Monday, March 14, 2005

History of Estonia

History of Estonia. This is a good general overview to the history of the European nation of Estonia.

From the site:

Estonians are one of the longest-settled European peoples, whose forebears, known as the "comb pottery" people, lived on the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea over 5,000 years ago. Like other early agricultural societies, Estonians were organized into economically self-sufficient, male-dominated clans with few differences in wealth or social power. By the early Middle Ages most Estonians were small landholders, with farmsteads primarily organized by village. Estonian government remained decentralized, with local political and administrative subdivisions emerging only during the first century A.D. By then, Estonia had a population of more than150,000 people and remained the last corner of medieval Europe to be Christianized.

In 1227 the German crusading order of the Sword Brethren defeated the last Estonian stronghold. The people were Christianized, colonized, and enserfed. Despite attempts to restore independence, Estonia was divided among three domains, and small states were formed. Tallinn joined the Hanseatic League in 1248.

Despite successful Russian raids and invasions in 1481 and 1558, the local German barons continued to rule Estonia and from 1524 preserved Estonian commitment to the Protestant Reformation. Northern Estonia submitted to Swedish control in 1561 during the Livonian Wars, and in 1582-83 southern Estonia (Livonia) became part of Poland's Duchy of Courland.

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