Livonian Constitution of 1582

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Livonian Constitution of 1582


a law adopted under the Polish king Stephen Báthory, defining the administrative and judicial structure of the Trans-Dvina Duchy in Latvia.

The duchy was divided into three districts, or praesidati (called województwa from the end of the 16th century), which in turn were subdivided into 26 starostwa, each comprising the area surrounding a castle. Supreme authority was held by the Polish king’s viceroy. The former Landtags were transformed into provincial assemblies, or sejmiki, sending six deputies to the Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Law suits between noblemen were to be judged by special courts. The constitution attempted to impose some limits on the arbitrary power of the German nobility; Article 24 condemned the “incredible oppression” of the peasantry. Together with the reduction of the German nobility’s estates through transfer to the state or to Polish and Lithuanian noblemen, the Livonian Constitution of 1582 caused discontent among the Germans.


Volumina legum, vol. 2. St. Petersburg, 1859. Pages 220–23.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.