Governorate of Livonia

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Governorate of Livonia
Лифляндская губерния
Liflyandskaya guberniya
Governorate of the Russian Empire

Flag Coat of arms
Flag Coat of arms
Location of Livonia
Capital Riga
 •  Established (de facto) 28 July 1713
 •  Established (de jure) 10 September 1721
 •  Renamed 1796
 •  Divided 12 April 1917
 •  Treaty of Brest-Litovsk 3 March 1918
 •  Disestablished 12 April 1918
 •  (1897) 1,299,365 
Political subdivisions 9
Today part of  Estonia,
Livonian Governorate

The Governorate of Livonia[1] (Russian: Лифляндская губерния, translit. Lifljandskaja gubernija; German: Gouvernement Livland / Livländisches Gouvernement; Latvian: Vidzemes guberņa, after the Latvian inhabited Vidzeme region; Estonian: Liivimaa kubermang) was one of the Baltic governorates of the Russian Empire, now divided between the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Estonia.


Map of Riga and Reval Lieutenancies, 1783

Following the capitulation of Estonia and Livonia in 1710, Peter the Great, on July 28, 1713, created the Riga Governorate (Russian: Рижская губерния) which also included Smolensk Uyezd, Dorogobuzh Uyezd, Roslavl Uyezd and Vyazma Uyezd of Smolensk Governorate. Smolensk Province was created from territory in Smolensk Governorate at that time. It was incorporated into Smolensk Governorate when it was reformed in 1726.

Sweden formally ceded Swedish Livonia to Russia in 1721 with the Treaty of Nystad. In 1722 Tartu County was added to Riga Governorate. In 1726 Smolensk Governorate was separated from Governorate, which now had five provinces: Rīga, Cēsis, Tartu, Pärnu and Saaremaa. In 1783 the Sloka County was added. On July 3, 1783 Catherine the Great reorganized Governorate into Riga Lieutenancy. Only in 1796, after the Third Partition of Poland this territory was renamed as the Governorate of Livonia.

Until the late 19th century the governorate was not ruled by Russian laws but was administered autonomously by the local German Baltic nobility through a feudal Landtag (Liefländischer Landtag).[2] German nobles insisted on preserving their privileges and use of the German language. In 1816 Tsar Alexander liberated the serfs of Livonia, in a precursor to his plans for the rest of Russia.[3]

After the Russian February Revolution in 1917, the northern part of the Governorate of Livonia was combined with the Governorate of Estonia to form a new Autonomous Governorate of Estonia. The Autonomous Governorate of Estonia issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence on 24 February 1918, one day before it was occupied by German troops during World War I.

With the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on 3 March 1918, Bolshevik Russia accepted the loss of the Livland Governorate and by agreements concluded in Berlin on 27 August 1918, the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia and the Governorate of Livonia were severed from Russia.[4]

Administrative division[edit]

The Governorate of Livonia was divided into 9 counties (Kreis).

# County County city (pop.) Area,
sq versts
1 Kreis Walk Walk (10,922) 5298.7 120,585
2 Kreis Wenden Wenden (6,356) 4953.7 124,208
3 Kreis Werro Werro (4,152) 3744.2 97,185
4 Kreis Wolmar Wolmar (5,050) 4358.1 112,836
5 Kreis Pernau Pernau (12,898) 4694.9 98,123
6 Kreis Riga Riga (282,230) 5468.4 396,101
7 Kreis Fellin Fellin (736) 4015.2 99,747
8 Kreis Ösel Arensburg (4,603) 2515.5 60,263
9 Kreis Dorpat Dorpat (Yuryev) (42,308) 6276.7 190,317

Note: After the February Revolution based on declaration of the Provisional Government of Russia of 30 March 1917 "About the autonomy of Estland", the Government of Livland was divided: five northern counties (Kreis) with the Estonian population (Dorpat, Pernau, Fellin, Werro and Ösel) as well as the populated by the Estonians townships of Walk county were all included into the composition of the neighboring Governorate of Estonia. However the new border between the Governments of Estonia and Livland was never properly demarcated.

Part of a series on the
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  • By the Imperial census of 1897.[5] In bold are languages spoken by more people than the state language.
Language Number percentage (%) males females
Latvian 563,929 43.4 271,215 292,714
Estonian 518,594 39.91 247,348 271,246
German 98,573 7.58 44,770 53,803
Russian 68,124 5.24 38,844 29,280
Yiddish 23,728 1.82 12,189 11,539
Polish 15,132 1.16 8,321 6,811
Lithuanian 6,594 0.5 4,131 2,463
that did not name
their native language
154 >0.1 71 83
Other[6] 4,537 0.34 3,109 1,428
Total 1,299,365 100 629,992 669,373

List of governors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Baltic States from 1914 to 1923 By LtCol Andrew Parrott Archived 19 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Smith, David James (2005). The Baltic States and Their Region. Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-1666-8.
  3. ^ Sebag Montefiore, Simon (2016). The Romanovs. United Kingdom: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 323–324.
  4. ^ Hiden, John (2002). The Baltic States and Weimar Ostpolitik. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521893251.
  5. ^ a b Language Statistics of 1897 Archived 22 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian)
  6. ^ Languages, number of speakers which in all gubernia were less than 1000
Livonian ConfederationTerra MarianaLatvian SSRDuchy of Livonia (1721–1917)Duchy of Livonia (1629–1721)Duchy of Livonia (1561–1621)Courland GovernorateDuchy of Courland and SemigalliaLatviaHistory of Latvia
Livonian ConfederationTerra MarianaEstonian SSRDuchy of Livonia (1721–1917)Duchy of Livonia (1629–1721)Duchy of Livonia (1561–1621)Duchy of Estonia (1721–1917)Duchy of Estonia (1561–1721)Danish EstoniaDanish EstoniaEstoniaAncient EstoniaHistory of Estonia

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