The uprising of Pühajõe (Holy River)

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1642

In the beginning of the XVII century, Lutheranism remained rather alien to the Estonians. Catholicism was accepted in the Medieval times by mixing it with ancient customs. This did not sit well with the Lutheran pastors and they started to wean the peasantry from their old superstitions. For instance, they destroyed old offering sites that had come back into use. A great uprising of the peasantry took place in 1642, in the village of Osula in Urvaste parish. The rebellion was called the rebellion of Pühajõe (Holy River), because a mill had been built onto the Võhandu river or Pühajõe river, that was held sacred by the Estonians. After the mill was built, the land had been struck by dearth and people reckoned it was vengeance for the desecration of the river. They destroyed the dam and the mill; but the rebellion was eventually suppressed by the military. The local pastor later wrote: "These peasants know not of God or His word, not of faith nor commandments. Their blindness, superstition, idolization, and witchery cross beyond all boundaries."

Image: Memorial stone of the Pühajõe (The Holy River) rebellion in Varese village, Harjumäe.

Source: Ain Mäesalu, Tõnis Lukas, Mati Laur, Tõnu Tannberg. Eesti ajalugu I. Avita, Tallinn 1995
Image source: http://www.visitvoru.ee/upl/loode_v6rumaa/_1139.jpg


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