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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, 27 April 2014
Military courts
Topic: Judiciary

Among the records of the Swedish Governor General of Livonia there is a substantial amount of judicial material, including about 15 volumes of records from military trials between 1662 and 1709. I recently had one of them scanned (EAA.278.1.XV-50). It covers the period between 1701 and 1709 and contains many odd bits and pieces such as occasional documents concerning the investigation of the surrender of Dünamünde fortress in 1700 and the captured library and archive of the Dukes of Courland. One document concerns three soldiers who were separated from their unit during the battle of Hummelhof and were suspected of desertion. A case from 1705 deals with a case where the body a fallen officer had been plundered during a battle and it was suspected that someone within his unit was responsible. Eventually it was discovered that the culprits were one of the fallen officer's servants and a soldier. One of them had managed to escape, but the other was sentenced to nine "gatlopp" (running the gauntlet) through 300 men and one year of hard labour.

In another case a soldier called Påvel (of Tokamåla, Småland) belonging to Per Banér's regiment was accused of trying to commit suicide. Påvel testified to the court that he had been convicted of beating one of the recently arrived recruits and as result lost his position as vice corporal despite being entirely innocent. This has resulted in a lot of thinking about his fate and how he was being persecuted. One morning Påvel had been drinking and after that he couldn't remember how he got hold of a musket and shot himself in the chest. Påvel stated he very much regretted what he had done and asked for the court's mercy. The regimental priest testified that Påvel must have been temporarily insane. The court decided that this was most likely the case and sentenced him to three "gatlopp" and three Sundays of "kyrkoplikt" (public penance in church).

In this case the votes are also present. The more unforgiving members of the court wanted to punish him with nine "gatlopp", while the more lenient ones (among them most of the officers) suggested 14 days of "water and bread" and 3 Sundays of "public penance". 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:24 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 27 April 2014 11:54 PM MEST
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