There has been a heated debate among historians as to whether the first Estonian coins were struck in the 13th century by a nobleman who had adopted Christianity in Varbola, or by the Danes who had established themselves in Tallinn. It is not just a question of who hit the coin with the stone wall, the tower and the two crosses, but also about the social order of the end of antiquity in general. The current controversy has not remained in closed historical circles, but has also reached the press and social media.
There are still disputes among researchers. Let us recall, for example, the discussions on the activities of the first president, Konstantin Päts, following the publication of Margus Ilmjärve’s book. But while most of what is being discussed is much closer to us in time, it is now about how we lived almost 800 years ago. The last time the 13th century was equally hotly debated was about ten years ago, when the volume of the collection entitled Estonian History II in the Middle Ages was published, where Anti Selart, a medieval lecturer at the University of Tartu with Läänemaa roots, approached the ancient freedom struggle.
While it is possible to extract new and hitherto neglected sources from the archives about the revolutionary events of the 20th century, the situation is more complicated in the case of the 13th century. Resources are scarce, these few fragments are scattered throughout the archives of different countries, and most of the time they are written by someone else just as they see fit. The other side that gives us an idea of the circumstances at the time is archeology. However, the problem with the objects that came to light from the earth’s crust is that they do not have a label on them, and then comes the interpretation of the game – a comparison with what was found at the neighbors.
Is there truth in this dispute? Hardly. However, for a change in the coronary news, it is nice to let yourself be included in the games of thought and think about what might have happened in Estonia in the 13th century.