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Artillery personnel
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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 9 March 2014
The GNW in Courland, Livonia, Estonia and Ingria
Topic: Literature

Generally speaking the Swedish literature about the war in the above mentioned areas is very limited. The operations of the Courland army under the command of Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt is described in some depth by Hugo Uddgren (1876-1955) in his two volume biography of the General (Karolinen Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt), published in 1919 and 1950. Uddgren was among the first Swedish researchers to use the archives in Riga and he is possibly the only one to have used the archive of the Dukes of Courland (at that time in Saint Petersburg), which also contains the records of the Swedish administration between 1701 and 1709.

The Livonian theatre of war is partially covered by a couple of short works by Otto Sjögren, who was involved in arranging the large Schlippenbach collection in Riksarkivet. 

Count Carl von Rosen's Bidrag till kännedom om de händelser om de händelser..., vol II (1936) covers the entire area, but only until 1704. On the other end is Fredrik Arfwidsson's dissertation Försvaret af Östersjöprovinserna 1708-1710 (1936), which he much later supplemented by a few articles in Karolinska Förbundets Årsbok

Worth mentioning is also the Finnish historian Eirik Hornborg's biography of Carl Gustaf Armfeldt (Karolinen Armfelt och kampen om Finland under stora nordiska kriget), which appeared in 1952. 

This handful of works have until today pretty much dominated the field, so whenever modern Swedish historians write about the GNW in the Baltic provinces it's often easy to recognize their sources. Often the interpretations are very similar as well and heavily influenced by v. Rosen. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:30 PM MEST
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Sunday, 2 March 2014
Carl Gustaf Skytte
Topic: Livonia

On a couple of occasions I have touched upon the fate of the Peipus squadron, lost at the beginning of May 1704. One of the more prominent figures in this story was Colonel Carl Gustaf Skytte (1647-1717), Commander of the garrison in Dorpat. Skytte was very experienced soldier, having served since the 1660's, but he appears to have been a rather difficult man who frequently got into conflicts. One man who didn't see eye to eye with Skytte was Andreas Löschern von Hertzfelt (1663-1734), who appears to have been a man with a hot temper. On 4 April 1704, a month before the loss of Peipus squadron, Skytte informed Major General Schlippenbach about an incident in the Swedish church in Dorpat. According to Skytte, cavalry captain Löschern and his brother (who commanded the ships) had tried to sit in the pew where the regimental officers of the garrison used to sit. This had caused disorder and Skytte had felt it necessary to issue regulations which Andreas Löschern did not like. One night, Skytte reports, Löschern arrived at his house (visibly drunk) and entered without removing his hat. Löschern then proceeded to accuse Skytte of trying to stop him from going to church. Skytte replied that he only wanted to restore order. Seeing that Löschern was both drunk and extremely agitated Skytte suggested that it was better for him to wait until he was sober. This upset the captain even more, who replied: "No honest man calls me drunk!" Skytte then went to to the door and told the soldier outside to fetch an officer of the guard. In the mean time Löschern had drawn his sword and lunged at Skytte, who twice managed to escape being struck. The commotion alerted Skytte's wife, who came running. Upon entering she was hit by Löschern's arm as he turned around and fell to the floor. Löschern then put his sword back and hastily left the house, trying to escape on his horse. He was however rapidly arrested. 


 Source: Riksarkivet, M 1439.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:01 PM CET
Updated: Wednesday, 18 June 2014 10:09 AM MEST
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Sunday, 23 February 2014
The Fellin Regiment
Topic: Archives
In LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2 is included a few volumes with rather cryptical titles. One example is no 240, which in German is called "Journal der ausgehenden Schreiben des Fellinschen Regiments 1704" (Journal of outgoing letters for the Fellin Regiment". If one looks at the actual volume something entirely different appears - Letter book of the Nyland Infantry Regiment 1704 to February 1710. In it one finds for example details about the batallion which was included in Lewenhaupt's army and left Riga in the summer of 1708 and the size of the supplies they would bring: Dry bread for one month, meal (flour) for two months, salt for four months and tobacco for one month. Later appear details about the men who returned from the Lesnaya battle - in early December 1708 6 corporals and 29 soldiers had arrived without muskets and swords

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:42 PM CET
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Sunday, 16 February 2014
Diplomatic reports
Topic: Diplomacy
When going through the Bienemann catalogue (1908) one of the surprising discoveries is the scarcity of correspondence from Swedish diplomats in Poland during the years leading up to the GNW. From the preserved letter books it's obvious that Dahlbergh did correspond with both Cuypercrona in Danzig and Wachschlager in Warsaw, but almost no letter older than 1700 seem to remain in the archive of the Governor General (LVVA, fond 7349 & EAA 278). During a recent visit to Riksarkivet I discovered the reason for this - they were removed by the historian Carl Schirren long before Bienemann and others started to catalogue the archive. Carl Schirrens huge collection of copies and excerpts (194 volumes) were transferred to Sweden in the early 1920's and a couple of years earlier a smaller portion of originals (15 volumes) had preceded it. Volume 4 contains the missing diplomatic reports and volume 13 various maps and plans, for example one which shows the siege of Kokenhusen in 1700 and another which shows the Saxon positions along the Daugava. The volume also contains two lists of travellers passing the border post Neuhausen going from or to Russia (1698 and January-June 1699). The latter was used by Fred Otten for his work Der Reisebericht eines anonymen Russen...(1985).

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:10 PM CET
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Sunday, 9 February 2014
The Malmberg papers
Topic: Archives

Captain Ernst Malmberg (1867-1960) was a prominent member of the cultural "elite" in the early 20th century. It would seem that there was no Swedish writer or painter of any significance who did not regularly visit the Malmberg home. Ernst Malmberg was also a collector of manuscripts. Somewhere around 1940 he apparently fell on hard times and a significant amount of his collection ended up with a scrap dealer in Uppsala, where it was acquired by the university library. It turned out to be material from Riga, documents from the Swedish administration of Livonia.

Where and how had Malmberg obtained these records? Well, subsequent events would suggest that he claimed to have bought them in Berlin. It's an odd collection - many small receipts or notes of no significant content besides a signature, which suggests that the person who had removed them from Riga was more interested in autographs than in the content. However, there are exceptions such as a letter by Field Marshal Johan Banér about the battle of Wittstock in 1636 or financial records from the period of the Polish-Swedish-Russian War of the late 1650's. Many of the letters are from the period of the Great Northern War and they appear to have been unknown to the Swedish military historian Hugo Uddgren, who first came to Riga in 1909 as well as to the Estonian historian Henrik Sepp, who in 1930 published a book about the siege of Narva in 1700. 

Another collector worth mentioning in this context was the historian Carl Schirren (1826-1910), who not only had built a large collection of copies from various European archives but also possessed a significant amount of original documents. Apparently he had in the 1860's and 1870's been allowed to remove items from the archive of the Swedish Governor General of Livonia, records which after his death eventually ended up in the Swedish National Archives. Given Schirren's standing as en expert on the Great Northern War his collection of originals is undoubtedly more well-known than Malmberg's, but the latter could very well be just as important. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:30 PM CET
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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Mysterious disappearances
Topic: Archives

On 7 August 1921 the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet published an article by the Finnish historian A. R. Cederberg (1885-1948) about the arrival in Tartu of the old "Swedish archive", which during World War I had been evacuated from Riga to Ryazan. In the article Cederberg, who was heavily involved in the organization of the Estonian archival system, focuses on some of the most important correspondents from the time of the Great Northern War (Henning Rudolf Horn in Narva, Carl Gustaf Skytte in Dorpat and Wolmar Anton Schlippenbach). Cederberg notes that there unfortunately are "almost no" letters from Horn during 1700, a statement which would appear to be correct even today if he by "almost no" meant "one letter". Unfortunately Cederberg gives not figure for the total amount of Horn letters in volume XX:7, which according to Bienemanns catalogue in 1908 contained 220.

Some weeks earlier (17 July 1921) Cederberg had written a similar article about documents from the first half of the 17th century. In this he noted that the volume (XVIII:9) which according to the Bienemann catalogue should contain 15 letters from Field Marshal Torstenson turned out to be notably thinner.

One of the first Swedish historians to use the old "Swedish archive" after Bienemann's catalogue was Hugo Uddgren, who came to Riga in 1909. In the first volume of his biography of Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt Uddgren notes that "despite the brief interval between the cataloguing and my arrival some particularly valuable documents had disappeared". Unfortunately Uddgren gives only one example - the Swedish copy book for January-May 1705. He then goes on to suggest that the second volume for 1705 is kept in Krigsarkivet (Stockholm). This is clearly wrong, as the Krigsarkivet volume originates from Lewenhaupt's field chancellery, and nothing in Biemenann's catalogue suggests that the copy book for 1705 was divided in two parts. Be as it may, the missing volume is present today - but "hidden" in the series of German copy books (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 56). 

However, Uddgren's conclusion may not be entirely wrong. As Cederberg noted some documents does appear to have been lost between 1908 and 1921. How and when did this happen? Well, part of the explanation would seem to be that the Gesellschaft für Geschichte und Altertumskunde in Riga had wanted the Russian authorities to hand over the "Swedish archive" to them and was rebuffed, but still managed to acquire some volumes (some of those that are in fond 7349 today are not included in the Bienemann catalogue, but bears the bookplate of the Gesellschaft - which proves that they had managed to take over some even before 1900). But this is not the whole explanation...


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:48 PM CET
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Sunday, 26 January 2014
Old Believers
Topic: Religion

It's often stated that the first Old Believers (Starovery) started arriving in Estonia towards the end of the 17th century (see for example here). I am not sufficiently familiar with the subject to know if anabody has managed to pinpoint the exact time and place for the first wave of these immigrants, but I recently found a letter which suggests that it may have happened in late 1691 or early 1692. On 15 February 1692 Emanuel Eichler wrote from Dorpat to Governor Soop in Riga, reporting that Russians belonging to "a particular sect" had settled by the river Embach near Suspel and Tarwast as well as "on this side of Narva". Eichler writes that these Russians kept very much to themselves and baptized their own children. They would not touch food prepared by others and if they had to buy grain from local peasants they would wash and dry it once more. Some locals had already joined their congregations and Eichler feared that more would follow. How did Soop think that the matter should be handled?

I have not yet come across Soop's answer, but hopefully a copy is preserved in op. 1, vol. 46 (German letter book for 1692)


Source: LVVA, Fond 7349, op. 3, vol. 55, pp. 14-15 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:01 PM CET
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Sunday, 19 January 2014
Otto Arnold von Paykul and Johann Reinhold Patkul
Topic: Livonia

In the standard Swedish biographical dictionary (Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon) it is suggested that the Livonian nobleman Otto Arnold von Paykul (1662-1707), who was executed for serving in the enemy's forces during the GNW, may have been the son of Johann Friedrich von Paykull and Elisabeth Lode. This information is taken from Genealogisches Handbuch der baltischen Ritterschaften. Teil Estland, 1, pp 717-720. However, it appears to be incorrect, as letters from 1692 which concern him and the Koskullshof estate (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 217) indicate that he had inherited it from cavalry captain George Paykul (died 1688) and that his stepmother had lived there since his father's death. This corresponds well with records from the same year in Estonian Historical Archive: Otto Arend Paykell contra seine Stiefmutter geb. Anna von Wolfframsdorf in puncto Vermögens-Auseinandersetzung (EAA.915.1.249). 

The LVVA fond 7349 is also enormously rich in material about Johann Reinhold Patkul (1660-1707). This is particulary true of opis 2, volumes  191-204, where one finds a lot of material both about Patkul's military service and his political activities in the first half of the 1690's. One example is a letter from Governor General Hastfehr to Governor Soop, dated 14 March 1693. Hastfehr writes that captain Patkul has complained to him about being sent to Kokenhusen. Patkul has indicated that this would cause him so much trouble that he would feel forced to ask for a discharge. But as Charles XI now had decided to remove Patkul not only from Hastfehr's regiment but also from Livonia and place him in Finland (as captain in the Åbo infantry regiment). So, Hastfehr writes, this had taken the matter entirely out of his own hands. If Patkul still wanted to resign he should request his discharge through the proper channels (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 217, pp. 62-63)





Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:26 PM CET
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Sunday, 5 January 2014
To know best
Topic: Interpretations

The number of Swedish historical magazines directed at the general public is quite remarkable. While most of them tend to focus heavily on World War II they occasionaly contain articles on the GNW. Populär historia, which started in 1991, probably does this more than the others. The latest example came in issue 2013:12, where Åsa Karlsson, Gunnar Åselius and Marie Lennersand got about 15 pages for articles about Charles XII and the GNW. Åselius article promptly provoked a reply from Sverker Oredsson, who belongs to the so called "Old school" in the tradition of Anders Fryxell, F. F. Carlson and Ernst Carlson. 

Oredsson's objections (published in issue 2014:1) are primarily the following:

1. Charles XII could have made peace after his victories against the Russians and the Saxons (presumably in late summer 1701), which was what the leading powers in Europe and his own advisors wanted.

2. By waging war against Poland Charles weakened the country and laid the foundation for future partitions of Poland. 

3. Charles should not have attempted a march towards Moscow. It would have been better to focus on recapturing "those Baltic provinces which had been lost during his time in Poland".

4. This resulted in the Czar eventually acquiring more land than he had wanted as the original intention was just to reach the Baltic sea.

5. Charles attacks on Norway in 1716 and 1718 were "unnecessary and unprovoked".  


Let's start with no 1. Well, assuming that it would indeed have been possible - on what terms? Both the Saxons and the Russians had launched surprise attacks, which eventually were beaten back in quite spectacular fashion. Should Charles have offered the Czar Narva and Augustus Riga or was it (in view of the victories at Narva and the Daugava) more reasonable to demand land or some sort of reparations? 

Number 2: Well, even if that was true Charles can hardly be blamed for putting what he believed was the in the Swedish interest first. In fact, the whole point with his policy towards Poland was to create an "eternal" Swedish-Polish alliance against Russia. There was no disagreement among his advisors on that point, but many of them seemingly believed that it could be achieved without dethroning Augustus.

3. The only Baltic province which had been lost was Ingria and Lybecker's campaign in 1708 showed how difficult it was to supply an army there. The King's main army was 3-4 times as large as Lybecker's, so such an undertaking would most likely have been totally impossible.  To bring 35-40,000 men into Livonia would have resulted in similar difficulties. Indeed, a march into Lithuania made every possible sense both politically and strategically and may indeed have been the only feasible alternative. 

4. Yes, Ingria was all the Czar originally wanted, but Augustus was to have Livonia.

5. A most peculiar criticism as the Danes (and Norwegians) had entered the war in 1709. As the Norwegians had launched an invasion of Bohuslän in 1711, surely Charles XII's invasions in 1716 and 1718 were not "unprovoked"? Whether they were "necessary" is an other matter, considering the situation it could hardly be worthless to capture some part of Norway for use as a bargaining chip. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:34 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 5 January 2014 9:04 PM CET
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Monday, 4 November 2013
Krigskollegii brevböcker
Topic: Archives

The series Krigskollegii brevböcker is one the more interesting GNW collections available online (for a fee) through Riksarkivet. These very large volumes contain incoming letters to Krigskollegium (College of War). This administrative body did not have the authority it once had, particularly after the creation of the so called Defensionskommissionen, a committee consisting of several members of the Council of the Realm. Krigskollegium came to handle mostly issues of equipment, production of war materiel and fortifications. It also dealt with military trophies, which can be seen from such items as 1701:2345 ff., various lists of material taken from the Russian camp after the battle of Narva. Among the items one notes 3,569 muskets, 4 barrels of tar and two iron cauldrons. In 1701 there is also a letter from Medicinska Societeten (1701:429), which complains about the situation in regard to barber-surgeons. It's difficult to find qualified men as the pay is too low in view of the fact that the requirements in Sweden are higher than anywhere else in Europe. On 11 July Johan Sjöblad reports (1701:2179) about the succesful crossing of the Daugava etc.



Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:54 PM CET
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