Archive for August, 2017

Preussisk renässans?

August 7, 2017

Tyskland har efter murens fall upplevt en renässans för den 1945 upplösta staten Preussen, dess historia och kultur. Redan 1986 förde den dåvarande östtyska regimen vid firandet av 200-årsminnet av Fredrik den stores död tillbaka hans ryttarstaty till Unter den Linden i Berlin. Den finns givetvis kvar nu och ser mycket bättre ut efter en grundlig renovering.

Det har skrivits en rad böcker om Preussen under de senaste årtiondena: Sebastian Haffners ”Preussen ohne Legende” (1978), Marion Gräfin Dönhoffs ”Preussen – Mass und Masslosigkeit”. Nya tjocka biografier om Preussenkungarna har kommit ut. Haffner skrev i sin bok att han med den ville befria Preussen från två legender: den ”svarta” legenden, som de allierade skapade 1947 då de upplöste staten Preussen och den ”gyllene”, att Preussen alltid sett som sin uppgift att ena Tyskland.

Större delen av Preussen på Fredrik den stores tid ligger nu i Polen, Ryssland och Litauen. Kvar i Tyskland finns egentligen bara kärnlandet kring Berlin och den omgivande delstaten Brandenburg. Det finns få stater som satt känslorna så i svallning som Preussen. Samtidigt kan man inte jämföra Preussen med Bayern eller Sachsen. Det var i stället ett konglomerat av territorier.

Vilka var då de preussiska dygderna, det positiva: pliktuppfyllelse, lydnad, fromhet, tolerans, trofasthet, öppenhet mot flyktingar, enkelhet. Listan är lång och imponerande.

Fredrik den store var en liberal monark. Landet erkände som ett av de första Förenta Staterna. Ett år före sin död undertecknade Fredrik ett vänskapsfördrag med USA, som av George Washington betecknades som ”det mest liberala fördrag, som någonsin tecknats mellan två oavhängiga stater.” Brandenburg-Preussen tog 1685 emot tiotusentals franska hugenotter och gav dem fristad i Berlin, Stettin och Königsberg (nu ryska Kaliningrad). Från Schlesien, Österrike, Schweiz och Holland kom religionsförföljda till Brandenburg. I den preussiska landsrätten infördes tidigt en rättighetskatalog liknande den som finns i den amerikanska författningen. Likhet inför lagen var inte en tom fras i Preussen.

Preussen var inte heller krigshetsande. En genomgång av krig mellan 1680 och 1940 visar att Preussen-Tyskland förde mindre angreppskrig än England, Frankrike, Spanien och Ryssland. Landet var således inte någon barbarisk soldatstat utan centrum för kultur, litteratur och vetenskap.

Tysklands roll efter 1945 har varit att vårda det goda i det preussiska arvet. 2001 var det utställningen ”Preussen 2001 – en europeisk historia” (Charlottenburgs slott), ”Marksteine: Eine Entdeckungsreise durch Brandenburg-Preussen” (Kutschstall, Potsdam).

Sedan 2001 har det kommit en rad nya böcker om Preussen. En av de viktigaste var ”Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947” av Christopher Clark, ett massivt verk på 816 sidor, som utkom 2006. Den torde ha bidragit till att förändra den anglo-saxiska bilden av Preussen.

The English Protectorate and the Polish-Swedish War 1655-1660 

August 5, 2017

The Polish-Swedish war was to a great extent a war on credit by Stockholm. The number of indigenous officers and soldiers was around 40,000. They would have been no match for the Poles. Thus the Swedish government at the time had to rely on enlisting foreign troops. Gustavus borrowed from noblemen and financiers, Swedish and foreign. Often payment was not forthcoming so the rate of desertion was high. When Sweden was attacked by Denmark during the Polish-Swedish war he attempted to seize the so called Sound Duties collected by Denmark at Elsinore with its Gibraltar of the North, Kronborg Castle. At one point the king even offered Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in exchange for 20 English frigates to serve in the Baltic Sea both the castle and the Sound duties after having taken it and city of Elsinore in 1658.

Below a few notes on some of the English-Scottish regiments fighting for Sweden in the Polish-Swedish war:

Lord William Cranstone’s Infantry Regiment

Lord Cranstone was related to Field Marshal Alexander Leslie.

In the beginning of 1655 the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell gave permission for recruiting of 6,000 to 8,000 men for the Swedish Army. First recruitment did only reach 5,000 – 6,000 and in July 1655 was down to 2,000. In April 1656 the first Scottish recruits arrived in Bremen-Verden, Germany, a territory northwest of Hamburg, Germany, controlled by Sweden.

The first troops arrived in Bremen in April 1656 with 8 companies of 988 men with staff officers Rudwin, Michell, Arnott including the unit’s Lieutenant Colonel and Major. Half the regiment marched in the fall to Prussia. It was later transferred to Pernau in Livonia under Lt. Colonel J. Ogiluy (John Ogelvie?). The second half remained in garrison in Bremen-Verden commanded by Major Jakob (James) Mercer. It remained there in succession commanded by Majors W. Arnott and Patrik Johnston.

In July-August 1656 Cranstones second regiment of Scots arrived in Bremen with 9 companies of in all 832 men and staff (officers Alexander Drummond, Jacob (James) Robertson, George Grantt, Jacob (James) Fraser, Arsken, Ramsay, A. Scrymsner, Ortserston (Orterston), Asmuth (Achmuth). This unit left Bremen in the beginning of September 1656 and it is likely that the regiment was captured at Danzig. They were on a ship with Swedish General H.C. von Koenigsmarck from Wismar to Danzig, when a storm and mutiny forced the ships to land near the city. The Scottish soldiers then volunteered to serve the City of Danzig.

Three companies of the second regiment had remained in Bremen-Verden and 50-60 of Cranstone’s Scots were with the main Swedish army in Denmark (Fredriksodde). Lt. Colonel Ogiluy resigned in November 1657 to return to recruit another regiment. Major Ludvig Lesle (Leslie) on November 30, 1657, received patent to recruit yet an additional regiment of 8 companies with 800 men in England and Scotland. The regiment was to be delivered in Jutland, Denmark. Colonel Cranstone resigned on January 3, 1658 and returned home.

Mentioned 3 times in the muster rolls in 1656-1657 (1656: Vol. 8 and 10, 1657: Vol. 6) in the National War Archive, Stockholm, as “William Cranstones infanteriregemente”.

James Sinclair’s Regiment

Sinclair had been in Sweden for six years and was in May 1655 given permission to recruit an infantry regiment in Scotland of five companies with 100 men each within three months. An English ship arrived in April 1656 with 250 men. In November 1657 they seem to have been in Pomerania and were ordered to march to Lauenburg. The regiment served in Prussia in 1657 and 1658 with what seems to have been 5 companies.

This regiment is not mentioned in the Swedish National War Archive.

David Sinclair’s Combined Cavalry Regiment

Mentioned 6 times in the muster rolls 1655-1661 in the National War Archive as “David Sinclairs sammansatta kavalleriregemente”. No further information on this regiment at this time.

Robert Douglas Cavalry Regiment

This regiment was not Scottish but had a Scottish commander.

Mentioned 4 times in the muster rolls 1659-1660 in the National War Archive as “Robert Douglas’ kavalleriregemente”.

William Vavas(s)ours Infantry Regiment

The Swedish representatives in London (Georg Fleetwood, P.J. Coyet, Krister Bonde and J.F. von Friesendorff) were ordered to recruit 4,000 men in England and Scotland. According to a royal assignment of February 8, 1655, no less that 6-8 regiments of Scots were to be recruited. Fleetwood came to London in June 1655 and the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in 1656 gave permission for recruitment of 2,000 men. The Swedish representatives also conferred with Alexander Leslie, who had been Swedish Field Marshal during the Thirty Years’ War. In October that year 6 companies with 425 men arrived in Bremen with staff Colonel Vavasour in command with Lieutenant Colonel Richard Bohhott (Bolholt), Major Edward Chester. Captains were Bethell, W. Chester and Cotton. The regiment never rose above 500 officers and men. The unit remained in the west (partly in Stade and partly in Buxtehude). Some of Vavasours Englishmen took part in the crossing of the Great Belt in 1658.

A second regiment during the spring of 1657 called for additionally 2,000 Scots and Englismen to be recruited. Vavasour was promoted to major general. In 1657 he travelled to England in March but the ship was captured by Spanish pirates and he was imprisoned in the Netherlands for a while. In November-December he retrurned to Bremen with 300 new recruits. Major was Lesle (Leslie?). This unit later marched to Kiel to strengthen other regiments. Additional 500-600 were to arrive in the beginning of 1658, if ships could be secured in Newcastle.

Mentioned twice in in the muster rolls 1656-1657 in the National War Archive as “William Vavassours infanteriregemente”.

John Lothrop Motley and the Prose Epic of the Reformation

August 1, 2017

Celebrating German founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther, in 2017 is cause for reflection. There is reason to remember the book that is the epic of the Reformation by John Lothrop Motley (1814 – 1877), American diplomat and author.

Motley’s “The Rise of the Dutch Republic” (1900), the prose epic of the Reformation. Motley described the heroic resistance of the Gothic people. It was ethnically closely related to the Anglo-Saxons, against tyranny. The history of the later forming of the Republic of Holland was closely related to the Germanic early history. Although the Germanic system of government was nominally regal, it was in reality democratic. Sovereignty resided in the great assembly of the people. The early Germanics preferred gaining wealth by conquest: “Germanic”, Germann, Herr-mann, War-man. Conquest was the only useful occupation. Agriculture was despised as enervating and ignoble. The Germanics were more fitted for the roaming and conquering life which Providence was to assign to them for ages. The Germanics built his solitary hut where inclination prompted. Close neighborhood was not to his taste. These were the ancestors of Daniel Boone of the American West. Civilized by Christianity this independence was to become the virtue of the hero of liberty. It is part of the mystique of the frontiersman, who carried axe and the ark of religious-political liberty ever westward. He secured the American continent as the homeland of the chosen nation.

It is important to note that the early Germanic had a pure belief. He believed in a single, supreme, almighty God, All-Vater or All-father. This Divinity was too sublime to be incarnated or imaged, too infinite to be enclosed in temples. The Germanic is the embryonic Protestant. The Germanic was loyal. He contented himself with a single wife. The Germanic burial was simple. He was not ambitious at the grave. Only arms and the war-horse of the departed were burned and buried with him. Sometimes the war-horse equipment was buried. The turf was his only sepulcher. The memory of his valor is his only monument. It was a purely spiritual cast of mind and a brave humility. According to Motley the Germanic Batavians of Holland had disappeared but they lived a renovated existence as the free Frisians, whose name is synonymous with liberty and the nearest relation to the Anglo-Saxon. In the Batavian ashes the people developed together a fixed type of character. The great elements were love of freedom, indomitable valor, steadiness, sobriety, industry, receptivity of culture and sagacious intellectuality.

The mission of the Germanic peoples is obvious. Providence has chosen them to prepare the way for their redemptive work among the undeveloped peoples that surround them.

In 1868 Motley spoke on America’s future history (in Motley, Historic Progress and American Democracy, 1869). The determinant is destiny, a secularized term for Providence. The United States appears as the chosen nation:

“This nation stands on the point towards which other peoples are moving – the starting-point, not the goal. It has put itself – or rather destiny has put it – more immediately than other nations in subordination to the law governing all bodies political as inexorably as Kepler’s laws control the motions of the planets…The orbit of civilization seems preordained from East to West…China, India, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, Rome, are successively lighted up as the majestic orb of day moves over them; and as he advances still further through his storied and mysterious Zodiac, we behold the shadows of evening as surely falling on the lands which he leaves behind him.”.

Liberation and Reformation could only go so far in the Old World. To a new and uncorrupted nation was to be given the complete emancipation of mankind. Geography, date of discovery, the origin of the settlers, all have been destined to accomplish the result. How is world liberation to be completed? England at the time was becoming a partner of its old colony in the liberation of humanity. After all their peoples were children of the ancient Germanic mother. American democracy, American inventiveness and initiative are the main influences. The steam engine, telegraph, the free school and the daily press had been waiting to appear until the new nation could show its value on an immense scale. Improvements of technology and institutions were effective means of destroying the superstition on which the mystical Babylon rested. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge will be increased” (Daniel 12:4).