TAMH: Trading Ports
Riga in the 17th century
Although Riga had twenty years as a Free City in the sixteenth century, in 1581 it had to accept Polish sovereignty. During the Polish-Swedish war (1600-1629), Riga was conquered by the Swedes in 1621 with Scots to the fore. Admiral Klerck of the Swedish Navy was born Richard Clark in Montrose and it was he who commanded the Swedish ships which attacked Riga. Samuel Cobron, born in Scotland as Cockburn, had fought for the Swedish crown since around 1606 and had taken part in the storming of Novgorod in 1611. He returned to the fray in 1621 commanding Finnish troops and was in charge of the river forts in Riga. He died, of fever, during the campaign and was buried with much pomp, and below a huge monument, in Turku cathedral.
The period of Swedish rule is remembered in the Swedish Gate, Zviedru varti, built at this time and the last surviving city gate. The tower, known as the Powder Tower, was first mentioned in the mid-14th century but completely destroyed by the invading Swedes. They rebuilt it in 1650 with walls 2½m thick to store gunpowder, hence its current name. It now forms part of the Latvian War Museum.
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© Douglas MacKenzie, 1994
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