Building of the Tallinn Dominican Monastery

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It is unknown when exactly the Dominicans arrived. Initially it was thought to have happened in 1229, this theory was based on an old manuscript. Later however, it is thought that the date is more likely to have been 1239, because in 1229 Tallinn had fell to the Brotherhood of the Sword, which was quarreling with the Pope, and it is doubtful that the Dominicans wanted to take residence in Tallinn during such confusing times. Thus it is presumed, that the manuscript was misinterpreted, and the actual year of arrival is 10 years later.

Building of a stationary monastery began in 1246. Back then, it stood near the edge of the town, outside the walls of Toompea fort. By the XV century, the town had grown to the extent that it could be said that the monastery resided in the center of the town. Building was completed by 1260, and the monks, who before had probably lived in Toompea, moved in. The Dominican monastery, dedicated to Saint Catherine, became an important religious and educational center. Dominicans were preaching to the common people, their speeches, delivered in local language, brought them the support of the Estonians. At the same time, the Dominicans clashed with both the church- and town officials, and the confrontation escalated into a conflict during the Reformation in 1520. The monastery was closed down in 1525, and the monks were abolished from the city. Next, the monastery facilitated a gunpowder store, later a school. The monastery has partly survived and currently holds a museum.

Source: Jaan Tamm. Eesti keskaegsed kloostrid = Medieval monasteries of Estonia. Tallinn: Eesti Entsüklopeediakirjastus, 2002.

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