Autonomous Governorate of Estonia

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Governorate of Estonia
Estonian: Autonoomne Eestimaa kubermang
Autonomous entity of the Russian Republic
 • TypeAutonomous governorate
• 1917
Jaan Poska
LegislatureEstonian Provincial Assembly
• Local autonomy
12 April 1917
• Sovereignty declared
28 November 1917
• Narva and Ivangorod added to the governorate
3 January 1918
24 February 1918
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Governorate of Estonia
Governorate of Livonia
United Baltic Duchy
History of Estonia (1920–1939)
Today part ofEstonia

The local autonomy in Estonia (Estonian: Eestimaa, German: Estland, Russian: Эстляндия) was established as a result of the Russian Revolution of 1917.


For the duration of control by Imperial Russia, Estonia was divided between two governorates (guberniyas). The Governorate of Estonia in the north corresponded roughly to the area of Danish Estonia and the northern portion of Governorate of Livonia, which had a majority of ethnic Estonians. These two areas were amalgamated on 12 April [O.S. 30 March] 1917 by administrative reforms of the Russian Provisional Government.

Elections for a provisional parliament, Estonian Provincial Assembly (Estonian: Maapäev) was organized, with the Menshevik and Bolshevik factions of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party taking a share of the vote. On 5 November 1917, two days before the October Revolution in Saint Petersburg, Estonian Bolshevik leader Jaan Anvelt led his leftist political forces in a coup in Tallinn, attempting to usurp political power in governorate from governor Jaan Poska on 9 November. On 28 November [O.S. 15 November] 1917 the Maapäev, refusing to recognize the attempted Bolshevik coup d'état, proclaimed itself to be the only legally elected and constituted authority in Estonia. However, it was soon driven underground by the Bolsheviks.

During the reign of the Soviet Estonian Executive Committee, Ants Dauman, the newly elected mayor of Narva, organized a plebiscite with an intention of removing the towns of Narva and Ivangorod from the Petrograd Governorate and adding them to the new autonomous governorate, receiving permission for the referendum on 29 November [O.S. 16 November] 1917 from the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. As 80% of the town's population supported the joining in the 23 December [O.S. 10 December] 1917 plebiscite, the Soviet Estonian Executive Committee recognized the new additions to the governorate on 3 January [O.S. 21 December] 1918. Even though this had happened under the Bolshevik regime, the later Estonian government acknowledged the referendum, and the addition of Narva and Ivangorod to Estonia.

In February, after the collapse of the peace talks between Soviet Russia and the German Empire, mainland Estonia was occupied by the Germans. Bolshevik forces retreated to Russia. On 23 February 1918, one day before German forces entered Tallinn, the Salvation Committee of the Estonian National Council Maapäev emerged from underground and issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence. Although it took nearly 9 months for Estonia to be liberated from German occupation and Red Army, the day after that date is still celebrated as Estonia's independence day.

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