Oct 7th 2012
Bishop der Plonk slowly eased his rather overlarge body down into his somewhat over large chair, the aches and pains from his many sore rheumy joints troubled him beyond belief. He told anyone who would listen that the pain was the price he paid for his devotion to the Emperor and the hard work he undertook on the Emperors behalf. Sadly however most who knew the Bishop were more than aware the truth was Bishop der Plonk over indulged in every manner of gluttony and all manner of pleasures.
He had just finished a rather sumptuous meal of chicken broth and several glasses of wine. He rose rather awkwardly from his chair and made his way in a half walk half waddle to the window.
On the lawns below his companion Countess Bouteville and her 12yr son played hoops, she had been his companion and paramour for several years, she was always attentive to his needs and in return the Bishop housed and provided for her and her son.
I need to find a way of sending the boy away, perhaps to learn a career in the Emperors army; she spends too much time with him and not enough caring for me.
He turned from the window and returned to his desk, he rang the bell and again slowly eased his body down into the seat. Sitting back he gazed around the room, the Bishop loved very little in life, but he did love this room. Once it had been an audience room for the Rechburg noble Count La Fayette who previously owned the chateau, however the noble and his family were dead and the now the Chateau belonged to the Bishop, the audience room was now called the throne room it seemed to Der Plonk the throne room was a name much more befitting a man of his status. The room itself was furnished with all manner of priceless arts and valuables; all liberated from the heretic Protestants that once lived around Quedinburg. Another of the Bishop’s wisdoms was that these material gains were his payment for the heavy spiritual burden he bore in governing his lands for the Emperor. After all he reasoned if he had to suffer the pains of duty he might as well do it in some little comfort and luxury.
Count La Fayette had paid the price for his heretical beliefs as the Bishop liberated him and family from all their earthly valuables by having them burned on the stake in nearby Quedinburg central square. The hasty court that the Bishop had set up had naturally found the Count guilty of treason against the Emperor; it was the perfect example for the Bishop to set. It had in fact been his first act as the new ruler of Ulrichstein; it was his first taste of real power and watching the burnings had fueled an exciting passion in his soul. The burning of the Count and his family was merely the first of such displays of power, the people of Ulrichstein had to know that their lands had a new ruler; and Bishop der Plonk ruled with soft and usually untruthful words backed by an iron fist.
A knock on the door and the Bishops secretary entered
“Henri, please clear the dishes, I have much work to do.”
Henri quickly gathered the plates and bowls, as he made way to the door the Bishop asked
“Is the Colonel here yet?”
“He is sire, he is waiting for you”
“Ahh good, good, well send him in”.
The Bishop leaned back in his chair, lovingly gazing about the room and remembering the rather torturous journey it took to reach here.
Emperor Charles IX had granted him these lands for a specific purpose, his task was to cleanse Ulrichstein of Protestantism, but he had to do it in such a way that it would not reflect back on the Emperor or his Empire.
Following the religious wars of the late 15th century, Europia was exhausted from the conflicts that have ravaged the continent intermittently for several decades, in the Treaty of Kristinavale there had been considerable territorial readjustments in Europia. One of them had been at the expense of Rechburg whose ruler was back then Baron Manfred, a ruler who had up until that time been a loyal supporter of the Emperor. The new lands created became the Bishopric of Ulrichstein, the Bishopric was unique in Europia because it was the only land equally populated with Protestant and Catholic peoples; it was deemed by the treaty as part of the Catholic Hapburgian Empire. The Catholics generally resided in the east of the realm while the Protestants settled mostly in the west. It was to be governed by a Catholic ruler, but the neighbouring Protestant rulers gave their Guarantees of protection to the Protestants that lived in the Bishopric. The first ruler of Ulrichstein had been the weak and ineffectual Bishop Burckhardt, since then the successive Bishops had been likewise weak minded fools, they cowered in the shadows of the neighbouring rulers. Fearful of doing anything to rid the Bishopric of the heretics for fear of starting another war that the Empire could ill afford.
Bishop der Plonk had been one of several spiritual advisors for the Emperor however by various means of manipulation both fair and foul; the Bishop had maneuvered himself to the point where he became confident and friend to the Emperor. From his close relationship and over a period of time the Bishop had sown the seeds for his next step in his own ambitious plans those of one day being he being the ruler of Ulrichstein.
Because from its inception Ulrichstein was a land within the Empire that was equally protestant and thus in the eyes of the Emperor and his counselor Bishop der plonk an ungainly stigma on the Ecclesiastical lands of the Empire. No one wanted another religious war so nothing was ever done to remove the stigma of shame. The treaty of Kristinvale was a very unsatisfactory treaty and it was generally acknowledged privately amongst the signatories that it was likely to lead to more wars rather than long everlasting peace as all proclaimed publicly. However because the Empire was war weary from fighting the religious wars in the north, defending the southern borders from the ever expansive Asiatic Empire to the south and the huge Tsarist Empire to the east; the treaty of Kristinavale had forced upon the Empire.
Bishop der Plonk had studied the Treaty of Kristinavale and in it he had seen the light to achieve his own ambitions. He was certain that the light was the doing of God; it was the wish of the almighty, god was showing him the pathway to his true destiny, that destiny being one day he would rule the Bishopric of Ulrichstein. In his private moments and thoughts he pondered the possibilities he realised that his ambition aided by gods hand could even one day lead him to larger lands, perhaps a Kingdom.
First however he had to maneuver the Emperor to the point where it was seen as the Emperors wish that he be the next Bishop of Ulrichstein. As he explained to the Emperor the key were the clauses in the treaty that gave the ruling Bishop the power of law and order. It meant if the protestants were to revolt, then the Bishop would be forced to act to “maintain law and order” for the benefit of all citizens naturally. None of the signatories of the treaty could react as it was within the rights of the Governing power to act to maintain law and order; Bishop der Plonk explained rather proudly that the secret was to make the revolt happen without it seeming to have been deliberately created by the Bishop or the Empire.
The previous Bishops that ruled in Ulrichstein should all have seen this, but if they had it appeared they were too afraid to act on it, so for many years god waited until the right man would come into his service; and in the body of Bishop der Plonk god had his instrument.
At first the Emperor had been cool on the idea, but over a period of several years the Bishop constantly reminded the Emperor and anyone else in the ruling council that would listen to him what a shameful stigma heretical Ulrichstein was on the holy purity of the Hapburgian Empire.
Finally the then ruling Bishop of Ulrichstein had the good sense to die, and when word went out for nominations for the next ruler of the Bishopric, the name on the lips of all had been the name that had became synonymous with Ulrichstein over the last few years, Bishop der Plonk.
Within weeks of being granted the Bishopric of Ulrichstein the Bishop had travelled throughout his new realm, it had been no easy task and decidedly uncomfortable being carted from hovel to hovel in his new coach; however the exploration of his lands had been interesting and informative. He had gauged and meet the nobles both Protestant and Catholic, many had been impressed by this kindly but rather over large ruler, it was hoped that at last the Emperor had made a choice in rulers that may actually benefit the Bishopric. All the nobles and civic leaders pleaded with the Bishop to do more for the roads, to create stability in trade and above all keep the peace between Protestant and Catholics.
The Bishop assured all that he would do all these things but he begged their indulgence, the Bishopric was virtually bankrupt he claimed and the Empire had larger financial issues to deal with other than miniscule Ulrichstein. No he assured them, we will have to right our own wrongs and the first step was increased taxation.
The new taxes arrived just before a new drought, Europia suffered from these severe droughts every 3 or 4 decades but this latest one was the most severe many could remember. All of Europia suffered crops failures and thousands of people died throughout the continent. Following the drought came yet another plague, not as severe as previous plagues but following on so closely to the drought many of the smaller nations were plunged into turmoil. Ulrichstein was perhaps the worst affected by the forces of nature but Bishop der Plonk did not mind one bit. In fact it seemed as if God was once again offering the Bishop a hand in cleansing Ulrichstein, and der Plonk was never one to refuse the hand of the almighty.
When he had instituted the new taxes, the Ulrichstein nobles protested, but as he pointed out to them not too subtlety they were the same nobles that pleaded for new roads and improvements, not that he had any intention of doing any such thing. The Bishop extended his personal Diocese guard, they had new equipment and beautiful uniforms, the Diocese guard was raised from 700 men to 3 Battalions and 1 Cavalry regiment of Hussars almost 3,000 men; the new taxes paid for his new little army. The taxation protests continued and the Bishop found a way to offer the nobles some relief, people who took the sacraments would be offered tax deductions. The catholic nobles were ecstatic whilst the Protestant Nobles protested; the Protestant nobles refused to pay the taxes and even pleaded with Herzog Constantine II of Rechburg to intervene. There was little any of the foreign Protestant leaders could do, after all taxation was an internal policy, all they could do was urge the Bishop to equalize the taxation in a fairer manner, the Bishop assured their ambassadors that he too was concerned and he would look at the taxation problem as soon as possible. That was an assurance he had no intention of keeping.
But then the drought and plague arrived and the people of Ulrichstein died in their hundreds, food was scarce and law and order began to suffer.
The natural disasters were seen by the Bishop as both a problem and yet another god send opportunity, naturally Ulrichstein had to find food, but since the entire Continent was starving what small crop yields that had survived would be quite insufficient, so prices would rise as they imported food. That would create opportunities for the Bishop to increase his already considerable wealth.
The Emperor rushed what food supplies he could spare into Ulrichstein, but then they did not go all the way throughout the Bishopric. The warehouses in the Catholic east of the realm bulged with food and those in the west were empty or rarely received any food.
The Catholic peoples were soon receiving food while in the Protestant provinces the food supplies were quite insufficient. Der Plonk blamed the inferior roads, bandits, corrupt Protestant merchants almost everyone and everything. He shook his head with despair in apparent sympathy when the Protestant leaders came to plead for help, he promised he would do all he could to ease their plights. With his hand over his heart he assured them he was doing all he could to get food to the west, meanwhile more and more Protestants continued to die.
The revolt occurred in the small village of Piesen one of the many small villages in the north on the road between Zerbst and Newhausen. Piesen was in the Catholic area of Ulrichstein; its main source of income was the Eura river a large waterway which was a major trading route for nations further east. Barges travelling the river would call into Piesen and unload tradeable goodas asw ell as load produce for markets further along the river. The revolt started out merely has an attempt by several protestant leaders to break into a warehouse and take the food stored there for their people back in the protestant lands, they broke into the warehouse without any difficulty and loaded four wagons, however before they had gone too far they were stopped by four men of the Diocese Guard; a struggle ensured and three protestants and one Guard were killed.
The rest of the Protestants were arrested when more Diocese reinforcements arrived, they were taken back to Quedinburg for trial.
Bishop der Plonk pretended to be sympathetic, even writing to their extended families that he would do all he could but this was a matter for the law and he could not intervene. Meanwhile the judge had been given instructions by the Bishop to ensure the men were guilty and would receive the death penalty for theft, killing of Diocese troops and attempting to incite a riot.
“Where the hell is that Colonel?”
The Bishop rang the bell once again.
As the Bishop sat back in his chair absent mindedly rubbing his aching knees he contemplated the last 18 months of his rule. It seemed to him it had all gone to plan, with the almighty’s aid he had fulfilled his plans in becoming the ruler of the new lands of the Empire. He had maneuvered the Protestants into acts of violence and now he was to complete the next stage of his and gods plan, the religious cleansing of western Ulrichstein.
His thoughts were interrupted, by the knocking of the door, the door opened and his secretart Henri entered once more,
“You rang sire?”
“Of course I rang you idiot, do you see anyone else in the room. Where the hell is Colonel Sully?”
Before Henri could answer from behind him the Colonel entered the room, dreesed as usual in his new and immaculate uniform.
The Bishop waved Henri away.
Colonel Sully marched almost arrogantly to the desk and bowed,
“I apologise by the delay Sire, I was somewhat inconvienced by matters in the palace”
“Inconvienced was he, I wonder which servaning wench he rumbled this time”.
“Don’t make a habit of making me wait Colonel, I am a busy man and will not be delayed while you trounce one of my servants.”
The Colonel made to protest but the Bishop waved hum to be silent
“Colonel it is time we started our little project of ridding the heretics out of our lands, are you ready?”
“I am sire, the men could do with more training but as we are not going to war, just chasing peasants it will be no serious problem.”
The Bishop slowly eased himself up from the chair, inwardly groaning at the aching joints and bones, indicating a table near the window
“Come please Colonel, the map table if you will”
The Bishop moved slowly, almost waddling, finally reaching the table he stood and turned to face the man that could be instrumental in making him a King or a corpse.
The Bishop took a moment to study the man beside him.
Colonel Sully had been in the Franconian Army, he was cashiered for dueling and killing Duke Frerar one of the Franconian Emperor’s nephews. He was tall and slim, his face disfigured by an ugly scar the result of a duel many years ago. After leaving the Franconian Army the Colonel had been in the service of several rulers, he had either been dismissed or simply moved on when offered more money.
When he was approached to join Bishop der Plonk he found a man of his own style, ambitious and greedy.
“Colonel I want you to start a revolt”
“A revolt Sire, excellent.”
The Bishop smiled, "Yes you are going to start a revolt right here, in Ulrichstein”.
The Colonel looked down at the map, and then to the Bishop who was by now making his way awkwardly to the windows.
“Well Sire starting a revolt in one’s own country is always easier than in someone elses”
“Very true Colonel.”
The Colonel moved to the window as well, they both stood there for a moment gazing down on the gardens. The Bishop turned to Colonel Sully.
“You are going to start this revolt, and then you are going to squash it and the Protestants very quickly. You see Colonel I do not want a protestant left in the west at all, they either recant their faith in which case they are to be left alone, or they die or leave, I am not of a mind which one; so long as you do it quickly”
The Colonel stood looking down at the map,
“I will need more men Sire, I only have around 3,000 and there must be at least 60-80,000 Protestants and if this is to be done quickly then I will need a larger force”.
The Bishop sighed deeply, “Well you don’t have time to train recruits Colonel, I want this done before the winter, also remember as you often have said there may be 60,000 Protestants but they are peasants and merchants, no match for your Guard I am sure".
The Colonel nodded walked around the table and stood with the Bishop admiring the gardens below
“Sire there is the question of casualties, I mean the Protestants ones. Once we start this revolt the butchers bill may become shall we say – impressive. That may force the hands of the Protestant realms such as the Rechburgians and their cronies”.
“That Colonel is precisely why you must strike quickly, there are two factors in our favour, first if we act now and get this done quickly the Heretic leaders will not have time to act before winter. Secondly I also have waited until now because I know the Emperor himself will be attending the annual maneuvers near Buckwitz in Vandahalla in 2 weeks. As Buckwitz is only a week’s march from here I consider it rather convenient for us don’t you think”.
“So the Emperor is in on this as well, well that would certainly change things”
“No Colonel", the Bishop sighed rather deeply "The Emperor is not in this at all and must never be involved, at least not yet. However having his army near the Pomoanian border does have a indirect and implied threat don’t you think, again Colonel it is gods way of showing us how he favours our little enterprise.
Naturally the other rulers will never believe the Emperor didn’t know and had quite accidently had his army nearby when we move. Should things go badly for us we may have to call on the Emperor, but be reassured Colonel if we do, both of us may lose our heads. So Colonel get it done quickly and efficiently”.
“So my understanding is you want me start a revolt, and chase 60,000 protestants out of the country with 3,000 men and not start a war with the neighbouring protestant countries, all without disturbing the Emperor”.
“Yes quite so Colonel, do you see a problem”
“Oh many sire, but I have a feeling none of them will change your mind, so I best go and get this done”
“Exactly Colonel, that’s the spirit, quickly and ruthlessly, and you would do well to remember Colonel if this goes as I expect, you will be a general in charge of a much larger Ulrichstein army and very much richer, do you get my point”.
“Yes sire I do, get it done I get promoted, fail and I lose my head, excellent incentive ideas sire”.
“You may go Colonel”
The Bishop realised he was weary and perhaps it was time to lie down, but then he considered an alternative to luing down alone. perhaps he could spend some time with Countess de Bouteville she may have ways to amuse him for a while. her gentle stroking hands always had a way of relieving the pain.
The Bishop rang the bell, moments later Henri his secretary came in
"Where is the Countess Henri”?
“I believe she is walking the gardens with her son Sire”
“Excellent would you send for her, tell her I have need of amusement; I have had a very tiring day”.
"This plan of mine Schaeffer did I explain how it was to unfold?'
“If I may ask Sire, why have we just shot our Chief of Staff” asking in almost disbelief.
Chapter 3 – On the Ulrichstein Rechburg border
“Well Hans I am sure you and your men will tip the balance for us huh, indeed my friend you are most welcome and a sight for sore eyes.”
Leopold Uhlan Regiment” (4 squadron) (Uhlan)
Newstadtal Hussar Regiment, (4 squadrons)
Leeds Hussar Regiment, (4 squadron)
Attached Temporarily - 1st Albany Uhlan Regiment
Guard Jager battalion (1 battalion - 1st)
2nd Infantry Brigade -Colonel Emmerick Dalberg (4,200 men)
1st Infanterie Regiment, (1st & 2nd Battalions)
2nd Infantry Regiment (2 battalions- 3rd & 4th)
3rd Infantry Regiment (2 battalions - 5th & 6th]
1st Line Battery – 6 x 9pdr, 2 x 5.5 How
Chapter 4 - The Bergatonian war
The Rechburg artillery on Peppers Ridge engage the Bergatonian Jaegers, the Hamlet of Briel can be seen in the left foreground.
The Bergatonions lost 900 men in the battle some 200 may come back from recovered wounds. The Rechburg militia lost 150 men, some of whom will also return. They do not pursue as the snow that had been threatening all day finally begin settle in.
The next chapter will report on the battle that was fought in Ulrichstein on the same day as Bergatonian Battle of Briel was fought.