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Coat of arms of the Princes Lieven.

The Lievens (Latvian Līveni; German Liewen) are one of the oldest aristocratic families of Baltic Germans. Caupo's grandson, Nicholas, was the first to spell his name Lieven.


They claim descent from Caupo of Turaida (Latvian, Kaupo), the Livonian quasi rex who converted to Christianity in 1186, when Bishop Meinhard attempted to Christianize the region. Henrici Chronicon Lyvoniae tells that Caupo in winter 1203-1204 went to Rome with Theodoric, a Cistercian Monk (who was to become the founder of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, then the first bishop of Estonia).[1] They were received by the Pope Innocent III who backed up their plans to Christianize Livonia.

According to feudal records, the Lieven ancestor Gerardus Līvo (1269) and his son Johannes (1296) entered service as vassals to the archbishop of Rīga. One of Caupo's daughters married an ancestor of the barons, then counts of Ungern-Sternberg.

Family members[edit]

Charlotte, First Princess Lieven
Dorothea von Lieven

Reinhold Liewen, the Swedish governor of Oesel (Saaremaa), in 1653 was made a baron together with his brother, whose son Lieutenant-General Baron Hans Heinrich von Liewen accompanied Charles XII in all his campaigns and expeditions. Among Reinhold's descendants, one branch settled in Courland and was recognized in 1801 as in the Holy Roman Empire. Johann-Christoph von Lieven was the first member of the family to gain distinction in the Russian service: he served as Governor of Arkhangelsk under Catherine the Great and as General of Infantry under Emperor Paul.

Baron Otto Heinrich von Lieven (1726–1781) married in 1766 Baroness Charlotte von Gaugreben (1743–1828),[2] who was entrusted by Emperor Paul with the task of educating his daughters and younger sons - Nicholas and Mikhail Pavlovich. In recognition of her services Paul made her a countess in 1799. When her pupil Nicholas became the Emperor of Russia in 1826, the 84-year-old governess was made a Princess with the title of Her Serene Highness. The title was hereditary and passed to her descendants, of which the following were notable.

In popular culture[edit]

Thomas Lieven is the name of the fictional protagonist of the tongue-in-cheek spy novel "It Can't Always Be Caviar" by Austrian writer Johannes Mario Simmel.


  1. ^ Marek Tamm; Linda Kaljundi; Carsten Selch Jensen (1 November 2011). Crusading and Chronicle Writing on the Medieval Baltic Frontier: A Companion to the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 215–. ISBN 978-0-7546-6627-1. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Carl Arvid von Klingspor (1882). Baltisches Wappenbuch. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-543-98710-5. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Judith Lissauer Cromwell (2007). Dorothea Lieven: A Russian Princess in London And Paris, 1785-1857. McFarland. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-7864-2651-5. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Aleksandr Vasiliyevich Kolchak; Konstantīn Andreevīch Papov; Anton Zakharovich Ovchinnikov (1935). The Testimony of Kolchak and Other Siberian Materials. Stanford University Press. pp. 220–. ISBN 978-0-8047-2220-9. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Nikolai Reek. Lemsalu — Roopa — Võnnu — Ronneburgi lahing 19. — 23. VI. 1919. a. (Lemsalu — Roopa — Võnnu — Ronneburg battle 19. — 23. VI. 1919 (in Estonian). Estonian National Defence College museum. 

External links[edit]