September 9th, 2012
On this date in 1536, the Danish rebel Skipper Clement was put to death at Viborg.
Clement (English Wikipedia entry | Danish) was a naval officer for the Danish king Christian II.
When said heavy-handed monarch was deposed by his own uncle Frederick, Clement turned privateer … and when said deposing-uncle Frederick died in 1533, Clement entered the ensuing civil war between supporters of the still-imprisoned ex-king Christian II and those who backed Frederick’s own son Christian III. This was also a social and political war over the Reformation.
Clement went to war for his former boss, Christian II, instigating a 1534 North Jutland uprising of the Catholic peasantry that in October of that year trounced the Protestant noble army sent to suppress it at the Battle of Svenstrope Mose (Svenstrop Bog or Moor).
That battle clinched Clement’s reputation as one of the great peasant-rising leaders, and also clinched for Clement the fate that usually befalls such characters. Shortly after, Clement’s aristocratic ally cut his own deal with Christian III and abandoned the rabble to a vicious counterattack. In December 1534, General Johan Rantzau stormed the rebel strongholdof Aalborg, slaughtering two thousand peasants, reducing freeholding farmers to tenants, and bringing Clement home in chains for a grand finale.
The captured commander languished in his dungeon awaiting the conclusion of the civil war. It took a good year under siege for Rantzau to bring Copenhagen to heel, but once that city capitulated in August 1536, Clement was brought out of storage for use as a victory cigar. (Danish link)
On September 9, 1536, wearing a lead crown to mock his ambition, Clement had his head chopped off, and his remains were dismembered and set up for public display.
Danish speakers may enjoy these short audio narrations of the Svenstrope Mose and Aalborg engagements. Aalborg parents may enjoy sending their children to Skipper Clement International School.
Also on this date
Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Beheaded,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Denmark,Dismembered,Execution,Famous,Gibbeted,History,Pirates,Popular Culture,Power,Public Executions,Soldiers,Treason
Tags: 1530s, 1536, aalborg, christian ii, christian iii, civil war, frederick i, peasant uprising, september 9, skipper clement, viborg
July 3rd, 2011
On this date in 1648, the ringleaders of a short-lived rebellion over salt taxes were executed in Moscow.
Salt saker image
(cc) Greg Bishop
The Salt Riot is exactly what you’d think from its name, right down to being over in a matter of weeks.
Common folk irked at a new salt tax* that made the commodity dramatically more expensive besieged tsar Alexei I at the beginning of June, soon joined by opportunistic Streltsy who hadn’t been paid in a while.
The specific target of their rage was the boyar Boris Morozov, the elder brother-in-law of the teenage monarch, and the true power behind the throne. He accordingly played the traditional role of bad cop to the tsar’s presumptive good cop.
Of course, both guys were really on the same team.
A few days of mayhem, a few boyars’ heads on pikes later, the Streltsy had been bought off and the rioters divided and quashed. Alexei avoided handing over Morozov to the vengeance of the mob, and “exiled” him to a monastery. He would return from “exile” in a few months, once everyone had chilled out and the rising could be taken with a grain of salt.
This passing spasm in the Russian polity left a long-lived and troublesome legacy: one of the demands of the rioters was the convocation of the Zemsky Sobor to hammer out a new legal code.
This happened to be a need for the Russian state anyway, since its rulers were governing by the haphazard issuance of countless ukases nobody could keep straight. So, 1649 saw the promulgation of the Sobornoye Ulozheniye, helpfully rationalizing the lawmaking process.
Win, and win! Except that this legislative milestone also codified serfdom in its most heavy-handed form, formally binding most Russian peasants to their estate without freedom of movement, and making this unhappy condition hereditary. The legal code, and the institution of serfdom subsisted until the 19th century.
* According to The Cambridge History of Russia, the salt tax itself had actually been abolished at the end of 1647, but “other direct taxes were tripled to compensate for the loss of revenue.”
Also on this date
Entry Filed under: 17th Century,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Public Executions,Rioting,Russia
Tags: 1640s, 1648, alexei i, boris morozov, july 3, moscow, peasant uprising, salt riot, salt tax, serfdom, sobornoye ulozheniye, tax revolts