Sunday, September 9, 2007
Sod The Politicians And Bureaucrats!
Well now they've gone and done it! Just when I thought my life was getting in order, I discovered that my latest "gift" from the Abbey at Saronno had been held up at the border by some petty functionary who claimed that his district was due a tax. A tax indeed! "Where the bloody hell was he when the musket balls were flying at Minden?" That's what I "politely" asked him as my Guard put him out of his house and I laid the flat of my saber to his plump backside and drove him into his pigsty! That, and the Swiss Confederation (as if that lot could EVER agree on anything long enough to be considered a Confederation) interrupted one of my trade shipments coming through the Alps, something about "contraband prohibited by the Treaty of Paris." I've got to increase production in my duchy's lead mining and start a powder mill. Of course, Louis would let me have all the supplies that I want, but at a bloody awful price.
However, there is a bright spot to this tale. One of my first recruitment's was of a fine young Irish lad by the name of Shaw, George Bernard Shaw he says (as if the name alone should mean something), who was a former adjutant and paymaster for the Irish Brigade and who personally got Charlie Fitzjames out of more tavern bills and petty charges than you could imagine. A real gifted fellow with the words and numbers young Shaw is, I predict a bright future for him. Well, I had left young George in charge of trying to cipher how I was going to pay for everything that I wanted for my duchy in my absence, and completely unknown to me, the young scalawag writes to the Court with an absolutely brilliant rendition of my recent exploits and trials dealing with the, "myriad of deprivations and disruption of harmony caused by the terrible brigands and cutthroats from the neighboring regions", and goes on to tell Louis that what he really needs is, "a Champion cast in the mold of a young Alexander, one who will willingly sacrifice his life and livelihood for the common defense of Greater France and its King!" Bloody hell! Like I would even lend Louis a sous if he needed it, let alone offer my life for the daft twit. It must be reported here, gentle reader, that this self-same Shaw was the author of the dispatch from Charlie Fitzjames that got Louis to give me my duchy to begin with. As I said, the lad does have a way with the phrase, as all good Irishmen do.
Well, the upshot of this whole tale is that, "on the advice of our trusted Royal Adviser's, it is His Majesty's wish that the duc d'Batau assume nominal administrative and defensive control for the region defined by the contested borders with Baden, the United Swiss Confederation and North-Western Italy, to be defined by those borders and extending to the 5th and 45th meridians." The man has truly lost his mind! Mind you, I have to share taxable revenue for the lands outside of my original holdings with some other local minor nobility and bureaucrats, and Louis specifically used the meridians to exclude the important city of Lyon. However, I do now have Metz, Strasbourg and Belfort, even if some local toady thinks he's already in charge. Louis probably assumes I'm going to lose at least one of these to Old Fritz anyway, since they are on the border of what has been called "the disputed territories". Plus, the sod still expects me to die, especially when "my friends" keep telling him that, "I welcome the opportunity to do so in His Majesty's service!" What this means to the Duchy of M'Eudail, is that it now has a protected border, and therefore trade route, between all of the border with Baden-Baden, Switzerland and a large part of northern Italy in the Savoy and Turin regions. We also now have open access to the River Rhone and its prosperous trade opportunities. I have replaced my previous map of the region with a new one showing my new-found responsibilities and territories. That these may overlap some other dominions already in existence is not my responsibility, take it up with that twit Louis, who can't remember from day-to-day which mistress he's supposed to be with! Or that Charlie Fitzjames lost the cavalry battle at Minden!
My next political issue involved my re-naming of the seat of my duchy as "New Edinburgh". Apparently the Irish lads with me disliked it as much as the locals, and a letter of complaint was forwarded to a district prefect for discussion with the Court at Versais (as if Louis would care). However, in the interest of being seen as a peacemaker and statesman of some means, I graciously changed the name to "New Gaellia", which young Shaw helped convince everyone actually celebrated the heritage of all of the folk involved. Indeed, they even declared a feast day in its honor and had a priest bless the whole bloody affair! I'm telling you, given enough quill and paper, young Shaw could probably convince a flower girl that she was a Lady, its that gifted with the words that he is.
There is also excellent news on the military front. I have received replies to my first dispatches for recruits and am pleased to announce that the Duchy of M'Eudail will be fielding 4 brigades, each of 4 battalions of fine, strong foot. There will be one brigade each from the Irish, from the Italians, and from Georg and The Lady Katherine's family in Baden-Baden, as well as a Guard Brigade. I don't know yet what the exact strength of each battalion shall be, as this is often an administrative detail that changes from month to month. Having the units as deployable bodies is much more important politically, and often militarily, than the exact strength of the units involved. After all, it sounds much better to say, "I've personally deployed two battalions to deal with your problems", than just saying you sent a few hundred-odd men.
And as far as Brigade Commanders are concerned, I couldn't be more delighted! My Irish Brigade will be commanded by a bright young chap named Peter O'Toole. He does lack some command experience, but I swear the lad could convince an Arab to walk out of the desert, its that kind of a leader that he is, and I'm told that he drinks! My Italians will be commanded by a Sicilian fellow that I met while on service there by the name of Carlo Salvatore Luciano, called "Lucky Charlie" by his men, always a good omen I believe. I was frankly surprised the duc d'Milan agreed to give me a leader of his calibre, but I gather that Lucky Charlie had been involved in some unsavory affairs recently and his departure from Italy was to be desired. I will take his personal history under advisement, but I already know him to be a man who finds a way to get things done when none else can. And his men are loyal to a fault, even referring to their units as "La Cosa Nostra", with I gather means "this thing of ours". My stalwarts from Baden-Baden couldn't be in better hands. That brigade will be commanded by a young man who I met there who recently graduated from the prestigious military academy in Berlin named Heinz Guderian. Those that know say that he's one of the finest young minds in German military circles and will revolutionize the use of combined arms with something he calls "Der Blitzkrieg". His seconds will be one of my bride's kinsmen, Wilhelm von Lichte, and another young prodigy by the name of Rommel. Don't know a great deal about young Rommel yet, but Guderian and Georg speak quite highly of him. And finally, my own Guards Brigade. My second in command (after all, I'm the Military Mastermind in charge of this lot) will also be the Colonel commanding my Scottish volunteers, a likable sort who goes by the name of Sean Connery. I will swear, the man should be a play-actor instead of the fine soldier that he is! I've known Sean for several years, our paths having crossed at various times, and the man could convince you he was a King a Brit or an Arab Sheik if he wanted to. I've even accused him of being an Irishman, given his glibness of tongue, which promptly got me socked, after which he did a spot-on interpretation of the lilting brogue I've grown so accustomed to by way of apology, and bought the next round. Simply amazing! I do have one concern about Sean as a commander though, he's bringing with him as his Lieutenant-Colonel for my Scots a young fellow by the name of Connor MacLeod, of the Clan MacLeod no less. I'm told that with a little of the drink upon him, he will launch into a tale about being born of the Clan MacLeod in 1536 and living forever! Well, for his own bloody sake, I hope he's right, but I've told Sean that the lad would do well to mind his head.
Well dear reader, that is all that Your Humble Servant has to report on this day, and I will retire now to my dearly anticipated new shipment of Amaretto for a brief period of relaxation from the Affairs of State, perhaps even watch some of the lads participate in sporting events, which they often do of a Sunday, after Mass of course. I have arranged for quantities of fine cloth from Italy and good wool from Baden-Baden, and have enlisted all of the available seamstresses and tailors in my region to begin clothing my lot upon arrival. I'm already designing my new Ducal uniform, as befits one of my station, as I've still been wearing my old Fitzjames uniform, which is starting to appear a little threadbare. And I will, of course, require new uniforms for my personal Guard. Ah, so many details and so little time...
Yours, respectfully, Sir William