History of the Manor and its surroundings

Historical sources of the Ilzenberg Manor and its surrounding area are found in various epochs, in different languages and under different names. German (from the 16th century), Russian (from the 19th century), Lithuanian and Latvian (from the early 20th century) documents and literature mention options of names of Ilzenberg and nearby Alksniai. Most of such documents are stored with the Historical State Archives of Latvia (Latvijas Valsts vēstures arhīvs - LVVA).

These two areas are often mentioned together in the sources, as landlords of the Ilzenberg Manor often used to rent the Alksniai Manor, which, until 1561, belonged to the master of the Livonian Order, and later – to the Duke of Courland and Zemgale (Ducatus Curlandiae et Semigalliae). The correct identification of Alksniai in historical sources is, therefore, also important for tracking information about owners of the Ilzenberg Manor.

Names of Ilzenberg and Alksniai (Rokiškis d., Juodupė eld.) by locality are provided in the table below.

  Ilzenbergas                  Alksniai                           
In Lithuanian Ilzenbergas

Ilzės dvaras

Elernos dvaras

Elkšnių dvaras
Elksnemužės dvaras

In Latvian Ildzu muiža
Ilzu muiža

Ilzes muiža

In German Ilsenberg Ellern

Surroundings of the Ilzenberg Manor was inhabited by Selonians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Poles, Germans, Jews, Russian Old Believers. In the beginning of the 13th century, Selonians were oppressed by the Order of the Brothers of the Sword which later was named the Livonian Order. The Izenberg Manor is first mentioned in the early 16th century. According to archival data of that period, the Ilzenberg Manor was founded 38 km southwest of Jekabpils (Jakobstadt) and 14 km east of Nereta (Nerft) at the Ilgis (Ilsen) Lake, in 1515 by the noble family of von Kerssenbrock.

The first landlord – Berndt Kerssenbrock. According to records, landlords of the Ilzenberg Manor owned 615 ha of feudatory agricultural land and 2,234 ha of lands with peasants.

From the mid-16th until the late 19th century, residents of the Ilzenberg Manor and its surroundings suffered lots of upheavals, disasters, and severe challenges in the history. The Livonian War of the 16th century, wars with Sweden of the 17th-18th centuries, plague, famine, warfare between noblemen, invasion of Napoleon's army of 1812, Lithuanian uprisings of 1831 and 1863 to break free of Russia’s oppression have more or less affected the life of this region.

The Ilzenberg Manor’s surroundings at the Apvalasas and Ilgis lakes. Photo: Wonderful Voyage team that provides video and photo services from the air

The archaeological findings of the 19th century in the Ilzenberg Manor were mentioned in the press of that time. The Berlin museum was donated a bronze collar with conical ends, iron spearhead, axe, and other finding of the Ilzenberg. The Ilzenberg’s archaeological finds also went to collections of Jelgava and Tallinn.

There is some information of funeral monuments, that earlier were located within the Ilzenberg and Alksniai manors, as well as related examples of the population’s religiosity. Based on this information, Juris Urtāns presupposes that this has been the place of ancient cemeteries. Besides, in the beginning of the 19th century, “it was a particularly popular pagan faith place among Lithuanian and Latvian peasants.”

In the early 19th century, near the Alksniai Manor, there were built two ledgers on the lakeshore. One of them was dedicated to Anna Plater, born in 1587 and died in the age of 93 years.

Archaeological finds found on the Ilzenberg estate

Some records tell that, in 1905, on the shore of the lake, one could find a “rounded cross” and a stone pillar in the Ilzenberg Manor as well. Folks believed that they thus could improve their health. Later, the items were thrown into the lake. It is difficult to conclude whether these facts about the Ilzenberg and Alksniai manors refer to a single or two different objects. Anyway, local people associate this case with residents of the Ilzenberg and Alksniai manors.

Apart from the above reference to Plater-Syberg, people used to tell about "the daughter of the Ilze manor’s gardener, deceived by the young son of the Alksniai landowner,” buried here and throw copper coins into the water in this place (beside the spring and stone).

In 1655-1660, the Ilzenberg Manor was directly affected by the Northern war that is evidenced by three cannons which were located within the manor and, allegedly, “left behind by the Swedish” since the 17th century. Donation of the cannons to Kaunas War Museum in 1926 was a significant event, mentioned at least in four periodicals. Lithuanian officer newspaper “Kardas (the Sword)” on 20 March 1926 notes that the landlady of the manor of Ilzenberg (Rokiškis d.), Liwia Dymsza, donated 3 historical cannons to the War Museum, “...lightweight, cast-iron, close-shot, apparently, intended to destroy ramparts (to shoot castle walls and from heights –from the mounds). Until recently, there was also the round beside one of the cannons available (a cast-iron round bullet).”


At the end of the World War 1, whereupon Lithuania and Latvia gained an opportunity to found a statehood, none of them intended to create a united republic and proceeded to establish separate, independent states. On 28 September 1920, representatives of Lithuania and Latvia, through the head of the British mission in the Baltic countries, S.Talens, signed an agreement in Riga on referring the matter of the border demarcation to the Arbitration Committee consisting of four members and a chairperson – professor J. Simpson (Fig. 29) appointed by the University of Edinburgh, who worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain.

Whereas Ilzenberg, Alksniai and their surroundings belonged to Courland Governorate, they were, nevertheless, transferred to Lithuania, because the majority of the local population were Lithuanians, besides, landlords of the Ilzenberg Manor, the Dymsza, identified themselves with Lithuania.

1920 1927 zemes dvaro atidalinimo klausimai

Yet, it should be noted that after the Lithuanian-Latvian border was demarcated, a share of lands of the Ilzenberg manor’s landlords Dymsza, with mostly Latvians living thereon, ended up in Latvia, while their own Ilgis Lake was crossed with the state border.

After Lithuania lost its independence and was annexed to the Soviet Union, sovietisation of Lithuania started. On 27 August 1940, land reform was declared. Estates and landlords’ lands were seized, and their landlords prosecuted, imprisoned, or deported into the depths of Russia. The Dymsza family escaped this fatal ending, however, the Ilzenberg Manor was seized. In summer 1940, the Soviet authorities seized 91,487 ha of land owned by 638 noblemen of Lithuania. This land was taken over by the State Land Fund. A part of land plots was planned to be allocated to poor and landless, and the rest – to found state farms.

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