- Catholic League members: the word "Leaguesman" in the English translation corresponds to French "ligueur" and German/Swedish "Ligist" (both of which carry negative innuendo). Often "Leaguer", a calque from the French, is used ("Death to the Leaguers!")
- Privates' surnames in the Swedish Army: unlike nobles and clergy, Swedish peasants lacked surnames and had to content themselves with a patronymic, such as Erik Karlsson ("son of Karl"). In the military, however, they were given surnames based upon their skills and/or appearance, such as Stål (Steel), Blixt (Lightning), or, in Erik's case, Klang (Clank).
- Hard nuts to crack I: how is Count Tilly's surname spelled? Is it Tserclaes, T'Serclaes, Tzerclaas...? Given his Wallonian nationality, I settled in for 't Serclaës. It is one of the most ancient and renowned clans in Benelux history. In turn, it is a contraction of (van he)t Serclaes, "of Serclaes", i,e. "son of Claes" ('t Ser is a patronymic prefix like Mac or O'), hence the apostrophe. The umlaut on the E, due to the French spelling, indicates that a-e should be pronounced separately, not as a digraph.
For 't Serclaës, see above. Jean 't Serclaës de Tilly: "SEAN tser-KLAAS de ti-YEE".
René Charles Devaux: "re-NAY SHARR-le de VAW"
Yvonne de Lacey: "ee-VON-ne de la-SEE"
Varennes-sur-Allier: "va-REN-ne sur a-LIAY"
A few rules for German pronunciation:
Ö is like in Swedish, or like in French coeur.
Ä is like in Swedish, like a+e, very close to French pain.
Ü is like French une.
In my transcriptions, I use Ä, Ö, and Ü for representing these sounds. Lützen: "LÜT-zen."
AI/EI are pronounced the same, and are both homophones of eye (English). Spelled AI in transcription. Kaiser: "KAI-zer". Leipzig: "LAIP-tsish".
EU/ÄU: both are pronounced "oy" as in boy or oyster. OY in transcription. Herr Leutnant: "her LOYT-nant".
AU: pronounced as in cow, yet transcribed as AU. Auerbach: "AU-er-BAÇH".
IE: long E sound, EE in transcription. Kavalier is pronounced like its English cognate, but with accent on the last syllable: "ka-va-LEER". Krieg: "KREEK"
-CH: depends on preceding vowel.
After A, O, U: like in "loch" or Welsh "goch" (remember composer J.S. Bach). Transcribed ÇH. Rippach: "RIP-paçh". Auerbach: "AU-er-BAÇH".
After E and I: like a faint "sh". Ich/mich: "ISH, MISH". Lech: "LESH".
Final G: Like a K, unless after I. Reichstag: "RAISH-TAK". Magdeburg: "MAK-de-BURK".
Final IG: -ish, with a "sh" sound similar to -ich or -ech. König: "KÖÖ-nish". Dreißig: "DRAI-sish". Hedwig: "HE·D-vish". Leipzig: "LAIP-tsish".
FINAL D: pronounced like a T. Gerhard: "GER-HART". Friedland: "FREED-LANT".
V (fau, pronounced "fow"). Pronounced like an F and transcribed as such. Volker: "FOL-ker". Veste (alternate spelling for "Alte Feste") the way Feste would be pronounced.
W (weh, pronounced "ve·"). Pronounced like a W and transcribed as such. Hedwig: "HE·D-vish". Weissenfels: "VAI-sen-FELS." Wallenstein: "VAL-len-SHTAIN".
SP and ST: shp and sht, respectively. Wallenstein: "VAL-len-SHTAIN". Exception being Küstrin: "küs-TRIIN".
SCH: also pronounced like sh. Schlacht: "SHLAÇHT".
-TZ and Z: Pronounced and transcribed "ts". Kunz: "KUNTS". Leipzig: "LAIP-tsish".
Eszett (ß) is pronounced like S. Preußen: “PROY-sen”. Dreißig: “DRAI-sish”
Prussian place names ending with -in: pronounce with a sound in-between "i" and "ee", transcribed as "II". Küstrin: "küs-TRIIN".
The easiest names to pronounce. Many are pronounced the way they are written. Only that a long A is pronounced "ah" like in "tar" (Gustav Adolf: GUS-tav AH-dolf) and initial K after I and E has a sh pronunciation (Kerstin: "SHES-tin"). Å is pronounced like “awe”, while Ä and Ö have the same pronunciation as in German (see above). Nevertheless, a very little portion of the arc takes place in Sweden.
- Rulers' names: according to tradition, they are conveniently translated. Thus, Gustavus Adolphus and Mary Eleanor instead of Gustav Adolf and Maria Eleonora. This applies to electors (and national/territorial rulers with other titles) as well as to royals. It is observed throughout the series.
- Chronology: the first arc uses the calendar employed in the seventeenth century. Years (and often months) are concordant with those of our present-day calendar (established by the Enlightened), unlike days, with a fortnight's difference. Thus, according to 17th c. calendar, the battle of Breitenfeld took place on the 7th of September 1631 (on the 17th of September, with our days' chronology); and that of Lützen, on the 6th of November (the 16th of the same month, present-day calendar) 1632.
- Ensigns: The rank ("fänrik" in Swedish, "Fähnrich" in German), just below lieutenant, is used for a flag-bearer. Flags had a life-or-death importance on the chaotic early modern battlefields. Therefore, the duty of an ensign, established in his oath to the flag, was of special relevance. "Treat it like you daughter/fiancée (depending of ensign's age). Never let go of it. Should you lose both your arms in combat, use your teeth to wrap yourself in the flag." In other words, a good ensign should rather die than let the enemy capture the flag, to earn his lieutenancy and a good reputation. Nowadays, the rank is used in few military hierarchies. A couple of renowned literary ensigns are Iago, in Shakespeare's Othello, and Northerton, in Fielding's Tom Jones.
- "Religious" war?: At first, even explained in the title of the arc ("Times of Religion and War"), the readers are lured to think of the popular misconception of the Thirty Years' War as a religious war with a manichaean (i.e. "black and white") edge... then, the writer gradually debunks this misconception (starting with Tilly's and the League's "tragedy") by showing the agendas of Wallenstein/Friedland, France, and Denmark (the latest, in Christina's flashback) to show the conflict as motivated by expansionism and power play, the religious issue serving as a mere excuse to cover the real causes.
- Camp followers: 30YW armies were basically errant villages, counting both the military and entourage (officers' and privates' families, gamblers, peddlers, tricksters, performers, orphans, prostitutes). During the battles, entourage and surgeons stayed in the encampments.
- Royal consent was, in real life, required for an unmarried Swedish military man, regardless of rank, to take up a wife. Gustavus acted as a matchmaker for his ranks, to approve or disapprove of the relationships.
- Winter quarters: seventeenth-century armies left the field to be temporarily garrisoned during the coldest season. This tradition was meant as a kind of truce for the armies to recover from fatigue, injury, and disease. One century later, Prussia would break the tradtion by invading Austria in the midwinter of 1740.
- Lace making and sewing in the Swedish army: these skills were actually taught! Gustavus said that being idle is more feminine for a military man than sewing or lace making, so our Swedish lads, especially officers, were encouraged to be able to mend tears in their "uniforms" (uniforms proper did not appear until the Age of Enlightenment; but Gustavus's Blue and Yellow Brigades, and Wallenstein's redcoats, and the Saxon ranks (also redcoats, a lighter shade) wore specifically coloured clothing that can be seen as proto-uniforms), and to make their own lace to decorate their collars and cuffs.
- Education and play, both for adults and for children, weren't neglected at all in the Swedish encampment! Gustavus and his officers did play blind man's bluff and tag to encourage physical activity, and there was a camp school where basic education was given military children and officers risen from the ranks.
- Painkillers: the most widespread anaesthetic (plus thirst quencher) employed on the wounded in 30YW military camps was distilled liquor (otherwise known as brandy, Weinbrand, aqua vitae, or eau-de-vie). There was also the lesser used laudanum: the same distilled liquor laced with extract of opium poppy. Though a veteran warrior and devout Catholic, used to pain and sworn to temperance, has no need for anaesthesia. While Tilly is unconscious, his second-in-command Pappenheim tries to give him a shot of liquor as a prank, but he is soon dissuaded by his fellow officers.
- Verzage nicht (Do Not Despair): whether Gustavus was its author (as lyricist, composer, or both. The Saga views him as the lyricist to a popular tune) or not, this song could certainly qualify as his leitmotif. The melody was taken from a Swedish hymnal. The Swedish and German lyrics are the original ones, while the author wrote the English translation.
- Weaponry: the Swedes were in possession of flintlock guns and light leather cannons, and pikes far shorter than the Leaguers'. The Tercios of the Catholic League only possessed the infamously long "Leaguers' pikes", heavy cannons, and matchlock guns (that took longer to fire). Which explains the Swedish victory at Breitenfeld (the Swedish formation was also lighter and faster than the Tercios). Wallenstein being far younger and more open-minded than Tilly, his ranks were equipped like those of Gustavus. The same applies to the French.
- Old veterans and young adventurers: Tilly's tercios consisted mainly of veterans from Catholic Europe, some of them as old as the generalissimo himself, while the Wallensteinian army was more of a motley crew in terms of age, nationality, and background of all its components.
- Saxons at Breitenfeld: did the Swedes' local allies chicken out? Not at all. Once routed by the Cronbergians (Black Riders, the flower of the League's cavalry), the Saxons remained on the battlefield, but they were unable to recover and aid the Swedes.
- Leaguers at Sweden's service: after the battle of Breitenfeld, around 6.000 enemy prisoners were taken by the victorious Protestants. Gustavus did actually free the captives and recruit them under his own flag. That's right, Alois and all the other boys in frills did even swear the oath to the flag of Sweden! Most of these Leaguers-turned-Swedish-soldiers were slain at Lützen, while avenging the death of their liege… surely, Gustavus was far more sympathetic than Tilly!
- Swedish meritocracy, or peasants made nobles (privates made officers) for service to crown and country: The case of Erik (von Hohen-)Klang and that of Kurtius "Kunz" (von) Waldmeister could have been historical truth. Gustavus Adolphus's army was meritocratic. Id est, certain privates who had distinguished themselves on the battlefield were rewarded with commissions, titles, and estates. At the start of the campaign (for instance, at Breitenfeld), the Swedish privates were mostly drafted farm boys from Sweden and Finland, but they were soon joined by the more diverse youth of the Germanic lands: not only farm boys, but also students, artisans, and professional landsknechts, aside from the freed League prisoners. In the end, at Lützen, the Swedish military was a motley crew through and through. After the death of Gustavus, officers' ranks became a privilege for the ruling class once more, and only a French Revolution could change that circumstance.
- Calvinism vs. Lutheranism: These two Protestant faiths were, during the Thirty Years' War, forced to cooperate against the common Catholic Imperial threat. There was disagreement between believers of both major branches of Protestantism, since Calvinists, unlike Lutherans, condemned pleasures and sensual matters (bright colours, entertainment, literature, sweets, celebrations like Christmas or Easter), much to the Lutherans' chagrin. When Elector William of Hohenzollern, a Calvinist like his late mother, rose to power in the early seventeenth century, the once Lutheran electorate of Brandenburg-Prussia (or at least its power centres) was converted by force to Calvinism. The young elector broke ties with his Lutheran stepfamily, having banned his stepsister Eleanor (whose marriage to Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, a Lutheran, he had opposed and vetoed), and having forced Electoress Anne, his stepmother and the regent of his early years (Eleanor's mother), to retire. Lutheran courtiers were forced to return to their hinterland ancestral seats as landowners, or as officers stationed in outpost communities. Such was the fate of Konrad von Ringstetten, formerly the cupbearer at the electoral court, who married his childhood friend Elsa, of the Oder area's landed gentry. When Gustavus Adolphus came to deliver the lands of his stepbrother-in-law from Catholic repression, it took the whole summer for them to reach a compromise. In the meantime, Küstrin and other Oder fortresses were held hostage by the Swedes. Only after the fall of Magdeburg (caused by the tension in the negotiation between both rulers, which made the compromise so hard to achieve) did William agree to ally with Gustavus and show tolerance towards Lutherans. After Lützen, he would switch allegiance once more, being a weak-willed ruler trapped among great powers, "a crystal glass among tankards."
- Electorates ("Kurfürstentümer" in German, "kurfurstendömen" in Swedish) were, in the Habsburg Empire, semi-independent duchies each with its own ruling dynasty, laws, traditions, court and/or capital, measure units, and so on, yet actually subordinated to the Kaiser, whose authority the electors represented. In the fifteenth century, the Northern electors gained their semi-independence (they had hitherto been complete vassals to the Kaiser) by means of the Protestant Reformation, that established the separation of church and state. In 1555, Kaiser Charles V signed an agreement with the Protestant electors, and the principle of "cuius regio eius religio" ("to each region its religion") was established. Charles V's successors, however, turned to the question of "cuius regio eius religio" as paradoxical, the electors' lands being actually the Kaiser's. Which led to Ferdinand II's project of re-Catholicizing the Protestant North, and to the subsequent war (when Austrian laws which condemned Protestant faiths as heretical were enforced in the northern reaches of the Empire). Among the electoral houses, the Hohenzollerns of Brandenburg-Prussia (Calvinists, formerly Lutherans), the Wettins of Saxony (Lutherans), and the Wittelsbachs of Rheinland-Pfalz (Calvinists) are Protestant, while the Wittelsbachs of Bavaria remain Catholic and loyal to the Kaiser.
- Friedland, however, though semi-independent, was no electorate, but a province granted by the Kaiser to a Count of the Realm (a “Reichsgrafschaft”) as payment for services rendered on the battlefield. A province and title of Reichsgraf were also offered to Jean ‘t Serclaës de Tilly, who declined such gifts, since he placed much more emphasis on spiritual matters, scorning earthly rewards.
- The right to coin money and have one’s face and crest on the coins was given by the Kaiser to certain vassals. This privilege was granted much more rarely in the early modern period. And yes, in the real world, Kaiser Ferdinand did grant Wallenstein the coining rights for Friedland. Which gives an idea of what an important person the former parvenu had become.
- Cardinal Richelieu: A lot of the prelate's present-day infamy is due to Dumas's musketeer novels. The Ringstetten saga, however, presents him as a clever statesman, the "good regent" in charge of France, making the realm prosper in so difficult times, as well as the "gray eminence" in charge of both French cultural life and power play against the Habsburgs, pulling the strings, for instance, as Gustavus Adolphus's and Sweden's sponsor.
- Wallenstein: Like Richelieu, he receives some positive light, portrayed as a well-intentioned extremist with an Enlightened worldview... but without forgetting the darkest aspects of his character. The author hints that the Duke of Friedland (obsessed with astrology, afraid of loud noises, lacking empathy) may suffer from Asperger's syndrome... a fact that a few historians have not overlooked.
- Ribbons and slippers? The satin ribbons worn by Wallensteinian officers around their spurs when on foot correspond to the historical truth, and so do the slippers worn by Wallenstein's servants.
- And the eunuchs in the church towers? His Lordship was also angered by the knell of church bells, so there should be a replacement...
- Mary Eleanor's psyche: the Queen of Sweden appears to suffer from Emotional Dysregulation Disorder, her writing slants downwards, she has no control of her emotional expression, and she appears to drown her sorrows and flee abroad at the cost of her life during her mourning period. Anyway, her backstory (she is a middle child, fatherless at an early age, witnessed the conflict between her mother and eldest stepbrother, Gustavus came as a "saviour" to her) has had a profound impact on her personality.
- And Gustavus Adolphus? Both the Protestant leader and his only daughter Christina display the classic symptoms of Type 2 diabetes (blurry vision, increased thirst, burnout), specifically hyperglycemia: too much blood sugar. Being overweight, it comes as no surprise. And those of hypertension (think of his oversized heart!), which Charles IX also displayed and ended his life (the Vasa line appears to inherit hypertension and diabetes!) But the story is set in the seventeenth century, and the symptoms were viewed in those days as normal physical traits.
- "God is my breastplate", Gustavus often says, fighting at the head of his army with his chest and back unshielded. Actually, this seemingly foolhardy tic is due to an injury he sustained in his youth during the Polish Wars (at Dirschau): the bullet went into his upper chest where it joins the throat, right above the sternum to the right, between his trachea and the adjoining blood vessels, and it remains lodged on top of the shoulder blade for life, until Lützen. If he ever wore a breastplate, according to his surgeon's advice, he would suffer from a blood-choke (and world history would be drastically different!). The bullet has also damaged the nerves that control his right arm, making any exertion (whether fencing or writing) painful and difficult for Gustavus.
- More than admiration: What were General Banér and His Majesty doing after Breitenfeld, sleeping together in the same cart... and what was he doing with Gerhard at the Lech, clinging that close to each other? Let's face the facts: Gustavus Adolphus was bisexual. And Banér was his most frequent queer lover. Though the young lieutenant, in an unconscious state, didn't realize that he was sleeping with his liege lord.
- The usurper's heir: all details I have given on Gustavus's childhood and the reason why he is so good and was so well educated are true. His troubled father was a usurper. And thus, Kaiser Ferdinand did not see Gustavus as King of Sweden either: that honour, in the Habsburg's eyes, belonged to a Polish Catholic.
- Beer for royalty: the brewery in the environs of Leipzig where Gustavus Adolphus quenched his thirst on the eve of battle right before Breitenfeld, the brewery at the estate of Crostewitz, still stands in our days. It now produces the delicious Ur-Krostitzer beer, meant for “true heroes”, and its logo is the Swedish ruler’s portrait, since Gustavus did actually give the lord of the estate that ruby ring and much acclaim.
- The white Persian mare shot under Gustavus can still be seen in the Museum of Ingolstadt. Streiff, his steed at Lützen, is on public display beneath the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
- The drunken general: Yes, Johan Banér developed an addiction while drowning his sorrows after his liege lord’s death, his career crashed and the Swedish Army was decimated due to his drinking problem… and he died of cirrhosis, as a result, coincidentally in Wolfenbüttel, not that far from Lützen.
- Easter eggs: the film, series, and books all include Othello quotes by the dozen! Discovering all those quotes, the Easter Egg Challenge, can be rather tricky, because the "eggs" are so well hidden. Here are a few examples that you may have missed:
- "The lieutenant is to be saved before the ensign", Gerhard after Kunz's death.
- "If I were to die now, 'twere to be most happy!", Eleanor and Gustavus when reuniting.
- "My fair warrior", Eleanor and Gustavus of each other.
- "I am declined into the vale of years", one of Tilly's leitsätze (leitmotif sentences)
- "She had eyes, and chose me", Alois, Gustavus, and Gerhard on their respective partners.
- "I would rather die than deceive so good a commander with so slight, so drunken, and so indiscrete an officer!", Gerhard's opinion on his accidental intoxications (the first one, during the "night wake" after Breitenfeld); later on, during the first weeks of his Leipzig convalescence, when racked with survivor's guilt, that he couldn't save Gustavus at Lützen.
- "One who loved not wisely, but too well", so does Christina describe a heartbroken Eleanor after the loss of her beloved spouse. Gerhard agrees for sure.
- The original prologue (dropped in the film) would have voiceover by Gerhard and narrate the following events in an animated black-and-white sequence: "For centuries, ever since our Realm was founded, its ruler has been supported by seven vassal lords, out of which three were archbishops and the remaining four were courtiers, born unto different houses. These Electors were the Kaiser's field marshal, his chamberlain, his steward, and his cupbearer. And they were always true to the Crown, as they had sworn. But this state of affairs had to change sooner or later. About a century ago, one Luther exposed the truth about Catholic authorities to the light. Kaiser Charles persecuted Luther and his followers, but in vain: his truths had found strength in the Northern lands. Soon, the Kaiser had to yield to the Protestant Electors' call for freedom. And then he retired to the cloister. Decades later, a Catholic order called the Society of Jesus took care of a sapling of the Habsburg dynasty, a descendant of Kaiser Charles. The Jesuits instructed Archduke Ferdinand to look down upon the Protestants, as heretics, since early childhood. And when his was the turn to wear the imperial crown, he decided to purge the realm of non-Catholics. Generals Tilly and Wallenstein have been persecuting Protestants to our days, much to our suffering. Which brings us to Küstrin an der Oder, in the electorate of Brandenburg-Prussia, an outpost on the frontier of a semi-independent vassal state. For Küstrin is where my sister and I were born and raised. We still live in the guardhouse, and we have seldom set a foot outside its walls. For we're the children of the commandant and his wife. If the Leaguers find out that we intend to return to Lutheranism, all of us will be sentenced to death. Tilly is still laying siege to Magdeburg, since half a year ago; while Wallenstein has been dismissed by the Kaiser and returned to his estate of Friedland. Yet their threats weigh heavy upon our freedom. Last year, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden landed on German shores. There is a prophecy about a lion from the Northern lands coming to free us from the chains of oppression and deception. And I firmly believe that the prophecy is coming true."
- Wallenstein's revenge, or how it all began (THIS IS AN IMPORTANT POST, DETAILING THE INS AND OUTS OF THE STRUGGLE WITHIN THE CATHOLIC FACTION): Wallenstein gained a lot of power, and he misused all of it. Thus, the hitherto more powerful Catholic League had Wallenstein deposed and demoted, replaced by Tilly as generalissimo of the Imperial ranks. In the winter of 1630, the Leaguers garrisoned in the Oder valley province of Brandenburg (where Küstrin is), due to bad harvests, relied on Friedland grain to survive. Now Wallenstein saw his chance: Tilly owed Wallenstein all that grain. How to pay this increasing debt? The League's second in command, the brash and impulsive thirty-something Count Gottfried Heinrich "Scar-Heinz" of Pappenheim, gave Tilly the suggestion: "Why not take Magdeburg?" Said and done, but the spoils were not enough. Which lead to "Why not take Leipzig?", and then, after reported sightings of the Swedish army near the estate of Breitenfeld, to "Why not give battle?" Of course Tilly was the leader, and he was against giving battle in those circumstances, but the young Bavarian had rallied all the other generals to support his claim... and thus, after much coaxing and taunting (calling the generalissimo what we nowadays would call an oldy and a chicken), Jean 't Serclaës gave in. His thoughts on Count Pappenheim (originally Wallenstein's second in command) illustrate what Tilly himself thought of the young scar-faced flag officer: "This lad will cost me my reputation, and he will cost the Kaiser his lands!" The next day, on the 7th of September 1631, the League encountered the Swedes at Breitenfeld. And we know the outcome of that day's battle. Thus did Wallenstein orchestrate Tilly's downfall and his own reinstatement.
- The courtship of Mary Eleanor: Only if the plight of the Prussian princess, retold in the longest flashback of the winter arc, is understood, can her love for Gustavus and her shock upon losing him be explained. Fatherless since a young age and unusually hyperactive (which led to several beatings from her tutors, that, oddly, never fazed her), Mary Eleanor was detached from her loving mother and her two sisters Sophie and Catherine (Eleanor was the middle child), but even more from her older stepbrother William, who saw the powerful and little feminine Electoress Dowager Anne, Regent of the lands, as a usurper. Needless to say that he was the villain in this love story, but merely for being a weak-willed “crystal glass among tankards” who feared that Poland should declare war on the Electorate if Eleanor married the King of Sweden. In mid-May 1620, a Swedish delegation lodged at the court in Potsdam (which still was draped in black and in mourning for the late Elector), with (aside from a young Lieutenant Johan Banér) a young cavalry captain in his early twenties, Gustav Karlsson, who, upon shaking hands with the Regent ere he kissed Anne’s hand, made her shout in pain (that was a powerful handshake!) Then it was that Eleanor, aged seventeen, fell head over heels for the foreign officer. The next day, the princess received the Swedes in her own bedchamber, and it was crystal clear that she loved Captain Karlsson. That evening at midnight, an effeminate young page knocked at the door of a bedroom in the guests’ wing, asking to speak to Captain Gustav Karlsson, who hastily put on his clothes and rushed into the corridor, spending the whole night in conversation by talking to this page around the dark palace, hiding from the guards when it was convenient. In Eleanor’s bedchamber, the page revealed “his” true identity and stole that passionate kiss, the lovers’ first kiss, revealing also that she had discovered who the “cavalry captain” actually was. The next day, the Electoress claimed that she accepted the young King of Sweden for a son-in-law, ere he took leave of Prussia to visit the other maiden princesses of the German lands. Soon, after weeks of travelling across the Realm and returning up north in summer, Gustavus detached himself from his entourage and entered Potsdam on his own. At court, he confessed the love he felt and revealed his true identity to an elated Anne of Prussia, whose stepbrother and heir was, luckily, still in the provinces tending to affairs of state. Then, the Swedish royal played various games like tag and hide-and-seek in the palace gardens with his fiancée and her younger sister Catherine (Sophie was married and lived in Wolfenbüttel with her husband Frederick, Duke of Braunschweig). Then, left tête-à-tête in a shady nook of the gardens, he confessed her feelings for Eleanor and asked her for her hand in marriage. And Mary Eleanor obviously said yes. When Gustavus left for Sweden to prepare the wedding, William returned to Potsdam and tried to put a stop to his stepfamily’s scheme of marrying into House Vasa. For their own safety, Eleanor went forth with her mother to Küstrin and then to Wolfenbüttel, to live with the maiden’s older sister and brother-in-law as both waited impatiently for Gustavus’s arrival and their elopement to Sweden. Then, crossing the stormy Baltic, Chancellor Oxenstierna made his way to the rulers of the Electorate. William was once more in the provinces, leaving the Electoral Council in Potsdam. This council could not prevent the bride from leaving Prussia or make any other decisions of state, but, luckily, the young elector had given them no instructions. It was then that Anne returned to the capital for a while and entered the State Treasury in the palace vaults through a secret passageway, to get the funds for the wedding that her stepson had denied her. For the powerful old dowager had thus agreed with the chancellor. When Oxenstierna and Anne returned to Wolfenbüttel, the Swedish statesman was captured by the charms of the princess bride. In a letter to Gustavus Adolphus, he congratulated his liege lord for the choice of a bride and the Kingdom of Sweden for the choice of a queen. After three days at the paltry yet refined court of Braunschweig, an excited Eleanor, with her mother, both her sisters, and the wise advisor who would be the best man at the royal wedding, set sail from Königsberg. In November that year, Gustavus sauntered out of Kalmar Slott to embrace his landing bride. On the 25th of November, they were married. Three children were born unto them, three young girls, one stillborn, one deceased as an infant, and the third, who survived, Christina Vasa.
- Countess and Viscount Pappenheim? A weeping Elisabeth and her pubescent Wolfi were last seen on the streets of mourning Leipzig, one early November day (the day after the battle of Lützen), when Wallenstein's army left the poor countess and her only child to an uncertain fate. Actually, Wolfgang zu Pappenheim (nothing revealed about his mother, surely deceased, maybe turned a whore in Leipzig), come of age, could be seen fighting on the Catholic side at the end of the war (for Austria, at Nördlingen) to avenge his father's death. He would cross paths with the Happy Few in the Rhineland, after Alois was freed and before the outcast Swedes joined the French military. The young count, unaware that he had just met his father's slayer, would die on a Czech or Austrian battlefield in 1647.
- Who is Liselotte’s birth father? When Gerhard returned home from Läckö, he realized that Christina was remarkably similar to his wife in both personality and appearance. The Free Lord of Tarlenheim had been rather aloof towards the daughter he had allegedly sired unto his wife Anne-Marie, and Liselotte became a ward of the Crown after his death. Let’s face the facts: it is implicit that Gustavus Adolphus, fond of sowing his wild oats, had actually sired Elisabeth Charlotte “von Tarlenheim”, actually a half-Vasa, in his younger years during the Polish campaign, which brought royal blood to the Ringstetten lineage.
- The Happy Few? Originally, this Shakespearean moniker referred to the quintet of officers and noncoms of the Blue Brigade's Fourth Regiment's Seventh Company: Lieutenant Gerhard Wilhelm von Ringstetten, Ensign Rainer Leopold von Liebenstein (died of strychnine poisoning, was replaced by the next character), Ensign Kurtius "Kunz" (von) Waldmeister (replaced by Ensign Erik [von Hohen-] Klang after the attacks on the Alte Feste), Sergeant Alois von Tarlenheim (né van Lijd-Ivanovic), Corporals Horst Schulte, Volker Schönherr, Johan Blixt and Helge Stål. Occasionally, the moniker may also include females, most frequently the lieutenant's and sergeant's respective partners: Elisabeth Charlotte "Liselotte" von Ringstetten (née von Tarlenheim), and Hedwig Luise von Tarlenheim-van Lijd (née von Ringstetten). Thekla von Wallenstein was to be a potential member, if it hadn't been for her parting ways, with her mother, from Alois’s life.
- Strychnine and Jesuits: Jesuits brought strychnine, from a certain seed in Southeast Asia, to Europe. There have also been countless reports of poisoning attempts carried out on Gustavus by Jesuits. Do the maths.
- Ensign in the Seventh Company: a cursed rank? Much like the surname Stark in Westeros, or the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, the ensigncy under Lieutenant Gerhard Wilhelm von Ringstetten appears to be jinxed. Word of R'hllor (the author) states that it was a homage to the many DADA teachers at Hogwarts, a new one for each academic year, to change ensign at turning points in the Saga.
- Gerhard's original epitaph: Since I gave a translation in the Saga, adjoining the original epitaphs at the end of Arc I in this catalogue of explanation wouldn't be more convenient:
GRAF GERHARD WILHELM VON RINGSTETTEN
GEBOREN 1615 - GESTORBEN 1654
LEUTNANT DES SCHWEDISCHEN HEERES
LEUTNANT DES FRANZÖSICHEN HEERES
HERR ZU GUT VÄNERSVIK (VÄNERBUCHT)
KÜSTRIN HATTE DIE EHRE, SEINE WIEGE UND HEIMAT ZU SEIN.
ER WÜRDE IM LAGER ERWACHSEN,
UM DER GRÖßTEN ANFÜHRER SEINER ZEIT
FÜR DEN EDELSTEN ZWECK SEINER ZEIT ZU DIENEN.
ER LERNTE VIELE LÄNDER UND VÖLKER KENNEN.
ER HATTE ERFOLG UNTER PRÜFUNG,
ER HATTE ERFOLG IN DER LIEBE,
ER HATTE ERFOLG IM LEBEN.
"KEINE FORDERUNG WAR ZU SCHWER,
ICH STREBTE FÜR DAS LICHT.
DOCH DAS MEIN LEBEN IST GANZ LEER
VERSTEHE ICH NICHT".
GREVE GERHARD WILHELM VON RINGSTETTEN
FÖDD 1615 - DÖD 1654
LÖJTNANT I DEN SVENSKA KRIGSHÄREN
LÖJTNANT I DEN FRANSKA KRIGSHÄREN
HERRE ÖVER GODSET VÄNERSVIK
KÜSTRIN HADE ÄRAN ATT VARA HANS FÄDERNESORT.
HAN BLEV VUXEN I LÄGER,
FÖR ATT TJÄNA SIN TIDS STÖRSTE ANFÖRARE
FÖR SIN TIDS ÄDLASTE ORSAK.
HAN LÄRDE KÄNNA FLERA LÄNDER OCH FOLK.
HAN LYCKADES UNDER PRÖVNING,
HAN LYCKADES I KÄRLEK,
HAN LYCKADES I LIVET.
"INGEN UTMANING VAR FÖR SVÅR,
FÖR LJUSET JAG STRED.
DOCK KAN JAG EJ ALLS FÖRSTÅ
DE KVAL LIVET LED".