in the Holy Roman Empire
in Sweden

The Lutheran Reformation and the Teutonic Order

A.) The Reformation of Prussia and Livonia

The German cities of Prussia and Livonia (i.e. Greater Livonia, including Courland and Estonia) were well-connected with Germany proper; reformatoric publications made their way quickly to the region, and protestant agitators, such as MELCHIOR HOFMANN, visited the country. In RIGA the reformation was introduced in 1522, in REVAL (modern Tallinn) in 1524, in DORPAT (modern Tartu) in 1525. ANDREAS KNOPKEN is regarded the reformer of Riga, SYLVESTER TEGETMEYER the reformer of Livonia. The UNIVERSITY OF KÖNIGSBERG was founded in 1544.
The reformation of the Prussian and Livonian cities, and of much of the countryside, presented a problem - the TEUTONIC ORDER essentially was an organization of the Catholic Church, the Teutonic knights members of a militant order; just like monks they had sworn chastity. In addition, the bishops of Livonia were territorial lords; their territories were up for secularization.
Grand Master Albrecht, of the Hohenzollern family, converted to Lutheranism (1523) and in 1525 accepted the DUCHY IN PRUSSIA as a fief from the King of Poland; this split the union of Livonia and Prussia which had been concluded in the 13th century. Land Master WALTER VON PLETTENBERG only in 1554 declared Lutheranism state confession within Livonia. In 1558 the LIVONIAN WAR began (incursions of Russian armies). In 1560 the territories of the bishoprics of Ösel and Pilten were transformed into the Duchy of Ösel, given to Magnus, brother of the Danish king. In 1561 the Livonian Order ceased to exist, Reval (Tallinn) recognizing King Erik of Sweden as their sovereign, COURLAND, Riga and (rest-) LIVONIA recognizing Polish sovereignty (with their Lutheran belief respected).
The replacement of the Latin bible by Martin Luther's German bible translation strengthened the hold of the German minority in Livonia and Estonia on society in general; in Prussia elementary schooling in German resulted in the assimilation of ethnic minority elements into the German ethnicity.

Go to Historical Atlas, Livonia Page

B.) The Counterreformation

In 1621, Poland ceded Riga and the larger part of Livonia to (Lutheran) Sweden. However, southeastern Livonia, referred to as Lettgallen in German and LATGALE in Latvian, remained within the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom. Here the Counterreformation converted the population to Tridentine Catholicism. A Catholic minority also existed in the Duchy of Courland.
The (Lutheran) UNIVERSITY OF DORPAT (Tartu) was established by the Swedisch administration in 1632. The Bible was translated into Latvian in 1694, the Old Testament into Estonian in 1739.

Rachelle Harrison, Protestant Reformation in the Baltic
Biography of Andreas Knopken, from BBKL, in German
Biography of Sylvester Tegetmeyer, from Christian Cyclopedia, scroll down for Tegetmeyer, 2 line entry

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 15th 2004

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