Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
« June 2018 »
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
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, 24 June 2018
Ulf Sundberg's dissertation : part 2
Topic: Literature

 After careful consideration I have decided to continue my analysis of Sundberg's dissertation Swedish defensive fortress warfare in the Great Northern War : 1702-1710. I will continue with  the sources and the literature.

Case 1: Menzen 1702

As Menzen was an ordinary manor it's not even obvious why it has been included in the study. Surely it was neither built nor manned as part of a defensive system established in Livonia?

As for the appearance and size of Menzen Sundberg has basically nothing to say and is forced to use a drawing of an entirely different manor. Could he have improved on this by using Baltic archives? I would think that's very likely. A simple google search turned up an excavation report from 2008 with a contemporary map showing the manor close to a small lake (which is not mentioned by Sundberg).

Sundberg then goes on to speak about sources and previous research. He mentions a couple of brief late 19th century works by Otto Sjögren, who primarily worked on the Schlippenbach archive which more or less by chance had ended up in Stockholm. Sundberg also notes the so called diary of Czar Peter and a mysterious report mentioned by Adam Lewenhaupt's Karl XII:s officerare.

Is this really all there is of previous research? Obviously not. What first comes to mind is Carl von Rosen's Bidrag..., published in the 1930's. The second volume deals with the war in Courland, Livonia and Ingria during the first few years and Rosen mentions Menzen. Another even more obvious work is Heldur Palli's Mezjdu dvumja bojami za Narvu (1966), which would have given Sundberg an idea of what Baltic archives hold. 

Sundberg notes that a letter from the Swedish commander is incorrectly dated and how this mistake through Sjögren has found its way into other works. If Sundberg had used Rosen or Palli he would have found chronologically more accurate versions, so it could be argued that his ability to correct the record is solely based on the fact that he has failed to use certain previous works.

An additional note: 

Just before Sundberg starts the discussion of various sieges during the GNW he lists on page 131 the strength of Swedish garrisons in 1699. In footnote 425 he has a long explanation of a presumed problem concerning the exact date Carl Gustaf Frölich was put in charge of Soop's regiment. The solution is very simple. If Sundberg had looked in Riksregistraturet (available online) he would have found that Frölich was appointed on 10 March 1700 (not 1701) because Soop had died and that the appointment was for both the governorship and the regiment. So the footnote is quite unnecessary - everything is quite clear if one uses the logical sources.

 To be continued...


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:41 AM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2018 4:29 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 17 June 2018
A new dissertation

Some weeks ago Ulf Sundberg's dissertation Swedish defensive fortress warfare in the Great Northern War 1702-1710 was published. A lot can be said of this work, but I will focus on one point:


Sundberg starts by emphasizing the importance of Karolinska krigares dagböcker and Historiska handlingar and then goes on to state that the most important published Russian source is the so called diary of the Czar, which Sundberg has used in a edition from 1773. In my opinion that's a remarkable statement given the existence of Pisma i bumagi, literally thousands of pages of letters from and to the Czar. 

As for the Baltic archives Sundberg states that the "General Governor's archive in Tartu [Estonian: Riigi Keskarhiiv, Swedish "Estlands centralarkiv i Tartu"] is worth mentioning, because "it has several documents from commanding officers in Swedish Livonia". But Sundberg didn't use these documents as Fredrik Arfwidsson did so in the 1930's. Well, "several documents" is a bit of an understatement. I have up til now registered about 15,000 incoming letters (most of them from the period in question) and then there is an enormous amount of copies of outgoing correspondence. I would argue that it is not possible to write about Livonia during the GNW without using the archive of the Governor General (which apparently unbeknownst to Sundberg became divided between Tartu and Riga after World War 2). As for Tartu the Archive haven't been called "Riigi Keskarhiiv" for a very long time. The wording suggests to me that Sundberg hasn't really made an effort to check what the archive contains and certainly isn't aware that the part preserved in Riga was microfilmed in the 1990's - and the films available in Stockholm.

Another part of Sundberg's work should depend on Danish sources, but he says that he abstained from using Danish archives because he presumed that Bidrag til den store nordiske krigs historie had used everything that wasn't difficult to find...

Sundberg has also left Russian archives aside because of language difficulties. Even if that is to be considered understandable, it's rather unfortunate when the topic of the dissertation so clearly focuses on events involving Russian forces. So if not archives - how about Russian literature? Surely in this day and age it would not only have been possible to consult the most relevant works, but also to have the key parts translated?

Sundberg's bibliography has a few notable omissions, for example Carl von Rosen's Bidrag till kännedom. I also miss the series "Skrivelser till Konungen", which I would think is pretty central for any work on the GNW. 



Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM MEST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2018 10:47 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 3 June 2018
Back from Norway
Topic: Archives
On 26 May I made a presentation in Stugudal, Norway about the de la Barre papers in Tartu. As I have previously touched upon they contain a number of previously unknown letters and other documents from Armfeldt's campaign in 1718. Most notable are a few letters sent by Armfeldt to Lt. General Reinhold Johan de la Barre in December 1718 during the latter's successful enterprise against Röros.

The reception was very positive and plans to publish the material in some suitable regional publication were tentatively discussed. After my presentation there were several questions and later one participant said (roughly) that he was used to hearing things he had heard before, so it was refreshing when some entirely new appeared.

The other presentations were quite interesting, although one or two of the Norwegians were not so easy to understand...

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:36 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 20 May 2018
To Norway
Topic: Miscellaneous

On Thursday I will go to Östersund for the "Jämt-trönderska historiedagarna" 2018 in Stugudal, Norway. On Saturday I will speak about previously unknown sources for Armfeldt's campaign, which I came across when browsing the catalogue of the Estonian National Archives. These records should, I believe, change quite a few perceptions of this campaign and most notably how the events leading up to the disastrous retreat at the beginning of January 1719 are interpreted. 

I have also spent some time going over the debate in 2005-2006 about the death of Charles XII and the "grapeshot theories" brought forward by Svante Ståhl and his Norwegian colleague Odd T. Fjeld. I found them completely untenable then and after going through the same sources once more (and adding some more) I remain convinced that they are both easily disproven. Time will tell if the 300th anniversary reignites the debate. 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:19 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 29 April 2018
Olof Sandberg writes from Lund : part 2

On 2 December 1717 Sandberg wrote his second "coded" letter. There was, he wrote Barck, no indications of dismissals. Gustaf Adam Taube, Governor of Stockholm, had nothing to fear and he should not believe rumours flying around. 

The next letter was sent on 9 December. Goertz could, Sandberg wrote, possibly help himself through a new scheme. Nobody could understand what the Czar was up to. It semmed likely he wanted something in return for helping the neighbour across the river (Danish forces across the Sound?).

No military campaign was likely until next year. Goertz actions were suspicious, but it was uncertain what he was attempting.

Source: Riksarkivet, Ericsbergsarkivet, Autografsamlingen, Vol. 182

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 4:19 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 29 April 2018 4:20 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
Olof Sandberg writes from Lund : part 1
Topic: Archives

The first "coded" letter from Olof Sandberg to Samuel Barck is dated Lund 25 November 1717. Lennart Thanner appears to have considered the code as an attempt to cover the presumably sensitive content. This appears very unlikely as it would probably have taken a contemporary reader only a few seconds to figure out the meaning. It seems more likely that Sandberg tried to amuse Barck. 

Sandberg starts out by saying that the knight "Sankt Jörgen" (Goertz) appears to have lost favour with the King. He then mentions "Pehr Speleman i Gårdarijke" (the Czar), who in Sandberg's opinion has bitten off more than he can chew. Sandberg then goes on to say God bless "Far" (the King) as things will then go well for "ungefar och ungemor" (Frederick of Hesse and Ulrika Eleonora). If "far" dies they will inherit the farm, which has fared poorly lately. They will have to spend time on repairs etc. Pretty standard stuff and certainly not a code that would have been of any use if the intent was to keep the content secret.


Source: Riksarkivet, Ericsbergsarkivet, Autografsamlingen, Vol. 182



Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:35 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 9 April 2018
The revolution and some odd letters
Topic: Literature
In 1953 Lennart Thanner published a voluminous dissertation called Revolutionen i Sverige efter Karl XII:s död. Thanner concluded, based on his interpretation of events after the King's death, that Charles had likely been murdered. In a footnote on page 366 Thanner mentions a series of rather peculiar letters sent from (mostly) Lund in 1717-1718 by the Chancery official Olof Sandberg (1679-1750). They are written in a peculiar type of "cipher", i.e. the author uses other names for the main characters. The purpose is unclear as it's quite simple to understand who he is thinking of. It's likely they were written like that for amusement rather than for covering up important information or political views. Thanner writes that the archivist Olof Jägerskiöld intended to publish them, but that apprently never happened. So if time permits I will put at least a few summaries online during the next weeks.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:07 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 1 April 2018
Hugo Hamilton
Topic: Generals

Hugo Hamilton (1655-1724) served in various capacities during the GNW. He is perhaps most known as County Governor in Gävle 1716-1719, but before that he had served in Göteborg and had also taken part in the battle of Helsingborg. In the Ericsberg autograph collection (Riksarkivet) there is a series of letters from him to Magnus Stenbock. The last of them, written as late as 24 March 1714, is very detailed despite the intended recipient being a prisoner of war in Denmark. 

Hamilton starts out by outlining how the Swedish forces were to be used during the coming campaign. Nils Gyllenstierna would be in charge in Scania, supported by Skytte, Örnestedt and Sinclair. General Spens would command near Stockholm, supported by Taube, Palmquist, Köhler and Tschammer. Mörner would be in charge at Göteborg and have a force of 40,000. Hamilton would serve under him. The naval squadron for the Gulf of Finland would be under the command of Admiral Wattrang. 

The Diet had been complicated, Hamilton wrote. There had been too much interest in the peace issue, a matter best left to the Council and Princess Ulrika Eleonora. Hamilton felt very strongly that peace could only be obtained with military means. The matter was most delicate as the absent King could well take issue with the whole thing, i.e. conclude that the Council and the Diet had overstepped their authority. 

All true patriots were very sorry for Stenbock and hoped that he would soon be released. 

Source: Riksarkivet, Ericsbergsarkivet, autografsamlingen, vol. 92 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:32 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 25 March 2018
A false lead
Topic: Factoids

I have just spent a day in Krigsarkivet, in preparation for my May talk about some overlooked sources concerning Armfeldt's campaign in 1718. One of the volumes I looked at contains incoming letters to Lt. General de la Barre. According to Svante Hedin's bibliography Armfeldts fälttåg mot Trondheim 1718-1719 (1986) it should contain no less than ten letters from Charles XII, dated 1 October 1717 to 19 May 1718. 

This sounded rather curiuos to me and turned out to be incorrect. The letters were not signed Carolus but rather C. Feif...

Despite the fact that the field archive of Armfeldt's army appears to have been lost the records from the campaign are very extensive. The documents concerning supply matters are very informative and detailed to the last penny.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:42 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 18 March 2018
Johan Palmquist 23 June 1703
Topic: Diplomacy

On 23 June Palmquist reported that Nils Lillieroot had returned to the Hague, but was too fatigued to write himself.

News from the War of the Spanish Succession spoke of disaster having struck the Dutch commander Opdam during the battle of Ekeren. An official report from the Dutch camp suggested that Opdam had been captured, but news from Breda claimed that he had arrived there accompanied only by one man. The Dutch army had escaped, but the losses seemed to have been severe. The first reports arriving in the Hague had spoken of disaster, so the States General had been relieved to hear that the army had been saved. 

Some French privateers had reportedly captured one hundred Dutch fishing boats. 

The English had raided an island just off La Rochelle. 

Palmquist had through the envoy Friesendorff in Lüneburg received copies of Cardinal Radziejowski's letter to Charles XII, dated 2 June 1703 and the King's answer. Palmquist had sent a copy to Leijoncrona in London and promised he would make every effort to use these letters advantageously.

Source: Riksarkivet, Diplomatica, Hollandica, vol.  229.


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:34 PM MEST
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older