Jacob Kettler

Jacob Kettler, Duke of Courland ( born October 28, 1610 Gold rings; † January 1, 1682 in Jelgava ), was the grandson of the last German Grand Master Gotthard Kettler, and ruled from 1642 to about Courland.


Duke Jacob was characterized by a very clever and effective economic policy. He led his small country situated in the territory of present-day Latvia, to an early economic prosperity, so that he is revered to this day in this region.

Duke Jacob was born in gold rings, the only son of Duke Wilhelm Kettler and his wife Sophie of Prussia. Since his mother died young, he was brought up from 1612 the widowed princess Maria in Königsberg. The young prince, 13 years old enrolled at the University of Leipzig where he was appointed honorary rector ( a not unusual for sons of princes form of the award ), acquired very early the reputation of being a highly educated man, of his age and peers was clearly superior.

After staying abroad 1634-1637, which led him among other things, to Amsterdam, Paris, Warsaw and probably England, he returned to his home and took over in 1638 from his uncle Duke Friedrich Kettler part of the business of government and with the death of Duke Frederick in 1642, control of the small country.

The economic innovations introduced in Duke Jacob of Courland, included the establishment of forges, the construction of the glassworks, nitric and soap factories, paper mills and textile factories. He also took a Dutch professionals to Courland, to build the first shipyard. Among the social institutions that go back to him, belong to the first hospital and a lunatic asylum.

On James Iceland was a colony of Courland for a short time.


On October 9, 1645 married Duke Jacob Louise Charlotte of Brandenburg ( 1617-1676 ), the eldest daughter of the Elector George William of Brandenburg. From this marriage the following children go forth:

  • Louise Elisabeth (1646-1690) ∞ Landgrave Frederick II of Hesse -Homburg, called Prince of Homburg
  • Christina - die young
  • Ladislas Friedrich - die young
  • Friedrich Casimir Kettler (1650-1698)
  • Charlotta (* September 17, 1651; † December 1, 1728 ) Abbess in Herford
  • Maria Amalia (1653-1711) ∞ Landgrave Charles of Hesse -Kassel
  • Karl Jakob (* October 20, 1654, † December 29, 1677 ) ( friend of François Le Fort )
  • Ferdinand (1655-1737), Prussian general, Duke of Courland from 1730 to 1737
  • Alexander ( born October 16, 1659 † after June 26, 1686), Prussian colonel, dies from injury at the siege of Buda