DOUGLAS, ROBERT [SSNE 2378]

Surname
DOUGLAS, DUGLAS, DER LEBHAFTE
First name
ROBERT
Title/rank
COUNT AND FIELD MARSHAL
Nationality
SCOT
Region
HADDINGTON, EAST LOTHIAN
Social status
NOBILITY
Religion
PUBLIC LUTHERAN, CRYPTO CALVINIST

Text source

Robert Douglas (1611-1662) Swedish field marshal and count, was born on Standingstone farm, near Haddington, East Lothian in Scotland on 17 March 1611, the youngest of at least three sons of Patrick Douglas of Whittinghame and his wife Christina (Andrews?) Leslie, daughter of Leslie of Innerdivat. The 1648 document proving Douglas’ ancestry, obtained from the Scottish Parliament in king Charles I’s name, listed his father as “comarchus” of Standingstone, which later became translated as marquis in Sweden, although Patrick Douglas was only a laird. Not much is known of Douglas’ early years, but by 1628 he took a path common to many young Scotsmen and entered Swedish service in Colonel James Ramsay’s [SSNE 3315] regiment, along with his two brothers, William [SSNE 2380]and Richard [SSNE 6690], who both died shortly thereafter. Douglas was taken into service as a page for the Count Palatine Johan Casimir, the brother in law of the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf, and as a result Douglas came to know the future king Karl X rather well. Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna wrote to Casimir on 12 October explaining that he could not provide Casimir's page, Douglas, with repayment of his late brothers' loans, although he implied that possibly something could be arranged in Sweden. Douglas soon became an ensign in Gustav II Adolf’s service, and saw action during the joint Swedish-Danish defence of Stralsund from 1629 to 1630, where he served under the command of governor and Colonel Alexander Leslie [SSNE 1]. Although his autobiographical notes maintain he was still a personal page to the Swedish king (Kurzer Verlauff Seiner Hoch Gräflichen Excellence Herren General Douglas geführten Lebens, so viel man sich besinnen kan), the Swedish army muster rolls reveal that a Robert Douglas entered the Green regiment in 1631. Douglas also served as lieutenant captain of some of the British troops recruited by the Marquis of Hamilton [SSNE 1348] for Swedish service. Here he recruited soldiers in Surrey, Middlesex and Glcester for his company under Sir James Ramsay the Fair [SSNE 6657]. It was perhaps he who was noted as having accidently set fire to some houses in Rosenburg and which caught the attention of the author of the Swedish Intelligencer. There is confusion in various sources over his status in 1632. Some record that at the battle of Lützen on 16 November 1632 he was captain of the first company of Gustav II Adolf's "Yellow Regiment". Others state that Douglas had already become a major with Alexander Hamilton's [SSNE 2376] dragoon corps from 1632, was raised to lieutenant colonel two years later (1634). Yet German sources indicate that in 1633 Douglas became lieutenant-colonel of the dragoons in the regiment of Pierre de Brossard (under Wilhelm IV of Saxe-Weimar) after which he was tasked with the defence of Egeln. He finally became a full colonel in 1636 after bringing his regiment back to Swedish service in the aftermath of the Peace of Prague. His ride through hostile territory to do so earned him great respect and the promotion was insisted upon by Axel Oxenstierna. He took part in the Swedish victory at Wittstock in Autumn 1636. Douglas then decided to travel home that year to sort out domestic issues in Scotland, and the Riksråd (Swedish State Council) arranged accreditation for him to Charles I. The intercessory letter they provided concerned his inheritance troubles, whilst Chancellor Oxenstierna also employed him for personal affairs in London. Douglas therefore had both official and private sponsorship from the highest echelons of Swedish government for his journey, and by November 1636, he arrived in London. He avoided involvement in the Covenanting wars of Scotland and returned to Sweden to continue his military career, returning to his regiment in Saxony. When Colonel Harry Lindsay drew up a bond of assignation of 11,000 merks in 1637, Lord Spynie was to receive 8,000, Colonel Robert Douglas was to get 2,000 and Lyndsay (Earl of Crawford?), 1,000 merks. So while he became ever more important as a Swedish commander, he maintained links with he countrymen in Swedish service and at home in Scotland. By 1640 his regiment was quartered in Thuringia. Douglas was wounded in battle in 1642 while fighting against Speigle. He recovered and by August 1644 he was promoted to major general of the Swedish cavalry. He joined the German political and literary society Der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft the same year under the name Der Lebhafte. Douglas further consolidated his social standing by marrying Hedvig Mörner, the sister-in-law of baron Erik Stenbock in 1645, the same year as he fought in the battle of Jankau. This year also saw him briefly quartered in Horn (Lower Austria).

Douglas's wife and family followed him on his foreign appointments, as shown by the birth of his sixth child in Poland in 1655. He also did not forget his immediate relatives left behind in Scotland. He entrusted John Maclean [SSNE 1631] to ensure the payment of 200 rex dollars (£580 Scots) would reach the general’s two sisters, Euphame and Helen Douglas, then living in Fife. Maclean organized the payment with Robert Law, a skipper of an Anstruther ship, who delivered the money in January 1656. Douglas took an interest in the wider Scottish network. In 1646 he had ensured that money was made available for the education of 'young Cunningham' [Robert Cunningham SSNE 7107]. His position as governor of Schwaben in 1646, 1648-1650 and again in 1655 caused him problems due to the extreme lack of funds available, frequently complained about in the Riksråd. The treasury records contain accounts of his salary for 1656 being 224 57 5/12 riksdaler while his regiment got 1714 36 1/6 riksdaler. The next year he received 237 89 riksdaler whilst his regiment of horse got 1260 88 1/2 riksdaler.

He spent a month in Stockholm in 1647 participating in the Riksråd meetings, often in the presence of Queen Kristina, where he provided information on the army’s situation in Germany, and advised the queen against her plan to enter into land exchanges with the French. He also took part in the treaty negotiations with the Duke of Bavaria that same year in Ulm (signed 14 March 1647). He was in regular correspondence with Arvid Forbes [SSNE 2227], vicegovernor of Pomerania during this time. On 10 July 1647, Douglas received a donation of the territory of Kloster Zeven (a convent) in Bremen Stift, the same day he was appointed lieutenant general. By 1650 there were still nine nuns living there. However his focus remained military and he appears to have let the nuns continue in their religious service.

The castle of Gleichenstein [Thuringia] was besieged and bombarded for some days by Douglas in December 1647. The siege was raised, when Douglas was heavy wounded by a bullet of a musket on 9/19 December. Nonetheless, together with the Swedish commander-in-chief Carl Gustav Wrangel he took part in the conquest and plundering of Freising (Bavaria) in June 1648. From 1648 to 1650 he served as governor of Schwaben and authorized with the discharge of all regiments quartered there.

During this time he submitted plans for a home at Qvarnholmen in Stockholm. However, he went on to have a five-storey palace built for himself on the exclusive Stockholm island of Blasieholmen. It was the work of the Royal Architect Jean de la Vallée and represented his first attempt at designing a private dwelling. The change of location might be explained because Douglas was ennobled in 1651 with the title of baron of Skälby, which gave him land at Kalmar. That year he was also appointed a member of the military council, despite his open Calvinism. His integration into Swedish noble and court society was confirmed by service as the royal stable master in 1652. Two years later he gained another title, of count of Skenninge, and was introduced to the Swedish House of Nobility. He continued his participation in the Riksråd meetings too. During his role as master of the royal stable he was instructed to register and send all the reformed officers of Närke Värmland to the military college in Stockholm in 1653. 

Sweden entered into war with Poland in 1655 which saw Douglas active as general and successfully taking a fortress barely 6 miles from Crakow. He became a lieutenant field marshall of the infantry and cavalry that year. Douglas personally accompanied Karl X on his march toward Riga in 1656, and then became a full field marshall the following year. During these years he attended the Riksdag in 1651, 52, 54, 55, 57, 58. Due to war with Denmark-Norway Douglas was recalled from Riga, with his family, to help defend Sweden. He not only participated in the Riksråd again in 1657, but also served as a military advisor to the Swedish goverment on defence tactics. Although Douglas remained on the cusp of British political developments throughout his life, king Charles II personally requested his support in providing Scottish recruits for his use in 1655. He was not able to provide this, but supplied the king with money instead. Douglas also sought Swedish intercession in 1658 on behalf of John Maitland, marquis and duke of Lauderdale, who was imprisoned by Cromwell. Although this did not lead to Lauderdale’s immediate release, his prison conditions improved. However, Douglas's commitment to Sweden was far more pro-active: He commanded 3000 men at the battle of Laholm, defeating the Danish forces. His military expertise led the Riksråd to send him to Båhus in Norway in July 1657 with 2000 soldiers and 300 horses. The campaign, which attempted to cut Bohus in an east/west division, faltered despite Douglas' 200-strong infantry and 2 companies of cavalry defence at Brekke, and he withdrew from Norway on 6 August. The following year he attacked the Wermland region with the aim of capturing Trondheim from the Norwegians. That same year he also served on the military council which was organising the garrisons in occupied territories of Denmark-Norway. When the Polish campaigns reinitiated and toward the end of 1658 Douglas replaced governor Magnus de la Gardie as military commander in the Baltic states of Estonia and Livonia and was sent to Riga. Douglas’ military duties in the Baltic were to regain territories occupied by the Russians, who had joined in the Polish war against Sweden. Indeed Douglas’ most notorious duty involved kidnapping the Duke of Courland and his family on the orders of Karl X after which they were sent to Riga. According to Manley, a copy of this order was intercepted by the Danes in September 1657. Apparently he did not have the full obedience of his troops as they plundered Courland against his orders. Once peace had been established at Kardis in 1661, Douglas became responsible for demobilising his Swedish troops. During this time Douglas still had duties in Stockholm such as attendance at the Riksdag in 1660. King Karl X, with whom Douglas had such a longstanding relationship (Douglas had twice entertained the Swedish royal couple at his Gothenburg home in 1658) died, and when he fell out of favour with the new Swedish king, Karl XI, he considered moving to Scotland with his family. However this time of disfavour soon passed and Douglas and his family returned to Sweden in September 1661. Douglas continued to participate in Riksråd and military council meetings until his death from natural causes on 28 May 1662. He was buried in Vreta Klosters church, where his funeral monument is still visible, albeit there must also have been a service for him in Maria Kyrka in Stockholm on 31 May 1662. Several engravings of Douglas were made, including one of him on horseback.

SOURCES: 

R. Monro, His Expedition with a worthy Scots Regiment called Mac-Keyes (2 vols., London, 1637), II, The List of the Scottish Officers in Chiefe; Rikskansleren Axel Oxenstiernas skrifter och brefvexling, first series, IV, p.641; National Library of Scotland, Saltoun Papers, 'Papers concerning Henry Lindsay, son of John of Ballinscho and colonel in the Swedish service, 1637-1648; Swedish Riksarkiv, kammararkivet 554: Preussiska rakenskaper fran Karl X Gustavs krig 1655-1660; Svenska Adelns Ättartavlor, vol. 2, p.283; Sir Roger Manley, The History of the late Warres in Denmark (London, 1670), p.29; Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser; Swedish Riksarkiv, Svenska Sändebuds till Utländska Hof och deras Sändebud till Sverige (manuscript dated 1841); Swedish Riksarkiv, Adolf Johans Arkiv i Stegeborgssamlingen, 81 letters of Robert Douglas to Duke Adolf Johan, 1652-1661; Riddarhusarkivet (Swedish Nobility Archives) Stockholm, Sweden: Katalog öfver sköldebref; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Roll, 1631/22-24; Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Rolls 1659/13, 1660/4, 11, 17; Swedish Krigsarkiv, katalog over rullor, 1658 vol.2, p.117; Kungliga Biblioteket (Stockholm Royal Library), Handskriftsamling, Rålamb. fol.148, Olof von Dalin, Berättelse om dhe nampnkunnigaste af dhen i Skotland och Swerige berömmelige Douglasiske slächten...i pennan fattad åhr 1731; N. A. Kullberg, Severin Bergh, Per Sondén eds., Svenska Riksrådets Protokoll, 18 volumes, Stockholm (1878-1959), passim; Register till Sveriges Ridderskaps och Adels Riksdags-Protokoll (17 vols, Stockholm, 1910), vols. for 1651/52/54/55/57/58 and 1660; S. Strömbom, ed. Index över svenska porträtt 1500-1850 i svenska porträttarkivets samlingen, 2 vols (Stockholm, 1935, 1939), vol.1, p.211; B. Hildebrand, Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon, vol. 1-?, Stockholm, (19??-??), vol. 11; A.A. von Stiernman, Matrikel öfwer Swea Rikes Ridderskap och Adel uppå des begaran wid 1751 (Tiderholm, 1754), p.19; Norwegian Riksarkiv, Danske Kanselli, Skaapsaker II 112201, Skaap 15- pakke 125 a, 4A08334, 222 'Den svendske landshofding Duglas brev til amtmand Lillienschiold'; M. Roberts ed., Swedish Diplomats at Cromwell’s Court 1655-1656: the missions of Peter Julius Coyet and Christer Bonde (1988); J. Kleberg, Krigskollegii Historia Biografiska Anteckningar 1630-1865, Stockholm (1930); R. Spalding ed., The Diary of Bulstrode Whitelocke 1605-1675 (1990); T. Fischer, The Scots in Sweden (Edinburgh, 1907); P. Wieselgren, ed. De La Gardiska Archivet, part 9 (Lund, 1837), pp.43-4; Lauderdale Papers, Add. MSS. 22878, 23114, 23116, 23117, 35125; C. Conermann, Die Mitglieder Der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft 1617-1650 (Weinheim, 1985), III, no.420; D. Schnitler, Blade af Norges Krigshistorie (Christiania, 1895), p.93; Å.F. Jensen, Kavaleriet: Norge 1200-1994 (Trandum, 1995), p.59 ; Palmskiöldiska Samlingen, vol.159, p.45; Acts of the Privy Council of England, June 1630-June 1631, p.377, 8 June 1630; The Swedish Intelligencer: The Fourth Part (London, 1633), p.114..Forteckning over De La Gardieska Arkivet Historiska Handlingar, reviderad 2009 av Per Stobaeus.

See also Robert Douglas's letters to Karl X in Swedish Riksarkiv, Skrivelser till Karl X Gustav, RA/1133.09, Douglas Robert vol.21 1656-1658, vol. 22 1659, vol. 23 1660, vol. 24 1660 and vol.25 1661; Swedish Riksarkiv, Carl Gustaf's Arkiv i Stegeborgssamlingen, letters of Robert Douglas, one volume, 1645-1654; Swedish Riksarkiv, Pergamentsbreven och Johan Casimirs Arkiv in Stegeborgssamlingen, letters by Douglas Neubrandenburg, May 1636, Stettin September 1637, Kolberg March 1638, Leutemischell October 1645, Nyköping and Stockholm January 1652, Lovstad May 1652; Swedish Riksarkiv, Riga warmsaten muse forhandlingar, 1659 (7); Riga Handlingar ang. freden i kardis (1); 22/06/1659 Uuraberg german A.I., Pfalzgraven Carl Gustafs brev. (1650) (sic); 1660 (1) Polen brev till Kommisares vid fredstraktaten i Oliva(?); Krigskollegium Kancelliet: Adressatregistratur till Krigskollegiets Registratur 1631-1654, "om det reformerade officerarna i Närke och Värmland vid generalmönstringen att låta upptecka och til krigskollegium försända 11/3 1653"; British Library, Add 22878, MISCELLANEOUS English and foreign letters, chiefly original 1588-1742, Robert Douglas [General in the Swedish service] to the Duke of Lauderdale dated Riga, Stockholm and Högsetter, 4 Dec. 1660-30 Jan. 1662 with seals, ff. 28-37. Note also that Douglas's widow, Hedwig Mörner [wrote to the same; Stockholm, 19 July, 1678, 28 Sept. 1679 in French and Latin, with seals. ff. 38-40]: Beata-Christine Fielder, Die Verwaltung der Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden in der Schwedenzeit 1652-1712 - Organisation und Wesen der Verwaltung (Stade, 1987), p.47; D. Croxton and A. Tischer, The Peace of Westphalia: A Historical Dictionary (London, 2002), p.305; See C. Ellehag, Jean de la Vallée: Kunglig Arkitekt (Lund, 2003), pp.202-203; Stockholms Stadsarkivet, Maria Församling, Register över döda, 1656-1680, p.103; Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.307, 311, 369-373; St Andrews University Library, burgh court book of Pittenweem, 1630-1669, B60/7/1, 14 March 1656.

Some of Robert Douglas's correspondence is accessible here: Riksarkivets ämnessamlingar. Personhistoria

https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0069575_00175#?c=&m=&s=&cv=174&xywh=1655%2C2010%2C3866%2C2229

Correspondence from his widow, Hedvig Mörner, can be seen to exist here, albeit the contents are obscured!: https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0069575_00223#?c=&m=&s=&cv=222&xywh=2437%2C2025%2C3478%2C2006

More clearly are the letters here: https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0069575_00297#?c=&m=&s=&cv=296&xywh=2470%2C1921%2C4638%2C2675

From various correspondence in this folder we know that Douglas had financial exchanges with James Spens (younger) [SSNE 3549]: 

https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0073861_00234#?c=&m=&s=&cv=233&xywh=2933%2C603%2C3649%2C2105

https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0073861_00253#?c=&m=&s=&cv=252&xywh=2401%2C560%2C3650%2C2105

https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0073861_00258#?c=&m=&s=&cv=257&xywh=3586%2C1078%2C2114%2C1219

His dealings with Janne Jacobsen Scott [SSNE 8341] noted here: https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/A0073818_00231#?c=&m=&s=&cv=230&xywh=2834%2C2263%2C2467%2C1352

German sources provided by Dr Bernd Warlich: Wolfgang HUSCHKE, Herzog Wilhelm von Weimar als Statthalter Gustav Adolfs in Thüringen und schwedischer Generalleutnant 1631-1635 (Jena 1936), pp. 153, 156, 176, 182, 256; Hans SCHLOTTER/Hans-Werner SCHNEIDER/Heinrich-Jobst UBBELOHDE (Ed.), Acta bellorum Hildesiensium. Tagebuch des Dr. Conrad Jordan von 1614 bis 1659, (Hildesheim), p. 341; OTTO RUDERT, Die Kämpfe um Leipzig im Großen Kriege 1631 - 1642 (Leipzig 1937), p. 139; BURGER, Honorius, Geschichtliche Darstellung der Gründung und Schicksale des Benediktinerstiftes S. Lambert zu Altenburg in Nieder-Oesterreich […] (Wien 1862), p.195; Der Schwed' ist im Land. Das Ende des 30jährigen Krieges in Niederösterreich (Horn 1995), pp. 51f., 54; Miroslav TOEGEL (ed.), Documenta Bohemica Bellum Tricennale Illustrantia. Der Kampf um den besten Frieden. Quellen zur Geschichte des Dreißigjährigen Krieges zur Zeit der Friedensverhandlungen von Westfalen und der Ratifizierung des Friedens 1643-1649 (Wien-Köln-Graz 1981), vol. 7, No. 622; Günther BENTELE, Protokolle einer Katastrophe. Zwei Bietigheimer Chroniken aus dem Dreißigjährigen Krieg. Schriftenreihe des Archivs der Stadt Bietiegheim-Bissingen, vol. 1 (Bietigheim 1984), p. 217; Johann Philipp ABELINUS/Matthaeus MERIAN, THEATRI | EUROPAEI | Sechster und letzter Theil (Frankfurt/M. 1663), pp. 36f. (http://digbib.bibliothek.uni-augsburg.de/6); Leo WEBER, Veit Adam von Gepeckh Fürstbischof von Freising, 1618 bis 1651. Studien zur altbayerischen Kirchengeschichte vol. 3/4 (München 1972), p. 192; See also the MDSZ database http://www.mdsz.thulb.uni-jena.de/sz/index.php 

FG Poem (Translated from German by Dr Kathrin Zickermann): A kind of goose grows in fertile Scotland on shrubs: If the water touches them then they become alive, therefore I was called lively in this company: It is possible to sense liveliness in a brave and noble heart, that at last is recognised. When it has to lead people against their enemy: Lively fruit is then quite useful brought when God himself is in the quarrel (battle) with his might

With thanks to Thomas Brochard for some additions to this biography.

Service record

SWEDEN, SWEDISH COURT
Arrived 1631-01-01, as PAGE
Departed 1631-12-31, as PAGE
Capacity ROYAL SERVANT, purpose ROYAL SERVICE
SWEDEN, GREEN REGIMENT
Arrived 1631-01-01, as ENSIGN
Departed 1631-12-31, as LIEUTENANT CAPTAIN
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
SWEDEN, ALEXANDER HAMILTON'S DRAGOONS, DOUGLAS'S CAVALRY
Arrived 1632-01-01, as MAJOR
Departed 1644-08-01, as GENERAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
SWEDEN, SCHWABEN
Arrived 1646-01-01, as GOVERNOR
Departed 1655-12-31, as GOVERNOR
Capacity GOVERNOR, purpose MILITARY
SWEDEN, SWEDISH ARMY
Arrived 1647-01-01, as LT. GENERAL
Departed 1662-12-31, as FIELDMARSHAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
SWEDEN, ULM
Arrived 1647-01-01
Departed 1647-03-14
Capacity DIPLOMAT, purpose DIPLOMACY
SWEDEN, KLOSTER ZEVEN, BREMEN STIFT
Arrived 1647-07-10
Purpose CIVIC
SWEDEN, RIKSRAD
Arrived 1657-01-01
Departed 1657-12-31
Capacity COUNCILLOR, purpose CIVIL SERVICE
SWEDEN, BREKKE, NORWAY
Arrived 1657-07-30, as FIELD MARSHAL
Departed 1657-08-06, as FIELD MARSHAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
SWEDEN, NORWAY (TRONDHEIM)
Arrived 1658-02-01, as FIELD MARSHAL
Departed 1658-12-31, as FIELD MARSHAL
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
SWEDEN, LIVONIA AND ESTONIA
Arrived 1659-01-01, as COMMANDER IN CHIEF
Departed 1661-12-31, as COMMANDER IN CHIEF, RIKSRÅD (STATE COUNCILLOR), KRIGSRÅD
Capacity GOVERNOR, KRIGSRÅD, RIKSRÅD (STATE COUNCILLOR), purpose MILITARY