Terra Mariana

Terra Mariana
Terra Mariana la


POL Inflanty IRP COA.svg

Coat of arms

Capital Riga
Language(s) Latin, Low German, Estonian, Latvian, Livonian
Religion Roman Catholicism
Government Not specified
Legislature Landtag
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Livonian Crusade 1208–27
 - Established 1207 1207
 - St. George's Night Uprising 1343–44
 - Livonian confederation agreement December 4, 1435
 - Wilno Pact 1561
 - Livonian War 1558–82
Today part of  Estonia

Terra Mariana (Land of Mary) was the official name[1] for Medieval Livonia[2] or Old Livonia [3] (German: Alt-Livland, Estonian: Vana-Liivimaa, Latvian: Livonija) which was formed in the aftermath of the Livonian Crusade in the territories comprising present day Estonia and Latvia. It was established on February 2, 1207 [4] as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire[5] but lost this status in 1215 when proclaimed by Pope Innocent III as a direct subject to the Holy See.[6]

Terra Mariana was divided into feudal principalities by Papal Legate William of Modena: the Archbishopric of Riga, Bishopric of Courland, Bishopric of Dorpat, Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek, the lands ruled by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword [nb 1] The northern parts became a Dominum directum to the King of Denmark, Duchy of Estonia.[8][9]

After the 1236 Battle of Saule the surviving members of the brothers merged in 1237 with the Teutonic Order of Prussia and became known as the Livonian Order. In 1346 the order bought Danish Estonia. Throughout the existence of medieval Livonia there was a constant struggle over the supremacy of ruling the lands by the Church, the Order, the secular German nobility and the citizens of the Hanseatic towns of Riga and Reval. Following its defeat in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 the Teutonic Order and the Ordenstaat fell into decline but the Livonian Order managed to maintain its independent existence. In 1561, during the Livonian war, Terra Mariana ceased to exist.[1] Its northern parts were ceded to Sweden and formed into the Duchy of Estonia, its southern territories became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania — and thus eventually of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as the Duchy of Livonia and Duchy of Courland and Semigallia. The island of Saaremaa became part of Denmark.



Livonian Crusade

The lands on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea were the last part of Europe to be Christianized by the Roman Catholic Church .[10]

In 1193 Pope Celestine III called for a crusade against the pagans in Northern Europe. At the beginning of the 13th century, German crusaders from Gotland and the northern Holy Roman Empire conquered the Livonian and Latvian lands along the Daugava and Gauja rivers. The stronghold of Riga (capital of modern Latvia) was established in 1201, and in 1202 the Livonian Brothers of the Sword was formed, as a branch of the Knights Templar. In 1218 Pope Honorius III gave Valdemar II free rein to annex as much land as he could conquer in Estonia. Additionally Albert of Riga, leader of the crusaders fighting the Estonians from the south, paid visit to the German King Philip of Swabia and asked permission to attack the Estonians from the North.[8] The last to be subjugated and Christianised were Oeselians, Curonians and Semigallians.[citation needed]

After the success of the crusade, the German- and Danish-occupied territory was divided into feudal principalities by William of Modena.[7]


Three Mighty Ladies from Livonia by Albrecht Dürer (1521)

This division of medieval Livonia was created by Papal Legate William of Modena in 1228[7] as a compromise between the church and the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, both factions led by Germans, after the German knights had conquered and subdued the territories of several indigenous tribes: Finnic-speaking Estonians and Livs, and Baltic-speaking Latgalians, Selonians, Semigallians and Curonians.[citation needed]

Medieval Livonia was intermittently ruled first by the Brothers of the Sword, since 1237 by the semi-autonomous branch of Teutonic knights called Livonian Order and the Roman Catholic Church. By the mid 14th century, after buying the Duchy of Estonia from Christopher II, the Livonian Order controlled about 67,000 square kilometers of the Old Livonia and the Church about 41000 km2. The lands of the Order were divided into about 40 districts governed by a Vogt. The largest ecclesiastical state was the Archbishopric of Riga (18,000 km2) followed by the Bishopric of Courland (4500 km2), Bishopric of Dorpat, and Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek. The nominal head of Terra Mariana as well as the city of Riga was the Archbishop of Riga as the apex of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.[11]

Citizens and commoners in medieval Livonia 16th century

In 1240 Valdemar II created the Bishopric of Reval in Duchy of Estonia by reserving (contradictory to canon law) the right to appoint the bishops of Reval to himself and his successor kings of Denmark. The decision to simply nominate the Holy See of Reval was unique in the whole Catholic Church at the time and was disputed by bishops and the Pope. During this era, the election of bishops was never established in Reval, and the royal rights to the bishopric and to nominate the bishops were even included in the treaty when the territories were sold to Teutonic Order in 1346.[12]

Livonian civil wars

Coins of Medieval Livonia, 15th–16th century

Throughout the existence of medieval Livonia there was a constant struggle for superiority in the rule over the lands by the Church, the order, the secular nobles of German descent who ruled the fiefs and the citizens of the Hanseatic town of Riga. Two major civil wars were fought in 1296–1330, 1313–30, and in 1343–45 the Estonian revolt resulted in the annexation of the Danish Duchy of Estonia within the Teutonic Ordensstaat.[13]

Technically,[citation needed] the Archbishop of Riga was the feudal and ecclesiastical superior, first over the Teutonic Knights, later over the Livonian Order. But the Archbishop did not become the dominant political power; already the Knights had thrown off the episcopal dominion, later the Livonian Order tried to unify the country under their leadership. The bishops of Dorpat, Courland and Ösel-Wiek were lesser powers.[citation needed]

The most important ally of the Livonian Order was the German nobility in the Danish Duchy of Estonia.[13] In the beginning of the 14th century Denmark was no longer a powerful state and the local German nobility had effectively become the rulers of the territory. After the Estonians of Harju started a rebellion in 1343 (St.George's Night Uprising) the Teutonic order occupied the territories. The overthrow of Danish rule came two days after the Order had defeated the Estonian revolt. The Danish viceroy was imprisoned in cooperation with the pro-German vassals. The castles in Reval and Wesenberg were handed over to the Order by the German nobility party on May 16, 1343 and the castle at Narva in 1345. In 1346, the Estonian territories (Harria and Vironia) were sold by king of Denmark for 19 000 Köln marks to the Teutonic Order. The shift of sovereignty from Denmark to the Teutonic Order took place on November 1, 1346 [14]

Livonian Confederation

Old Livonia, before the Livonian War:
  Livonian Order
  Bishopric of Courland
  Bishopric of Ösel–Wiek
  Bishopric of Dorpat
  City of Riga
  Archbishopric of Riga

The Teutonic Order fell into decline following its defeat in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410. The Livonian Order managed to maintain an independent existence as it didn't participate in the battle and suffered no casualties.

In 1418 Pope Martin V nominated Johannes Ambundii to the position of Archbishop of Riga.[15] He became known as the organizer of the Livonian confederation.[16][17]

Conflicts between the Order, the bishops, and the powerful Hanseatic cities were common throughout the existence of medieval Livonia. To solve internal disputes, the Livonian Diet or Landtag was formed in 1419 [18][19] by the initiative of Archbishop Ambundii. The city of Walk was chosen as the site of the Diet. The Diet was composed of members of the Livonian Order, Livonian Bishops, vassals and city representatives.[18]

On September 1, 1435 the Livonian Order's defeat in the Battle of Swienta (Pabaiskas), claiming the lives of the Master and several high ranking knights, brought the order closer to its Livonian neighbours. The Livonian confederation agreement (eiine fruntliche eyntracht) was signed in Walk on December 4, 1435, by the archbishop of Riga, the bishops of Courland, Dorpat, Ösel-Wiek and Reval; the representatives of the Livonan Order and vassals, and the deputies of Riga, Reval and Dorpat city municipal councils.[20]

The states of the Livonian Confederation ceased to exist during the Livonian War (1558–82). In 1559 the Bishop of Ösel-Wiek sold his lands to King Frederick II of Denmark for 30,000 thalers. The Danish king gave the territory to his younger brother Duke Magnus of Holstein who in 1560 landed with an army on Ösel.[21]

In 1561 the Swedish army landed in Reval and gained control over the northern part of Old Livonia. The Livonian Order was dissolved by the Treaty of Vilnius in 1561. The following year, the Livonian Diet decided to ask protection from Sigismund II of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania. With the end of government by the last Archbishop of Riga, William of Brandenburg, Riga became a Free Imperial City [22] and the rest of the territory was split between the Lithuanian vassal states Duchy of Courland and Semigallia and the Duchy of Livonia.[23][24]

See also

Livonian Confederation Terra Mariana Estonian SSR Duchy of Livonia (1721–1917) Duchy of Livonia (1629–1721) Duchy of Livonia (1561–1621) Duchy of Estonia (1721–1917) Duchy of Estonia (1561–1721) Danish Estonia Danish Estonia EU Estonia Ancient Estonia History of Estonia

Livonian Confederation Terra Mariana Latvian SSR Duchy of Livonia (1721–1917) Duchy of Livonia (1629–1721) Duchy of Livonia (1561–1621) Courland Governorate Duchy of Courland and Semigallia EU Latvia History of Latvia


  1. ^ William of Modena divided Livonia among the three bishoprics-Riga, Dorpat [Tartu], and Ösel-Wiek [Saaremaa-Läänemaa]-and the Order of Swordbrothers.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Terra Mariana". The Encyclopedia Americana. Americana Corp. 1967. http://books.google.com/books?id=jsJWAAAAMAAJ&q=%22Terra+Mariana%22&dq. 
  2. ^ Medieval Livonia @ google books
  3. ^ referred to by historians as Medieval Livonia or Old LivoniaOld Livonia @ google books to distinguish it from the rump-Livonia (Duchy of Livonia) and the Livonian Governorate that was formed from part of its territories after its breakup.
  4. ^ Bilmanis, Alfreds (1944). Latvian-Russian Relations: Documents. The Latvian legation. http://books.google.com/books?id=OoEdAAAAMAAJ&q=Terra+Mariana+1561&dq=Terra+Mariana+1561&ei=cGkaSZzgN5SmM5nCnOAI&pgis=1. 
  5. ^ Herbermann, Charles George (1907). The Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. http://books.google.com/books?id=n2ocAAAAMAAJ&q=%22Terra+Mariana%22&dq=%22Terra+Mariana%22&lr=&ei=mUAXSfKjAoWcMuHQ_cQB&pgis=1. 
  6. ^ Bilmanis, Alfreds (1945). The Church in Latvia. Drauga vēsts. http://books.google.com/books?id=xRYXAAAAIAAJ&q=%221215+proclaimed+it+the+Terra+Mariana,+subject+directly%22&dq=%221215+proclaimed+it+the+Terra+Mariana,+subject+directly%22&ei=RmUaSZmyHp-aMpzMifEJ&pgis=1. 
  7. ^ a b c by William Urban. "An Historical Overview of the Crusade to Livonia". ORB. http://www.the-orb.net/encyclop/religion/crusades/cruurban.html. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Christiansen, Eric (1997). The Northern Crusades. Penguin. ISBN 0140266534. http://books.google.com/books?id=W02ZZFqP1JcC&q. 
  9. ^ Knut, Helle (2003). The Cambridge History of Scandinavia: Prehistory to 1520. Cambridge University Press. p. 269. ISBN 0521472997. http://books.google.com/books?id=PFBtfXG6fXAC&pg=PA269&vq=Duchy+of+Estonia&dq=%22Duchy+of+Estonia%22&lr=&source=gbs_search_s&sig=ACfU3U1ZqeL3WfxncxJEpJV7Jj0jMKw6Xg. 
  10. ^ O'Connor, Kevin (2005). "Religion". Culture and customs of the Baltic states. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 35. ISBN 0313331251. http://books.google.com/books?id=8Dl2i1Fkd_cC&pg=PA35&dq. 
  11. ^ The Latvians: A Short History By Andrejs Plakans ISBN 0817993029; p. 19
  12. ^ Skyum-Nielsen pp. 113-115
  13. ^ a b Urban, William (1981). Livonian Crusade. University Press of America. ISBN 0819116831. http://books.google.com/books?id=wY5JGQAACAAJ&dq. 
  14. ^ Skyum-Nielsen pp. 129
  15. ^ Wendehors, Alfred (1989). Das Stift Neumünster in Würzburg. Walter de Gruyter. p. 503. ISBN 3110120577. http://books.google.com/books?id=CnkB23QthD8C&pg=PA503&dq. 
  16. ^ Bilmanis, Alfred (2007). Latvia as an Independent State. READ BOOKS. p. 67. ISBN 1406728705. http://books.google.com/books?id=gX_pmqKKB_QC&pg=PA67&dq. 
  17. ^ The History of the Baltic States By Kevin O'Connor; ISBN 0313323550; p. 23
  18. ^ a b Plakans, Andrejs (1995). The Latvians: a short history. Hoover Press. p. 23. ISBN 0817993029. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ad3-xvwdjE4C&pg=PA23&dq. 
  19. ^ Miljan, Toivo (2004). Historical dictionary of Estonia. Scarecrow Press. p. 169. ISBN 0810849046. http://books.google.com/books?id=xeXwMDZbTBoC&pg=PA169&dq. 
  20. ^ Raudkivi, Priit (2007). Vana-Liivimaa maapäev. Argo. pp. 118–119. ISBN 9949415845. http://books.google.com/books?id=4QxtGQAACAAJ&dq. 
  21. ^ Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture By Richard C. Frucht; ISBN 1576078000; p.70
  22. ^ Vane, Charles William (1838). Recollections of a tour in the north of Europe in 1836-1837. p. 178. http://books.google.com/books?id=aG4EAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA178&dq. 
  23. ^ Brand, Hanno (2005). Trade, diplomacy and cultural exchange: continuity and change in the North Sea area and the Baltic, c. 1350-1750. Uitgeverij Verloren. p. 17. ISBN 9065508813. http://books.google.com/books?id=7wSnyGP1KQQC&pg=PA17&dq. 
  24. ^ Plakans, Andrejs (2011). A Concise History of the Baltic States. Cambridge University Press. p. 95. ISBN 0521541557. http://books.google.com/books?id=w6W2cHgJE2sC&pg=PA95&dq. 

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