Friday, July 20, 2007

"Sara Sampson" Riot Sweeps Hunsruck


A mob gathered at the public burning of the confiscated scripts of the Hunsrucker Opera Company's cancelled performance of Lessing's "Miss Sara Sampson" this evening angrily confronted the Duke's Chief Censor, Hermann Blaustift, as he attempted to carry out the ordered burning, pelting him with turnips and rotten eggs. When ordered to desist by Oberst Otto Freiherr von Thurgau, commander of the Leib-Kurassier providing security for the event with a troop of heavy horse, the mob instead began hurling cobblestones and roofing tiles at the Kurassiers as well, prompting Oberst von Thurgau to order the mob to disperse.

Emboldened, rather than cowed by the Freiherr's command, the mob began to move carts and wagons toward the square, blocking most of the main streets to the square. Observing the deterioration of the situation, the Oberst formed his troop into line, and ordered the men to present their sabres and again ordered the crowd to disperse. The crowd drew back a bit at that, but a chant of "Miststück Marwood, Miststück Marwood," spread through the mob, renewing their ardour and the hail of vegetables. The mob and the kurassiers thus confronted each other for nearly an hour, until the crowd, drinking freely throughout the standoff, began to hurl lighted brands from fires lit amongst it.

The spinning, flaming debris began to agitate the kurassiers' mounts, and Oberst von Thurgau gave a third and final order to disperse, met with a redoubled hail of vegetables, obscenity and detritus, a flaming barrelstave of which struck Oberst von Thurgau's horse, causing it to rear violently and throw him to the cobblestones below. Momentarily stunned, Oberst von Thurgau lay prone on the square, motionless. Accounts vary as to the exact sequence of events following, but as the mob surged forward to get a better view of the discomfitted Oberst, one of his officers seems to have ordered a warning shot from the troop, which panicked the crowd and resulted in a stampede towards the exit avenues from the square, most of which had already been blocked by the makeshift barricades erected earlier.

Redirected by these obstacles, the panicked crowd turned back towards the Opera House end of the square, the only end not barricaded, because of its proximity to the original position of the kurassiers, and began to rush towards the kurassiers and the open streets behind them. Confronted by the surging mass of humanity coming towards them and the confusion of attending to their fallen commanders, the kurassiers wavered until someone along the line shouted "Save the Oberst!" and spurred his mount forward. The wedge of kurassiers launched itself forward in reflexive solidarity, and collided with the wave of hysterical burghers rushing towards it. In the ensuing mayhem, scores, perhaps hundreds of townspeople were trampled, either by the kurassiers' mounts or by other members of the mob, and dozens more were cut down by the kurassiers' sabres as they formed up around their fallen Oberst and restored him to his mount as his recollected his faculties.

Absent an organised pursuit by the kurassiers, the mob spread out across the city from the Spandowerplatz, breaking windows and looting shops across Hunsruck as the breakdown of order fed upon itself, spreading into the blighted neighbourhoods with the word of the discomfiture of the commander of the Duke's kurassiers sparking further opportunistic violence and looting. As night fell, much of the Glazierquartier, the workingmen's neighbourhood around the glassworks was in flames, and law abiding townspeople bolted their doors and shuttered their windows as drunken hooligans roamed the streets.

1 comment:

Bluebear Jeff said...

The nondescript Stagonian agent carefully penned his report -- making sure that the proper "code words" were in the correct possitions.

Everything had gone very well indeed.