Autonomous Governorate of Estonia

The local autonomy in Estonia (Russian: Эстляндия) was established as a result of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Governorate of Estonia
Estonian: Autonoomne Eestimaa Kubermang
Autonomous entity of the Russian Republic


Flag of Estonia
Location of Estonia
The joined governorates was located approximately on the later territory of Estonia.
Capital Tallinn
Government Autonomous governorate
 •  1917 Jaan Poska
Legislature Estonian Provincial Assembly
 •  Local autonomy 12 April 1917
 •  Sovereignty declared 28 November 1917
 •  Independence declared 24 February 1918


For the duration of control by Imperial Russia, Estonia was divided between two governorates (guberniyas). The Governorate of Estonia in the north corresponded roughly to the area of Danish Estonia and the northern portion of Governorate of Livonia, which had a majority of ethnic Estonians. These two areas were amalgamated on 12 April [O.S. 30 March] 1917 by administrative reforms of the Russian Provisional Government.

Elections for a provisional parliament, Maapäev was organized, with the Menshevik and Bolshevik factions of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party taking a share of the vote. On 5 November 1917, two days before the October Revolution in Saint Petersburg, Estonian Bolshevik leader Jaan Anvelt led his leftist political forces in an anti-democratic coup in Tallinn, attempting to usurp political power in governorate from governor Jaan Poska on 9 November. On 28 November [O.S. 15 November] 1917 the Maapäev, refusing to recognize the attempted Bolshevik coup d'état, proclaimed itself to be the only legally elected and constituted authority in Estonia. However, it was soon driven underground by the Bolsheviks.

In February, after the collapse of the peace talks between Soviet Russia and the German Empire, mainland Estonia was occupied by the Germans. Bolshevik forces retreated to Russia. On 23 February 1918, one day before German forces entered Tallinn, the Salvation Committee of the Estonian National Council Maapäev emerged from underground and issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence. Although it took nearly 9 months for Estonia to be liberated from German occupation, the day after that date is still celebrated as Estonia's independence day.

See also

External links


1917 (MCMXVII)

was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1917th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 917th year of the 2nd millennium, the 17th year of the 20th century, and the 8th year of the 1910s decade. As of the start of 1917, the Gregorian calendar was

13 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1917 Estonian Provincial Assembly election

The Estonian Provincial Assembly (Estonian: Maapäev) was elected after the February Revolution in 1917 as the national diet of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia in Russian Empire.

On November 28, 1917, after the October Revolution the Assembly declared itself the sovereign power on Estonia and called for the elections of the Estonian Constituent Assembly. On the eve of the German occupation of Estonia in World War I the council elected the Estonian Salvation Committee and issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence on February 24, 1918.

1917 in Russia

Events from the year 1917 in Russia

Democratic Bloc (Estonia)

The Democratic Bloc was a political grouping in Estonia.

Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1918)

The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia was briefly a client state of the German Empire. It was proclaimed on 8 March 1918, in the German-occupied Courland Governorate by a Landesrat composed of Baltic Germans, who offered the crown of the once-autonomous Duchy to Kaiser Wilhelm II, despite the existence of a formerly sovereign reigning family in that duchy, the Biron descendents of Ernst Johann von Biron. Although the German Reichstag supported national self-determination for the Baltic peoples, the German High Command continued the policy of attaching the Baltic to the Reich by relying on Baltic Germans.In October 1918, the Chancellor of Germany Prince Maximilian of Baden proposed to have the military administration in the Baltic replaced by civilian authority. After the German Revolution on 18 November 1918, Latvia proclaimed independence and on 7 December, the German military handed over authority to the Latvian national government headed by Kārlis Ulmanis.

Estonia electoral district (Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917)

The Estonia electoral district (Russian: Эстляндский избирательный округ) was a constituency created for the Russian Constituent Assembly election, 1917. The electoral district covered the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia.Voter turnout stood at 56.6% in the Estonia electoral district.Notably, the Bolsheviks benefited from popular discontent with the failure of the Provisional Government to follow through on its promises of self-determination for Estonia. The Bolsheviks and Estonian Labour Party had their strongest support in Reval and northern Estonia. Bolsheviks obtained 22,003 votes (47.6%) in Reval, the Estonian Labour Party obtained 13,855 votes (29.9%), the Estonian Democratic Party 4,735 votes (10.2%), Estonian Social Democrats 2,689 votes (5.8%), Radical Democrats 1,136 votes (2.4%), Russian SRs 1,135 votes (2.4%) and Estonian SRs 787 votes (1.7%).The Democratic Bloc obtained 53.4% of the votes in Tartu, and did also get a good number of votes in southern Estonia.Soldiers stationed at garrisons in Estonia didn't vote in the Estonian district, but in the Baltic Fleet constituency.

Estonian national awakening

The Estonian Age of Awakening (Estonian: Ärkamisaeg) is a period in history where Estonians came to acknowledge themselves as a nation deserving the right to govern themselves. This period is considered to begin in the 1850s with greater rights being granted to commoners and to end with the declaration of the Republic of Estonia in 1918. The term is sometimes also applied to the period around 1987 and 1988.

Although Estonian national consciousness spread in the course of the 19th century, some degree of ethnic awareness in the literate middle class preceded this development. By the 18th century the self-denomination eestlane along with the older maarahvas spread among Estonians in the then provinces of Estonia and Livonia of the Russian Empire. The Bible was translated in 1739, and the number of books and brochures published in Estonian increased from 18 in the 1750s to 54 in the 1790s. By the end of the century more than half of adult peasants were able to read. The first university-educated intellectuals identifying themselves as Estonians, including Friedrich Robert Faehlmann (1798–1850), Kristjan Jaak Peterson (1801–1822) and Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald (1803–1882), came to prominence in the 1820s. The ruling elite had remained predominantly German in language and culture since the conquest of the early 13th century. Garlieb Merkel (1769–1850), a Baltic German Estophile, was the first author to treat the Estonians as a nationality equal to others; he became a source of inspiration for the Estonian national movement, modelled on Baltic German cultural world before the middle of the 19th century. However, in the middle of the century the Estonians, with such leaders as Carl Robert Jakobson (1841–1882), Jakob Hurt (1839–1907) and Johann Voldemar Jannsen (1819–1890), became more ambitious in their political demands and started leaning towards the Finns as a successful model of national movement and, to some extent, the neighbouring Young Latvian national movement. Significant accomplishments were the publication of the national epic, Kalevipoeg, in 1862, and the organization of the first national song festival in 1869. By the end of the 1860s the Estonians became unwilling to remain reconciled with German cultural and political hegemony. Before the attempts at Russification in the 1880s–1890s their view of Imperial Russia remained positive.

In 1881 seventeen Estonian societies, in a memorandum inspired by Carl Robert Jakobson, called upon Emperor Alexander III of Russia for the introduction of zemstvo institutions (which had already existed in most parts of the Empire), with equal representation for Estonians and Baltic Germans and administrative unification of the ethnic Estonian areas. Postimees, the first Estonian daily, began appearing in 1891. According to the 1897 census, the Estonians had the second highest literacy rate in the Russian Empire after the Finns in the Grand Duchy of Finland (96.1% of the Estonian-speaking population of the Baltic Provinces 10 years and older, roughly equally for males and females). The cities became Estonicized quickly, and in 1897 ethnic Estonians comprised two-thirds of the total Estonian urban population.In response to a period of Russification initiated by the Russian empire in the 1880s, Estonian nationalism took on even more political tones, with intellectuals calling for greater autonomy. As the Russian Revolution of 1905 swept through Estonia, the Estonians called for freedom of the press and assembly, for universal franchise, and for national autonomy. Estonian gains were minimal, but the tense stability that prevailed between 1905 and 1917 allowed Estonians to advance the aspiration of national statehood. Following the February Revolution of 1917 Estonian lands were for the first time united in one administrative unit, the autonomous Governorate of Estonia. After the Bolshevik takeover of power in Russia in the October Revolution of 1917 and the German victories against the Russian army, Estonia declared itself an independent republic on 24 February 1918.

Gavriil Beljagin

Gavriil Filippovich Beljagin (also went by Gabriel; Russian: Гавриил Филиппович Белягин; 22 April 1870 – 9 August 1936) was a Russian-Estonian politician who was the deputy mayor of Reval (now Tallinn) from April 1917 to September of that year. He was the city's commissioner until he was selected by then mayor Jaan Poska to serve as deputy mayor in April 1917, when Poska went on to become the commissar of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia. Beljagin oversaw the establishment of Estonian as the official language of Reval. He resigned just before the October Revolution and the start of the Russian Civil War in late 1917. He was succeeded by Voldemar Vöölmann as the chairman of city government. He later died on 9 August 1936 and is buried at Siselinna Cemetery.

Governorate of Livonia

The Governorate of Livonia (Russian: Лифляндская губерния, translit. Lifljandskaja gubernija; German: Gouvernement Livland / Livländisches Gouvernement; Latvian: Vidzemes guberņa, after the Latvian inhabited Vidzeme region; Estonian: Liivimaa kubermang) was one of the Baltic governorates of the Russian Empire, now divided between the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Estonia.

Jaan Poska

Jaan Poska VR III/1 (24 January [O.S. 12 January] 1866, Laiusevälja, Kreis Dorpat, Governorate of Livonia – 7 March 1920, Tallinn, Estonia) was an Estonian barrister and politician.

In 1890, Poska graduated from the faculty of Law of the University of Tartu, after that he worked as barrister in Tallinn. Jaan Poska was mayor of Tallinn during 1913–1917. In that position he supported reforms, like reforming healthcare and founding two schools. In April 1917, he became governor of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia. 28 November [O.S. 15 November] 1917 the Maapäev refused to recognize the new Bolshevik rule and proclaimed itself the supreme legal authority of Estonia. The Republic of Estonia formally declared independence on 24 February 1918, only to be occupied by the German Empire until the end of World War I. Estonian war of independence against Baltic German and Russian forces lasted from 1918 to 1920.

On 24 February 1918, Poska was appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. He worked in Western Europe for gaining diplomatic recognition to Estonia and participated in Paris Peace Conference. He led the peace talks with Soviet Russia and achieved Treaty of Tartu which was signed on 2 February 1920.

Jaan Tõnisson

Jaan Tõnisson (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈjɑːn ˈtɤnisˑˈson]; 22 December [O.S. 10 December] 1868, near Tänassilma – 1941?, in Tallinn?) was an Estonian statesman, serving as the Prime Minister of Estonia twice during 1919 to 1920, as State Elder (head of state and government) from 1927 to 1928 and in 1933, and as Foreign Minister of Estonia from 1931 to 1932.

Joakim Puhk

Joakim Puhk (25 May 1888 – 14 September 1942) was an Estonian businessman, economist and Rotarian; a member of the International Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the International Olympic Committee from 1936 to 1942.

Jüri Vilms

Jüri Vilms (13 March [O.S. 1 March] 1889, Arkma, now in Türi Parish, Järva County, Estonia – May 2, 1918, Hauho near Hämeenlinna, Finland, unconfirmed info) was a member of the Estonian Salvation Committee and the first Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia. Empowered by Maapäev the Salvation Committee issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence on February 24, 1918 in the middle of a political power vacuum created by the retreating Russian and advancing German troops during World War I. The German forces taking over the country didn't recognize the independence of Estonia. The Salvation Committee went underground, Jüri Vilms volunteered to go to Finland to take funds and instructions to the Estonian missions working to get diplomatic recognition for the newly sovereign nation. According to an "official" version, he was captured on reaching the Finnish coast and executed by German troops in Helsinki. According to the latest research Jüri Vilms may have been executed by an unit of the Swedish Brigade in Hauho. Estonia gained its independence after the German troops were withdrawn from Estonia due to the German Revolution and following Estonian War of Independence ended with Peace Treaty of Tartu.

Jüri Vilms was born in Kabala, now in Türi Parish, Järva County. He studied at Pärnu Gymnasium where he qualified for free tuition due to a high grade point average. After graduating Vilms continued his studies at the University of Tartu Faculty of Law 1907-1911. At the University he became a member of the Estonian Students Association where he was chosen to the position of elected chairman. In 1911 Vilms started to practise as a lawyer, first as an associate, and later opening his own law firm. After the beginning of World War I Vilms became involved with the Estonian National Movement, publishing articles demanding autonomy for Estonia within the Russian Empire. He criticized the political concepts of Jaan Tõnisson who advocated the idea of cultural autonomy only and the ideas of Konstantin Päts who saw political opportunities in cooperating with Baltic Germans in Estonia. In 1917 Vilms founded a new political party in Estonia, the left-of-centre Eesti Tööerakond (Estonian Labour Party).

After the Russian February Revolution Jüri Vilms became a full-time politician. He was labelled as the advocate of the Estonian people by Aleksander Looring at the time. Together with Heinrich Koppel, Otto Strandman and Jaan Raamot the legal preparations for the administrative reforms establishing the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia were compiled. The documents became the basis for the decree of the Russian Provisional Government on 30 March [O.S. 12 April] 1917 establishing the autonomy for Estonia.Juri Vilms has been characterized by Jaan Kross in his historical novel Tabamatus, translated into Swedish Motstånd, Finnish Kuningasajatus and French Dans l’insaisissable.

Kuusela, Kari (2015), Jüri Vilmsin mysteeri. In: Nieminen, J. (ed.) Helsinki ensimmäisessä maailmansodassa, pp. 42–43, Helsinki: Gummerus Kustannus Oy, ISBN 978-951-24-0086-7

Konstantin Päts

Konstantin Päts (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈkonsˈtɑnʲˑˈtinˑ ˈpætʲsˑ]; 23 February [O.S. 11 February] 1874 – 18 January 1956) was the most influential politician of interwar Estonia, and served five times as the country's head ned to death during the 1905 Revolution, but managed to flee first to Switzerland, then to Finland, where he continued his literary work. He returned to Estonia, but had to spend time in prison in 1910–1911.

In 1917, Päts headed the provincial government of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia, but was forced to go underground after the October Revolution. On 19 February 1918, Päts became one of the three members of the Estonian Salvation Committee that issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence on 24 February. Konstantin Päts headed the Estonian Provisional Government (1918–1919), although he was imprisoned during the second half of the German Occupation. In the provisional government, Päts also served as Minister of Internal Affairs (1918) and Minister of War (1918–1919) that left him organizing Estonian troops for the War of Independence.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Päts led the most right-wing party of the major political parties of the time – the conservative Farmers' Assemblies that eventually merged with the Union of Settlers and Smallholders in 1932. Päts was the speaker of the Riigikogu (1922–1923) and served five times as State Elder, a post equivalent to that of president in Estonia's radically parliamentarian system (1921–1922, 1923–1924, 1931–1932, 1932–1933, and 1933–1934). During his last term as State Elder, he organized a coup d'etat to neutralise the right-wing populist Vaps Movement. He was supported by the army and the parliament. During the authoritarian regime ("Era of Silence"), many reforms were made and the economy grew, while he prolonged the return of constitutional order. Päts ruled as Prime Minister in duties of the State Elder (1934–1937) and President-Regent (1937–1938) until a new constitution was adopted in 1938, after which Päts became the first President of Estonia. During his presidency, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia in 1940. As President, he was forced to sign decrees for over a month, until he was finally arrested and deported to the Soviet Union, where he died in 1956.

List of members of the Asutav Kogu

The following is a list of members of the Estonian Constituent Assembly (Asutav Kogu) of 1919–20. The Russian Provisional Government created the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia in April 1917 and decreed that it should have its own governor and an elected Provincial Assembly, which convened in July 1917. On 28 November that year, it declared its laws sovereign over Estonia, but the Bolsheviks led by Jaan Anvelt occupied Tallinn (Estonia's capital) and declared the Provincial Assembly dissolved; as they retreated in February 1918, the Estonian Salvation Committee issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence. Soon afterwards, however, German forces occupied Estonia, a situation made formal under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk; after Germany's withdrawal at the end of the First World War in November 1918, a Provisional Government proclaimed independence, but the Soviet Russian Red Army occupied Estonia shortly afterwards, triggering the Estonian War of Independence. Only once the Red Army had been expelled from the region in February 1919 could the Provincial Assembly (still technically sitting) establish a Constituent Assembly "to lay the foundations for Estonian statehood [and] to adopt the Constitution". The Assembly sat between 23 April 1919 and 20 December 1920, following elections held on 5–7 April 1919. It ratified the 1st Constitution of Estonia which provided for a new legislative chamber: the Riigikogu.

List of members of the Estonian Provincial Assembly

This is a list of members of the Provincial Assembly of Estonia. On 12 April 1917, a decree issued by the Provisional Government in Russia created the autonomous Governorate of Estonia with its own Governor and a Provincial Assembly (or Council; Maanõukogu, but commonly known as the Maapäev) to be composed of elected members. The elections took place on 5 June 1917, and the Assembly convened on 14 July. On 28 November, it declared its laws sovereign over Estonia and moved to create a Constituent Assembly; once that was established and its members elected, the Provisional Assembly ceased to exist and its session ended on 23 April 1919.

Operation Albion

Operation Albion was the codename for the German air, land and naval operation in October 1917 to occupy the West Estonian Archipelago, part of the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia, Russian Republic. The land campaign opened with landings at the Tagalaht, Saaremaa on 12 October 1917, after extensive naval operations to clear mines and subdue coastal artillery batteries. The Germans secured the island by 16 October and the Russian Army evacuated Muhu on 20 October.

After two failed attempts, the Germans landed on Hiiumaa on 12 October, capturing the island on the following day. The Russian Baltic Fleet had to withdraw from the Suur Strait after its losses at the Battle of Moon Sound. The Germans claimed 20,000 prisoners and 100 guns captured during Operation Albion from 12 to 20 October.

Timeline of the Estonian War of Independence

This article covers the timeline of the Estonian War of Independence (1918−1920) and a few key events in the prelude and aftermath of the war.

United Baltic Duchy

The United Baltic Duchy, (German: Vereinigtes Baltisches Herzogtum, Estonian: Balti Hertsogiriik, Latvian: Apvienotā Baltijas hercogiste) also known as the Grand Duchy of Livonia, was a state proposed by the Baltic German nobility and exiled Russian nobility after the Russian Revolution and German occupation of the Courland, Livonian, and Estonian governorates of the Russian Empire. It was proposed in April 1918, after Estonia and Latvia had formally declared independence.

The idea comprised the lands in Estonia and Latvia and included the creation of a Duchy of Courland and Semigallia and a Duchy of Estonia and Livonia that would be in personal union with the Crown of Prussia under the German Empire's occupied territory Ober Ost before the end of World War I covering the territories of the Medieval Livonia in what are now Latvia and Estonia.

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