Estonia under the rule of three kings

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In 1577-1583, Poland and Sweden managed to beat the Russian forces in Livonia, and with the Truce of Jam Zapolski, Latvia and Southern Estonia went to Poland. A year later, Northern Estonia was transfered to Sweden, by to the Treaty of Pljussa. These events were considered as the end of the Livonian War. Estonia was divided between three kings.

Saaremaa belonged to Denmark.

The Polish era in Southern Estonia: with the surrender of The Livonian Order and the archbishop of Riga to Sigismund Augustus, the king of Poland, the nobles of Livonia demanded that their privileges remain unchanged. With Sigismund Augustus' Privileges, the serfdom of the peasants was affirmed, the nobles were returned their former lands, the lands were to stay Lutheran and all higher positions were to be filled with Germans. But after 1582, Polish authorities began counter-reformations: Jesuits arrived in Livonia and tried to reestablish Catholicism. The Jesuits also founded a gymnasium, where, during the Swedish Era, the university was build. More Polish civil servants were bought in, and the rights of the Germans were cut back. The Polish power could not see through many of the planned changes, because in 1600, war with Sweden begun, and in 1629 all of the Estonian territory was lost to Gustav II Adolf in the Truce of Altmark.

The Swedish Era in Northern Estonia: the land was named a dukedom again, the local nobles maintained their great influence, and formed into the The Estonian Noble Corporation. State lands were managed by a governor, the state-estates by vogds.

Saaremaa as a part of Denmark: The status of Saaremaa differed from the rest, because it had suffered less in the war. Danish authorities affirmed the nobles' privileges, who then formed the The Oesel Noble Corporation. It was relatively difficult to govern a province so far removed from their other ones, so the local nobles had a fair amount of sovereignty.

Source: A.Mäesalu, T. Lukas, M. Laur, T. Tannberg "Eesti ajalugu I" 1997 "Avita"

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