The Danish-Estonian common history

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Stefan Pajung


Det Nationalhistoriske Museum på Frederiksborg


DKK 1,208,000




Strategic Grants


The aim of the project is to gain deeper insights into the common history of Denmark and Estonia, not only from 1219-1346, but also later, as Denmark had various political and economic interests in Estonia up until 1645. The project will focus on aspects of the interaction between Denmark and Estonia that hitherto have been somewhat neglected. For instance, how has the Danish church influenced the budding Estonian church, both with regards to liturgy, architecture and art, but also on a personal level? And how has Danish rule over Estonia been perceived by Danes and Estonians both in contemporary and later sources – and has this had any influence on the development of the idea that Estonia should be perceived a part of the Nordic countries?


While Estonia was an integrated part of the Danish Realm during the High Middle Ages, and played an important role in the political and economic structures of the Baltic region for many centuries, this role has been neglected by Danish historians for many years, while Baltic-German historians for most of the 19th and early 20th century have belittled the importance of Danish rule in the 13th and 14th centuries. Since Estonia regained its independence in the 1990’s, it has been possible to draw a clearer picture of the Danish-Estonian connections and interactions between 1219 and 1346, and beyond. This enables us to highlight aspects of an underappreciated cultural connection between the two nations.


The research will be conducted through a critical examination and re-assessment of earlier research, which was primarily undertaken by Baltic-German historians. Recently, important research has been conducted by Danish historians Niels Skyum-Nielsen, Thomas Riis and Jens E. Olesen, which has primarily contributed toward a deeper understanding of the administration and legislation under Danish rule. Furthermore, many written as well as material sources have survived the centuries, and those warrant a historical analysis. The written sources have to a high degree been published in either Diplomataricum Danicum or Liv-, Esth-, und Courländisches Urkundenbuch. Other materials such as paintings and etchings can be found at the National History Museum at Frederiksborg or Statens Museum for Kunst.

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