History Files


European Kingdoms

Northern Europe




Bishops of Reval (Tallinn)

The Danish conquest of 'Lindanisse' (modern Tallinn) in North Estonia was complete in 1219. The city was named Reval by the Danes, after the name of the province in which the city lay, Revelia, or Rävala (it later became known as Tallinn, probably meaning 'Danish city', although the source is disputed). The king appointed a vice-regent in Tallinn to govern in his name, and contrary to the law of the Catholic church he also reserved the right to appoint the bishops of Reval himself. This formed a unique situation in Catholic Europe, and one which was hotly disputed by the Pope and by various bishops, but to no effect. The royal right to select the bishop of Reval was maintained, and was even included in the treaty signed when North Estonia was sold to the Livonian Knights in 1346.

Bishops under the Kingdom of Denmark
AD 1219 - 1350

FeatureUntil 1374 the bishopric of Reval fell under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Lund in Denmark (now in Sweden). It was the Danes who founded the city's oldest churches, including St Mary's Episcopal Dome Church, St Nicholas Church, the Church of the Holy Ghost, and St Olaf's Church, all of which still survive.

1219 - 1227


1227 - 1238

The Danes are temporarily eclipsed in North Estonia when the Livonian Knights conquer all of their territory from the heartland of their powerbase in central Livonia. In 1238, North Estonia (Harria and Vironia) is returned under the terms of the Treaty of Stensby, which is mediated by the Pope.

1238/40 - 1260


1260/63 - 1279



The Livonian Knights, along with the Teutonic Knights, are abandoned by their Estonian and Couronian vassals and defeated severely at the Battle of Durbe in Livonia by the Samogitians. As a result, numerous rebellions break out against the Teutonic Knights all across the Baltics, including military expeditions by the Lithuanians, and it takes around thirty years before complete control is regained.

Tallinn city walls
It was during the rebellions of the later thirteenth century that the defensive walls and towers of the city were first constructed

1280 - 1294


1298 - 1318

Heinrich I

1323 - 1346

Olav von Roskilde

Allowed to retain his position by the Teutonic Knights.

1343 - 1346

The St George's Day Uprising sees a large-scale Estonian revolt beaten by the Livonian Knights, using a mixture of treachery and battle. Probably as a result of this, just three years later, the Danish king sells North Estonia to the Livonian Knights for ten thousand marks. All of Estonia is now ruled by a German nobility class.

Bishops under the Teutonic Knights
AD 1346 - 1560 (1571)

Following the purchase of North Estonia by the Livonian Knights, their superiors, the Teutonic Knights held overall authority for the bishopric. The official transfer of power took place on 1 November 1346, although the incumbent bishop was allowed to remain in place.

1346 - 1350

Olav von Roskilde

Last Danish bishop.

1352 - 1389

Ludwig von Münster

Also known as Ludovicus de Monasterio.

1390 - 1403

Johannes Rekeling

1403 - 1405

Dietrich Theodor Tolke

1405 - 1418

Johannes von Aken-Achmann / Ochmann

1418 - 1419

Arnold Stoltevoet

1419 - 1456

Heinrich II Uexküll


FeatureBishop Heinrich consecrates the newly-completed Pirita Convent for the Order of St Bridget in Tallinn, conducting the ceremony on 15 August.


FeatureThe rebuilt St Olaf's Church in the lower town of Tallinn is opened. With its new spire it is the world's tallest building for the next two centuries.

1457 - 1475

Everhard Kalle / Call

1475 - 1477

Iwan Stoltevoet

1477 - 1492

Simon von der Borch

1493 - 1509

Nikolaus Roddendorp

1509 - 1513

Gottschalk Hagen

1513 - 1514

Christian Czernekow

1514 - 1524

Johannes Blankenfeld

Became bishop of Dorpat (1518), and archbishop of Riga (1524).

1525 - 1530

Georg von Tiesenhausen


FeatureThe German Lutheran reformation reaches Tallinn, accompanied by a surprisingly violent stripping of the churches. The violence starts at St Olaf's Church, but the stronghold church of St Nicholas successfully fends off its attackers. A similar mood of destructive reformation occurs in the capital city of the bishopric of Dorpat.

St Nicholas Church
St Nicholas Church in Tallinn's lower town was a stronghold which resisted the worst ravages of the Reformation mob in the city

1531 - 1536

Johannes Roterd


FeatureA devastating fire rips through Reval, destroying the largest church in the city, the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, along with the attached Dominican friary. The death of the priest in charge of the Swedish St Michael's Lutheran Church is also recorded in this year.

1536 - 1551

Arnold Annebat

1551 - 1557

Friedrich von Ampten

1558 - 1560

Moritz / Mauritius von Wrangel

1559 - 1560

Following Russian provocation and the conquest of Dorpat, the Livonian Wars erupt in the Baltic States (1558-1583). The last German bishop sells the castle and the town of Kuressaare to the Danes, who also take Courland, both of which are held by Magnus, duke of Holstein in Denmark. Magus then adds Reval to his list of possessions.

1560 - 1571

Magnus of Livonia

Bishop of Courland and Ösel. Titular 'king of Livonia'.

1560 - 1571

Magnus holds the position as one of many, but his attempt to gain control of Toompea Castle in Reval is prevented by Gotthard Kettler, last grand master of the Livonian Knights. A further attempt to secure Reval, this time from the Swedes, fails in 1571, and the bishopric is effectively extinguished. Reval becomes the capital city of Swedish Estonia.