Republic in northern Europe on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. The Estonians had been independent for about a thousand years when conquered and Christianized in the 13th century by the Danes and the Brothers of the Sword. In the 17th century the country passed to Sweden, and was completely Lutheran when ceded to Russia in 1721. The czar granted religious freedom and introduced the Greek Orthodox religion which competed with Lutheranism for the allegiance of the people, but the majority remained Lutheran. There was continual struggle between German and Russian elements, until in 1917 the autonomy of Estonia was declared by the Russian Provisional Government, and in 1920 the country became an independent republic. Ecclisiastically the country is governed by the Apostolic Administration of Estonia, which was founded on November 1, 1924.
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