The dynastic crisis in Courland during the 1710's — 1730's and its outcome

Publication type Article
Status Published
EditionVolume 6 Issue 6 (39)
AbstractThe article describes legal aspects of the dynastic crisis in Courland during the 1710's — 1730's and its outcome. The Duchy of Courland was erected as a fief for Gotthard Kettler, the last Master of the Order of Livonia. The Duke enjoyed actual independence form his immediate feudal lord, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but in domestic affairs his authority was considerably limited by the knighthood of the country. According to the Commonwealth legal tradition, after the death of the childless Duke Ferdinand the Duchy was to be incorporated into the Commonwealth. On the contrary, the Courlanders insisted on their right of a free election of the Duke. They based their claim on the ancient privileges of the Order and on the precedent when Prince Jacob was elected Duke by the Courlanders, approved by the King and by the Diet. The illegitimate attempt to elect Count Maurice de Saxe in 1726 accelerated the process of the incorporation. However, under pressure of the foreign states during the War of the Polish Succession, the Pacification Diet of 1736 accorded to King Augustus III the right to create a new Duke of Courland. A new dynasty was then established for the Duchy — the House of Biron of Courland.
KeywordsCourland, ducal elections, Ketler, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, war of the polish succession
Publication date30.06.2015
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