May 20, 2012

1 - The Swedish-Polish Heritage

Sigismund’s column and Royal castle at Warsaw

The Swedish Fleet mastered on the Baltic Sea and the Polish Cavalry did the same all over the Steppe when Sweden and Poland had been truly empires in 1600s.

Meanwhile, Muscovite Russia was a rich but weak Duchy in civil war after the House of Rurik extinction. Tartars and Ottomans Turks ravaged Russian border. Germany did not exist at all, rather a Prussian Duchy (it was only East Prussia) ruled by the Marquis of Brandenburg. The Habsburgs’ Holy Roman Empire was huge but de-centralized and submersed in religion struggle and their rich Spanish Colonial Empire was very far across the Atlantic Ocean. Yet there was no UK at all (England suffered under the Tudors’ tyrannical rule and Scotland was an independent Kingdom). The magnificent Kingdom of France had known the horrors of the Religion struggles (let us remember the Saint Bartholomew’s night…) North America was Amerindian land that had been reaching only by Dutch and English adventurers.

Years 1600s were times of Religion and Dynastic wars. There was no such thing as Patriotism, Democracy or People’s Civil Rights, but strong commitment to the Monarch and the Church. Legitimacy and True Faith were the most important matters. This is the picture to have remembered as background while reading this summary.Sigismund’s statue on top the column

Our ancestors had arrived from the Kingdom of Sweden to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth mostly between 1587 and 1659, under the rule of the House of Vasa over both countries. Roughly, they were military in the Polish-Swedish wars between the Protestant and Catholic branches of the Vasas.

There’s a second group of Swedes, rather minor than the first, which had arrived to Poland later, between 1702 and 1709, in times of King Stanislaw I Leszczynski and his ally King Charles XII of Sweden. In addition, of course, there were lonely Swedes who had arrived to Poland at any time for personal reasons. There is also something about them at the end of this summary.

There are several Polish surnames showing clearly a Swedish origin, like Szwed, Szwec, Szwen and their derivatives (root + ending) like Szwedski, Szwecki and Szwenderski, just for example. There is a long list of Swedish-Polish surnames like these, already published in this place.

1. Szwed (the largely used), which means Swedish or Swede in Polish language.

2. Szwec comes from Szwecja, which is Sweden in Polish and is a derivative of the Germanic “Schwetz” too (meaning Sweden). Polish Szwec and German Schwetz are similar pronunciations.

3. There are also Swen and Swend; Szwen and Szwend; Śwend and Swęd. They come from Sven and Svend, the popular Scandinavian names (nicknames to any Swede).Swedish Polish royal family (John III of Sweden, Catherine of Poland and child) House of Vasa, pl Wazowie, sv Vasaatten

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the union of the Kingdom of Poland (which had included Ukraine and Latvia) with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (which had included Belarus and the Russian Land of Smolensk). This large country was rule by one elected Monarch and only one Parliament but had two own separate Administrations (Privy Councils).

The first Swedes to have arrived there (as a group) in 1587, were men of King Sigismund’s retinue as Crown Prince of Sweden. After 1599, when the usurper Duke Charles (later Charles IX) and his hard-wing Protestants took him out of his throne, some Loyalist Swedes (Catholics and Lutherans altogether) must go away with their Rightful King and had settled in Poland.

When the King of Sweden John III Vasa died in 1592, his son Sigismund had acceded to the Swedish throne. He was the elected King of Poland since 1587; his mother was Polish Princess Catherine, younger sister of the last Polish-Lithuanian monarch of the House of Jagiellon. Duke Charles, John’s brother, did not approve the accession of his nephew, a devout Catholic, to the government of a realm that could as well be his (according to him). King Sigismund had appointed the Swedish Senate (or Privy Council) to rule in his name when he was out of Sweden, but with cunning, the Duke managed to get the support of the Parliament becoming the Regent of Sweden. He had claimed to be the Protestant cause champion and the Kingdom defender against foreign interference. Against the King’s will, a Synod summoned by Duke Charles drew up an anti-Catholic agenda and the Augsburg Confession was officially adopted (the Evangelical Lutheran Church confession of faith). Duke Charles was able to assume control over the main powerful castles in the country and in this manner achieved control over almost all the Realm.Sigismund III, by the grace of God, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Livonia, and also  King of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals, claimant King of Jerusalem

King Sigismund could not accept Duke Charles’s rebel actions and decided to use force. In February 1598, he had assembled a Polish army to curb the Rebels. This army was small because the King expected Swedish Loyalist forces to join him. The King had support from the strong Swedish army in Finland where the Swedish Nobility and Gentry was loyal to him and more help from different parts of Estonia and Sweden proper. The Polish-Lithuanian Army had been to get transport from Gdansk to Kalmar on Swedish ships, but the Swedish Parliament refused the Fleet to transport foreign forces. King Sigismund had to gather a hundred ships by his own, before beginning his travel to Kalmar. Due to bad winds, the journey across the sea took a long time and the coordinated attack by the Swedish Army in Finland and the Polish Army could not be undertaken.

After had taken Kalmar and Stockholm with Polish and Swedish Loyalist forces, the Rebel Duke’s army was defeated in the Battle of Stegeborg. Nevertheless, Duke Charles prevented the Loyalist army of Finland to join the Polish forces. He had managed to surround and defeat the King’s army in the Battle of Linkoping and had made King Sigismund his prisoner. The King could return to Poland at the end and never abdicated to his rightful throne, but the civil war in Sweden was lost. This situation had started the Dynastic war of 1600–1629 (which was interrupted by periods of truce) and was followed by the large conflict of 1655–1660 known as The Swedish Deluge.

The Realm of Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Ingria (where is Saint Petersburg nowadays) was already largely a Lutheran country, but Catholics had remained and many people, yet “officially” Protestants, had sympathies towards the Church of Rome. (Former King John III, Sigismund’s father, had showed clear Catholic sympathies inspired by his Polish consort and had reintroduced several Catholic customs in the Church of Sweden).

Duke Charles had been clearly a usurper to many people in Sweden, yet between Ladislaus IV Vasa King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, etc., Grand Duke of Moscow and rightful hereditary King of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals hard-wing Lutherans as the Archbishop of Uppsala, the Primate of Sweden. Princess Anna Vasa, the Protestant younger sister of King Sigismund was very close to her brother; exiled in Poland, she had became the King's advisor and District-Governor of Brodnica and Golub. She had acted as protector for the exiled Swedish Loyalists. Swedish admiral Gyllenstierna had become Admiral of Poland and his son became the Castle-Commander of Gdansk and Polish Senator (yet, they were both Protestants). The Nobility and Gentry of South Sweden was mostly Loyalist. In Central Sweden, the District-Governor of Dalarna had raised the people against the rebel Duke (the Neaf Campaign). However, Finland was the very stronghold of King Sigismund’s followers. As part of his large power struggle against his nephew, Duke Charles had supported a big Finnish Peasants uprising against the Governor-General of Finland, the Swedish landowners and military (the Cudgel War). In Estonia, the Castle-Commanders showed sympathies towards Sigismund.

After the victory over the Polish and Swedish-Loyalist Army at the Battle of Stangebro and dethronement of his nephew, the Duke had began a persecution against those who had supported the King which worst event was the Linkoping Bloodbath, in 1600. Many of the Loyalists were the head cut off including five Senators (i.e. High Lords), much more had been condemned to exile (usually they traveled to Poland) and many people were jailed. The consequences for the remaining Catholic elements of Swedish society had been devastating.

Between 1600 and 1629, there had been several attacks against Sigismund’s Realm. When Charles IX (and Gustav II Adolf later), had sent their troops to Poland some underground loyalist militaries took the opportunity to change sides. For example, in 1627, after the battle of Czarne (also Hamersztyn) Swedish officers and soldiers prisoners of Polish High-Commander Koniecpolski changed to the Polish side. This incident has been specifically remark in the annals of this battle. John II Casimir Vasa King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, etc., and rightful hereditary King of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals

King Sigismund had desired to instigate a revolt in Sweden using the exiled Swedes that lived in Poland, but this never happened.

In addition, after a peace of 25 years during Vladislas IV rule of Poland, (Sigismund’s elder son), more Swedish military had arrived during the war between King Charles X Gustav of Sweden and John II Casimir of Poland, (Sigismund’s younger son), known as The Swedish Deluge (1655–1660). The cousin and heir of Queen Christina (she returned to Catholicism after abdicating), had decided to attack again, in order to finish the dynastic mater for good.

Those militaries may have arrived during the Swedish Deluge as real enemies at first, but after the war ended a few of them decided to stay. Using foreign troops was usual in 17th century warfare and become a mercenary soldier was considered a good way to get honor, fame and profit. Former enemy prisoners had become commonly members of the Royal Army or the Magnates (High Lords) private armies; because fine soldiers had been always welcome, (there were no such thing as National Armies at this time). Polish-Lithuanian Monarchs had been at war during 250 years, outside against its neighbors and inside against rebel Cossacks and the easy-upraising Nobility. Meanwhile, as the Spanish Conquistadores had done in America, the Magnates expanded the Commonwealth border conquering Moscow to the North and clashing with the Habsburgs and the Ottomans for domination over Moldavia (nowadays Romania) to the South.Princess Anna Vasa, Sigismund’s sister at Polish exile

Sweden had only one million of inhabitants, but a financial system able to keep a permanent trained army due to its centralized government and Obligatory Draft that had including Free Peasants. The Swedish Army was composed mainly by Infantry (pikemen and arquebusiers), backed by good Artillery and Light-Cavalry (sword and pistol armed), all transported and cannon-backed by a strong Fleet if necessary.

Poland-Lithuania had ten million of inhabitants, but a de-centralized financial system, (all taxes had to be agreeing upon all the Nobility at the Great Parliament and the Regional Parliaments). Obligatory Draft was only to Nobility (because peasants were mostly Serfs) and there was only a small privateer Navy. The Royal Army had been well train but not large and composed mainly by Heavy-Cavalry (the famous “winged hussars” - armored lance-armed knights that used sword and pistol rather as complementary weapons). Artillery was modern and very well provided, but Infantry was small in number (mostly composed by mercenary pikemen and arquebusiers). This army was nearly undefeated in battle for over a hundred years; nevertheless, it was a small permanent army. The Draft of the Nobility (mainly gathered in a more simple kind of Heavy-Cavalry) was large because Polish Nobility was the ten per cent of the population, but was called up in wartime only and disbanded in peacetime. This had made it impossible to get well training. Besides, in wartime, large cities raised Burgher militias or mercenary companies and Free Peasants may have joined the army (because it was the way to ennoblement).

Therefore, after the Peace of Oliwa (1660) which ended the Dynastic matter and the Polish-Swedish wars, the exiled Swedish Loyalist and the former Swedish prisoners who decided to stay in Poland, (now as Polish military), were very helpful and welcome. They had fight in the different wars in which Poland-Lithuania involved and their descendants settled all around the country. Already in 1659, King John II Casimir had entitled as Polish Nobles the exiled Swedish Nobles who had lost all at Scandinavia standing by the Polish Vasas. Prince Charles Ferdinand Vasa, Bishop of Wroclaw and Plock, Duke of Opole and Nysa

There are many places in nowadays Poland (and there were more in ancient Poland) whose names remember Swedish presence, like Szwederowo (now an airport close to Bydgoszcz), Szwedzki Ostrow (a small village south-west of Gdansk) or Szwendrowy Most (a village north of Warsaw), for example.

Nevertheless (and for a new reason), is Szwedy, a village north of Rzeszow (South-East Poland) which keeps the attention.

Szwedy (formerly had known also as Szwedów), was a place to settle former Swedish prisoners also, but this time in early 18th century, according to the Geographic Encyclopedia of the Kingdom of Poland.

In this case, they were men of Charles XII of Sweden who had been a young warrior king supporter of King Stanislaw I Leszczinski of Poland. Stanislaw had been at war against his rival Augustus II the Strong (Elector of Saxony), backed by the tyrannical Emperor Peter the Great of Russia.

There were more villages founded with the same name and destiny in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, like Szwedy near Wilejka, nowadays Belarus, for example. Those militaries had participated in a Polish civil war (1702-1709), so they were seeing (by the Poles) as enemies of an unloved king but supporters of a beloved one. For that reason, they had been welcome to settle (yet living in Belarus, they not became Ruthenians, but Poles).

They were the ancestors of the second (and minor) group of Swedish-Polish families, being the first group (and largely bigger in number) those of the times of Vasas rule. Anyway, the members of both groups, married Polish women in time, and their descendants integrated themselves to the people of Poland, but they proudly remembered their origin in their surnames.

In addition, there were lonely Swedes who had arrived to Poland at any time for personal reasons.

A remarkable case had been Count Lars von Engeström (also d’ Engeström), (1751-1826), Swedish prominent public official and diplomat. He served as the Chief of the Council for Foreign Affairs from 1809 to 1824, and as the Chancellor of Lund University from 1810 to 1824. He had been elect member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1810.Prince John Albert Vasa, Cardinal, Bishop of Cracow and Prince-Bishop of Warmia

Count Lars von Engeström was the son of Lutheran Bishop of Lund and Vice-Chancellor of the Lund University, Johannes Engeström. His son was ennobled "for his father's merits," by king Adolf Frederick of Sweden and took the surname “von Engeström”, according to Swedish Nobility style.

His political career began under King Gustav III of Sweden in 1773. In 1787, he had accredited as Swedish ambassador in Poland. For the years 1790-1792, he served as a member of the Polish Royal Court. Lars von Engeström married Rozalia Drya-Chlapowska and bought an estate at Jankowice. His political activism characterized by anti-Russian attitude, which led him to establish relationships with the elite of the Patriots. In June 22, 1791, Stanislaus II Augustus Poniatowski, King of Poland, entitled him to Polish Nobility also, to “Engeström coat of arms” (according to Polish Nobility style) and Knight of the Order of Saint Stanislaus.

After 1795, he fulfilled diplomatic duties, and toured, on behalf of the King of Sweden to London, Vienna, Berlin and Paris. After retirement of Swedish diplomatic and political live, he was often on transit between Sweden and Poland where he lived on his property at Jankowice.

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May 19, 2012

2 - List of Polish surnames showing far Swedish origin

Prince Sigismund Casimir Vasa, Ladislas’s son died in childhood (8 years old)

There are several Polish surnames showing clearly a Swedish origin, like Szwed, Szwec, Szwen and their derivatives (root + ending) like Szwedkowski, Szwechtowicz and Szwenderski, for example.

Surnames showing a foreign ethnic origin are not uncommon in Poland: Anglikowski (English), Czechelski (Czech), Francuzowicz (French), Niemierowski (German), Prusiński (Prussian), Rusocki (Russian), Sasiński (Saxon), Szkotnicki (Scot), Szwajcarski (Swiss), Turski, (Turk), Węgielewski (Hungarian), Włochowicz (Italian) or Żydzianowski (Jew) are some examples. Each of them have they own story which is out of the target of this summary.

1- Surnames derivatives of Szwed (the largely used), which means Swedish or Swede in Polish language and is a nickname to any Swede or Swedish descendant, its pronunciation in Polish is like English “shved” or German “schwed” (English “shwed” or just “swed” are not proper but acceptable). It seems to be remarkable many members of Szwedowski family in nowadays Poland, for example, use “Szwed” as school nickname.

Szwed, Szweda, Szwedak, Szwedas, Szwedczyński, Szwede, Szwedek, Szwedenie, Szweder, Szwederowski, Szwedes, Szwediuk, Szwedka, Szwedkiewicz, Szwedko, Szwedków, Szwedkowicz, Szwedkowski, Szwedlek, Szwedler, Szwedo, Szwedor, Szwedów, Szwedowicz, Szwedowski, Szwedra, Szwedro, Szwedrowski, Szwedryk, Szwedski, Szwedt, Szwetz, Szweduik, Szwedulski, Szwedun, Szwedura, Szwedurski, Szwedyc, Szwedyk, Szwedziak, Szwedzicki, Szwedziński, Szwedziuk, Szwedzki. Princess Maria Anna Teresa Vasa of Poland and Sweden; daughter of King John II Casimir and Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga

This list must include the female form of these surnames in proper Polish style, like Szwedska, Szwedurska or Szwedzicka, for example. In addition, those surnames are in Polish language properly. Out of Poland Szwedo may become “Swedo”, or “Schwedo”; Szwedzicki may become “Swedzitski” or “Schwedzitzky”, etc. Yet, they must be considering the same surname, but “wrong-written”. This is the same thing to the following names.

2- Surnames derivatives of Szwecja, which is Sweden in Polish. It is a nickname similar to Szwed and its pronunciation is like English “shvets” or German “schwetz”.

Szwec, Szwech, Szwechlik, Szwechłowicz, Szwechowicz, Szwechtowicz, Szwecki, Szweców, Szweczak, Szweczko, Szweczyk, Szweczykiewicz.

3- Surnames derivatives of Swen (also Swend, Szwen, Szwend, Śwend and Swęd), come from Sven; the popular Scandinavian name which may be considered also as nickname to any Swede; like Ivan or Paddy to any Russian or Irish in America. Szwend, Śwend and Swęd are pronouncing in Polish like English “shvend” or German “schwend” all of them.

Swenicki, Swenlikowski, Swenda, Swendera, Swenderowski, Swenderski, Swendowicz, Swendra, Swendracki, Swendrak, Swendrowski, Szwencki, Szwęcki, Szwencer, Szwencfejer, Szwench, Szwencner, Szwenic, Szwenik, Szwenzer, Szwengruben, Szwenzicki, Szwentner, Szwenda, Szwender, Szwenderski, Szwenderling, Szwendke, Szwendowski, Szwendrowski, Szwendrys, Szwentuchowski.Polish princess, Ladislas’s daughter from his mistress

4- In Polish may be pronouncing the same “Swend” and “Swęd”, “Szwend” and “Śwend” so there are:

Swęd, Swęda, Swęder, Swędera, Swęderski, Swędorski, Swędowski, Swędra, Swędrak, Swędrowski, Swędrzyński, Swędział, Swędzikiewicz, Swędzikowski, Swędzioł, Swęnd, Śwenderski, Śwendorski.

Moreover, may be more…

- REMARK - In old times, Sven and Svend were names and nicknames used by Swedes and Danes (including Norwegians, Estonians and Finns) indistinctly. So, may be some Danish people that settled in Poland too. The first naming act in Denmark was issued in 1526 and made heritable names compulsory for Nobility. Other higher class people took heritable surnames during the following centuries, Clergy often Latinized names and Burghers (the wealthiest merchants and artisans) often Germanized names. The rural population only reluctantly gave up the traditional patronymic second noun (usually after 1850). Aderkas also Aderkass (or Baron von Aderkas) is a good example of Danish-Polish noble surname. Sometimes only family tradition says if a family is from Swedish or Danish origin. Yet, getting Swedish-Polish heritage is largely usual.

- In modern Lithuania many Polish surnames were “Lithuanized”. For example, “Szwedkowski” became “Švedkauskas” or “Švedkauskas”.

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May 18, 2012

3 - Historic events related with the origin of the surnames Szwed, Szwec, Szwen and its derivatives (root+ending, i.e. Szwed+owski)


“A beautiful Polish song about the Swedish-Polish War in 1598. In this year, the Catholic Sigismund Vasa, legitimate hereditary king of Sweden, (and also elective king of Poland), was forced to lead a military expedition against his native country, Sweden, to suppress the rebellion led by his Protestant uncle, Duke Karl. The ambitious Duke had been appointed Regent of Sweden, but took advantage of Sigismund's protracted absences in Poland to initiate a revolt. He exploited Sigismund's Catholicism to pose as the heroic defender of Protestantism in Sweden (which had already experienced a Lutheran reformation under previous Vasa kings). Sigismund's expedition was a failure; his far more ruthless uncle crushingly defeated him at the Battle of Stångebro. Sigismund fled to Poland soon afterwards, and lost his Swedish crown. The usurping uncle became king, and cruelly suppressed Sigismund's supporters, executing many leading noblemen who had fought for their rightful monarch. Karl's son, Gustavus Adolphus, would later achieve fame as the Protestant champion in the Thirty Years War.” – Quotation from the blog “The sword and the sea” by Matterhorn.

1- Sigismund Vasa was the rightful hereditary-king of Sweden (and elected-king of Poland) who our ancestors chosen to support. Following him, they must had leave Sweden and settled in Poland.

2- Polish-Swedish Union. Hope to Catholicism in Sweden.

3- Dynastic and religion war in Sweden. The first Polish-Swedish war (properly).

4- Loyalists Swedes exiled in Poland (some examples) – Princess Anna Vasa, Baron Johan Gyllenstierna (Swedish and Polish admiral), Count Gustav Brahe (Polish general), etc.

5- End of the Swedish civil war. It was a disastrous end to the Protestant Loyalist, and the Roman Catholic minority.

6- The Linkoping Bloodbath – Protestant loyalists were persecuted as well as Roman Catholics, which were banished of any high-office in Sweden-Finland.

7- Polish-Swedish wars

8- More Swedish-Catholics reach Poland-Lithuania. For example, event after the battle of Czarne (Hammerstein), 1627: "Some Swedish soldiers… changed sides at that time”.–Sweden_War_(1625–1629)#1627

* Some controversies about this last source:

Kadrinazi (my friend and remarkable blogger) said...

“I'm afraid…There is no proof that there were any native Swedes present in this battle at all, as whole force were mercenaries (under Swedish service) recruited by colonels Streiff and Teuffel in Mecklenburg. Majority of soldiers (both foot and cavalry) indeed change sides and were enlisted into Polish ranks, but that wasn't the case with officers who were taken prisoners and later exchange with Swedes for Poles in Swedish captivity. I dare to say that I study 1625-1629 war with great care and I have access to many Polish and Swedish sources, none of which mentioned Swedish (native) officers changing sides.”

Polish Wikipedia doesn’t say anything about too. I was astonished. Yet I choose English Wikipedia version because many years ago (1976 or 77) when I was living in Sao Paulo, Brazil, one friend (History teacher with skills in Polish history and Polish nobility) told me the same thing that Wikipedia says. He believed those Swedes were probably still Catholics (in secret) or Lutheran Loyalists (also in secret) that took the opportunity to change sides. This friend in question had access to an excellent library in Brazil. I supposed he took this after some of the Polish history books he had read. To be honest, I never knew from what source he got that. Also, may be this incident happened after other battle during Polish-Swedish wars (not necessary Czarne/Hammerstein). When I saw this issue in English Wikipedia I believed honestly that it was the proper case. As people may understand I remember this conversation by heart so I may be mistaken about the proper battle. Anyway, in the battle of Czarne or in any other battle, the main issue remains that some Swedish military (still Loyalists or Catholics – in secret) profited the opportunity to change sides (perhaps in different occasions and in several times).

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May 17, 2012

4 - Something more about Swedish-Polish surnames

Polish winged hussar (cavalryman)In Sweden, before King Eric XIV reign (from 1560 to 1568), Swedish people didn’t use any surnames (family names) at all. Just to remember: Eric XIV was King Gustav Vasa’s elder son and the elder brother of kings John III and Charles IX.

At this time, people in Sweden used first name and patronymic (that’s a reference to the father’s name). In addition, but only if necessary, they could use some reference to the place of living (farm, village, city, county, etc.).

Let’s put an example: First name “Gustaf”, second name (a patronymic, not a family name) “Eriksson” and, if necessary, the place of origin (in order to be simple in this example) “af Sverige” meaning “of Sweden”. Then we have: “Gustaf Eriksson” or “Gustaf Eriksson af Sverige” (Gustav Ericson of Sweden). In fact, the name used as example was exactly the very King Gustav Vasa’s name.

King Gustav I of Sweden never used the family name “Vasa”. His son Eric XIV was who began to use a surname for his Dynasty. He chose this family name because in Swedish language “vase” or “vasakärve means “sheaf” the golden symbol of the Vasas’ coat-of-arms (a wheat sheaf is one of the large bundles in which wheat is bound after reaping).

During his live, King Gustav’s name was really “Gustav Eriksson” (Gustav was written also “Gustaf”). Time later, History books re-named him “Gustav Vasa”.

Because his father’s name was “Erik” his patronymic was “Eriksson” (Erik-s-son) the Swedish meaning Eric’s son. The extra “s” in Swedish patronymics denotes the possessive case, similar to English “ ’s”. Gustav father’s name was “Erik Johansson” because Gustav’s grandfather was “Johan Kristiersson” (meaning the name of Gustav’s great-grandfather was “Kristier or “Kristian”). History books re-named the entire family as “Vasa” to make simple following them along History.

Nowadays, patronymics are family names in Sweden, but this is “modern” (it means 19th century) and this is a different story. Old Swedish patronymics became the most used kind of surnames in Sweden. Actually, the top-ten surnames currently used in Sweden are: Johansson, Andersson, Karlsson, Nilsson, Eriksson, Larsson, Olsson, Persson, Svensson and Gustafsson.

Sometimes instead of the patronymic (let’s say, “Edvarsson” – Edward’s son) some people used the genitive form “Edvards” (Edvard-s) as surname. But, again, this is a “modern” story.

King Gustav Eriksson (Gustav I Vasa) had two brothers named “Johan Eriksson” and “Magnus Eriksson” (because their father was Erik). He had also five sisters: “Margareta Eriksdotter”, “Anna Eriksdotter”, “Birgitta Eriksdotter”, “Marta Eriksdotter” and “Emerentia Eriksdotter”. Because all of them were Eric’s daughters their patronymic was “Eriksdotter” (Erik-s-dotter). “Daughter” in English is “dotter” in Swedish (the writing is different, but the pronunciation is rather similar).

Swedish history books write those old names of men and women as following: “Erik Johansson (Vasa)” or “Margareta Eriksdotter (Vasa)”. The brackets mean those people never used the surname during their lives. Please, see Swedish Wikipedia for a couple of examples:

In his coronation (June 29, 1561) Eric XIV of Sweden acquired for the first time the surname “Vasa” and introduced the Count and Baron dignities in Sweden. The title of Duke was kept only to Dynasty members (princes or princesses belonging to the Royal Family).

Together with the title the new counts and barons got the firsts family names. Yet, it would take well into 17th century until the practice of using family names was fully implemented among the Nobility. “Frälse” (old term for Nobility, in Swedish) like any Nobility was a privileged estate who served the King by equipping a number of soldiers and cavalry (in return they were exempted from taxes). If they were large landowners they were known as “stormän”. Those concepts were similar to Polish “szlachta” and “magnateria”. The new (and currently used) term for Nobility should be “adel”, but it wasn’t used until King Eric’s reform. When noblemen got their patent of nobility and privileges they also got a coat-of-arms on which was emblazoned a heraldic symbol. From these symbols the noble family names slowly evolved. For example, the noble family Uggla (owl) has an owl on its escutcheon and the family Leijonhufvud (lion-head) has three heads of lions. Anyway, between 1561 and 1611 (the last is the date of Charles IX death) only 21 titles of Count and Baron were created, meaning that only 21 families got surnames in the entire Realm of Sweden-Finland at this time, when these countries were inhabited by one million people.

Swedish like harquebusier (cavalryman)Finally, patronymic names were slowly abandoned by the nobility and clergy. Also, the development of town guilds was a starting point for craftsmen to adopt special surnames too. Swedish Burghers took surnames after nobility and clergy (with the exception of those who were from foreign origin – usually German traders or French smiths – that already used foreign surnames). Swedish Farmers (small landowners) and Peasants (free land-workers) got surnames at the beginning of 19th century (in some rural zones just in 20th century). Let’s remember that opposite to Poland-Lithuania, not-nobles were allowed to get lands and land-workers were free in Sweden-Finland, where serfdom never existed. In Poland and Lithuania, between 1505 and 1861 only nobility (with rare exceptions) were landowners and land-workers were usually serf.

This note was written thinking in Poles and Polish descendants with “far” Swedish origin. Why “far”? What’s the difference between “far origin” and “close origin” in this case? Swedes or Swedish descendants that settled in Poland in “modern” times (later 18th to 20th centuries) already had surnames before living in Poland-Lithuania. For this people’s names applies the same explanation given about a French living in Poland (like Chopin’s father) or any other foreigner established in Poland coming from any other country (for instance, Bacciarelli, Konrad, Schelking, etc.). Our ancestors (17th century Swedish military people) came to Poland without using family names, therefore, them (or their offspring) got Polish surnames (usually) after the nicknames Szwed, Szwec, Szwen, etc. Let’s remark “usually” because always may be exceptions to any rule.

Before, I wrote something about Count Lars von Engeström (also d’Engestrom or Engestrem) because he was a standing character in Stanislaus II Augustus era. But he (who was Swedish born) and other people from “close Swedish origin” are out of the proper goal of this summary.

A reader of these notes, also Swedish-Polish descendant, was wonder about some surnames that don’t look like “ethnic-Swedish”. But, what is properly an ethnic-Swedish name? Only patronymic-originated surnames are ethnic-Swedish? Certainly not! For instance, Lind, Horn, Pauli, Danielis, Granat, Glad and Missa are Swedish surnames. Indeed.

Lind (linden-tree) is popular among Swedish craftsmen descendants. Horn (horn/antler) is a prominent Swedish noble family name; in this case they took the surname after the very symbol of the family crest. Pauli and Danielis may look Italian names... yet, they are clergymen or scholar Swedish surnames (Lutheran clergy and University scholars used Latinized versions of their patronymic names – originally Paulsson and Danielsson in those examples).

Granat (grenade) and Glad (glad/happy) were nicknames used by military in 17th century and become surnames later. Missa (somebody who usually misses or foozles a shot) was a kind of ironical nickname to a very fine shooter (with musket, carbine or pistol) like “Little” John was to the gigantic companion of Robin Hood.

At the end of the 17th century the Army (and later the Navy) started to give the soldiers special nicknames that some of them decided to keep as family name when they left the army. When a soldier was enrolled the commander of the company gave him a special “soldier-name”. In each military unit the soldiers (or sailors) had to have a unique last name because when an order was given to a certain soldier only this soldier was to react. These “soldier-names” were of special character, many of the names had a military touch and were usually made from only one word describing the personality, appearance or skill of the person, as we saw in the examples.

That kind of surname may be available in Poland too, because some soldiers kept their Swedish “soldier-names” as family names. In addition, some lone Swedes (already using that kind of surname) perhaps moved to Poland in “modern” centuries. Anyway, not necessary all Swedish military remaining in Poland took surnames after the nicknames Szwed, Szwec, and Szwen.

March of Swedish troops reinforcing Kiejdany (Radziwill’s) castle.


Swedish nobility

Finnish nobility

Swedish name

Swedish naming practices in earlier times, surnames

Swedish Last Names

Some Notes on Swedish Names

The Allotment System

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May 16, 2012

5- Polish Nobility from Swedish origin

The issue of this note is mostly about Swedish-Finnish nobles that became Polish-Lithuanian nobles in times of the House of Vasa reign’s over both kingdoms in 17th century.

Herb Guldenstern; Gulderstern (Gyllenstierna)The cases of Swedish nobles “re-entitled” (indygenatus) as Polish nobles in late 18th century, like Baron Albedyll and Count Engestrem are rare. In the other hand, some Polish nobles got Swedish titles, like King Stanislaw II August Poniatowski's father. Stanislaw Poniatowski (senior), Castle-Commander of Cracow, Polish and Swedish general was entitled Count by King Charles XII of Sweden (Remarques d’un Seigneur polonais sur l’Histoire de Charles XII, par Voltaire -1741). Also, after the partitions more Polish nobles were re-entitled in Sweden too (for instance, Czartoryski, Mikulowski, Rzewuski, etc.). But all of this is another story.


King Eric XIV’s legislation of 1561 was the beginning of a reform regarding Swedish Nobility (Adel) fully implemented in several steps which main point (but not the last) was the Instrument of Government of 1634 crated by High-Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna, Count of Södermöre (who ruled in fact during King Gustav Adolf and Queen Christina reigns’).

Swedish Nobility was known with the old terms "frälse" (usually) or "stormän" (when huge landowners). The modern term "adel" (meaning also, nobility) that replaced the old terms, wasn’t used until the middle of the 16th century.

Herb Ogończyk; SzwederowskiSwedish Nobility was organized into three classes according to a scheme introduced in the House of Knights (Riddarhuset) in 1626:

1- The Class of Lords (Herreklassen), comprising the nobles entitled Count (greve) and Baron (friherre).

2- The Class of Knights (Riddarklassen), comprising not-titled noble’s descendants of Privy Councilors.

3- The Class of Esquires (Svenneklassen), comprising the large number of the usually not-titled nobles.

As in Poland, Swedish nobility is largely not-titled (“nobleman” or “gentleman” was/is the social/legal condition itself; in Swedish, adelsman; in Polish, szlachcic).

When the privileges of nobility were first handed out, the noble families were using patronymic-names as all Swedes did. When they were given their patent of nobility and privileges they also were given a coat-of-arms on which was emblazoned a heraldic symbol. From these symbols the noble family names slowly evolved.
Anyway, between 1561 and 1611 (the last is the date of Charles IX death) only 21 titles of Count and Baron were created, meaning (roughly) that only 21 families got surnames in the entire Realm of Sweden-Finland at this time (when these countries were inhabited by one million people!).


The legend about a 1600s Swedish officer, becoming a Polish nobleman, is strong in several Swedish-Polish families. According to this story they were Swedes settled in Poland in times of King Sigmund III Vasa and they did something remarkable in order to be rewarded with ennoblement (like choosing the Polish-Vasas side during the Polish-Swedish dynastic wars). Let’s remember: nobody rewards an enemy.

The first Swedes that arrived there (as a group) in 1587, were men of King Sigismund’s retinue as Crown Prince of Sweden. After 1599, when the usurper Duke Charles (later Charles IX) and his hard-wing Protestants took him out of his throne, some Loyalist Swedes (Catholics and Lutherans together) must go away with their Rightful King and settled in Poland. For example, after the battle of Czarne in 1627, some Swedish officers (with their battalions), prisoners of High-Commander (hetman) Koniecpolski, changed to the Polish side and fought against Duke Charles’ troops. Actually, they were (in secret) Loyalists and/or Catholics who took profit of the opportunity to change sides. This incident is specifically mentioned after this battle.

In Swedish army, farmers (small-landowners) and peasants (land-workers) used to be soldiers. Opposite of Poland peasantry, Swedish peasants were free (they never were serfs) so they could be drafted when necessary. Swedish generals used to be “stormän” and Swedish officers, “frälse". Then, we can imagine easily a “svensk frälse” (Swedish gentleman) becoming a “polski szlachcic” (Polish nobleman) as a reward for his loyalty and services "Pro Fide et Rege". Let’s remember that at this time Polish (Roman-Catholic) Church and Swedish (Lutheran) Church were not properly two different churches (not yet), rather two different approaching to the Christian Faith.

Herb Gubena; Szwencki, SzwęckiThose Swedish-Finnish nobles acted as Poland-Lithuanian nobles, sometimes without (or before) formal ennoblement in Poland-Lithuania.  For instance:

1- Princess Anna of Sweden or Anna Johansdotter Vasa (Eskilstuna, Sweden, 1568 - Brodnica, Poland, 1625), known in Polish history books as Polish-Swedish Princess: Anna Wazówna (polsko-szwedzka królewna). She was the Protestant younger sister of King Sigismund. She became the King's advisor and District-Governor (starosta) of Brodnica and Golub. Anna acted as protectress for the exiled Swedish Loyalists.

The princess became much respected in Poland because of her great learning. She was interested in literature, music, gardening and medicine. Anna was a specialist in medicinal herbs and kept her own apothecary. In Swedish history books is considered a Swedish princess and Polish-Swedish politician (var en svensk prinsessa och polsk-svensk politiker).

Princess Anna was buried at the Church of St. Mary in Toruń, Poland, several years after her death, as the Pope had first forbidden the burial of a Protestant in a blessed graveyard in Catholic Poland. Only her nephew, King Władysław IV Vasa, got that decree reversed.

Herb Półkozic, Swenderski, Swęderski, Śwenderski2- Swedish admiral Johan Nilsson Gyllenstierna (Sweden, 1569 - Poland, 1617), in Polish history books his name is Jan Guldenstern (his surname, “Golden-star” was translated to German, “Gulden-stern”). He became the first Admiral of Poland (yet, he was Protestant) and commanded King Sigismund’s war fleet, with which he sought to surprise Älvsborg. Money shortages and loss of an uprising of the Rightful King’s supporters in West Sweden meant that the undertaken came to nothing.

3- Also under Sigismund III, Walter the Swede, royal-court judge (pokojowy królewski - king's peace), as a result of the scourge of innocently received by the courtier Pretwicz, was rewarded as District-Governor (starosta) of Upita for life.

Let’s remark that judging a Polish nobleman and being District-Governor were things allowed only to Nobility in Poland-Lithuania.

I quote:

Upita, ancient District-Governorate near Poniewież, in Lithuania - Upita, dawne Gmina rejonowa Poniewież na Litwie:

Za Zygmunta III Walter Szwed, pokojowy królewski, za niewinnie odebrane plagi w skutek podejścia dworzanina Pretwicza, miał sobie udzielone to starostwo w dożywocie. (ob. Tyszkiewicza: Birże, str.141). Słowniku geograficznym Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich Tom XII str. 814. The Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic Countries

Herb Kotwicz; Swęderski4- Admiral Gyllenstierna’s son Sigismund Johansson Gyllenstierna, in Polish history books, Zygmunt Guldenstern (Kalmar, 1598 – Gdańsk, 1666), became Castle-Commander of Gdańsk (kasztelanem gdańskim), Treasurer of Malbork (zarządcą ekonomii malborskiej) Polish Senator and District-Governor of Sztum (starostą sztumskim) like his father, he was Protestant.

He mastered several languages. In his twenties he became a courtier of Sigismund III, and later was appointed Royal Court Chamberlain (łożniczy królewski).

In the coronation Parliament of 1633, King Ladislaus IV re-ennobled him as Polish-Lithuanian nobleman (w 1633 na sejmie koronacyjnym Władysława IV otrzymał indygenat). In 1635 the King entrusted him with directing renewal of the Royal War Fleet Commission.

He married Anne Czemówna, daughter and sole heiress of the Castel-Commander (kasztellan) of Chełmno, Fabian Czemy. With this, he got the Czemów huge estate in Royal Prussia and became District-Governor of Sztum.

During the Swedish invasion of Poland (potop szwedzki) rejected the proposal to move to the party of Charles X Gustav. At the end of February and March 1656 led an unsuccessful defense of the Castle of Malbork against the Swedish troops.

Herb Mora; Swęderski, Swedorski, Swendorski, SwędorskiIn October 18, 1656, Zygmunt Guldenstern was rewarded by King John Casimir with the Castel-Commandership of Gdansk. He became thus the last Protestant senator of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

During the negotiations preceding the conclusion of the Peace of Oliwa in 1660, he unsuccessfully sought after the return of his ancestral property in Sweden. After his death, he was buried in St. Mary's Church in Gdansk, where about 1651 he arranged an ancestral chapel, where also buried his father and others from the circle of Swedish loyalist immigrants.

Let’s remark the Gyllenstierna/Guldenstern family already used surname because Johan’s father, Nils Göransson (1526-1601), was the first in his family to call himself with the noble-name Gyllenstierna (Golden-star) after the symbol in his family coat-of-arms, when he got the title of Baron of Lundholm (Friherre Gyllenstierna af Lundholm) under King Johan III. He was governor of Stockholm and later of Småland. Nils Göransson Gyllenstierna was one of the few Swedes that got surnames at his time (“few” means less than 30 in this case between 1 million Swedish-Finnish inhabitants!).

After the Peace of Oliwa (1660) which ended the dynastic matter for good and the Polish-Swedish wars, the exiled Swedish Loyalist and the former Swedish prisoners who decided to stay in Poland, (now as skill Polish military), were helpful and welcome. They fought in the different wars in which Poland-Lithuania involved and their descendants settled all around the country. Already in 1659, King John II Casimir entitled as Polish Nobles the exiled Swedish Nobles who had lost all at Sweden-Finland standing by the Polish Vasas.

I quote: “In May 20, 1659 King John Casimir conferred (Polish) nobility to Swedish (officers/gentry). - W 1659 roku (20.05) król Jan Kazimierz nadał szlachectwo szwedzkie…”

Herb Albedyl; Albedyl or AlbedillSome data from the history of nobility and coats of arms - Niektóre dane z historii szlachty i herbu, by Leszek Jan Jastrzębiec-Czajkowski


As they didn’t had family name in Sweden, they (usually) took Polish surnames after the nicknames Szwed, Szwec, and Szwen (this list is far to be closed).

- Guldenstern (also Gyllenstierna or Guildenstern, baron) 

This family was one of the few that already had surname in 17th cent. Sweden. They Polonized Gyllenstierna to Guldenstern. In England they are known as Guildenstern.

- Szwederowski h. Ogończyk

- Szwedrowski h. Ogończyk - Without verification in Polish (on-line)

Armorials (…not yet).

- Szwedowicz h. Korwin

- Szwedowski h. Korwin

- Szwedkowski (Lithuanized: Švedkauskas or Švetkauskas) h. Korwin

- Without verification in Polish (on-line) Armorials (…not yet).
Herb Engestrem; Engestrem (von Engeström or d’Engestrom)

- Szwencki h. Gubena

- Szwęcki h. Gubena

- Swenderski h. Półkozic

- Swęderski h. Kotwicz, Mora, Półkozic

- Śwenderski h. Półkozic

- Swedorski h. Mora

- Swendorski h. Mora

- Swędorski h. Mora

- Mikke (Korwin-Mikke) h. Korwin - Without verification in

Polish (on-line) Armorials (…not yet).


- Albedyl (also Albedyll, baron)

- Engestrem (also von Engeström or d’Engestrom, count)

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- To remark: Regarding nobility (and snobbery) I quote Kaj Malachowski’s wise words: “One's title of nobility is not recognized because his surname is in Niesiecki but because one proves to get a title by demonstrating person by person how one inherited it from a male-line ancestor who had it even if unknown to Niesiecki.” It’s quite obvious when Malachowski refers to “Niesiecki” (or Niesiecki’s armorial, properly) he refers to any Polish Armorials (because sometimes people find their surname in on-line armorials and for this reason, begin to self-styling Polish noble). Wise advice to be follow!

To be honest I must add, even if I agree with Malachowski’s words, I believe that in nowadays Poland (and abroad) people rarely have such kind of documents. Usually people have only family tradition and this doesn’t means they are false-claimants at all. Malachowski encourage people to embark on research oneself (something very difficult, even in Poland) or to order the research work to specialists (and this work is not free of charge). His encouragement is proper, wise and honest but (perhaps) not many people can follow his advice. Anyway, if somebody is not sure about his family claim or feels that he must prove it before somebody else…this is the proper task to do.

Anyway, according Dziadulewicz, in old Poland-Lithuania (I quote) “Few families had appropriate papers and documents, whereas a number of families ennobled during the reign of Stanislaw August (Poniatowski), as well as a minority consisting of Magnate families possessed a superabundance of archival documents with which to instantly present proofs. So THE ENTIRE MASS OF THE NOBILITY was left with the impossible task of providing credentials (behind the Russian, etc.).” …”Up to that time, a true noble could thoroughly establish his noble descent upon the testimony of his neighbors and friends.” I copied the text from “How Nobility was legitimized before the Bureau of Heraldry of the (Russian) Kingdom of Poland” long time ago from the site of the Confederation of the Polish Nobility).

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* All drawings at right by Tadeusz Gajl:

Herbarz Polski – Od Średniowiecza do XX wieku (Gdańsk 2007)

ISBN 978-83-60597-10-1

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May 15, 2012

6- Gustaf Eriksson Sparre (a roughly translation of blog: “Pro Gloria at Patria”)

Wojciech Olszewski or “Harry” is the writer of a very interesting blog in Polish language named “Pro Gloria et Patria…” I quote: that is, Harry's lectures about ancient warfare, according to the best sources and collections the author’s efforts developed and gathered.

I loved his post “Gustaw Errikson Sparre (1582-1629)” so I decided translating it from Polish to English (including a couple of notes made by another blogger – a remarkable blogger I should say – Michał Paradowski or “Kadrinazi”).Sparre af Rossvik coat-of-arms

What a task I choose to do! My English is “middle-level”… and my Polish is “almost zero”! Anyway, full of enthusiasm I did it.

This translation would be easy to somebody knowing English and Polish well. All the opposite, it was a hard task to me. So, please, if somebody detects any mistranslation I’ll appreciate whatever correction to my work people want to do. I added some things taken from English, Polish and Swedish Wikipedia (yes …I managed to translate Swedish too …As you can see I’m bold). I integrated Harry’s original notes to the text only to do it simple. Anyway, I hope Wojciech “Harry” Olszewski might be glad with my humble and poor translation of his work.

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The times when in Poland the Swedish emigration was protected under the patronage of King Sigismund III Vasa are usually little-known. Civil war and religious persecution caused that multitudes of Swedes, fearing for his life or liberty sought for a safety haven on the south side of the Baltic. Gustav (or Gustaf) Eriksson Sparre (1582-1629) was one of such Swedish loyalist refugees for supporting Sigismund’s claim to the throne of Sweden.

His father, Erik Larsson Sparre (later, beheaded in the Linköping Bloodbath, 1600) was one of the most prominent men in Sweden at that time. He was High-Chancellor and member of the Royal Council or Senate (in Swedish, Riksråd – in Latin, “Senatus Regni Sueciae”). In 1582 he became Governor of the province of Västmanland.

His mother Ebba Pedersdotter Brahe (1555-1634), was also from an aristocratic family - her father, Per Brahe the Elder was King Gustav Vasa’s nephew and he was among the first members of the Swedish nobility to be created Count when titles of nobility were introduced by King Eric XIV in 1561 - (Erik Sparre and Ebba Brahe’s marriage got a total of 12 children, in order: Brita, Gustaf, Pavel, Beata, Magdalena, Johan, Catharina, Lars, Sigismund, Peder, Thure, Karl).

Erik Larsson Sparre, Gustav's father

Their eldest son, Gustav, was born in June 19, 1582, in Strömsholm (Västmanland), a gloomy fortress, built on an island in Lake Mälaren (in 1550) by King Gustav Vasa. In 1587, Gustav’s father and his maternal uncle Erik Brahe (later, dead as loyalist refugee in Gdańsk, 1614) were sent to Poland to negotiate the election of (the Swedish-Finnish Crown Prince) Sigismund, as Monarch of Poland-Lithuania. After the coronation both became the King’s closest advisers and supporters until the unsuccessful Sigismund’s intervention in Sweden ended in the Battle of Linköping also known as Battle of Stångebro (1598).

The date of the arrival of Gustav Eriksson Sparre to Poland is unknown. It was probably in the years 1597-1598, before his father must return to Sweden (in order to fight for his Rightful-King), or in the entourage of Princess Anne Vasa, Sigismund’s sister. (Gustav’s uncle, Johan Larsson Sparre was Princess Anne’s Court Marshal, he was also a loyalist and for this reason beheaded at the Kalmar Bloodbath, 1599).

Around 1600 his name appears on a list of Protestant students of the Academic Gymnasium in Toruń. This school was a poly-academic and thriving center of cultural and scientific life of entire Royal Prussia, after the reforms carried out by the mayor of Toruń, Henryk Stroband. The choice of this university, not as popular among the Swedish Diasporas as the Jesuit College in Braniewo, testifies the young Gustav Sparre was raised in the Lutheran faith. However, it is possible that his life was associated with Toruń even earlier. In November 1587 the entourage of the newly elected Polish-Lithuanian Monarch Sigismund III was in Toruń, en route from Gdańsk to Cracow, in this entourage, in addition to the king’s mother (Queen Catherine Jagiellon-Vasa), the king’s sister (Princess Anne) and his aunt Dowager-Queen Anna Jagiellon, was also the Swedish High-Chancellor Erik Larsson Sparre. The procession was greeted by representatives of the Toruń City Council, with the Mayor Henryk Stroband leading it. Toruń burghers spare no money to celebrate the distinguished guests.

We do not know if Gustav (only 5 years old) accompanied his father, but certainly Henryk Stroband, the Gymnasium mentor and chancellor had to tell Erik Larsson Sparre about the high level of teaching of this university. Toruń, at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had its peak power always arranging its relations with the Monarchs, as opposed to the proud and independent Gdańsk. Bound Toruń to the firstborn son of the closest adviser of the new King and Swedish High-Chancellor, could be in these uncertain times (there was another pretender to the throne, Austrian Archduke Maximilian) a great preventive burghers’ move, which knew perfectly well that the King's grace was exchangeable for wealth.

The year in which Gustav Sparre comes in Toruń, is also the year in which his father, a follower of Sigmund, is beheaded (1600) by Duke Charles accused of high treason. We can only imagine the impact on the young adolescent's state of mind may have these events, but they certainly have determined his future life.

If people compare the biography of Gustav and his brothers it can be seeing a substantial difference in their lives. All the other children after the death of Erik Larsson Sparre tied up with the courts of Duke Charles and Gustav Adolph and rose to considerable wealth and dignity in Sweden (Johan, Lars, Peder, Thure and Carl were created Barons in 1647), but only his firstborn will be on the other side of this conflict, bound to King Sigismund and Poland-Lithuania to the end of his life. Are life choices a reflection of the conditions prevailing in the family? Are the other chancellor’ sons favored at the expense of their brother, had they no reluctance to serve the man who had their father’s blood on their hands?

Sparre palace, Stockholm

We do not know what has happened to our hero in the early years of the seventeenth century. There is nothing about him in the annals of recorded history until 1608, when he married - Sidsel (Cecilia) Brahe - the daughter of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe - the Brahes are a noble family with branches in Sweden and Denmark -. (The Swedish biographical dictionary tells Gustav marries the daughter of an Austrian Baron; however, most of the biographies of Tycho Brahe indicate that his daughter marries Gustav Eriksson Sparre. The misunderstanding is probably due to the fact that after Gustav’s death Cecilia married again with Austrian-Bohemian Baron von Prössing).

It is hard to find the conditions where and when Gustav meets Sidsel (Cecilia) Brahe (1580-1640). Tycho Brahe was a Danish nobleman and scholar that after a conflict with King Christian IV left Denmark and settled in Prague in1599, where he became Court-Astrologer of the eccentric Emperor Rudolf II. He died in 1601 in unclear circumstances, probably as a result of mercury poisoning. His widow Kirsten (Christine) Jørgensdatter bought an estate near the border with Saxony before his death in 1605. (In 1697 Tycho Brahe asks Erik Sparre through the support of Sigmund and is willing to rebuild his observatory in the areas of the Commonwealth: on an island near Riga or on the Vistula delta, at Żuławy). Perhaps Cecilia stayed at the court of Archduchess Constance of Austria, the second wife of Sigismund III (after 1605).

Tycho made a morganatic marriage (some sources claim that he never did a formal marriage), so the children do not inherit the title but inherited the fortune. Association of rich and poor families could be beneficial for both parties. However, as is clear from surviving correspondence, the astronomer’s family had financial problems after his death.

There is another clue binding Gustav with the famous astronomer’s family, the already mentioned Gustav’s maternal uncle, Erik Brahe. After the defeat at Linköping, Erik Brahe abandons Sigismund’s camp and takes the side of Charles trying to regain the Duke’s confidence without significant results. Already in 1600 he left Sweden. The next year appears in the vicinity of his distant-cousin in Prague, and strangely, Johannes Kepler (also a famous astronomer and Tycho Brahe’s assistant) dies in his arms! As if this were not enough, in recent years, the Danish historian Peter Andersen, based on Erik's journal, accused him of murder Tycho Brahe. The story itself seems rather far-fetched. Tycho Brahe, as Rudolf’s Court-Astrologer also dabbled in Alchemy and probably poisoned himself with mercury trying to get transmutation into gold. Erik was known for his bender life and numerous love affairs, with no regular source of income. He probably looked for his distant-cousin’s financial aid, so his potential benefactor's death was not in his interest. Before his death in 1614 Erik Brahe spent two years in Gdańsk and was buried nearby in the Bridgettine Monastery in Kartuzy.

Returning to Gustav Sparre, in 1614 we have information about him, he is a Royal Courtier. Probably at that time, under the King’s influence, and maybe for his career, moves to Catholicism. (It should be noted that this step, shut his way back to Sweden, where the 1595 edict forced the expulsion of Catholics. Maybe, was it an act of loyalty to the king?). In 1616 he is mentioned among the loyalists that were preparing the proposed expedition to Sweden. During these preparations he had to be closer friend with another famous Swedes in the service of the Polish-Swedish Monarch like Gabriel Jöransson Posse (1590-1632), who was to lead the expedition. Gabriel’s father, Jöran (Göran) Knutsson Posse (1556- died refugee loyalist in Gdańsk, 1616), was like Gustav‘s father sentenced to death for treason (at Linköping), but humbling before Charles received grace and escaped with life. Gabriel’s brother Knut Jöransson Posse Baron of Hedensund was appointed in 1623 commander of the Polish and Swedish-loyalist fleet. Gabriel Posse himself was commissioned at the head of a ship by King Sigismund III. Before1626 Gabriel Posse fell in love with Beata Sparre (1597-1627), daughter of Anna Vasa’s Court Marshal Johan Larsson Sparre, and Gustav Sparre’s first-cousin. She was student in the Benedictine Convent nuns at Chelmno.

At the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, this monastery under the leadership of abbess Madeleine Mortęski, mystic and reformer of the Order, was a major center for teaching the girls of the nobility, which were known to had not usual access to schools. They hadn’t full monastic vows, and so they were educated and brought up a good material for becoming wives. Girls of the nobility were sent to the monastery with suitable equipment, so the material condition of release such ladies may be bought by a future spouse. As a result of pressure from Gustav and perhaps considerable sums earmarked for purchase his cousin, Gabriel Posse and Beata Sparre married on May 9, 1622 in Elblag. (She died Nov. 14, 1627 in Gdansk, was buried at St. Bridget, where is kept her epitaph).

Meanwhile, in August 1621, the Swedish Army landed in Livonia under the command of Usurper-King Gustav Adolph. At the beginning of 1622 Gustav Sparre’s infantry regiment was formed by mercenaries recruited in Saxony, Prussia and other German-speaking countries. Since May 11, the regiment camped at the suburbs and villages near Toruń. Excesses of undisciplined soldiers gave to the residents such a misery that, for direction of Gustav, special gallows were built at suburbs of Chelmno, where, for example, one of the soldiers was hanged. At the end of the month the soldiers leaved Toruń (after spending much of the town patrimony). Making their way to Livonia, where the war was, they appear in Tolkmicko, where, according to the annals, stayed 20 days and forced tribute of 1000 guilders. In July, Hetman (High-Commander/Seneschal) Krzysztof Radziwiłł wrote to Colonel Gustav Sparre, pushing him to be rushed and join the Royal army at Mitawą. However, despite the reminder letters, Sparre never reached Livonia; he didn’t even start travelling to that place!

By the end of August his troops stuck in Prussia. Gustav was a trusted royal courtier, so this amazing delay could not have taken place without the consent of King Sigismund. Why, then, gathered the troops instead of putting them on the battlefield?

Long time stationing on the coast of the Vistula Lagoon and the presence of Gabriel Posse, a specialist on the sea neighboring Elblag, suggests they contemplated embarking the troops and do an abruptly landing in Sweden. But, before that happened, Hetman Radziwiłł could not wait to sign a truce because of his little strength and provisions, and the whole expedition became obsolete.

Gustav Adolph in battle of Dirschau, 1629

In the last years of his life Gustav entirely devoted to his military career. In 1626 he got a patent for a regiment of 600 soldiers, but he didn't obtain funds to raise it. At the turn of 1626-1627 got a patent for 3,000 soldiers, about 10 companies - his regiment was probably made in part of the already struggling mercenary company in Prussia, but this regiment was never created because he didn’t agree with some Polish officers – one of them, Judycki (Mikołaj Judycki herbu Radwan odm.) wrote in a letter that he will not serve under a Swede. Nevertheless, somewhere in late 1627 or early 1628 years Sparre took command of the regiment of Ernest Magnus Denhoff (also Magnus Ernst Denhoff/ Dönhoff/ Doenhoff/ Denhof).

At the beginning of 1629 appears in the companionship of Gerhard Denhoff (Ernest’s brother), trying to seize Toruń (16 February) from Swedish Field-Marshal Herman von Wrangel troops. Both colonels come to the town few hours before the appearance of the Swedish troops. It seems that this presence was completely coincidental; the both arrived without its troops, although they probably already knew about the defeat of Górzno.

In the summer of 1629, Gustav Sparre, along with his unit, took part in the offensive of the royal army in Prussia… but he died July 18, 1629 in Gniew. We do not have any information about being wounded so he probably fall victim to the plague (probably, Smallpox/Variola). The plague spread rapidly in 1629 in Toruń and took more than 2.000 souls. He was buried in the parish church of the Old Town of Toruń, which is today's St John’s Cathedral, in the mid-nineteenth century his tombstone was a still legible.

Gustav was born into a family of Swedish aristocrats and died as a (Polish) colonel in the service of the Polish King. We do not know what material bases he got for a living in his new homeland. Perhaps, like to other immigrants loyal to the House of Vasa, the King gave him some lands of the Crown. His numerous associations with Toruń, from the school after the burial, and the proximity to Anna Vasa’s Court, (she was District-Governors - starosta - of Golub and Brodnica and patroness of the loyalist refugees) gave rise to the conclusion that his estate was somewhere in the area of Chełmno Land (Województwo chełmińskie).

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As for his military achievements during the 1626-1629 war, there aren’t known examples (unfortunately). Generally, the bulk of his regiment served as garrison, especially on the coast (in Puck, for instance) so it seems that Sparre wasn’t much on fighting in the field. (Kadrinazi’s note).

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Gustav Sparre’s regiment (former Ernest Magnus Denhoff’s regiment; after Sparre’s death, Friedrich Denhoff took it) had 12 companies, of which I know the size of 9 (the remaining 3 are described only by the commander's name (I suspect they were used as garrison units in Puck). Again, each company has a different size - from 350 to 134 servings. (Kadrinazi’s blog). Regiment na sześć rot podzielony

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*** My Footnotes

- Probably inspired by the Polish-Lithuanian constitutions, Erik Larsson Sparre drafted in 1585 the booklet "Pro lege, rege et grege" (For the law, the king and the people) in which he argued the King must rule the country in collaboration with the Royal Council (Senate). The booklet was the basis of the Swedish Parliamentary Monarchy and Sparre appeared thus as one of her time leading state theorists.

- Although, Duke Charles (Usurper-King Charles IX) was a bloody tyrant (the list of “bloodbaths” illustrates that very well) he was also a cunning politician that combined executions with magnanimous acts of forgiveness and even with generosity towards his repentant opponents or theirs enemies’ closest relatives. This same cunning policy was largely continued by his son, Usurper-King Gustav II Adolf.

For a matter of room those issues will be written in my next post.

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