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Artillery personnel
Great Embassy
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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 11 March 2018
Topic: Miscellaneous

During the last few weeks I have had the flu and then moved to a new flat. Very hard work to pack about 2,500 of my 4,000 volume library (the rest is still in my office at work) and all other stuff...

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that I will appear at the yearly "Jämt-trønderska historiedagarna", this year held at Vaektarstua in Tydal, Norway. I will get an hour on Saturday 26 May to speak about about a completely overlooked collection of letters from Armfeldt's campaign in 1718 - a rather amazing discovery considering the huge amount of literature on the topic.

Apparently a conference about 1718 is planned for Stockholm some time in the autumn. My intention is to present a paper on the same subject then. And then of course this.  



Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:36 PM MEST
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Monday, 12 February 2018
Johan Palmquist 12 June 1703
Topic: Diplomacy

On 12 June Palmquist wrote that he had met with Heinsius. The Grand Pensionary told the Swedish envoy that he had spoken with the Russian ambassador abolut the Swedish complaints. The latter had said that the ships being built in Arkhangelsk were not for use in war, with the exception of the frigate. This vessel was however very small. One captain of infantry, who had served in the Russian army before, had been recruited. Heinsius told Palmquist that he knew the man and he was quite pitiful. Others had attempted to join, but they were of similar poor quality. The Russian ambassador had admitted that ships were being built at Nöteborg, but they were too small for use in the Baltic. Heinsius told Palmquist that it was important to keep the Czar from the Baltic and the North Sea. The Swedish envoy replied that he had received information from the Swedish Admiralty about a privateer equipped in Copenhagen, which had received a letter of marque from the Russian ambassador. Heinsius said the ship could be viewed as a pirate and its crew hanged as such a letter was invalid.


Source: Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol. 229

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:34 PM CET
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Sunday, 4 February 2018
Johan Palmquist 9 June 1703
Topic: Diplomacy

In his next letter Palmquist returned to the issue of the Swedish actions in Poland. There was in the Netherlands great concern and the feeling was that England didn't do enough to stop the war. Palmquist had again emphasized that Danzig was in no danger as Charles XII only pursued the war against his enemies. The King saw no other way to reach a lasting peace than by forcing Augustus to abdicate. The Polish nation should unite with him for that purpose. 

Opdam (Jacob II van Wassenaer Obdam) had visited Palmquist the preceding evening and spoken about the problems the war in Poland caused the Dutch and their allies. It would be better, Opdam felt, if Charles left Poland and joined the War of the Spanish Succession. The Dutch were in a tough spot as their allies did not do their part, i.e. only wanted money. 

As for the Russian recruitment effort Palmquist had received more news and had made efforts to put a stop to any attempts by the Czar. Palmquist included a report from Arkhangelsk, which stated that the Russians were building ships and also possessed one vessel of 24 guns which William III had given to the Czar. They were reportedly also equipping privateers. 


Source: Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol. 229

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:38 PM CET
Updated: Monday, 12 February 2018 9:35 PM CET
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Monday, 22 January 2018
More Johan Palmquist
Topic: Diplomacy

On 6 June 1703 the Swedish envoy Johan Palmqvist sent his next report from the Hague. In this letter he told the King that he had not spoken with Heinsius during the last few days, but the Grand Pensionary hade reportedly said to the Hannoverian diplomat Bothmer that news from Poland suggested that Charles XII could be planning an attack on Danzig. Heinsius had said that such a development would not please the English and the Dutch. Palmquist had strongly denied such rumours, saying that the attack on Thorn was solely aimed at the Saxon garrison.

The news from the War of the Spanish succession were few. Recent reports of a battle between the French and Dutch navies had not been confirmed.

Before finishing his letter Palmquist had a talk with Heinsius. The Grand Pensionary said that he had spoken to the Admiralty of Amsterdam as well as the mayor about the Russian recruiting efforts. The Czar certainly tried to hire both artisans and seamen, but the authorities would make sure than he remained unsuccessful. Heinsius had also directly expressed his concern over events in Poland and the risk of dragging Prussia into the war. The English and Dutch feared that the Prussian King would recall units he had lent them. Palmquist had replied that there was absolutely no risk to Danzig. Thorn had been attacked simply because of the Saxon garrison and there were no Saxons units in Danzig.


Source: Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol. 229 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 6:13 PM CET
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Sunday, 14 January 2018
More tomorrow
Topic: Miscellaneous
Due on an ongoing vacation I will post tomorrow instead of today.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:02 PM CET
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Sunday, 7 January 2018
An anecdote
Topic: Archives

I have recently finished a longer article about the poet and clergyman Samuel Älf (1727-1799). In the course of that work I have read a lot of letters to him and from him as well as some from people he met. One of these was Olof Andersson Knös (1756-1804), who in 1779 visited Älf in Linköping. During his visit he spoke with Johan Sparschuch (1699-1781), who (just as Älf) had been a friend of the late bishop Andreas Rhyzelius (1677-1761). Rhyzelius was in the 1710's close to Charles XII and served as his chaplain. Rhyzelius had told Sparschuch the follwing story:

One day towards the end of the King's life Rhyzelius was told that the King wanted to receive communion. Rhyzelius was surprised and said that he could not give communion before having had a chance to speak with the King. Charles had immediately agreed and he had himself put a small stool in the middle of the floor, kneeled and during his confession almost melted in tears.

Rhyzelius autobiography is filled with moving stories of his time in the service of Charles, who he decades later remembered very fondly. I don't have it available right know, but among the things Rhyzelius writes is that the country would have been much better if Charles had lived. That's a pretty astonishing thing to say by a man who reached great heights during the "Age of Liberty", i.e. the period which followed the King's death.

Source: Olof Andersson Knös to Carl Christoffer Gjörwell 22 August 1779, Ep. G. 7:6, Royal Library

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:22 PM CET
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Sunday, 3 December 2017
Back next year!
Due to illness and other things I have not been able to update during the last few weeks. As the holidays approach I have decided to take a break until January.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 4:26 PM CET
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Sunday, 12 November 2017
Captain Matthias Feder
Topic: Livonia

In May 1705 a large shipment arrived at Neumünde. The fortress commander Colonel Albedyhl on the 19th informed Governor Frölich of the arrival of the vessel Elisabeth under the command of captain Matthias Feder. Albedyhl had suggested that some of the equipment should be handed over to his regiment, but Feder had refused to comply without direct orders from Frölich. Frölich sent his decision to Feder the very same day: everything listed on the specification sent by the College of War must be delivered to Riga. Only if the ship carried an additional cargo earmarked for Albedyhl's regiment would the colonel be permitted to unload anything.

The list of items sent on Feder's ship is quite impressive:

100 pistols for Schreiterfelt's dragoons 

90,000 pistol balls for the armoury at Riga 

45,000 carbine balls for the armoury at Riga 

110,000 musket balls, ditto

120,000 buckshot pellets (rännkulor), ditto

600 shovels, ditto

300 picks, ditto

200 scythes of the old fashion, ditto

2 double jacks, ditto

2 simple jacks, ditto 

100 drums, ditto

30,000 firestones, ditto

100,000 flintstones, ditto 

plus large amounts of horseshoes, horseshoe nails and other nails of various dimensions.



LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 56
Rahvusarhiiv, EAA.278.1.XX-25c
Rahvusarhiiv, EAA. 278.001.XXV-99

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:40 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 12 November 2017 8:40 PM CET
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Sunday, 5 November 2017
Palmquist again
Topic: Diplomacy

On 2 June 1703 Palmquist sent his next report from The Hague. He had again met with the Grand Pensionary Heinsius. The Swedish had emphasized the importance of putting stop to all Russian recruitment in the Netherlands and to stop anyone from leaving for service in the Czar's navy. Heinsius promised to speak to both the Admiralty in Amsterdam as well as to mayor Nicolaes Witsen.

Palmquist next wrote on 6 June. He had again spoken to Heinsius, who had expressed concern about events in Poland. What if Charles XII after capturing Thorn (under siege) and Elbing would turn his attention to Danzig? It would not please the Dutch or the English, Heinsius said. Well, Palmquist had replied, Thorn was only under attack because Saxon forces were inside. Danzig would only be in danger if the Saxons took control of it, which seemed unlikely. They had also touched on the matter of the Russian recruitment. Heinsius assured Palmquist that he had spoken with both the Admiralty and particularly mith mayor Witsen. He had found that the Czar certainly tried to find good craftsmen, such as turners, carpenters and blacksmiths. Seamen had not been recruited and the Dutch authorities would make sure that none were. 


Source: Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol. 229 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:23 PM CET
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Sunday, 29 October 2017
Paul Bethun
Topic: Factoids

In Börje Magnusson's Svenska teckningar 1600-talet (1980), page 104, it's stated that the artillery officer Paul Bethun while in Russian captivity in 1714 made a drawing of Saint Petersburg. This is incorrect. Bethun served in Elbing and was captured when the town was taken by the Russians in 1710. In an account dated Ystad 13 December 1711 Bethun describes his experience in Russia:

On 3 April 1711 the Swedish prisoners (476 men) were ordered  to march through Marienwerder, Strasburg, Pultusk and Grodno to Riga, where they were kept outside the town for three weeks. On 4 July the prisoners were ordered to march eastwards and eventually ended up at Velikiye Luki. On 25 August the Swedes were ordered to continue and on 12 September they reached Narva, the 15th Jama and on the 16th Koporie. There the prisoners were met by Menshikov and the group was divided. The officers were sent to Ivangorod and the common soldiers to Saint Petersburg where they were put to work. Many of them, Bethun says, died from hunger and fatigue. 

On 8 December Bethun left Ivangorod and marched through Dorpat to Riga. There were no wagons for the officers, he writes, and those who were sick had to be drawn on sleds by their comrades. They were also badly treated by the guards. It was obvious, Bethun claims, that the plan was to kill all the prisoners. On 2 December they marched to Dünamünde and on the following day boarded ships which carried them to Ystad.

So did Bethun actually visit Saint Petersburg? He doesn't say, but if he did it was certainly not in 1714.

Source: Riksarkivet, Ericsbergsarkivet, Autografsamlingen, vol. 17


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:26 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 29 October 2017 9:27 PM MEST
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