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Livonian Order
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1. Seal of the Livonian Order's master
2.Coat of Arms of Teutonic Knights in the Livonian Order
Active 1237–1561
Country State of the Teutonic Order (1237-1435)
Livonian Confederation (1435-1561)
Branch Teutonic Order
Garrison/HQ Wenden (Cēsis), Fellin (Viljandi)
Battle honours Livonian Crusade, Battle of the Ice, Livonian War

The Livonian Order was an autonomous Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order [1] and a member of the Livonian Confederation from 1435 to 1561. After being defeated by Samogitians in the 1236 Battle of Schaulen (Saule), the remnants of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword were incorporated into the Teutonic Knights and became known as the Livonian Order in 1237.[2] Between 1237 and 1290, the Livonian Order conquered all of Courland, Livonia, and Semigallia, but the Order's attempts to invade the neighboring Novgorod Republic were unsuccessful and its army was eventually defeated in the Battle of Lake Peipus (1242), and in the Battle of Rakvere (1268). In 1346, the Order bought the Duchy of Estonia from King Valdemar IV of Denmark. Life within the Order's territory is described in the Chronicle of Balthasar Russow (Chronica der Provinz Lyfflandt).

The Teutonic Order fell into decline following its defeat in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 and the secularization of its Prussian territories by Albert of Brandenburg in 1525, but the Livonian Order managed to maintain an independent existence.

The Livonian Order's defeat in the Battle of Swienta (Pabaiskas) on September 1, 1435, which claimed the lives of the master and several high-ranking knights, brought the order closer to its neighbors in Livonia. 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.[3]

During the Livonian War, however, the Order suffered a decisive defeat by troops of Muscovite Russia in the Battle of Ergeme in 1560. The Livonian Order then sought protection from Sigismund II Augustus, the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania, who had intervened in a war between Bishop William of Riga and the Brothers in 1557.

After coming to an agreement with Sigismund II Augustus and his representatives (especially Mikołaj "the Black" Radziwiłł), the last Livonian Master, Gotthard Kettler, secularized the Order and converted to Lutheranism. In the southern part of the Brothers' lands he created the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia for his family. Most of the remaining lands were seized by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The north of Estonia was taken back by Denmark and Sweden.

From the 14th to the 16th centuries, Middle Low German as spoken in the towns of the Hanseatic League was the established language, but was subsequently succeeded by High German as official language in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries.[4]

Masters of the Livonian Order[edit | edit source]

Body armor used by the Livonian Order

The Livonian Master like the grandmaster of the Teutonic Order was elected by his fellow knights for a lifetime term. The grandmaster exercised supervisory powers and his advice was considered equal to a command. The grandmaster of Teutonic knights did not limit local autonomy, he rarely visited Livonia or sent ambassadors for oversight.[5]

Commanderies of the Livonian Order[edit | edit source]

Across modern territory of Estonia and Latvia

Estonia[edit | edit source]

Latvia[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Urban, William (2005). The Teutonic Knights: A Military History. pp. 259–273. ISBN 1-85367-667-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=zzwXIQAACAAJ&dq. 
  2. Frucht, Richard C. (2005). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 69. ISBN 1-57607-800-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=lVBB1a0rC70C&pg=PA69&dq=%22Livonian+order%22#PPA69,M1. 
  3. Raudkivi, Priit (2007). Vana-Liivimaa maapäev. Argo. pp. 118–119. ISBN 9949-415-84-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=4QxtGQAACAAJ&dq. 
  4. Koch, Kristine (2002) (in German). Deutsch als Fremdsprache im Russland des 18. Jahrhunderts. Die Geschichte des Deutschen als Fremdsprache. 1. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter. p. 59. ISBN 3-11-017503-7. 
  5. Urban, William L (2004). Livonian Crusade. Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. pp. 12, 14. ISBN 0-929700-45-7. http://books.google.com/books?id=h9BTAAAACAAJ&dq. 

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