Estonia: Scandinavian Influence

Itching for Eestimaa writes about Scandinavian influence in Estonia (and the two Swedes who represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002 and 2006).


  • Ruben Filimonczuk

    Veroniaca, I was not able to locate your article but given the caption I fell captive to your statement reagrding Scandinavian influence in Estonia. Obviously, the same would hold true for Russia, Ukraine , Belarus and Poland, amongst a few other countries. The Nordic Vikings proliferated in these areas establishing trade routes and cities, mixed with the peoples and many of them later came to reside in these areas. How could there not be influence?

    Ruben Filimonczuk

  • Mike

    Actually Ruben, nordic Vikings are quite different than scandinavians, who fought the vikings in the 11th century, (who were located on the east of the baltic sea) establishing the Hanseatic League.
    Scandinavians are cultured, civilized people not to be confused with Vikings. Scandinavians and their culture arose from the royal families of Denmark and Sweden.

  • Ruben Filimonczuk

    Then Mike, clarify who exactly were the Vikings?

  • So nice to bring up this topic. Basically, Estonia was part of Denmark for 120 years (1220s to 1340s) and part of Sweden for 160 years (1560s to 1710/21). The Danish impact is really only in the name of the capital, Tallinn (Danish city). But it also links the Estonians historically to Scandinavian history (the Dannebrog allegedly fell from the heavens during a battle in Estonia). The name Eistland also appears in several sagas. So Estonia was part of the Viking/Scandinavian consciousness.

    The Swedish impact is more important because it was under the relatively liberal administration of Imperial Sweden that the first books were published in Estonian, the University of Tartu — which many consider the birthplace of the Estonian national movement — was founded by the Swedes in 1632. So in many ways it was this early Swedish influence that allowed Estonians to later become Europeans (not to deemphasize the role of Estophile Baltic Germans).

    Because of this long, mostly positive relationship, Sweden is one of the larger adjacent countries that Estonians feel most comfortable with. That is why, perhaps, the Swedish ambassador Dag Hartelius is doing so well in the Dancing with the Stars competition here on TV this autumn :)

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