Sweden and Ukraine are on November 27, 2015, commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the arrival of Hetman Orlyk to Sweden.


Ukrainian Hetman Pylyp Orlyk was the successor of Hetman Ivan Mazepa. He was elected hetman in 1710 in exile in Bendery (present day Moldavia). Orlyk was to continue the struggle of Mazepa for Ukrainian independence until his death in 1742. In 1710 he was the main author of Ukraine’s first constitution.
In 1713, when Charles XII was planning to return to Sweden from present day Moldavia he invited the hetman, family and government to go into exile, this time in Sweden. The journey from Moldavia to Sweden was planned and executed by Swedish General Axel Sparre (1652 – 1728). Sparre reported regularly to the king on what happened during the journey.

The only mention in the 1714 – 1715 letters of General Sparre of the Ukrainian kozaks in the group is when he notes that he provided Mrs. Orlyk with horses for her and her servants (and children, one must assume).

The next letter of Sparre is dated Vienna, December 1714. The presence of the group in the Austrian capital is confirmed by a letter of Pylyp Orlyk to the king dated Vienna, January 1, 1715.

The Swedish general in his letter is lauding the Austrian commander of Siebenbürgen, Count Steinville (Cronstadt), who had well prepared for the Swedish-Kozak group. Count Heinrich Wilhelm Wilcek is also mentioned. He, according to Sparre, accompanied them through Hungary and was in the letter supposed to leave at Ingolstadt in Bavaria. There is also a mention of Regensburg, Bavaria, in the letter.

In the next message to King Charles XII, dated Nuremburg (Bavaria) in January 29, 1715, it is made clear that the Swedes and Kozaks were headed for Hesse-Cassel. The Swedish connections with this German duchy were good. General Sparre later at Gieboldehausen (near Hanover) then situated in the Duchy of Eichsfeld handed over command to General Carl Gustaf Hård (an officer of the king’s Bodyguard Detachment, drabanter) and the group proceeded to Hanover. There is a letter of February 14, 1715, dated Cassel (now Kassel in Germany).

Orlyk, Family and Government in Stralsund and on the Island of Rügen 1715

The Ukrainian group was now on the last leg of its journey. The nearest Swedish territory was Swedish Pomerania in present day Germany. It had been in Swedish hands since the Thirty Year’s War and the Swedish king was Duke of Pomerania in a rather complicated peace agreement that in Vorpommern (as it is now called in German) the German emperor was the feudal lord of the king of Sweden and that Stockholm sent representatives to the Reichstag of the German empire. Now with Sweden on the retreat the territory was threatened by the anti-Swedish coalition of Denmark, Russia and Saxony. King Charles XII had arrived in Stralsund (the largest town with at the time around 10,000 inhabitants) in November, 1714, to aid in the defense against the besieging armies. An estimated 50,000 coalition troops would in 1715 close in on Stralsund. To defend Pomerania there were around 13,000 Swedish troops, many of them Pomeranians. The Swedish fleet had been defeated and the sea link to the Swedish town of Ystad in Scania Province was threatened.

During the spring and summer of 1715 the siege of Stralsund was moving at a slow pace. Orlyk and his family now lived in Grahlhof (Altefähr)on the side of the Island of Ruegen near the Strela sound dividing Stralsund and the mainland from the island. The building of that time (1715) is no more and it was in the nineteenth century replaced by a manor house. When the Orlyks lived there the site belonged to a monastery in Stralsund (St. Jürgen).

In the fall of 1715 the situation was becoming hopeless for the defenders of Stralsund. In the beginning of December the king left for Sweden and later in the month the Orlyk family were evacuated on a Swedish ship that managed to pass through the blockade to Ystad. A letter from Orlyk to the king in Latin dated Ystad is preserved.
During the Siege of Stralsund in the Great Northern War (1700 – 1721) the Swedish Empire defended her Swedish Pomeranian port of Stralsund against a coalition of Denmark-Norway, the Electorate of Saxony and the Tsardom of Russia, which was joined by Prussia during the siege.

A first attempt to take Stralsund was made in 1711, when the allies closed in on the town. Swedish relief forced the coalition to withdraw from the fortifications. General Magnus Stenbock’s victory at Gadebusch for a short time distracted the allies, but after Stenbock’s pursuit and subsequent defeat, Prussia as well as Hanover, ruled in personal union with Great Britain, joined the anti-Swedish alliance.

In 1714 Charles XII of Sweden returned to Stralsund from his exile in present day Moldavia (then a part of the Ottoman Empire). He then took charge of the defense of Stralsund in person. From July 12 to December 24, 1715, the allies besieged the town and forced its surrender. Charles XII managed to return to Sweden by ship and his ally, Ukrainian Hetman Pylyp Orlyk, with family and his government also managed to return by ship to Sweden. The Ukrainians had since the arrival in Stralsund lived on the southern part of the Island of Rügen on the estate Grahlhof in Altefähr.

More on the Siege of Stralsund 1711 – 1715

In 1711 the Swedish government had issued mobilization orders for Swedish Pomerania on April 8. The same year the siege of Stralsund started.

When the Swedish forces withdrew to their fortified strongholds of Stralsund, Stettin (Szczecin) and Wismar (another Swedish city to the west of Pomerania), around 6,000 Saxons, 6,000 Poles, and 12,000 Russians pursued the Swedish forces. About 25,000 Danes moved via Holstein-Gottorp and approached Stralsund from the west.

After the arrival of a Swedish relief army under General Magnus Stenbock the besieging allies retreated. In the following years they had a reduced activity with only minor raids. In May of 1712 new reinforcements arrived from Sweden with around 6,500 men infantry and 4,800 cavalry. All Swedish forces from around garrisons in all of Pomerania were now concentrated to Stralsund which added around 8,000 men to the defense of the town. The allies had a force of around 23,000.

Denmark was interested in taking over Pomerania which was of strategic importance as a bridgehead into the Holy Roman Empire. It was also an exporter of wool and grain. The first Danish claims to northern Swedish Pomerania were from1713. When Prussia, also seeking to annex Swedish Pomerania, joined the allies a Danish-Prussian treaty was concluded partitioning Swedish Pomerania along the river Peene, with Denmark being assured her claims for the northern part with Stralsund. August II of Saxony protested against the Danish-Prussian treaty and the Danes tended to reduce their military efforts in the coalition after the treaty.

General Stenbock’s forces leaving Pomerania turned west with 16,000 men, leaving 3,000 men to strengthen the garrison in Stralsund. The Swedish victory at Gadebusch in Mecklenburg and subsequent westward movement distracted the allies for a time from the siege. After the Battle of Gadebusch the Swedes under Stenbock were pursued by circa 36,000 Poles, Russians and Saxons. At Tönning in southern Denmark the Swedes were defeated and the allies could now concentrate once more on Stralsund. On September 29, 1713, Stettin was captured, which was the second largest fortress town in Swedish Pomerania.

Charles XII of Sweden on his arrival in Stralsund in 1714 envisioned that the town would constitute the base of a renewed Swedish attack on Peter I. His plans were a two-fold assault on Russia of a Swedish army from Pomerania and a Turkish army from the south. When Charles XII reached Stralsund the town’s garrison had a 17,000 men defense force.

In April 1715, Prussia declared war on Sweden. The Danish navy was assisted in the siege by eight British vessels, commanded by Admiral John Norris. In July, the allied forces closed in on Stralsund from the landside, and in November a combined Danish-Saxon-Prussian army landed at Stresow and took the island of Rügen north of the town. The defendants surrendered on Christmas Eve and Stralsund became the administrative center of the new Danish Pomerania which lasted 1715 – 1720.

After the surrender of Stralsund the Danish administration was organized under commanding General von Stöcken and 1028 Swedish prisoners of war were detained in the town. By the end of the Great Northern War in 1720 Stralsund and Pomerania were, however, returned to Sweden.

The estate of Grahlhof is described in the Swedish Cadastral Mapping of Pomerania. In the 17th century. Of interest is to find out more about the state of the estate in 1715 when the Ukrainians resided there. When was the estate originally built? What about ownership from the ime of its construction?

It is possible that there is information on this in Swedish archives but it would be necessary to find out if there is information in archives and libraries in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
It has so far only been possible to find three documents in the Swedish National Archive relating to Hetman Orlyk’s residence in Pomerania. There are possibly more documents still undiscovered.


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