The Significance of Papal Charters on the Incorporation of the Order of the Swordbrothers into the Teutonic Order during the Conflicts of the Order with the Archbishops of Riga until the End of the 15th Century
Pope Gregory IX issued four almost identical charters in May 1237, which were addressed to the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, the Swordbrothers, the Bishops of Riga, Tartu and Osilia, the Papal Legate to Livonia and Prussia. The charters determined the legal foundations for the incorporation of the Order of the Swordbrothers into the Teutonic Order. The focus of this paper is on the importance of these charters for the troubled relations of the Teutonic Order in Livonia and the Archbishops of Riga during the following centuries.
Both parties of the conflict made use of the charters of Gregory IX, usually at the Papal Curia, but the Archbishop and the Canons of Riga employed them more often than the Teutonic Order. The charters were also referred to in negotiations between the parties in Livonia itself, but the sources on these meetings are rather scanty. The Church of Riga employed the charters as a basis for their accusations against the Teutonic Order, mainly to enforce their claim that the Order in Livonia is going against its original functions – to protect the church and its missionary activities, and fight the heathens. The Teutonic Order on the other hand used the charters to claim its independence from episcopal jurisdiction. The text of the charters was never used in its entirety. Rather some relevant passages were chosen to support an argument. In some cases, the charters were employed to support claims which were even contrary to its text. It seems that often the charters were referred through an earlier text which made use of them, without consulting the original charters at all.
Gregory’s charters were also the basis for an alternative view of the status of Medieval Livonia, which was a rather loosely connected part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Canons of Riga found a short passage in the charters – “the aforementioned lands (i.e Medieval Livonia; M. M.) are said to belong to the right and ownership of Saint Peter” – which they used as a basis for a claim that Livonia was actually the property of the Pope, which had been given over to the lordship of the Bishops and the Teutonic Order. These claims were first put forward at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, but did not receive papal acknowledgement. The claims resurfaced in the years 1479–1482 in a situation where the Teutonic Order had gained the support of Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III. Now the Pope conceded to the claims of clerics in Riga and used this alleged legal status of Livonia as papal property to annul the charters Friedrich III had issued in favour of the Teutonic Order.
The „Christian Church Order of the City of Tallinn“
The draft of Tallinn’s Christian Church Order (Entwurf der „Christlichen Kirchenordnung der Stadt Reuall“) is kept in the Tallinn City Archives and is believed to be the only set of rules of its kind developed for this city. While the order is an integral part of Reval’s and Estonia’s ecclesiastical history during the early modern period, it has so far mostly attracted the attention of researchers as a source for the history of books, Lutheran ecclesiastical art and funeral traditions. This article provides a first closer look at this document with a focus on its character. To do so, the Church Order is viewed within the context of the reformation and the evolution of church institutions and religious life in Tallinn. The paper discusses the conditions of its production and its background and theological argumentation is also analysed. Until now, there has been no agreement on when exactly the order was finalized and different years have been suggested – this article, however, establishes the date of the production of this draft order as 1606.
The completion of this draft of the Church Order is an important milestone in the evolution of church life in Reval. It systematically summarises and describes the rules that had been developed for ecclesiastical life in the city within the context of the changes that had taken place from the time of the Reformation in the 1520s until the beginning of the 17th century. The draft was actually supposed to serve only as an initial guideline, however, the rules and norms described in it formed the main basis of ecclesiastical life until 1692 when the 1686 Swedish ecclesiastical law came into effect in Reval. The substantial, 94-folio-page Church Order as a practical manual for the church in 17th century Tallinn will remain a desideratum for future research.
The Entwurf der „Christlichen Kirchenordnung der Stadt Reuall“ deserves closer attention within the wider context of ecclesiastical history. As one of many set of rules developed as a result of the Reformation and a relatively late example of the genre, the order follows the example of Lübeck’s Kirchenordnung (1531) by Johannes Bugenhagen, a pioneer of Lutheran ecclesiastical law, and the ecclesiastical code of Saxony (1580) by Jacob Andreae, one of the authors of the Book of Concord – the ecclesiastical standard that marked the beginning of a new Lutheran doctrine. As such, the Tallinn Order reflects Lutheran customs that were widely followed and accepted by the 17th century. As is common for Lutheran codes, the rules and norms described in the order draw on the guiding principle of the Reformation – the sola scriptura – and rely on the Bible and famous theologists’ writings, mainly Martin Luther’s and Johannes Bugenhagen’s. The reception of Lübeck’s and Saxony’s Kirchenordnung, as well as the Bible and other Lutheran writings in Tallinn’s order each deserve separate analysis.
The Takeover of Estonia from the German Occupying Authorities in November of 1918
Although the independent Republic of Estonia was declared on 24 February 1918, the German occupation that followed prevented the actual establishment of statehood. The chance for this did not come until November of that same year, when Germany’s defeats on the Western Front and the November Revolution brought an end to the First World War and German domination in Eastern Europe.
The policy of the occupying authorities in Estonia was aimed at neutralising society, and in this way the Germans succeeded in preventing active resistance. Nevertheless, news of Germany’s military setbacks also reached Estonia and aroused some measure of hope for a better future. The way subsequent events took shape was nevertheless a surprise for both the German authorities and Estonian politicians.
The breakthrough started with spontaneous riots that broke out in Tallinn on 7 November 1917 arising from food shortages. These rapidly snowballed into a city-wide strike. Political demands emerged alongside demands for improving the supply of food: demands for the withdrawal of German troops from Estonia and for transferring power to the institutions of local government that had been democratically elected in 1917. News of the November Revolution in Germany reached Tallinn at the same time, triggering unrest in the city garrison. Lieutenant General Adolf von Seckendorff, the highest ranking local administrator, was forced to seek support from Estonian politicians. As a result of these events, the Estonian Provisional Government convened on 11 November.
The Provisional Government first had to take the reins of power into its own hands. This was accomplished quickly and smoothly in Tallinn and Northern Estonia. General Seckendorff recognised the Estonian Provisional Government on 13 November. At the same time, Estonians took over the Provincial Government of Estonia, the Food Office, the judicial systems, post offices, ports, etc. The Provisional Government appointed its deputies in the counties and ordered the reconvening of the local municipal governments. The municipal police force (militia) that had been formed in 1917 was restored, to which the newly formed voluntary armed organisation known as the Kaitseliit (Defence League) was added.
Yet in Southern Estonia, the Germans refused to relinquish power, referring to the fact that they had not received orders to this effect. The Provisional Government sent representatives to Riga, where August Winnig, Germany’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the Baltic Provinces, resided, to resolve the situation that had developed. According to the agreements concluded with him, the Germans committed themselves to relinquishing power to Estonians throughout Estonian territory starting on 21 November. Even though further attempts to delay this were made in some places, from that point on, power in Southern Estonia as well was transferred into the hands of the Provisional Government’s deputies and the local governments. Only the future Petseri County was not taken over and shortly thereafter was subjected to the control of the armed forces of Soviet Russia.
Livonia as a Sacred Landscape and its Historical Sense at the Turn of the 12th to the 13th Century: The Case of Sido of Neumünster
If we look at the oldest historiographical record of the history of medieval Livonia, the Epistola Sidonis is a very important source that has hardly been used to date by scholars. The Provost Sido from the St. Marien Monastery of the Augustinian Canons in Neumünster wrote this letter, also known as Epistola ad Gozwinum parrochianum in Haseldorpe, between 1202 and 1204. He conceived it as a historical narrative that was meant to secure the collective identity of the Augustinian community. Sido mentions Liflandia and Bishop Meinhard von Üxküll and hereby formed the earliest historical concepts about medieval Livonia. The small work represents the historical awareness of the community of the canons of the St. Marien Monastery. The form and intent of his presentation of the Christian mission north of the Elbe since the early 12th century indicate that Sido stylized Liflandia as a sacred landscape. He mainly used the biblical Flores metaphor. His letter fits into the context of the contemporary world of ideas between 1180 and 1210/12, which is represented by numerous texts such as the hagiographic poetry Versus de vita Vicelini, the chronicles of Helmold von Bosau and Arnold von Lübeck, as well as some papal letters. This intellectual context has to be taken into account for a complex analysis of the Epistola. The article asks about the relationship that connected the liturgical elements of the letter and the historical narrative – conceived as a technique and form of cultural memory – with the sacred landscape. It is also asked about the place and function of Liflandia in the historical consciousness of the convention (Konvent), which Sido expressed in the letter.
It can be concluded that the demonstrably earliest historical conceptions of Livonia have been shaped by the text and memory culture of the congregation of Neumünster since the 1180s. For Sido Meinhard, the episcopus in Liflandia, belongs to a “founding group” of missionaries and auxiliary bishops in Slavia, who worked north of the Elbe, and in his text he donated a liturgical memoria for her. According to Sido’s hagiographic interpretation, Liflandia was to be interpreted as part of a much wider sacral space in Sclauia, and he confirmed the curial perspective of Rome.
In this intertextual context of tradition, the first idea for an early historical idea of Livonia can be seen. The idea of the sacred landscape plays a special role here. Sido shows that it is constituted by memories – this symbolic landscape has the property of “storing” memories as mental pictures of the past. Without memory in the form of commemoration in liturgy or the performative reflection in the historical narrative, the sacred landscape is profaned. Sido’s Liflandia, which is located in borea (in the North), was part of a larger sacral landscape north of the Elbe, determined by salvation history. In the first decade of the 13th century, Liflandia had an identity-building meaning for spiritual communities that the Christian mission had led “to the North.”