Semgallians (people)

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The Semgallians ( Latvian : Zemgaļi ) were one of the Baltic tribes that lived in Semgallian (Latvian: Zemgale ) in the southern center of Latvia . They were known for their long resistance against the German crusaders of the Brothers of the Sword . They later united with the peoples around them and became part of the Latvian nation.


The Semgallians were one of the first tribes to establish a monarchy , which, however, was weak due to the strong claims to power of the Semgallic nobles. The most notable of the Semgallic leaders was Viestards (Viesturs), who in the 13th century managed to unite the hostile Semgallic tribal associations into one state and to form an alliance with the German Crusaders to defend himself against external enemies. After the Crusaders broke the treaty and invaded his territories, he allied against them with the Lithuanians , which brought him his greatest success, the annihilation of the Sword Brothers at the Battle of Schaulen in 1236.

Another famous Semgallic leader was Nameitis (Namejs, Nameisis), an almost mythical figure in Latvian literature. He is credited with attempting the greatest Baltic campaign. The aim of this campaign was supposedly to unite the Baltic tribes for a retaliatory attack on German territories. Because the only documentary evidence about him is the report of his death during the siege of Kristburg in East Prussia , historians argue whether he even existed. What is certain, however, is that after 1270 a new powerful leader emerged and inflicted several severe defeats on the Teutonic Order in Zemgale and East Prussia.

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