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The Principality of Livonia, Livonia, Terra Mariana, Svealandic Estonia, is a quasi-autonomous collection of bishoprics and petty estates occupying the lands between Saaremaa and Duchy of Estonia to the North, Novgorod and Tver to the East, and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to the South. Its population is around 2.8 million.
Nominally, the Principality is independent However, both Tver and Svealand exercise some degree of influence, though in practice legislation is devolved to Riga, which is the most populous city and the capital of the region.
Its current head of state is Petor Ulmanis, Archbishop of Riga.
Its currency is the Livonian Krone (LVK).
Its official languages are Livonian, Latvian, German and Estonian. Polish, Swedish and Northern Russian are also widely spoken, both as first and second languages.
Livonia was conquered and divided up by the Livonian Order of Knights crusading against the heathen Livonians, with most land conquered by 1217. By that time Denmark and Svealand had rival crusading orders in Estonia and Finland. By 1260 the situation had solidified, Denmark held the Northern coast as the Duchy of Estonia, an independent Saaremaa held the Estonian islands and most of the Bishopric of Osel, and Lithuania held the lands between Livonia and its twin, the crusader state of Prussia.
Livonian land, like that of Prussia, was divided in 1243 by the papal legate William of Modena into three bishoprics, Courland, Riga and Dorpat with the land in between divided into hundreds of petty lordships owned collectively by the Livonian Order and run by their Grand-Master. It was for a short time a part of the Holy Roman Empire but then became the direct responsibility of the Pope.
On unification with the Teutonic Knights, who were concurrently campaigning in Prussia, conflict between its neighbours grew, mainly due to the hypocritical accusation that Denmark and Svealand were not actively Christianising their subjects, and that Saaremaa was actively promoting paganism, until 1242 when a Novgorodian army defeated the Order at the Battle of Lake Peipus. This virtually saved Danish Estonia from being overrun. The main line of conflict would only be halted in 1354 when Olaf III of Viken rose to Emperor and re-established Livonia as a Imperial fief. Thereafter Livonian energies were directed southwards to Lithuania which still remained pagan.
Under Imperial rule and concerted German migration the economy boomed and Riga grew from minor town to the major city of the region and Livonia was spared the worst effects of the Black Death. A series of civil wars lasting 1345 to 1362 diminished the role of the bishops as law-makers to the point where Grandmaster Albert Kettler was proclaimed Prince. The Livonian Order itself was outlawed by the Pope and disbanded in 1435 having 'done its Godly duty'. This depleted the yearly crusader influx from Western Europe and the rulers began to rely more and more on Gothenlandic and Svealandic mercenaries.
Military setbacks in the 15th century, culminating in the crushing defeat to Poland-Lithuania at Grunwald in 1485, which split it decisively from its southern twin Prussia, sparked calls for reform and greater independence of the towns. The reformation compounded these problems and exposed massive cracks in the society; the nobles and town dwellers by and large sympathised with Lutheran articles of faith, the bishops and peasantry held onto Catholicism whilst ever growing numbers of Orthodox immigrants were moving in from the war torn Rus' principalities. The inevitable result was civil war, which broke out in 1542 following a series of repressive and unenforceable edicts from Riga.
With support from Lutheran Kalmar Union the Livonian nobles defeated the armies of the bishops one by one and burnt Riga in 1544. Attempts to disestablish the church lands however provoked repeated peasant revolt, leading to the Livonian peasant war of 1548-1553. The bishoprics were largely left intact though towns were taken out of their control. Despite the internal religious strife, the country was conducted into the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League and provided assistance during the League's war against Poland-Lithuania in the 1570s.
The outbreak of serious war with Tver in 1630 would prove to be death of the region's independence. After having captured Kiev but blocked further South by Poland-Lithuania Tver looked to capture a Baltic port to allow it free passage to the sea and Western markets. Deciding on Riga as the most viable option it invaded in April 1630 sweeping away the largely ineffectual and under-provisioned Livonian army. With Riga and other large towns besieged Gothenland and Svealand counter invaded, unwilling to see a rival power on the Baltic. Saaremaa provided naval assistance to the coastal towns while Danish Estonia provided refuge for fleeing nobles. At the siege of Jalgab (German: Mitau) Gothenland columns broke the main Tver army and left Svealand to pursue it back into Tver. Gothenland subsequently occupied much of the Duchy of Courland and attempted, much like their predecessors to remove land from the bishop of Courland. After several revolts and a minor war with Poland-Lithuania it sold Courland to Svealand for 40,000 marks. Svealand meanwhile helped extend Livonia's borders at the expense of Tver but maintained a large garrison in Riga. They were there to stay. Repeated attempts to reduce Pleskov failed, and an uneasy peace was signed with Tver in 1635. Svealand assisted Poland-Lithuania in their 1642 war that resulted in the sacking of Tver but the campaign changed little. By the 1720's however Tver and Vladimir had broken the Khanate of Astrakhan and captured land for southern ice-free ports easing the pressure on Livonia and Svealand.
During the Great Baltic War (1761-1773) Svealand lost both Ingria and Livonia to the coalition against it. However, after Svealand was defeated the reunited Kalmar Union retook Livonia. By the Treaty of Lubeck Livonia was returned to Svealandic rule with territorial losses to Tver, but they received Leipaja as a free city in compensation.
After the revolt of Finland, Svealand allowed Livonia much more freedom and autonomy, even allowing the title of Prince to used again. This worked well to lessen criticism of Svealand's representatives and army who still controlled most parts of the government. However, a concerted effort to reform the native army under Prince Albrecht III was met with renewed repression. Again this was met with invasion from Tver, to secure its port and 'to protect Rus' in Livonia'. The Treaty of Kuressaare (1865) removed the secular Prince and gave the Archbishop of Riga the title, limited Livonia's armed forces and outlawed it having a navy. It also carved the region into spheres of influence, Tver receiving most Latvian areas and Dorpat, Svealand the Estonian areas and Courland. Riga was allowed to run the remainder. Further amendments laid out guidelines for withdrawal from the Principality of both powers. Both plan complete withdrawal by 2015.
Livonia is currently ruled as a monarchy with the Archbishop of Riga normally taking the role of elected Prince. As such the title is not hereditary. There is a National Diet, though it has long been dominated by representatives from the foreign run regions and been characterised by extreme lethargy. Elections to the national Diet occur every 7 years. Each region (outside of the bishoprics) also has its own Diet with elections every 5 years.
Now that foreign control is diminished the government of Livonia is currently discussing major changes to its constitution, including a lessening of Princely power. Tver has indicated that it will not intervene in any changes as long as its access to its Leipaja port is not threatened. Svealand is happy to see measured and careful reform.
The Archbishop of Riga is one of the largest private landowners in Europe and is also technically an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, but the vote (even in a ceremonial capacity) has not been exercised since the mid-19th century.
Livonia maintains a small army for defensive and internal purposes. It has no navy.
Following the Livonian Reformation Lutheranism became widespread throughout the region. In general today Lutheranism is practiced by the German, Estonian and Livonian peoples. Latvians are in general Catholic and there are large areas of Orthodox worship. Large numbers of Lutheran churches are built in the Orthodox style due to influx of skilled tradesmen from Russia during the destruction of Moscow. The Jewish faith has been tolerated in the Principality since the closure of the Livonian Order and a lessening of the crusading zeal.