Early and Middle Ages
The first archaeological evidence on today’s territory indicates the existence of Estonian tribes more than 6,000 years ago. The Estonians, organized in loose tribal associations, were first mentioned in writing by the Roman historian Tacitus in the 1st century AD.
According to AbbreviationFinder, the Estonian history of the following centuries was characterized by conquests and foreign rule by various European great powers. The Estonians had been exposed to attempts to conquer Russian princes since 1030, but were unable to assert themselves permanently in the country. At the same time, the Christianization of Estonia began in the 11th century, which was accompanied by a division into the archbishoprics of Bremen and Lund and colonization by the German Sword Brothers, a predecessor of the Teutonic Order. Until the 16th century, Estonia was part of Livonia, a territory that got its name from the Lives that settled between the mouth of the Daugava River and the west coast of the Gulf of Riga. Livonia referred to the entire area between what is now Lithuania, Lake Peipus and the Baltic Sea.
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In 1219, troops of the Danish king Waldemar II conquered northern Estonia and built a castle near Tallinn. After uprisings in the middle of the 14th century, the northern part of the country was sold to the Teutonic Knights, which had already subjugated the southern part at the beginning of the 13th century and established estates and settlements over several generations that were administered and governed according to German law.
The order state of the Teutonic Knights reached its greatest expansion in 1402. As the easternmost cities, alongside the Lithuanian Riga, the Estonian Tallinn (from 1285) and – as the easternmost branch – also the Estonian Baltic city of Narva on the Russian border belonged. The Estonian coastal cities were also part of the Hanseatic League and thus an integral part of international Baltic trade until the mid-16th century.
In 1522 Estonia was also affected by the Reformation. Simultaneously with the dwindling power of the Order and the Hanseatic League, the military pressure of the Russian Tsarist House, which tried to occupy the unprotected area, increased. In 1558, Russia achieved its first territorial successes against Livonia in the Livonian War. Tallinn and the islands alone successfully resisted. The situation changed when Poland and Sweden entered the war. From 1580 the reconquest of Northern Estonia by the Swedes began, the south of the former Livonia was annexed by Poland as the Duchy of Courland and overdunish Livonia. In 1583 and 1585 the Russian tsarist empire renounced Estonia and the Swedish royal family set about politically and socially reforming the regions of Harrien, Wierland, Jerwen and Wiek as the Duchy of Esthen.
The reforms were accompanied by a loss of power by the Estonian nobility. The Swedish rule ended after Russia won against Sweden in the second Nordic was. In the Peace of Nystad in 1721, Estonia became Russian, and the Estonian nobility regained their former privileges. The political independence of Estonia was increasingly diminished and from the 19th century Russian influences became increasingly dominant. Serfdom was only abolished very late in European comparison under Alexander I. In the mid-19th century, farmers were given the right to buy land.
The Russian Revolution was also a turning point for Estonia. Estonian national consciousness awakened: in 1918 the Estonians proclaimed their first independent republic, which was confirmed by Russia in 1920 after the war with Bolshevik troops in the peace of Dorpat. This was followed by diplomatic recognition by numerous European countries, including Germany, the United States, Great Britain and France. Estonia became a member of the League of Nations.
The twenty years of first independence ended with the occupation by Soviet troops in the war in 1940. Estonians, who were oriented towards the Russian Communist regime, took over, tens of thousands of opponents, mostly from the former leadership, were deported to Russia and partially murdered. From 1941 to September 1944, Estonia was occupied by German troops. During this time there were numerous politically motivated murders of Estonian citizens. The Red Army returned in September 1944, and many Estonians fled to Sweden and Germany. For the next 45 years, Estonia was one of the Soviet republics.
The perestroika policy of the Soviet President Gorbachev brought a change. At the end of the 1980s, Estonia, along with the two Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, was one of the first to seek independence against the resistance of the Russian central government. On March 30, 1990, the Supreme Soviet of Estonia declared its will for independence, followed by Russian sanctions, which ended after the failed coup against Gorbachev in 1991. Independence was proclaimed in August, and in September the country, with Russia’s consent, joined the United Nations.
In 1994 Russia withdrew its troops from Estonia despite the conflict over the treatment of the Russian minority in the country and the drawing of borders in the Narva and Pechory areas. In return, former Soviet soldiers were allowed to settle in Estonia and acquire Estonian citizenship. In 2005 the border treaty with Russia, which had been negotiated since 1999, was signed in Moscow, but the signature was withdrawn soon after. Finally, in 2011 a new border treaty was ratified by both sides.
Russia’s attempt in 1996 to persuade the Baltic States to become a member of the CIS was followed by the immediate opposition by Estonian President Lannart Meri and increased efforts to connect the country to western democracies and promote the market economy. After free trade agreements were signed with Latvia and Lithuania in 1993, limited military cooperation with NATO began in 1994 with the signing of the Partnership for Peace agreement. In September the reform-oriented prime minister Maart Laar was voted out by a motion of no confidence. After an interim prime minister in 1995, Tiit Vahi, associated with the center-left parties, was elected prime minister.However, its government failed due to political scandals at the end of the same year; Vahi was able to form a new government. He resigned in 1997 and was replaced by Mart Siimann, Mart Laar from the Conservative Fatherland Union (1999) and, after his resignation in 2002, Siim Kallas, the leader of the Reform Party. Kallas formed a coalition government made up of the Reform and Center parties. In 2001 President Lannart Meri of the Fatherland Union (in office since 1992) was replaced by the reform communist Arnold R¨¹¨¹tel, who in turn was replaced by Toomas Hendrik Ilves in 2006. Prime Minister has been Andrus Ansip since 2005.
An association agreement was signed with the EU in June 1995 and far-reaching adjustments to both the economic and legal systems (such as the abolition of the death penalty) were undertaken. EU accession finally took place on May 1, 2004. NATO accession took place on March 19 of the same year. Relations with Russia are still frosty.