Swedish Rule

Estonia under Russian rule, 1721-1795

Under Russian rule, Estonia continued to enjoy political autonomy, The country recovered from the destruction inflicted during the Great Nordic War. Actually, there were two separate administrative units, (continental) Estonia and Oesel (with the other islands).
In 1745 the RITTERSCHAFT succeeded in getting approved a MATRIKEL - a list in which the hereditary noble families of the country were listed (the purpose being to exclude career officers and their descendants, who in Swedish times have been rewarded for their services with estates in Estonia, as well as burghers of Reval or Narva who had purchased estates).
In each, the Ritterschaft remained in control of the LANDTAG as well as of the administration, German continued to be the language of administration, jurisdiction and education as well as the language of the Lutheran state church. The Estonian peasants lived in SERFDOM, the living conditions of whom were criticized by philosopher JOHANN GOTTFRIED HERDER. The situation of Swedes (Swedish farmers, in Swedish communities such as Runoe) was considerably better, as they enjoyed the status of freemen.
For Baltic German noblemen, improved career opportunities opened in Russia's diplomatic service, state administration and army. The port city of Reval profited from increasing transit trade to Russia. In the 1780es, Tsarina CATHERINE II. abolished the RITTERSCHAFT and implemented a number of reforms intended to raise the status of the citizens. Yet under her successor PAUL I., who feared revolutionary spirit, these reforms were annulled in 1796.

In 1739, the Estonian translation of the bible was published. In 1790, Estonia's population was estimated at 500,000.

Courland, Livonia and Estonia. Confidential Handbooks No.57, 1919, from the British Foreign Office, posted on the Web by jewishgen.org
Estonian Timeline, by Tapani Hietaniemi
History of Tallinn (Reval), by infomaterjalid
Die Matrikel der Estländischen Ritterschaft, from Genealogie der Estländischen Ritterschaft, in German
DOCUMENTS Medal : Russia, Free Grain Trade Agreement with Livonia and Estonia, c. 1767, from Medal Web, Collection Benjamin Weiss
REFERENCE David G. Kirby, The Baltic World 1772-1993, London : Longman 1995

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 11th 2004

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