Spoils of Knowledge

Seventeenth-Century Plunder in Swedish Archives and Libraries


In Spoils of Knowledge, Emma Hagström Molin offers novel perspectives on document and book plundering. At the forefront of her study is the controversial heritage connected to the Swedish Empire (1611–1721) kept in Swedish archives and libraries. Previous studies suggest that continental spoils were perceived as an inferior and problematic category, and that Catholic books in particular were hard to accommodate in Protestant libraries. However, by considering systems of classification and collection orders of archives and libraries, Hagström Molin unearths a much more complex history of how plundered knowledge was appreciated, used and fused with its new Swedish settings. Moreover, spanning a history of four hundred years, this book shows that the understanding of spoils changed significantly over time.

This is a translation of: Krigsbytets Biografi. Byten i Riksarkivet, Uppsala universitetsbibliotek och Skokloster slott under 1600-talet (Gothenburg: Makadam, 2015).

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Emma Hagström Molin, Ph.D. (2015) is a researcher in History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University, Sweden. Recent publications include “Provenance Research. Book History, Historiography, and the Rise of an Epistemic Category” (Studies in Book Culture, 2022).
List of Figures

Introduction: In the King’s Treasury
 1 Uncovering Spoils of Knowledge in Swedish Collections
 2 Writing Histories from Spoils: Methodological and Contextual Considerations
 3 Cases and Sources: Spoils in Inventories, Lists and Catalogues
 4 Some Prerequisites for Swedish Imperial Collecting

1 Placed in Chests: The Making of Cultural Spoils in Seventeenth-Century Europe and Beyond
 1 Plundering and Ruining in the Age of Grotius
 2 Plundering, Ruining and Cultural Plunder in Swedish Sources
 3 Cultural Plunder in Livonia, Prussia and Denmark
 4 Collecting and Conserving Archives and Libraries
 5 The Notable Absence of Spoils, Spolia and Trophies
 6 Conclusion: Unstable Spoils of War

2 Archive Trouble: The Mitau Files in Vasa History
 1 Archive Fever in Vasa Administration
 2 The Documents from Mitau
 3 The Material, Geography and Rarity of Archival Spoils
 4 ‘As a Soul within a Body’: Archive Rooms
 5 Utter’s Archive Order: Documents Narrating Vasa History
 6 The Mitau Documents’ Transformations
 7 Restitution and Rebirth
 8 Post-Fire Order, Collectors and Thieves
 9 Conclusion: Archive Trouble

3 Library Confessions: Catholic Books, Jesuit Epistemology and Temporality at Uppsala University Library
 1 ‘It Is Not Extraordinary’: Library Beginnings
 2 The Material, Geography and Confession of Library Spoils
 3 Parting of the Prussian Spoils
 4 Library Materialisations
 5 Ordering the Collections
 6 The Effects of Spoils
 7 Material and Immaterial Movements
 8 Mould and Disorder: The Challenges of Preservation
 9 Back in the War Chests
 10 Conclusion: Library Confessions

4 War Museums: Spolia Selecta in Carl Gustaf Wrangel’s Skokloster
 1 The Encyclopaedic Museums of Skokloster: Beginnings
 2 The Creation of the Rothkirch Spoils
 3 Confessional Spoils
 4 Varieties of Booty
 5 Practical Spoils
 6 The Wrangel Library at Skokloster: Past and Present
 7 Discrepancy in the Descriptions and Numbers of Wrangel’s Book Spoils
 8 Bibliotheca Selecta, Spolia Selecta
 9 Wrangel’s Armoury and the Rothkirch Spoils
 10 Art Chambers, War and Genealogical Spoils
 11 Skokloster’s Geography
 12 Skokloster’s Narrative and Temporal Tangle
 13 Conclusion: War Museums

Conclusion: Spoils of Knowledge, Triumph and Trouble
 1 Making Spoils in the Seventeenth Century
 2 Triumph and Trouble: The Effects of Knowledge Spoils
 3 Enduring Instabilities: From Spoils of Knowledge to Swedish Spoils of War, Reconstructions and Restitutions

All interested in the history of seventeenth-century archives and libraries, and anyone concerned with spoils of war and cultural plundering. Keywords: spoils of war, history, archives and libraries, the Swedish Empire (1611–1721), classification, collections studies, plundering, object biographies.
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