Bauskas pils is located in a picturesque place – on a spit not far from the confluence of the rivers Musa and Memele. Here people from ancient times (according to archaeologists, 3500 years ago) settled along the shores of the three largest Zemgale rivers – Lielupe, Memele and Musa. This is evidenced by ancient settlements and burial grounds, discovered during archaeological excavations. Bauska Castle, once referred to in historical sources as Bauschkenborch, Bauskenburg, Powszke, Bawsenborg, Boske, Bowsenborch, Bauske, was built on the site of a fortified settlement of the Balthas of the late Bronze Age, during the reign of the Master of the Hevdenreich Master of Finland von Overberg (1439-1450). The Livonian Order built a fortress to strengthen its power over the Zemgale, defend the border with Lithuania and control the trade route from Lithuania to Riga, which crossed here Memele. Bauska Castle was not only a fortification, but also a center of the district, from where the Vogt (administrator and judge in the possession of the Order) exercised legal, financial and military control functions on his site.
The reasons for the erection of the castle in this place were very serious. In 1410, the Teutonic Order was defeated in the Battle of Grunwald, where the Livonian Order, which had settled in Latvia and Estonia, suffered losses, intervening in the dispute over the princely throne in Lithuania. The decisive battle took place on September 1, 1435 at the river Sventoji, in which the Order suffered the largest defeat in its history (more crushing even than the Battle of Ice in 1242 and the Battle of Durban in 1260). In it, the Master of the Livonian Order Kersdorf also died. Since then, Lithuanian troops began to disturb Livonia, its metropolitan Riga was only two cavalry crossings from the Lithuanian border. To protect the Lithuanian direction, it was decided to erect a new fortress at the confluence of the rivers Musa and Memele, where the main road to Riga passed.
The first known mention of the construction of the Bauska Fortress was found in a letter from the Order of Heydenreich Finch von Overberg of the Revel (Tallinn) Town Hall, dated 1443. What does it have to do with Tallinn? Because there was nobody to build the castle – the edge around Bauska was devastated by wars, a few surviving inhabitants of it “broke through” the smallpox epidemic. The entire southern edge of the central part of Latvia was depopulated, and for the construction of the castle it was necessary to have at least five hundred builders. It was decided to go to Russia and drive the inhabitants from there. Veliky Novgorod was at that time hostile to Moscow and did not have the strength to fully defend its western border. Knights invaded the poor but densely populated part of the Novgorod possessions near the town of Yarm. The prisoners were not Russians, but Finn-Finns from the Wot tribe, partly Finns, partly Slavs. As a result, the fortress was not only erected, but the Latvian population also rustled again in the deserted land.
It is believed that the construction of the Order Castella was completed in 1451. Near the castle, on a peninsula formed by deposits of the Memel and Mus rivers, a small settlement of craftsmen and fishermen, called the Schiigburgs, arose, already in 1584, liquidated by order of the Kurzeme Duke of Gothard Ketler. Vairogmests in documents for the first time is mentioned in 1518 under the name of Bauska. There were also a church, a school building and a tavern. According to linguists, the name of the town was either from the word bauska – bad meadow, or from the word bauze – the head, the top of the hill.
The residence of the Vogt was built taking into account the relief of the terrain according to a peculiar planning system: the towers are not located at the corners, as usual, but in the middle of the fortress walls, the thickness of the sections of the walls vulnerable to siege is twice the thickness of the others; the gate is sandwiched between two tall semicircular towers of different diameters. Until 1495 the castle was subordinated to the Jelgava (Mitava) komtur.
During the Livonian War, a defense treaty was signed in Vilnius on August 31, 1559, signed by the Master of the Livonian Order Gotthard Ketler and the Polish Chancellor Nikolai Radziwill. Under this treaty, the Polish state promised to provide the Livonian Order with an army to fight against Russia. As a payment for help, the Livonian Order was to temporarily transfer some border regions and fortresses to Poland. Bauska Fortress was transferred to the governor of the Polish king in December 1559.
The most famous in history is the last bogus of Bauska Heinrich (Indrikis) von Galen, who, together with Landmarshal Schall von Bell of Sigulda, his brother Kuldiga and Christoph von Sieberg of Kandava, in 1560 collected the remains of his troops and gave battle to Russian troops near Ermes (Ergeme). The attempt to confront a stronger enemy ended with the defeat of knights, more than 500 people lost they killed.
In 1561 the last Riga Archbishop Wilhelm of Brandenburg in exchange for a castle in Koknese received from the Poles Bauska Fortress. March 3, 1562, the Livonian Order was liquidated, and his last master, Gotthard Ketler, became the Duke of Kurzeme and Zemgale, swearing allegiance to the Polish King Sigismund II Augustus. At the end of the year the castle was handed over to the duke’s personal property. In 1568 the Duke convened the 2nd Kurland Landtag in the Bauska Fortress, where, among other things, it was decided that the Landtags in winter would be held in Mitau (Jelgava) and in summer in Bauska. Here were the landmarks of the Courland Duchy of 1568, 1590, 1601 and later.
According to the chronicle of Baltasar Russov, Duke Magnus negotiated in Bauska during the Livonian War: “In order to put an end to the matter with the king and get rid of the retribution with John the Terrible, Duke Magnus secretly left with his wife in Oberpalen [now Põltsamaa in Estonia] in Pilten. in 1578 he came to Bauska, where he entered into negotiations with Prince Nikolai Radzivil, the commander of Vilna and the hetman of Lithuania.The negotiations ended in 1579 by the fact that Duke Magnus gave all his possessions with the Pillenian episcopacy under the auspices of Lithuania, however, right to them his brother, the king of Denmark. ” And three years later the peace treaty in Zapolje on January 15, 1582, ended the Livonian War.
At the same time, they began to build a new Bausky castle instead of the eastern forburg of the old fortress. After the death of Gothard in 1587, the courtyard and office of the duchy moved to Bauska Castle and stayed here until 1596, which is considered the year of completion of the castle, as evidenced by the stone relief found in ruins with the inscription “Soli Deo Gloria Anno 1596”.
This year (1596), as envisaged in the will of the Duke of Gothard, the act of dividing the duchy between the sons of the old duke, Friedrich and Wilhelm, was signed in the castle of Kalnamuiza in the town of Tervete. Duke Friedrich, together with the court moved to Jelgava. In 1605, the Diet landed in Bauska for the last time.
It is believed that the status of the city of Bauska was received in 1609, when the Duke of Frederick awarded the city a coat of arms with the image of a lion.
In 1621, at the beginning of the Polish-Swedish war, the Swedish army occupied Riga and Jelgava. The court of the Duke Friedrich Ketler was temporarily located in the Bauska Castle, where he stayed until 1624. In 1625 the Swedish army, coming from Lithuania, surrounded Bausky Castle and managed to take it, thanks to the betrayal of one local burgher. Bauska Castle was the first to be captured by the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf in battle under his personal command. The Swedes remained in the castle until 1628, when the Polish commander Alexander Goncevsky managed to get them to leave the castle without a fight.
August 16, 1642 died the Duke of Frederick, and the throne was taken by the son of his brother Wilhelm – Jekab. In 1658, the Swedish army again invaded Zemgale and occupied Jelgava, took the duke’s family and forced to transfer to the Swedes Bausky and Dobele’s castles. To restore Bausky Castle, the Polish commander Alexander Polubinsky several times besieged him, but could not take it. The Swedish army left the ruined castle after the signing of the Olive Peace in 1660. During the war the castle was badly damaged.
In 1700, the Russian Tsar Peter I and King of Poland Augustus the Strong arrived in Bauska. There is a legend that both monarchs had breakfast together on a large stone, lying still and now on the corner of Kalnu and Rupniecibas streets. At the beginning of the Northern War, the Swedish army in 1701 won the Bauska castle. In Frauenburg (now Saldus) August 23, 1701 the Swedish king signed an order to build fortifications in Bauska. Major General Carl Magnus Stewart was commissioned to make a plan for new earth fortifications. Enormous work on restructuring began. At the end of August 1705, parts of the Russian army captured the whole of Kurland. On September 14, the Swedish garrison of the castle surrendered without a fight to the Russians. In March 1706, Russian Tsar Peter I ordered his generals to level the Yelgava and Bauska fortifications to the ground. Explosions mainly affected the bastions and earthen ramparts, as well as the southern part of the new castle.
After the Northern War, Duke Ferdinand Ketler in Kurzeme no longer returned. In the years 1710-11. A great plague raged in Bauska, where one third of the inhabitants died out. Survivors of the city secretly began to disassemble the castle ruins for their economic needs. At the end of the 18th century, during the Tadeusz Kosciuszko uprising, the Russian army sent to Bauska could no longer use the castle as a dwelling, because it was destroyed. In 1795, when the Courland Duchy was annexed to Russia, the Bauska District became the Bauska Uyezd in the province of Courland.
In 1812, German troops invaded Kurland from Napoleon’s conquered Prussia. They occupied Jelgava and Bauska (July 6), where they stayed from July to December. The invaders provided for the restoration of the Courland Duchy and its annexation to Prussia. In the war, France was defeated. Already in the autumn of 1812 Prussian troops were forced to leave Kurland.
With the castle in Bauska, as well as with others, numerous legends are associated. It is said, for example, that the Royal Library of Stockholm has preserved plans for the castle’s dungeons, indicating where exactly the treasures of the local nobility are buried and even the golden carriage of the duke is hidden. These rumors for a long time worried the minds of amateur archaeologists. At the end of XIX century. owner of the estate in Mezotne Paul von Lieven began excavating a secret passage that supposedly was between the estate and the castle, but the results of the search is unknown and, most likely, it is also a legend. During the revolution of 1905, on the ruins of the Bauska Castle on October 25, the first open rally took place, attended by about 2000 workers.
In 1973, work began on the restoration of part of the castle – the residence of the Courland Dukes. Currently, visitors can explore the ramparts, the ruins of the Castle Castle and climb to the observation deck in the central tower, which offers a picturesque view of the surrounding area. The museum offers a tour of the ducal residence. Here an exhibition “New Bausky Castle – History, Research, Restoration” was opened.
The old castle – the fortress of the Livonian Order in Bauska was erected at the confluence of the rivers Musa and Memele. The length of the castle was about 124 m, width 43 m, and the total area 5230 m. Five towers were connected by a thick fortification wall, to which from the inside are built buildings of different sizes for the needs of the garrison. The entrance was in the eastern part of the fortress between two four-story towers. Over the gate, several floors have been added, connecting the towers. In front of the gate was a defensive moat with a lifting bridge.
To the large, semicircular tower, sometimes referred to as the “Guardian of the Mountain” adjoins from the rear a quadrangular extension of the same height. Her premises were used together with a large tower. The first floor of the tower was covered with a cylindrical vault, and in the walls there were three loopholes. On the second floor there is a magnificent four-pointed star vault in the residence of Vogt. The thickness of the walls of the tower here reaches 4 m. In the north-west corner there is a fireplace and a chimney, and in the south – the exit to the dantzker. The third and fourth floors of the large tower were meant for the defense of the castle. The cellar under the Great Tower was used as a prison. Already in the XVI century. here was concluded a political opponent of the Master of the Order Burchard Valdis, author of stinging fables and epigrams.
On the north side of the gate is the second tower, smaller. At the cellar level, the towers were connected by an underground passage. The second floor of the small tower was adapted for housing. The first and upper floors, as well as superstructures above the gate used to protect the gate. At the fortress wall of 1.7 meters thick, which connects a small tower with a north-western quadrangular tower, there was a three-story building. The second floor of this building was blocked by cross vaults.
The north-west tower is pushed to the north, this provided the northern tower with flanking fire. In the middle of the western wall a tower with rounded corners is built. There was a cellar under the vaulted ceiling and on the first floor on three sides of the loophole. It’s difficult to judge about the top part – it collapsed, and in the old images of this tower it is not visible. Between the north-western and western towers in the fortress wall were a small gate.
In the middle of the southern fortress wall of 3.6 meters thick, a quadrangular tower is built, adapted for the use of guns. This is confirmed by chimneys in the central loophole. The shape and location of the tower indicate an early stage of the use of firearms. The further development of military art led to the placement of towers at the corners of the fortress in order to increase the area of shelling. It is difficult to judge the height of the tower. In ancient drawings, it is half-ruined, but it is clearly visible that it was lower than the towers at the gate. The flounces on the second floor of the southern wall suggest that there was an annex – a building or a gallery. The yard of the fortress was laid with slabs of untreated dolomite. Of these, watercourses are also made. In the middle of the yard was a well.
Originally, the fortress gates were protected by a dry moat and a lifting bridge above it. The log fence rose above the moat. Later, the ditch fell asleep, and the forurb was built in the eastern part of the site. Three fortress walls and two corner towers formed a closed courtyard with a gate in the south wall near the southeast tower. Inside the new fortress, separate stone buildings were added to the walls. Outside, along the eastern wall, a moat was dug, which was filled in at the beginning of the 17th century.
The new castle is the residence of the Dukes of Courland. In the 70’s. XVI century. Forburg buildings of the old fortress were partially demolished in order to build the residence of the Courland Dukes in the liberated territory. During the construction, the old fortress wall, towers were preserved. Three horseshoe-placed two-story buildings and two towers formed a closed courtyard.
The layout of the premises is simple – a number of rooms connected to the suite. On the second floor of the northern building there were premises for representation and apartments for the duke. On both floors of the eastern building – living quarters. On the lower floors of the northern and southern buildings were warehouses and utility rooms. In the southern building at the gate there is a sentry room, on the other side of the gate, in the southeast tower there is a carriage. In the rooms of the second floor you could get on a narrow staircase in the wall or directly from the yard on the outer staircase.
Judging by the materials of archives and archaeological excavations, the old fortress was also used at that time. The flounces of the second floor of the northern wing are redone under the windows. On the first floor there were a brewery and a bakery, and in the cellars of cellars there were ammunition depots and a prison. At the end of the XVI century. during the construction of the new castle, new embankments around it were made, which continued to improve until the beginning of the XVIII century. The main attention was paid to strengthening the most accessible eastern side. Until 1625 a rondelle was built around the southeastern tower, a protective ditch, two bastions and a log fence. In the second half of the 17th century, the western side was probably strengthened and the reconstruction of the eastern bastions began.
The shaft system was refined once more at the beginning of the 18th century. Under the guidance of Swedish engineers, the ramparts and bastions on the east side were expanded towards the city. Most of all, the fortifications of the old fortress were rebuilt. New earthen ramparts poured closer to the banks of both rivers, pushing them away from the fortress wall. On the edges of the earth fortifications, in front of the lift bridges, ravelins were built.
The outer staircase and the rich interior decoration were partially lost in the 17th century. and finally destroyed in 1706, during the Northern War, when the castle and palazzo were blown up. At the end of XIX century. and in the 1930s. a fragmentary conservation and restoration of the castle was carried out. In 1821, the cellars of the castle were filled up on the orders of the Russian Tsar Alexander I, and the courses were sealed. Since 1959, extensive archaeological excavations, reconstruction, conservation have been conducted. As a result of the excavations, many finds and exhaustive information on the principles of building heating systems and furnaces of that time were obtained. In 1976, the archaeological investigation of the castle began (archaeologist A. Tsaune, then Grube). It was ascertained that before the castle on this place already in the I century. BC. e. There was a fortified settlement (ancient objects were found out of bone, flint and stone, fragments of clay vessels). In 1980, the buildings built during the reign of the Duke of Kurzeme were reconstructed.
In winter, the castle for tourists is closed, but here and now construction work is in full swing. In December 2007, under the New Year, building communications through earthen ramparts, near the most protective ditch builders discovered a cannon of the XVII century. It is supposed that it was cast on one of the cast iron foundries of the Kurzeme duchy and was probably one of those guns destroyed on the orders of Peter the Great.
At the end of the third week of July, the castle hosts a traditional festival of ancient music. Since 1990, the castle has a museum, which is open from 1 May to 1 November every day from 9:00 to 19:00. Beginning in the autumn of 2008, the halls of the New Palace will be able to get acquainted with the life and customs of the Mannerist era, having been visited by the Kurzeme Duke Gotthard Kettler and his wife Anna. One of the museum halls is entirely given to dolls. A doll house in several floors, an entire collection collected by the artist Tamara Chudnovskaya, and souvenir dolls, which for many years brought to the museum from all over the world its employees. Contact information of the museum in the castle.
The Legend of the Castle of Bauska
Exactly at midnight, the master who once built his walls rose to the tower of the Bauska castle, and continues to work. If you believe the local legend, many centuries ago a mason was buried near the castle, and his spirit can not reconcile with the fact that the work of his hands was destroyed by wars … There appear near the castle and two other ghosts – guards who slept through the castle gate. At night, they return to the place where the bridge leading to the castle was, and try to cut it, so that the enemy does not pass. For several centuries everyone has been sawing and sawing …