Estonia Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Estonia is an independent nation in Northern Europe. With the capital city of Tallinn, Estonia 2020 population is estimated at 1,326,546 according to countryaah. Throughout the centuries, Danes, Germans, Swedes and Russians have changed as rulers in Estonia. In 1918, the country succeeded in becoming independent, but freedom was short-lived. In 1940, the country was occupied by the Soviet Union, 1941 by Germany and 1944 again by the Soviet Union. Subsequently, Estonia was incorporated as a sub-republic of the Soviet Union with severe political repression.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Estonia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

The area’s first residents were semi-nomads, who lived by hunting and fishing. At the time of the birth of Christ, the land was cultivated. Thereafter, metal and ceramic crafts were developed and during the Viking era the trade flourished. Estonian Vikings are said to have destroyed Sigtuna in Sweden in 1187. For Estonia political system, please check computerminus.

From the end of the 1100s, Estonia’s political history was dominated by foreign powers’ struggle for control of trade and trade routes in the Northern Baltic. At the beginning of the 13th century, the Estonian country was divided between Danes in the north and German crusaders and sword knights in the south. Just over a century later, after a major Estonian uprising, the Danes sold their land holdings to the German words. The Germans became sole lords over Livland, a state formation that encompassed all of present-day Estonia and northern Latvia.

Tallinn grew up around a Danish-built castle on Toompea (Domberget). The Germans named the city Reval and joined it with the Hanseatic League. Reval was dominated during the Middle Ages by German and Scandinavian traders and craftsmen, while the Estonian rural population became viable peasants under German nobility.

Swedish influence is followed by Russian

Livland had received its first Christian bishop in 1186. The Reformation reached Estonian territory in the early 1520s and the Estonians were converted to Lutheran doctrine. The German regime weakened and ceased after the Russian tsar Ivan IV’s attack in 1558. Then followed the Swedish power holdings. During decades of wars between Russians, Swedes, Poles and Danes, the population declined sharply.

Sweden underwent ever greater parts of the country and in 1645 also the island of Saaremaa (Ösel). However, communities with Swedish-speaking populations had existed in the coastal regions of northwestern Estonia since the 13th century. Sweden took advantage of the area for importing food, but the conditions of livestock farmers improved towards the end of the Swedish era. The judiciary was reformed, and village schools, colleges and printing houses were set up. In 1632, King Gustav II Adolf founded the University of Tartu (Dorpat).

The great Nordic war at the beginning of the 18th century, with Sweden’s defeat to Russia at Poltava, led to Swedish power being pushed away from the Baltic. The Estonians came under Russian supremacy at the peace in Nystad in 1721, but the Baltic German nobility continued to rule locally. The conditions of the commonwealth deteriorated and total life traits were introduced.

During the latter part of the 19th century, a national consciousness emerged among the Estonians, aimed at both the nobility and the Russian regime. The national movement had its center in Tartu, where the first singer’s party was held in 1869. At the end of the century, a regular refreshment of administration, schooling and church was carried out.

Estonia becomes independent

When the tsarism fell in 1917, Estonia set itself free from Russia. Reval became Tallinn and Dorpat became Tartu. The Declaration of Independence on February 24, 1918 was followed by the German occupation, which, however, ended with the German collapse of the First World War in November of that year.

After a successful war of freedom against Bolshevik Russia and a German release, Estonia was able to make peace in Tartu in 1920, where Russia recognized Estonia’s independence and renounced all claims on Estonian territory for “eternal time”. Estonia gained a democratic constitution, carried out radical land reform and raised the level of education.

In the first elections Parliament was given a clear left-wing stamp, but the political center of gravity was later shifted to the right. The Communist Party, with the support of the Soviet Union, made a failed coup attempt in Tallinn in 1924. The party was banned but participated in later elections under different names.

At the end of the 1920s, the crisis in the world economy, the exposed state of Estonia near the Soviet Union and the recurring government crises of a fascist colored movement, emboldened the Freedom Wars (Vapsid). These propelled an authoritatively embattled constitution in 1933. With the pretext of wanting to protect democracy, the acting president, “the Reverend Elder” Constantine Päts, decided to dissolve parliament, quell the opposition and introduce press censorship.

Päts himself ended the dictatorship by paving the way for a new democratic constitution that came into force in 1938.

Under Soviet – and Nazi – oppression

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Estonia declared itself neutral, but by then Germany and the Soviet Union had just signed a non-assault treaty, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. In a secret supplementary protocol, Eastern Europe had been divided into a German and a Soviet sphere of interest, whereby Estonia ended up in the Soviet. In the autumn of 1939, Estonia was forced to enter into a defense agreement with the Soviet Union and to provide areas for Soviet military bases.

In June 1940, the Moscow regime accused Estonia of preparing, together with Latvia and Lithuania, a military attack on the Soviet Union. Moscow demanded that the government of Tallinn be replaced by a Soviet-friendly ministry, which also happened. The Soviet military marched in, a railroad election was held in July and Estonia formally joined the Soviet Union in August 1940.

Thus, a long-standing political repression began. Esther was deported to Siberia, among others. In June 1941, more than 10,000 people were arrested and removed.

One week after the deportations, Hitler invaded the Baltic. The Soviet army was driven to the east and Estonia ended up under Nazi occupation. This meant that the Jews of the country were exterminated. In 1944, Estonia was taken back by the Soviet Union.

Estonia Old History