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Artillery personnel
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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 2 April 2017
Carl Adam Stackelberg
Topic: Archives

The Baltic manorial archives have suffered large losses bevause of wars and revolutions, but some parts remain. One of these is the Stackelberg family archive (EAA.1862), preserved in Tartu. Notable from a GNW perspective are some volumes connected to Carl Adam Stackelberg (1669-1749), who first served in Livonia and later in the German provinces as well as during the Norwegian campaign in 1718. One of the earliest volumes is EAA.1862.1.16, which is labelled Memoriale /Konzepte/ und Schreiben an Könige, Generäle und Andere aus der Zeit des Nordischen Krieges und später and supposedly containing items from 1708-1710. 

The content is however of a different nature The largest document discusses whether it would be a good idea if Frederick of Hesse became King in accordance with the wishes of his wife Queen Ulrika Eleonora. The undated and anonymous memorial was obviously written some time in late 1719, after the Diet of 1719 and before the Diet of 1720 had started. The author is quite enthusiastic about Frederick, but formulates some conditions for his succession to the throne. If for example the Queen died the King should not be permitted to marry without the consent of the estates. The author is also very concerned about the future of the constitution, suggesting that one way to avoid an return of autocracy would be a sort of federal system made up of Sweden, Scania and the Baltic provinces. If two of these in one way or another agreed to the restoration of autocracy the third part could (if I understand the argument correctly) refuse to take part and seek support from foreign powers.

The author also believes it necessary to put Frederick on the throne in order to further pursue the war against the Czar. Without strong leadership it will be impossible to make an impression on the Russian ruler and to start a military operation to recapture Livonia. (This was of course very high on the agenda of the Swedish government after the death of Charles XII, i.e. to make peace with the other enemies, form a large European alliance and then undertake a large joint attack on Russia in order to force the Czar to moderate his terms. The Treaty of Nystad in 1721 was the logical conclusion to this rather far-fetched scheme). 

As far as I can tell none of the documents are in fact from 1708-1710, but rather about a decade younger. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:47 PM MEST
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Sunday, 26 March 2017
Karolinska krigares dagböcker
Topic: Literature

The famous publication Karolinska krigares dagböcker has for some time been available online through Projekt Runeberg. The twelve volumes are now also online at the site Litteraturbanken, where it is also possible to search the volumes for certain names or terms, for example like this.

It should be noted that this function means searching not only the journals and reports themselves, but also the introductions and footnotes by August Quennerstedt. These sometimes contain errors, which also appear in the indexes. One significant example is in volume XII, which contains Stenbock's account of his expedition in the winter of 1702/03. He frequently mentions a certain Potocki, who Quennerstedt (with limited access to Polish works) identifies as Józef Potocki (1675-1751), the later Great Hetman of the Crown. This is however incorrect, Stenbock's counterpart was Michał Potocki (c. 1660-1749), starosta of Krasnystaw and Crown Field Writer. The story of Michał  Potocki is a good example of the absurdity of the old view that Charles XII never forgot what he considered a betrayal. Potocki had made a deal with the Swedes before Stenbock started his expedition, but did not honor it. This did not stop the King from accepting him a couple of years later. Michał Potocki then fought on the Swedish side at Kalisz, where he fled. He subsequently acted rather carefully keeping his options open, but eventually joined Charles XII at Bender. So the supposedly harsh Charles ("the sword does not jest") forgave Potocki not just once, but at least twice (and possible even three times).

Charles was much more of a politician than subsequent historians have given him credit for - partially because they (just as Quennerstedt) did not fully understand what the sources told them. There were a lot of Potockis and Lubomirskis in early 18th century Poland and the sources must be carefully analyzed in order to separate them from each other. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:00 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2017 8:02 PM MEST
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Sunday, 19 March 2017
Harald Igelström
Topic: Judiciary

Some weeks ago I mentioned the curious case of Harald Igelström, who during Christmas 1691 had murdered two people in Dorpat. The case was initially handled by the town court, but as Igelström belonged to a noble family it was subsequently handed over to the appellate court. This court in eventually sentenced Igelström to death, but just before he managed to escape. His escape became a major scandal as he had been assisted by a certain lieutenant Anrep and a student by the name of Witte. The matter went as far as to the King in Stockholm, who in June decided that a special commission would have to investigate. It did not end there as Igelström during his flight had stopped at the estate of Major Otto Wilhelm Klodt - in order to marry Klodt's daughter. They had apparently managed to find a priest for the ceremony and the latter now became the focus of another investigation. The Igelström investigation was apparently not closed until May 1693. 

A letter from the prosecutor Eichler to Governor Soop in Riga, dated Dorpat 29 February 1692, gives the first report about Igelström's escape. He had the preceding day just after noon run out of the jail (without a cap) and jumped up in a waiting sledge, quickly disappearing out of sight. He had apparently been assisted by Anrep and Witte. One of them had stopped the soldiers who wanted to pursue Igelström and the other had been standing by the sledge, hindering a corporal who had attemped to interfere. According to Eichler another group of people had been waiting for Igelström some distance off and these had helped him change from the sledge to a horse. Eichler even claimed that fresh horses had been ready along the way, which of course meant that the escape had been very well planned and had involved a lot of people.


Rahvusarhiiv, Tartu, EAA.278.1.XV-25


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:23 PM MEST
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Sunday, 12 March 2017
More from Tartu
Topic: Archives

The Estonian National Archives in Tartu (formerly Estonian Historical Archives) used to have a fantastic service level (as a mentioned a couple of weeks ago). After the opening of the new building they have somehow managed to improve further on it. Orders which used to take a couple of weeks to fill have recently been ready in just days and the fee seems to be even lower than it used to be. I have dealt with quite a few Swedish and foreign archives during the last 20 years, both by mail and in person, and Tartu stands without equals thus far. 

Ordering scans of entire volumes is obviously a bit hit and miss, but occasionally something interesting turns up. This time I found some of the missing material from 1692 about the Russian Old Believers and their first arrival in eastern Livonia. Documents mentioned by Gustaf Adolf Strömfelt some years later turned up in a volume where I didn't expect them to be. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:20 PM MEST
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Sunday, 5 March 2017
The Gottorp Fury
Topic: Factoids

In the spring of 1698 Duke Frederick IV of Holstein-Gottorp arrived in Stockholm, where he was to marry Princess Hedvig Sophia, the sister of Charles XII. The Duke was almost 11 years older than Charles and (if foreign diplomats are to be believed) made a deep impression him - resulting in a number of adventures. These almost always find their way into biographies of Charles, more often than not markedly overshadowing the rather dull everyday work the King spent most of his time on. 

The alleged incident historians particulary love is said to have taken place in late May/early June, when according to the French envoy D'Avaux the King and his cousin spent 8 days decapitating dogs, sheep and calves in the former's quarters on the second floor in the Wrangel Palace. The young scoundrels threw out the heads through the windows and the furniture went the same way.

The remarkable thing about this is that no one has (as far as I know) been able to find any sort of corroborating evidence, i.e. no records of large purchases of animals, replacement furniture or massive cleaning of the King's rooms. So the story remains very hard to believe. D'Avaux's letter is dated 11 June (New Style), the equivalent of 1 June O.S. 

The previous letter from d'Avaux is dated seven days earlier (25 May O.S.), so if the envoy's story is correct the killings must have started the same day and continued until 1 June. But the facts don't add up: On the 23rd, 27th, 30th and 31st of May as well as on 1 June the King met with the Council in it's role as Supreme Court - in the very same building where the orgy (according to d'Avaux) continued for eight days without pause...

The story of course makes very little sense. The King is for example known to have been fond of dogs. I can certainly see the point in killing a few animals in a sort of competition, but for eight days? And indoors? "Sorry Frederick, I have a meeting with the Council in the next room, but I'll be back in a few hours. You can keep on killing animals while I am away". Rather absurd, in my opinion. 

Amomg the items made digitally available by the National Archives is a collection called "Kungliga arkiv". One of the volumes (K 33) contain some financial records from the period May-July 1698. The content is a lot less sensational. The King hands out money to a worker in the garden at Karlberg, to three soldiers from Pomerania, to a poor clergyman, to a poor soldier from Holstein and to many others - high and low. One item stands out: 82 thalers for some cattle the King and his cousin had shot at Kungsör. Is this verified "prank" the rather modest origin for the story D'Avaux told?

An ox apparently cost about 9-10 thalers in 1698, so maybe they shot half a dozen cattle and paid well above the market prize as compensation? 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:32 PM CET
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Sunday, 26 February 2017
Niedersächsiche Landesarchiv, Stade
Topic: Archives

A couple a days ago I decided to take a look at the archive of the Swedish Governor General of Bremen-Verden. It's preserved in Stade and parts of the catalogue is available through Arcinsys Niedersachsen.

I was quite unfamiliar with the this archive, but it turned out to be quite substantial as far as GNW correspondence is concerned. Many of the more prominent military and civilian officials from the first part of the war(Rehnskiöld, Liewen, Stenbock, Piper, Cederhielm etc.) are represented and the same is true for several of the most important diplomats (Lillieroth, Palmqvist, Cronström etc.). Notable are also some volumes concerning Governor General Gyllenstierna's march from Pomerania to Krakow in 1702. Other parts of Gyllenstierna's papers are preserved in the Swedish National Archives and in the Royal Library. At least parts of the "Swedish archive" in Stade have been microfilmed and these films are preserved in the Swedish National Archives.

The new archive building in Tartu has now opened, so it's time to restart my "excavations" in the Estonian part of archive of the Livonian Governor General. As I have noted before the level of service is excellent. Find the right volume in AIS and then just a few simple steps for ordering copies. I have by now acquired complete scans of about a hundred volumes and the (electronic) delivery of them usually only take a couple of weeks. The quality is always excellent and if there are any glitches they always fix them almost immediately. The price is very reasonable and unless the volumes are very thick (like the muster rolls for the period 1634-1694) it's entirely manageable. I have also made some forays into the archive of the Estonian Governor General (almost a dozen volumes thus far) and a couple of days ago I decided on a small experiment as far as the town council of Dorpat is concerned. There was in late 1691/early 1692 a most curious case concerning Harald Igelström, an officer and nobleman who killed two people and then managed to escape from jail and across the Düna to Courland. There is among the papers of the Livonian Governor General a lot of correspondence about the murders and Igelström's escape, but the letters do not contain any account of the circumstances. The case is mentioned in a few older works, but these versions appear to be incorrect. According to one of them it happened just before the war broke out in 1700 and that's obviously incorrect. Another preculiar detail is that Igelström was married to a daugther of Major Otto Wilhelm Klodt, who in 1702 was executed in Dorpat for treasonous actions during the Saxon invasion. The Igelström case was initially handled by the town authorities in Dorpat in January 1692.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:45 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2017 7:47 PM CET
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Sunday, 19 February 2017
Topic: Livonia

in mid August 1705 Lieutenant Colonel Liphardt in Neumünde wrote to Governor Frölich in Riga. Frölich had decided, Liphardt wrote, that if a soldier in Liphardt's battalion died the planks for the coffin would be taken from the stores in the fortress. The garrison commander Colonel Albedyhl had however refused to follow this order, saying that every plank was needed for fortification purposes. Liphardt also pointed out another problem: the only priest available for the Latvian soldiers in his unit was the one in Mangelsholm (Magnushof?) and he was busy with his own parish. It was a great pity that the soldiers in his unit coould not hear the word of God in their native language.  

On 15 August 1705 Governor Frölich replied to Colonel Albedyhl and Lieutenant Colonel Liphardt. Due to the need to carefully manage the stores of wood at Neumünde it would not be advisable to build a new coffin for each dead soldier. Instead Albedyhl should build just one plank coffin and reuse it. In time of war it was only important to bury the soldiers deep enough.

As for the priests the Latvian soldiers in Liphardt's unit would have to be satisfied with the ones available at the fortress. Liphardt should use suitable officers as translators. He should tell these officers to thoughtfully and patiently explain to the Latvians what the priests said. 


LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 56

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 310

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:34 PM CET
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Sunday, 5 February 2017
Back again on 19 February.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM CET
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Sunday, 29 January 2017
An account from Jewe
Topic: Devastations

On 20 September 1700 Johan Remmin, mayor of Dorpat, forwarded an account by a certain Jochen who had been sent by the town council to find out what was happening at Narva. Jochen explained that he last Wednesday had arrived at General Vellingk's estate Jewe (Jõhvi), where he had found a lot of peasants. These had destroyed all the windows and kept their horses in the mansion. The bailiff was said to be in Narva, while the priest had fled to Reval. The Russians had not yet appeared at Jewe, but had been seen in the area by associate judge Duncam's bailiff who had been out scouting. He had met about 50 Russians on foot, who were wearing white coats and four-cornered hats. Jochen had upon hearing this report turned back as he expected a larger force to be nearby.

Colonel Aminoff had also been to Jewe, but upon discovering that it was impossible to get through he had returned to Wesenberg. 

The peasants had said that there were two Russian camps, one at Stöppelmanshoff and the other a few kilometers from Narva between Jurowa and Prestane. It was impossible to get through their lines. The enemy took all cattle and grain they could find and brought it to their camp. The countryside was in a sorry state. Almost all Germans had fled and the peasants were behaving worse than the enemy.


EAA 1.2.285

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM CET
Updated: Monday, 10 April 2017 9:47 AM MEST
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Sunday, 22 January 2017
News from the border post Neuhausen
Topic: Livonia

On 9 September 1700 Florian Thilo von Thilau sent a worrying report to governor General Dahlbergh in Riga. The Swedish trade representative Thomas Herbers in Pskov had been arrested and the nobility in the Pskov area was being mobilized. All russian lodias on their way to trade at Narva had been recalled to Pskov on 23 August. Thilo's spies had not yet been able to confirm that they had been reloaded with war materials, but many vessels of various sizes were waiting at Pskov. In regard to the previously persistent rumours about the sending of a Russian corps to support the Saxons there were at present no more news. According to a spy a considerable number of Saxon officers had recently arrived in Pskov and they were thought to be on their way to Moscow. 

Everything remained quiet at Neuhausen and the peasants had been relieved to hear about the peace with Denmark. The arrival of Charles XII with an army was eagerly anticipated. Reports from Marienburg suggested that the Duke of Croy would command the Russian corps which would be sent to support the Saxons. 

Thilo's next report apparently wasn't sent until 29 September. The previous letter hade been sent with a peasant, but recent news of the Saxon withdrawal indicated that the road was now open. The latest reports, Thilo wrote, were saying that the Russians had invaded Ingria and burnt a few churches. The peasants in the Pskov area were very worried about a Swedish counterattack since the only regular force present was the town's garrison.

News from Rappin spoke of Russian vessels having been observed near Ismene. Thilau noted that he had two weeks previously informed General Vellingk about this area being a key passage for any ships going to Narva. 


LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 290

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 221


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 6:39 PM CET
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