Johann Reinhold Patkul, a Livonian patriot, born in a prison at Stockholm about 1660, executed at Kazimierz, near Posen, Oct. 10, 1707. He first served as a captain in the Swedish army. In 1689 he was one of a deputation of noblemen sent to Charles XI. to remonstrate against the encroachments of the royal officers upon the rights and privileges of Livonia. Having participated in other patriotic manifestations, Patkul, in connection with the marshal and members of the Livonian diet, was summoned to Stockholm. Procuring a safe-conduct, he obeyed the summons, but soon judged it necessary to flee to Courland; and a few weeks after his escape he was condemned to be beheaded as a rebel, his property was confiscated, and his writings were burned by the executioner. He retired to the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, where he engaged in scientic pursuits, and afterward visited France. In 1698, after the accession of Charles XII., he sued for pardon; but his petition being rejected, he entered the service of the elector Augustus of Saxony, king of Poland, who appointed him one of his privy council. He participated actively in the coalition between his new master, the king of Denmark, and the czar of Russia against Charles XII., and at different times endeavored to rouse Livonia against the Swedish rule.
Dissatisfied with the overbearing manners of Flemming, the principal minister of Augustus II., and having moreover, during a mission to Russia, won the favor of Peter the Great, he accepted from the czar the rank of general and the office of Russian ambassador to Dresden. This roused the displeasure of Augustus, who caused him to be arrested in 1705. When afterward Augustus, defeated by Charles XII., was obliged to abdicate his Polish throne, one of the conditions of peace imposed upon him was the surrender of Patkul. Augustus gave secret orders that his prisoner should be suffered to escape, but they were not obeyed. By Charles's command, Patkul was taken to the convent of Kazimierz and condemned to death by a court martial. He was first broken on the wheel, and then, while still living, beheaded.