KETTLER, GOTTHARD: Last master of the Teutonic order in Livonia and first duke of Courland; b. in Westphalia 1511; d. at Mitau (25 m. s.w. of Riga), Courland, May 17, 1587. He was of prominent family and was educated for the ministry. When about twenty years old, he went to Livonia and entered the service of the Teutonic order, in which he won high respect by his prudence and energy. The Reformation had already found its way into Livonia, and Kettler did not oppose its progress; he was strengthened and confirmed in Evangelical convictions by repeated sojourns at Wittenberg (1553 and 1556), where he became personally acquainted with Melanchthon. To strengthen his order against attacks from Russia, he worked eagerly for an alliance with Poland, and became the foremost representative of the Polish party in Livonia. He soon overcame the opposition of Wilhehm Fürstenberg, the master of the order in Livonia, and in 1559 succeeded to his position. Kettler's main efforts were now directed toward a secularization of the order in Livonia after the model of Prussia (see TEUTONIC ORDER). The king of Poland would assist Livonia against the Russians only on condition of its entire submission to Polish rule, and under the force of circumstances Kettler had to comply with this demand; he became merely feudal duke of Courland (1562). As such he devoted his whole time and energy to the reform and regulation of ecclesiastical conditions in his state and achieved remarkable results. Church affairs in Courland were in a very entangled and neglected condition. The people had adopted Christianity only in an external form, and heathen traditions and superstitions still prevailed among them. The introduction of the Reformation had effected no essential change. A lack of preachers and churches obstructed all efforts toward a thorough-going reform. In 1567 the state assembly decreed at Kettler's instance the erection of seventy new churches. Church visitations were instituted, and Superintendent Alexander Eichhom was commissioned to draw up a church order which was approved by the duke in 1570 and printed in 1572. The first part, the " Church Reformation," relates chiefly to the organization of the Church, to the foundation and maintenance of churches, schools and charitable institutions, and regulates the appointment of preachers and their visitation by the superintendent. In the second part, the "Church Visitation," the confessional writings of the Lutheran Church are treated as the norm of the Church, beside the Bible and the ecumenical symbols. Then follow the precepts for pastors in regard to their practical dealings with the congregation. The attendance at church was strictly controlled by the elders; fines and other punishments were to be imposed, and culprits to be delivered to the secular authorities if they did not change their lives. Church government was exercised in the beginning by the superintendents and visitators; a consistory was instituted later.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Henning, Bericht wie es in Religions-sachen im . . . Kurlandgehalten worden, Rostock, 1589; T. Kallmeyer, Die Begründung der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche in Kurland, Riga, 1851; T. Schiemann, in Historische Darstellungen und archivalische Studien, p. 91, Hamburg-Mitau, 1886.
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