The ancient and free mountain city of Freiberg lies only aboutfive and twenty miles south west of Dresden, yet has a far more severeclimate than the Saxon capital a fact that may be understood if weremember that the road which leads from Dresden to Freiberg is up hillalmost all the way. The Saxon Erzgebirge must not be pictured as achain of separate mountains, with peaks rising one behind the other andclosing in the horizon. Hills and valleys lie mingled, assuming suchlong, wave like forms that in some parts of the district it isdifficult to fancy oneself in a mountain land at all. Immediatelyaround Freiberg the landscape takes the form of a wide table land,which has an upward slope only on the south west of the city, so thatfrom a short distance but little is seen of the town save the tops ofits towers and a confused glimpse of house roofs. In former days itwas the residence of the Duke of Saxony, and before the Thirty Years'War contained 32,000 inhabitants, a number which has now dwindled to19,000. Its ancient fortifications, which of late years have beenrapidly giving place to modern improvements, consisted of a double lineof walls, guarded by towers, pierced by strongly fortified gates, andsurrounded by a deep and wide moat. The ramparts were built ofquarried stone, which, though much harder than sandstone, was far moredifficult to bind together with mortar. In view of this fact, we maywell be surprised that a place so weakly fortified was able for twolong months to withstand the vehement siege operations of the wholeSwedish army an army so brave and so highly trained in the art of war,that it had subdued many far stronger fortresses. Yet so it was: howthe thing came about, and what an important part young Conrad, thecarpenter's apprentice, played in these great events, will be foundnarrated in the following pages.