The bishopric of Dorpat is abolished

to map

18. July 1558

After the Livonian War had broke out on January 22, 1558, Russians raided mainly the bishopric of Dorpat. It was the most vulnerable out of all the states in Old-Livonia: it had a relatively long border with Russia and only one strong fort - in Vastseliina.

Russians began their siege on Vastseliina fort in June 1558, and managed to capture it by the end of the month. By this time, the last bishop of Dorpat, Hermann Wesel, was convinced of the defeat, and tried to hand his dominion over to the brother of the Danish king, duke Magus. This would have brought the bishopric under the protection of Denmark.

The events however, evolved faster: the Russians reached Tartu already in the beginning of July, and after only few days of resistance, townsfolk decided to surrender. The bishop thought that the walls can not hold the enemy back any longer, and decided to surrender earlier, on July 18, to gain better negotiation conditions and avoid more losses.
Russians were generous in their conditions of surrender: all the townsfolk and soldiers who wanted to leave were allowed to do so. Also the bishop was allowed to retreat the the monastery of Kärkna, but that move was temporary: few months later, Ivan the Cruel decided that he and some other important figures of the bishopric were to be deported to Russia. There the bishop died in 1563.

Kärkna monastery, located 13 km northwestwards from Tartu, was the oldest and largest monastery in Estonia. It was founded by the first bishop of Dorpat, Hermann, who spent there his old age and was buried to the local cemetery. Some sort of facilities must have been built by 1234, but these were destroyed by Russian forces. Soon the damage was repaired and the construction continued. The monastery has been called Valkena monastery in Estonian literature due to its German name, Falkenaou.

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