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Is there a city named after yourself?

Free Tours Riga Blog article about Krisjanis Valdemars

Our todays hero achieved so much in his life that his birth place was renamed after himself. I doubt it would happen if he cared only about his personal gain in this journey we call life. He put interests of society as such before his own.

His name was Krišjānis Valdemārs.

Born on 2nd December 1825 in Talsi district. City of Sasmaka will later be renamed Valdemārpils in his honour.

K. Valdemārs was the most influential Latvian in the 19th century and, possibly, in the whole Latvian history.

When he was a child first trip to Roja when he saw the Baltic sea left indelible impression and determined his future..

Shipping was not his goal, but only a means to achieve something higher, the elevation of the whole Latvian nation to a higher position, its placement next to other “cultural nations”.
Spiritual culture can develop, flourish and
bear fruit only where people don’t have to worry every day what they will eat tomorrow.
That is why Valdemārs wanted to destroy the power of feudalism in the Baltics. But he also sensed that by philosophizing
and poetry it is not achievable. This finding determines his further
path and indicate his subject of study at the university. Economics.
At the end of July 1854, Valdemārs arrived in Tartu (today territory of Estonia) and entered university. Students had a habit of pinning at the door of their apartament a business card on which stood the student’s name, the subject of study and corporation if they belonged to one ( in place of corporation Valdemārs simply put – Latvietis – Latvian) all students where shocked.

He urged his nation to be proud of their routes! He is no longer a peasant! He graduates in 1858 and moves to St Petersburg. First worked as a clerk in Ministry of Finance and Education and assistant editor in the newspaper St Petersburger Zeitung. He is directly involved in establishment of the first legal Young Latvian organization, the St Petersburg Latvian Reading Society (1863).

In 1867 K. Valdemārs moved to Moscow. He informed the Tsars government ragarding the feudal privileges that the German Nobility had arbitrarily imposed in the Baltics, he also suggested ways to improve Latvian peoples life. He was an economist and a promoter of seafaring. Development of seafaring in Russian Empire resulted in Law on Naval Schools, which is known also as Valdemars Law.

Thanks to him first naval school on the Baltic coast was opened – Ainaži Naval School – today a museum

He has found the way in the sea, along which Latvians would quickly become independent of the nobles and gain some knowledge and
wealth needed to grow self-confidence. In addition, seafarers
traveling through different parts of the world and looking at other
people and other societies will wider their vision and, when they return home, spread them in their surroundings and thus help to let the brighter air into the stale life of Latvians. He predicted that in agriculture they will not be able to act so quickly yet, because German nobility is too strong while the sea is still free and accessible to all.

He pursued practical realism. His ideas were based on a careful study of economic statistics. He was convinced that market economy will be beneficial to all Latvians. He urged them to get educated, accumulate wealth, increase profit, make use of credits and enter free competition.

In his honour

“Krišjānis Valdemārs” was a sea icebreaker belonging to the Maritime Department of the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Latvia (1926-1941). It was intended to free shipping lanes from ice in the freezing port of Riga, but was also used to escort the President and members of the government on foreign visits.

The ship was built by Glasgow Shipyard from 1924 to 1925. Ship  loaded with cargo, was bombed and sunk in the Gulf of Finland in 1941. In 2011 Estonian submarine archaeologists were able to identify the wreck of the ship at a depth of about 100 meters.

There is also a street in Riga and other places in Latvia in his name.

Krišjānis Valdemārs died on 7th of December in 1891 in Moscow. The Riga Latvian Society took his remains to Riga and buried them in Lielie Kapi.

Impossible to highlight all what this great man has done, but for a start we hope you got a good feeling of his importance in the history of Latvia.