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Livonia

From Academic Kids

This article is about the region in Europe. For other uses see Livonia (disambiguation).

Livonia (Latvian: Livonija; German: Livland; Polish: Inflanty; Russian: Лифляндия or Liflandiya) 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.

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.

In 1561 during the Livonian War Livonia fell to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, with Russia recognizing Polish control of Livonia only in 1582. The organization of Livonia in the Commonwealth as of 1598 was:

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 Voivodship 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. Soviet troops and German paramilitaries fought with Latvian and Estonian soldiers over the Balticum teritory, but their attempts were defeated. Livonia remains split between Latvia and Estonia today.

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

See also:

Contemporary Culture

Neil Gaiman, in his comic book The Sandman, portrayed the last sinner in Hell as being a 10th-century mass murderer from Livonia, who was too proud of the magnitude of his sins to accept forgiveness.

"...but I am Breschau of Livonia! This is my sin!"

"No one cares any more, Breschau. No one remembers. I doubt one mortal in a hundred thousand could even point to where Livonia used to be, on a map."

cs:Livonsko da:Livland de:Livland it:Livonia lt:Livonija lv:Livonija nl:Lijfland pl:Łatgalia fi:Liivinmaa sv:Livland

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