Modules for History Lessons
Edited By Uta Fenske, Daniel Groth, Klaus-Michael Guse and Bärbel P. Kuhn
The Case of Lutheranism in Estonian History – From External Determination to People’s Church
Introduction to the Module
During the violent Livonian crusade of the early 13th century the population of present-day Estonia was subordinated to German-Danish rulers and a new faith. The local peoples were Christianized. Henceforth, Roman Catholicism acquired the position of the one and only religion. Slowly but steadily the ancestors of the Estonians were turned into a dependent peasant class under the secular and ecclesiastical power of the new elite of foreign origin, the Baltic German minority. Throughout the following centuries the Baltic Germans never made up more than five per cent of the whole population.
After a series of long and bloody wars, by the early 17th century the Estonian soil came under the rule of the Swedish monarchs. In local matters the Baltic Germans, who maintained various contacts with German lands at all times, still largely retained their power. A major change of earlier beginning – the Lutheran Reformation – came to a successful end under the King Gustav II Adolf, who also led Sweden to political and military supremacy in the Thirty Years’ War.
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