The Research project is focused on the at present unpublished and unexplored Latin correspondence (ca 800 letters) of David Hilchen (1561–1610), secretary and syndicus of Riga (1585–1600), and acknowledged as central humanist of Livonia and key figure in terms of political, legal, educational, linguistic and literary influence. Our goal is to edit, comment and publish his letters in two volumes, and digitalize an English inventory of it on the website Early Modern Letters Online. We endeavour to contextualize northeastern Europe’s solely remaining collection of letters in different contexts via series of research articles.

International conference “Letters, Law and Court in Polish Livonia – the Case of David Hilchen”
16th-17th April 2019 Tallinn

David Hilcheni allkiri 1609
David Hilchen´s signature, 1609

The main topics of analysis are

  • the development of written legal argumentation and its reception within and beyond Early Modern court procedures
  • the reception of antiquity (aspects of literary history, multilingualism, Roman law)
  • humanist educational models (jesuits versus lutheran)
  • social networking patterns among leading European humanists (Lipsius, Caselius, etc)

The results provide a thoroughly new picture about the Livonian humanism.


Principal investigator

  • Kristi Viiding


Senior research staff

  • Thomas Hoffmann, PhD
  • Hesi Siimets-Gross, PhD


Other research staff

  • Mari Linder, MA (01.01.2016−30.06.2017)