Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
« May 2017 »
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Artillery personnel
Great Embassy
Prisoners of war
Source criticism
The Great Northern War
Sunday, 28 May 2017
Royal letters to Schlippenbach
Topic: Archives

In 1885 the Swedish archivist Per Sondén travelled to various archives along the coast of the Baltic sea from Stettin to Saint Petersburg, primarily in order to search for letters from Axel Oxenstierna. Occasionally he looked beyond his immediate task and made notes of other interesting items. Upon arriving in Reval (Tallinn) he went first to the town archive and then to the archive of the Estonian nobility. He found little of relevance for his mission, but as a representative of the Swedish National Archive was offered a volume of letters from Charles XII to Wolmar Anton von Schlippenbach 1701-1705. The same offer was repeated twenty years later, but as it was not clear what the owners wanted in return the volume stayed in Tallinn. 

The volume was later added the archive of the Governor General of Estonia and is now labelled EAA.1.2.153. It's available online through VAU (registration needed). Most of the content can likely be found in Riksregistraturet, but a few of the very first letters are written by the King personally. The first is dated Koiküll 5 January 1701 and deals with Schlippenbach's march to Marienburg (Alūksne). The second is dated the same day and goes into more detail. Schlippenbach should take 200 men from his own dragoons, 100 Finnish cavalry and 100 of Lt. Col. Stackelberg's batallion and go to Marienburg. There he would like find 200 men of Skytte's batallion wirh four guns. This force, the King writes, should not only be sufficient for defensive purposes but also permit an expedition into Russia in order to collect contributions. If Schlippenbach deemed it necessary he should allow those Livonians who lived close to the border to move further west. 

The King assured Schlippenbach that Major General Spens would take a position at Sagnitz (Sangaste) and would be able to support him if necessary.

On 10 January Schlippenbach acknowledged the arrival of these two letters (RA, Skrivelser till Konungen. Karl XII, vol. 23) and gave an extensive account of the situation. 

In an odd twist to the story there is a similar volume in Linköpings Stiftsbibliotek (H 189). This volume consists of copies of Royal letters to Schlippenbach, but is not identical to the EAA 1.2.153. The first letter in this volume is dated 22 January, which chronologically would put it between letters 5 and 6 in the Estonian one. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 28 May 2017 7:46 AM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 21 May 2017
Marshal Sapieha
Topic: Factoids

In 1963 Gustaf Jonasson published a long article called Karl XII:s baltiska militärpolitik under 1701. In it he attempted to determine when the idea to move the main army back from Courland to eastern Livonia in preparation for an attack on Pskov was abandoned. Jonasson also discusses the reasons behind the changed plans and suggests that it had to do with a request for help from Hetman Sapieha. It arrived in early September and resulted in the King sending Colonel Hummerheilm into Samogitia with a small cavalry force. At about the same time there came a letter from Prince Jakub Ludwik Sobieski, who asked the King to help the Sapiehas.

According to Jonasson this letter of recommendation was likely a result of a visit Herman Sapieha had made to the Prince's estate at Ohlau (Oława) in August. Jonasson bases this on Carl von Rosen's Bidrag till kännedom om de händelser.., vol. 1, page 18. The source given by von Rosen is a letter from Georg Wachschlager to Mauritz Vellingk, dated 27 August 1701. This letter can be found in Riksarkivet (Polonica, vol. 117). So what does it say? Apparently Jonasson never checked... 

The letter is in French and the relevant part is like this: "Il m' dit aussy que le Marechal de Lituanie Sapieha etoit arrivé en ces quartiere pour luy parler des affaires de consequence.." (He also told me that Marshal Sapieha had arrived in these quarters for talks with him on important matters). Carl von Rosen apparently did not discover that there are more letters on this subject. On the same day Wachschlager also wrote to Charles XII (Polonica, vol. 110), reporting: "Er vertraute mir auch dass der Littauische Marschalck Sapieha dieses Orts ankommen und mit Ihm wichtige dinge abzureden hätte". And on 3 September to the King: "der Littauische Grossmarchall Sapieha ist noch dieser Orten und gegenwartig bey dem Königlichen Printzen Jacob zur Olau" (The Lithuanian Grand Marshal Sapieha is still in these parts and right now at the Royal Prince Jacob's estate Olau"). 

So Marshal Sapieha... Is this really referring to the Hetman? No, he would have been called "Feldherr" or "Grand General".

Wachschlager instead means "Le grand maréchal de Lithuanie" ("Marzałek wielki litewski"), i.e. the Hetman's son Aleksander Paweł Sapieha (1669-1734). Later letters makes this very evident. On 7 September Wachschlager writes to Charles XII that the Hetman's son the Grand Marshal last Sunday met with the Prince.

A small detail, but it shows that you need to look at the documents and not just take some previous historian's word for granted. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:31 AM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2017 10:30 AM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 14 May 2017
Topic: Livonia

On 23 August 1705, head of the Swedish postal system, signed an instruction for Mattias Bruggeman, master of the post yacht Lotsman.

Bruggeman was ordered to set sail for Riga, but exercise great caution when approaching the coast. If no enemy was present he should proceed to the fortress Dünamünde. If the enemy remained in Courland he should not risk going up to Riga, but only take on board letters to the Royal army or to Prussia or Germany. He should then proceed directly to Königsberg and hand over the letters to the postmaster. After doing this Bruggeman should take letters to Riga. If they were not ready he should proceed to Pillau and wait for them there. Once everything was ready he should hasten to Riga and then to Memel or Pillau.

Bruggeman should be careful with other ships and not allow more than one to approch his vessel. His crew should always be ready to defend the ship. The Governor in Riga and the commander of the garrison at Dünamünde would assist him in every way.




Posted by bengt_nilsson at 6:57 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 7 May 2017
The High Court of Dorpat in 1700
Topic: Archives

I recently bought Heikki Pihlajamäki's new book Conquest and the Law in Swedish Livonia. On page 135 he speaks of a "mystery" which was quite unknown to me. Apparently there has been some confusion as to what happened with regard to the Court once war broke out in February. Margus Laidre has apparently claimed that it relocated to Reval under armed escort, while Heinz von zur Mühlen stated that it went to Riga. Pihjalamäki mentions that the letters from the High Court clearly shows that it from January 1703 had its seat in Riga. 

The correspondence of the Governor General of Livonia is able to clear up a few things. On 9 March 1700 Charles XII wrote to Colonel Skytte in Dorpat (a letter which is missing in Riksregistraturet), telling him to bring the archive of the Court to safety in Pernau or Reval if the military situation started to appear dangerous. Some time later the Court itself had turned to the King for help and on 10 April he sent a new letter to Skytte (not in Riksregistraturet, but a copy is preserved in LVVA, Fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 288). Charles ordered Skytte to start moving the archive immediately. 

Skytte got this letter about a month later and quickly informed Governor General Dahlbergh. All preparations had been made, he reported, but as the latest news from Riga was encouraging it seemed unnecessary to go through with the transfer. Was it really worth the cost, especially as the Court had changed its mind about relocating?

Dahlbergh tentatively agreed to postpone, but wrote the Court to confirm the change of heart. He noted that the fortunes of war could shift again, but he was quite happy to disregard the King's instructions if the Court did not want to move. 

And so it stayed.


LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 72

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 288 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 5:43 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 7 May 2017 6:55 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 1 May 2017
De la Barre
Topic: Archives

Among the family archives preserved in Tartu one finds some volumes from the de la Barre family. Its most prominemt member during the Great Northern War was Lt. General Reinhold Johan de la Barre (166?-1724), who served under Armfelt in Finland, Sweden and Norway. One prominent letter from this collection was brought to light by Greta Wieselgren in an article in Svio-Estonica 1938. The letter was sent by Charles XII on 16 October 1718 and it contains a unequivocal instruction to de la Barre: he has to make sure that the King's orders are followed to the letter even if no one in the army survives. Parts of the letter echoes the King's sentiment towards the surrender at Perevolochna: those in command should not enter into discussions but rather give clear and distinct orders. They should not rely on reports from regimental commanders but look for themselves. 

Wieselgren apparently never noted that the archive contains much more military material, both from the first years of the GNW and from 1719-1721. One notable item is a letter from the aide-de-camp Major G. W. Marcks von Würtemberg, written in Långå at 5 in the morning on 26 December 1718. The existence of this document has been known for a long time. In his book about Armfelt's campaign in Norway Gustaf Petri mentions that Marcks on the very same day wrote to Armfelt that the reports of the King's death had been confirmed. This letter never reached Armfelt, but the earlier message Marcks mentions that he sent de la Barre has - in Tartu. 



Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:59 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 23 April 2017
The fall of Dünamünde
Topic: Sieges

On 13 March 1700 the fortress Dünamünde surrendered after a Saxon assault during the night between the 11th and 12th had ended in a spectacular failure. According to Kungl. Fortifikationens historia 3:2 Charles XII on 19 April ordered Dahlbergh to investigate the circumstances surrounding Col. Budberg's decision to hand over the fortress. Munthe further states that the King countermanded this order on 26 November. 

Munthe's statements are not entirely accurate. What the King did on 26 November was to permit Dahlbergh to postpone the inquest until Governor Frölich returned from a visit to the headquarters and some officers from the garrison were back in Riga.

The inquest does in fact appear to have gone on for some time. In a letter to Charles XII on 24 August 1701 the prosecutor Ingel Biörndahl notes that he had reminded the King about this issue on 25 March. Charles had replied that the inquest had to be postponed for the time being. In his new letter Björndahl, stating that he considered the matter to be of great importance, asked for new orders. The King this time agreed and on 22 November ordered that a certain Lt. Westman (who had been present at Dünamünde) be instructed to cooperate with Biörndahl.

On 14 December Biörndahl wrote to Governor General Dahlbergh, reporting that the commission had met for the first time the previous day. They had then discovered that important witness Westman (now promoted to captain) had been arrested and Biörndahl requested that Dahlbergh permitted an interrogation.

On 16 January 1702 Biörndahl wrote again. Colonel Budberg had claimed that he had not received any instructions from Dahlbergh. If instructions had indeed been sent, the Commission wanted to have a look at them. They were also interested in seeing the explanation given to Dahlbergh by Budberg.

The inquest seems to have continued in February, but it's unclear to me how and when it ended.  


EAA 278.001.XV-50 

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 149

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 294

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 316 

Munthe, L., Kungl. Fortifikationens historia 3:2. - Stockholm, 1909-1911 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:06 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 23 April 2017 8:15 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 16 April 2017
Patkul almost goes to Finland
Topic: Livonia

On 14 january 1693 Charles XI ordered the transfer of Captain Johan Reinhold Patkul to Finland, where he was to take charge of a company in the Åbo infantry regiment. The order was delivered to Governor General Hastfer the following day. According to Alvin Isberg Patkul reacted on 2 February by asking to be discharged. 

This is quite impossible. As Anton Buchholtz pointed out already in 1893 the information did not reach Riga until 23 February. Soop immediately informed Patkul, who was ill, and acknowledged the order in a message to Hastfer. Soop ordered Patkul to hand over his company on 1 March. On 14 March Hastfer again wrote to Soop, explaining the situation: Patkul had in late 1692 been ordered to Kokenhusen, but had lodged a protest with Hastfer, explaining that it would be very difficult for him to go there. Patkul had explained that he would rather choose to resign. The King had subsequently decided to solve the problem by ordering Patkul to Finland. This, the Governor General stated, meant that the Patkul problem was out of his hands - the troublesome captain no longer served in his regiment and was no longer the responsibility of the Governor General of Livonia. If Patkul wanted to resign his commission he should go to Åbo and do it there. 

Patkul seems at first have been intent on going (or at least to give the impression he was). At the beginning of April he wrote Soop, asking to receive his outstanding wages for the period he had served in Riga.

So did Patkul actually go? The evidence is less than clear. The pay records for the regiment lists him as being in charge of company n:o 8 as late as in the autumn of 1694. A note has been added stating that since Patkul had been sentenced to death in December 1694 he would not get paid. However, based on a number of preserved Patkul letters from 1693 it would seem that he never went. So how did he get away with that? Probably either by claiming to be too ill to travel or (more likely) by saying that there was a lot of unfinished business he needed to take care of before leaving. 

It should of course be noted that Patkul in July 1693 went to Courland and refused to return unless he received guarantees. These were not given until March 1694 and in May he came to Stockholm.  


Krigsarkivet, Krigskollegium, Militiekontoret G IV b: 47

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 44 

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 47 

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 142 

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 202

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol.  217

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:04 PM MEST
Updated: Monday, 17 April 2017 6:55 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 9 April 2017
Wenden 1692
Topic: Livonia

On 29 December 1691 Johann Reinhold Patkul returned to Riga from his mission to Sweden. Shortly after that the Livonian nobility asked Governor Soop for permission to meet on 28 February 1692. When Alvin Isberg in 1953 published his study Karl XI och den livländska adeln 1684-1695 he did not have access to the archive of the Livonian Governor General, so he could not fully examine how Governor Soop handled this issue and what sort of instructions he received from Governor General Hastfer, who for health reasons was in Germany.  Anton Buchholtz, who in 1893 published a biography of Patkul, had access but choose to focus on the aftermath rather than on the prelude. 

As far as I can tell from primarily the letterbooks (outgoing correspondence of Governor Soop) the request by the nobility was not made until mid-January 1692. The first mention of it is in a letter from Soop to Hastfer, dated 21 January. In this Soop states that the nobility has sent a letter to him asking for permission to meet at Dorpat. Soop had replied that it was most unusual to hold a Landtag at Dorpat and that the regulations clearly stated that it should be held at Riga or Wenden. There was, Soop had stated, no need to hurry. If many of the leading nobles found it difficult to meet outside Dorpat as they were members of the Court of Appeals, it was entirely possible to wait until the court's sessions had ended. Soop had also pointed out that he would find it difficult to come to Dorpat, so if the issues really were pressing the meeting should at least be held in Wenden.

The nobility had however been unwilling to accept Soop's decision, so he had eventually accepted their choice of Dorpat. In his letter he reminded Hastfer that the Governor General had earlier indicated that it would for certain reasons be better to keep such meetings away from Riga, so Soop hoped that Dorpat would be acceptable.

I have not found Hastfer's reply, but the content of it can be deduced from a subsequent letter from Soop, dated 18 February. Apparently the Governor General had refused to accept the reasons given by the nobility and on 3 February written to Soop explicitly forbidding them to meet at Dorpat. In the letter Soop states that the nobility had received the news with astonishment and suggested that it meant a complete ban. Soop had however replied that it did not: both Hastfer and Charles XI had approved their request, so they only needed to find a more acceptable place. The Governor had indicated that they should perhaps delay the matter somewhat and then meet at Riga, but after some deliberations the representatives of the nobility had asked permission to hold the meeting as soon as possible and at Wenden. Soop had after careful consideration of the instructions given to him by the King and by Hastfer decided to grant their wish. The meeting would begin in Wenden on 11 March with Soop present to keep an eye on things. 

On 11 March Soop his first report from Wenden. He had arrived the previous day. His intention had been to present the nobility with proposals more or less immediately, but as very few of the nobles had arrived he was forced to wait. On 23 March Soop sent a more extensive report to Hastfer. It deals however almost exclusively with the resignation of Landrat Vietinghoff and does not all mention any remarkable developments. As Isberg noted in his dissertation - the key discussions at Wenden seems to have gone unnoticed by Soop despite the fact that he was present from 10 March to 17 March.

Some time later Hastfer independently found out what had really taken place at Wenden and immediately informed Charles XI. The King was not pleased - as Soop soon found out.

An odd detail is that according to Isberg the first report from Hastfer dated 19 May 1692 reached the King at the beginning of June. The King then replied on 14 June. However, in LVVA there is preserved a letter from Charles XI to Hastfer dated as early as 14 May, which refers to a letter by the Governor General from the 19th preceding (!).

Isberg built his version on Hastfer's letter to the King and a copy of the King's reply (in Riksregistraturet). The letter in LVVA is however an original, signed by Charles and countersigned by Carl Piper. According to a note it was received by Hastfer in The Hague on 12 July 1692. Could it really have been on the road for two months? It seems unlikely, but Hastfer apparently left Frankfurt am Main in April and continued to Ems and The Hague. Could this explain the delay or is the original incorrectly dated? A peculiar mistake to make as late as the 14th.

According to Isberg Hastfer had an informant in Wenden and this would seem to indicate that the King's original is in fact correctly dated: the informant writes to Hastfer already in mid-March, Hastfer gets this letter some weeks later in Frankfurt am Main (where he had stayed for several months) and then proceeds to inform the King on 19 April. Neither the informant nor Hastfer would likely have hesitated before acting on such a matter, so 19 May and 14 June would from that perspective seem unlikely. But it is perhaps best to leave the issue open for the time being.



LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 44
LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 46
LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 142

Isberg, A., Karl XI och den livländska adeln 1684-1695. - Lund, 1953

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2017 10:04 AM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink
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
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older