The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem the Teutonic Order, is a Catholic religious order founded as a military order c. 1190 in Acre, Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Teutonic Order was formed to aid Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to establish hospitals, its members have been known as the Teutonic Knights, having a small voluntary and mercenary military membership, serving as a crusading military order for protection of Christians in the Holy Land and the Baltics during the Middle Ages. Purely religious since 1929, the Teutonic Order still confers limited honorary knighthoods; the Bailiwick of Utrecht of the Teutonic Order, a Protestant chivalric order, is descended from the same medieval military order and continues to award knighthoods and perform charitable work. The full name of the Order in German is Orden der Brüder vom Deutschen Haus St. Mariens in Jerusalem or in Latin Ordo domus Sanctæ Mariæ Theutonicorum Hierosolymitanorum, thus the term "Teutonic" echoes the German origins of the order in its Latin name.
It is known in German as the Deutscher Orden also as Deutscher Ritterorden, Deutschherrenorden, Deutschritterorden, Die Herren im weißen Mantel, etc. The Teutonic Knights have been known as Zakon Krzyżacki in Polish and as Kryžiuočių Ordinas in Lithuanian, Vācu Ordenis in Latvian, Saksa Ordu or Ordu in Estonian, as well as various names in other languages. Knighthood was associated to service; the knight was always required to help the sick and wounded after a battle and was regarded to be brave and determined. Formed in the year 1192 in Acre, in the Levant, the medieval Order played an important role in Outremer, controlling the port tolls of Acre. After Christian forces were defeated in the Middle East, the Order moved to Transylvania in 1211 to help defend the South-Eastern borders of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Cumans; the Knights were expelled by force of arms by King Andrew II of Hungary in 1225, after attempting to place themselves under papal instead of the original Hungarian sovereignty and thus to become independent.
In 1230, following the Golden Bull of Rimini, Grand Master Hermann von Salza and Duke Konrad I of Masovia launched the Prussian Crusade, a joint invasion of Prussia intended to Christianize the Baltic Old Prussians. The Knights had taken steps against their Polish hosts and with the Holy Roman Emperor's support, had changed the status of Chełmno Land, where they were invited by the Polish prince, into their own property. Starting from there, the Order created the independent Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights, adding continuously the conquered Prussians' territory, subsequently conquered Livonia. Over time, the kings of Poland denounced the Order for expropriating their lands Chełmno Land and the Polish lands of Pomerelia and Dobrzyń Land; the Order theoretically lost its main purpose in Europe with the Christianization of Lithuania. However, it initiated numerous campaigns against its Christian neighbours, the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Novgorod Republic; the Teutonic Knights had a strong economic base which enabled them to hire mercenaries from throughout Europe to augment their feudal levies, they became a naval power in the Baltic Sea.
In 1410, a Polish-Lithuanian army decisively defeated the Order and broke its military power at the Battle of Grunwald. However, the capital of the Teutonic Knights was defended in the following Siege of Marienburg and the Order was saved from collapse. In 1515, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I made a marriage alliance with Sigismund I of Poland-Lithuania. Thereafter, the empire did not support the Order against Poland. In 1525, Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg resigned and converted to Lutheranism, becoming Duke of Prussia as a vassal of Poland. Soon after, the Order lost its holdings in the Protestant areas of Germany; the Order did keep its considerable holdings in Catholic areas of Germany until 1809, when Napoleon Bonaparte ordered its dissolution and the Order lost its last secular holdings. However, the Order continued to exist as a ceremonial body, it was outlawed by Adolf Hitler in 1938, but re-established in 1945. Today it operates with charitable aims in Central Europe; the Knights wore white surcoats with a black cross.
A cross pattée was sometimes used as their coat of arms. The motto of the Order was: "Helfen, Heilen". 1198 Formation 1218 Siege of Damietta 1228–1229 The Sixth Crusade 1237 absorption of The Livonian Brothers of the Sword 1242 The Battle on the Ice 1242–1249 First Prussian Uprising 1249 Treaty of Christburg with the pagan Prussians signed on February 9 1249 Battle of Krücken 1260 Battle of Durbe 1260–1274 Great Prussian Uprising 1262 Siege of Königsberg 1263 Battle of Löbau 1264 Siege of Bartenstein 1270 Battle of Karuse 1271 Battle of Pagastin 1279 Battle of Aizkraukle 1291 Siege of Acre (1291
Second Northern War
The Second Northern War was fought between Sweden and its adversaries the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Moscow Tsardom, Brandenburg-Prussia, the Habsburg Monarchy and Denmark–Norway. The Dutch Republic intervened against Sweden. In 1655, Charles X Gustav of Sweden invaded and occupied western Poland–Lithuania, the eastern half of, occupied by Russia; the rapid Swedish advance became known in Poland as the Swedish Deluge. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania became a Swedish fief, the Polish–Lithuanian regular armies surrendered and the Polish king John II Casimir Vasa fled to the Habsburgs. Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia supported the estates in Royal Prussia, but allied with Sweden in return for receiving the Duchy of Prussia as a Swedish fief. Exploiting the hurt religious feelings of the Roman Catholic population under Protestant occupation and organizing Polish–Lithuanian military leaders in the Tyszowce Confederation, John II Casimir Vasa managed to regain ground in 1656.
Russia took advantage of the Swedish setback, declared war on Sweden and pushed into Lithuania and Swedish Livonia. Charles X Gustav granted Frederick William full sovereignty in the Duchy of Prussia in return for military aid, in the Treaty of Radnot allied himself with the Transylvanian George II Rákóczi who invaded Poland–Lithuania from the southeast. John II Vasa found an ally in Leopold I of Habsburg, whose armies crossed into Poland–Lithuania from the southwest; this triggered Frederick III of Denmark's invasion of the Swedish mainland in the spring of 1657, in an attempt to settle old scores from the Torstenson War while Sweden was busy elsewhere. Brandenburg left the alliance with Sweden when granted full sovereignty in the Duchy of Prussia by the Polish king in the treaties of Wehlau and Bromberg. Frederick III's war on Sweden gave Charles X Gustav a reason to abandon the Polish–Lithuanian deadlock and fight Denmark instead. After marching his army to the west and making a dangerous crossing of the frozen straits in the winter of 1657/58, he surprised the unprepared Frederick III on the Danish isles and forced him into surrender.
In the Treaty of Roskilde, Denmark had to abandon all Danish provinces in what is now Southern Sweden. The anti-Swedish allies meanwhile neutralized the Transylvanian army and Polish forces ravaged Swedish Pomerania. In 1658 Charles X Gustav decided that instead of returning to the remaining Swedish strongholds in Poland–Lithuania, he would rather attack Denmark again; this time, Denmark withstood the attack and the anti-Swedish allies pursued Charles X Gustav to Jutland and Swedish Pomerania. Throughout 1659, Sweden was defending her strongholds in Denmark and on the southern Baltic shore, while little was gained by the allies and a peace was negotiated; when Charles X Gustav died in February 1660, his successor settled for the Treaty of Oliva with Poland–Lithuania, the Habsburgs and Brandenburg in April and the Treaty of Copenhagen with Denmark in May. Sweden was to keep most of her gains from Roskilde, the Duchy of Prussia became a sovereign state, otherwise the parties returned to the status quo ante bellum.
Sweden had concluded a truce with Russia in 1658, which gave way to a final settlement in the Treaty of Cardis in 1661. In English language, German and Scandinavian historiography, these conflicts were traditionally referred to as First Northern War; the term "Second Northern War", coined in Polish historiography, has been adopted by German and English language historiography. Another ambiguous term referring to the Second Northern War is the Little Northern War, which however might refer to the 1741-43 war. In Poland, the term "The Deluge" is ambiguous, as it is sometimes used for a broader series of wars against Sweden, Russia and the Cossacks. In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia had ended the Thirty Years' War, during which the Swedish Empire emerged as a major European power. In the Torstenson War, a theater of the Thirty Years' War, Sweden had defeated the former Baltic great power Denmark. Sweden had been at peace with Russia since the Treaty of Stolbovo had ended the Ingrian War in 1617. Sweden had remained in a state of war with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth since the Polish–Swedish War, concluded by the renewed truce.
In 1651, an unsuccessful congress was organised in Lübeck to mediate peace talks between Sweden and Poland. On the other hand, the Commonwealth, under king John II Casimir Vasa since 1648, experienced a crisis resulting both from the Cossack Khmelnytsky Uprising in the southeast and from the paralysis of the administration due to the internal quarrels of the nobility, including feuds between the king and the Lithuanian hetman Janusz Radziwiłł and feuds among disagreeing sejmiks, able to stall each other's ambitions with the liberum veto since 1652; as a consequence, the Commonwealth lacked a sufficient defense. In January 1654, the anti-Polish alliance of Pereiaslav was concluded between the rebellious Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Alexis of Russia, in control of a well-equipped army, undergoing modernization. In 1654, when Charles X Gustav succeeded his cousin Christina on the Swedish throne, Russian forces were advancing into the unprotected Commonwealth, by focusing on the northeast these drew close to the Swedish sphere of interest at the Baltic coast.
Seeing the great success on the Russian side, Sweden decided to intervene, among other reasons using the explanation that it was to protect the Protestant population in Poland. Having a close relationship with the Prin
Semigallians were the Baltic tribe that lived in the southcentral part of contemporary Latvia and northern Lithuania. They are noted for their long resistance against the German crusaders and Teutonic Knights during the Northern Crusades. Semigallians had close cultural ties with Samogitians. During the Viking Age, the Semigallians were involved in battles with Swedish Vikings over control of the lower part of the Daugava waterway. In Gesta Danorum the Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus wrote that the Viking Starkad crushed the Curonians, all the tribes of Estonia, the peoples of Semgala; when the Rurikid successors of the Varangians tried to subjugate the Semigallians, they defeated the invading army of Polotsk led by Prince Rogvolod Vseslavich in 1106. Ancient chronicles claim. At the start of German conquests Semigallian lands were divided in Upmale, Dobele, Spārnene, Rakte, Silene and Tērvete chieftaincies. According to the Livonian Chronicle of Henry, Semigallians formed an alliance with bishop Albert of Riga against rebellious Livonians before 1203, received military support to hold back Lithuanian attacks in 1205.
In 1207, the Semigallian duke Viestards helped the christened Livonian chief Caupo conquer back his Turaida castle from pagan rebels. In 1219, the Semigallian-German alliance was canceled after a crusader invasion in Semigallia. Duke Viestards promptly formed an alliance with Curonians. In 1228, Semigallians and Curonians attacked the Daugavgrīva monastery, the main crusader stronghold at the Daugava river delta; the crusaders invaded Semigallia. The Semigallians, in turn, pillaged land around the Aizkraukle hillfort. In 1236, Semigallians attacked crusaders retreating to Riga after the Battle of Saule, killing many of them. After regular attacks, the Livonian Order subdued the Semigallians in 1254. In 1270, the Lithuanian Grand Duke Traidenis, together with Semigallians, attacked Livonia and Saaremaa. During the Battle of Karuse on the frozen gulf of Riga, the Livonian Order was defeated, its master Otto von Lutterberg killed. In 1287, around 1400 Semigallians attacked a crusader stronghold in Ikšķile and plundered nearby lands.
As they returned to Semigallia they were caught by the Order's forces, the great battle began near the Garoza river. The crusader forces were badly defeated. More than 40 knights were killed, including the master of the Livonian Order Willekin von Endorp, an unknown number of crusader allies, it was the last Semigallian victory over the growing forces of the Livonian Order. In 1279, after the Battle of Aizkraukle, Grand Duke Traidenis of Lithuania supported a Semigallian revolt against the Livonian Order led by duke Nameisis. In the 1280s, the Livonian Order started a massive campaign against the Semigallians, which included burning their fields and thus causing famine; the Semigallians continued their resistance until 1290, when they burned their last castle in Sidrabene, a large number of Semigallians. The Rhymed Chronicle claims 100,000 migrated to Lithuania and once there continued to fight against the Germans. Bauska district Čapāni, Drenģeri-Čunkāni, Jumpravmuiža, Lielbertuši, Mežotne hillfort, Podiņi, Siliņi, Zeltiņi, Ziedoņskola Dobele district Atvases, Auce, Bāļas-Šķērstaiņi, Cibēni, Dobele hillfort, Gailīši, Grīnerti, Guntiņas, Īles mežniecība, Jāņogānas, Kaijukrogs, Ķūri, Lielogļi, Lozberģi, Oši, Skare, Tērvete hillfort Jelgava district Ciemalde, Diduļi, Eži, Gaideļi-Viduči, Kakužēni, Kalnaplāteri, Kraujas, Ķēķi, Mazgrauži, Pudžas, Vilces parks Saldus district Griezes dzirnavas, Kerkliņi, Priedīši, Rūsīši-Debeši Tukums district Mutstrauti, Zante Riga district Pļavniekkalns Pasvalys district Ąžuolpamūšė hillfort, Daujėnai, Meldiniai, Pamiškiai, Pamūšė, Skrebotiškis, Smilgeliai, Šakarniai, Vaidžiūnai Akmenė district Balsiai, Papilė hillfort, Pavirvytė-Gudai, Šapnagiai, Viekšniai Joniškis district Budraičiai, Daugalaičiai, Dvareliškiai, Ivoškiai, Joniškis, Lieporai, Linkaičiai, Linksmėnai, Martyniškiai, Rudiškiai, Rukuižiai, Slėpsniai, Stungiai, Žagarė Pakruojis district Aukštadvaris, Dargužiai, Diržiai, Dovainiškis, Karašilis, Karpiškiai, Lauksodis, Linkavičiai, Linksmučiai, Pakruojis, Paliečiai, Pamūšis, Pašvitinys, Peleniškiai, Plaučiškai, Sakališkiai, Stačiūnai, Šukioniai, Vėbariai, Žeimelis Šiauliai district Daugėlaičiai, Gibaičiai, Jakštaičiai, Jurgaičiai hillfort, Kybartiškė, Mažeikiai, Norušaičiai, Norvaišiai, Račiai, Ringuvėnai, Visdergiai There is an unconfirmed theory that the Semigallians were one of the first Baltic tribes to establish a monarchy, yet one weak in comparison to the power of the Semigallian nobles.
One of the most notable Semigallian leaders was duke Viestards. Upon uniting hostile Semigallian clans into a single state in the early 13th century, Viestards formed an alliance with the German crusaders to defeat his enemies on the outside. After the crusaders broke the treaty and invaded his lands, he allied with Lithuanians, resulting in the near annihilation of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword in the Battle of Saule in 1236. Duke Nameisis, another renowned Semigallian leader, united Semigallian and Lithuanian tribes for a retaliatory counterattack on Teutonic Knights at Riga in 1279 and in Prussia after 1281. Main sources for his activities are Livländische Reimchronik and Das Zeugenverhör des Franciscus de Moliano. What is known with certainty, however, is that by the end of the 1270s, a new powerful
The Finnic peoples or Baltic Finns consist of the peoples inhabiting the region around the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe who speak Finnic languages, including the Finns proper, Karelians, Izhorians and Livonians as well as their descendants worldwide. In some cases the Kvens, Ingrians and speakers of Meänkieli are included separately rather than being a part of Finns proper; the bulk of the Finnic peoples are ethnic Finns and Estonians, who reside in the only two independent Finnic nation states – Finland and Estonia. Finnic peoples are significant minority groups in neighbouring countries of Sweden and Russia. According to the Migration Theory, based on comparative linguistics, the proto-Finns migrated from an ancient homeland somewhere in northwestern Siberia or western Russia to the shores of the Baltic Sea around 1000 BC, at which time Finns and Estonians separated; the Migration Theory has been called into question since 1980, based on genealogy and archaeology. A modified form of the Migration Theory has gained new support among the younger generation of linguists, who consider that archaeology, genes or craniometric data cannot supply evidence of prehistoric languages.
During the last 30 years, scientific research in physical anthropology, craniometric analyses, the mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal DNA frequencies have reduced the likelihood of the Migration Theory - a major westward migration as as 3,000 years ago. The Settlement Continuity Theory asserts that at least the genetic ancestors of the Finno-Ugric peoples were among the earliest indigenous peoples of Europe; the origin of the people who lived in the Baltic Sea area during the Mesolithic Era continues to be debated by scientists. From the middle of the Neolithic onwards, there is agreement to a certain extent among scholars: it has been suggested that Finno-Ugric tribes arrived in the Baltic region from the east or southeast 4000–3000 BC by merging with the original inhabitants, who adopted the proto-Finno-Ugric language and the Pit–Comb Ware culture of the newcomers; the members of this new Finno-Ugric-speaking ethnic group are regarded as the ancestors of modern Estonians. The Y-chromosomal data has revealed a common Finno-Ugric ancestry for the males of the neighboring Balts, speakers of the Indo-European Baltic languages.
According to the studies, Baltic males are most related to the Finno-Ugric-speaking Volga Finns such as the Mari, rather than to Baltic Finns. The results suggest that the territories of Estonia and Lithuania have been settled by Finno-Ugric-speaking tribes since the early Mesolithic period. On the other hand, some linguists do not consider it that a Baltic-Finnic language form could have existed at such an early date. According to these views, the Finno-Ugric languages appeared in Finland and Baltic only during the Early Bronze Age, if not later; the Finnic peoples share a common cultural heritage: the art of ancient "rune" singing in the Kalevala meter, estimated to be 2,500–3,000 years old. The Finnish and Estonian national epics and Kalevipoeg, are both written in this meter; the Veps are the only Baltic Finnish people with no significant corpus of Kalevala meter oral poetry. The poetic tradition has included lyric poems and magic chants; the ancient rune singing has inspired the creation of the national epic of Finland, Kalevala compiled by Elias Lönnrot, the music of Arvo Pärt, the best known Estonian composer in the classical field.
J. R. R. Tolkien has highlighted the importance of Kalevala as a source for his legendarium, including The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings; the region has been populated since the end of the last glacial era, about 10,000 BC. The earliest traces of human settlement are connected with Kunda culture; the Early Mesolithic Pulli settlement is located by the Pärnu River. It has been dated to the beginning of the 9th millennium BC; the Kunda Culture received its name from the Lammasmäe settlement site in northern Estonia, which dates from earlier than 8500. Bone and stone artefacts similar to those found at Kunda have been discovered elsewhere in Estonia, as well as in Latvia, northern Lithuania and southern Finland. Around 5300 BCE pottery and agriculture entered Finland; the earliest representatives belong to the Pit–Comb Ware culture, known for their distinctive decorating patterns. This marks the beginning of the Neolithic, Until the early 1980s, the arrival of Finnic peoples, the ancestors of the Estonians and Livonians on the shores of the Baltic Sea around 3000 BC, was associated with the Pit–Comb Ware culture However, such a linking of archaeologically defined cultural entities with linguistic ones cannot be proven and it has been suggested that the increase of settlement finds in the period is more to have been associated with an economic boom related to the warming of climate.
Some researchers have argued that a form of Uralic languages may have been spoken in Estonia and Finland since the end of the last glaciation. The beginning of the Bronze Age in Estonia is dated to 1800 BC, in present-day Finland some time after 1500 BCE; the coastal regions of Finland were a part of the Nordic Bronze Culture, whereas in the inland regions the influences came from the bronze-using cultures of Northern Russia. The development of the borders between the Finnic peoples and the Balts was under way; the first fortified settlements and Ridala on the island of Saaremaa and Iru in the Northern Estonia, began to be built. The development of shipb
German occupation of Latvia during World War II
The occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany was completed on July 10, 1941 by Germany's armed forces. Latvia became a part of Nazi Germany's Reichskommissariat Ostland—the Province General of Latvia. Anyone not racially acceptable or who opposed the German occupation, as well as those who had cooperated with the Soviet Union, were killed or sent to concentration camps in accordance with the Nazi Generalplan Ost. After the establishment of German authority at the beginning of July 1941, the elimination of the Jewish and Roma population began, with major mass killings taking place at Rumbula and elsewhere; the killings were committed by the Einsatzgruppe A, the Wehrmacht. Latvian collaborators, including the 500–1,500 members of the Arājs Kommando and other Latvian members of the SD, were involved.30,000 Jews were shot in the autumn of 1941 with most of the remaining Jewish people being rounded up and put into ghettos. In November and December 1941 the Riga Ghetto became crowded and to make room for the imminent arrival of German Jews, who were being shipped out of the country, all the remaining 30,000 Jews in Riga were taken from the ghetto to the nearby Rumbula Forest and shot.
German and the present-day Czech Republic Jews, now located in the Riga ghetto were put to work and placed on reduced rations. The Kaiserwald concentration camp was built in 1943 at Mežaparks on the edge of Riga which took most of the inmates from the ghetto. In the camp the inmates were put to work by large German companies. Before the Soviet forces returned, all Jews under 18 or over 30 were shot, with the remainder moved to Stutthof concentration camp. During the years of Nazi occupation, special campaigns killed 90,000 people in Latvia 70,000 of whom were Jews and 2,000 Gypsies; those who were not Jews or Gypsies were civilians whose political opinions and activity were unacceptable to the German occupiers. Jewish and Gypsy civilians were eliminated as a result of the Nazi "theory of races" as set out in the Nazi Generalplan Ost plan. Resistance in Latvia was confusing, it included people resisting the Soviet occupation who were happy to work with the German forces, Soviet supporters resisting the German occupation, nationalists resisting everyone, occupying or trying to occupy Latvia.
There were people who changed their support when the Soviets started arresting and deporting people, many more when the Nazi soldiers started killing Latvians, others when the Soviet troops returned. And lastly there were people who felt persecuted the Jews, who resisted anyone trying to kill them, including Latvians as well as Germans. Many resistance people ended up joining either the German and some, the Soviet armies, as a means of fighting. Few were able to live as independent bands in the forests; when the Germans first arrived in Latvia they found anti-Soviet guerrilla bands operating in many areas, of varying quality, some swollen by deserters from Soviet units. The largest and most effective was led by Kārlis Aperāts who moved on to become a Standartenführer, in the Waffen SS; some Latvians resisted the German occupation undertaking solo acts of bravery, like Žanis Lipke who risked his life to save more than 50 Jews. The Latvian resistance movement was divided between the pro-independence units under the Latvian Central Council and the pro-Soviet forces under the Central Staff of the Partisan Movement in Moscow.
Their Latvian commander was Arturs Sproģis. The Latvian Central Council published the outlawed publication Brīvā Latvija; the periodical promoted the idea of renewing democracy in Latvia after the war. Public displays of resistance such as the 15 May 1942 in Riga resulted in the young nationalists being arrested, others were prevented when their plans were discovered. Partisan activity increased after Operation Winterzauber undertaken by the Germans who destroyed 99 villages in eastern Latvia, 6,000 of the villagers deported for forced labour, 3,600 shot in early 1943. However, much partisan activity was centred on forcing civilians to provide food and shelter for the partisans rather than fighting Germans. Soviet-supporting partisans, many of whom were Soviet soldiers operating behind the lines, sent messages to Moscow making wild claims of success, for instance claims that 364 trains were destroyed, which bear no resemblance to German reports; these "reports" were used as propaganda by the Soviets.
Resistance continued at an increased level after the return of the Red Army in July 1944, with 40,000 Latvians involved and around 10,000 active at any point in time. The Soviet Union conscripted into its army sections of independent Latvia's military units, as well as those Latvians who had ended up in Russia as a result of previous wars or had lived there. Many Latvian soldiers deserted. A few Jews, continued to serve with the Soviet forces. 130th Latvian Rifle Corps of the Order of Suvorov. This Red Army national formation was formed, for the third time, on June 5, 1944, shortly before the Red Army attacked Latvia, their strength was about 15,000 men, which consisted three divisions – 43rd Guards, 308th Latvian Rifle Division and a Soviet division. The Corps units fought against the Latvian Legion's 19th Division units; the unit was important for propaganda purposes. Nazi Germany, on arrival in Latvia looked to recruit Latvian units to act in accordance with the Nazi Generalplan Ost which required the population of Latvia to be cut by 50%.
They located Viktors Arājs, leading a unit that became known as the Arajs Kommando. It became infamous for its actions against the Jewish populat
Viljandi is a town and municipality in southern Estonia with a population of 17,473 in 2013. It is the capital of Viljandi County; the town was first mentioned upon being granted its town charter by Wilhelm von Endorpe. The town became a member of the Hanseatic League at the beginning of the 14th century, is one of five Estonian towns and cities in the league; the once influential Estonian newspaper Sakala was founded in Viljandi in 1878. The flag of Viljandi is bi-coloured, its upper part light blue and lower part white; the city's shield-shaped coat of arms is light blue. Viljandi is the white rose city – in midsummer there are 720 white roses flowering in front of the city hall, planted for the town's anniversary in 2003. In summer, the White Rose Day is celebrated in Viljandi. First records of civilization in the surroundings of Viljandi date back to the 5th millennium B. C; the first written record of the earthen stronghold of Viljandi was in the year 1154 in the commentaries to al-Idrisi's world atlas Geography.
In the 12th century, a permanent settlement emerged around the stronghold of Viljandi, which became the economic centre of the ancient Sakala district. In 1211 the hillfort of the Estonians in Viljandi was besieged by a joint army of Germans and Livs; the Livonian Sword Brethren captured the hillfort in August 1223 from a contingent of the people of Rus, who joined forces with the insurgent Estonians. In place of the Sakala wooden stronghold a powerful Order Centre was started in 1224; the following year the Grand Master Volquin led the construction of the Viljandi Castle at the site of the former hillfort. The Viljandi castle was one of the largest in the Baltic region, it was a major fortification of the Livonian Order and was appointed a commander from 1248. The fortress was continually modernized over the next two-hundred years. In the 13th century, a medieval town arose on the northern side of the stronghold; the Hamburg-Riga town bylaws and population of it were first recorded in 1283. During the first half of the 14th century, Viljandi joined the influential Hanseatic League – the town had become an important stop for merchants on their way to Russia and back.
In 1365, the town council was party when peace between Hansa was concluded. In 1470, Johann Wolthus von Herse master of the order, took up residence in the castle. In the Middle Ages, Viljandi was a typical small commercial town, which got its main income from transit trade; the local trade and handicraft played an important role. In 1481, Ivan III of Russia could not take it; the decline of Viljandi started during the Livonian War and in 1560, the forces of Prince Kurbski of Muscovite Russia succeeded in seizing and demolished the town and the stronghold. During the Polish–Russian War in the first quarter of the 17th century, the town and the stronghold were destroyed. Under the Swedish rule in the 17th century the town bylaws of Viljandi were cancelled. After the Great Northern War, Russians seized the power and Viljandi was without laws until the year 1783, when in the course of the regency reforms of Catherine II Viljandi became a district town; this involved the re-establishment of town bylaws.
The economic and political importance of Viljandi started to increase. The population, having decreased to the minimum, started to rise again. In 2005, Estonian Match, the successor of the 100-year-old Viljandi Match Factory, made a six-metre match, registered as the largest match in the world in the Guinness Book of Records; the town is situated on the north-western shore of Lake Viljandi. Green zones cover 27% of the town area. Public green areas cover about 418 ha, including 92 ha of parks; the largest is the nature-protected Castle Park, but Valuoja Park, Uueveski Park are worth mentioning. The main tree species are oak, lime and pine; the grandest tree-lined avenues are Lembitu avenues. Among foreign species, American larch can be found in Douglas fir in Uus street. Viljandi is sometimes called the cultural capital of Estonia due to the Viljandi Culture Academy being located there. Ugala Theatre since 1920, Viljandi has had the Ugala drama theatre; the tradition of open-air performances dates back to the same year.
Viljandi Puppet Theatre Sakala Centre Viljandi Library built in 2002 is a venue for exhibitions, meetings with famous people, culture seminars, etc. Kondas Centre is dedicated to Estonian naïve artist Paul Kondas; the center hosts exhibitions of representatives of naïvism and is a meeting place for artistic people. Estonian Traditional Music Centre located in the Traditional Music Storehouse, a restored store house on Kirsimägi in the Castle ruins; the mission of the Center is to teach traditional music. There were 871 businesses in Viljandi on 1 May 2005, 50% of them in service, 45% in trade, 5% in production areas; the major industries represented are the construction materials industry, textile industry, food and bakery industry. In 2005, the Investor of the Year title was awarded to the waterworks operator AS Viljandi Veevärk, the Employer award to AS Toom Tekstiil, the Sponsor of the Year title to AS Viljandi Metall. Unemployment rate among the working-age population in Viljandi was about 3%.
At the moment, 2 modes of transport can be used -- rail. There are 7 schools and 7 kindergartens in Viljandi, a vocational secondary school and a university college. Special interests are catered for by a