The Teutonic Duchy of Estonia
The Duchy of Estonia (Danish:
Hertugdømmet Estland Latin: Ducatus Estonie), was a direct dominion (Latin: Dominum directum) of the King of
Denmark from 1219 until 1346 when it was sold to the Teutonic order and became part of Ordenstaat. During the Livonian crusade
in 1218 Pope Honorius III gave Valdemar II free hands to annex as much land as he could conquer in Estonia, additionally Albert
of Riga, the leader of the Teutonic crusaders fighting the Estonians from the south visited the king and asked him to attack
the Estonians from the North.
Valdemar gathered his fleet, joined forces with the Rugian navy led by prince Wizlav of Rügen and landed at Northern
Coast of Estonia in the Lyndanisse (now Tallinn) harbor in an Estonian province of Revala. According to the legend, the national
flag of Denmark Dannebrog was born at the time by falling from the sky during a critical moment in the fight and helped the
Danes to win the Battle of Lyndanisse against the Estonians. The date of the battle, June 15, is still celebrated as Valdemarsdag
(the national "flag day") in present day Denmark.
The order of the Brothers
of the Sword had conquered Southern Estonia whilst Denmark had taken the North, and the two agreed to divide Estonia, but
quarreled over the exact borders. In 1220 the King of Denmark agreed to submit southern Estonian provinces Sakala and Ugaunia
that were already conquered by Sword Brethren. Bishop Albert submitted to Denmark the Estonian provinces of Harria, Vironia
In 1227 the Livonian Brothers
of the Sword conquered all Danish territories in Northern Estonia. After their defeat in the Battle of Saule the surviving
members of the order merged into the Teutonic Order of Prussia in 1237. On June 7, 1238 the Teutonic order concluded the Treaty
of Stensby at a royal fortress in the south of Zealand with the Danish king Valdemar II. According to the treaty Jerwia stayed
part of the Ordenstaat and Harria and Vironia were ceded back to King of Denmark as his direct dominion, the Duchy of Estonia.
The first Duke of Estonia had been appointed by Valdemar II in 1220, the title was resumed by the kings of Denmark from 1269.
Due to its status as the king's personal possession, the Duchy of Estonia was included in a nationwide Danish taxation list
Liber Census Daniæ (Danish: Valdemar Sejrs Jordebog) (1220-41), an important geographic and historic document.
The capital of Danish Estonia was Reval (Tallinn), founded at
the place of Lyndanisse after the invasion of 1219. The Danes built the fortress of Castrum Danorum at Toompea Hill . Estonians
still call their capital "Tallinn", which according to an urban legend derives from Taani linna (Danish town or
castle). Reval was granted Lübeck city rights (1248) and joined the Hanseatic League. Even today, Danish influence can
be seen in heraldic symbols such as the city of Tallinn's coat of arms being a shield with the Danish cross; and Estonia's
coat of arms depicting a similar three lions to the Danish coat of arms.
In 1240 Valdemar II created the Bishopric of Reval but
contradictory to canon law reserved the right to appoint the bishops of Reval to himself and his successor kings of Denmark.
The decision to simply nominate the holy see of Reval was unique in the whole Catholic Church at the time and was disputed
by bishops and the Pope. During the era, the election of bishops was never established in Reval and the royal rights to the
bishopric and to nominate the bishops was even included in the treaty when the territoris were sold to Teutonic Order in 1346
First mentioned in 1240, the duchy was
locally governed by a viceroy (Latin: capitaneus) appointed by the king and who functioned as his plenipotentiary. The viceroy
had administrative powers, he collected the taxes and commanded the vassals and the troops in case of war. Most of the viceroys
were either of Danish or Danish-Estonian nationality. In Vironia, the main power centers were Wesenberg (Rakvere) and Narva,
built on the site of the old Estonian fortresses of Rakovor and Rugodiv (according to the Old East Slavic chronicles). Wesenberg
was granted Lübeck city rights in 1302 by King Erik Menved. Narva received these rights in 1345.
The vassals of the Danish king received fiefs
per Dominum utile in exchange for military and court services. The oath of the vassals to a new king had to be sworn by a
"year and a day". Most of the vassals , 80% were Germans from Westphalia, 18% were Danes and 2% Estonians (Clemens
Esto, Otto Kivele, Odwardus Sorseferæ etc.) The chronicler Ditleb Alnpeke (1290) complains that the king of Denmark
accepts Estonians as his vassals. The Danish rule was more liberal in that respect than the reign in the territories conquered
by the Brothers of the Sword where no natives were allowed to become lords of fiefs. In 1248, the vassals and burgers of Reval
already had a local legislative body ritterschaft.
Danish army only visited the province occasionally. In 1240-42, Denmark went to war against Novgorod and tried to extend its
rule to the land of Votians. King Valdemar sent his sons Abel and Canute to support the campaign of his vassals but did not
gain any new territories. The Danish king Erik Plogpennig visited Estonia in 1249 and the Danish fleet sailed to Reval in
1268 and 1270 against Russian and Lithuanian threats.
In August 1332 king Christopher II of Denmark died and
Denmark fell into political turmoil. The province in Estonia became split between a pro-Danish party led by bishop Olaf of
Reval and the pro-German party led by captain Marquard Breide. After the Estonians of Harria rebelled in the St.George's Night
Uprising of 1343 the Teutonic order occupied the territories. The overthrow of the Danish government came 2 days after the
Order had defeated the Estonian revolt and the Danish viceroy was imprisoned in cooperation with the pro-German vassals. The
castles in Reval and Wesenberg were handed over to the Order by the pro-German party on May 16, 1343 and the castle at Narva
in 1345. In 1346 Estonia (Harria and Vironia) was sold for 19,000 Köln marks to the Teutonic Order, the shift of sovereignty
from Denmark to the Teutonic Order took place on November 1, 1346.
The present day claims to the Duchy of Estonia by the Teutonic Order. The present 60th Hoch und Deutschmeister
of the Teutonic Order has formally decreed that on the 1st of January 2010, the Teutonic Order of Saint Mary's Hospital in
Jerusalem, reclaimed all the Teutonic Orders formerly held possessions, rights and patrimony to the Teutonic Duchy of Estonia,
which was sold by the King of Denmark to the Teutonic Order on the 1st of November in the year 1346 and was never legally
re-sold or given away by the Teutonic Order to any other Country, State or Person, but infact was illegally taken by force
without due consent or compensation given to the Teutonic Order of Knights, therefore the present 60th Hoch und Deutschmeister
of the Teutonic Order, formally assumes from the date of the aforementioned decree issued, the complete Feudal Overlordship
of the Duchy of Estonia together with Title and Rank of Duke of Estonia, to be henceforth held, born and enjoyed as such upon
all present and future Hoch und Deutschmeisters of the Teutonic Order in perpetuity as the sole possession of the Teutonic
Order and Brotherhood of Knights.