After the Storm
Then Grand Countess Ludmilla von Alptraum granted the town a Freistadt charter in 2451 I.C.
This charter bestowed upon Streissen the right to elect its own rulers and freed the town from many of the duties and taxes it had been paying to the ruling House of von Alptraum in Averheim through their von Leitdorf vassals.
This dispossession of the Leitdorfs from the profitable holding would start a rift with far reaching consequences, though technically Ludmilla was within her rights due to the “at pleasure” condition of this particular Leitdorf holding.
Twenty years later, memories of the 50 years of the Freistadt differ by class and perspective. An enlightened time of prosperity or a wasteful time of profligate spending outstripping tax cuts. Those 35 and older tend to recall the “Charter Years” as a freer and happier time, and pass on a rosy view of the period.
However, disaster struck in 2502 I.C. When poor harvests lead to food shortages and bread riots. Friestadt authorities quickly lost control and and a faceless council of leaders among the agitators declared a commune and the abolition of private property.
The Streissen town council appealed to Grand Countess von Alptraum for troops to suppress the revolution. She consented to put down the rebellion if the councillors agreed to return the Freistadt charter. Having no real choice, the desperate council agreed to the Grand Countess’ terms.
In Nachexen 2502, order was brutally restored. Commune supporters hunted down and executed without trials. The worst event was the Langplatz Massacre when Tilean mercenaries employed by the Elector Countess boxed in a crowd and attacked everyone in it without mercy.
Many believe that the murder of Tancred von Alptraum and his family in the Grettstadt Massacre later that year was carried out in revenge for the Nachexen Massacre. The effects of the deaths of most male members of the von Alptraum family in this event continue to be felt and some whisper it was the von Leitdorfs behind the assault. The ballad “Cruel is the Snow” telling the tale leaves the attacker’s identities vague.
“Cruel is the snow that sweeps Grettstadt, and covers the graves of Alptraum, and cruel was the foe that came to Grettstadt and murdered the house of Tancred. Some died asleep, as they lay in their beds, some died in the halls swords in hand, some fled in the night to be hunted like dogs, but none survived the foe that came to Grettstadt.”
The town passed into the control of the Elector Countess and spent three years under occupation by state troops. When she died in 2514 and the Leitdorfs took the electorship, the town was returned to their domains.
To this day, “Remember Nachexen” is an agitator’s cry and also the name of a suppressed radical student group. Tileans are also unpopular, as are both the houses of Leitdorf and Alptraum.
Streissen remains a hotbed of clandestine conspiracies against the rule of Averheim as well as other illegal activities. Agitators, demagogues and other troublemakers hold secret meetings with anyone who has a grievance against the authorities, trying to turn them to “the cause” of opposing what they see as a repressive and corrupt government responsible for all the town’s woes.
The majority of citizens (meaning propertied townsfolk) prefer the “known evils” of the current government to either the direct rule of one of the contending noble houses or the radicals that foisted the still unpopular commune on the town.
The majority of the townsfolk, not being propertied citizens, believe things were better under the Freistadt, and most believe they would be better under another Freistadt. Most also don’t believe there will be a return to the Freistadt in their lives. Those agitators and radicals who want to see change come sooner are often seen as troublemakers, likely to bring death and destruction down on the innocent. No one likes to report them, remember which way they ran when asked by guards, recall a useful description, but few will run risks to cover for them.
Literate and Educated Views of Streissen’s History
Professor Oldric Helmgarter of Owl’s Inn College at Streissen University has written several monographs on the “failure of popularist rule” outlining how the Freistadt Council overspent, neglected key infrastructure (voting down the first proposal to stop the marsh encroachment, which may well have contributed to the crop failures of 2502) and by reducing spending on the town watch and militia left itself unable to maintain order.