Duchy of Courland, vassal state of Lithuania / Day

Duchy of Courland, vassal state of Lithuania / Day
Duchy of Courland, vassal state of Lithuania / Day
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I wouldn’t want to live in those times, but I would like to see it – says the researcher of the Latvian National History Museum’s (LNVM) History Research Department of the Middle Ages, Modern and Recent Times about the Duke of Courland dr. history Marite Yakovleva. She is the exhibition organized by Lithuanian and Latvian museums Duchy of Kurzeme and Zemgale and Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1561–1795) Curator of Latvia (curator of Lithuania – dr. hmm. Ernests Vasiłuskas). The exhibition, which can be viewed from February 2 to the end of May in the museum’s current premises at 32 Brīvības bulvāri, or “Saktas māisa”, is also the last LNVM exhibition in this building, after which the return of the museum to the Riga Palace will begin.

The initiative of the exhibition came from Lithuania, its informative core was created in the Šiauliai Museum Dawn, but most of the original exhibits, including ornate ducal brooches, come from the depths of the LNVM’s archives. In total, 28 memory institutions and individuals from Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Sweden and France participated in the preparation of the exhibition with materials. The points of contact between two neighboring countries – the Duchy of Kurzeme and Zemgale and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – and the traces left in the cultural environment of both countries over the course of several centuries are the main theme of the exhibition. The exhibition also tells about the common and different in the history of the two related peoples – Latvians and Lithuanians. One difference is well known: Lithuanians have a higher level of national self-confidence.

The Duchy of Courland existed for more than two centuries. What is left of it today? Rundale Castle?

Yes, Rundāle Castle, Jelgava Castle, Jelgava Castle tombs…

Where the sarcophagi are so strong that even the Soviet soldiers were unable to break them open, vandalize and loot them.

Also many churches built during the Duchy in the countryside, also some good manors from those times. And the artefacts, we see some of them in this exhibition.

What of the specifics, style, traditions of the Duchy’s statehood has been preserved?

It’s hard to say. In the 19th century, when the Duchy of Kurzeme was abolished and the Kurzeme Governorate was established in its place (Vidzeme Governorate existed since 1710, Vitebsk Governorate, which included Latgale, since 1772), a large part of the laws of the Duchy continued to operate for several decades. In Vidzeme, legislation created by the Swedes was in force, in Kurzeme, so to speak, created by themselves. There are reports that the statutes of Kurzeme operated until 1866. Church laws of Kurzeme existed until 1832.

Read the entire conversation in the magazine On Saturday In the February 2 – 8 issue! You can subscribe to the magazine’s content in both printed and digital format on our new website HERE!


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