country to Rechburg it had remained neutral for many years over issues that it could have taken exception too. It seemed the greater threat Danemark represented was to the Rechburg’s ally Flensburg and any Danemark aggression against his ally would draw Rechburg into yet another war.

Constantine had spent a great deal of time trying to improve his countries relationship with Danemark and on the whole the efforts had been quite successful, but now he was not sure how the Danemark King would react to the Mad Duke imprisoning his sister because of the totally false accusation she had acted as  part of a Rechburg plot to overthrow him. Another complicating factor in the mix was Danemark also had a vote for the Papal seat, so Iberia would not want Bergatonia rocking that boat, and risk Iberia losing another Electoral college vote; however Constantine expected both Franconia and Hapburgia would be happy with Bergatonia mucking Iberian waters. To Constantine, it seemed the world was going mad, if winters were not bad enough to deal with in Europia, the entire continent wanted to be at each other’s throats.
It now seemed that Bergatonian was prepared to raise the level of tension between Rechburg by imprisoning Princess Charlotte and implicating Rechburg and her in a plot to replace the Duke. Constantine needed to know just who he could rely on in Europia. If there ever was a chance to rescue her it had to ne right now, but strategically and diplomatically it could be a disaster. So even before Anne Lehmann had arrived in Albany Constantine had advised the Danemark Ambassador that he wanted to discuss an issue of vital importance to both Rechburg and Danemark, he asked would it be possible to arrange a meeting with King Olaf.
Surprisingly the day Anne arrived in Albany the Danemark Ambassador arrived at the Palace with King Olaf’s response, King Olaf would be pleased to meet Constantine in the Neutral city of Eggsburg three days hence.

Anne spoke to the Herzog about Charlotte for some time, she had passed on the message but Constantine already aware of the details was more interested in the personal details concerning Princess Charlotte, her health, state of mind and any small detail Anne could remember; it was all important to Constantine.
Once the Danemark Ambassador arrived he was introduced to Anne and then she told the Ambassador about the message and the situation in Bergatonia.
The Danemark Ambassador Count Asmund Nielson was horrified as he heard the details, keeping his kings sister in confinement in a palace was barely acceptable as long as she had all the comforts her station required, but to imprison her was unforgiveable, an outrage that must be put to right. Constantine had often been at the receiving end of the Ambassadors indignities, though this time they were not directed at Rechburg or Constantine it just seemed unfair that Rupert was not here to share the experience.
Once Count Nielson had calmed down, he apologised to Constantine and Anne, and he said that his King would be equally indignant at the Bergatonian insult, they confirmed the details of the meeting in Eggsburg and then both Anne and the Ambassador departed for Danemark so she could deliver her message to King Olaf personally.
The meeting in Eggsburg did not take place, what did take place was Ambassador Nielson arrived back in Albany a two days later; he apologised but his Majesty was adamant that his sister be freed from captivity as soon as possible, so he had asked that the meeting be delayed until Count Nielson could determine the situation in Bergatonia for himself. He sought and was given permission to pass through Rechburg so he could take a message to Duke Rupert from his King, he apologised that he was not able to pass the exact details of his mission with the exception to say his Majesty King Olaf was furious.
Constantine was happy, at last someone else could share the infuriating business of trying to deal with his son the mad Duke. He did have one regret and that was he would not be there to see how Rupert handled the Counts infamous outbursts.

The Ambassador left Albany the following day, it took him almost a week to reach the Bergatonian capital of New Madrid, the announcement that a Danemark special Ambassador was coming directly from Danemark caused a reasonable amount of concern to the Iberians but almost none to Rupert.
In fact when Count Nielson arrived at the Dukes Palace to present his credentials and arrange an interview with the Duke he was informed by Secretary Gudrun that as the Duke was a busy man it might take a week before he could meet with the Ambassador. Count Nielson responded he would wait 3 days and if the Duke will not see him in that time he would leave Bergatonia, meanwhile he wished to see his Kings sister Princess Charlotte.
Secretary Gudrun asked the Ambassador to wait while he tried to see if the Duke would permit him to see the Princess, before the secretary left the Ambassador added “further more if I am not able to see her immediately I will leave Bergatonia in the morning and the Duke may deal with the consequences.”

The Dukes secretary scuttled away almost paralytic with fear about how the Duke was going to respond to these threats, he knocked on the door to the dukes office and entered,
The Duke was with the Iberian Ambassador and they were discussing how to handle the Danemark Ambassador. The Iberian Ambassador Marqués de Villanueva del Valdes was urging the Duke to take a gentle approach..
However Rupert had simply scoffed
“My dear Valdes you are simply terrified of losing the Danemark electoral vote, but let me assure you if you do not support me in whatever this Danemarkian wants you will lose my vote as well.” It was at that point that Gudrun entered the Dukes office.
“Well Gudrun, is a week acceptable to our dear Ambassador?” Duke Rupert asked rather smugly.

“Err no sire, he said he will stay three days and then leave if you will not see him before then, he also said he wishes to see Princess Charlotte immediately and if is not allowed too he will leave immediately.”

Duke Rupert rose from his chair, walking around the desk he approached Secretary Gudrun and stood toe to toe, face to face.
“And I expect you told him your Duke does not respond well to threats.”
“No sire, I came back immediately to see what you wish to do.”
The Duke very quickly raised his hand and hit Secretary across the face; he then did it again hitting him once more, all the while abusing the cowering secretary, the abuse and hitting continued with ever increasing ferocity.

The Iberian Ambassador had to try and separate the Duke from his secretary, but the Duke was in a rage and he just kept hitting and beating the secretary until the rage passed. The Duke stepped back taking a swinging kick at the still cowering Gudrun and then simply walked back to the drinks cabinet and poured himself a large glass of brandy, his hands shaking violently all the while. Secretary Gudrun rose from the floor, his shirt collars torn and his face bloodied and bruised, he looked at the Iberian Ambassador then to his Duke,
“What do you wish me to tell the Ambassador sire?”
Duke Rupert placed the glass down, his brow sweating heavily he glared at his Secretary,
“You go tell that bloody Danemarkian swine to go to hell and get out of Bergatonia before I set the dogs on him, hell I have a good mind to set the dogs on him anyway.”

Ambassador Marqués de Villanueva del Valdes had never seen such a display of temper at anytime of his life let alone in his diplomatic duties, but somehow he had to calm the Duke down and get this meeting with the Danemark Ambassador over and done with. Del Valdes was only too aware that his country stood on the brink of losing one or both electoral votes and as far as he and Iberia was concerned that was what all this was about.

“Please Sire, secretary Gudrun cannot go out looking like that, please I will go out and speak to Ambassador Nielson”.

Rupert looked at del Valdes and then at Gudrun who stood blood running down his face, dripping blood on to the floor,
“For god sake Gudrun don’t just stand there bleeding go get yourself cleaned up, you look a disgrace. How dare you come in here looking like a peasant wandering in from the streets?

Secretary Gudrun said “I am sorry sire, I will go and cleanup immediately” he turned and limped out of the office.
Ambassador Valdes decided he had to go for broke and keep the Duke calm,
“Sire it is extremely important for all of us that we get through this meeting calmly and quietly, in a dignified and diplomatic manner. Bergatonia does not need any more aggravation from another country while it’s still at war with Rechburg, and yes my own country certainly does not wish to lose the Danemark electoral vote, no more than it does yours Sire. So please  for your own realms sake as well as mine let us work our way through this together”.

The Duke sat down at his desk, he looked at his hands, and they were still shaking but not as badly as earlier,
“So at least we know he has definetly come about my mother, what do we do?”j

“Well sire you have to lay the ground work about why she has been imprisoned, that she plotted against you with Rechburgian help, we need to shift as much blame of this on the Rechburgians and sire you will need to play the part of the aggrieved and betrayed son.”

“Ummmphh play acting, I will not play any role other than who and what I am, my mother betrayed me and Bergatonia and thus for her treason she has been temporarily placed in confinement. That is what I will be telling that bastard out there, so del Valdes why don’t you go and bring the Ambassador in, and don’t worry I will be gentle with him”.

The Iberian Ambassador swallowed deeply, never in his wildest nightmare could he have dreamt himself into a more precarious position, if he lost one electoral vote he would be asked home and retired, if he lost two he would be taken home and shot.
He left the Dukes office and made his way down to the anteroom where the Danemarkian Ambassador was still waiting.

Valdes approached Ambassador Nielson he bowed,
“Ambassador Nielson, I am Ambassador Marqués de Villanueva del Valdes Iberian Ambassador to the Bergonian Duchy, I must apologise to you for I find myself in the err rather unusual situation of being a foreign diplomat welcoming another foreign diplomat into a another foreign country, all very odd I am sure”.
Ambassador Nielson had sometimes found himself in some interesting situations during his long and illustrious diplomatic career but he couldn’t recall one as bizarre as this.

“Indeed Marqués de Villanueva del Valdes a most unusual situation, but then I had been warned that such unusual situations are not so unusual in Bergatonia. Anyway allow me to formally introduce myself I am Ambassador Nielson of the Kingdom of Danemark”.

“Well Ambassador Nielson now that we have the formalities out of the way please come and join the Duke. Secretary Gudrun informed the Duke you wished to see Princess Charlotte, unfortunately the Duke and I had been in a meeting but as Secretary Gudrun indicated you were most anxious to see the Princess the Duke asked me would I mind foregoing our meeting so he could meet you.”

“So where is this Secretary, why did you come to greet me and not the Secretary or the Duke”.

“Ambassador Nielson, let me offer a friendly word of advice, the  Duke is a very unusual man, he does things differently and asking me to pop out and greet a new Ambassador to his country is not let me say at all unusual here in Bergatonia.”

The two men walked up the long corridor to where two Bergonian grenadiers stood on Guard, Ambassador Valdes knocked on the door and then entered, when the two ambassadors entered the room the Duke rose from behind his desk, Ambassador Valdes did the introductions.

“Sire may I present Ambassador Nielson of his Majesty’s kingdom of Danemark.”

Ambassador Nielson stepped forward towards the Duke, he noticed what looked like blood on the floor but chose to ignored it and  bowed and stepped forward offering his official credentials from the court of Danemark to the court of Bergatonia.

The Duke took the papers and said,
“You are most welcome Ambassador indeed most welcome.”
He quickly read through the documents and then placed them on the desk, he sat down,
“Now then my Secretary said you wished to see my mother your liege lord’s sister I believe.”

Ambassador Nielson looked over to Ambassador Valdes, who quickly grasped the significance of the Danemark ambassadors look, he stepped forward,

“Sire perhaps I should step outside while you have an audience with Ambassador Nielson, we can continue our business later I am sure.”

The Duke not taking the hint from either Ambassadors said,
“Nonsense, please I am sure Ambassador Nielson does not object if you stay, after all we are all friends here are we not.”
Duke Rupert looked to Ambassador Neilson,
“I have no objection sire for I am sure we can conclude our discussions quickly as I know you are an extremely busy man.”
The Duke rested his hands on the desk, “Fine, excellent, now then gentlemen please take a seat and Ambassador Nielson perhaps you can start by telling us what it is King Olaf wants.’

“Sire, King Olaf has heard you have his sister imprisoned in a cell, is this correct?”
Duke Rupert looked the Danemark Ambassador directly in the eye and said, Yes, indeed my mother is in prison and while I can understand how distressful the news must have been to his majesty to hear of the imprisonment of his sister, imagine how distressing it has been for me to have to imprison my own mother.”

“May I ask sire, why she has been imprisoned”

“Indeed, a good question. She is guilty of treason Ambassador, she was part of a plot sadly instigated by my first Minister in conjunction with that damned Rechburgian heretic Constantine, they intended to kill me and place my mother on the Bergatonian throne, which in time would have been bad news for your King no doubt”.

“I see sire, and you have proof of this treason.”

“Indeed I do, My first minister tried to encourage Iberia into the plot to replace me as well, fortunately Ambassador Valdes was a man of more integrity than my First minister he informed me of the plot”.

“Hmmm and the First Minister where is he now Sire?”

“He is dead, his body turned up in a river a week or so ago, we assume that after he deserted me at Briel he feared he would be exposed so he ran for  his life, unfortunately he must have fallen foul of some bandits who robbed and killed him.”

“I see sire, this is grievous news indeed, treason is a serious charge and I understand why you have placed the Princess in prison, when will the trial be?”

The Duke looked to the Iberian Ambassador then quickly back to Ambassador Nielson, “Trial, there will be no trial she is guilty and she will either be executed or kept in prison”.

“So when you say she is guilty sire, you are basing the evidence of her guilt on Ambassador Valdes word”.
“Indeed I am Ambassador, Iberia has been a very good ally to me and I have never had reason to doubt the integrity of Ambassador Valdes before.”

“Oh please sire, I do not doubt the integrity of the ambassador at all, merely trying to get a clear picture of events. So what did Princess Charlotte say when you charged her with treason, did she deny the charge?”

“Charge her, why would I charge her when she is already in prison, good god she is guilty by association with that heretic in Rechburg, she is guilty by word of the ambassador so no we have not charged her, there is no need, merely exchanged a larger cell that being the Scloss Palace to a smaller one.”

“So Princess Charlotte has been imprisoned and does not know why.”

“Oh she knows now, but only because we told her why.”

“And did she deny the charge sire?”

“What is with all these questions Ambassador, I am beginning to feel like I am trial here” demand Rupert.

“I am sorry Sire, but my King has asked me to investigate the reasons for the imprisonment of his sister so while I am doing my utmost to do my duty I do apologise for the intrusive questions, but I must solve this issue to my sovereign’s satisfaction”

Rupert stood up and made his way to the window, Ambassador Valdes was getting a little concerned because he noticed the Dukes hand was beginning to tremble again, the Duke must have realised it as well, he quickly went back to his chair and hid his hands under the desk.

“So if I may sire, just a few more questions and I will be on my way,”

“Well quickly then, Ambassador Valdes and I have much to discuss”.

“When you say the Princess was guilty by association with Herzog Constantine what exactly do you mean?”

“Good god man, I would have thought a Danemarkian would have understood if anyone did”
“My mother whored herself to that heretic and if she didn’t he raped her, so yes they do have an association”
“So you are inferring that by association it was when they last met well over 20 years ago, surely you are not basing her guilt on that sire.”

“Ambassador I am basing her guilt on her actions, she is a whore and a traitor, she was implicated in a despicable plot against me and I have a very creditable witness in Ambassador Valdes here, so yes she is guilty. But you can assure your King that I will be lenient with her as I have been all my reign despite her provocations, she will not be executed; she will remain imprisoned.”

“Sire I am lead to believe she is being guarded by Iberian troops and Iberian priests as jailors; is this correct.”

“Indeed it is Ambassador; it saddens me to say that the Bergatonian guards were too lax in their duties, so lax in fact that they allowed the princess to be part of the plot right under their eyes.”

The Ambassador rose, “Well sire you have been most kind, now if you will permit I wish to visit the princess, I have some gifts for her and a letter from her brother.”

“You may see her Ambassador but I will not allow gifts or letters without them being scrutinized by the guards”.
“Sire you are welcome to inspect the gifts, that is reasonable but I will not permit you to read a private communication between my King and his sister.”

“Then Ambassador, I am sorry you have wasted your journey, all communications must be inspected.”

“Why would you need to inspect a letter from her brother, it doesn’t make sense.”

Duke Rupert was becoming irritated and Ambassador Valdes could see this was starting to go wrong so he quickly interrupted,

“Sire, surely it could do no harm for the Princess to receive a letter from her brother.”

“Let me instruct you gentlemen on a few facts, Bergatonia is a independent country, it has its own rules and customs, and I am its ruler, therefore I judge what is harmful and what is not. Now the princess may be your Kings sister Ambassador Nielson but she is my mother and if I am satisfied that letters need to be inspected then your king should equally be prepared to have them read”

Ambassador Nielsen rose from his seat he was beginning to feel indignant.

“And how many letters have you written to your mother sire?”

“What the hell has that got to do with it good god man she is my mother whether I write to her or not is my business, now you will either leave the letter or you will not see the Princess”.

“Alright sire, you have been forthright with me allow me the same privilege, King Olaf will not be pleased his sister is imprisoned on such flimsy accusations which are not based on any physical evidence, merely on hear say by the same people who guard her, foreigners who have a vested interest in implicating her and Rechburg in a conspiracy that I am totally surprised you cannot or will not see through. You have not shown me one shred of evidence of guilt here and I can see why you would not allow this to go to court, it would quite simply be thrown out”.
Ambassador Nielson then turned to  Ambassador Valdes “Now Ambassador I can say with certainty that if you support this injustice my king will not support your electoral vote - ever. Princess Charlotte is a member of the ruling house of Danemark, as such she has certain rights and privileges all of which are being abused both by Bergatonia and Iberia, I can promise you unless you wish a war that will tear Bergatonia apart you will have Princess Charlotte by my side by this evening”

Rupert rose and thumped the desk
“How dare you speak to me like that, you bloody pumped up little pip squeak I will have your head on a pike at those gates out there”

“If that is the case Sire my head will have the dubious company of your head as well as the ambassadors when Danemark marches in here”.

“And how the hell is Danemark going to march in here you bloody idiot, they would have to march through Rechburg, a bloody heretic country”.

“Herzog Constantine and King Olaf are meeting in Eggsburg to discuss that very eventuality, by not giving Princess Charlotte to me today, you will drive Danemark and Rechburg into an alliance against you, I think even you sire can see the folly in that.  In fact you will have the dubious privilege of being the first nation in Europia to be responsible for driving a Catholic nation and a Protestant nation into an alliance.” He turned looking at Ambassador Valdes.
“I wonder how popular Iberia will be with the Electoral College when that happens", he then turned back to the Duke who was now visibly shaking and perspiring,
"Of course it won’t affect you sire for you will be dead”.

“You dare threaten me, I will have you thrown in prison you scum”
“Then Sire ensure it is a cell next to the Princess”
“Get out, get out of my office, out of my country” the Duke screamed

Ambassador Valdes started to raise his voice,
“For God sake Gentleman, this is no way for us to behave please, please calm your passions”.

The Duke walked over to the drink cabinet and while he was pouring himself a drink his hands shaking all the while, the Iberian Ambassador spoke with Ambassador Nielson”

“It is imperative Ambassador you try to remain calm, the Duke is infamous for his temper and while you two scream at each other nothing will be achieved, please just give me a moment with the Duke”.

Ambassador Nielson nodded, already he was calming down, however before Ambassador Valdes left him Nielson said
“It is clear I must leave Bergatonia with the Princess, that or the consequence for all will be severe”

Ambassador Valdes nodded and went to the Duke. Taking the Duke by  the elbow he walked the trembling monarch away to the windows,
“Sire, we have to let the Princess go, Bergatonia cannot be responsible for driving Rechburg and Danemark into an alliance, it simply cannot be allowed”
Rupert was sweating heavily, hands still shaking,
“I will not be dictated to in my own country, I will not do you hear me.”
Ambassador Nielson whispered, “Yes Sire I do hear you and I understand your anger at the Danemark impudence, but right now you need to think with a cool head. Danemark holds all the cards, if you keep the Princess you gain nothing but a war you can never win, by letting her go you rid yourself of a woman who has provoked and pestered you all your life; you would be free of her”.

Rupert looked at the Ambassador, and then turned to look out off the window, Ambassador Valdes glanced over to the Danemark Ambassador to see him waiting, he nodded.
Rupert turned back to look at Valdes, his trembling seem to be calming, the headache easing.
“She is my mother; I don’t want her to go.”
“Sire you must let her leave, surely you understand that.”
“But if she leaves she will never return, I will have no father nor mother, I will be ALONE” he shouted the last word. Valdes placed his hand on his shoulder,
“Sire you are never alone, you have a country who love you; I am here both as your friend as well as a Ambassador of a country that loves and admires you. In fact sire, by ridding Bergatonia of her, you can start a new here, you don’t have her constantly reminding you of her sluttish ways, and her snide provocations. Let her go Sire and free yourself from her evil spell”.

The trembling almost gone now, Rupert smiled at Valdes, nodded and then made his way back to the desk.
“Ambassador Neilson, I apologise for my outburst, it is merely the thought of losing the company of my mother than I err become passionate about things. After all Ambassador she may be a traitor and whore but she is after all my mother and that does invoke certain passions”.

Ambassador nodded and replied “Sire I apologise for my most undiplomatic behavior as well, just as your passions for your mother unsettle you, my devotion to my King do equally sometimes raise my own passions”

Duke nodded and sat down in his chair, he glanced to Ambassador Valdes, then back to Ambassador Nielson,
“Very well then Ambassador, I am prepared to part with my mother’s company but I will require certain conditions in return”

The Duke indicated that Ambassador Nielson should also sit down, both Ambassadors took a seat.

“And those conditions are Sire?”

“First my mother will sign an agreement that she will forgo all claims and rights to the Bergatonia throne, for the rest of her life.”
Ambassador Nielson nodded,” I am sure I can convince her to agree to that sire.”

Secondly and this is not negotiable Ambassador “Danemark pledges in writing to support the Iberian claim to the Papal seat.”

Ambassador Nielson sat back in his seat, “Sire that is a considerable obligation to ask of my country”

Duke Rupert nodded, “As is a son losing the privilege of his mothers company, no matter the manner of her behavior.”

The issue of Danemark buying the Princesses freedom with the electoral vote had already been discussed between King Olaf and his Ambassador, but Ambassador Nielson had hoped to bring the deal about without using it.

“Well Sire King Olaf did fore see that the Iberians may make this a condition of his sisters release..”

The Duke interrupted Ambassador Nielson
“Ambassador this is not being done at the behest of Iberia, this is a condition I seek on Bergatonia’s  behalf. It benefits Bergatonia to have our ally as Pope as I am sure it will benefit Danemark.”

An idea then occurred to Ambassador Nielson
“Sire Danemark will agree to support the Iberian claim on the condition of Bergatonia freeing Princess Charlotte and Iberia giving Danemark 4 ships of the line, ships not less than 10  years old and not less than third rate.”

Ambassador Valdes jumped up

“I cannot simply agree to that, I don’t have the authority”

Rupert looked at Valdes and said
“Well Ambassador Valdes if your country wants the vote you better get the authority, send one of your pigeons and we will await the reply, meanwhile my mother will be taken from the cell and placed back in Schloss Palace where you may visit her Ambassador Nielson”.

“Thank you Sire but we must be clear, for Danemark to agree to the Papal vote going to Iberia, you must free Princess Charlotte and Iberia will give Danemark 4 ships of the line, are we all in agreement in that we understand the conditions.”

Rupert smiled, “Well Ambassador Nielsen what I do understand is that my mother’s release is not an issue for Bergatonia any longer, it is conditional on Iberia whether she stays or leaves". The Duke then glanced at the Iberian Ambassador with some smugness,
"Naturally if they fail to agree it will be Iberia that drives Rechburg and Danemark into an alliance,” I wonder the chances of Iberia being offered the papal seat would be then.”

Ambassador Valdes wasn't sure at what point his country had slipped into being the pivotal issue on whether a Catholic nation allied with a Protestant one, whether 4 ships became the vital link to his nation even being offered the chance of gaining the Papal seat, the one thing was certain, he had just been out maneuvered by a mad man. 
Somehow the  Duke had neatly side stepped the blame issue and it feel squarely onto Iberia’s lap.

“I will send a message immediately, if you gentlemen will excuse me,” with that Ambassador Valdes rose from his seat, bowed to Duke Rupert and Ambassador Nielson and left the room.

Two days later Princess Charlotte left Bergatonia forever, Danemark had doubled its fleet in a week and Iberia was sure of at least one electoral vote. Though it did occur to Ambassador Valdes when he delivered the news to the Duke and Ambassador Nielson Bergatonia had not as of yet signed a papal pledge to support Iberia.

Constantine was almost delirious with joy in seeing Charlotte for the first time in 25 years; they spent several days together before she rode with Ambassador Nielson back to Danemark.

Needless to say Constantine was furious that Danemark now in a period of a week or so had a navy that equaled his own.

As he sat in his office, his Prime Minister Anton Seeger entered.

Constantine looked up, “Yes Anton what is it?

“Sire there has been another battle in Ulrichstein.”



  1. The Emperor of the Imperial Empire cast down the missive he was reading with a gesture of impatience.

    'Dam' politicals!' he fulminated, 'There looked to be a jolly little war developing there: wretched Rechburg and dinky Danemark on the one side, and Bloody-minded Bergatonia and Sly-beria on the other.'

    'Surely, Sire, thou jesteth,' demurred his Minister of the Exchequer and breakfast companion, Count Eugene von Lustburgerstein. 'Things are delicate enough in Europia right now, what with the Papal election looming, and - begging your Imperial Majesty's pardon - the question of the Imperial succession unresolved-'

    'Yes, yes, you are right, Eugene, of course,' The Emperor sighed. 'A large war - even the small wars we actually have - are not good for us, not good for trade, not good for peace and order, not good for the exchequer. But it might sufficiently have distracted the Herzog for us cheaply to make good the situation in Ulrichstein... Has Ferdinand yet got over that dreadful muddle he got into the other week? Terrible business...'

    'He's recruiting vigorously, Sire, and seeks only the chance to redeem his reputation.'

    'Very well. But we would have preferred the Herzog to have asked for terms to keep the Empire out of his disputation with Iberia and Bergatonia. Or even were we forced to take the first overtures, we might well have obtained an arrangement - I gather the issues are religious rather than dynastic or territorial - an arrangement we would have been sufficiently happy to accept.'

    'Constantine would have demanded Bishop der Plonk's removal, Sire...' The Count murmured.

    'I dare say, and, after a deal of harumphing, and appeals to precedent and the legal ramifications, blah, blah, blah, we would have agreed to that,' The Emperor mused. 'To ease Bishop der Plonk's deposition, I feel sure an opening might well have appeared in the College of Cardinals - the price of Our support in the coming Papal elections, of course.

    'I do believe a friendly rapprochement would have been on the cards.'

    'But we might equally well have been dragged into a Europian-wide war with who-knows-what consequences,' The Count shuddered at the prospect.

    'Yes... Good thing events have turned out the way they have, really...' The emperor paused, deep in thought, seeming to drift off into a reverie. Suddenly he banged the flat of his hand on the table.

    'Meanwhile, what of Ferdinand? What are his requirements? How soon can he try conclusions once more with those Ulrichstein rebels?'

    [Barry - I hope this little bit of background doesn't compromise anything. It is really just the way the Empire might view recent events...

    1. No compromise at all Ion, in fact its very much the "outside" view I am looking for and if I may it will be incorporated into the next segment as we drift to issues within the Hapburgian Empire.
      I appreciate all and any outside views on any national perspectives, mainly due to the fact when dealing with a imagi nation story on such a large scale one tends to become a victim of tunnel vision or perhaps by the lack of ability to see over the hill.
      Keep the ideas coming