Youth of the Great Elector - George Upton

In November of the Same Year

Six months have passed since that unquiet night. The people of both cities were greatly excited during that time by some momentous events. To understand them, we must narrate some occurrences which happened in the Spring.

About that time a Swedish captain appeared at the Elector's court—a handsome man of kingly bearing. He remained in Coln about fourteen days and was very often at the castle. It was universally supposed he was engaged upon a secret mission. This was actually the case, but the people were mistaken: they thought he was acting for others, while in reality he was acting for himself. This captain was no other than Gustavus Adolphus, the chivalrous King of Sweden. Reports of the beauty and goodness of the Princess Marie Eleonore, sister of the Elector, had drawn him to the Brandenburg court. He wished to ascertain by his own observation whether these reports were true. He found all that he wished—modesty, intelligence, personal charm. He made her acquaintance, pressed his suit, and she confidingly placed her destiny in his hands.

Not long after this, Oxenstjern, the Swedish Chancellor, escorted the royal bride to Stockholm, where the marriage was to be celebrated. The people then discovered for the first time that the Swedish captain, in whom they had been so deeply interested the past six months, and King Gustavus Adolphus were one and the same person. One may well imagine that the event was the subject of eager discourse for a long time, and that the union between Brandenburg and Sweden was hailed with rejoicing.

The popular interest, however, was still greater in the future of Bohemia and its chosen ruler. The coronation of Frederick of the Palatinate was celebrated with brilliant ceremonies, the first act in a momentous drama. Bohemia was now the country in which the strength of Catholicism and that of Protestantism were to be measured for the first time. The Emperor was opposed to the Catholic union. The news reached Berlin and Coln that a strong army was approaching the capital of Bohemia, led by Maximilian of Bavaria, whose prowess as a soldier had made his name one to be dreaded.

What days, what nights, the Electoress passed, alternating between hope and anxiety! And more and more her hope grew fainter.