Times Is Changing

by , under Fiction Prompts, What Pegman Saw

Malmsey stormed into the inn and flung down his bundle. “I’ll not stand for this!” he shouted. “A German? I’ll sooner die!”

“Calm yourself, mate,” said the keeper, drawing off a tankard and pushing across the bar. “We’ve heard.”

“Times is changing,” said Old Grumps from his corner table. “Rumor is the Queen herself is behind it.”

“It is more than a rumor,” said a man Malmsey had never seen before, a tall fellow with hair like raven’s wings and eyes to match. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Herr Hoechstetter, Royal Mining Engineer.” He produced a waxed linen envelope from his satchel. “Her Majesty’s charter grants me extensive powers to manage copper production.”

“Why you? Why not an Englishman?”

Hechstetter gave a watery smile. “I have twenty years of expertise. But have no fear. If you are willing, you can learn my methods.”

“Times is changing,” said Grumps.

 

What Pegman Saw

 

Note: In the 1500s, England desperately needed copper, for the brass making industry, for coinage to mix with silver and to make bronze for canons. Sheet copper was also used in battery works, workshops which turned the copper into a variety of utensils. Later it was used for ships hulls as a streamlining crude armor plate.

The expertise of the German miners was far more advanced than that of the English, both in the underground work of tunneling, pumping and hauling to retrieve the ore but, more importantly, in the art of separating and smelting the copper. In the 16th Century, the Germans led the world in mining technology.

To enable the miners to reach maximum efficiency, Elizabeth created the charter of the Mines Royal which was augmented in the year of 1564. Under the leadership of Daniel Hechstetter, a mining engineer from Augsberg, this charter gave them the right to prospect and survey for mineral veins anywhere in the country. Their privileged position did not go down well with the natives.

  1. pennygadd51

    Great take on the prompt, Josh. I like the different voice you use for Hoechstetter to distinguish him from the locals.

    Reply
  2. Lynn Love

    A snippet of English history I had no idea about – thanks for sharing. I can only echo what Penny has already said – great dialogue and characterisation Josh

    Reply
  3. Dale

    History lesson rolled up into a wonderful story. Times they are a-changing – a phrase repeated over the centuries…

    Reply
  4. EagleAye

    Great history in this one. The locals may not have liked it, but Britain did need that mining expertise and ultimately it helped form the world’s most dominant naval power, one Germany never could match. Loved the footnotes on this too.

    Reply
  5. 4963andypop

    Chilling how the German offers to benefit the village, blessing them with his superior knowledge, while he may at the same time be stripping them of their wealth. Sounds like a hollow promise, indeed. Love his watery smile. Cant quite picture it, which makes it seem all the more insidious.

    Reply

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