No doubt our well informed readers will be aware that the Reichfürstum is again embroiled in hostilities to the South East. However, the cause of the so-called "Pistachio War" is less well known. To rectify this, a brief summary follows.
Following the cessation of hostilities with the Turk, the Treaty of Beograd (1739) required the Emperor Charles VI to relinquish control of territory won earlier this Century.
Through skillful diplomacy, Beimbach-Schönau had avoided major involvement in the war but had been required to dispatch a contingent in support of the Reichsarmee. This force acquitted itself well and returned with honour. However, despite the bravery of our soldiery, the deficiencies of what was in effect an outdated institution were made apparent during this conflict. This resulted in a reorganisation and expansion of the military.
Amongst the lands lost to the Empire was the highly volatile area known as the "Banat of Nuštavar". This area has, following the Treaty, acquired a semi-autonomous nature and is now ruled by "Pasha Zahi" (formerly a general in the Ottoman Army) Masquerading as a Liberator and man of culture, Zahi has a long history of atrocity and intolerance toward all non-Mohammedans. This cruelty is matched only by his insatiable greed.
Even though his rise to power in the Banat was of grave concern to all Christians in the area, it was hoped that Zahi would at least attempt to show a modicum of decorum when dealing with his new "neighbours". Unfortunately, this did not occur.
As the Banat of Nuštavar sits astride the highly profitable Oriental Trade routes, there are many Imperial merchants present within the capitol, Torşova (more properly named Torschowa). In addition to the well developed spice and textile trades, there are a goodly number of merchants (the majority Subjects of out State) whose livelihoods depend upon the demand for exotic foodstuffs. High on the list of comestibles is the versatile Pistachio nut, grown in Hellas and Asia Minor. These nuts are used in dishes both sweet and savoury and, as such, form an important part of many an exotic recipe and hors d'œuvre. It could be said that the Aristocracy's enthusiam for these green morsels has become something of a craze.
The wealth accumulated by these traders did not escape the notice of the rapacious Pasha. Through a series of blatantly criminal actions Zahi's regime levied outrageous taxes on non-Moslem commerce and additionally dispatched thugs to extort further funds from these industrious persons. This robbery was accompanied by the closure of many Churches and frequent acts of anti-German violence.
The most prominent of the "Pistachio Merchants" was Johannes Schürlein formerly of Alt-Beimbach. Having established his offices in Torschowa some twenty years earlier he had acquired a fine reputation and earned a considerable fortune - which, within the space of three years, had been drained by Zahi and his cohorts.
The situation reached breaking-point during 1743, when the remaining merchants decided to make a stand against further extortion. This noble action by Schürlein and his fellow nut traders was met not by negotiation but by force. A mob was encouraged to murder these good people during Sunday Mass, their families being enslaved and what little assets remained confiscated by Pasha Zahi. The orgy of violence spread throughout the city and after a week of murder, rape and theft no foreign traders remained in Torşova.
This resulted in outrage throughout Christendom but the Empire was enmeshed by the great wars elsewhere in Europe. Beyond issuing formal complaint, to both Torşova and Constantinople, Wien took no action. The Tokapi expressed regret but pointed out that the affairs of the Banat were not under the Sultan's control. The vile Pasha acknowledged the grievance by executing the Imperial messengers and thus further inflamed the situation.
Our Prince was enraged by Pasha Zahi's arrogance and the maltreatment of the traders. Encouraged by the apparent indifference of Constantinople and the strength of his newly reorganised army, Reichfürst Maximilian determined upon a punitive campaign against the Banat with the dual aims of deposing the Pasha and acquiring the territory, in the interest of Christendom, The Empire and fine canapés.