The lands beyond the Vistula held a mystique for travelers. For centuries, as Europe and Asia prospered and expanded their domains, farmers and herders settled among the hills and valleys that traversed the Baltic coast. Marauders arrived from all different directions who displaced the settled peoples, Norsemen from across the sea, a multitude of fast and deadly riders from the east, and terrible armored creatures from the west and south. Time passed, but the tribulations felt by the Baltic peoples never changed, only the machinery of the invaders; coming with horses and then with tanks, but always in the same manner as before.
From the times of Martens the Silver, as he came to be known, the peoples of the Baltic Coast strove for their own autonomy. They sought to embark on their own quest for destiny, different from that of the Germans, Russians, or Scandinavians around their land. At times the cries of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians echoed so mightily that boundaries formed and independence championed. But it was like a firework, a beautiful explosion of vigor followed by lethargy among the people. Their desires for destiny subsided and soon either Russians or Germans crossed over the border and time continued.
This time, however, it was the Germans who were leaving. No longer looking eastward and instead focusing on their empire in the west, the Baltic peoples awoke to find the foreigners leaving their cities and a power vacuum began to form. Voices cried out over the hills and rivers, the Baltic people would not fall under the yolk of yet another foreign people. Why give the Germans a reason to return? Why give the Russians a reason to settle? A country needed to be formed and people needed to take shape. But who would lead?
In the vacuum created by the German withdraw, a man named Evadas Halprin, with the help of tremendous funds and the loyalty of a few strongmen near to the city of Riga, proclaimed himself Grand Duke of the squabbling peoples of the Baltic:
"We have already wasted too much time. While our peoples from the coast to the borders with Russia and Germany fight and bicker, potential enemies look at our land as they always have - ripe for the taking. My name is Evadas Halprin and I, from my city of Riga, swear an oath to all my blood brothers and sisters. I swear to protect you from foreign incursion, from internal insurrection, from poverty and famine, and from hardship and ordeal. Riders have been sent to all frontiers of our lands and I implore any and all potential rivals to give up their claims to any idea of power. You will not take Riga and will be defeated in the hills. We must, and we shall, work to create one single and united Livonia."
Evadas sat firmly in his palace at Riga and in the weeks that passed, resistance to his rule disappeared. Yet even in Riga, voices echoed across the land that in the fogs of hills and marches, others had designs on the future of Livonia.