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2006 | 5 | 24-38

Article title

ILUKSTE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE DUCHY OF COURLAND AND SEMIGALLIA: THE CONTEXT OF POLITICAL HISTORY (Ilukstes katolu baznica Kurzemes-Zemgales hercogistes politiskas vestures konteksta)


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In order to know and understand a particular work of art, it seems important not just to study close-ups but also to consider the monument in a wider context of cultural history. Especially in cases when visual information is restricted for a number of reasons, groups of secondary sources whose links with the concrete artwork seem provisional at first can provide invaluable references and explanations. IIukste Catholic Church is an excellent example of an unfairly forgotten, outstanding artistic monument that deserves to be brought to attention, standing out with its great significance in both local and global art-historical context. The building was destroyed during World War I; therefore the role of different sources, including those of political history, are very helpful in the study of this monument. Research has demonstrated that events of political and cultural life have been very closely intertwined in the history of this monument, both determining and commenting various processes. Firstly, one should note that appearance of a Roman Catholic centre of such a scale in the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia is a noteworthy event, resulting from political decisions. As is known, at first the Duchy of Courland was markedly Protestant in its orientation and the rights of Catholics and options to practice their rites were severely restricted. Significant changes were brought in legislation by the Courland regulations of 1617 that defended Catholics' freedom of faith. Although legalisation of Catholicism in Courland was a political decision and the Polish government had a major role in the process of re-catholisation, local landlords' initiatives were very important, supporting Catholic faith with their money and activities. Among these families one should mention the Schwerin family in Alsunga, the Carmel family in Skaistkalne and the Lieven family in Livberze. Usually Jesuit missionaries were involved as an auxiliary force in these efforts. The Sieberg family should be mentioned among the most important supporters of counterreformation in the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia.


  • Kristine Ogle, Latvian Academy of Art, Kalpaka bulvaris 13, Riga LV-1867, Latvia


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Publication order reference


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