Limbaži is a town in the Vidzeme region of northern Latvia. Limbaži is located 90 km northeast of the capital Riga. The population is 8705 people. During the Middle Ages, as part of Livonia, Limbazi was a fortified town with stone walls, second in importance only to Riga.EtymologyThe name Limbaž is believed to be a Livonian word meaning "wide isle in a forest swamp". The German Lemsahl is derived from the Livonian name.According to folk etymology, the name Limbaži originated sometime in the 17th century. A recently arrived Swedish minister overheard some gibberish, "limba" and "aži". Mistakenly, he assumed this was the name of the village, and so the town was called "Limbaži".HistoryIn ancient times, Limbaži was a Livonian settlement known as Lemisele, part of Metsepole. In the early 13th century, Bishop Albert and the Teutonic knights destroyed the village while conquering Metsepole, and built a castle, around which formed the new city, Lemsahl.Medieval LimbažiUntil the beginning of the 16th century, Lemsahl could be reached by seagoing vessels travelling up the Svētupe. Ships came from as far as Lübeck and Copenhagen to trade for honey, wax, lumber, grain, and furs. The small trading camp surrounding the castle grew into a large town, and was admitted to the Hanseatic League. Each year, Lemsahl hosted a conference attended by barons from all over Livonia, and the city hosted at least three other fairs throughout the year as well. During these fairs, the town may have held as many as 20,000 people at once. In addition, the Bishop of Riga made Lemsahl his spring residence, which became a walled city to protect both the bishop and the trading center. In population, Lemsahl was second only to Riga.