The era of three kings

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Swedish Northern Estonia was named the duchy of Estonia. The local nobles retained all of their privileges and accordingly their great influence. Though some Swedish nobility had settled in Estonia, the Germans remained dominant. The nobility formed the Noble Corporation of Estonia, governed by the Noble Diet. Estate owners from all four counties, Harjumaa, Virumaa, Järvamaa and Läänemaa, took part in the Diet. Initially, Swedish kingdom owned more land than the estate owners, because it received all the areas that previously had belonged to the Order, bishop and abbeys, and also the lands of the estate owners that had fled or resisted Sweden. Later the state feudalized most of its estates, due to a shortage of funds and other various reasons.
The state's lands were managed by the governor, the local representative of the king, residing in Tallinn. The kingdom's estates were managed by local bailiffs, to whom the peasants had to pay corves. Life was harder for the peasants in private estates, because the owners authority was much wider. Their single duty to the kingdom was the cavalry-service in the military. King Karl IX made statements to improve the conditions of the peasantry, but due to the nobility's resistance, these were never carried out. In the estates belonging to the state, the corve was evened out.

Image: King of Poland, Stefan Batory

Source: Ain Mäesalu, Tõnis Lukas, Mati Laur, Tõnu Tannberg. Eesti ajalugu I. Avita, Tallinn 1995
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