From ancient times to the 20th century

Since ancient times wars have been fought over the land of Estonia. Location on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea has made this piece of land ever attractive for nearby rulers.

The exhibition begins with Estonian people’s resistance to the invaders during the Crusades on the 13th century. From then on the local people had to fulfil military obligations under the foreign rule: in the Livonian War, the Great Northern War and the wars of the Russian Empire. Military service of Estonians in the Russian Empire and studies in the 19th century Junker schools in Tsarist Russia laid the foundation of the Estonian officer corps, which played major role in the Estonian War of Independence.

The exhibition also reflects the biographies of three great military figures whose lives and actions had connection with Estonia: a Swedish military engineer Eric Dahlberg, who devised the fortifications of Tallinn, Narva and Kuressaare; Russian military commander Barclay de Tolly, who played a decisive role in defeating Napoleon; and physician Nikolay Pirogov, who is widely recognized for his contribution to military medicine.

One of the most notable items on display is a matchlock fortress arquebus from the 17th century (from the collection of Estonian History Museum), which only two of a kind can be found in Estonia.

There are also interactive items in the exposition which introduce the equipment of ancient warriors and visualise the change of rule on Estonian territory in the course of 700 years.