It’s a nice spring day in 1782. Gretel is sitting on the grass in front of the newly-built Green Castle watching a gentle brook trickling down into a pond. The grazing deer, and the swans paddling around the water lilies, completes the idyllic landscape. Mayer is by her side, her boisterous children are running around chasing the strange creatures that populate the marvelous gardens, and she is as happy as can be. However, even though Mayer owns the property, it is part of the goy world, a world that threatens her family with its artificial values.
Peter Heinrich von Bethmann, who fronts Mayer’s financial operations in Frankfurt, is the official resident and lives in the east wing with his family. The west wing is reserved for Mayer’s private use. The many offices needed for the considerable office staff along with the reception areas are located in the central area. With young Carl Friedrich Buderus, his assistant, in the counting house in Hanau, and a very able Moses Kuhn running his Fahrgasse office in Frankfurt, Mayer is able to spend ever more time at Green Castle, the headquarters of his fast developing international banking network.
Mayer is forever trying to reassure his worried wife. He tells her that though their children will know a different kind of world, the family’s roots are so deep, its values so time-honoured and its commitment to honesty so true, that the children will never forget their upbringing. The boys will become powerful men and live with goys, but they will always remember who they are and where they come from.
Gretel knows Mayer is right. Judengasse may be a narrow sunless street but it is the artery that has brought life, love, and joy of living to them all. Nobody who has lived there can ever forget the bonds that holds the community together. But now that Mayer’s bank, the Bank of North America, had been accepted as the official bank of the United States of America, Gretel has reason to worry.
Mayer is more concerned with what is about to take place in Hanau. Prince William is hosting a meeting in Wilhelmsbad, and the participants are coming from all over Europe. The Illuminati, or Enlightened Ones as they like to call themselves, are preparing to free Europe from the yoke of the Holy Roman Empire. The Huguenots and the Sephardim in the City are apparently planning the destruction of the Ancien Regime of France, the cornerstone of that Empire.
After the Huguenots and Sephardim created the East India Company in 1600, they had immediately started undermining their enemy’s stronghold. In early 17th century, they decided to isolate the French King from Paris, the center of French political power, by financing the construction of the Chateau de Versailles. Now, a century later, they were getting ready to topple Louis XVI, and they needed a communications network on French soil. Since 1773, many Masonic Lodges had opened throughout France, and the City bankers had even recruited the king’s cousin, Louis Philippe d’Orléans, as Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France. At the Congress of Wilhelmsbad, the Illuminati’s intention was to have the French lodges break away from the Scottish rite in order to make them available to all faiths. Members had always been required to swear on the Roman Catholic bible in order to become a freemason, and they wanted to do away with that requirement. Prince William, a Calvinist, had embraced the idea, and had allowed them to hold a meeting in Wilhelmsbad, a spa near Hanau.
Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, a very prominent and well-respected French Freemason, organized the meeting, but violent men like Adam Weishaupt also participated. Weishaupt was heard to say that his only hope was to one day see the last priest strangled with the guts of the last king left standing. This did not augur well for France who was the main target.
With the Scottish rite gone, the Illuminati would then start undermining the French political structures, and force the absentee King in Versailles to agree to a Constitutional Monarchy like they had done in England a hundred years earlier. In order to separate Church and State, they would confiscate all Church property and sell it at auction instead of doing what Henry VIII had done in England. They had already recruited a very powerful individual by the name of Mirabeau, who just happened to be a physiocrat. Mirabeau believed like many French economists of the times that the wealth of nations was derived from the value of land. Benjamin Franklin had held similar ideas when Mayer had first met him, but his thinking had since changed.
Notes backed by Church property would be a huge success at the outset, but the bankers in the City as well as Mayer knew that human nature being what it is, the people’s representatives would be inclined to print ever more notes based on that success. The Bank of England would then surely take advantage of the situation by dumping a gigantic amount of counterfeit notes into the French economy in order to have the currency depreciate. The bankers would then facilitate the creation of a Constitutional Monarchy with Louis Philippe d’Orléans as king, and Mirabeau as Prime Minister.
Mayer had good reason to believe what he was hearing, and he came up with a plan of his own. He would ask François, the silk manufacturer, who had been a very successful printer in Lyon before coming to Frankfurt, to meet with him. A few years back, his silk mill had not been doing all that well in Frankfurt, and Mayer had asked him to run the goldsmith house in Hanau. He had since taught gold engraving while working on stereotype printing in his spare time. Printing was his first love, and since he missed France, Mayer would ask him if he would like to return to Lyon. Mayer would be willing to kick-start his printing business.
If the Bank of England could print counterfeit French notes, so could Mayer. If François returned to France and started his printing business, he would be ready to print the counterfeit notes in tandem with the government. Having perfected a wet mat method for creating matrixes for stereotype printing, and having access to the same paper as the one used by the French Government through Julien Ouvrard, he would be able to produce quality notes many times faster at a fraction of the cost.
Gretel was shocked to hear she was about to become a counterfeiter’s wife, and Mayer was quick to explain that his action wouldn’t hurt anybody. He wouldn’t be taking property from anyone, for the properties would already be confiscated. All Mayer would be doing is buying the confiscated properties at auction with counterfeit notes and selling them back to anxiously waiting Frenchmen for gold. The English bankers wanted to destroy the Ancien Regime of France and create a market economy tied to England, but what Mayer wanted was to take control of the Bank of England and have America, France, England and the rest of Europe trade fairly and freely with each other. Mayer told his wife that the only way to accomplish such a feat was by accumulating all the French gold he could while maintaining total anonymity.
Mayer calmed Gretel’s fears by telling her that he was an Ashkenazi first and a banker second, and though he was very rich, he hadn’t changed as a person. He was still Mayer, the happiest man alive, and it was not due to his business activities, but rather to his family. He admitted his ego did influence his business persona, for it was only natural to be proud. After all, he had found a way to take over the Bank of England. One thing was certain, the Bank of England would be printing counterfeit notes in order to bring down the Ancien Regime of France, and Mayer would join in, but it would be to amass huge quantities of French gold in order to overtake the Bank of England itself.
Mayer started explaining how he planned to do it. Huguenot agents recruited in England, the Netherlands and Germany would use the Masonic Lodges as drop-off points, where the counterfeit bills produced by Johannot would be delivered by Thurn and Taxis. Speaking French and having an unlimited supply of notes, the agents would easily outbid everybody as the properties came up on the auction block. The properties would be immediately flipped to waiting buyers for gold, and the law firm of Jean-Jacques Cambacérès would do the necessary title transfers. Ouvrard, a young financial wizard working in tandem with Cambacérès, would have the Thurn and Taxis immediately transport the gold bullion down the Seine to a waiting ship in Le Havre headed for London. With the properties being the choicest in the world, and the French currency depreciating at a rapid rate, the wealthy Frenchmen would want to invest in real estate directly and bypass the worthless yet very expensive government bills. Mayer expected to have accumulated several thousand tons of gold by the time it was all over. The agents, Cambacérès and Ouvrard would all be compensated beyond their wildest dreams, and the gold bullion transported by Thurn and Taxis would be sure to reach the vaults of the Goldsmid Bros. in the City in London.
Mayer would not be involved directly, and the French authorities wouldn’t know which way to turn, especially with the English bankers flooding the market with their own counterfeit notes. Within two or three years, Mayer expected to have accumulated more gold than any other individual in the world. In a few years’ time, Nathan would replace the Goldsmid Bros. and personally take charge of things in the City.
Gretel wondered what the City was, and Mayer was more than willing to explain. He told her that, in 1694, the Jewish and Huguenot bankers, in wanting to be completely independent of the English Government, had created their own state within the state. The City was a financial district on the banks of the Thames and had the status of a territory. It had its own administration and was off limits to English authority. It was unassailable financial ground from which Nathan would soon launch international banking.