The article examines the political relations between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, especially Žemaitija as a constituent part, and Žemgala (Semigallia), from the beginning of the 1279 Žemgalian uprising against the Teutonic Order until the rule of Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania. The author tries to explain why Gediminas used the title of Duke of Žemgala in his letters of 1323, although in other cases, the title of the Lithuanian rulers does not include the name of Žemgala, and neither do other sources describing the territorial structure of the grand duchy mention Žemgala as part of it. Some historians have already argued that Žemgala was joined to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1279. The article re-examines this argument, and tries to validate it. The cooperation of Lithuania (especially Žemaitija) with the Žemgalians during the war of 1279–1290 shows that the integration of Žemgala into the Lithuanian state was in fact its integration into Žemaitija during the war. The author concludes that this integration was not denied by the time Gediminas took power, despite the fact that the Teutonic Order had already initiated a new phase in the invasion of Žemgala. Gediminas used the title of Duke of Žemgala because he actually controlled most of Žemgala. A substantial part of it remained permanently within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
One of the more interesting rituals that functioned in Old Rus’ for centuries is the custom of cross kissing (крестноe целованиe), accompanying legal processes, such as taking oaths, public obligations, writing legal deeds, or concluding peace treaties. The earliest records of this ritual are evidenced clearly by the earliest chronicles and references in documents from that era. Due to the chronological structure and character of this work, which is clearly defined in the title of the article, the author’s attention is focused on the initial period of its functioning, until the end of the 13th century, in relation to contacts between Old Rus’ (Ruthenia) and Livonia. From Livonia, the parties participating in this ritual were Catholic bishops, Teutonic Knights, councillors from Livonian towns (Riga, Viljandi, Tartu and others), and even ordinary merchants. From Old Rus’, they were also participants in governments, merchants and warriors. From the historical sources, it can be stated here that the ceremony of kissing the cross was used quite commonly in legal acts between Old Rus’ and Livonia.
How were the Reformation and a variety of different confessionalisations manifested in material culture? The article discusses this issue by presenting a dozen examples of works of art relating to the present territory of Latvia. In 1521, when urban citizens there responded to the ideas of the Reformation for the first time, a large part of present-day Latvia belonged to a conglomerate of various holdings called the Livonian Confederation. The religious polarisation of society characteristic of the early period of the Reformation (the 1520s) is represented in works of art discussed in the first chapter. The second chapter discusses works from the period of political instability caused by the First Northern War (1558–1583). It is characterised by Livonia’s political, cultural and confessional division, of which representations can also be seen in many examples of the visual arts.
The visual aspects of sepulchral culture in Livonia in the Late Medieval and Early Modern period have been thoroughly studied by art historians. They have analysed the spread and condition of tombstones and epitaphs, as well as the pictorial programmes of monuments. Less attention has been paid to records inscribed on tombstones, which are known both from surviving examples and from old manuscripts. According to Estonian art historians, Lutheranism changed the pictorial programmes of tombstones, and only in the second half of the 16th century put the word into the central position on them. The article seeks to verify this statement on the basis of broader material than has been used so far. For this purpose, the author uses data on all Latin tombstone records known today from Estonian churches (from the 14th century to 1918, they are held in the yet unpublished database Corpus Electronicum Inscriptionum Latinarum Estoniae), and analyses the oldest Livonian occasional poetry (manuscript and printed) from the first half of the 16th century. The article shows that the attempts to write long texts for grave monuments and place them in the dominating position on the tombstone were made in Livonia already before the Reformation, and can be considered a result of the impact of Renaissance humanism.
Journal:Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis
Volume 33 (2016): Verbum movet, exemplum trahit. The Emerging Christian Community in the Eastern Baltic = Verbum movet, exemplum trahit. Krikščioniškosios bendruomenės tapsmas Rytų Baltijos regione, pp. 123–146
The paper presents the general conditions in which the pastoral work of mendicant orders was conducted in the domains of the Teutonic Order and particular bishoprics in Prussia and Livonia, at the same time indicating similarities and differences in the situations in which friars had to work in these areas. The research focuses exclusively on pastoral work conducted among the urban population. The network of mendicant friaries in Prussia and Livonia was a reflection of the demographic potential and the degree of urbanisation of both parts of the domains of the Teutonic Order. The scale of effectiveness of the friars is authenticated by numerous references to prayer agreements concluded with members of religious orders and guilds of craftsmen, burials in friary churches (tombstones), and bequests of townspeople. The degree of success of mendicant orders and the support of the townspeople is confirmed in the partially preserved great hall-type churches erected by mendicants in the main towns (Gdańsk, Toruń, Tallinn, Riga).
In the 12th century, the Curonians dwelt in the east Baltic region between the Rīga area in the north and Klaipėda in the south. They reached the peak of their economic, political and cultural achievements in the 11th century and the first half of the 12th century. The roots of piracy as a phenomenon have a social character. The most active period of the Curonian Vikings begins in around the mid-tenth century, and lasts until the arrival of the Germans in the 13th century. The well-organised piracy of the Curonians became dangerous to navigation on an important maritime trading route along the east Baltic coast. The Curonians attacked traders’ boats, robbed coastal churches, devastated Danish and Swedish coastal areas, and even stayed for a while. In the times of the Teutonic Order, in periods of diplomatic and military conflict or trading competition, even officials did not avoid robbery at sea. The Palanga coastal population used to plunder shipwrecked boats, and went marauding in coastal waters until the middle of the 18th century.
Volume 11 (2009): The Horse and Man in European Antiquity (Worldview, Burial Rites, and Military and Everyday Life), pp. 270–274
In The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia there is a description of “divine trial” in Turaida (Latvia), where the “horse of destiny” was used to decide the fate of Christian preacher in the Turaida brother Theodoric. The overall depiction of the trial bears strong likeness to Germanic traditions account of which comes from as early as the writings of Tacitus, in 98. However, the historical context shows similar patterns of mythological thought both with the Livs, the Balts and Germanic tribes. Also similar is the role of the horse in the mythology of these peoples.