Conversion to Russian Orthodoxy, Social Unrest, and Political Change in the Baltic Province of Livland, 1840s-1870s


Dissertation Fellowships in East European Studies


Department of History


This dissertation seeks to explore the conversion of more than 100,000 Lutheran Estonians and Latvians to the Eastern Orthodox faith in Russia’s Livland province during the 1840s. The mass conversions presented an immense challenge to the state, which sought to enhance the position of the Church while minimizing instances of social disorder. Attempts to regulate the conversions and to delineate boundaries between the tolerated Lutheran and officially dominant Orthodox Churches proved socially and politically disruptive during and after the 1840s, raising numerous questions about the efficacy of tsarist religious policies, the relationship of religion to social and political concerns, and about the relationship of the Russian Orthodox nation to a religiously diverse empire.