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Semigallians (Latvian Zemgaļi, also Zemgalians, Semigalls, Semigalians) are one of the Baltic tribes that lived in Zemgale, in the southcentral Latviamarker. They are noted for their long resistance to the German crusaders, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword.

There is an unconfirmed theory that the Semigallians were one of the first Baltic tribes to establish a monarchy, yet one weak in comparison to the power of the Semigallian nobles.

Notable leaders

One of the most notable Semigallian leaders was Viestards (Viesturs). Upon uniting hostile Semigallian clans into a single state in early 13th century, Viestards formed an alliance with the German crusaders to defeat his enemies on the outside. After the crusaders broke the treaty and invaded his lands, he allied with Lithuanians, resulting in the near annihilation of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword in the Battle of Saule in 1236.

Nameitis (Namejs, Nameisis), another renowned Semigallian leader, united Semigallian and Lithuanian tribes for a retaliatory counterattack on German lands (Prussia). Main sources for his activities are Livländische Reimchronik and Das Zeugenverhör des Franciscus de Moliano (1312). What is known with certainty, however, is that by the end of 1270s, a new powerful leader had emerged who achieved several major victories over German crusaders in Zemgale and East Prussia.

Semigallians continued their resistance until 1290, when they burned their last castle in Sidrabene and a large number of Semigallians migrated to Lithuania and once there continued to fight against the Germans.

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