Young Latvians

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Young Latvians


the participants in a national-liberal movement in Latvia during the 1850’s and 1860’s. Expressing the aspirations and demands of the developing Latvian bourgeoisie, the Young Latvians came out against the remnants of serf-holding and feudal despotism still practiced by the German and Latvian nobility; they favored a capitalist course of development for Latvia and a pro-Russian economic and political orientation. The Young Latvians supported the reforms introduced by the tsarist government, yet their statements in the press calling for economic independence and a renaissance of national culture expressed popular expectations.

The Young Latvians contributed to the development of the Latvian literary language, national literature and the arts, elementary education, the dissemination of scientific knowledge, and the strengthening of cultural ties with the Russian people. The founders and ideological leaders of the movement were the publicists K. M. Valdemars and K. K. Biezbardis, the poet J. A. Alunans, and the folklorist K. Barons. Their organ was the Peterburgas avizes (St. Petersburg Newspaper), published in St. Petersburg during 1862–65. With the development of capitalism and intensification of class contradictions in the 1870’s, the Young Latvian movement declined.


Valeskalns, P. I. Ocherk razvitiia progressivnoi filosofskoi i obshchestvenno-politicheskoi mysli v Latvii. Riga, 1967. Pages 86–103.