Hello, dear reader. I have compiled the contents of this blog over the course of one year. The chapters have been written in a way that they expect one to have read the preceeding ones to get the full picture. Unless you are already versed in Estonian history I would recommend you to follow this principle. If you have any questions or anything else to say, do not hesitate to make comments.  As it was a hobby project, I went more in-depth on topics that interested me, do not hold it against me :P   I hope you will enjoy this journey :)

Chapter 0: Prelude

Estonian history begins with the Livonian Crusade in the early 13th century. The written sources before that time period are few and far between, so the time before the 13th century is classified as “muinasaeg” or “ancient time”. Most of the information about that period has been gathered via archeology. The earliest possible mention of Estonia could be from 98 AD, when the Roman historian Tacitus wrote in “Germania” about a people called “Aestii”, who lived on the eastern shore of the Baltic sea. However, it is very much questionable if he really referred to ancient Estonians. Estonia was covered by a glacier up until about 11 000 years ago. It was also around that time when the first people arrived here. Over the course of the following millennia there were several other waves of migration, during which there were seismic shifts in culture, for example how pottery was decorated or how people were buried. Modern Estonians are basically a mixture of these people, genetically speaking.

Chapter 1: The Ancient Era

Estonia was not a single united country. Instead it was divided into loads of smaller “counties”, which were something between a tribe and a country. A map showcasing the approximate size and locations of ancient counties. (Fun fact: in Finnish Estonia is called Viro (from Virumaa) and in Latvian it is called Igaunija (from Ugandi) As can be seen from the map, the counties on the border were larger than the ones which were inland. The reason behind this is theorised to be the fact that border areas were more vulnerable, so it motivated smaller counties to peacefully unite into larger ones in order to be more powerful. However, there is a possibility that eventually the counties would have united to form a single kingdom. People exclusively identified themselves with their specific county during earlier periods, but by the 13th century there were already some specific mentions of “Estonians” and “Estonia”. The chiefs of all counties had annual meetings in Raikküla, which was in Harjumaa

Chapter 2: The Livonian Crusade (1208-1227)

Estonians were the last pagans in Europe. For that reason, the area in modern day Estonia and Latvia were of particular interest for Christian missionaries in the 12th century. There were some converts, for example there was a monk called Nicolaus in Norway, who was of Estonian origin, but generally the missionary efforts fell in vain. The archbishop of Lund consecrated munk Fulco as the “bishop of Estonians” in 1170, but it is unknown if Fulco ever made it to Estonia. The pope Alexander III made the first call for a crusade against the Estonians around that time, but it is also unknown if that call had any traction. Back then, the land around the Gulf of Riga was not populated by Latvians as it is today, but instead by Livonians, a Finno-Ugric people very closely related to Estonians who have unfortunately gone extinct. Missionary efforts among Livonians were a little more successful, but when the monk Meinhard became the bishop of Livonians in 1186 and established a bishopric, there

Chapter 3: The Mediaeval Era (1227-1561); 3.1: Political history

The victorious Christian forces were not united, but instead acted as rivals. In 1226-1227 the Livonian Order conquered all of the Danish territory, including the castle in Tallinn (Reval). The Danish king was not happy about that and started a trial in Rome against the Order. The pope sent several ambassadors to the Livonian Order, but because the ambassadors had no military means to make the Order comply, these attempts proved futile. A solution was found in 1236, when the Livonian Order was decisively defeated by the Lithuanians. The remnants of the order were made to join the Teutonic Order, which had previously conquered East Prussia, modern day Kaliningrad. The Teutonic Order signed the treaty of Stensby in 1238 and with it gave back Harju, Revala and Virumaa to Denmark. After the Livonian order lost the aforementioned battle, Oeselians rose up once more, but in 1241 they surrendered. The conditions for surrender were different in various parts of Estonia. In Southern Estonia the

Chapter 3.2: Castles

Mediaeval Estonia was covered by a dense network of castles. If one does not include smaller fortified positions, there were about 50 in total. Most castles were constructed immediately after the land was conquered, in order to keep the area under control. Many were built in the same location as the ancient Estonian fortresses.   Castles acted both as local military outposts as well as the centre of local power and administration, where the residence of the seignor and their court was located. About half of the castles belonged to the Order or the bishops, the second half belonged to their vassals.    Some surviving examples:   Kuressaare (Arensburg) castle, belonged to the bishop of Ösel-Wiek. Haapsalu (Hapsal) castle, belonged to the Bishop of Ösel-Wiek.   Rakvere (Wesenberg) castle, belonged to the Order.   Hermanni castle, belonged to the Order.   Koluvere (Lode) castle, belonged to the Bishop of Ösel-Wiek.    Paide (Wittenstein) castle, belonged to the Order. Then and now.

Chapter 3.3: Cities

Soon after the Crusade, cities began to be established by the new rulers. There were 9 cities in Estonia during the medieval era: Tallinn (Reval), Tartu (Dorpat), Viljandi (Fellin), Uus-Pärnu (Neu-Pernau), Vana-Pärnu (Alt-Pernau), Haapsalu (Hapsal), Paide (Wittenstein), Rakvere (Wesenberg) and Narva. Medieval Livonia was one of the least urbanized regions in Europe. A city was not determined by its size, but instead by its legal status. Cities had received town rights and privileges from their Seignor, which granted them special status and autonomy. All Estonian cities were given town charters between 1248 (Tallinn) and 1345 (Narva). Each town had their own rights, laws and liberties. They were led by town councils (raad), which were elected by the citizens of the city. The town councils had immense power within the city: the members of the council formed the judiciary; the council decided who would be accepted as a citizen; they regulated the economy, market and production. The Town

Chapter 3.4: Life in the Countryside

The most important growth articles were rye and barley. Rye bread has remained the most popular type of bread. Oats and wheat were less common. Most farms had small gardens, where turnips, cabbages, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, peas, beans and onions were grown. Fruit gardens were rare, but people could have had a few apple trees and berry bushes. Cows, goats, sheep, pigs and horses were the main animals on the farm. People also hunted rabbits, elk, wild goats, wild boars and sometimes even bears. Fishing was more important than hunting though, both saltwater fish and freshwater fish were consumed. Most necessary consumer goods were crafted on the farm. In addition to working in the field of their farm, peasants were also required to work on the field of the manor for a certain number of days in a year. By the end of the mediaeval era, each peasant had to dedicate about 45 days a year to the manor. In addition, a portion of all produce grown on the farm had to be given to the ma

Chapter 3.5: Religion and Education

Estonia was divided into three bishoprics, two of which you have already heard of as they formed independent states. The third was the bishopric of Tallinn. All bishoprics had their own cathedrals. The cathedral of Ösel-Wiek was located in Haapsalu. It can be seen from the castle picture from chapter 3.2, it is the section with the roof on the left. The cathedral of Tartu was of course in Tartu.   This is how it used to look like. Since the Livonian war, it has been in ruins:   St. Mary´s Cathedral (Tallinna Neitsi Maarja Piiskoplik Toomkirik or just Toomkirik), or the one in Tallinn:   The land was divided between parishes, east parish had their own church, most of which have survived to some extent. (Mostly renovated and rebuilt in later periods). Some surviving churches from the 13th century, which have not seen changes in later years: St. Catherine of Muhu (Muhu Katariina kirik) Karja Church Large towns had several parishes, Tallinn had three, Tartu had two. The ones in Tallinn wer

Chapter 3.6: The Reformation in Livonia

The influence of the nailing of a certain 95 point reform program for a certain religion on a certain church in Germany by a certain former monk on the 31th of October 1517 did not take that much time to reach Livonia. In 1523-1524, one could see preachers travelling from town to town to spread the word about the Reformation. It was able to gain a lot of traction In Riga, Tallinn and Tartu. In the (old, now disappeared) church of Saint Mary in Tartu, one of Luther's students started to give sermons in 1524. However, the man was kicked out of the city by the authorities. He consequently travelled to Tallinn, where he probably had more luck. In autumn of 1524, there were riots in the city, as angry mobs went from church to church to smash altars and destroy paintings, symbols of the Catholic faith. The only church that managed to survive the havoc was St. Nicholas, because the pastor there filled the keyholes of the doors with tin. In the spring of 1525, the same happened in Tartu an