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Jacob Kettler
Duke of Courland and Semigallia
Jaqkob Kettler k.jpg
Duke of Courland and Semigallia
Reign17 August 1642 – 1 January 1682
PredecessorFrederick Kettler
SuccessorFrederick Casimir Kettler
Born(1610-10-28)28 October 1610
Goldingen (Kuldīga)
Died1 January 1682(1682-01-01) (aged 71)
Mitau (Jelgava)
Ducal crypt in the Jelgava Palace
SpouseMargravine Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg
IssueLadislaus Louis Frederick Kettler
Frederick Casimir Kettler
Charles Jacob Kettler
Ferdinand Kettler
Alexander Kettler
Louise Elisabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg
Christina Sophia Kettler
Charlotte Sophia Kettler, Abbess of Herford
Maria Amalia, Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel
FatherWilhelm Kettler
MotherDuchess Sophie of Prussia
Jacob Kettler's thaler, 1645.

Jacob Kettler (German: Jakob von Kettler) (28 October 1610 – 1 January 1682) was a Baltic German Duke of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1642–1682). Under his rule, the duchy reached its peak in wealth and engaged in colonization.

Life and reign

Kettler was born in Goldingen (Kuldīga). He was the son of Wilhelm Kettler and Sofie Hohenzollern, Princess of Prussia, a daughter of Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia. He was the godson of King James I of England. While his father was exiled from the duchy, Jacob lived in the courts of Stettin and Berlin. He studied in Rostock and at the University of Leipzig and sympathized with the ideas of mercantilism. In 1633, he led a Curonian regiment in the Smolensk War between Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Russia. In 1634 Jacob traveled through Europe. He visited Paris, London and studied shipbuilding in Amsterdam. In 1638 he became co-ruler of the duchy and in 1642 he became sole duke of Courland.

Under Kettler's rule, the duchy traded with nations like the Netherlands, Portugal, England, and France. He started large scale reforms of the duchy's economy. The Duke improved the agriculture, opened many manufactures and started active shipbuilding. During Jacob's reign the Duchy became de facto independent from the Polish crown because all contracts with foreign powers were signed as between independent countries. After 1646 all customs administration of the Duchy also was in the Duke's power.

The Duchy was involved in colonisation. In 1651 he sent a fleet to build Fort Jacob on the Gambia River on the island that would later be known as St. Andrews in West Africa. In 1654 he conquered Tobago with the Das Wappen der Herzogin von Kurland, a double decker ship which was armed with 45 cannons and carried 25 officials, 124 Courlander soldiers, and 80 families of Latvian colonists. The colony on Tobago was named Neu Kurland ("New Courland"). Duke Jacob joined the treaty of Westminster.

The Duke was taken prisoner by the Swedes from 1658 to 1660, during the Northern Wars. Together with his family, he was held captive in Riga and later in Ivangorod. During this time, his colonies were attacked and lost and his fleet destroyed. After the war ended, he rebuilt the duchy's fleet and retook the island of Tobago from the Dutch. Some believe he also intended to colonize Australia, which had at that time been discovered and claimed by the Dutch, with whom he was at war. He supposedly had the blessing of Pope Innocent X. However, the pope soon died, and the new pope was unwilling to support the plan. For the rest of his reign he tried to reach a pre-war level of wealth but managed to do this only partly. The Duke died in Mitau (Jelgava) on 1 January 1682.


Jacob Kettler is remembered as fair ruler who gave opportunities to the local Latvian peasants and even knew the Latvian language.[1]

Marriage and issue

Kettler married Margravine Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg (1617–1676), the daughter of George William, Elector of Brandenburg and had issue:[2]

Name Birth Death Notes
Louise Elisabeth Kettler 12 August 1646 16 December 1690 married Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg; had issue; died aged 44
Ladislaus Louis Frederick Kettler 14 December 1647 31 March 1648 never married; died aged 3 months
Christina Sophia Kettler 15 May 1649 9 June 1651 never married; died aged 2
Frederick II Casimir Kettler 6 July 1650 22 January 1698 married (1) Countess Sophie Amalie of Nassau-Siegen; had issue (2) Margravine Elisabeth Sophie of Brandenburg; had issue; died aged 48
Charlotte Sophia Kettler 17 September 1651 1 December 1728 never married; became the Abbess in Herford; died aged 76
Maria Amalia Anna Kettler 12 June 1653 16 June 1711 married Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel; had issue; died aged 58
Charles Jacob Kettler 20 October 1654 29 December 1677 never married; died aged 23
Ferdinand Kettler 2 November 1655 4 May 1737 married Princess Johanna Magdalene of Saxe-Weissenfels; no issue; died aged 81
Alexander Kettler 16 October 1658 1686 never married; died aged 28


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See also


  1. ^ "The ambitious journey of Duke Jacob Kettler". History & Culture Academy of Latgale. Retrieved 25 July cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  2. ^ Jakob Kettler, Duke of Kurland & Semgallen in: Our Royal, Titled, Noble, and Commoner Ancestors & Cousins (over 164,000 names) [retrieved 8 May 2015].

External links

Preceded by
Friedrich Kettler
Duke of Courland
Succeeded by
Frederick Casimir Kettler

1 Annotation

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Jacob Kettler (1610 - 1682)
Kettler ruled the Duchy of Courland from 1641 to 1682. Under his rule, the duchy was brought to its greatest peak in wealth... The Duke was taken prisoner by the Swedes from 1658 to 1660, during the Northern Wars. During this time, his colonies were attacked and lost and his fleet destroyed.

--From Wikipedia, which has more information and a picture:

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.