The Livonian Order and bishopric of Riga are abolished

to map

05. March 1562

March 5, 1562, can be considered as the end of the existence of the Livonian Order. Then the Order and bishopric were completely abolished, and their territories became the property of king Sigismund August.
Only the town of Riga, that had declined king's terms of surrender, was freed from the dual-power of the bishopric and Order, and became a free standing city. The former Master of the Order, Gotthard Kettler, became the first duke of Courland. The archbishop Wilhelm maintained his title and some of his lands, but not his authority.

Sigismund II Augustus had some problems keeping Livonia under his rule, because Sweden, which was still holding power in Northern Estonia, started a campaign in the summer of 1562, and soon seized the towns of Paide and Pärnu. The Polish-Lithuanian positions were wakened by concurrent war with Russia, that was not going too well. The waring between the two countries did not involve Livonia directly.

It should be noted that until 1566, the Livonian areas belonging to Sigismund II Augustus's domain were rightfully a completely standalone area, that did not belong to neither Poland nor Lithuania, and was governed by the duke of Courland. Along with Sigismund II Augustus's power the Livonian nobility received Sigismund II Augustus's privileges, that significantly improved their rights, equalizing them with those of the Polish nobility.


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