Governorate of Estonia

Coordinates: 59°26′14″N 24°44′43″E / 59.43722°N 24.74528°E / 59.43722; 24.74528
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Governorate of Estonia
  • Эстляндская губернія (Russian)
  • Eestimaa kubermang (Estonian)
  • Gouvernement Estland (German)
Flag of Governorate of Estonia
Coat of arms of Governorate of Estonia
Location in the Russian Empire
Location in the Russian Empire
CountryRussian Empire
 • Total20,246.7 km2 (7,817.3 sq mi)
Highest elevation166 m (545 ft)
 • Total412,716
 • Density20/km2 (53/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Rural
German and Russian map of the Governorate of Estonia

The Governorate of Estonia,[1] also known as the Governorate of Esthonia[2][a] was a governorate in the Baltic region, along with the Livonian and Courland Governorates. It was a part of the Imperial Russian administration (guberniya), which is located in modern-day northern Estonia and some islands in the West Estonian archipelago, including the islands of Hiiumaa (Dagö) and Vormsi (Worms). The Governorate was established in 1796 when Paul I's reform abolished the Viceroyalty (namestnik). Previously, the Reval Governorate existed under Peter I's reign from the Treaty of Nystad, which ceded territory from Sweden to the newly established Russian Empire, until its inexistence in 1783.

From the 1850s until 1914, the Estonian national awakening was influenced and characterized the governorate by general modernization, the reorganization into a modern European society, and the success of the newly emerged nationalist awareness[3]. The accession of Alexander III in 1881 marked the beginning of a period of more rigid Russification. The previous Baltic civil and criminal codes were replaced with Russian ones, and the Russian language replaced the German and Estonian languages. When the Russian Revolution of 1905 spread into Estonia, Jaan Tõnisson founded the National Liberal Party and organized its first congress in Tallinn on 27 November, demanding political autonomy for Estonia. In response, the Russian government suppressed the revolution by declaring martial law. Following that, 328 Estonians were repressed by being shot or hanged, and Konstantin Päts and the radical leader Jaan Teemant fled abroad.[4]

In March 1917, following the February Revolution, the governorate was given northern territory from the Governorate of Livonia and granted autonomy on 12 April 1917, forming the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia. Which lasted for years, until 24 February 1918. When the Committee declared the nation's independence in the city of Pärnu, the governorate was fully abolished.

Until the late 19th century the governorate was administered independently by the local Baltic German nobility through a feudal Regional Council (German: Landtag).[5]


Initially named the Reval Governorate after the city of Reval (today known as Tallinn), the Governorate originated in 1719 from territories which Russia conquered from Sweden in the course of the Great Northern War of 1700–1721. Sweden formally ceded its former dominion of Swedish Estonia to Russia in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. During subsequent administrative reordering, the governorate was renamed in 1796 as the Governorate of Estonia. While the rule of the Swedish kings had been fairly liberal with greater autonomy granted for the peasantry, the regime tightened under the Russian tsars and serfdom was not abolished until 1819.[citation needed]

The governorate consisted the northern part of the present-day Estonia, approximately corresponding to: Harju, Lääne-Viru, Ida-Viru, Rapla, Järva, Lääne and Hiiu counties and a small portion of Pärnu County.

After the Russian February Revolution, on 12 April [O.S. 30 March] 1917 the governorate expanded to include northern Livonia, thereby forming the Autonomous Governorate of Estonia which existed less than a year, until February 1918.


The governorate was subdivided into uyezds (German: Kreis).[6]

County County Town Arms of County Town Area Population
(1897 census)[7]
Name in German Name in Russian
Wierland Везенбергскій Wesenberg
7,143.2 km2
(2,758.0 sq mi)
Jerwen Вейсенштейнскій Weissenstein
2,871.2 km2
(1,108.6 sq mi)
Wiek Гапсальскій Hapsal
4,697.9 km2
(1,813.9 sq mi)
Harrien Ревельскій Reval
5,739.5 km2
(2,216.0 sq mi)

Former Subdivisions[edit]



Livonian ConfederationTerra MarianaEstonian SSRDuchy of Livonia (1721–1917)Duchy of Livonia (1629–1721)Duchy of Livonia (1561–1621)Duchy of Estonia (1721–1917)Duchy of Estonia (1561–1721)Danish EstoniaDanish EstoniaEstoniaAncient EstoniaHistory of Estonia

See also[edit]


  1. ^
    • Russian: Эстля́ндская губе́рнія, romanizedEstlyándskaya gubérniya
    • German: Est(h)ländisches Gouvernement
    • Estonian: Eestimaa kubermang


  1. ^ The Baltic States from 1914 to 1923 By LtCol Andrew Parrott. Archived 19 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ William Henry Beable (1919), "Governments or Provinces of the Former Russian Empire: Esthonia", Russian Gazetteer and Guide, London: Russian Outlook
  3. ^ "National awakening". Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  4. ^ "Estonian national awakening". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  5. ^ Smith, David James (2005). The Baltic States and Their Region. Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-1666-8.
  6. ^ Эстляндская губерния (in Russian). Руниверс. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  7. ^ Первая Всеобщая перепись населения Российской империи 1897 года. Эстляндская губерния (in Russian)
  8. ^ Language Statistics of 1897 (in Russian)
  9. ^ Languages of which number of speakers in all Governorate were less than 1000

Further reading[edit]

59°26′14″N 24°44′43″E / 59.43722°N 24.74528°E / 59.43722; 24.74528