Wenden Castle – the residence of the Master of the Livonian Order in Cesis with a developed system of forbourgs – is an important part of the historical core of the city. Cesis stone castle, according to the definition of Dr.h.arh J. Krastins, is “one of the most spectacular and emotionally expressive monuments of medieval architecture in Latvia”.
The first mention of Cesis in written historical sources appeared at the beginning of the 13th century, when it is mentioned in the Livonian Chronicle of Henry (in 1208 as Wenden), and in the Novgorod Chronicle (in 1221, under the name Kes). Other options are also known: in some Russian chronicles, Cesis is referred to as “Pertuev” (here you can hear echoes of the name of the dangerous enemy of the Russians – the master of the Cesis province of the Order of the Sword-Bearers – Bertold).
Initially, the Knights of the Order of the Swordsmen were housed in the Vendian castle on Riekstukalns, and in 1209 they began to build their stone castle Wenden on a neighboring hill separated by a moat from the ancient Vendian castle. The construction of the castle is connected with the name of the first master of the Order of the Swordsmen Venno (also called Vinno) von Rohrbach (1202-1209). According to the chronicles and as people remember, the first master of the order was appointed a very pious and rarely fair knight named Venno, who by the grace of God and the permission of the Blessed Virgin began to build the Cesis Castle in order to establish the name of the Lord here forever and deprive the Gentiles of even the slightest hope to apostasy.
In ancient books, the authors of which were influenced by the erroneous hypothesis of von Sievers, one can sometimes find the assertion that in 1209 it was here, in Cesis, that master Venno and his chaplain Johannes were killed by the order brother Vickbert von Sosat. In fact, this happened in an order castle in Riga.
Wenden Castle was built in a strategic location of the later formed fortification system for the protection of order territories in Northern Latvia and Estonia. Around the castle, a city gradually grew, mentioned already in the chronicles of 1221 as a settlement near the castle. As a city, Cesis was noted in historical documents of 1323. Already in 1208, the Germans managed to quarrel the Latvian land of Talavu and Ugauniya (the area in present-day Southeast Estonia). In the spring of this year, a military alliance against the Estonians was concluded between the Order of the Swordsmen in the person of the Comtur of this Order of Bertold from Cesis and the Latvian leaders.
Knight Bertold himself began his active work in Cesis from 1207 and was one of the main and most active organizers of the conquests. The structure of the Order proves the great role of the commander of the Cesis Castle, in which the assistant to the master of the Order of the Sword-bearers occupied the position of commander of the Cesis Castle. The Chronicle of Henry directly calls Bertold the Cesis master (meaning, of course, the provincial master, and not the supreme commander of the Order). In the book of D. Vasmanis it is written: The Supreme Head of the Order was the Master elected by the Knights. The master had an assistant – the “Great Komtur Order”, who had the right in some cases to replace the master. In addition to them, there were two provincial masters in the order who lived respectively in Cesis and Sigulda. Two famous Cesis provincial masters are known in history. The first of them – Brother Bertold – acted from 1207 and contributed to civil strife between the ancient Latgals and Estonians. Bertold’s activity continued until 1216, when he fell at the Battle of Otepää. Bertold was replaced by Rudolf Kasselsky, who was a provincial magistrate until the fall of the Order after his defeat at the Battle of Saul.
In 1212, the Cesis knights robbed Autine of the fields and sides from the Latgals Autine. It so outraged the Latgals and Livs that they first decided to openly resist the crusaders. The center of the uprising was the castle of Dabrellis in the district of Satezel. As all historians note, this was the first armed uprising of local residents against German enslavers. Cesis has become the center of suppression of this vast rebellion. In subsequent years, Wenden Castle has repeatedly become the center of hostilities. In the chronicle of Henry of Latvia it is said that in 1221 the Novgorodians approached Cesis with a large army. The Knights of the Order with the Wends went to meet them at the gate, but being unable to resist their number, they themselves set fire to the houses and the village and returned to the Wenden Castle.
Then the most serious adversary for the inhabitants of Cesis Castle remained the Lithuanians, who in their campaigns many times reached Cesis, but could not take it. And the first most notable prisoner in the prison of the castle in Cesis in 1213 turned out to be the Lithuanian – Kunigayt (Prince) Daugerute, the father of the wife of Visvaldis – Prince Latgale Jersiki, who became a victim of the political games of the Order. Daugeruet, chained, unable to regain his freedom, or to avoid shameful and painful torture, stabbed himself with his own sword. The Order brothers, without remorse, captured Daugerutis, who, as the Lithuanian ambassador, went to Polotsk, and imprisoned him in Cesis Castle. To take away freedom is yes, but the knights did not allow themselves to deprive the honored lord of honor, even if he was a pagan. Therefore, Daugerutis had a sword with him in the place of his imprisonment, which emphasized the high position of the prisoner.
In 1236, at the Battle of Saul, the Order of the Swordsmen was defeated and the remnants of the Order merged into the Teutonic Order, forming its branch – the Livonian Order. A year later, in 1237, Herman Balk, the first master of the Livonian Order, chose Wenden Castle as the place of his residence. This was due to the fact that Cesis turned out to be the center of the conquered territories: trade routes from Riga, Pskov, and Derpt crossed here. Navigation along the Gauja also played a prominent role. By the way, the materials of the exposition of the Cesis Castle Museum indicate that Hermann Balk chose Wenden Castle as his residence in 1239, which then became the main residence of the Masters of the Order, although Cesis had to share this honor with Riga and, sometimes, with Viljandi. The residence of the Master of the Livonian Order was located in Cesis in 1297-1330, 1429-1434, 1470-1471, 1481-1560, and also in Riga in 1330-1429, 1434-1470, 1471-1481. Later, Wenden Castle also became the meeting place of the chapter of the Livonian Order – the supreme leaders (in 1239 – 1561, with short breaks). About 30 knights constantly lived in the castle, but in case of war their number increased. Near the castle also settled military mercenaries. At the time of the Order, in the possession of the Cesis Castle there were 10 volosts with 273 peasant farms. Cesis, as the residence of the master and commander, also became the site of important medieval historical events. Here the main issues of war and peace were resolved, ambassadors were received, and internal issues of the Livonian Order were discussed.
The Livonian Order fell into a critical position in the summer of 1260. In Kurzeme, in the town of Durba, the zhemites, Kurshis and Estonians defeated the crusaders, and the master of the Livonian Order Burhardt von Hornhusen, the Land Marshal of the Teutonic Order Heinrich Botel (second person in the Order and his highest officer) remained on the battlefield commander), as well as 150 order brothers. Inspired by the victory over the Germans, the Zemgale, Curonian, and Prussians revolted. The Lithuanian king Mindovg, taking advantage of the situation, refused Catholicism and an agreement with the Livonian Order, entered into an alliance with Novgorod and in 1261 went on a campaign against Cesis, the main residence of the shaken Order. The troops of another Lithuanian kunigayt – Langevinas (between 1244 and 1247), the former son of the sister of Mindaugas, who ruled the territories of the present Zarasai region in the north-east, also went to Cesis. In these battles, the strength of the Cesis commander was severely defeated, and the commander himself was killed.
The first mention of the Latvian flag in its current form is connected with Cesis. In 1279, the leader of the Zemgale Namei began a military campaign against Riga in order to avenge the siege of Dobele Castle. When the Land Marshal (Minister of War) of the Livonian Order Gerhard von Katsenellenbogen called on the Latvians for help, a regiment of Latvian land missionaries with a red flag with a white stripe in the middle set off from Cesis. After the inhabitants of Riga seized the Wittenstein Order Castle and defeated it in 1297, the castle in Cesis becomes the residence of the Masters of the Livonian Order again. After the first break in the castle, the master Bruno settled, perhaps the only master whose surname is not mentioned in any of the well-known lists of masters of the Order.
From the first years of the conquest of the Baltic states, contradictions and disputes continued between the rulers of Livonia – the Order and the Archbishop of Riga. Mutual contradictions sought to resolve with the help of weapons. In internecine battles, the city of Cesis was usually injured (for example, in 1314, Archbishop Friedrich Pernstein took several land estates from Cesis) and the district. The main losses were borne by the archbishop. If the order brothers could not take Raunsky castle – one of the main residences of the archbishop, located only 18 km from Cesis, then they sought to annoy the archbishop, ruining the possessions of his vassals and peasants.
In the middle of the XIV century, with the conquest of Riga, the looting of the property of the archbishop and the Riga Church and the acquisition of Estonia, the Order occupied a dominant position in Livonia. The Order General Chapter met annually in Cesis, at which the top leaders of the Order reported on their work and on which they appointed and removed order officials. Foreign ambassadors were received here, and very important issues of war and peace were resolved. The commander of the Cesis castle has always held a very high position in the hierarchy of the order. The tradition, which began with the provincial master of the Swordsmen of Bertold, was preserved during the Livonian Order State, when this castle was the center of commerce.
The influence of the Cesis Comtour in the Livonian Order indirectly shows the following small example. In 1330, after a 33-year war with the Order, the city of Riga was forced to surrender at the mercy of the winners – the Livonian Order brothers. Master Eberhard von Monheim dictated the harsh conditions of the world. Among others, the duties of the defeated city henceforth included participation in all the military campaigns of the master, but if the campaign was undertaken by the Cēsis commander on his own initiative, then Riga had to send him reinforcements — 30 armed horsemen. In relation to other Kommurs, Riga did not have such an obligation. According to the chronicler Honecke, in 1368 the comrades of Daugavgriva, Sigulda, Cesis and Kuldigi went into battle under their own banners, and the banner of the Cesis Komtur was white with a black cross. From Cesis, they maintained close ties with the Supreme Master of the Teutonic Order in Marienburg (now Malbork, Poland), who gave his orders and orders.
Relations with the Lithuanians in this century remained tense, and many troops approached the castle’s attack, including the Grand Duke of Lithuania Olgerd (Algirdas) (1345-1377), the son of the great Gediminas. In peacetime, at least twice a year, the master of the Livonian Order was obliged to convene a meeting of the officials of the order in the castle of Venden – the chapter. These annual meetings of the Order opened with worship and the meeting was chaired by the master himself. Here, all officials submitted a written report on their activities for the elapsed time since the previous chapter, and business books on the income and expenses of their locks. Members of the Order were nominated, removed and transferred to the posts there. Only with the permission of the chapter of the Order could the master leave Livonia, conclude agreements, lease the land of the Order, share the income of castles, determine the rights and obligations of local residents. In addition to the chapters, from 1401, in Cesis, the Landtags also gathered many times.
1413 was a turning point in history. Previously, the masters of the Livonian Order were appointed outside of Livonia, but then the following procedure was established: the Chapter of the Order in Cesis nominated two candidates, of which one was to be approved by the High Master of the Teutonic Order for the post of Master. Since then, in both orders, the struggle between the so-called “Westphalian” and “Rhine”.
In addition to the residence of the master of the Livonian Order and Komtur, the castle also had the residence of the Vogt. Later, a kind of “census” was made of the current composition of the Order, from which we today know that in 1451 in Livonia there were 270 brothers of the Order: 195 knights, 47 priests and 28 half-brothers or “gray” knights. Of these 195 knights, only two were born in Livonia, and the rest were strangers: 161 Westphalian and 26 Rhine. How few knights were in individual castles can be seen from the following figures: in Riga – 19, in Cesis – 14, in Sigulda – 12, in Kuldiga – 12, in Aluksne – 7, in Bauska – 3, in Rezekne – 3 and so on .d. Of course, the Order army as such was more numerous: about 4,000 swords at the beginning of the 15th century: 300 brothers of knights, 1,200 order mercenaries and about 2,500 vassal horsemen. In addition, hundreds of shooters, light cavalry of the Leimans and, finally, about 20 thousand peasant land guards.
In 1469, Johann Volthouse (also called Volthusen-Hertz) became the master of the order. But already in March of that year, the top leaders of the Order removed Johann Volthusen-Hertz from power, arrested him in Helmet (Estonia) and transferred him under guard to the Venden Castle. There they imprisoned one of the towers of the castle, accusing it of corruption, of preparing a war against the Russians, in spite of all the advice and of personally securing several commissars with all the proceeds. After the verdict was passed to Volthuzen-Hertz, the Chapter of the Order decided to relocate the residence of the Master of the Order to Riga again, and return the lands assigned by Volthuzen to the commissions of Herve, Rakvere, Pyltsamaa, Viljandi (all in Estonia) and Aluksne. Despite requests for release by his brother and some German princes, Volthusen-Hertz was not released and died in custody several years later (in 1472 or 1473). Nevertheless, the Order rendered him a posthumous honor by burying St. John in Cesis. The arrest of the master split the brothers of the Order into two parties. Adherents of Volthusen appealed to the Supreme Court of God, because The Order continued these acts of arbitrariness related to the removal of officials.
During the time of Master Bernd von der Borch, coin minting was arranged in Cesis – the fourth in Livonia (along with Riga, Tallinn and Tartu), they minted shillings, Pfennig coins and other coins, and up to the 1st half of the 16th century. Cesis was the only provincial city of Livonia to have the right to mint a coin. The first coins were made here in 1472 – shillings, thalers and other coins with the inscription Moneta Wendes or Moneta Wenden. The mint itself was located in the western part of Cesis. There was a Foundry (Mint) tower in the vicinity of Katrina gates, therefore it is sometimes called the Mint, which is wrong – coins were minted not in the tower, but in a specially equipped workshop.
If in peacetime, von der Borch somehow coped with the duties of a master, then in the 1480s. The Cesis district had to endure the special severity of the battles between the Order and the inhabitants of Riga. In 1482, the inhabitants of Riga managed to take Koknese Castle (the territory of the archbishopric at that time was actually annexed to the possessions of the order). The Order’s troops, in turn, surrounded Augstrose’s castle, and when the residents of Riga headed by Hartwig Vinhold went to help him, Magister Bernhard von der Borch shamefully fled to the Wenden Castle even without trying to fight the Riga army that approached the castle, which allowed the last to thoroughly plunder the surroundings of Cesis. This was the last straw in relation to the Order of the Chapter to his master. Von der Borch was removed from office, losing to Reval Comtort Johann Freytag von Loringhofen.
But even after the victory over Riga in 1491, the master’s order continued to live in Cesis – at least because the angry burghers razed the earth and restored it only at the beginning of the 16th century. However, the master of the order Walter von Plettenberg, appreciating the advantages of the Cesis castle, turned it into a place of his permanent residence; and this choice was recognized by the subsequent masters, right up to the dissolution of the Order in 1562. At Plettenberg in Cesis on June 6, 1501, an alliance treaty between Lithuania and the Order against the Russians was ratified. During the reign of Master Walter, a number of reconstructions were made in Cesis Castle. During his reign, the significance of the city of Cesis also increased. Under him, gold coins were minted here.
The master had to go through the Reformation, which significantly affected the situation in the Baltic states, when the vast majority of the population, both Germans and non-Germans (the latter, however, are often very formally) converted to Lutheranism. Although Plettenberg himself did not accept Lutheranism, as befits the master of the Catholic spiritual and military order, he still did not consider it possible to start a civil war due to religious affairs (this restraint in Western Europe aroused suspicions of Plettenberg’s sympathy for Luther) and related tolerant of Lutherans. Cesis fell into the history of the Reformation in Livonia thanks to an agreement concluded in April 1533, which (mainly due to the pressure of vassals and Livonian cities) was signed by the Livonian Order, co-adjudicator (i.e. assistant) of the Riga Archbishop Wilhelm of Brandenburg and Riga, in order to protect Lutheranism and eliminate the threat of civil war. The master has paid much attention to strengthening the Livonian Order. Using the weakness of the Teutonic Order, Plettenberg bought three rights from the great master Albrecht von Hohenzollern, Margrave of Brandenburg, according to whom he achieved: direct dependence on the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire; direct domination of northern Estonia; the right for the Livonian Order to appoint its own master.
Walter von Plettenberg died in Cesis Castle in February 1535 and was buried in the altar of the church of St. John is not far from the castle, where his predecessors, Volthusen-Hertz (1472 or 1473) and Freytag von Loringhofen (1494), already rested. From the tombstone of Magister Walter, only a fragment has survived, which is now located in the premises of the church bell tower. Previously, in the Community Hall, one could see his monument erected in the church in 1855. This monument can be considered an assessment given by the Ostseen nobility to the master and his role in the history of Livonia. One could also see the bust of Plettenberg in the church – a copy from a marble original installed in Germany in Valhall, Regensburg County.
Meanwhile, the religious movement of the Reformation was expanding in Livonia. In 1524, the inhabitants of Cesis called for the priest Berend Brugman (Brigman), who had retreated from Catholicism, expelled from Koknese on the orders of Archbishop John Blankenfeld. Brugman held his first service in the spirit of the Reformation in the city Foundry Tower (near the church of St. Catherine). The Reformation brought to Cesis one of the prominent representatives of the humanistic literature of the Baltic states – Burkard Valdis. His literary works of this time were dominated by anti-Catholic sentiments, but the author also turned against the German nobility. Very soon Burkard Valdis, whom the leadership of the Order accused of treason, was caught in the vicinity of Bauska (after 1527) and imprisoned, tortured. A little later he was transferred to Cesis Castle, where Burkard Valdis stayed until 1540. It is possible that he would remain in the cellars of Cesis Castle until the end of his days, but thanks to the active efforts of the city of Riga and the ruler of his homeland, Philip, Elector of Hesse, Burkard was released. and he immediately went to Germany, where he served as a Lutheran pastor for another 16 years. In Livonia, he no longer showed up until his death.
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that a person who fell into the cellars of Cesis Castle had no hope of getting out of there, unless the Order’s brothers themselves released him for any reason. The only known case when the prisoner of the order was lucky to escape from the dungeon dates back to 1558, when Hans Gunther succeeded in such an event, who inexplicably left the dungeon of the South Tower. An unprecedented event caused a lengthy discussion, during which they agreed that the lord of hell himself helped the aforementioned Hans, because such a thing is beyond the power of a mortal man. In 1999, during archaeological excavations, the tower was cleared of rubble and it turned out that theoretically such an escape was possible and there was nothing mystical about it.
The reign of Hinrich von Galen (Master from 1551 to 1557) was marked by a military threat. In these years, the troops of the Moscow Tsar (the title was taken by the Grand Duke of Moscow in 1547) of Ivan IV the Terrible was conquered by the Tatar principalities east and southeast of Muscovy, and began to increase pressure on Livonia, which, under the next master, Wilhelm von Fürstenberg, turned to heavy and destructive Livonian war. The estates of Livonia felt threatened and tried to somehow prepare for war. In 1554, the Landtag in Cesis decided to send Komnur Dinaburgsky abroad for the recruitment of mercenaries. The threat of an external war, however, could not eliminate the internal strife. At this time, the small Livonian states once again fought among themselves.
The Livonian Order was not satisfied by the fact that the German Prince Christophe of Mecklenburg entered the post of co-adjudicator (co-ruler) of William William, whose ambitious plans included subjugating the whole of Livonia to himself, in order to realize what Albrecht managed in Prussia – to secularize the possessions of the Order and their archbishop to the secular duchy. The war also ravaged the Cesis region. Due to general demoralization, mercenaries – Landsknechts were sent from Germany to conduct military operations, and in the struggle between the master and the archbishop (1556-57), these soldiers turned into robbers and arsonists. In June 1556, the troops of the Order launched a sudden assault on the Rauna, took and ravaged it. This event ended the last internecine war in the history of Livonia.
In 1558, the first wave of Russian attacks swept through Livonia. In July, the Russians, led by Prince Kurbsky, managed to defeat a detachment of order troops near Cesis, but they did not dare to openly attack the Venden Castle and the city and left. At the very beginning of the war, the Latvian soldiers of the Cesis region were drawn into battle. In the fall of 1558, the Germans surrounded the Russians at Ryug Castle (Estonia) and asked Master von Furstenberg for help in taking him. From Cesis, they were sent to help two guns, 500 mercenaries and several thousand Latvian soldiers. At the beginning of 1559, during the second wave of Russian invasion, the invaders, among other things, also occupied the castles of Skuene, Nitaure and others. However, the main events of the war so far passed Cesis. Fürstenberg and his successor as master, Gotthard Ketler, then searched in vain for allies. In 1558 and 1559, large landtags took place in Cesis, but without real consequences. In 1560, the third invasion of the Muscovites followed, when the Russian troops near Ergem (or rather, near Lugazhi) finally crushed the forces of the Order and captured Master Fürstenberg himself, and then on August 2 they burned and plundered Cesis.
After the defeat of its troops, Livonia saw the salvation only in surrendering to some foreign state (just as the state of the Teutonic Order in Prussia became a vassal of Poland). Most of the supreme rulers of the Livonian states also decided in favor of surrendering to the Polish king Sigismund II Augustus. In October and November 1561, the Riga Archbishop Wilhelm of Brandenburg himself and Master Gotthard Ketler, as well as representatives of several cities of Livonia – Riga, Cesis and Valmiera, arrived in Vilnius. The delegation of Cesis was led by the city burghermeister Bastian Detmar and Melchior Grotuzen, who then received a privilege letter from the Polish king, which preserved Lutheranism, the innumerable privileges of the landowners and assigned Cesis the so-called “The rights of the city of Riga”.
Formally, the supremacy of the Poles in the Cesis region began with the signing in Vilnius of an agreement on the surrender of Livonia in 1561, during the implementation of which the Duchy of Pardaugava was created north of the Daugava. In the early years of his existence, he was entrusted with Gotthard Ketler, but already in 1566 the Polish king, who was also the Grand Duke of Lithuania, appointed the governor of the duchy of Hetman Jan Jerome Hodkiewicz, who was the confidant of the Polish king, managing the duchy of Pardaugava from 1566 to 1578 g. and subsequently also – an active participant in the Livonian War. J. Khodkevich, having arrived in the duchy, convened a landtag in Cesis in 1566, which decided to liquidate the Riga Archbishopric and subordinate Livonia to Sigismund II Augustus. The Lithuanian Seim, which had gathered in the same year in Grodno, established an “eternal” unification of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Duchy of Pardaugava. The current territory of Latvia north of the Daugava was divided into four counties – Riga, Turaida, Cesis and Daugavpils. This division persisted until the end of the Livonian War. The duchy was still threatened by military operations, so the possibilities for its economic development were limited.
Grozny appeared under the walls of Cesis on August 31, 1577, and ordered the installation of guns at the site of the present railway station. To reduce the morale of the city’s defenders, the tsar said that they were allowed to return their wives, mothers and daughters captured by Muscovites. Magnus with 23 escorts (from Karamzin – from 25) left the city through the Raunsky Gates, commanding the duty burghermasters and rattans to open the city gates to Muscovites, which they did to gain the mercy of the tsar; but through the open gates the Muscovites burst into the city, killing, destroying and setting fire to it. The amazed residents fled to Wenden Castle, where the landowners and Magnus’s people were already located (Christian Schrafer, Advisor to Prince Magnus, Mayor Sebastian Detmar, etc.). Muscovites killed old people, patients and children, and healthy men and women were taken into slavery. The inhabitants of the castle barely had time to close the gates through which Magnus came out, as Moscow archers were just a stone’s throw from the castle walls.
Ivan the Terrible ordered the siege of Wenden Castle with four large trenches, and from September 4, 1577, the city and Wenden Castle mercilessly bombarded for three days and three nights (in fact, it took five days). The walls of the castle began to crack and crumble. It soon became clear that there was no longer any hope of holding the castle. Therefore, those who were in the castle (according to the chronicler Russov – about 300 people), decided to commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of the Russians. They gathered in one of the castle halls, and the commandant of the castle, Heinrich Boismann, set fire to the barrels of gunpowder in the basement, throwing a burning wick out the window. During archaeological excavations of the twentieth century. dramatic pictures of the battles of past times are revealed. So, in one of the cellars of the west wing of Cesis Castle, under the 3-meter layer of debris, 3 female and 3 children’s skeletons and fragments of bones of another skeleton were excavated. Coins and other items found near the skeletons, as well as the circumstances of the finds indicate that the dead are victims of the Livonian War. In September 1577, during the siege of the troops of Ivan the Terrible, they sought salvation in the cellars of the castle, but found death under the collapsed walls.
The chronicler B. Russov says: “After that, the Grand Duke in Cesis with wives and virgins did such shameful and terrible things that have not been heard by either the Turks or other tyrants. The men were whipped and, wounded and bloodied, burned on fire. One burgomaster took a heart out of his chest and one pastor [Johann Schnell] tongue out of his mouth. The rest were tortured in a terrible way, and their corpses, just like under Koknese and Erglie, were thrown to feed birds, dogs and predatory animals, and were not allowed to bury them. ” You can also read about B. Russov about how the Wenden castle passed to the people of the Polish king Stefan Batory: “Thinking and far-sighted people in Kurzeme and the Riga archbishopric decisively decided that several castles in which there were few troops should be taken from the Russians. The first attempt they made in Daugavpils, which they surprisingly quickly occupied. A good start inspired hope for the continuation of this business. So the Turaida manager Johann Bering also decided to take Cesis away from the Russians, because he found out that there was a small garrison in the castle. 100 German and 80 Polish horsemen with 200 peasants, under cover of night with two siege stairs, entered Cesis, where they encountered large predatory dogs tearing and devouring corpses, which the Russians threw out for wild animals and birds. These dogs howled, barked and roared in such a way that Bering and his people were completely discouraged, and he began to doubt the successful outcome. However, he decided to try his luck at Cesis. The horsemen dismounted, dragged both long stairs in deep snow, leaned against the walls and began to climb up. Climbing up, wars, descending from gallery to gallery, which were on the inner side of the wall, reached the ground. Some of them, along with the drummer, hastened immediately to the gates of the castle, which stood open day and night so that the Russians could freely pass from the castle to the city and back. The gates were occupied, and thus the path between the city and the castle was blocked. The other warriors hurried down the stairs. There was a big noise in Cesis, and the Russians woke up. There were few Germans at the gate, but the Russians who were in the city thought the castle was busy. The Russians in the castle thought that the city was occupied by many thousands of Germans and Poles. Therefore, the Russians in the castle and the city were frightened and were looking for how to save themselves. It was not difficult for the Germans to open the city gates, which some Latvian locksmith who had remained with the Russians helped them open. Bering’s people examined the basements and attics in search of the hiding Russians and treated them as they should. It happened in December 1577. ”
These events infuriated Ivan the Terrible. His army was still in the vicinity of Cesis (Raun Castle was not taken from the Russians, and they remained there until 1582). Expecting an imminent attack, Beering hastily fortified Cesis. In the spring of 1578, on the Day of Candles, according to Russov, the Russians again surrounded Cesis and repeatedly tried to storm, but to no avail. The situation of the besieged, however, was difficult, and food shortages began. Bering with 40 horsemen broke through the siege at night and went to Riga for help. There is a version that, having received food and a soldier, Bering returned back, spreading rumors on the road about the approach of a large army, because of which, perhaps, the Russians lifted the siege and left. In September – October 1578, while local residents, Poles and Swedes were negotiating joint actions, the Russians came to Cesis with 1800 soldiers, heavy and light cannons. The Swedes retreated to Burtnieki Castle.
The loss of Cesis Castle meant a turning point during the war, interrupting a series of victories of Ivan the Terrible. Karamzin wrote about the battle of 1578 near Cesis: At the end of the summer, the Moscow Governors, Princes Ivan Yuryevich Golitsyn, Vasily Agishevich Tyumensky, Khvorostinin, Tyufyakin had to go immediately to Venden, but, arguing about the authorities, did not execute the decree; John sent to Derpt the clerk Andrei Shchelkalov, and his beloved nobleman, Danil Saltykov, ordering them to change the Governor in case of their further disobedience. Finally they came out, giving time to the enemy and the Lithuanians to get ready to unite with the Swedes; besieged the castle of Wenden and a few days later (October 21) saw the enemy behind him; Sapega with Lithuania and the Germans, General Boe with the Swedes attacked 18,000 Russians who barely managed to build outside their trenches. Long fought bravely; but the thin cavalry of Tatar at the decisive hour betrayed our infantry and fled. The Russians trembled, mixed up, retreated to the fortifications, where the enemy was still held with a strong foe. The night ended the battle; Sapega and Boe waited in the morning, but Golitsyn, the deceased Fedor Sheremetev, Prince Andrei Palitsky, together with the clerk Shchelkalov, in madness of fear, were already riding on the greyhounds to Derpt, leaving the troops at night in horror, which resulted in a general flight.
The battle of 1578 aroused interest far beyond Livonia. To satisfy the curiosity of the population in Europe in 1578-79. several newspapers were published. They are probably the only ones in the history of Western Europe, fully dedicated to Cesis and the events around him. The first of them (Newe Zeitung. Von der herrlichen victori und Sieg …) came out at the end of 1578. Soon the rest followed. At that time, newspapers did not appear as regular periodicals. They were published in the form of ballots, they were issued to reflect any important events that interested society. In 1579, such a newspaper was published and published by the Nuremberg book publisher Leonard Heisler. According to the custom of that time, a lengthy subtitle read: “The defeat of the Muscovites and the siege of the city of Cesis.
The heavy defeat at Cesis frustrated attempts to annex the Baltic states to the Moscow state. Poles conquered Livonia castles one after another, and in the early 1580s. already fully authorized here. The 10-year truce between the Poles and Muscovites, concluded in 1582 in the Pit Zapolsky, approved the power of the Commonwealth over Livonia in the so-called The Livonian Statute (Constitutiones Livoniae), and the Plus Armistice signed in 1583, showed the inability of the Moscow state to continue the struggle against Sweden. The defeat in the Livonian War made a grave impression on Ivan the Terrible. For the first time in his life, he failed to achieve his plan. During the war, Cesis and its environs were severely devastated. A traveler who visited Livonia in 1586 said that fertile arable lands were overgrown with bushes and forests, and the peasants did not have horses, instead of which women were harnessed to the plows. The land between Riga and Tartu, according to him, turned into a continuous desert, where you could not hear “neither the singing of a rooster, nor the barking of a dog.”
During the Livonian War, the new Zadvina Duchy was divided into 4 counties: Riga, Cesis, Turaida and Daugavpils. In 1582, instead of four districts, by the decision of the Polish Sejm, 3 presidents were created – Cesis, Tartu and Pärnu. Cesis region included the land between Gauja and Daugava, as well as Latgale. The manager of the Cesis province did not live in the dilapidated castle here, but chose Sigulda as his residence, just like the former Marshal of the Order. In 1598, the presidents were renamed into voivodship. Voivodships were divided into urban (castle) districts, or elders, and those, in turn, into manor areas and volosts. Of the 16 elders of the Cesis Voivodeship (in Riga, Daugavgriva, Cesis, Aizkraukle, Lielvard, Smiltene, Rauna, Skuene, Rezekne, Ludza, Daugavpils, etc.), after 1582 the elder was appointed as the headman, appointed the Polish king. Instead of the salary, the elders received income from the crown lands, which were called the estates of the elders. The elders of the Cesis region lived in Cesis, Rauna and Skuene.
1600 began with the invasion of Swedish troops in Livonia. At the head of the Swedes was the Duke Karl of Sodermanland (1550-1611), known for the last stage of the Livonian War. On the day of the three wise men (January 6), the Swedes were already under Cesis, where they had an unexpected skirmish with the Poles. 400 Polish cavalrymen made a sortie from the castle and defeated the Swedish cavalrymen. The escaped Swedish horsemen mixed the ranks of their infantry and carried it along with them. The Poles, however, did not hope to use their victory, for they were too well aware that the balance of power in Livonia was unfavorable for them. Therefore, they ravaged Cesis and headed to Riga. The pogrom in Cesis was thorough – after the Poles left, only 18 adult men remained here, as well as women and children, but the army so diligently plundered the city that these people were practically starving.
More serious military operations of the Swedish troops in Livonia began only at the turn of 1600-1601. In 1601 they occupied Cesis, Rauna and other castles. In May 1601, Charles IX convened a landtag in Cesis, where the German nobles of Livonia decided to surrender to the Swedes, because, they say, the Polish king does not fulfill his promises and oppresses the Germans. Most of all, the nobility was worried about the appointment of Polish and Lithuanian gentry to local administrative posts, as well as the distribution of estates to Catholics (hence, not to Germans). However, in the same 1601, the course of the war in Livonia changed dramatically. Poland, having ended the war with the Ottoman Empire, could transfer very significant military forces to Livonia. Failures on the battlefield made Karl become more sensitive to the demands of the Ostsee landowners. In 1602, he granted the knighthood of Cesis County noble rights, which turned the peasants of the county into serfs, since these rights assumed unlimited power of the landowners over the serfs.
In the period from 1603 to 1609. The Cesis region had to endure the most severe disasters, because during these years luck in the war smiled on one side or the other, and both enemy armies repeatedly left Livonia in all directions. Devastations produced not only the actions of the enemy, but also their own negligence. In the cellars of the Southern Corps (Festive Hall) of the Cesis Castle, Polish soldiers equipped a powder warehouse. On one unfortunate day in 1604, the manager of the castle, smoking a pipe, went down to check it … As a result of the explosion, the ceilings of the Southern building collapsed, and the Celebration Hall also died.
In 1611, King Charles IX died, and the war temporarily ceased, to renew with renewed vigor in the 1620s, when one of the most powerful and warlike kings in the history of Sweden – Gustav II Adolf – resumed the fight against the Commonwealth. In 1628, the Polish commander Gonsevsky briefly recaptured part of Livonia, but soon after the victories of the Swedish commander Hurn near Cesis and Limbaži, he was forced to retreat. Military luck passed to the side of the Swedes, who then ruled this region from 1629 to 1708. Thus ended the war, the grave consequences of which for a long time reminded of what happened. Vast areas were abandoned by people, many fields were overgrown, hunger and the plague raged everywhere. In this war, the walls and towers of the city of Cesis were destroyed, the city itself was very badly damaged, and the other two cities of the region – Straupe and Rauna – could not overcome the military disasters and since then the cities no longer exist.
At the last stage of the Swedish-Polish war, on July 7, 1627, the State Chancellor of Sweden Axel Oxenstierna (Axel Oxenstierna; 1583-1654) received a gift from the king as a reward for participating in determining the fate of Sweden, the Cesis Catholic bishopric, castle, city and other possessions . Cesis paid Uksensherna tax – 50 thalers per year, and also annually gave a third of the income of the city treasury. This land was in the hands of the Uksenshern family until 1680, when during the reduction of estates the Swedish government turned it into its property. Important archival documents of the Cesis region – the business books of the Livonian estates of the Uksenshernov – have been preserved in the Uksenshernov archive in the Swedish castle of Tido. The gift of Gustav II Adolf to his Chancellor Uksenshern was truly royal. He was given all the previous bishopric, in whose territory there were 13 estates, which in the middle of the XVII century. It covered 1,143 arcles (about a third of all cultivated arcles of Livonia), of which 71 arcles occupied directly the estates. Uksensherna possessions accounted for about 20% of the entire territory of Vidzeme (Livonia). Among the estates, the central place was occupied by the estate of Cesis Castle. Together with the estates, the gift included two cities – Cesis and Valmiera.
In 1654, a new Swedish-Polish-Russian war began, which, although it was not as long as the war at the beginning of the century, however, again devastated the vicinity of Cesis. In 1657, the Poles occupied Cesis and Rauna: they drove them out of there. Concluded on May 3, 1660 between Sweden and Poland, the Olive Peace Treaty (this time unconditionally) recognized Lifland as the property of Sweden.
After the Oliva Treaty, Livonia began a 40-year peace period, complicated by the fact that in 1681 the so-called large reduction of estates. In accordance with the decision of the Swedish Riksdag of 1675, all the owners of estates who received them from 1604 should have paid half of their income to cover military expenses (the finances of Sweden were heavily affected by the war with Brandenburg, Holland and Denmark 1675-1679). . The landlords resisted this, payments to the state treasury came irregularly. Therefore, in order to increase state revenues, in 1680 the Riksdag decided to carry out the reduction of estates in Livonia. By 1681, the Uksenshern family estate belonged to the government, and among them was the estate of Cesis Castle.
In 1700, the Great Northern War began. The military operations under Cesis date back to 1704, the echo of which is reflected in the work of Russian literary classics – the novel by A. Tolstoy “Peter the Great”. In 1708, Russian troops defeated the Swedes at Cesis. After the Northern War of 1721, the Cesis region along with the whole of Vidzeme was annexed to Russia by the Nishtad peace.
Wars and fires turned Cesis into a small place. In 1730, Empress Anna Ioannovna transferred the Cesis Castle and the Priekuli estate (not to be confused with Priekule!) To the possession of her favorite Ernst Biron, the future Duke of Courland. After 7 years, the castle estate Cesis as a gift from Empress Elizabeth Petrovna received the Chancellor of Russia Count Bestuzhev-Ryumin. On August 3, 1748, the city, town hall, church and castle were completely burned down again, which now complicates the study of the history of Cesis, as the medieval archives of the city died. Documents that, by chance, survived the harsh wars of the XVI-XVIII centuries, turned a terrible fire into ashes. Therefore, the past of Cesis must be recognized from archival documents of other cities or even countries, as well as by analogy with the history of other Livonian cities of the Middle Ages.
After Bestuzhev-Ryumin, the castle with the estate belonged to the family of Baron Wolf, who was so cruel to his peasants that in 1776-1777. peasant unrest broke out on the estate. Not feeling safe in the future, Baron Wolf considered it advisable to sell the Cesis castle estate to Major Count C. Sievers for 96,000 Albert’s thalers. The new owner in 1778 ordered (using the ruins of the old castle) to build a new castle on the foundation of his eastern building. The Cēsis castle estate, gradually expanding, belonged to the Sievers before the Latvian land reform of 1920.
In 1903, along with other sights, the ruins of Cesis Castle were visited by the artist, philosopher Nikolai Roerich and his wife. After the First World War, Cesis Castle was completely abandoned. According to E. Mugurevich, Latvian historians of the 20-30s. XX century they practically did not study the medieval castles of the Livonian period, for they considered them to be a legacy of German feudal culture. Excavations carried out in Cesis in 1927 had other goals: they hoped to find the riches of the former inhabitants of the castle.
Near the ruins of the Cesis castle, the so-called The new castle, since 1949 houses the Cesis Museum of Local Lore. It was founded by local teachers as early as 1925 and the greatest merits in its creation belonged to K. Ashman.
The remains of the original one-nave chapel of the castle with fragments of late Romanesque white stone architectural details have been preserved. In the last quarter of the 14th – beginning of the 15th century the castle was rebuilt according to the type of castella (typical for the castles of the Teutonic Order in Prussia). The walls of two buildings articulated at right angles, the two lower tiers of the square in plan of the main western tower, the entrance to the courtyard located next to it and the traces of the arches of the internal premises and the external arched gallery have also survived to our days. Lined with boulders and limestone, the walls of the tower and buildings are cut by freely placed large and small window openings.
At the end of the 15th – beginning of the 16th century. round towers designed for artillery were added to the castle, the wall thickness of which exceeded 4 m: the North (hexagon inside), the South (the so-called Long Herman), decorated with two decorative arcade belts, as well as the Lademahera and West towers; a cylindrical superstructure of the main western tower appeared, in which a room was allocated for the master’s personal peace – a square room with a richly decorated star-shaped vault (completed in 1522). Repeatedly rebuilt, the castle acquired its current architectural appearance in the early 16th century, when the Master of the Order Walter von Pletenberg (1494 – 1535) rebuilt two towers diagonally located in relation to each other – the North and the South.
The medieval city and castle of the Livonian Order were surrounded by a dolomite wall. Eight fortified towers guarded the city, four of them had gates through which you could enter the city, while the fifth tower was the entrance to the castle. During the Livonian War, the castle was partially destroyed during a siege by the troops of Ivan the Terrible; since the beginning of the 18th century actually abandoned.
In 1777, the Lademahera tower was added, which was the Forburg tower, and near it, on the remains of the forburg, the so-called New Castle, a two-storey palace with an attic roof, the residence of Count Karl Eberhard von Sievers, was preserved, which has been still partially rebuilt. In the 20s. 19 century. the tower was rebuilt again – supplemented by the third and fourth floors, made in the Gothic style, four tower embrasures were expanded and converted into windows.
In the years 1912-1914. a cone-shaped roof was erected above the main tower of Wenden Castle and star-shaped arches in the chambers of the master were strengthened; in 1937, the Long Herman Tower (which is commonly called the South Tower) was partially restored; in 1952-1962 the foundations of the North Tower are strengthened, the walls are preserved. Since 1949, the Art and History Museum has been located in the New Castle, the flag on the tower reminds that Cesis is the birthplace of the national flag of Latvia. The castle garden hosts various festivities, chamber music concerts, as well as the Baltic Festival of the Middle Ages and chivalry.