The silver legend
One of the most famous Swedish stories from the GNW period is the one about how the clergyman Christian Georg Notmann saved the Communion Set belonging to the Västmanland infantry regiment by hastily burying it near a big oak on the battlefield at Poltava. After more than a decade as prisoner of war he then, the story goes, returned after being released, dug it up and brought back to Sweden. This version of the story goes back at least to the poet Carl Snoilsky (1841-1903) and his Regementets kalk, but has since found its way into more scientific literature. So what did Notmann himself say on the subject?
In 1724 Notmann lived in the parish of Kvillinge just outside Norrköping. The vicar had just died and Notmann sought to succeed him. In a letter to the bishop in Linköping he outlined his achievements, particularly after the disaster of 1709: he became a vicar in the German parish of Yaroslavl and also served parishioners in nearby Kostroma. After his release in 1722 he went via Narva to Norrköping and Kvillinge. So nothing about a visit to Poltava...
However, Notmann does tell a story about a Communion Set. At Toruń in 1703 Charles XII personally gave him a chalice and a paten, saying that Notmann should use them when he received his own parish in the future. Notmann apparently sent them to his mother in Riga for safekeeping and when she fled to Sweden she ended up in Kvillinge, where she gave them to the church. So, Notmann writes, if he was appointed vicar in Kvillinge he would be able to use the chalice and the paten in the way the late King had wished.
This part of the story is confirmed by an inventory from the early 18th century: "On 2 August 1711 Catharina Eleonora Stenhammar of Kvarntorp presented the church of Kvillinge with a gilded chalice and a paten...".
Unfortunately for Notmann the parishioners preferred the late vicar's son and he never got his own parish, dying in Kvillinge in 1739. It mattered very little that King Frederick I in 1723 had recommended Notmann, stating that it would be gratifying if the latter received some sort of promotion after having endured so many difficulties during GNW.
Landsarkivet i Vadstena, Domkapitlet i Linköpings arkiv E IV : 193
Landsarkivet i Vadstena, Kvillinge kyrkoarkiv C I : 2
Posted by bengt_nilsson
at 10:13 PM MEST