Germans in Estonia

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The settling of the Germans in the Baltic countries started at the end of XII century when the German merchants and missionaries arrived to the Livonian areas. The interest towards the Estonian area increased at the beginning of XIII into the crusade (1208) (also called the Estonian ancient fight for freedom) supported by the Catholic Church and the objectives of which were to Christianize the nations here and conquer the land.

In 1227 the Germans achieved the supreme power over the Estonian last independent county, Saaremaa. The Germans settled down in the cities, strongholds and manors in Estonia. The colonization of the German peasants to Estonia did not take place and so the number of Germans remained within about 5% of the total population, whereby the Germans made about half of the urban citizens during the Middle Ages, at the same time the rural population made about 1% of the population.

Although not very many Germans came to Estonia, they became the elite of the society and the ones making the most important decisions of the country for centuries. The cities erected in Estonia during the Middle Ages which were the cultural, commercial and power centres were German and German-minded. Also, the order and bishop castles, churches, cloisters and manors were at the disposal of the Germans - thus the government centres in the whole country.
The Baltic Germans became the natives of the country during the Middle Ages, who reigned over the whole country up to the end of the Middle Ages and whose language and culture also remained the major influencers of the Estonian culture.

On the photo: Kuressaare castle


Jüri Viikberg. Eesti rahvaste raamat. Eesti entsüklopeediakirjastus: Tallinn 1999;
Ilmar Talve. Eesti kultuurilugu. Keskaja algusest Eesti iseseisvuseni. Ilmamaa: Tartu 2004


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