Riga in the 16th century
German crusaders under Meinhard of Bremen, beginning Eastern expansion, reached the Daugava river in 1180. They called the area Livonia, after the Livs. Meinhard converted enough Livs to be made bishop but with salvation came taxation and this caused a revolt. Pope Clement III sent Albert von Buxhoevden who became Bishop in 1201 and established the first German castle in the Baltic. In 1202 he established the Knights of the Sword to spread christianity. Faith was reinforced as witnessed by the fact 'all the places and roads were red with blood' and the Knights turned to commerce. Riga became a German city state with the indigenous population left as labourers.
In the 16th century Russia's power forced Latvia to seek protection from Poland-Lithuania and with this came Poland's rigid feudal system and the Jesuits, reversing the inroads of Lutheranism. The countryside suffered but Riga prospered as Poland's main port.
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© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg
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