Magnus becomes the vassal of Ivan the Terrible

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Already in 1569 Ivan the Terrible had decided to restart the military activities in Livonia; since 1560 he had not organized the new assaults there. Now he planned to conquer Northern Estonia from Sweden. For that purpose he needed the assistant in Livonia and Duke Magnus was well suitable for that purpose: he came from Denmark which had no conflicts with Russia and could also engage a great number of German landlords.

Therefore the tsar started the negotiations with Magnus through his representatives already at the end of 1569. Ambitious duke decided to risk and travelled to Russia in March 1570. By that time the governors of Poland as well as Kuramaa had warned him that he would not deal with the Russians, but his brother, the Danish king, was quiet, and Magnus understood that he had nothing against Russia-plan.

Ivan the Terrible hoped the same who dreamed even of concluding the union with Denmark. In May 1570 Duke Magnus reached Moscow where he first engaged with Ivan's relative Jevfimija, when she died then Jevfimija's sister Maria. Also, the contract was concluded between Magnus and Ivan by which the duke became the tsar's vassal and "King of Livonia".

First, his kingdom consisted of only the close areas of Põltsamaa, but ambitious Magnus hoped that when Northern Estonia will be conquered these areas will be merged under his power. The latter still failed, as the siege of Tallinn (1570-1571) having lasted for about half a year under the formal leadership of Magnus ended with no outcome.

It could be stated that the cooperation of Magnus and Ivan the Terrible brought also direct benefit for Saaremaa and Denmark, as it kept the military activities of the Russians away up to the second half of 1570s and the merchants and other wealthy men, having escaped from wars of the Estonian mainland thereto, promoted its economy. The union with Russia gave Magnus also the possibility to become at least officially the most influential body of Russia-Livonia, at the same time it violated the relations with other parties. Lastly, brother Frederik gave him up who took Saaremaa over from him in 1573. Kuramaa possessions of Magnus were not touched by anyone.

Allikas: Andres Adamson. Hertsog Magnus 1540-1583: tema elu ja aeg. Tallinn: Argo, 2005.



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