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The Reformation

Finally came the Reformation of Martin Luther which was well-received by all in Riga, the capital of Lavia. When the last archbishop departed he sold the Dom Cathedral along with other houses of the clergy to the city for 18,000 marks or 3.6 tons of silver. While Riga was a free city there was constant turmoil between the town council and the Guilds. The town council freely gave the city’s money to whomever they thought it should go to and did it in secrecy.

They lost their influence in 1581 when it was time to surrender to the king of Poland. With the Polish rule, Catholicism returned to Riga. A decree arrived in Riga in September 1584 which ordered a change to the revised Gregorian calendar and October 4 became October 15. The town council refused to accept the Catholic holidays. The Latvians were angry that they were not accepted in St. John’s Church at Christmas and New Year’s and prayed outside in front of the church. There started a riot known as the Calendar Uprising.

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When the Swedish ships reached Riga in August 1600 they sailed into the Daugava and the army of Gustavus Adolphus stationed themselves in the area known as MIlgravis. At this time the residents of Riga burned down the suburbs, destroyed their vegetable gardens, and cut down their orchards. Then on August 12, the citizens refused to surrender and the Swedes started to fill moats around the city with brushwood so that men could run over them or set them on fire.

On August 30 the Swedes attacked the Marstalu Blockhouse but did not succeed in overcoming Riga. The Polish army attempted to help but eventually, the residents of Riga were left to their own resources. By September 12 the Swedes had gotten position under the Smilsu (Sand) Blockhouse and were ready to blow it up.

 Finally, Riga decided to surrender.  Gustavus Adolphus entered Riga on September 16 and went to pray at St. Peter’s Church and the town council and those who owned houses in Riga swore allegiance to him. The Swedish king admired the citizens of Riga for their bravery and granted them many privileges as well as granted large tracts of land. However, everything wasn’t smooth sailing and the merchants disliked that there was a tax on all goods imported and exported.

A photo of Dom Cathedral


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