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Image:Livland 15jh.png
Livonia, as shown in a 15th century map.
This article is about the region in Europe. For other uses see Livonia (disambiguation).

Livonia (Latvian: Livonija; Estonian: Liivimaa; German: Livland; Swedish: Livland; Polish: Inflanty; Russian: Лифляндия or Lifljandija; Lithuanian: Livonija ) once was the land of the Finnic Livonians, but came in the Middle Ages to designate a much broader territory controlled by the Livonian Order on the eastern coasts of the Baltic Sea in present-day Latvia and Estonia. Its frontiers are the Gulf of Riga and the Gulf of Finland in the north-west, Lake Peipus and Russia to the east, and Lithuania to the south.

Livonia was inhabited by various Baltic and Finnic peoples ruled by an upper class of Baltic Germans. Over the course of time some nobles were polonized into the Polish szlachta or russified into the Russian Dvoryanstvo.


[edit] History

Beginning in the 12th century Livonia was an area of economic and political expansion by Danes and Germans, particularly by the Hanseatic League and the Cistercian Order. Around 1160 Hanseatic traders from Lübeck established a trading post at the future site of Riga. The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia from the 1220s gives a firsthand account of the Christianization of Livonia, granted as a fief by the Hohenstaufen King of Germany Philip of Swabia to Albert of Buxhoeveden, nephew of the Archbishop of Bremen, who sailed with a convoy of ships filled with armed crusaders to carve out a Catholic territory in the East during the Northern Crusades. Albert founded Riga in 1201, built a cathedral, and became the first Prince-Bishop of Livonia.

Thus, from the early 13th century Livonia became a confederation (Livonian Confederation) of lands ruled by the Livonian Order (founded by Albert in 1202, which joined with the Teutonic Knights in Prussia in 1237) and the spiritual territories including the Archbishopric of Riga and the Bishoprics of Courland, Ösel-Wiek, and Dorpat, where Albert's brother Hermann established himself as the prince-bishop. The conquest of Livonia by the Germans is described in the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle.

Image:Pol-lith commonwealth map.jpg
Outline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with its major subdivisions as of 1619 superimposed on present-day national borders, Livonia marked in yellow

In 1561 during the Livonian War Livonia fell to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania <ref name="Bumblauskas">(Lithuanian) Alfredas Bumblauskas (2005). Senosios Lietuvos istorija 1009 - 1795. Vilnius: R. Paknio leidykla, 256-259. ISBN 9986830893.</ref><ref name="Obolensky">(English) Robert Auty (1981). D. Obolensky: Companion to Russian Studies: Volume 1 Vol 1 Introduction to Russian History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 101. ISBN 0521280389.</ref><ref name="Szilvia">(English) Szilvia Rédey, Endre Bojtár (1999). Foreword to the Past: a cultural history of the Baltic People. Central European University Press, 172. ISBN 9639116424.</ref> with vassal dependency from Lithuania<ref name="Szilvia"/>. Eight years later, in 1569, when Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Kingdom of Poland formed Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Livonia became a joint domain administered directly by the King and Grand Duke. <ref name="Szilvia"/><ref name="Bumblauskas"/><ref name="Davies">(English) Norman Davies (1996). Europe: a History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 555. ISBN 0198201710.</ref><ref name="Miller">(English) George Miller (1832). “Modern History”, History, philosophically issustrated, from the fall of the Roman empire to the French revolution, 258.</ref><ref name="Bilmanis">(English) Alfrēds Bīlmanis (1945). Baltic Essays. The Latvian Legation, 69-80. ASIN B0007E4DI4.</ref><ref name="Kidd">(English) Beresford James Kidd (1933). The Counter-reformation, 1550-1600. Society for promoting Christian knowledge, 121.</ref> Russia recognized Polish-Lithuanian control of Livonia only in 1582. As of 1598 it was divided onto:

Sweden gained control over the northern Estonian and central Latvian regions of Livonia, including Riga, after fighting the Polish-Swedish War during the 1620s, and incorporated it into the Swedish realm as the dominion Swedish Livonia. The portion of Livonia remaining in the Commonwealth after the Treaty of Oliva in 1660 was known as Polish Livonia, or Inflanty. It consisted mainly of the southern Latvian region Latgale within the Livonian Voivodeship with the capital of Daugavpils, or Dyneburg. This division of Livonia was codified in the Treaty of Oliva in 1660.

The Russian Empire conquered Swedish Livonia during the course of the Great Northern War and acquired the province at the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Russia then added Polish Livonia in 1772 during the Partitions of Poland. Livonia remained within the Russian Empire until the end of World War I, when it was split between the newly independent states of Latvia and Estonia. In 1918-1920 both Soviet troops and German Freikorps fought against Latvian and Estonian troops for control over Livonia, but their attempts were defeated. The historical land of Livonia as been split between Latvia and Estonia ever since.

The native Livonian language is still spoken in parts of Latvia, but is understood to be fast approaching extinction.

The anthem (probably unofficial) of Livonia was Min izāmō, min sindimō.

[edit] Notes and references



[edit] See also

Look up Livonia in
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[edit] External links

cs:Livonsko da:Livland de:Livland et:Liivimaa es:Livonia fr:Livonie it:Livonia lv:Livonija lt:Livonija nl:Lijfland no:Livland pl:Liwlandia pt:Livônia ru:Ливония fi:Liivinmaa sv:Livland zh:利沃尼亚


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