Miscellaneous

 
Miscellaneous
Plague stones
There are peculiar witnesses of the disaster brought by the Great Plague (1710-1711) in Latvia, and these are stones. The most famous of them are Mazirbe plague stones which are the monuments of the Latvian medicine and carry engraved inscriptions in Latin regarding the weather, events at the Livonian land and historical personalities.

The signs engraved in Mazirbe plague stones have attracted the interest of historians as early as at the end of the 19th century, at this time the research was started by the linguists of St. Peterburg Academy of Science Sjergens and Kalmeijers. According to the research, there have been four plague stones, however, one of the stones has got lost over time, there are no indications regarding the location of the stone in references, it has been as if used for constructing the foundation of the priest's manor.

Mazirbe plague stones are located at the Eastern side of Mazirbe church near the house «Pakalni». A maple-tree grows near the stone which is 3.5 m long and 2.8 m wide. A Livonian cemetery was organised near the stone in the 18th century, at that time the surface of the stone was levelled and the inscription was engraved there. This plague stone is the only one which is still located at its true ancient place, the others have been moved. The inscription has been damaged over the time, there are basis to consider that it displayed the number of Livonians who died during the plague epidemics of 1710 and during the attack by the Swedish king XII (1682 - 1718) (his navy blocked the ports of Kurzeme coast causing hunger).

The second plague stone  was initially located not far from the centre of the priest's manor and later was laid in the foundation of the household building, then it was located in the yard at the house «Pakalni» for long years and in the spring of 1999 it was placed near the first stone. On this stone there is the list of armies who, during the North war (1700 - 1721) surprised Kurzeme and a story that in 1710, when the new Kurzeme Prince Wilhelm (1692-1711), the son of the preceding Prince Kazimirs and Kurzeme was facing hunger, Fridrihs Wilhelm returned in May. During the period of Kazimirs, at the coast of Dundaga, from Jaunciems to Zozma (Cocma) there were 1600 inhabitants, now 10 have survived.

What is the justification behind these engraved data and what is the reflection of these events in other history sources? In the archive of the baron Osten-Sacken who was the owner of Dundaga manor family there is a considerable number of evidence about this time period. The review prepared by the priest of Irbe and Ģipka parishes Matiass Petrsons about the demographic situation of the population of Dundaga seaside during the period from 1711  to 1717 presents the following: on average 5-10 persons died  and 25-30 children were born every year. Documents of economic character indicate that almost all the fishermen's farmsteads were paying monetary and in-kind duties.

The research by the doctor A. Rafaēls in 1908 attest that the plague reached Kurzeme as early as in 1709 and Ventspils in June 1710. This research does not provide any names of Livonian villages, nor the name of Dundaga or Kolka. These facts make one to think that at the sea coast the number of victims was relatively low because the Livonian villages in Kurzeme were located far from the central traffic routes and isolated from the rest of Kurzeme by a lane of a bog and forest.

In between the coast line inhabited by the Livonians and Dundaga Castle there were Šlītere Zilie kalni [Blue Hills] and a dense forest. It separated the Livonian settlements from the rest of the territory subject to the Lord of the Manor Maydell. The baron needed a trustworthy person at the coast line fishermen's villages and therefore a priest's manor was set up in Mazirbe in the beginning of the 18th century.

The third plague stone  bears a well preserved inscription of 14.5 lines - an epitaph to the founder of Mazirbe and Sīkrags pastoral G.H.Jansens: «TOMS. Georgs Hristofs Jansens, priest. Has been active in the seaside churches of Dundaga for six years...» and priest who were serving at Dundaga coastline from 1676 to the Great Plague.

The priest Petrsons who started working in Mazirbe in 1711 and survived the plague by himself was closest to the events of that period. However, it is also possible that the names of colleagues and the terrible events were recorded according to the direction by the priest Matiass Stobe who was serving in Mazirbe from 1741 to 1764.
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Address:
Mazirbe, Dundagas pag., Dundagas nov., LV-3275
 
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