Riga, Archbishopric of

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Riga, Archbishopric of


an ecclesiastical principality in medieval Livonia. It originated in the 12th century as a bishopric established in the area captured by the German Crusaders from the Livs and Latgals. There were archiepiscopal residences in Riga from 1222 to 1420 and later in Ronnenburg (Rauna). The archbishop, who was in fact appointed by the pope, shared power with a cathedral chapter of 12 canons and with the Landtag, the assembly of fief-holding vassals.

The Archbishopric of Riga was the principal rival of the Livonian Order in the struggle for hegemony in the eastern Baltic region, a conflict that became particularly acute in the periods 1394-1423, 1479-92, and the mid-16th century. The growth of knight landholding at the expense of the fiefs, which weakened the economic position of the archbishopric, intensified during the Reformation, particularly in the 1530’s and 1540’s. In 1556 the Livonian Order annexed all the land belonging to the archbishopric, but the Pozvol’skii Treaty of 1557 prolonged its existence. During the Livonian War, in the autumn of 1559, Archbishop Wilhelm of Brandenburg mortgaged a number of his castles to the king of Poland, and in March 1562 the archbishopric’s territory, together with the Order’s lands north of the Daugava, became the Trans-Dvina Duchy in Latvia. With the death of Archbishop Wilhelm in 1563 the archbishopric officially ceased to exist.


Istoriia Latviiskoi SSR, vol. 1. Riga, 1952.
Doroshenko, V. V. Ocherki agrarnoi istorii Latvii v XVI v. Riga, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.