Albrecht Wallenstein (ahl-brehkht VAHL-ehn-shtin), the duke of Friedland and the general of Emperor Ferdinand’s forces in the Thirty Years’ War. His experience follows the well-known pattern displayed by any overly ambitious and capable leader. Favored by the court for his military prowess in raising and leading a large army to subdue the Protestant states and to repel the Swedish invaders, Wallenstein loses his sense of perspective concerning his real function to the government. Fearful that other leaders will rise above him and greatly admired by his soldiers, he practices self-aggrandizement. Through a long series of political intrigues, involving Wallenstein’s officers, and personal complications, involving various members of his family, Wallenstein’s fate is precarious. Blind either to the realities of the intrigue he knows so well or to the recollection of his once strong favor with the court, he fails to heed the advice of those who would avert his downfall. Such naïveté leads to his murder on orders of one of his trusted commanders.
Prince Octavio Piccolomini
Prince Octavio Piccolomini (ohk-TAH-fyoh peek-koh-LOH-mee-nee), the duke of Amalfi, Wallenstein’s lieutenant general and lifelong friend. Loyal to his leader, Piccolomini serves him until the general’s ambitions and aims become apparent. Piccolomini’s apparent scruples and the news that Wallenstein is to be deposed change the rapport between the two men. Imminence of his own promotion to the position of generalissimo completes the rift, and Piccolomini’s chief task becomes the enlightenment of his own son, an officer, to Wallenstein’s negotiations with the enemy. By leading Wallenstein’s forces to defection through persuasion and deception, and by winning officers away from the once-powerful Wallenstein, Piccolomini completes his work and is given a princedom.
Max Piccolomini, his son, a regimental colonel...
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