The city was found where Tilse River joins Niemen River (Lit. Nemunas - old name Nieman, Nioman) - in its lower waters, close to estuary to Kuron Lagoon (Baltic Sea). In the past those lands were inhabited by Baltic and Ugrofin tribes (Zemgales, Estonians, Livonians, Letgals, Kurs and Zelons). In Latin sources those land were called: Livonia i Courlandia.
Starting in XI century those land were interesting to Danes and Germans. Important turn in history of those lands was founding of Brothers of the Sword (also known as Livonian Brothers of the Sword) by A. Von Buxhovdena in 1202. It was an order of knight with goal in conquering and controlling lands of local tribes. With time the order became independent of, and later were even in conflict with its founder. The order in alliance with Danes conquered whole Inflants. In 1236 the order suffered defeat in battle with Litvians at Szawle. In 1237 signed an union with Teutonic Order.
Existence of Livonian Brothers' castle named Tilsit was first noted in 1288. The settlement gained city rights in 1552.
On June 14th 1807 near city of Friedland (Rus. Pravdinsk) armies of Napoleon I defeated Russians, which later caused fall of Konigsberg and singing of peace treaties in Tilsit. First treaty between France and Russia was signed on July 7th 1807, the second on July 9th 1807.
Also see: Old postcards