A new political structure, later known as Old Livonia, emerged and was dominated by the Livonian Teutonic Order of Knights and by Catholic bishops.
After the conquest, the social system typical at that time in Europe was instituted in Old Livonia. However, the social division was also an ethnic one; Germans formed the upper classes while the indigenous population, called "Undeutsch", composed the peasantry. Crusaders and new immigrants from Germany settled over much of the countryside, founding large estates. The Baltic German nobility took shape while gaining political and economic strength.
There was also a large gap between the clergy and the indigenous population. The local Catholic clergy was likewise recruited mostly from Germany.
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More influential perhaps were the monastic orders the Dominicans, Cistercians, Franciscans, Order of St. Brigitta who preached in the vernacular. In the Baltic cities a permanent influx of merchants and artisans from Germany established guilds which soon dominated urban life. Towns turned into prospering trade and handicraft centres. At the beginning of the 14th century, the rulers of Lithuania, with the aid of German colonists, founded many cities with the German system of laws, including Vilnius, which would become Lithuania's capital. As early as the s Estonian towns embraced the Lutheran Reformation, thus revealing their close ties with Germany proper.
Preaching in the vernacular also increased and the first Estonian-language religious books were compiled by German Lutheran pastors. The landed gentry, with some hesitation, also accepted Lutheranism. For the Baltic German nobility, however, the result of this devastating war was favourable. The Swedish province of Estland was formed. Later, southern Estonia and northern Latvia, which belonged to Poland, were also conquered by Sweden to form the Livonian province Livland.
The privileges of the Baltic Germans were largely preserved under the Swedish rulers. Both Poland and Sweden regarded the German nobility's councils and guilds as the legitimate representatives of the provinces and recognised the supremacy of the German language and German law. However, the Livonian nobility never reached as strong a position as that of the province of Estonia. At the end of the 17th century a considerable part of the land was repossessed by the state. Then, conflict between the Swedish King Charles XI and the Livonian nobility led to the abolishing of their self-government rights.
During the 17th century the Baltic provinces made rapid cultural progress. In Tartu Dorpat a university was founded in The Baltic German intelligentsia began to emerge, consisting of Lutheran pastors, gymnasium or university teachers, and civil officials. The continuing close contact with Germanic religious thought and with other Western countries also contributed to the enhancement of cultural life, particularly in Tallinn.
In the late 17th century the first German newspapers were published in Tallinn and Riga. Due to the efforts of the Lutheran pastors, Christianity now made greater headway among the Estonian and Latvian peasants.
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Encouraged by the Swedish state, the development of the Estonian literary language began, with the compilation and publication of grammar and religious books. Rural schools for peasants were also founded. This promising development was halted by the Great Famine of and the devastating Northern War - which followed. Number of Germans. The Northern War, nevertheless, had positive results for the Baltic nobility. The capitulation treaties, confirmed by Peter the Great, granted the nobility all their land possessions, the right to self-government, special laws and the supremacy of the German language and the Lutheran church.
In short, all the former rights of the city councils and nobles' corporations were confirmed. The control of local affairs now lay firmly in the hands of the German elite. The Baltic noblemen were appreciated by the Russian Emperors as loyal and efficient officials. In the Russian army, in the administrative and the diplomatic service, they occupied an enormous number of important posts.
Sixty-nine generals of Baltic origin participated in the Napoleonic wars. Loyal service was one of the reasons why the Russian emperors tolerated the far-reaching autonomy of the Baltic aristocracy in the Baltic provinces. In , after the third division of Poland, the province of Courland was annexed by Russia.
Self-government existed with slight differences in all three Baltic provinces.
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The main self-governing body of the nobles' corporations was the diet, which consisted of all the owners of the larger manor estates. The diet ruled on all the crucial problems of provincial life, and also had the right of legislative initiative. Diets elected the highest police officials and judges, as well as the secular members of the Lutheran church. Towns were governed by German town councils, recruited from the merchants' guilds and intelligentsia.
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Within the Russian empire, until the imposition of strict Russification in the s, the Baltic Germans enjoyed rapid cultural progress. The Germans maintained close contact with German philosophical trends and new ideologies from Europe.
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After the Northern War, no university remained in the Baltic provinces, but young intellectuals from German universities began to settle in the Baltics as teachers, pastors, and officials. At the same time local youth were sent to study in German universities. Lamb chops. Lobster Roll. Pork Loin. Pork Tenderloin.
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