Balthasar Russow

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Russow, Balthasar


Born circa 1542 in Tallinn; died circa 1602. Livonian chronicler.

The son of a coachman, Russow was educated in Germany. From 1563 to 1600 he was a priest and schoolteacher in Tallinn.

Russow’s Chronicle of the Livonian Province, written in Low German, was published in Rostock in 1578 and came out in a second, expanded edition in Barth in 1584. The first two parts of the chronicle are drawn from other sources and deal with the history of Livonia to 1561. In the third part, Russow gives a detailed, firsthand account of the Livonian War to 1582.

Russow was an ideologist of the burgher class. He justified the position of Revel (Tallinn) in the war and Sweden’s seizure of Estonian lands. He sharply criticized the policies of the Livonian Order and the feudal landowners and sympathized with the hard-pressed Estonian and Latvian peasants; he foresaw the inevitability of the downfall of the Livonian state. Russow’s Chronicle was a major source for later Livonian chroniclers.


Zutis, J. Ocherkipo istoriografii Latvii. Riga, 1949. Pages 29–35.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Although his latest novels and some of his short stories are based on his own experience of historical events, the question arises of how the life stories of the sixteenth-century chronicler Balthasar Russow or some other characters of Kross's novels, who lived in earlier centuries, can be connected with Kross's own biography.