Vidzeme (pronounced [ˈvid̪͡z̪eme]; Lithuanian: Vidžemė; Livonian: Vidūmō, Russian: Видземе) is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. Literally meaning "the Middle Land", it is situated in north-central Latvia north of the Daugava River. Sometimes in German, it is also known as Livland, the German form from Latin Livonia, though it comprises only a small part of Medieval Livonia and about half (the Latvian part) of Swedish Livonia.
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In ancient times the territory of Vidzeme was inhabited by Latgalians and Livs (near the coast of the Gulf of Riga and along the lower reaches of the Daugava and Gauja rivers). Until the German conquest in the 13th century the Daugava, which now forms the south-east border of Vidzeme, was the boundary between the lands of the Livs and Latgalians on the right bank and those of the Semigallians and Selonians on the left bank of the river. The most notable Latgalian region in today’s Vidzeme was Tālava.
After the Livonian War part of the Livonian Confederation on the right bank of the Daugava river and the Patrimony of Riga was ceded to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Duchy of Livonia (the left bank forming the Duchy of Courland and Semigalia).
After the Polish-Swedish War concluded by the Truce of Altmark in 1629 Sweden acquired the western part of the Duchy of Livonia roughly as far as the Aiviekste River, since then forming Vidzeme's eastern border.
During the course of the Great Northern War Swedish Livonia was conquered by the Russian Empire and ceded to Russia at the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. In place of Livonia the Russians created the Riga Governorate, but in 1796 the Riga Governorate was renamed the Governorate of Livonia (Latvian: Vidzemes guberņa, German: Livländisches Gouvernement, Russian: Лифляндская губерния / Liflyandskaya guberniya, Estonian: Liivimaa kubermang), administered autonomously by the local German Baltic nobility through a feudal Landtag. After the end of World War I it was split between the newly independent countries of Latvia and Estonia.