The coadjutor conflict in Livonia

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1556

Wilhelm, the archbishop of Riga, was unsatisfied with the situation after the Volmars' agreement, as the town did not hurry to recognize his dominance, and the aging margrave felt the ever increasing need for an assistant. According to the agreement, he could not appoint an coadjutor without the consent of others.

Matters were further complicated by a truce signed in 1554, that was extremely disadvantageous for Livonia and it was feared that the Russian czar might attack soon. Now, Wilhelm decided to take more decisive action: he reconnected with his brother Albrecht, the duke of Prussia, and the latter found a fitting coadjutor: the younger brother of the duke of Mecklenburg, Christoph. Soon, other powers in Livonia found out about the new union of Mecklenburg-Prussia-Riga and also Poland (as the king of Poland, Sigismund August was the nephew of Wilhelm and Albrecht).

The development was disagreeable to other landlords in Livonia, as it was feared that Livonia will fall under the influence of Poland. Wilhelm did not care about the opposition, and bought Christoph to Livonia in the end of 1555. No compromise was reached in the Diet and in summer of 1556, the final civil war in the history of Old-Livonia began. The forces of the Order, lead by Wilhelm Fürstenberg, conquered the whole bishopric of Riga, and imprisoned the archbishop Wilhelm and his coadjutor.

During the following year, the Order tried to defend its position, but due to the threats by Poland-Lithuania, it had to give in: with the Pasvalys' treaties made in in autumn of 1557, Wilhelm and his coadjutor were restored to power, but they had to promise that the bishopric will not be turned into a secular dominion or become dependent of another state.

The coadjutor conflict played a role in the outbreak of the Livonian War, as Russia saw the inner weakness of Livonia, and it also did not like the Pasvalys' treaties. It was not aware of the content of the treaties, but knew the framework: the lords of Livonia hurried to fulfill the demands of the Polish king.

Source: Mati Laur. Eesti ajalugu varasel uusajal 1550-1800. Tallinn: Eesti Entsüklopeediakirjastus, 1999.


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