By A. Kasekamp

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were the battleground for neighbouring powers and the location of excessive contention, but additionally interplay, among East and West. A heritage of the Baltic States masterfully lines the improvement of those 3 Baltic international locations, from the northern crusades opposed to Europe's final pagans, and Lithuania's upward thrust to turn into one among medieval Europe's largest
states, to their incorporation into the Russian Empire and the construction in their glossy nationwide identities.

Drawing upon the newest scholarship, Andres Kasekamp can pay specific realization to the tumultuous 20th century, within which the Baltic States completed independence, but in addition continued career through either the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. ultimately, he explores how the Baltic States recovered their statehood and remodeled themselves into participants of the ecu Union. in actual fact and accessibly written, this is often one of many first English-language books to supply a comparative survey of Baltic heritage.

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The Livonian ports thus became the last outposts for western trade with Russia. 30 The total pop­ ulation of Livonia reached 650,000 by the mid-sixteenth century. A sign of this affluence was the slender spire of St Olaf’s Church in Reval, an important landmark for navigators, which at 159 metres was the tallest building in the world from 1549 until struck by lightning in 1625. The Hanseatic League declined in the sixteenth century as the role of Dutch trading companies steadily increased in the Baltic trade.

On the west­ ern front, however, Lithuania faced mounting pressure from the order, whose military expeditions, launched from Prussia and Livonia, became more frequent and penetrated deeper into the heart of the state during the 1370s. 23 A HISTORY OF THE BA L T IC STATES As Europe’s last remaining pagan state surrounded by Christian powers, Lithuania was isolated and without reliable allies and its exis­ tence was continually under threat. Algirdas and Kgstutis successfully defended and expanded their realm, but they were constantly in the sad­ dle leading military expeditions on several fronts.

31 Grad­ ually during the sixteenth century, Baltic peasants lost their rights and generally became enserfed. Manorial estates had already begun to be established in Livonia in the thirteenth century, but their number grew exponentially during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Ini­ tially peasants were required to work for the estate for only a few days a year and were then supplied with food and drink, but by the mid­ sixteenth century they were generally providing labour several days a week in the summer - from St George’s Day (23 April) to Michaelmas (29 September) - without any provisions being supplied by the manor.

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