Early Modern Professionals in Werewolf Castle

The lawyer’s office by Pieter de Bloot. This 1628 painting was made only a few decades after the setting for Werewolves in the Renaissance.

As I wrote the adventures of Thal for the Werewolves in the Renaissance series, I sometimes needed characters from the professional class of that era. The novels are set in the 1560s in Bohemia, Moravia, Transdanubia, and Hungary. Throughout the series Thal and his allies must contend with a cast of professors, magistrates, bankers, and lawyers.

The time period of the story would more accurately be called the Early Modern era, but Werewolves in the Renaissance has a nicer ring to it for a title, and the time periods overlapped substantially anyway.

An eerie thing about studying the Early Modern period is how familiar many of the institutions are. Despite the passage of hundreds of years, bankers and lawyers still have a great influence.

In the final novel of the series, Werewolf Castle, I present both a banker and a lawyer. I was not particularly kind in my portrayals of these characters. The banker was indebted to an evil sorcerer, and the lawyer was a lustful gambler uninterested in justice.

Werewolf Castle Excerpt about the Banker

I enjoyed weaving historical “professionals” into the story. Here is the scene between Janfelter and the Banker:

The round man in a long black surcoat and white puffy sleeves set his hands on his hips. He flared with offense at the intrusion and showed no fear of the strange warrior until his eyes fell upon the token held toward his face. Stamped into the shining metal were two spears over flames.

Now the man blanched.

“You are the banker Welser,” Janfelter said, judging the man’s identity by his dress and the gold rings on his fat fingers.

“We must talk,” Janfelter said and brushed by the man into his private chamber.

Welser signaled for his astonished butler to do nothing and followed Janfelter into the room. He nudged his dogs out into the hall before latching the door. He hastened to a table where he had been interrupted in his counting of gold and silver coins. Half were neatly organized in a wooden rack, and half were still arrayed across the table. Carelessly he scooped up the coins and shoved them into the rack and put it in a lock box.

Welser relaxed slightly now that his coins were put away. “Who are you?” he asked calmly.

“Janfelter.”

“What do you want of me? I’ve done no offense to your Master,” Welser said. He sat down and put his hands on the table. He felt the sweat stick to the smooth wood.

“And the decisions you’re about to make will be important to maintaining your respect for him,” Janfelter said. He pulled a stool up to the table.

“Are you going to offer me a drink?” he prompted.

Welser quelled his urge to summon a servant. This conversation surely required the strictest privacy, but pouring someone a drink galled him a little. Reluctantly, he leaned back and grabbed a decanter and glass. He slid a modest dose of brandy toward his intrusive guest.

Janfelter downed it and sighed like a sailor who has missed his drink rations. Alcohol affected him much less since Tekax had altered his body, but drinking it irritated the banker

“I need twenty-five of your best mercenaries,” Janfelter announced.

“I don’t have that many mercenaries,” Welser said.

“Then I’ll take as many as you’ve got,” Janfelter said.

“Look here. You can’t come in here and demand–”

Janfelter grabbed the banker’s velvety tunic and yanked his body across the table.

“You’ll do everything I say or I’ll cut your tongue out and feed it to your little dogs. I’ll get away with it too. No one will miss hearing you speak,” Janfelter said. He slapped the silver token onto the table under Welser’s nose. His nostrils flared as he considered more closely the symbol of Tekax.

Janfelter leaned over him and whispered. “My Master told me that he made these tokens from silver melted from the last Byzantine Emperor’s tea service.”

“Let me up,” Welser puffed stubbornly.

Janfelter smiled. He admired the rascal’s nerve under pressure. He shoved him back into his chair.

“Welser, you owe a favor to my Master,” Janfelter reminded.

“I’ve granted him many favors. And at no small danger to myself. Dealing with the Ottomans is a sensitive thing in this city,” he said.

“The loan given you when you lost a fortune backing the wrong noble in a land dispute has not been fully repaid,” Janfelter said.

Welser wilted a little as he grappled with the facts of his debt. The Duke’s need for a withdrawal when the accounts were empty had nearly been the end of him. The mysterious one in the East had funded his bank in his moment of greatest need. Welser hoped to find an opportunity some day to rid himself of the insufferable obligation that Tekax imposed, but the unnerving killer in front of him convinced Welser that he would make another payment today.

“I can get you ten maybe a dozen tough men in three days,” Welser said.

Werewolf Castle Excerpt with the Lawyer

In Werewolf Castle, I bring back the character of Valentino del Sangoro, the Condottiere from the first novel. He’s in need of a lawyer due to be charged with insurrection. (Such things happen to mercenary captains.) Unfortunately, Valentino does not exactly have a legal dream team trying to keep his on his shoulders as this excerpt demonstrates:

The guards shoved Valentino on a stool. He teetered upon the thing’s three loose legs. While he was off balance, one guard swiftly slid the chain through an iron loop in the floor and padlocked it in place. He knew to act fast with this prisoner.

The coarse fellows lumbered off to other duties and left Valentino shackled just out of reach of a small desk. Quills and an ink bottle occupied the desk ready to record the pleadings of the guilty.

He squinted at the windows set high in the thick stone wall. The daylight hurt his eyes, but he savored the chance to see the sky.

When he heard footsteps approaching, he wiped his watering eyes with the back of his hands, taking care not to scrape his now pale face with the rusty edges of his thick manacles.

The door swung open, and his lawyer came in briskly. Polished black leather shoes with high heels and oval brass buckles clicked lightly because Tobias Dorn had a spring in his step as if he did not oversee the grim business of a prisoner accused of heresy and insurrection.

“Good Morning,” he said while glancing to make sure that the padlock was shut over the chain. Sitting, he opened his leather folio and scanned the documents within. “Valentino del Sangoro,” he said.

Valentino clenched his teeth, hating to watch the lawyer look up the name of the man who had paid him with the last of his worldly wealth to represent him before the court. In exchange for Valentino’s rapier and pistol, a Jewish pawnbroker had provided the gold florins necessary to make the lawyer pretend to defend him.

Tobias shifted his cloak off his arms and read through the papers in front of him. Valentino stared at the thick silver pin at the man’s shoulder that secured the cloak of thick wool trimmed in black silk. He wondered if such a thing could pick the lock on his cell.

“I’ve had a chance to talk about your case with the prosecutor and the justice minister,” Tobias said. “I’ve done my best.”

“Really?” Valentino said. His voice was weak from disuse. He supposed he should start babbling and ranting like some of the other wretches in the cells next to his. He doubted very much that the lawyer’s “best” was going to impress him.

Tobias took a moment to observe the big man before him. Imprisonment had starved him down to a lean man with pale skin over hard muscles. Dirt dragged at the curls of the prisoner’s long dark hair, and his beard was spreading like unpruned grape vines.

“These conversations are never easy,” he said.

Valentino growled lightly before silencing himself. He did not want to be dragged back to his cell prematurely because of a wrathful outburst. The tenderness of his persistent rib bruises urged him to forgo another battle with the gaolers.

Tobias cleared his throat. “You’re a literate man, so I know that you understand the gravity of the charges against you. I heartily recommend that you accept this offer that I’m bearing to you from the prosecutor.”

“And what’s that?” Valentino asked. A spark of hope startled his constant despair as he imagined that some merciful crumb had fallen from the plate of justice.

“You’ll have a swift death by beheading if you sign your confession,” Tobias said as if announcing that Valentino had just been accepted to a prestigious university and had a promising future ahead of him.

“Hmmm,” Valentino managed.

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Werewolf Castle: Werewolves in the Renaissance 3


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About Werewolf Castle

Thal has found refuge from werewolf hunters and assassins at the castle of his father, Sarputeen. Although the mountain fortress on the eastern fringe of the Holy Roman Empire shields him for the moment, he knows the peace can’t last.

His father counsels war against his old rival who sent servants to murder Thal. But first, Thal must increase his power and that means making a pack. To obtain men to make werewolves, Sarputeen calls in an old debt from the local duke.

The thought of giving others the werewolf magic troubles Thal. He knows that they will be forever bound to him as obedient killers. They will never have normal lives again. Despite his qualms, he is troubled most by the supernatural fext who can heal from all wounds. This foul assassin serves the sorcerer Tekax, and Thal cannot dare to battle them without more werewolves at his side.

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