Eastern Baltic
before Christianization

Estonia 1218-1346

Early in the 13th century the crusade movement diversified, the various national crusade contingents looking for targets of their own. The eastern Baltic attracted the attention of the Swedes (Finland), the Danes and the northern Germans; the latter two competed for what is Estonia today - the Estonians were still pagans and therefore a 'legitimate' target.
The ORDER OF THE BRETHREN OF THE SWORD (also called Livonian Knights) established itself in Riga in 1199 and from there undertook the conquest of the area; in 1211 a bishop of Estonia with seat in LEAL was mentioned.

In 1218, a Danish army landed on Estonia's northern shore, defeated the Estonians in a battle, during which the DANNEBROG, the Danish flag, is supposed to have fallen down from the sky, having given victory to the Danish side. The Danes had conquered Estonia, (that is northern Estonia - regions of HARRIEN, WIERLAND and JERWEN; the west and south for centuries to come belonged to Livonia). REVAL (modern Tallinn emerged as the center of the Danish administration, became the seat of a bishopric with was a suffragan to the archbishop residing in Lund. Denmark conquered the Estonian. Immediately with the conquest, Danish King WARDEMAR II. enfiefed his knights with (newly created) estates in Estonia, laying the foundation of what was to become the Estonian RITTERSCHAFT. In1238, Denmark ceded Jerwen to the Livonian Order.
Reval soon attracted German settlers and became a major trading town which joined the HANSEATIC LEAGUE - a city with LUBECK CITY LAW is documented for 1248 ; it assumed an important role in the Hanseatic trade with the Russian city of NOVGOROD.
In 1343, the Estonians rose in revolt against Danish rule. In 1346, Danish King VALDEMAR III. ATTERDAG, short of cash, entrusted Estonia to the Livonian Order as a pawn; Denmark never redeemed it. Estonia (that is Northern Estonia) was integrated into Livonia, the bishop of Reval placed under the archbishop of Riga. Feudalism was introduced, as land was parcelled out to German feudal landlords and the Estonian peasantry was reduced to serfdom.

The Estonian Middle Ages (1200-1558), from Estonica
Torben K. Nielsen, The missionary man: Archbishop Anders Sunesen and the Baltic Crusade (1998)
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

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

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