On the History of the Mõniste Region – LV
The oldest traces of human activity in this region date back from 3500 to 4000 years. 1000 years ago, the Mõniste area was in the territory of Ugandi County. Military expeditions were undertaken to the territories of Livonians and Latgalians as well as Russians. The trade route between Riga and Pskov also passed through Mõniste, being very dangerous due to attacks by local Estonians. After the defeat in the Estonian Ancient Fight for Freedom in 1208–1227, the area went under the Bishopric of Tartu. It was the strongest of all the bishoprics of Old Livonia, fighting not only against Russians but also the Teutonic Order in 1396.
The first written records on Mõniste manor date back to 1386, when the manor owners Uexkülls were dividing the manors in the surrounding area among themselves. Uexkülls were one of the largest landowners in the Bishopric of Tartu.
During the Livonian War, Russians also attacked Mõniste in January 1558, but were repulsed. Until the Great Northern War, Mõniste lands were under both the Polish and Swedish rule. During the Great Northern War, a two-day siege took place in Mõniste manor from 5th to 6th of August, 1702, before surrendering to the Russian forces.
Mõniste and Saru manors passed on to the aristocratic families Koskull (1764) and Wulf (1837), who managed the manors until the establishment of the Republic of Estonia in 1918. Before that, local governments had become independent of manors.
During the Estonian War of Independence (1918-20), Mõniste was passed from one hand to the other four times and the battle front was located here from April, 17 to May, 27, 1919. During this battle, the manor’s main building was destroyed in artillery fire. On the 27th of May, one of the largest offensives by Estonia started from here, which ended in Jekabpils in southern Latvia. This campaign has a crucial role in the history of both Estonia and Latvia.
The period between the 1920s and the 1940s was the heyday of Mõniste, seeing the formation of several societies, choirs and wind orchestras. Cultural development of Mõniste was interrupted by the new Soviet occupation. Presently, we, being independent Republic of Estonia, form again the proud border area with Latvia. The Estonian-Latvian border is unique in Europe, as both nations get along very well, sharing almost the same history, though the languages are completely incomprehensible to each other.