Colonizing the Landscape: A Case Study of Medieval Livonia

Colonizing the Landscape: A Case Study of Medieval Livonia

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Colonizing the Landscape: A Case Study of Medieval Livonia

By Jüri Kivimäe

Paper given at Landscapes and Societies in Ancient and Medieval Europe East of the Elbe (2010)

Introduction: This paper presents some preliminary, unfinished results of rethinking and rereading of the history of Medieval Livonia. Sébastien Rossignol’s kind invitation to join your workshop offered me a pleasant opportunity to discuss some aspects of this problem with colleagues from various disciplines.

The Eastern Baltic territories discussed in this paper are known under the code name of Medieval Livonia (German Livland or Alt-Livland, Old-Livonia). Medieval Livonia, which covers the territories of the modern Baltic States Estonia and Latvia, was once settled by Baltic and Finno-Ugric tribes and then conquered by the Teutonic Knights during the Livonian and Baltic crusades in the early thirteenth century. The Livonian confederation of small feudal states—bishoprics, possessions of the Livonian order –existed alongside the powerful Hanseatic towns of Riga, Reval, and Dorpat until 1561, when Old-Livonia collapsed in the Russo-Livonian War, and the territories were seized by Muscovy, Sweden, Denmark and Poland-Lithuania. Being well demarcated chronologically and spatially, Livonia offers promising opportunities for medievalists’ research. In recent years, new and fresh publications have shown a growing interest in Livonian history.

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