The Duchy of Estonia (Swedish: Hertigdömet Estland, Estonian: Eestimaa hertsogkond, German: Herzogtum Estland), also known as Swedish Estonia, (Swedish: Svenska Estland) was a dominion of the Swedish Empire from 1561 until 1721 during the time that most or all of Estonia was under Swedish rule. The land was eventually ceded to Russia in the Treaty of Nystad, following its capitulation, during the plague, in the Great Northern War.
The dominion arose during the Livonian War, when the northern parts of present-day Estonia — Reval (Tallinn) and the counties of Harjumaa, Western Virumaa, Raplamaa and Järvamaa — submitted to the Swedish king in 1561, and Läänemaa in 1581. It is also colloquially known as the "good old Swedish times" (Estonian: vana hea Rootsi aeg) by Estonians, but this expression was not used before the following Russian rule, in the beginning of which the situation of Estonian peasantry declined rapidly; to gain the support of the German Baltic nobility, Russia gave them more power over the peasantry.
Duchy of Estonia
Coat of arms
Baltic provinces of Swedish Empire in the 17th century.
|Status||Dominion of the Swedish Empire|
|Common languages||German, Estonian, Swedish|
|Axel Julius de la Gardie|
|June 4, 1561|
|September 10, 1721|
The Aesti (also Aestii, Astui or Aests) were an ancient people first described by the Roman historian Tacitus in his treatise Germania (circa 98 AD). According to Tacitus, the territory of Aesti was located somewhere east of the Suiones (Swedes) and west of the Sitones (possibly the ancient "Kvens"), on the Suebian (Baltic) Sea. This and other evidence suggests that they lived in or near the present-day Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast (previously East Prussia).
Despite the phonological similarity between Aestii and the modern ethnonyms of Estonia, especially in popular etymologies, the two geographical areas are not contiguous and there are few, if any, direct historical links between them.Ancient Estonia
Ancient Estonia refers to a period covering History of Estonia from the middle of the 8th millennium BC until the conquest and subjugation of the local Finnic tribes in the first quarter of the 13th century during the Danish Northern Crusades.Baltic Germans
The Baltic Germans (German: Deutsch-Balten or Deutschbalten, later Baltendeutsche) are ethnic German inhabitants of the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, in what today are Estonia and Latvia. Since their expulsion from Estonia and Latvia and resettlement during the upheavals and aftermath of the Second World War, Baltic Germans have markedly declined as a geographically determined ethnic group. The largest groups of present-day descendants of the Baltic Germans are found in Germany and Canada. It is estimated that several thousand still reside in Latvia and Estonia.
For centuries Baltic Germans and the Baltic nobility constituted a ruling class over native non-German serfs. The emerging Baltic-German middle class was mostly urban and professional.
In the 12th and 13th centuries Catholic Germans, both traders and crusaders (see Ostsiedlung), began settling in the eastern Baltic territories. After the Livonian Crusade, they assumed control of government, politics, economics, education and culture of these lands, ruling for more than 700 years until 1918 — usually in alliance with Polish, Swedish or Russian overlords. With the decline of Latin, German became the language of all official documents, commerce, education and government.
At first the majority of German settlers lived in small cities and military castles. Their elite formed the Baltic nobility, acquiring large rural estates and comprising the social, commercial, political and cultural elite of Latvia and Estonia for several centuries. After 1710 many of these men increasingly took high positions in the military, political and civilian life of the Russian Empire, particularly in Saint Petersburg. Baltic Germans held citizenship in the Russian Empire until the Revolution of 1918. They then held Estonian or Latvian citizenship until the occupation and later annexation of these areas by the Soviet Union in 1939–1940.
The Baltic German population never surpassed more than 10% of the total population. In 1881 there were 180,000 Baltic Germans in Russia's Baltic provinces, but by 1914 this number had declined to 162,000. In 1881 there were approximately 46,700 Germans in Estonia (5.3% of the population). According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897, there were 120,191 Germans in Latvia, or 6.2% of the population.Baltic German history and presence in the Baltics came to an end in late 1939, following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the subsequent Nazi–Soviet population transfers. Almost all the Baltic Germans were resettled by Nazi Germany under the Heim ins Reich program into the newly formed Reichsgaue of Wartheland and Danzig-West Prussia (on the territory of the occupied Second Polish Republic). In 1945, most ethnic Germans were expelled from these lands by the Soviet army. Resettlement was planned for the territory remaining to Germany under terms of the border changes promulgated at the Potsdam Conference, i.e. west of the Oder–Neisse line, or elsewhere in the world.
Ethnic Germans from East Prussia and Lithuania are sometimes incorrectly considered Baltic Germans for reasons of cultural, linguistic, and historical affinities. But the Germans of East Prussia held Prussian, and after 1871, German citizenship, because the territory they lived in was part of Kingdom of Prussia.Duchy of Estonia
The Duchy of Estonia may refer to:
Duchy of Estonia (1219–1346) – Hertugdømmet Estland, a Dominum directum of King of Denmark
Duchy of Estonia (1561–1721) – Hertigdömet Estland, a dominion of the Swedish Empire
Governorate of Estonia – Эстляндская губерния, Estlyandskaya guberniya, a viceroyalty (1721–1917) of the Russian EmpireEra of Silence
The Era of Silence (Estonian: vaikiv ajastu) was the period between 1934 and 1938 or 1940 in Estonian history. The period began with the preemptive coup of 12 March 1934, which Prime Minister Konstantin Päts carried out to avert a feared takeover of the state apparatus by the Vaps Movement (League of Veterans). The term "Era of Silence" was introduced by Kaarel Eenpalu, Prime Minister in 1938-39 and a strong supporter of Päts, Estonia's President during that period.Estonia under Swedish rule
Estonia under Swedish rule signifies the time between 1558 and 1710, when parts of present-day Estonia (and after 1645 all of the present-day country) were under Swedish rule. In the wake of the breakup of the State of the Teutonic Order, the Baltic German local aristocracy in the areas of Harrien (Harjumaa) and Wierland (Virumaa), as well as the city of Reval (Tallinn) in June 1561 (and somewhat later Jerwen (Järvamaa)) asked for and were granted protection by the Swedish king Eric XIV, leading to Swedish involvement in the Livonian War. At the conclusion of hostilities in 1583, Sweden was in control of the northern parts of modern Estonia and Hiiumaa island; this territory was created the Duchy of Estonia. Following renewed wars between Poland and Sweden, the southern parts of present-day Estonia (then Livonia) were incorporated into Sweden by the Treaty of Altmark in 1629. In 1645, Sweden also conquered the island of Ösel (Saaremaa) from Denmark, and were thus in control of all of present-day Estonia.
The time of Swedish rule came to an effective end in 1710, when all the Swedish Baltic provinces capitulated to Russian troops during the end-stages of the Great Northern War. Russian hegemony was formalized in 1721.The reasons for Swedish involvement in Estonia were economic as well as political and military. The Swedish Crown was not least interested in getting a share of the profits from the rich trade with Russia. At the same time, assertions in Estonia can also been seen as a way of preventing Russia and Denmark from gaining potentially dangerous footholds close to Swedish-controlled Finland.The time of Swedish rule is sometimes colloquially referred to as the "good old Swedish times" (Estonian: vana hea Rootsi aeg). However, it remains unclear whether the contemporaneous Estonian-speaking population generally used this expression or whether they considered the time of Swedish rule significantly better than that of earlier foreign rulers. Especially during the later part of the Swedish rule of Estonia, Swedish authorities did however enact a number of reforms which were aimed at lessening the influence of the local German-speaking aristocracy, to the benefit of the local Estonian-speaking peasantry. In the light of this, there is some evidence to suggest that the Estonian-speaking population considered Swedish rule as characterised by the rule of law, and it has been recorded that in later, harsh times the lower classes have expressed a wish for a return to Swedish rule.Swedish reforms, some of lasting influence, also included the establishment of the University of Tartu (as well as other educational institutions, e.g. the Gustav Adolf Grammar School); staunchly promoting Lutheranism and providing translations of the Bible into Estonian; and creating a court of appeal in Tartu.Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic
The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (Estonian SSR or ESSR; Estonian: Eesti Nõukogude Sotsialistlik Vabariik ENSV; Russian: Эстонская Советская Социалистическая Республика ЭССР, Estonskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika ESSR), also known as Soviet Estonia or Estonia was an unrecognized republic of the Soviet Union, administered by a subordinate of the Soviet government. The ESSR was initially established on the territory of the Republic of Estonia on 21 July 1940, following the invasion of Soviet troops on 17 June 1940, and the installation of a puppet government backed by the Soviet Union, which declared Estonia a Soviet constituency. The Estonian SSR was subsequently incorporated into the Soviet state on 9 August 1940. The territory was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944 and administered as a part of Reichskommissariat Ostland.
Most countries did not recognize the incorporation of Estonia de jure and only recognized its Soviet government de facto or not at all. A number of these countries continued to recognize Estonian diplomats and consuls who still functioned in the name of their former government. This policy of non-recognition gave rise to the principle of legal continuity, which held that de jure, Estonia remained an independent state under occupation throughout the period 1940–91.On 16 November 1988, the Estonian SSR became the first republic within the Soviet sphere of influence to declare state sovereignty from Moscow. On 30 March 1990, the Estonian SSR declared that Estonia had been occupied since 1940 and declared a transitional period for the country's full independence. The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic was renamed as the Republic of Estonia on 8 May 1990. The independence of the Republic of Estonia was re-established on 20 August during the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt the following year and the Soviet Union itself recognised the independence of Estonia on 6 September 1991.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.Estonian nationalism
Estonian nationalism refers to the ideological movement for attaining and maintaining identity, unity and autonomy on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an Estonian cultural unit of population with a separate homeland, shared ancestral myths and memories, a public culture, common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members.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.History of Estonia
The history of Estonia forms a part of the history of Europe. Humans settled in the region of Estonia near the end of the last glacial era, beginning from around 8500 BC. Before German crusaders invaded in the early 13th century, proto-Estonians of ancient Estonia worshipped spirits of nature. Starting with the Northern Crusades in the Middle Ages, Estonia became a battleground for centuries where Denmark, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Poland fought their many wars over controlling the important geographical position of the country as a gateway between East and West.After Danes and Germans conquered the area in 1227, Estonia was ruled initially by Denmark in the north, by the Livonian Order, an autonomous part of the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights and by Baltic German ecclesiastical states of the Holy Roman Empire. From 1418 to 1562 the whole of Estonia formed part of the Livonian Confederation. After the Livonian War of 1558-1583, Estonia became part of the Swedish Empire until 1710/1721, when Sweden ceded it to Russia as a result of the Great Northern War of 1700-1721. Throughout this period the Baltic-German nobility enjoyed autonomy, and German served as the language of administration and education.
The Estophile Enlightenment Period (1750–1840) led to the Estonian national awakening in the middle of the 19th century. In the aftermath of World War I (1914-1918) and the Russian revolutions of 1917, Estonians declared their independence in February 1918. The Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920) ensued on two fronts: the newly proclaimed state fought against Bolshevist Russia to the east and against the Baltic German forces (the Baltische Landeswehr) to the south. The Tartu Peace Treaty (February 1920) marked the end of fighting and recognised Estonian independence in perpetuity.
In 1940, in the wake of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and (according to e.g. the US, the EU, and the European Court of Human Rights) illegally annexed the country. In the course of Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany occupied Estonia in 1941; later in World War II the Soviet Union reoccupied it (1944). Estonia regained independence in 1991 in the course of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.History of Estonia (1920–39)
The history of Estonia from 1920 to 1939 spanned the interwar period from the end of the Estonian War of Independence until the outbreak of World War II, and covers the years of parliamentary democracy, the Great Depression, and the period of authoritarian rule.Livonian Crusade
The Livonian Crusade was the conquest of the territory constituting modern Latvia and Estonia during the pope-sanctioned Northern Crusades, performed mostly by Germans from the Holy Roman Empire and Danes. It ended with the creation of the Terra Mariana and Duchy of Estonia. The lands on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea were the last corners of Europe to be Christianized.
On 2 February 1207, in the territories conquered, an ecclesiastical state called Terra Mariana was established as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire, and proclaimed by Pope Innocent III in 1215 as a subject of the Holy See. After the success of the crusade, the German- and Danish-occupied territory was divided into six feudal principalities by William of Modena.Oeselians
The Oeselians or Osilians, is a historic, as well as a current English-usage, name for the inhabitants of Saaremaa (Latin: Oesel, Osilia, Swedish: Ösel, Danish: Øsel, Finnish: Saarenmaa), an Estonian island in the Baltic Sea. In modern Estonian, they are called saarlased (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈsɑːrlɑset] "islanders"; singular: saarlane). The name was first used by Henry of Livonia in the 13th century. The inhabitants of Saaremaa are often mentioned in the historic written sources during the Estonian Viking Age.
On the eve of Northern Crusades, the inhabitants of Saaremaa were summarized in the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle thus: "The Oeselians, neighbors to the Kurs (Curonians), are surrounded by the sea and never fear strong armies as their strength is in their ships. In summers when they can travel across the sea they oppress the surrounding lands by raiding both Christians and pagans."Swedish Livonia
Swedish Livonia (Swedish: Svenska Livland) was a dominion of the Swedish Empire from 1629 until 1721. The territory, which constituted the southern part of modern Estonia (including the island of Ösel ceded by Denmark after the Treaty of Brömsebro) and the northern part of modern Latvia (the Vidzeme region), represented the conquest of the major part of the Polish-Lithuanian Duchy of Livonia during the 1600–1629 Polish-Swedish War. Parts of Livonia and the city of Riga were under Swedish control as early as 1621 and the situation was formalized in Truce of Altmark 1629, but the whole territory was not ceded formally until the Treaty of Oliva in 1660. The minority part of the Wenden Voivodeship retained by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was renamed the Inflanty Voivodeship ("Livonian Principality"), which today corresponds to the Latgale region of Latvia.
Riga was the second largest city in the Swedish Empire at the time. Together with other Baltic Sea dominions, Livonia served to secure the Swedish dominium maris baltici. In contrast to Swedish Estonia, which had submitted to Swedish rule voluntarily in 1561 and where traditional local laws remained largely untouched, the uniformity policy was applied in Swedish Livonia under Karl XI of Sweden: serfdom was abolished, peasants were offered education as well as military, administrative or ecclesiastical careers, and nobles had to transfer domains to the king in the Great Reduction.
The territory in turn was conquered by the Russian Empire during the Great Northern War and, following the Capitulation of Estonia and Livonia in 1710, formed the Governorate of Livonia. Formally, it was ceded to Russia in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, together with Swedish Estonia and Swedish Ingria.Timeline of Tallinn
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Tallinn, Estonia.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.Viking Age in Estonia
The Viking Age in Estonia was a period in the history of Estonia, part of the Viking Age (793–1066 AD). It was not a unified country at the time, and the area of Ancient Estonia was divided among loosely allied regions. It was preceded by the Bronze and Early Iron Ages in Estonia, during which an agrarian society had developed, the Migration Period (450–550 AD), and Pre-Viking Age (550–800 AD) with the Viking Age itself lasting between 800–1050 AD. It is often considered to be part of the Iron Age period which started around 400 AD and ended around 1200 AD, soon after Estonian Vikings were recorded in the Eric Chronicles to have sacked Sigtuna in 1187.The society, economy, settlement and culture of the territory of what is in the present-day the country of Estonia is studied mainly through archaeological sources. The era is seen to have been a period of rapid change. The Estonian peasant culture came into existence by the end of the Viking Age. The overall understanding of the Viking Age in Estonia is deemed to be fragmentary and superficial, because of the limited amount of surviving source material. The main sources for understanding the period are remains of the farms and fortresses of the era, cemeteries and a large amount of excavated objects.The landscape of Ancient Estonia featured numerous hillforts, some later hillforts on Saaremaa heavily fortified during the Viking Age and on to the 12th century. The areas of Northern and Western Estonia belonged in the Scandinavian cultural sphere during the Viking Age. There were a number of late prehistoric or medieval harbour sites on the coast of Saaremaa, but none have been found that are large enough to be international trade centres. The Estonian islands also have a number of graves from the Viking Age, both individual and collective, with weapons and jewellery. Weapons found in Estonian Viking Age graves are common to types found throughout Northern Europe and Scandinavia.