Half of Estonia is under Russian power

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In 1705, Peter I and Augustus II the Strong, forged the Union of Grodno, where Peter I agreed to cede all areas conquered in Livonia to Poland. But after Augustus II had, on September 13 1706, signed a separate treaty with Sweden in Altranstädt, Peter I announced that he was no longer obligated to follow the Grodno treaty.

Over the years (1705 - 1709), eastern cities became to be in the hands of the Russians and the western ones in those of the Swedish.

The saddest fate of them was that of Tartu. Even though the city surrendered, and the military command of the Russian Army assured that it would be allowed to keep all of its current privileges and liberties, the tzar did not abide by this. A new and strict order was set in. No one adhered to the old rights and privileges: it was difficult to leave the city, the scavenged food supplies could only be bought at a steep price from the Russian soldiers. The tobacco, spirits and salt trade were turned into a national monopoly, that crippled all the trade in the city. Charged with treason, the members of the town council, Claus Kropp and Abraham Moresin, were hung without a trial.

The darkest day, however, was February 12, 1708, when the commandant Friedrich Balck announced, that all the citizens were going to be forcefully sent to Russia. On February 18, 824 people set out to Vologda, Ustjug and Kaasan districts.

After the deportation everything of value was destroyed: the organ of Jaani church, church bells and chandeliers, the new tin roof of the building of the Town Council and even some of the better tombstones.
The destruction of Tartu began on July 12, by the order of Peter I: the town walls were blown up, churches and houses were set on fire. On July 17, the last remaining soldiers left the decimated city, burning down the saunas they used to clean off the dirt and grime of the burning city.

In 1714, the deported were given the permission to return. Out of the 183 families, only 86 came back. A literary reminiscence of the misfortune of Tartu is the lament in Tartu dialect, by the sexton and schoolmaster of Puhja know by the name of Käsu Hans, "Oh! ma waene Tardo Liin!". (Oh, me/I, poor city of Tartu.)

In 1708, Russians set out on a larger decimation campaign, besting the Swedes that tried to stop them near Vinni. That remained the last battle of the Great Northern War on Estonian soil.

Source: Eesti ajalugu. IV, Põhjasõjast pärisorjuse kaotamiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa. 2003
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.                                                        

Image source: http://www.tartu.ee/data/ajal5.jpg    

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