The History of the Baltic states
ISBN 9985-2-01337-1 (english)
ISBN 9985-2-0134-5 (german)
The present textbook was directed by the Council of Europe project „The Baltic History Textbook”. It was foreseen in the project that Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian historians write the parts concerning their countries and only then the text would be integrated into a textbook in equal parts.
The textbook about the integrated history of the Baltic countries will be completed in a joint project by Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian authors. The book deals with the Baltic history from very early times till nowadays.
To the team of Estonian authors belong Sergei Isajev, Naima Klitsner, Ülle Kõiv, Eda Maripuu, Ilje Piir, Igal Serglov and Laura Uudam. Mart Laar, Mati Laur, Ain Mäesalu, Ago Pajur and Priit Raudkivi have contributed as experts.
The textbook can be used at schools as an independent study material for the Baltic history course or as an introductory material into the history of the Baltics in the general history course.
The book will be published in Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian, English and german.
The Autors would like to thank the Council of Europe, Open Estonia Foundation and the Soros Foundation in Latvia and Lithuania for their support.
The Great Northern War of 1700 – 1721 and its consequences
In the 18th century the Baltics became the scene of military activity again. In 1699 the anti-Swedish Northern League consisting of Russia, Denmark, Rzecz Pospolita and Saxony was formed. The ruler of Rzecz Pospolita and Saxony, August II, having concluded a treaty with Russia, hoped to get the whole Livonia under the Polish-Lithuanian crown with support from Peter I.
A Livonian landowner Johan Reinhold Patkul was an ardent opponent of the Swedish agrarian reform and an active inspirer of the anti-Swedish coalition. In 1698 he organised negotiations between August II and Peter I which led to the formation of the Northern League.
The Seim of Rzecz Pospolita tried to avoid war. It did not allow the king to raise an army in Poland and therefore August II had to use Saxon troops. The Great Northern War started in February 1700 when the Saxon troops attacked Riga - but the assault was not successful. Denmark joined the war in March, followed by Russia. Quite unexpectedly for the allies, young Karl XII proved to be a gifted and wise commander. He defeated Denmark in August already and forced it to sign a peace treaty. At Narva the Russians were badly defeated. In July 1701, the Swedes beat the Saxons in the field of Spilve near Riga. Believing that Russia was defeated Karl XII occupied the Dukedom of Couronia and marched to Lithuania. The Swedish troops took Zemgaitia and seized Vilnius, Kaunas and other Lithuanian towns. Some Lithuanian magnates welcomed Karl XII, others started a guerilla war against the Swedes.
At the same time, following the orders of Peter I to deprive the Swedes of their supporting base, the Russians led by Duke Sheremetyev plundered Livonia and Estonia. Small units of the Swedish army together with the local detachments of militia formed of Estonian and Latvian peasants were unable to resist. Russian troops seized the capital of the Dukedom of Couronia – Miitavi (Jelgava). The Russians burnt down almost all the towns in Estonia and Couronia, including Tartu and Võnnu (C?sis) as well as a lot of villages and farms. Many inhabitants of Estonia and Livonia – Estonians, Latvians and Germans – were killed or taken to Russia. Among them was Marta Skawronska from the town of Aluksne in Livonia who later became the wife of Peter I - Catherine I, Empress of Russia.
In 1704 Karl XII occupied Warsaw and summoned the Seim which under the influence of Sweden dethroned August II and proclaimed Stanislaw Leszczynski the King of Poland. The supporters of August II formed a confederation and the situation became heated. Russia and Rzecz Pospolita concluded a treaty according to which the latter entered the war against Sweden.
The troops of Karl XII marched towards Moscow but at Mogilev headed for the Ukraine. A fierce battle took place near Poltava in 1709 which changed the whole course of the war. The Swedes were defeated and Karl XII fled toTurkey. The Northern League was restored. In 1709 the Russians moved on Riga and occupied the left bank of the Väina river (the Daugava). The siege of Riga had begun. Hunger and plague that raged in the whole Dukedom of Couronia and in Livonia forced Riga to surrender in 1710. The same year Tallinn, Pärnu and other towns surrendered. All the former Swedish possessions in the Baltics were annexed to Russia. The Neustadt Treaty between Russia and Sweden confirmed the annexation legally.