Building of the Viljandi fort

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The construction began already in 1224, by the orders of the Brotherhood.

It was build on top of the older Estonian fort, but it is unclear, what part of it was finished first.

It is possible that it was the main tower of the fort, but may also have been the round wall. Later, probably in the end of the XIII and beginning of the XIV century, the quadrangular convent building was built.

Viljandi was the strongest and most well protected fort of the state of the Livonian Order: it was protected by the town walls, and the main fort had two smaller baileys.The main fort was protected by four walls and thus it remained unconquered until 1560.

Viljandi was the center of a large domain and often the Master of the Order stayed there. Several of the commanders of Viljandi later became Masters. Viljandi was also temporarily seat of the Master, but only for one year: 1470-1471.

In 1560, Russians captured Viljandi, but due to the treason of the defenders. In 1582, Viljandi fell to the Polish, who mended the fort. Later, during the Polish-Swedish war (1600-1629), the fort changed hands several times and eventually was left in ruins.

Widespread digs were organized on the site in 1879, after that quite a number of archaeological digs have taken place, especially in the 1990s and 2000s.

Source: Kalvi Aluve. Eesti keskaegsed linnused. Tallinn: Valgus, 1993.


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