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Artillery personnel
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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 15 October 2017
More Palmquist
Topic: Diplomacy

On 16 May 1703 (O.S.) Palmquist sent a a new report to Stockholm. It concerned two different issues. The first was the damages caused to the duchy of Zweibrücken by forces from the Electoral Palatinate.

The second had more bearing on the Great Northern War. Rumours hade reached Sweden that the Czar was attempting to recruit soldiers (or maybe rather naval personnel) in Amsterdam. Palmquist forwarded a copy of the letter he had sent to the Admiralty in Karlskrona. The matter had, Palmquist stated, been brought to the attention of the Grand Pensionary Anthonie Heinsius, who had replied that he knew nothing of this. Heinsius said that he considered it very unlikely, as any form of recruitment by a foreign power was strictly forbidden and consequently would be pointless to attempt. The Grand Pensionary had stated that he would nevertheless look into the matter and would put a stop to the effort if the rumour proved to be true. 

Source: Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol. 329 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:51 PM MEST
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Sunday, 8 October 2017
A peace proposal?
Topic: Diplomacy

On 2 May 1703 (O.S.) Johan Palmquist sent his first report to the Chancery in Stockholm. He acknowledged having received the printed account of the Saladen battle, which he promised to use when appropriate.

Palmquist also reported that a rumour suggested that he had brought a peace proposal from Paris. The rumour had grown quite strong after his arrival in The Hague. Palmquist had made every effort to explain that it was quite untrue and had received assistance from Anthonie Heinsius, the Grand Pensionary of Holland. Their effort appeared to have been successful, Palmquist wrote. As for the rest he referred to Lillieroot's dispatches.

In a hastily added PS Palmquist writes that accordingb to report which had arrived the same morning the fort near Bonn had been captured in an assault. This should refer to Fort Bourgogne, which was taken on 9 May (N. S.) by allied forces under the command of Menno van Coehoorn, the famous Dutch engineer.

Source: Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol. 229 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:43 PM MEST
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Sunday, 1 October 2017
Johan Palmquist arrives in the Hague
Topic: Diplomacy

On 27 March 1703 Johan Palmquist, previously Swedish envoy in Paris, arrived in the Hague where he was to relieve the very able and experienced Nils Lillieroot, who had been recalled to Stockholm to help fill the vacancies caused by the deaths of Bengt Oxenstierna and Samuel Åkerhielm. 

On the 28th Palmquist wrote to Charles XII. He had the preceeding day arrived in the Hague after travelling on some very bad roads. As Lillieroot had not yet left for Stockholm Palmquist would, he assured the King, take every opportunity to get useful information from his predecessor.

Little was otherwise to report, except that Palmquist had been received most courteously in Bruxelles by the Marquis Bedmar (Isidoro de la Cueva y Benavides, Governor of The Spanish Netherlands), the Field Marshal Boufflers (Louis-François de Boufflers) and Mr Quiros (Francisco Bernardo de Quiros). In Antwerp Palmquist had been received by Lieutenant General de Gacé (Charles Auguste de Goyon de Matignon) and at the the fort Lillo by a captain Palmquist calls "Wildschütt", who was in command of a small Dutch naval force stationed there. The captain had dined with Palmquist on his ship and sent him off with a salute of seven shots.

Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol. 229

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:20 PM MEST
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Sunday, 24 September 2017
My journey
Topic: Miscellaneous

From 9 September to 20 September I was away on a trip to Romania, passing through cities like Prague, Brno, Bratislava and Budapest. In the latter city I did of course not fail to visit Váci utca 43:

















Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:14 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2017 7:48 PM MEST
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Sunday, 10 September 2017
Topic: Miscellaneous
There will be no posts until the 24th because of a trip to Romania.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM MEST
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Sunday, 3 September 2017
Princes from Chile: part 3
Topic: Miscellaneous

I originally thought that on one had discovered this peculiar story before, but Google books helped me to discover Axel Paulin's Svenska öden i Sydamerika (1951). Paulin's list of sources is very impressive, but he is often short on specific references. The story of the Chilean princes is described like this:

When going through some documents from the Swedish Field Chancery during the Polish period a letter from the Swedish envoy in the Hague was following letter was found. Paulin then goes on to quote from Palmquist's letter dated 4 March 1705 as well as from a the translated summary of Colonel Scott's letter attached to this report. Paulin apparently never looked among Palmquist's drafts and so he never found Scott's original proposal. 

Paulin's conclusion was that there must have been some real basis for the proposal. He suggests that some of the cargo was coming from the East Indies, but finds no reasonable explanation for the 27 princes. 

Paulin tried to follow the story and noted that Charles XII ordered Palmquist to keep the authorities in Stockholm updated. The King also instructed the Chancery College and the College of Commerce to discuss the matter and send their views to him. 

Oddly enough Paulin concludes  by saying that no further traces of the story could be found beyond the fact that the King's letters did reach Stockholm. My distinct memory is that there was in fact plenty of evidence, especially in the archive of the Chancery College. If I can find my old notes on the matter I'll add a part 4.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 1:08 PM MEST
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Sunday, 27 August 2017
Princes from Chile: part 2
Topic: Miscellaneous

On 4 March 1705 the Swedish envoy in the Netherlands Johan Palmquist sent a long letter to Charles XII. A part of this report dealt with a most curious proposal. A certain Colonel "Schot" had contacted Palmquist and given him this letter:

"To His Excellency Mons:r Palmquist, Envoy Extraordinary to the Sates Generall of the United Provinces

May it please yo: Excellency

There being two very rich cargoes to come from Chile & God willing in the year 1706 to be ship'd on two good ships.

That if His Most Serene Maj:ty of Sweden &a shall be pleas'd to give protection to the said Ships & Goods which Cargoe shall consist in 800000 Peices of Light, 60000 Sterling in value, in Mace, Nutmegs & Cloves, 20000 pound of Amber de Gri, 70000 pound of all Sorts of East India Goods, 100000 pound of fine Wool & a considerable quantity of Estridge Feather, Rich Drugs, Balsam of Peru & the Ships to be Ballas'd with raw hides, for all which Goods the Princes of Chile doe expect for what their Subjects sell to the Subjects of Sweden to pay no Custom or other payments but for what they Trade for with any other Nation. They are Content to pay 3 pro Cent to the Order of His said Maj:ty of Sweden & c if His Serene Maj:ty permits his Subjects to furnish the Subjects of the Princes of Chile with what Copper, Iron, Armes & what Ammunition of Warr & other Merchandize the Occasions require & take of their Spice & other Merchandize at the price Currant. The said Subjects of Chile will Trade with no other Nation, but the Subjects of His Serene Maj:ty of Sweden & c and the 3 places they pitch upon to reside in are Carilsburgh at the Entrance of the River Weser or Stade on the River Elve or in the Island Coster near Fredricks Hall on the Coast of Norway

John Baron Scot of Marnay"

Next week in part III: what to make of this letter?

Source: Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol. 230


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 5:58 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 27 August 2017 6:19 PM MEST
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Sunday, 20 August 2017
Princes from Chile: part 1
Topic: Miscellaneous

When I some twenty years ago was researching the naval officer Gustaf von Psilander (1669-1738) and his encounter with Rear Admiral William Whetstone's squadron in late July 1704, I came upon a rather peculiar item. As far as I remember it was like this: a man claiming to represent a number of Chilean princes made contact with the Swedish envoy in the Netherlands. According to this man two heavily loaded ships would be sent from Chile to Europe, preferably to a Swedish port. In return for the valuable cargo the princes wanted to buy guns and ammunition. 

This proposal went quite far (as I recall it). A brief discussion in the Council and longer discussions in the College of Commerce and the Chancery, where the conclusion was that it would be risky to accept because of possible hostile reaction from other European powers, most notably Spain. 

The story seems quite far-fetched. The Spanish never fully subjugated the Mapuche, so it is entirely possible that the latter would have been interested in acquiring weapons from some friendly European power. But how would they have found suitable ships and crews and manage to pull off such a major undertaking? A reasonable explanation would seem to be that they had to go through an intermediary, possibly a European merchant/smuggler who was not afraid to risk men and ships in order to make a profit by selling to a European power not directly involved in the War of the Spanish succession.  

During a recent visit to Riksarkivet I decided to see if I could find the story once more. I had a pretty good idea of where to look, but I was not sure if it happened in 1704 or later. But I did find it again and (if I remember correctly) even one additional item, which gave more information about the man who handed over the proposal. 

So next week: the proposal and the identity of the intermediary. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM MEST
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Sunday, 13 August 2017
An old debt
Topic: Factoids

It was recently suggested in a Facebook discussion I happened to see that the city of Danzig (Gdansk) still owed money for a loan made by Karl Knutsson Bonde in 1447. This is incorrect, but the story is rather fascinating. 

In the 17th and early 18th century the Gyllenstierna family considered themselves to be the closest relatives to Karl Knutsson. In 1704, as the GNW increased the demands on the Swedish economy, the matter was apparently brought to the attention of Charles XII. He viewed it as an opportunity and brought pressure on Danzig. Eventually the city agreed to pay a very considerale sum. The King made an agreement with the Gyllenstierna family that the money would be used for the war effort, but returned after the war.  

When the war eventually ended in 1721 the state was very heavily in debt and the Gyllenstierna famili did not receive any money. They came back with new pleas in 1731 and 1740, but to no avail. In 1766 the issue was again brought to the attention of the authorities, but in the end the claims failed again. It was brought up again in the early 19th century, but no decision had been made when Gustav IV Adolph was overthrown in 1809. So the family came back yet again in 1823, after some more of the relevant documents had been found. 

A parliamentary committee investigated the matter and came (unsurprisingly) to the conclusion that the family was not entitled to any money. The claims had come too late, it was not entirely clear that the Swedish state had borrowed the money (perhaps it was Charles XII personally) and perhaps the money had been repaid before 1709 but all relevant documents lost after Poltava?

The Gyllenstierna family made another attempt in 1834, but it went nowhere. 

Some of the conclusions made in 1823 seem ridiculous. How could it possibly have been a loan made to the King personally? And how could they possibly suggest that the money had been repaid some time between 1705 and 1709? The fact that the debt was too old (it had initially been decided that war debts would have to be claimed within 20 years) was more relevant, but the family had tried both in 1731 and 1740. 

So Danzig has no outstanding debt to pay (and it was of course rather peculiar that a loan from 1447 would become an issue more than 250 years later). But the Swedish army was powerful negotiating tool in 1704...


Herlitz, Nils, Från Thorn till Altranstädt (1916)

Saarinen, Hannes, Bürgerstadt und absoluter Kriegsherr (1996)
Statsutskottets betänkande 1823, nr 456 (Bihang till samtlige Riks-ståndens protocoll...4. saml., 4 bandet)


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:05 PM MEST
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Sunday, 6 August 2017
Magnus Stenbock
Topic: Factoids

It has frequently been claimed that Charles XII never forgave Magnus Stenbock for the surrender in 1713 and took his revenge by letting his old favorite remain a prisoner of war in Denmark. The evidence is slim. Not only did Charles XII on 12 August 1713 order the Council to prepare a new transport to Germany. Stenbock would be in command (the King assumed that the prisoners had been released in accordance with the agreement made when the army surrendered).

An even clearer evidence is a letter from Casten Feif to Stenbock, dated Demotika 24 July 1714. Feif assures the Field Marshal that he should not worry, the King continued to hold him in high regard. Stenbock should not, Charles had told Feif, listen to rumours who were intended to annoy him but rather take care of his health so that the King once more would have the joy of seeing his old friend as happy and amusing as he used to be.


Riksarkivet, Ericsbergsarkivet, Autografsamlingen, vol.  69.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:12 PM MEST
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