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Sunday, 9 October 2016
Guns and ammunition from Courland
Topic: Archives

When the Swedish army took control of Courland in 1701 they came upon considerable amounts of guns and ammunition. On 26 September Governor General Dahlbergh wrote to Major General Carl Gustaf Mörner in Mitau, asking him about the size and quality of the captured items. Mörner was blunt in his reply. Very little was of any use. The hand grenades were so brittle that they broke into pieces if dropped to the floor. The cannonballs and musket balls were of the wrong caliber and not worth wasting any time on.

During the attempts to strengthen the Peipus squadron the following year a new attempt was made. Would it possible to obtain guns from the iron works at Angern? The result was not much better. On 22 March Nils Klintenhielm wrote from Mitau that the boring house had burnt down five years earlier, so no guns could be produced there and none were available at Mitau. The only items available at Angern were horseshoes and nails - of little use to a navy.

Sources:

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 73

Riksarkivet, Gustaf Adolf Strömfelts arkiv, vol. 16 

Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, Dorpat-Rigasamlingen, vol. 1 (these papers later rearranged and renamed "Livonica".)


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:55 PM MEST
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Sunday, 2 October 2016
Hedvig Sofia
Topic: Archives

Charles XII was extremely fond of his two sisters Hedvig Sofia and Ulrika Eleonora. It is well known that the news of Hedvig Sofia's death, which had arrived just before Poltava, was kept from him for quite some time because his entourage feared that such a blow could cause grave damage to his health. Charles XII and his eldest sister were very close, which her letters to him clearly show. Upon hearing the news from Narva she wrote to him on 7 December 1700. The first report had reached Stockholm on the 4th and futher confirmation had arrived the next day. The joy was indescribable, the Duchess wrote. God would undoubtedly continue to help and bring the Polish business to a quick resolution.

On the 28th the Duchess wrote again, thanking the King for a greeting sent by Arvid Horn and for the account of the battle by Carl Gustaf Wrangel. It was obvious, she wrote, that a very thorough fact checker had been at work. This was particularly pleasing as it proved that the King had not forgotten his devoted sister. May the Lord continue to protect His Majesty and help him carry out all his plans. I only wish, the Duchess wrote, that I will one day have an opportunity to meet Your Majesty again.

In her next letter, dated 29 January 1701, Hedvig Sofia jokingly informed Charles that some of the women at court had become soldiers and had enrolled her. They had their own uniforms and was now preparing to sail to Livonia. They would surely frighten the Russians more than the Russians would frighten them. The life at court was merry, but the King was missed. When he returned it would surely become even merrier.

On 4 February Hedvig Sofia gently reprimanded her brother. She was pleased with the greetings sent through Arvid Horn, but wished the King would write himself. She did not particularly like the stories about his disregard for his health. On him rested all hopes and he should take better care of himself. 

Source: Riksarkivet, Skrivelser till Konungen. Karl XII, vol. 38 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:05 PM MEST
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Sunday, 6 March 2016
Very stubborn
Topic: Archives

At present I am preparing an article on the clergyman and poet Samuel Älf (1727-1799), today perhaps best known for the large collection of Swedish poetry in Latin which he gifted to the Diocesan Library in Linköping. Without his lifelong efforts many of these works would likely have been lost. Älf naturally kept an extensive correspondence with scholars and public officials, of which at least a considerable number of incoming letters have been preserved in Linköping and in Uppsala. One example:

In late May 1790 Magdalena Stenbock (1744-1822), married to a member of the Cederhielm family, wrote to Älf about some books he had lent her. One of these "The Prince of Württemberg" (likely an edition of Bardili's work, first published in 1730) she had leafed through and found "the same things as in the histories of Charles XII: bravery, good intentions, a good heart, but no order, much stubbornness and vanity, which often results in misfortunes. Which we and he himself had to pay dearly for. If he had in time made peace with Poland and just disciplined our proud neighbour on the other side she would right now be less overbearing and we a formidable power. But -  what did not happen then will hopefully happen now. However, it would have been better to nip it in the bud and he had such an opportunity."

Magdalena Stenbock was of course referring to Russia and Gustav III's attempts to "discipline the proud neighbour" during the war of 1788-1790. 

Source: Linköping Diocesan Library, Br 37


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:49 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 6 March 2016 10:33 PM CET
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Sunday, 28 February 2016
A Royal doodler
Topic: Archives

There are few instances when you get as close Charles XII as when you hold in your hand a letter which contains his notes. A particular group of such documents which contains his own "illustrations":

A doodle made by Charles XII usually (in my experience) contains weapons (axes, halberds and such) and field-works. This example would seem to be slightly more civilian in character (a lot of Latin numbers) and an even today often used vulgar term for urine ("piss"). The Royal unhappiness may have had something to do with the content of letter - the letter from Col. Schlippenbach and the attachment from Lt. Col. Romanowitz vividly explains the poor state of the soldiers due to the cold and the various hardships suffered.

Source: Riksarkivet, Stockholm, Skrivelser till Konungen. Karl XII:s tid, vol. 23 

 

 


 

 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM CET
Updated: Saturday, 27 February 2016 8:51 PM CET
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Sunday, 7 February 2016
The archive of the Estonian Governor General
Topic: Archives

When the last Swedish possessions in Estonia and Livonia were being threatened by the Russians in 1709-1710 some of the archives were evacuated. One of them was the archive of the Estonian Governor General. It stayed in Sweden for more than a decade. In 1726 or 1727 it came back to Estonia due to the regulations in the Treaty of Nystad. However, some parts were never handed over to the Russians. This means that some incoming letters to Governor General de la Gardie are in Riksarkivet (Livonica II, vol. 270-300) and others in Tartu (as far as the GNW is concerned vol. 1.2.284-291).

When one looks at the individual volumes in Tartu they are quite different. Vol. 284 (first half of 1700) consists of nearly 300 pages, while 291 (1704) is less than 100 pages (all heavily damaged by water). One of the few partly legible items in the latter volume is a letter from Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt to de la Gardie, dated Mitau 24 September. Lewenhaupt writes of the remarkable successes of the troops under his command and the victory at Jacobstadt. With no more that 3,080 men he had soundly beaten the enemy which lost 5,000 men in dead and wounded (just after the battle Lewenhaupt claimed that 2,000 enemy soldiers had been killed). 

In Livonica II there are a few more letters from Lewenhaupt to de la Gardie: 23 May, 6 June, 11 July and 14 September 1703 (all from Mitau). While it's very likely that Lewenhaupt did not write to de la Gardie as often as he did to Frölich in Riga one can safely assume that this means that many letters have been lost.


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:51 PM CET
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Sunday, 31 January 2016
Fond 7349, op. 2 and 3
Topic: Archives
After several years of more or less intense work I am finally in the process of finishing those parts of the "Swedish archive" which have been added post-1908. Generally speaking they consist of a mixture of items, i.e. parts of various collections (most notably Carl Schirren's and manuscripts which once belonged to the Gesellschaft für Geschichte und Altertumskunde in Riga). So while Schirren, the Gesellschaft and others in the 19th century took advantage of the lack of interest in the archive of the Swedish Livonian Governor General by removing interesting volumes and documents subsequent generations have been doing the opposite. However, an old catalogue made in the 1810's (op. 3, vol. 86) suggest that some volumes have either been lost altogether or are yet to be returned. Whether this practice of "reconstruction" is advisable is another matter - it makes it rather difficult to check footnotes in older litterature.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:38 PM CET
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Sunday, 22 November 2015
Lewenhaupt and Charles XII
Topic: Archives

Among the documents in the archive of the Livonian Governor General there is a fragment of Lewenhaupt's letter book for the autumn of 1707. Among the copies of letters is a fairly long one to the King, which (as far I know) isn't preserved elsewhere. It's dated Mitau 13 September 1707 and starts by describing the military situation in Courland and Lithuania. Prince Wisniowiecki is positioned near Birsen and the enemy has advanced as if the intention was to the Prince's forces. Lewenhaupt had sent some cavalry in support, which the enemy (according to Lewenhaupt) believed were the first units from the approaching Royal army (which of course was far away in Poland). The enemy had as a result of this hastily retreated. Bauer was advancing from Kaunas with orders to fall back if the King's army approached. Repnin and a considerable force of infantry remained at Vilnius. His plan was to attack Courland if the Swedish main army stopped in Silesia. Lewenhaupt intended to stay close to Riga until the main army approached. The supply problems were considerable, so if he could not get assistance from Stockholm the King himself would have to intervene. Lewenhaupt also informed Charles that the was working on clearing up the remaining differences between Wisniowiecki and Sapieha. Both had visited Lewenhaupt both on the 11th and the 12th. Good progress had been made, but the most difficult item remained - the transfer of Wisniiwcki's forces to the Hetman. Wisniowiecki claimed (and Lewenhaupt agreed) that most of his units would desert if this was forced upon them. Lewenhaupt emphasized that he had always found Wisniowiecki to be an honest and truthful supporter of King Stanislaw.

This letter preceeds the discussion Lewenhaupt in his memoirs claims he had with the King during his visit to the latters headquarters in the spring of 1708, during which Charles supposedly got upset when Lewenhaupt suggested that Wisniowiecki had shown himself to be much more reliable and useful than Hetman Sapieha ever had been (a pretty bold statement as Lewenhaupt well knew the King's strong and long support for the Sapieha family).

Source: LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 331 

 

 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:52 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 22 November 2015 10:53 PM CET
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Sunday, 16 August 2015
Order of precedence
Topic: Archives
On 26 January 1647 an order of precedence for the towns of Sweden and Finland was published. A handwritten copy of it is preserved in the archive of the Livonian Governor, so despite the fact that it is outside of the GNW period it could perhaps merit some attention. The beginning of list looks like this:
 
1. Stockholm
2. Uppsala
3. Norrköping
4. Göteborg
5. Kalmar
6. Åbo
7. Vyborg
8. Nyköping
9. Västervik
10. Gävle
11. Visby
12. Falun
13. Västerås
14. Arboga
15. Örebro
16. Jönköping
17. Köping
18. Helsingfors
19. Hudiksvall
20. Vasa
21. Lidköping
22. Mariestad
23. Karlstad
24. Linköping
25. Strängnäs
 
The list contains 72 towns. It should be remembered that this was before the conquest of the southern provinces in 1658 (Malmö, Kristianstad etc.) and the subsequent establishment of Karlshamn and in particular Karlskrona in Blekinge. The highest ranked towns were generally those who had been given the right to trade with foreign countries (so called stapelstäder). The regulation stated that if new such towns were acquired or established they would be placed after Falun, while others would be placed after no 72 and ranked according to their age.

Source: LVVA, fond 7349, op. 3, vol. 3


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:16 PM MEST
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Order of precedence
Topic: Archives
On 26 January 1647 an order of precedence for the towns of Sweden and Finland was published. A handwritten copy of it is preserved in the archive of the Livonian Governor, so despite the fact that it is outside of the GNW period it could perhaps merit some attention. The beginning of list looks like this:
 
1. Stockholm
2. Uppsala
3. Norrköping
4. Göteborg
5. Kalmar
6. Åbo
7. Vyborg
8. Nyköping
9. Västervik
10. Gävle
11. Visby
12. Falun
13. Västerås
14. Arboga
15. Örebro
16. Jönköping
17. Köping
18. Helsingfors
19. Hudiksvall
20. Vasa
21. Lidköping
22. Mariestad
23. Karlstad
24. Linköping
25. Strängnäs
 
The list contains 72 towns. It should be remembered that this was before the conquest of the southern provinces in 1658 (Malmö, Kristianstad etc.) and the subsequent establishment of Karlshamn and in particular Karlskrona in Blekinge. The highest ranked towns were generally those who had been given the right to trade with foreign countries (so called stapelstäder). The regulation stated that if new such towns were acquired or established they would be placed after Falun, while others would be placed after no 72 and ranked according to their age.

Source: LVVA, fond 7349, op. 3, vol. 3


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:14 PM MEST
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Sunday, 5 July 2015
Ernst Malmberg in Riga
Topic: Archives

I have on a number of occasions mentioned Ernst Malmberg (1867-1960), who as early as in the 1910's started auctioning off documents belonging to the archive of the Livonian Governor General. When I visited Uppsala University Library some weeks ago I had the opportunity to looke at volume Y 92, an autograph book which belonged to him. Although it was far from chronological it was possible to get a fairly good idea of how much time he spent in Riga. In April 1909 Malmberg was in Grisslehamn, in August he met with with the author Karl-Erik Forsslund (likely in Sweden), but in late September Malmberg had reached Riga and in September 1910 he was in Helsinki. It would consequently appear that Malmberg spent close to a year in Riga, which certainly would help explain how he could get hold of such a large number of documents. 

Y 92 contains the signatures of many celebrities, for example Theodore Roosevelt (whom Malmberg apparently encountered in Chicago in 1911) and the opera singer Christina Nilsson. 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:04 PM MEST
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