Courland

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Courland

or

Kurland

(both: kûr`lănd, Ger. ko͞or`länt), Latvian Kurzeme, historic region and former duchy, in Latvia, between the Baltic Sea and the Western Dvina River. It is an agricultural and wooded lowland. Jelgava (Ger. Mitau), the historic capital, and Liepaja (Ger. Libau) and Ventspils (Ger. Windau), the Baltic seaports, are the chief cities. The early Baltic tribes—Letts and Kurs—who inhabited the region were subjected in the 13th cent. by the Livonian Brothers of the SwordLivonian Brothers of the Sword
or Livonian Knights
, German military and religious order, founded in 1202 by Bishop Albert of Livonia for the purpose of conquest and Christianization in the Baltic lands.
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. In 1561 the order disbanded and its grand master became the first duke of Courland, under Polish suzerainty. In the Northern War (1700–1721), it was taken (1701) by Charles XII of Sweden. Empress Anna, who was, by marriage, duchess of Courland before her accession in Russia, forced (1737), the nobles of Courland to elect her favorite, Ernst Johann von BironBiron or Biren, Ernst Johann von
, 1690–1772, duke of Courland (1737–43, 1763–69), favorite of Czarina Anna of Russia.
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, their duke. Russian influence became paramount, and with the third partition of Poland (1795) the duchy passed to Russia. In 1918, Courland was incorporated into Latvia, except for a strip of the southern coast that went to Lithuania.

Courland

 

(Kurlandia, Kurzeme), the old name of the region of Latvia located west and southwest of the Gulf of Riga. In ancient times Courland was inhabited by the Kursi tribe and Balto-Finnic tribes. In the 13th century Courland was captured by the Livonian Order. From 1561 to 1795 much of Courland belonged to the duchy of Courland, subsequently incorporated into Russia to form Courland Province.