Defend of doctoral thesis in history

Madis Maasing will defend his doctoral thesis titled “The Role of the Bishops in the Livonian Political System (in the First Half of the 16th Century)” on 17 June at 16:30 at UT Senate Hall (Ülikooli 18-204).

Supervisor: prof Anti Selart

Opponent: prof. Dr.Dr. h.c. Michael North (University of Greifswald)

Summary: Until now, the surveys concerning the political history of Medieval Livonia have turned relatively little attention to the activities of the Bishops, while they mostly are focused on the mightiest lords: The Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order, and the Archbishop of Riga. The main objective of this thesis is to show that in the first half of the 16th century, the Bishops had relatively important role in the political system of Livonia. Here, I examine more closely inner-Livonian politics of the period from the 1530s to the 1550s with the main aim to prove four main hypotheses. First of all, the Bishops played a significant role in Livonian politics, because their support often determined the outcome of the power struggles between the Order and the Archbishop. The second main argument is that Livonians normally tried to solve all internal struggles inside the land, and to avoid the foreign intervention. However, peaceful resolving of these conflicts was often often quite complicated, while it premised the consent of all Livonian political powers, and on several occasions, this turned out to be impossible. Thirdly, the reciprocal relations between Livonian rulers were generally equal: None of them was dependent of another Livonian lord, and the ecclesiastical subordination of the Bishops to the Archbishop did not affect the political relations between them, at least not substantially. Fourthly, religious contradictions between Lutherans and Catholics had only minor influence in Livonian politics, and there was a pragmatic attitude towards the question of religion: instead of the disputes, the majority of Livonians preferred to maintain the fragile internal stability of the land.