Albert I of Riga, St.

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Bishop; b. near Bremen, Germany, c. 1165; d. Riga, Latvia, Jan. 17, 1229. He came from a Buxhövden ministerial family, was a canon at Bremen after 1189, and was consecrated bishop of Livonia by Archbishop Hartwig II on March 28, 1199. After negotiations with the pope, the king, and Denmark, he landed at the mouth of the Düna in 1200 with a large force of crusaders. He founded the city of Riga in 1201 and made it a bishopric. By 1207 the area between the Düna and the Aa (Lielupe) Rivers was under his control. Soon Albert became involved in the great controversies in the territory during that time. The Roman Curia wished to establish a protective state (Marienland) itself and distrusted Albert because of his connection with the Hohenstaufen, who had recognized him as an imperial prince in 1207 and 1225; therefore the Holy See strengthened the Order of the knights of the sword, which was supported by the empire (1210) as well. Although Riga remained a bishopric, it was no longer a suffragan of Bremen after 1214, and received metropolitan privileges over mission dioceses. It became an archbishopric only in 1253. Rome supported the Danes in Estonia. Meanwhile Albert, forced against his will by the Knights of the Sword to submit temporarily (121922) to Waldemar II, came into conflict with the Russians, who supported an aimless pagan revolt (121724). This ultimately led to a compromise among the Germans, so that the conquered territory was divided between Albert and the Knights. This division became a source of future weakness for the region, a part of which the city of Riga later claimed as its territory.

Feast: June 1 (prior to the Reformation).

Bibliography: heinricus lettus, Chronicon Livoniae, ed. a. bauer (2d ed. Würzburg 1959). Baltische Lande 1 (Riga 1939). f. koch, Livland und das Reich bis zum Jahre 1225 (Posen 1943). m. hellmann, Das Lettenland im Mittelalter (Münster 1954). g. allmang, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 1:144041.

[h. wolfram]