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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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Sunday, 15 January 2017
Topic: Sieges

On 11 December 1701 Colonel Gustaf Ernst Albedyhl wrote to Governor General Dahlbergh in Riga. The Saxon commander of the fortress Dünamünde, the only remaining prize from the campaign of 1701, had offered to give up on honorable terms. Albedyhl was noncommittal, but pointed out the rather poor situation for the Swedish forces outside. He had held a council of war and the officers favored accepting the Saxon offer. In Albedyhl's opinion it would be unwise to refuse because it could result in the commander blowing up Dünamünde, destroying not only the fortress but also all presumptive trophies.

In his immediate reply Dahlbergh assured Albedyhl of full support. It would serve the King better to capture the fortress quickly and it made no sense to risk having it blown up by desperate Saxons. A destruction of trophies would damage the glory of King Charles. So Albedyhl should by all means enter into an agreement, but also make sure that it allowed him to take quick possession of Dünamünde.

In a subsequent report to the Chancery in Stockholm Dahlbergh outlined his thinking. The commander Colonel Kanitz had been cut off from alla support for 21 weeks. He had shown his fidelity to King Augustus and deserved to be treated honorably by the Swedes. Albedyhl had several days ago sent a courier to Charles XII to ask for orders, but no reply had yet been received. In this situation Dahlbergh had called all his generals and colonels to a council of war. The view of the majority had been that it was necessary to wait for the King's orders as he had previously declared that the garrison must surrender unconditionally. Reports from the army suggested that Charles had broken camp on the 3rd and Dahlbergh hoped that this would not mean further complications with the Polish republic. On the 12th Dahlbergh wrote to the King, informing him that an agreement had been signed.

The King's position on the matter did not become clear until the beginning of January 1702. On the first day of the new year he sent a letter to Albedyhl. Upon returning from an expedition into Lithuania he had been informed that Albedyhl had made an agreement without waiting for orders. Charles expressed his deep dislike of this. Had he not already shortly after the Düna crossing informed the Saxon commander that if he did not immediately turn over Dünamünde he would be considered as a rebel? Because of these circumstances Charles had every right to refuse to accept the agreement made by Kanitz and Albedyhl, but since some time had passed he would not make an issue of it. However, Albedyhl would do well to avoid a repetition and remember not to make such decisions without express orders. 


LVVA, fond 7349, op 1, vol.  73

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 235 

Riksarkivet, Riksregistraturet


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 5:26 PM CET
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Sunday, 8 January 2017
Rehnschiöld and Lewenhaupt
Topic: Generals

Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt's memoirs, first published in 1757 and again in 1952 (possibly based on another manuscript) are rich in scoundrels, big and small, who in one way or another treated the general unfairly. One of the major villains is Field Marshal Rehnschiöld, who blames Lewenhaupt for almost everything which goes wrong at Poltava. This animosity would appear to have been rather new as the two had no personal contact whatsoever from late 1701 until the arrival of Lewenhaupt at the King's headquarters in the spring of 1708.

Whether they knew each other before the war is unclear, but one item strongly suggests it. On 18 July 1700 Lewenhaupt was appointed colonel of a regiment which was to be raised in Uppland, Dalarna and Västmanland. As he had never held any rank whatsoever in the Swedish army (according to his memoirs he could not accept having to start as a common soldier despite being from an illustrious family) this appointment came as a bit of shock to him. So why had Charles XII remembered him?

Well, it would appear that Lewenhaupt believed that Lieutenant General Carl Gustaf Rehnschiöld had put in a good word. On 8 August Lewenhaupt wrote to him, saying that the appointment no doubt was a result of a recommendation from Rehnschiöld. Besides expressing profound gratitude Lewenhaupt asked Rehnschiöld for advice. There was a shortage of officers and non-commissioned officers and the King undoubtedly wanted the regiment to be ready as soon as possible. Some officers had been found and expressed a willingness to serve. However, Lewenhaupt wasn't sure that the King accepted proposals from the colonels, but if he did perhaps Rehnschiöld could present him with Lewenhaupt's list? It seemed possible to find enough captains and lieutenants with previous military experience, but ensigns were harder to find. Lewenhaupt was inclined to go for young ambitious men without experience. Non-commissioned officers were even more difficult to recruit. Could Rehnschiöld give some advice? Perhaps some corporals from the old regiments? Lewenhaupt was also looking for a lieutenant colonel as the King had only appointed a major. 

A rather amusing detail which adds to this letter: Ten days later Nils Gripenhielm, County Governor of Dalarna, wrote to Lewenhaupt about the efforts to raise the new regiment. There were many officers available in Dalarna, but Gripenhielm did not know if they would be willing to serve. It would be best if Lewenhaupt came to Dalarna himself. Gripenhielm noted that his own son Axel Johan (born in March 1686) wanted to join the army. He was only 15 years old (or rather 14), but Axel Johan was tall and energetic. Would there perhaps be a place for him in the regiment? Perhaps as officer, as he already knew the basics? Nils Gripenhielm's wife had a relative who was 17, who could perhaps be suitable as a non-commissioned officer? He was a bit short, but had recently grown considerably. The young man was the son of old major Gladtsten and his older brother was already an ensign in Dalregementet. The old major was very poor and had no way of helping his children. 

Axel Johan Gripenhielm was appointed ensign in Lewenhaupt's regiment on 30 September 1700. He died in 1755, having reached the rank of Major General. Ensign Adam Gladtsten also survived the war and many years as a prisoner of war in Russia. He died in 1729. The fate of his younger brother Göran (who seems likely to have been the one Gripenhielm tried to help) is unclear. He is sometimes called "ensign", but with no details about where and how long he served. Date of death is also unknown.

Source: Linköpings Stiftsbibliotek, H 79:4, no 19 and no 24 

P.S. Rehnschiöld had spent some time in the Netherlands in 1691 as a military aide and teacher to the young Duke Frederick IV of Holstein. He may have come into contact with Lewenhaupt, who was a lieutenant colonel in Magnus Wilhelm Nieroth's regiment. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 6:08 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 8 January 2017 9:12 PM CET
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