Chapter 19, Storm

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

It must be said that Prime Minister Metternich did have some ability; at this time, the Austrian Government was very strong, and the bourgeoisie's strike action couldn't scare them.

The great nobility supported the government at this time, and their power was not at all inferior to that of the capitalists. They may not have had an abundance of other materials, but they certainly had plenty of grain.

Each of them was a major landlord with a bunch of serfs at home. Which family didn't have some grain in storage? It was no problem at all for the government to purchase a batch of grain from them for emergency relief.

The capitalists' collusion couldn't possibly be kept secret. Long before the crisis broke out, the Vienna Government had funded the purchase of a batch of grain from the nobility to stockpile.

When the strike began, the government started selling grain to the public, ensuring Vienna's grain supply, though the city's former prosperity was no more. Looking at the depressed market, many in the government were anxious.

Minister of Internal Affairs Fischer said troubledly, "Prime Minister, this can't go on. We've solved the problem with grain, but other materials are still in short supply.

"Moreover, now that the capitalists have shut down their factories, the workers have lost their income, and I'm afraid the money in their hands will soon run out. By then..."

Metternich said with a cold laugh, "Don't worry, this situation won't last too long. Keep in mind that by striking, the capitalists are losing gold coins every day, and small businessmen can't hold out for long!

"However, we indeed cannot just sit by and do nothing. There are also nobles participating in the strike. I will ask Archduke Louis to speak to them, and if they stand with the capitalists, we will strip them of their noble status.

"Once someone takes the lead, everything else will be easy to handle. The capitalists are not a solid bloc; no matter how discontent they are, they won't go against money!"


Indeed, the strike barely lasted a week before it ended in the capitalists' defeat.

The nobles involved in the strike were the first to be persuaded.

Did they still care about their noble honor?

For the sake of a bit of profit, they had fallen to the level of associating with capitalists, utterly disgracing the nobility.

In any case, most nobles of this era had not yet become capitalists. Looking at the nouveau riches from commerce and industry, they had long been dissatisfied. It was time to righteously condemn them.

Noble banquets no longer extended invitations to them, and when they invited others, they were rightly refused. Friends and family came one after another to work on their thoughts.

Radical nobles were already clamoring to kick these fallen nobles out of the noble circles, which frightened many.

Austrian capitalists, though wealthy, lacked political status! To secure a hereditary title was not easy, and if they lost that, what then?

Nobles under pressure had no choice but to draw a line with the capitalists and withdraw from the strike.

Some even thought: "If laborers' wages are to be increased, let them be increased; if all else fails, we can resort to using serfs."

Alright, such fools were in the minority. Most knew that any compromise would lead to higher labor costs in the future.

Thinking of using serfs? Dream on. Did they really believe that daily calls to end serfdom were just slogans that would not become reality?

Once someone took the lead, the capitalists' inherent profit-seeking nature ensured that their alliance could not endure in the long term.

Everyone was not wholly altruistic. Seeing others opening their doors for business and making money naturally upset the rest. Why should we take the risk of losing our heads to gain benefits while you reap the rewards?

The bourgeoisie's first counterattack failed due to its lack of tight organization and absence of any binding force on its members.

Franz was not surprised by any of this. Unless the supply of grain, coal, and other necessities of life could be cut off, it would be difficult to make the Vienna Government compromise in a short time.

And these were precisely what the capitalists could not do. At this time, the nobility in Austria was too powerful; they produced grain and coal on their own lands. If the capitalists refused to sell, wouldn't the nobility just transport and sell it themselves?

You have a purchase contract? At such a time, can you still expect people to follow the rules of the game? As the rule makers, they certainly have the right to amend the rules!

Aware of this, Franz deeply regretted not having stockpiled some goods himself. During the capitalists' strike, Vienna's prices had nearly doubled.

"Raul, how much grain is left in my estate that can be sold?"

"Grand Duke, according to your command, we did not sell any grain this year. However, during the outbreak of the strike, we sold one and a half million pounds of wheat to the government for emergency relief. After setting aside enough grain for consumption, we have about three million eight hundred sixty thousand pounds left." Raul answered.

(1 pound = 0.45359237 kilograms)

Franz was, of course, aware of the sale to the government. His estate was only thirty kilometers from Vienna, and during such a crisis, as the Crown Prince of the Empire, Franz was very principled.

Three million eight hundred sixty thousand pounds sounds like a large number, but converted to tons, it's only about one thousand seven hundred fifty plus tons. Selling it would only bring in two or three thousand gold coins.

This would still have to be after deducting production costs to be the profit that Franz could receive. All of the Royal family's estates had already released their serfs, making labor another significant expense.

"Get ready. Once the price of wheat rises by more than twenty percent, sell all this grain," Franz thought for a moment and said.

He knew the capitalists would not take their defeat lying down. Driving up commodity prices was one of their most common strategies, and Vienna's grain prices were bound to skyrocket.

Industrialization had already started, and wheat could only be sold to flour mills now. No matter how high the market price of grain soared, the flour mills' purchase price would not be too generous.

The greatest advantage of Franz's estate was its proximity to Vienna. However, at a time when a rebellion could break out, this became a disadvantage, as the estate might be harassed by unruly soldiers.

Hoarding a large amount of grain at such a time was risky, and even though he knew that grain prices would soar after the Hungarian revolution next year, he still had to reluctantly sell off the stock.

In the upcoming economic battle between the capitalists and the government, inflating prices was indeed a quick way to make money, but Franz's status dictated that he couldn't get involved. Otherwise, if other nobles followed suit, Prime Minister Metternich would be overwhelmed.