Population

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1629

Since the Great Livonian until the Truce of Altmark was was signed in 1629, warfare had lasted for 70 years. All across Estonia and Livonia, fields had overgrown, towns, villages and estates lay in ruin.
The population had halved or more, to only 100,000 people. The more densely populated and fertile areas around Järvamaa, Tallinn, Lääne-Virumaa, Viljandi and Lääne-Tartumaa had suffered the most. Areas of Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Karksi and Helme, and those siding directly with Russia, were slightly more fortunate. Part of the population had fled across lake Peipsi, and established new villages on its eastern banks.
The ravaged lands were taken back into use in the 1630s. The people re-located and the abandoned areas became inhabited again. A lot of people came over from Saarema, which at the time, forming nearly a quarter of the Estonian population, had managed to escape the worst of the wars. This was supported by estate owners who promised tax relief to newcomers. Movement was relatively free, because many of the estates were empty, or had new owners, who were adapting to the situation themselves.
A great part in the re-inhabiting of Estonia was played by people immigrating from neighbouring countries. Most of them were Russians, who stayed in the eastern areas of Estonia. The Finns moved mainly to the areas surrounding Põltsamaa and Tartu. Numerous Latvians moved to Valga county and the nearby areas. In addition the them, Polish, Germans, Lithuanians, Swedes, Hungarians and even Dutch and Scottish were among the immigrating people.
Regardless of the sporadically foreign populace, most of the new settlers stayed put among Estonians, and eventually became nationalized. A group of Russian Old Believers remained as the historical Russian minority. They had arrived slightly later, in the end of the XVII century, and settled down on the shores of Lake Peipsi. After the war, the high birth rate of the Estonians also contributed to the continued Estonian majority. It is thought that by the end of the XVII century, there were approximately 350,000 people in Estonia.
The nobility remained largely consistent of Germans. The Swedish nobility, regardless of the acquired lands in Estonia, stayed in Sweden. Estate owners from other countries germanized swiftly.

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


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