Prague, 1620. The humanist ideals that first found expression during the Renaissance have entered the popular consciousness, spreading from the aristocracy to the rising middle class, and even down to the lower classes. The value of human life and expression has become an accepted idea, and those who have never questioned their place in the world before are beginning to do so.

And the world trembles.

For over 70 years, the Peace of Augsberg allowed Catholics and Lutherans to live side-by-side in the city-states of the Holy Roman Empire, with each local ruler choosing the religion for his lands. The rise of Calvinism, and the coronation of staunchly-Catholic Emperor Ferdinand II, changed that. Ferdinand, following the dictates of his faith and the pressure from his Spanish cousins, sought to reduce the spread of Protestantism in the Empire, and re-establish universal Catholicism. Among the other Protestant faiths, the Hussites of Prague took special exception to this plan and threw Ferdinand’s representatives out a window, starting the Bohemian Revolt in 1618. By 1620, Bohemia had even entered an alliance with the Islamic Ottoman Empire, further earning the ire of the Catholics.

Now, the Holy Roman Empire is tearing itself apart, as various states and factions pick sides and take up arms. Mercenaries are in great demand, and make up large portions of all the armies, and the foraging (and looting) of the armies in the field have caused reports of famine and deprivation to begin filtering out. The Empire of Charlemagne is dying.

The world is about to change.

And Prague, whose name means Ford or Threshold, is where the first sparks of that change are struck.

Fearful Symmetries

Penny Emric