Swedish Livonia

Swedish Livonia (Swedish: Svenska Livland) was a dominion of the Swedish Empire from 1629 until 1721. The territory, which constituted the southern part of modern Estonia (including the island of Ösel ceded by Denmark after the Treaty of Brömsebro) and the northern part of modern Latvia (the Vidzeme region), represented the conquest of the major part of the Polish-Lithuanian Duchy of Livonia during the 1600–1629 Polish-Swedish War. Parts of Livonia and the city of Riga were under Swedish control as early as 1621 and the situation was formalized in Truce of Altmark 1629, but the whole territory was not ceded formally until the Treaty of Oliva in 1660. The minority part of the Wenden Voivodeship retained by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was renamed the Inflanty Voivodeship ("Livonian Principality"), which today corresponds to the Latgale region of Latvia.

Swedish Livonia

Svenska Livland
Baltic provinces of Swedish Empire in the 17th century.
StatusDominion of the Swedish Empire
Common languagesSwedish, Estonian, Latvian, Livonian, Low German (Latin as lingua franca)
King of Sweden 
Gustav II Adolf
Frederick I
Jacob De la Gardie
Erik Dahlberg
 Conquered by Sweden
 Truce of Altmark
25 September 1629
 Treaty of Oliva
23 April 1660
 Great Northern War
 Conquered by Russia
 Treaty of Nystad
30 August 1721
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Duchy of Livonia (1561–1621)
Danish Estonia#Danish province of Øsel
Governorate of Livonia

Riga was the second largest city in the Swedish Empire at the time. Together with other Baltic Sea dominions, Livonia served to secure the Swedish dominium maris baltici. In contrast to Swedish Estonia, which had submitted to Swedish rule voluntarily in 1561 and where traditional local laws remained largely untouched, the uniformity policy was applied in Swedish Livonia under Karl XI of Sweden: serfdom was abolished, peasants were offered education as well as military, administrative or ecclesiastical careers, and nobles had to transfer domains to the king in the Great Reduction.

The territory in turn was conquered by the Russian Empire during the Great Northern War and, following the Capitulation of Estonia and Livonia in 1710, formed the Governorate of Livonia. Formally, it was ceded to Russia in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, together with Swedish Estonia and Swedish Ingria.


The dominion was ruled by appointed Governors-General, but retained its own diet.


Coat of arms of Swedish Livonia (1660)

Swedish infantry and cavalry regiments

Infantry regiments
  • Garnisonsregementet i Riga (Garrison Regiment in Riga)
  • Guvenörsregementet i Riga (Governor's Regiment in Riga)
  • Livländsk infanteribataljon I (Livonian Infantry Battalion I)
  • Livländsk infanteribataljon II (Livonian Infantry Battalion II)
  • Livländsk infanteribataljon III (Livonian Infantry Battalion III)
  • Livländsk infanteribataljon IV (Livonian Infantry Battalion IV)
  • Livländskt infanteriregemente I (Livonian Infantry Regiment I)
  • Livländskt infanteriregemente II (Livonian Infantry Regiment II)
  • Livländskt infanteriregemente III (Livonian Infantry Regiment III)
  • Livländskt infanteriregemente IV (Livonian Infantry Regiment IV)
  • Livländskt infanteriregemente V (Livonian Infantry Regiment V)
Cavalry regiments
  • Laurentzens fridragoner (Wolter Wolfgang von Laurentzen's Free Dragoons)
  • Lewenhaupts frikompani (Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt's Free Company)
  • Adelsfanan i Livland och Ösel (Livonian and Öselian Banner of Nobles)
  • Livländsk dragonskvadron I (Livonian Dragoon Squadron I)
  • Livländsk dragonskvadron II (Livonian Dragoon Squadron II)
  • Livländskt dragonregemente I (Livonian Dragoon Regiment I)
  • Livländskt dragonregemente II (Livonian Dragoon Regiment II)
  • Öselska lantdragonskvadronen (Öselian County Dragoon Squadron)

Temporary cavalry regiments:

  • Livländska ståndsdragonbataljonen (Livonian Rank Dragoon Battalion)
  • Öselska ståndsdragonbataljonen (Ösel Rank Dragoon Battalion)

Further reading

  • Heikki Pihlajamäki. Conquest and the Law in Swedish Livonia, ca. 1630-1710: A Case of Legal Pluralism in Early Modern Europe. Northern World Series. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2017.

See also


    • Andrejs Plakans, A Concise History of the Baltic States, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 105ff.