2 December 1825|
Ārlava parish, Russian Empire (now Valdgale parish, Courland, Latvia)
|Died||7 December 1891
Moscow, Russian Empire (now Russia)
|Occupation||Editor, politician, folklorist|
Krišjānis Valdemārs (also spelt Christian Waldemar or Woldemar) (December 2, 1825 at "Vecjunkuri" in the Ārlava parish (now Valdgale parish, Courland, Latvia) – December 7, 1891 in Moscow, Russia) was a writer, editor, educator, politician, lexicographer, folklorist and economist, the spiritual leader of the first Latvian National Awakening and the most prominent member of the Young Latvia movement.
Krišjānis Valdemārs was born in December 2, 1825 at "Vecjunkuri" homestead, Ārlava parish (now Valdgale parish, Courland, Latvia). He was the son of a Lutheran curate Mārtiņš Valdemārs. He graduated local parish school and worked as teacher in Sasmaka (now Valdemārpils). Later he worked as parish secretary in Rundāle and Ēdole parish. In 1854 he graduated gymnasium in Liepāja and started his studies in University of Tartu (then Dorpat). His main subject and interest were economics. While studying he became known with first public declaration of nationality. He affixed a carte de visite to his door that read "C. Woldemar stud. cam. Latweetis." At the time, it was almost unheard of for an educated person to call himself a Latvian; education meant Germanisation, and Valdemārs' act has been compared to Martin Luther's posting of the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in its importance for Latvian nationalism. Valdemārs is seen as the spiritual father of the Awakening. With Juris Alunāns, he led Latvian student gatherings while at Tartu and advocated the study of folklore.
After graduation in 1858 he moved to St.Petersburg and worked as a clerk in Ministry of Finance. Also he was a correspondent in local German language newspaper „St. Petersburgische Zeitung”. In 1862 he became editor and main publisher of a Latvian newspaper Pēterburgas Avīzes which was hitherto most radical Latvian newspaper. It strongly opposed against Baltic German rule and remains of feudalism in Baltic provinces. Newspaper became main platform to Young Latvian ideas. It was closed by Russian authorities in 1865.
In 1864 Valdemārs helped to establish first Latvian naval school in Ainaži. Many other Latvian naval schools was established during next years in the coastal towns of Latvia. It had big influence on local economy and culture because hundreds of Latvian peasant son's had chance to get education for free and becoming captains or steersman's. It led to Age of a sailers in Latvia as active shipbuilding started in coastal towns and villages and those Latvian built, Latvian owned and crewed ships became the first national merchant fleet which even was involved in trans atlantic voyages.
In later life Valdemārs was mostly involved in polemics with Baltic Germans, popularized seafaring and edited first Latvian naval dictionary . Valdemārs died in 7th. December 1891 in Moscow. He is buried at the Riga Great Cemetery. One of the main streets in Riga is named in his name.