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Research seminar: “”Latvians” in Livonia, Ingria and Karelia: describing diversity in early modern time”.

On October 2, during the tenth session of the research seminar “Languages for Describing the Other in Early Modern Europe: Social Contexts and Repertoires of Interpretation” a PhD student of Saint Petersburg State University Dmitry Verkhovtcev presented his paper “”Latvians” in Livonia, Ingria and Karelia: describing diversity in early modern time”.

The speaker highlighted that Muscovite documents of the 16-17th centuries contain a large number of mentions of the onym “Latvians” related not only to the historical region populated by ethnic Latvians but also to quite distant regions. Verkhovtcev shed light on the history of the onym from Livonian war until the 17th century on the basis of documents of the Livonian war, cadastres, and correspondence concerning Swedish-Russian borderlands which emerged after the Treaty of Stolbovo. 
Verkhovtcev maintained that the encounter of Muscovite servicemen with a foreign-language unorthodox population of the lands of the Livonian order was the reason for increasing mentions of Latvians in Russian sources. In the correspondence, there were wide connotations of the term which included all unorthodox population of Latvians regardless of language, while in the texts of the international treaties there were narrow connotations related only to Baltic speaking Livonian peasants. Then because of the exile of the captives into inland territories of Muscovy and migration of the servicemen who had served in Livonia the term spread across Muscovy and was extrapolated on all foreigners, and this term survived in some regional subdialects in a later period. At the end of the 18th c., onym “Latvians” possessed narrow and wide connotations which were applied in various regional and all-Russian contexts and cannot not be considered ‘ethnonym’ in a literal sense. 
After the presentation the participants of the seminar discussed peculiarities of categorization of otherness in Muscovy in the 16-17th cc. and heuristic utility of the usage of the concept ‘ethnicity’ in relation to Muscovy of this period.