Governorate of Estonia

The Governorate of Estonia,[1] also known as the Governorate of Esthonia[2] (Pre-reformed Russian: Эстля́ндская губе́рнія, tr. Estlyandskaya guberniya)[lower-alpha 1] was a governorate in the Baltic region, along with the Livonian and Courland Governorates. It is 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.

Governorate of Estonia
Est(h)ländisches Gouvernement
Эстля́ндская губе́рния
Eestimaa kubermang
Governorate of the Russian Empire

Location in the Russian Empire (as of 1914)
CapitalReval (Tallinn)
20,246.7 km2 (7,817.3 sq mi)
 Established (de facto)
9 June 1719
 Established (de jure)
10 September 1796
 Autonomy granted
12 April 1917

Subdivisions or Kreise of Estonia Governorate
Political subdivisions5
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Swedish Estonia
Autonomous Governorate of Estonia
Today part ofEstonia
German and Russian map of the Governorate of Estonia

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] which realized themselves as Estonians. 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.

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]

CountyCounty TownArms of County TownAreaPopulation
(1897 census)[7]
Name in GermanName in Russian
7,143.2 km2
(2,758.0 sq mi)
2,871.2 km2
(1,108.6 sq mi)
4,697.9 km2
(1,813.9 sq mi)
5,739.5 km2
(2,216.0 sq mi)

Former Subdivisions

  • Kreis BaltischportBaltischport (now Paldiski; 1783–1796)

Leaders of the governorate

  • 1710–1711 Rudolph Felix Bauer – General-Governor
  • 1711–1719 Prince Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov – General-Governor
  • 1719–1728 Count Fyodor Matveyevich Apraksin – General-Governor
  • 1728–1736 Friedrich Freiherr von Löwen
  • 1736–1738 Ernst Sebastian von Manstein
  • 1738–1740 Gustaf Otto Douglas
  • 1740–1743 Ulrich Friedrich Woldemar Graf von Löwendal
  • 1743–1753 Peter August Friedrich, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck (1696–1775)
  • 1753–1758 Prince Vladimir Petrovich Dolgorukiy
  • 1758–1775 Peter August Friedrich, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck – General-Governor
  • 1775–1792 Count George Browne – General-Governor
  • 1783–1786 Georg Friedrich von Grotenhielm
  • 1786–1797 Heinrich Johann Freiherr von Wrangell
  • 1797–1808 Andreas von Langell
  • 1808–1809 Duke Peter Friedrich Georg of Oldenburg
  • 1809–1811 vacant
  • 1811–1816 Duke Paul Friedrich August of Oldenburg
  • 1816–1819 Berend Freiherr von Uexküll
  • 1819–1832 Gotthard Wilhelm Freiherr von Budberg-Bönninghausen
  • 1832–1833 Otto Wilhelm von Essen
  • 1833–1841 Paul Friedrich von Benckendorff
  • 1842–1859 Johann Christoph Engelbrecht von Grünewaldt
  • 1859–1868 Wilhelm Otto Cornelius Alexander von Ulrich
  • 1868–1870 Mikhail Nikolaiyevich Galkin-Vraskoy
  • 1870–1875 Prince Mikhail Valentinovich Shakhovskoy-Glebov-Strezhnev
  • 1875–1885 Viktor Petrovich Polivanov
  • 1885–1894 Prince Sergey Vladimirovich Shakhovskoy
  • 1894–1902 Yefstafiy Nikolaiyevich Skalon
  • 1902–1905 Aleksey Valerianovich Bellegarde
  • 16 March 1905 – October 1905 Aleksey Aleksandrovich Lopukhin
  • 1905–1906 Nikolay Georgiyevich von Bünting
  • 1906–1907 Pyotr Petrovich Bashilov
  • 1907–1915 Izmail Vladimirovich Korostovets
  • 1915–1917 Pyotr Vladimirovich Veryovkin


Language number percentage (%) males females
Estonian 365,959 88.67 176,972 188,987
Russian 20,439 4.95 12,441 7,998
German 16,037 3.88 6,991 9,046
Swedish 5,768 1.39 2,725 3,043
Yiddish 1,269 0.3 852 417
Polish 1,237 0.29 921 316
Did not name
their native language
15 >0.01 8 7
Other[9] 1,992 0.48 1,499 493
Total 412,716 100 202,409 210,307
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


  1. Modern spelling: Эстля́ндская губе́рния; 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

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