History of Latvia: a timeline
9000 BC: Arrival of the first inhabitants on Latvian soil, after the withdrawal of the glaciers.
Early 2000 BC: Proto-Balts settle in Latvia’s territory.
900 AD – early 1200 AD: Individual Baltic tribal groups (Couronians, Latgallians, Selonians, Semgallians) start to form specific tribal realms.
Latter half of the 1100s–1200s: Arrival of German traders, missionaries and crusaders in Latvia. Livonia is established.
1048: Danes build the first Christian church in Kurzeme.
1184: The Augustinian monk Meinhard of Segeberg start preaching the Gospel in territories inhabited by Livs.
1186: Bishop of Bremen Hartwig II consecrates Meinhard as bishop of the newly established bishopric of Ikskile. Meinhard remained in this position until his death in 1196.
1196: Meinhard’s associate Berthold of Hanover becomes the next bishop of Ikskile.
1199: archbishop of Bremen appoints Albert of Buxhoeveden the third bishop of Ikskile.
1201: The city of Riga is founded.
1201: bishop Albert moves episcopal See to Riga.
1202: bishop Albert establishes the military order called Livonian Brothers of the Sword.
1203: Kaupo of Turaida, leader of Livs and the first prominent Livonian to be baptized, escorted by monk Theoderic, visits pope Innocent III in Rome.
1211: Bishop Albert consecrates the new cathedral of the bishopric (Dome Cathedral).
1215: Pope Innocent III gives Livonia the title of Terra Mariana.
1236: Lithuanian and Semigallian troops jointly destroy the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. The remains of this order were incorporated into the Teutonic Order and formed into a local branch called Livonian Order.
1245: Pope Innocent IV, in his bull, threatened to punish the Livonian Order because of the oppression of newly baptized Christians.
1255: Bishop of Riga Albert II Suerbeer becomes archbishop. Riga Metropolia had at the time 3 bishoprics in Livonia (Courland, Dorpat, Osel-Wiek) and four bishoprics in Prussia.
1500s: Livonian War (1558-1583). The Latvian territory falls under Polish-Lithuanian rule. The Duchies of Courland-Semigallia and Polish Livonia (Inflanty) are formed.
1521: Andreas Knöpken begins to preach Lutheranism at St. Peter’s church in Riga.
10 March 1524: the crowd destroys altars in St. Peter’s church and in St. James’s church.
2 April 1524: all monks and Catholic priests are cast out of Riga.
1561: end to the Confederation of Livonia, which included Latvia and Estonia, after a defeat by troops of Muscovite Russia.
1582: Stephen Bathory, King of Poland, gives St. James’s church, and St. Mary Magdalene’s church in Riga, back to Catholics. Jesuits come to Riga.
1585: the first printed book in Latvian, Catholic Catechism by Peter Canisius SJ, is published.
1600s: Polish-Swedish War (1600-1629). Vidzeme (Livland) and Riga fall under Swedish rule. Riga becomes Sweden’s largest city. Dukedom of Kurzeme experiences an economic boom.
1614: Jesuit residence is established in Wenden (Cēsis).
1617: Catholics get freedom in Duchy of Courland.
1659: Old Believers appear in the Duchy of Courland.
1660: the first prayer house of Old Believers is built close to Dinaburg (Daugavpils)
1699: A Dominican monastery is founded in Aglona.
1700s: Great Northern War (1700-1721). Vidzeme and Riga come under Russian rule. Latgale (Latgallia) and the Duchy of Courland are annexed to Russia.
1729: Christian David, a Moravian, comes to Riga. He settles in the village of Herrnhut, which became the center of a popular movement which became the Moravian Church.
1798: the diocese of Livonia-Courland-Piltene ceases to exist. Latgale was added to archdiocese of Mogilev; Courland and Semigallia to the diocese of Samogitia (now Kaunas).
1830: Russian Tsar’s authorities close down the Dominican monastery in Pasiena and the Bernardine monastery in Viļāni.
1836: the vicariate of Riga is established as part of the Russian Orthodox Church.
1840: the monastery in Aglona is transformed into a detention centre for priests.
1850s–1870s: National awakening - the New Latvians jaunlatvieši movement occurs.
1855: the first Latvian Baptist, Fricis Jekabsons, is baptised in Lithuania.
1863: the Russian Tsar’s authorities stop all direct communications between the bishops and Rome; church processions, religious organizations and catechesis are prohibited; the building of new churches is not allowed; people are not allowed to help priests; Latgalians are prohibited to print books.
1870: the first Baptist day school is established, primarily for Baptist children.
1885: the establishment of the Baltic Baptist Union.
1905-1907: Latvian Revolution.
1905: Russian Tsar issues the edict of “tolerance” that abolishes all restrictions for the Catholic Church.
1908: the first edition of the Latvian Catholic newspaper Dryva is published.
29 September 1918: Pope Benedict XV renews the diocese of Riga.
18 November 1918: Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia.
June 1920: Vatican recognises Latvia de iure.
11 August 1920: Soviet Russia (later the USSR) and the Republic of Latvia sign a peace treaty. Russia acknowledged Latvia’s independence and withdraws its claims to the territory of Latvia.
22 August 1920: the first bishop of Latvian origins, Antonijs Springovičs, is consecrated.
1921-1923: following the prophecies of some preachers claminig that Christ’s second coming would be in Brazil, around 2,300 Latvian Baptists emigrate there.
1921: the Orthodox Church in Latvia obtains autonomy from the Moscow Patriarchate.
1922: Concordat signed between the Latvian government and the Vatican.
1934: the archbishop of the Latvian Orthodox Church, and the leader of the Party of the Orthodox Jānis Pommers, are brutally assassinated.
1936: the Latvian Orthodox Church comes under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.
23 August 1939: Non-aggression pact between the USSR and Germany (so-called ’Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact’): both totalitarian states divided Eastern Europe between them. According to the secret protocol, Latvia, together with Estonia and later also Lithuania, are absorbed within the Soviet sphere of influence.
5 October 1939: Threatening armed intervention, the USSR forced Latvia’s government to sign an agreement allowing Soviet army bases on Latvian territory (officially called a ‘mutual assistance agreement’).
16 June 1940: Violating all agreements and treaties between the two states, as well as the principles of international law, the USSR delivered an ultimatum to Latvia. It demanded the formation of a new pro-Soviet government and announced the immediate deployment of Soviet armed forces to the country.
17 June 1940: Latvia occupied by USSR troops.
4 January 1941: the Latvian Orthodox Church comes under the jurisdiction of Moscow. The Latvian clergy are forced to declare that the jurisdiction of Constantinople was illegal.
14 June 1941: 15,424 Latvians are deported to Siberia: the political and business elite of Latvia was considered hostile towards the occupation regime. Among the deported were almost 100 infants under the age of 1, and more than 3000 children under the age of 16.
1941–1945: Latvia occupied by the German Third Reich.
March 1943: Germany began compulsory recruitment of Latvian civilians into its occupation army.
1941–1944: The German occupation regime exterminated over 90,000 Latvian civilians, mainly Jews.
September 1944: a large number of clergy leave Latvia for exile.
1944: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in exile is established.
1944: the Latvian Orthodox Church in exile is established.
8 May 1945: End of the Second World War. The German occupation army capitulates and the USSR occupation power is re-established in the territory of Latvia.
1945: all monasteries and religious organizations are closed. Parish committees are elected, they take over the economic life of churches and make open-ended and gratuitous church lease agreements with executive committees.
1945–1956: A continuous Latvian national partisan armed struggle against the second Soviet occupation spreads throughout the country.
25 March 1949: More than 43,000 innocent people are labelled as enemies of the re-established Soviet regime and are deported to Siberia.
1960s: the Dome Cathedral is transformed into a concert hall, the Orthodox cathedral into a planetarium and coffee shop.
1964: Julijans Vaivods, a Latvian priest, takes part in the Second Vatican Council in Rome.
18 November 1964: In Rome, Julijans Vaivods is consecrated as bishop of Riga.
1975: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia decides to ordain women as pastors.
1983: bishop and administrator of Riga Metropolis Julijans Vaivods is appointed cardinal by pope John Paul II.
14 June and 23 August 1987: first large anti-Soviet and anti-occupation demonstrations in Riga.
1988: Catholics are allowed to issue the magazine Katoļu Dzeive.
1988: Baptist missions are renewed.
4 May 1990: adoption of a declaration restoring independence with a transition in the period 1990: the Russian Orthodox Church grants autonomy to the Riga diocese, which is incorporated as the Latvian Orthodox Church.
21 August 1991: complete reinstatement of Latvia’s independence.
29 August 1991: Vatican recognises the restoration of the independence of Latvia.
From 1993: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia stops the ordination of women.
1993: Pope John Paul II visits Latvia.
31 August 1994: The last troops of the Russian (former USSR) occupation army leave Latvia.
2000: an agreement between the Republic of Latvia and Vatican is signed.
April – May 2004: Latvia becomes a member of NATO and the European Union.
2006: the theological School of the Latvian Pomorian Old Believers Church opens.
28-29 November 2006: Latvia hosts NATO summit.
2014: Radio Marija Latvija is established.
2016: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia officially establishes that only men can be ordained as pastors.