The tiny principality of Kleinburg, nestled in borderland forests, had been incorporated into the Electorate of Bavaria for a mere 45 years when disaster struck on August 13th, 1704 at Blenheim.
On that day Graf Leopold von Klein’s battalions were among the Bavarians marching alongside the French against Marlborough’s English and Prince Eugene’s Austrians. The day ended badly. The Franco-Bavarian army was shattered. The Bavarian Elector went into exile as Austrian rule came to Munich. It was a sad day for Graf Leopold as well,. He lost an arm, an eye and his ancestral lands.
Embittered, he took his wife, three young daughters, and what remained of the family fortune to France, vowing to never bow to an Austrian or English yoke. Dwindling funds and rumors of New World riches lured him to Florida, where he died a year later. Fortunately his wife had a shrewd eye for busines. Grafin Hilda von Klein invested in ships and cargos that brought tidy profits. The three daughters, Gudrun, Katarina and Lisette, grew up with the sea in their hair and trade in their blood.
Gudrun, the eldest, is studious and serious. She learned of ships and bookkeeping from her mother. Her wise diplomacy can handle everything from aristrocratic French fops to drunken, scurvy sailors. Ever practical, she carefully studied everything necessary for a merchant-princess, from navigation to fencing.
Katarina is the disgrace of the family for reasons currently unknown. Her mother and sisters refuse to speak of her. She disappeared from the family compound in 1717 and has not been seen since.
Lisette is the fiery tomboy who inherited equal measures of arrogance, aggression and audacity from her father. She refuses to admit any boy could best her in anything. Most at home on the sea, she insists on commanding whatever craft she sails. Both the pride and despair of mother and sister, they ultimately found it impossible to do anything but humor Lisette. It was no surprise when Lisette returned from her first voyage not only with a Letter of Marque, but also a ship recaptured from pirates.
In 1719 Grafin von Klein began a series of business dealings with the Highland Confederacy. The Bavarian ex-patriates found they had much in common with the Scottish and Irish exiles, not the least of which was their mutual hatred of the English. A year later an alliance was proposed in which the two daughters would sail their ships under the Confederate flag.