“The main part of the population of Baltic cities up to the 19th century consisted of ethnic Germans, and also Poles and Jews, but not at all Baltic people. In fact, the “old” (pre-revolutionary) Baltic region was completely built by Germans. Baltic cities were German cities – with German architecture, culture, and system of municipal management.
… in the cities of the Baltic region there were almost no Estonians and Latvians.”
Now, the Baltic states consist of three countries – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, which received sovereignty in the course of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Each of these states position themselves, respectively, as the national states of Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians. Nationalism in the Baltic countries was raised to the level of a state policy, which explains the numerous examples of the discrimination of the Russian and Russian-speaking population.
Meanwhile, if to figure this out, it becomes clear that the Baltic countries are typical “replica states” with the absence of their own political history and tradition. Of course not, the states in the Baltic region existed before, but it’s not at all Latvians or Estonians that created them.
What did the Baltic region represent before its lands were included in the structure of the Russian Empire? Before the 13th century, when the German knights/crusaders started conquering the Baltic region, it was a complete and utter “zone of tribes”. Here lived the Baltic and Finno-Ugric tribes, which didn’t have their own statehood and professed paganism.
Thus, modern Latvians as a people appeared as a result of a merger of the Baltic region (Latgalians, Semigallians, Selonians, Curonians) and Finno-Ugric (Livonians) tribes. At the same time it should be taken into account that Baltic tribes themselves weren’t the indigenous people of the Baltic region – they migrated from the South and pushed aside the local Finno-Ugric population to the north of modern Latvia. It is especially the absence of their own statehood that became one of the main reasons for the conquest of the Baltic and the Finno-Ugric people of the Baltic region by more powerful neighbors.
Since the 13th-14th centuries the peoples of the Baltic region found themselves between two fires – from the Southwest they were squeezed and subordinated by the German Order of Knighthood, and from the Northeast – the Russian principalities. It’s not at all the ancestors of modern Lithuanians, but the Litvin – “western Russians”, Slavs, the ancestors of modern Belarusians – who were the “kernel” of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The adoption of the Catholic religion and the developed cultural ties with the neighbouring Poland provided differences between Litvin and the population of Rus. The situation of the Baltic tribes was far from being joyful both in the German Knighthood states and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. They were subjected to religious, linguistic, and social discrimination.
The situation was even worse for the Finno-Ugric tribes, which subsequently became the basis for the formation of the Estonian nation. In Estland, like in the neighbouring Livonia and Courland, all main levers of governance and economy were in the hands of the East Sea [Ostsee – ed] Germans.
Before the middle of the 19th century in the Russian Empire such a name as “Estonians” wasn’t even used – all natives of Finland, the Vyborg Governorate, and some other Baltic territories were united under the name“chukhna”. Moreover, there were no distinctions between Estonians, Izhorians, Vepsians, and Finns. The standard of living of “chukhna” was even lower than that of Latvians and Lithuanians. A considerable part of villagers moved towards St. Petersburg, Riga, and other large cities in search of earnings.
A large number of Estonians even moved towards other regions of the Russian Empire – thus Estonian settlements appeared in the North Caucasus, Crimea, Siberia, and the Far East. They left for the “world’s end” not at all because they had a good life. It is interesting that in the cities of the Baltic region there were almost no Estonians and Latvians – it is they themselves who called themselves “villagers”, opposing themselves to city dwellers – Germans.
The main part of the population of Baltic cities up to the 19th century consisted of ethnic Germans, and also Poles and Jews, but not at all Baltic people. In fact, the “old” (pre-revolutionary) Baltic region was completely built by Germans. Baltic cities were German cities – with German architecture, culture, and system of municipal management.
In knighthood states, in the Duchy of Courland, and in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth the Baltic people would never become equal with title Germans, Poles or Litvins. For the German nobility dominating in the Baltic region, Latvians and Estonians were people of the second grade, almost “barbarians”, there couldn’t even be talk of equal rights. The nobility and merchants of the Duchy of Courland completely consisted of East Sea Germans.
The German minority for centuries dominated Latvian peasants making up the main part of the population of the duchy. Latvian peasants were enslaved and in terms of their social status they were equated to ancient Roman slaves by the Courland statute.
Freedom came to Latvian peasants almost half a century earlier than to Russian serfs – the decree on the cancellation of serfdom in Courland was signed by the emperor Alexander I in 1817. On August 30th in Mitava the release of peasants was solemnly declared.
Two years later, in 1819, Livonia’s peasants were also released. Thus Latvians received long-awaited freedom, with which the gradual formation of a class of free Latvian farmers started. If it wasn’t for the will of the Russian emperor, who knows how many more decades Latvians would’ve remained in the condition of being the serfs of German sirs.
The incredible mercy