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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 27 July 2014
More indexes (again)
Topic: Archives
I have now finished LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 292 and ended up at roughly 200 documents. Next in line is vol. 293, which basically contains a lot of loose material from 1700 (a a few older ones). Most of them are of Livonian origin, but there are a few others. One is from the Duke of Holstein and dated Stockholm 12 March 1700. Duke Frederick informs Dahlbergh that the King has decided to send a few good officers to Riga, among them Col. Axel von Wangersheim. A month later Wangersheim writes from Pernau, informing Dahlbergh of his intention to try and get through to Riga despite the presence of Saxon patrols. This voulme also contains a few letters from Henrik Haij, the garrison commander at Kokenhusen.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:51 PM MEST
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Sunday, 20 July 2014
Even more indexes
Topic: Archives

I am now working on the big LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 292. It seems to contain about 200 letters and documents, mostly of Livonian origin. Exceptions are a couple of Russian letters (one translated into German), a letter from Admiral Ankarstierna dated 1 June 1705 and a couple of letters from County Governor Stromberg in Gävle. The volume also contains the minutes of various interrogations held with Russian prisoners and a short account by an officer who served in Narva during the siege of 1704. 

Contrary to what I suggested in my previous entry it would appear that vol. 291, 292 and EAA.278.1.XX-18 do not cover the old Bienemann volume XX-18 and its 822 items. It would seem possible that they may contain as much as 500 items, but certainly not 822. So where is the rest? I have an idea, but I'll have to return to that particular subject in another entry.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 11:31 PM MEST
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Sunday, 13 July 2014
More indexes
Topic: Archives

The work on a comprehensive index (or database) of the incoming letters to the Livonian Governor General during the GNW continues. After finishing LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1 vol. 275 (in the Bienemann catalogue XX-6) I have moved on to volumes 291 and 292. They present a new set of problems. In Bienemann's catalogue there is under no XX-18 "Schreiben verschiedener Offiziere und anderer Personen betr. den Krieg in Livland. 4 vol. 822 St." (Letters concerning the war in Livonia from various officers and other persons. 4 volumes. 822 items). So what has happened to these four volumes? Well, vol. 291 is still labeled XX-18:1. Vol. 292 seems to have lost the original box, but chronologically is takes over where vol. 291 ends. So is it 18:2? Well, things would appear to be more complicated than that as apart from these two Riga volumes there is also one in Tartu - EAA.278.1.XX-18. It looks like the original box is lost here as well and oddly enough this "third volume" covers the entire period 1700-1709. The fourth volume does not seem to exist anymore, but it seems entirely possible that this is a result of changes in how the three remaining are organized and not necessarily a result of losses.

As for the content in volume 291: It covers the period late December 1700 to December 1702. It's heavy on reports from Marienburg (Alūksne), probably about 45 letters out of 165. To some of them are attached spy reports from someone occasionally called "the famous Jurrenski", who seems to have gone to Polish Livonia quite often in order to pick up information from Russia. The volume also contain a few items of relevance to the Swedish attempts on Russian border posts during the winter of 1700-1701, such as letters from Jacob Spens who commanded the expedition to Pechory. Some other famous names are also represented - Carl Gustaf Rehnskiöld, Johan August Meyerfeldt and the clergyman Adrain Vergin. The volumes in addition contains copies of a few letters from Major General Horn in Narva, written to the secretary Johan Haal in Dorpat. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:06 PM MEST
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Sunday, 6 July 2014
The Daniel Cameen papers
Topic: Archives

In the Bienemann catalogue of the archive of the Livonian Governor General there is a curious item: "XIX:1 1644-1686 Papiere des Stockholmschen Bürgermeisters Daniel Caméen. 1 vol. 141 Stücke".

This volume still exists, but now only consists of 99 leaves. How can 141 items have turned into just 99 leaves? The answer is quite astonishing. During the Soviet era quite a few volumes were "restored", in this particular case apparently by adding items with absolutely no connection to Cameen. According to the modern finding aid the first 28 leaves may possibly have something to do with Cameen and the last three clearly has it, but everything in-between is dated 1637-38 and apparently just common letters to the Governor General. So what has happened to the "141 items"? Well, a good guess seems to be that they were taken by Ernst Malmberg in 1909-1910, because in his collection in Uppsala University Library there are two fairly thick bundles of Caméen papers. 

This habit of "restoring" volumes by adding loose material with no obvious connection to the existing items seems to have been quite popular. I don't know if the idea was to make them look right from the outside (correct size) in the hope that no one who could actually read the content would turn up, but it seems possible. Otherwise the Soviet era archivist could just have created entirely new volumes and called them "miscellaneous".  

In regard to my indexes (see previous post) I have finished LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol 272 (the old Bienemann XX-3) and moved on to vol. 275 (the old XX-6). This is also a curious case. According to Bienemann's catalogue it contains letters from the Swedish naval officers Henck, Fontin, Boy, Lindskiöld, Palmgreen, Preen, Rahl, Siöstierna "and others". Some of these names have been seriously distorted. "Fontin" is "Pontin" and "Rahl" is "Raab". Others weren't naval officers (Boy, Lindskiöld), so the reasoning behind the creation of this volume seems to have been that everybody who writes a letter while on a ship must be a naval officer. Some mistakes are understandable given the few tools at their disposal, but Bienemann & co should have reacted when they saw the name "Lindskiöld" as the first bearer of the name was a prominent advisor to Charles XI.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:19 PM MEST
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Sunday, 29 June 2014
More about indexes
Topic: Archives

Since my previous post about a project to make an index (or database) of the letters in the archive of the Livonian Governor General I have finished EAA 278.1.XX-31 (The war in Courland 1701-1708) and started on LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 272 (the old XX-3) . According to the modern heading it's supposed to contain letters from the officers of the regiment "Livländska Adelsfanan", but this is a distortion of Bienemann's "Schreiben des Ob. der livländischen Adelsfahne O. Brakel, des Oberstl. H. J. von Brandt, des Ob. Joachim v. Cronmann, Christer Horn's, des Oberstl. Hans Hinrich von Liewen, des Ob. Andr. v. Zöge.". Of these officers only Brakel belonged to "Livländska Adelsfanan. Brandt commanded dragoons and Cronman a Finnish infantry regiment, while Horn belonged to Governor General Dahlbergh's regiment. Liewen and Zöge commanded battalions of infantry and the latter was also deputy garrison commander at Dorpat.

XX-31 is perhaps most interesting for the letters from 1708 (about 100 of 260) and the light they shed on the situation in Lewenhaupt's corps in the weeks leading up to the arrival of the King's order to gather supplies for three months. This was a period which Hugo Uddgren didn't really analyze in the second volume of his Lewenhaupt biography (he used just about 10 pages for describing the events during the first six months, while he spent 50 on the last days of June 1709) and I don't think any Swedish historian has even looked at the volume since. 

As is often the case XX-31 contains a rather haphazard collection of letters and documents. Notable correspondents include Lt. Col. Mathias Gustaf Staël von Holstein (1666-1720), stationed at Bauska (about 35 letters) and Lt. Col. Ernst Carl von Glasenapp (about 30). 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:11 PM MEST
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Sunday, 22 June 2014
Dahlbergh and Frölich
Topic: Livonia

On 7 April 1702 Charles XII finally granted Erik Dahlberg's request for retirement and appointed the Governor of Riga Carl Gustaf Frölich as his successor. However, the new Governor General of Livonia was not given the same powers as his predecessor. Frölich was told that he would rule over Riga and Neumünde, while the rest of Livonia was to be divided between the two "Economy Governors" Michael von Strokirch and Gustaf Adolf Strömfelt. When the historian Sven Grauers in 1966 wrote a biographical essay about Frölich he suggested this was caused by a lack of confidence in Frölich, but why then appoint him in the first place? Why not follow the pattern when Governor General Hastfehr died in 1695, i.e. let the Governor of Riga remain at his post and find a new Governor General?

It seems to me that the more likely explanation is the one given to Strokirch and Strömfelt - that the war made it desirable to speed up the decision making and remove the delay caused by Strömfelt and Strokirch having to put matters before Frölich. Especially Strömfelt, who mostly stayed in Dorpat and was heavily involved with both Schlippenbach's army and the Peipus naval squadron, should have felt relieved by the new arrangement. Colonel Skytte in Dorpat was perhaps less enthusiastic as Strömfelt was one of the many people he did not see eye to eye with.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:44 PM MEST
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Monday, 16 June 2014
Johann Ernst Glück (1654-1705)
Topic: Archives
The clergyman Johann Ernst Glück is known for many things, for example his translation of the Bible into Latvian and his close connection to the later Catherine I. In 1894 Friedrich Bienemann jr published a number of letters from Bienemann to Governor General Dahlbergh during the period 1700-1701, letters which modern researchers have failed to find. I believe there could be a very simple explanation for this - they have looked in the wrong place... However, there exists a few more letters which Bienemann in 1894 had not yet found. They are in EAA.278.1.XX-19 and from early 1702. The first is dated 2 January and contains an account of the Russian devastation of Marienburg (Aluksne) parish: It happened on the second day of Christmas, Glück writes, ... in the afternoon when the peasants were at church. It was so unexpected that their arrival was not diiscovered until they started to burn a quarter of mile from the castle. Glück reports that only a part of the parish was torched, but unfortunately it was an area where many of those who had lost their homes in the summer and autumn of 1701 now lived. Many of the inhabitants had been captured and others killed. The reason for this disaster was the lack of cavalry, Glück writes. The event had resulted in such fear among the peasants that no one wanted to live there anymore. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:06 AM MEST
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Sunday, 8 June 2014
Topic: Archives

I have recently begun a project which will likely take a couple of years to finish. Frustrated by the in many cases rather chaotic arrangement of EAA 278 and LVVA, fond 7349 I have started to work on a index of documents in the archive of the Livonian Governor General. Thus far I have covered EAA. 278.1.XIX-68 (Letters from governors and commandants in Narva 1691-1699), EAA. 278.1.XIX-74 (Letters to Paul von Strokirch 1699-1702), EAA.278.1.XX-18 (Letters concerning the war in Livonia 1700-1709) and EAA.278.1.XX-19 (Letters from Livonian clergymen 1700-1708) - in all about 270 letters. To begin with I am just registering "From", "to", "place", "date", "volume no" and "page no" - it would simply take an eternity to make summaries of the content. 

Just from this small sample it's clear that a lot is missing. In XIX-68 there are for example only a dozen letters from the period 1696-1699. One reason for this is, I believe, the fact that the historian Carl Schirren was very interested in anything which concerned Swedish-Russian relations in the years just before 1700 and got permission to take documents from the archive. Volume XX-18 is in many ways no less mysterious. It contains a very haphazard collection of letters from a limited number of correspondents. Notable is that a few of them are from the period covered in Bienemann's work Die Katastrophe der Stadt Dorpat während des Nordischen Krieges (1902), but not mentioned by him. The same is in fact true of some letters among the Malmberg papers (Uppsala University Library), which perhaps suggest that these volumes had not been yet arranged when Bienemann prepared his book.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:48 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 8 June 2014 10:09 PM MEST
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Sunday, 1 June 2014
Stäket 1719
Topic: Museums

Today a Swedish "battlefield museum" opened near Baggensstäket, the site of a legendary encounter between Swedish and Russian forces in August 1719. For various reasons I happened to get involved in the preparations, mostly by doing research in various archives. The modern scientific interpretation of the event is a product of research conducted by the military historian Arne Stade (1912-1999), who among other things brought down Col. Rutger Fuchs from the pinnacles of fame. In Stade's view Fuchs, the commander of Södermanland's infantry regiment and the classical hero of the battle, was really a fraud. Fuchs had, according to Stade, more or less lied about the result of the battle and also usurped honours which rightly belonged to his second in command Lt. Col. von Essen.

When I started to look into the matter I was fairly certain there wasn't really much more critical information to be found. Stade's reputation as an extremely critical and analytical historian suggested that his interpretation of Fuchs would stand, but I soon became convinced that Stade had been entirely mistaken. In my opinion, after looking at the sources Stade used (and some others) there is nothing suspicious at all in regard to Fuchs. To explain it briefly:

The events leading up to Stäket had given many the impression that the Swedish army was unreliable, i.e. when the Russians landed on the Swedish coast the defenders had several times showed very little stomach for fighting (although it should be said that they were often heaviliy outnumbered). There was great anxiety not only in Stockholm but also far inland  (it was for example feared that the Russians would move their galleys across land near Södertälje and get to Lake Mälaren). So when the Södermanland regiment actually fought and did so quite doggedly the Councillors of the Realm were pleasantly surprised and immediately came upon the idea of rewarding the regiment. The cost would not be great, but it would set an example for other units - fight well and you will get rewarded. Stade's conclusion was that the reward money was only intended for one of the two Södermanland battalions and that Fuchs by trickery got money for both. In my opinion this is quite impossible as the money was intended to encourage those who fought well. Why then reward only half of Södermanland's regiment? Both battalions had suffered casualties - why should only one half get rewards? What sort of signal would that send to other units? Fight well and hope you are in the right battalion? No, Stade's interpretation is quite wrong. 

Fuchs may in his report have exaggerated, but which commander doesn't? The Russians would surely put out their version, so of course the Swedes did the same. The Russian material I have seen actually fits very well with the basic information given by Fuchs. While the Russian force did not plan to capture Stockholm it is natural that their mission appeared to be just that to the horrified citizens of the capital and that Fuchs and his superiors "milked" the subsequent Russian retreat as much as they could. Nothing particularly sinister about that. 

Something should perhaps be said about the other units present and about Baltzar von Dahlheim. Why were they not rewarded in the same way as Fuchs? Well, the truth is most likely that they played a very insignificant role. The other army units served, as far as I can see, on the Swedish galleys and the outposts on shore seem to have been withdrawn as soon as the Russians landed. These army units suffered practically no losses at all, which also suggests that they were well away from the infantry action. Dahlheim? Well, he appears to have been a rather peculiar figure who wasn't too well regarded by his superiors. I tend to think that his role during the actual fight was fairly insignificant as well. 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:03 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 1 June 2014 10:04 PM MEST
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Sunday, 25 May 2014
Narva 1700
Topic: Literature

The Estonian historian Hendrik Sepp (1888-1943) in 1930 published an extensive study of the siege of Narva in 1700 (Narva piiramine ja lahing a. 1700). Sepp was fortunate to have access to the archives of the Livonian Governor General and the Estonian Governor General, which had not been used by Carl Bennedich and his associates when they prepared the Narva chapter in volume 2 of Karl XII på slagfältet (1918).  I have during the last few months obtained copies of most of the Narva related records from the two above-mentioned archives. Although Livonia in 1700 was a vastly more important province than the much smaller Estonia it's the latter archive which is more rewarding in this case. In EAA 1.2.285 (incoming letters July-December 1700) one finds for example:

Carl Gustaf Skytte to A. J. de la Gardie, Dorpat 16 September 1700 (about the unfortunate news which have arrived today from Narva).

Henning Rudolf Horn to C. G. Skytte, Narva 10 September 1700 (attached to the previous letter. Reports the sudden invasion by Russian troops and how they were marching towards Narva).

Skytte to de la Gardie, Dorpat 21 September 1700 (how everything still remains quiet along the border, except for rumours of planned transport of artillery from Pskov to Narva).

A summary of recent reports from Narva, dated Dorpat 20 September 1700 (attached to the previous letter)

Skytte to de la Gardie, Dorpat 25 September 1700 (with a copy of Florian Thilo von Thilau's letter, dated Neuhausen 21 September 1700, which contains a report of news and rumours from Russia)

Colonel Johan Apolloff's undated report about Russian forces having crossed the border.

Skytte to de la Gardie, Dorpat 5 October 1700 (about rumours suggesting that a combined Saxon-Russian force will attack Dorpat)

Apolloff to de la Gardie, dated Nyen 4 September (but has to be October) 1700 (about attempts by Christian Adrian Rosenmüller to get the Ingrian peasants to fight the Russians, the fall of Koporie fortress and rumours that the Czar had told his soldiers to take Narva within three days or be massacred)

Apolloff to de la Gardie, undated (about Rosenmüller's capture during a fight near Koporie and his death a couple of days later).


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:35 PM MEST
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