Tallinn definitely has been our favourite city of our 2002 trip with a fantastic old centre within, nearly intact city walls. A beautiful Hanse city but above all a very cosy atmosphere, very friendly and very proud people. During our trip we stayed twice in this town and engulfed ourselves in history, lovely food and the hustle and bustle that went on.

Katja our proud Estonian guide told us all about the singing-revolution of the 1980s, the Estii culture and the incredible interesting history of the people and the city of Tallinn.

The Estii are the descendents of one of the original tribes that settled in Europe shortly after the last ice age. Linguistically they are part of the Finno-Ugric people. Their language is one of the oldest in Europe. We had several discussions about the Estii culture, which played such an important role in their struggle for independence, which they finally got in 1991.

The city was founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1230 founded and named Reval, which in 1939 was changed into Tallinn (this means in Estii town of the Danes).

Saaremaa Overview and history

However, in relation to the Budde history in Estonia, Saaremaa was the main aim of the trip. We arrived here via the smaller island of Muhu, linked by a causeway with Saareema. Here we visited Koguva an exceptionally well-preserved old-fashioned island village. All of its 105 houses are protected as an open-air museum (no cars allowed!).

Oesel – Saaremaa

In Scandinavian sagas of the 8th – 10th centuries Saaremaa was mentioned as Eysysla. In old German Danish, Swedish and Russian sources its name was Oesel. The name Saaremaa replaced Oesel in 1945.

In January 1227 the Teutonic Knights brought an army of 20,000 across the frozen sea and established German rule, which would last, despite frequent rebellions, until 1559.

The next 90 years would see five different conquerors, first the Danes, then the Swedes to be followed by another Danish invasion, then the Russians and finally the Swedes again in 1645. The Swedes lost their Baltic possessions to the Russians in 1710.

The Tsarist Empire came to an end in 1917, but Saaremaa was immediately reoccupied by German troops who left in November 1918. It then finally became part of a new independent Estonia after WWI in 1918. After WWII, the Russian ‘liberators’ decided to stay and it wasn’t until 1991 that they finally left.

The landscape is very flat; as is most of the Baltic. The island is steeped in history and there are many remnants from the past in the small villages and communities. At the time of the Teutonic invasion more Estii lived on the island than on the mainland. It has fortress-like churches with very impressive towers and thick walls. Of its original 800 wooden windmills only a handful are still left. The jewel in Saaremaa’s crown however, is the 14th century castle Arendsburg in the capital Kuressaare. We immediately fell in love with this unpretentious little town it certainly has character. Lossi, our hotel was within the grounds of the castle between the first and second moat.

After the German Knights of the Sword finally conquered in 1227, the island was split in two. The island Muhu and the eastern and north-eastern part of Saaremaa came under the authority of the Knights. They were headquartered in Põide (see below). The Haapsalu-based bishop of Oesel-Wiek got the rest. In 1260 he built the first castle in Kuressaare. However, the local population revolted several times and it was not until 1345 before the Germans sealed their authority. The current castle and its fortifications were built between 1338 and 1380. Over 90% of this castle is still intact. It is an absolutely fantastic place with endless corridors, a medieval central heating system, interconnected rooms, secret staircase and even has an entombed prisoner!

In 1559 the last bishop of the island, Johannes Münchausen sold Kuressaare (the capital) together with his other possessions to King Frederik II of Denmark.

The Buddes on Saaremaa


The Buddes that lived in Estonia and Latvia formed both part of the German-speaking upper class (Hanseats), they established themselves in these regions, together with the knighthood (Ritterschaft), academics and merchants, after the arrival of the Teutonic Knights. Before the 16th century, there were hardly any foreign-speaking people living permanently in these areas. The general population remained Estii, the upper-class, tradespeople and the clergy were all mainly German. Many of them moved to Finland around 1917, and others went to Germany around World War II. Some were sent to Siberia. Under the communist regime after 1920, all property owned by the German population was nationalised. Most of the mansions mentioned below were involved in this process and many slowly deteriorated into ruins.

Neetzow-Denmark- Saaremaa

In 1584 Matthias Budde (born in Neetzow Pommern) became the Danish Stadtholder (Governor) of Saaremaa or ‘Oesel’ as the colonists knew it. Denmark was around this time at the heights of its powers and occupied both the northern parts of what are now Germany as well as parts of the Baltic.

Already in Australia I had made contact with Olavi Pesti, the conservator of the castle of Kuressaare and I met up with him during the trip. He has given me further interesting contacts that I am currently following up. I want to find out more about the Danish occupation of Saaremaa in the hope to find out more about Matthias. While he had a mansion outside Kuressaare, he must have worked from this castle…so work under construction.

Matthias Budde Stadtholder of Oesel

Matthias was recorded as being a polish nobleman (from Neetzow Pommern) when he became a Danish stadtholder (in Oesel).

The Stadtholders changed often and represented the occupying countries (Danes, Swedes, Germans and Russian). They in turn were represented by the captains of the knighthood on the island. Local nobility councils (Landrat) did the day-to-day governing; there were six of them on Saaremaa.

Matthias and his wife Ursula Behr had one daughter Karin and one son Friedrich. Friedrich and his wife Karen Urup (more info) had six daughters and six sons:

  • Matthias, was, according to his father’s last will, judged to be obstinate and was disinherited. He moved to Courland, where he in a dishonest way he took the inheritance of his dead brother Axel from Ullrich Behr (his grandmother’s family?). He threatened his father with sword and pistols and would have killed him if others hadn’t stopped him. He was also involved in several ‘irregularities’ in Denmark. Nevertheless he served at the royal court in Denmark, was an officer in Denmark/Noway and ended as a lieutenant colonel and lord of a manor.
  • Friederich Otto, lived in 1651 in Denmark. He was a great military man, but hated by the peasants. He held strong to the old ways where nobles were judge and jury over the peasants on their lands, putting himself above the judicial system. One case was taking over some lands and raising the rent substantially. The renters protested and FO had his soldiers march on the leader of the renters, taking him from his home and forcing him to dig moats in Fredrikstad .
  • Axel he died in 1649 and is buried in Copenhagen
  • The twins Helle and Ursulla
  • Anne Cathrine (Catherina), she was born on the family estate in Estonia in 1619 and had an arranged marriage to Peder Wibe, Denmark’s diplomat in Stockholm. Peder repeatedly warned the Danish king that Sweden was planning an attack, but was ignored. In 1643 the Swedes crossed the border, and in the peace treaty in 1645 Denmark lost Saaremaa, Anne Cathrine’s birth place. She had 3 children. 2 died young and her son went by Wibe.   Her second husband was Joachim Friedrich Vind. She died she died in Copenhagen in 1665. Annes’ mother Karen Urup was not allowed at her wedding. She had a sentence put on her mouth and wasn’t allowed in the king’s presence, so the bride had to be moved to another house, away from her mother. One theory  is that Karen Urup had meddled in the drama going on between the king, his wife and his mother in law.
  • Joachim/Jochum, was a lieutenant in 1658. He inherited Tõlluste, but this property went to Johann after his death in 1666. He left Oesel with his wife and children and moved to Denmark.  More info on Joachim Budde (use Google translate). He had a daughter, Agnete Sophie. She was 10 when her father died and was later made a companion to countess Parsberg. Parsberg’s neighbor was Regitze Grubbe. She hated the countess. They had argued over a window and she resented the fact that the countess outranked her. Regitze paid Agnete to poison the countess with arsenic. The attempt failed, but they were found out. Agnete was put in the Blue tower and sentenced to death. She was 18. Regitze was banished to Bornholm where she remained until she died.
  • Johann was, around 1650, involved in, and survived, a duel with Otto Orning near Malmo in Sweden, in which Otto died. He didn’t follow his father’s advice and was initially disinherited; however, after he had fallen ill this was changed and he inherited Pia after the death of his mother. In Friederich’s will (27 November 1651) he left the Manor Pia (Pichtendahl) to his (divorced?) wife Catherina Urup, who lived in Denmark at that time. She didn’t accept it and went to Johann After his dead inn the winter of 1684/85. Pia went to his daughter Adelheid Catherina and through her to her husband Christian Poll (1618-1693).
  • Christopher Heinrich, who became a major in the army.
  • Ellen married Odert von Poll, she inherited Koelljall, together with the village Fack acquired by her father and a farm at Buckelschen.
  • Sophia married with Jürgen v. der Osten-Sacken, who later also became a governor of Oesel.

Matthias acquired, a range of properties, they include the manor houses of:

  • Tollist (Tõlluste – near Sandla – he bought this estate from Johan Taube for 9000 Reichsthalers), Koelljall (Koeljala – near Valjala),
  • Randefer (Randvere – near Kihelkonna),
  • Hasik (Haeska – near Leisi),
  • Pichtendahl or Pia (Pihtla),
  • Schultzenhof (Nolgimois – on the western end of Kuressaare),
  • Mullut (Mullutu – near Kuressaare) and
  • Uppel (Upa, north of Kuressaare).

During our trip we visited several of these estates with Tina Seppe (see below).


Matthias died in 1591, and his brother Godslev became the guardian of the estate. Matthias only son Friedrich reached adulthood in 1612 and became the owner of Tõlluste. They had 12 children 6 boys and 6 girls. Friedrich died before 1658. Initially Friedrich’s son Johann was supposed to inherit Tõlluste. However as indicated below that did not eventuate and his other son Joachim, a lieutenant in the Danish army, inherited the estate. But in a twist of faith the property still ended up with Johann after Joachim’s death in 1666. After Johann died in the winter of 1684/85 Tõlluste was sold on April the 8th 1685.

Olavi Peski (Kuressaare castle) had brought us in contact with Tonu Seppe, who was at that stage the owner of Tõlluste (since sold to a Swedish lady, who has started the restoration of this place). Tonu is an archaeologist and his wife Tina a tourist guide. Tina was our guide on the island. She not only showed us several of the old Budde estates, but also lots more of beautiful Saaremaa.

Tonu started with the restoration of Tõlluste, but the financial situation for the restoration significantly improved under the new ownership. There are several buildings on the property.

  • The mansion itself, in which Tonu and Tina live and for which Tonu is developing a restoration plan.
  • A beautifully restored thatched-roofed, two-stories granary, with arched storage rooms on the ground floor and an arcade and wooden gallery on the second floor.
  • A separate house built in a very special architecture (it reminded us of South African Boer architecture). Tonu was restoring this house, which will be turned into a guesthouse, while we were there.

The property is also home to some protected trees, perhaps dating back to the 16th century(?).

 Tõlluste Manor

Tõlluste Manor was founded in 1528 when the Bishop of Oesel-Wiek (Saare – Lääne), G. von Tiesenhausen, expropriated the land. During the second half of the 16th century, the neighbouring Tõlsen lands were added. In 1590 Matthias Budde acquired the property. The manor apparently got its name from the Tõlsen family. However, another legend is that the manor received its name from Saaremaa’s folk hero, the giant Suur Tõll. He fought many battles around the island against devils and fiends. Big Tõll is supposed to be buried close by.

The coats of arms of Godslev son, Friedrich and his wife, Karen Urup, are in the back wall of the mansion (F.B.A.V 1646).

It is believed that the manor was ruined in 1704, during the Great Northern War. According to Tina part of the cellars date back to the period before that war.

In more recent times (1920-1980) the manor has housed a school, local folk-house and a library.

Pihtla (Pia)

Pihtla was sold to Friedrich Budde in 1630 for 800 thaler and stayed in the Budde family for 70 years.

Friedrich’s son Johann was, around 1650, involved in, and survived, a duel with Otto Orning near Malmo in Sweden. He didn’t follow his father’s advice and was initially disinherited; however, after he had fallen ill this was changed and he inherited Pia after the death of his mother. In his will (27 November 1651) he left the Manor Pia (Pichtendahl) to his (divorced?) wife Catherina Urup, who lived in Denmark at that time. She didn’t accept it and Pia went to his daughter Adelheid Catherina and through her to her husband Christian Poll, who became ‘Landrat’ (administrative head of a region) on Oesel. Their son Johann Friedrich Poll inherited Pia.

In the 19th century the Swiss Schlupp family, who established here a cheese-making factory, bought the property. Under the Soviet regime the estate became a kolkhoz. It is now back in the hands of the Schalap family. When we visited the mansion in 2002, it was in total ruins and in desperate need of very urgent and massive restoration.

Kõljala (Coejall)

Bought by Friedrich Budde in 1609 from Wulf to pay for his liabilities. He sold it 1628 for 5300 thaler to Fr. Rantzov. In 1638 he bought the place back for the same sum.

Friedrich’s daughter Ellen inherited the mansion in 1651 together with the village Tack acquired by her father and a farm at Ruckelsche.

She married Odert Poll after 1677, and the mansion was thus passed over to this family.

The Kõljala mansion, also seriously renovated over the centuries, was in 2002, in a much better shape than Pihtla. But similarly also this estate was turned into a kolkhoz. However, it was refurbished and maintained during the Soviet period as the regional head office. A Danish family currently owns the building.


Friedrich Budde acquired this mansion from the inheritors of Jacob Becke sometimes after 1617. In 1632 Friedrich sold it to Heimart Nolcken, whose family continued to own it until 1919.

After the communist regime only a few ruins are all what is leftover of this mansion.

Randevere, Schultzenhof and Mullutu

These properties were bought by Friedrich Budde in 1628 from J.Churtlandt for 7000 thaler and sold together in 1632 from 8500 thaler to Heimart von Nolcken.

There is nothing left of Schultzenhof (Nolgimõisa).

The mansion of Randevere, a simple wooden building, was used as an elementarily school during the communist era.

Mullutu no longer exists but was situated in Kaaarma. (Karmel in German). It was first mentioned in 1560.

Uppel – Upa

According to Tina’s investigations a small mansion was not built here before the beginning of the 18th century. The most likely situation might have been that the Budde family had land in the area.


An engraved stone plaque, similar to the one in Tõlluste Mansion, is on the outside wall of the (Lutheran) St Laurentius church of Kuressaare (F.B.A.V 1637). The initials of Godlev’s son Friedrich and his wife Anna Urup. The church was pretty new at that stage, built in 1612, as the (new) town of Kuressaare was established a kilometre or so to the north of the castle. The plaque is the only one in the whole church and survived two renovations one in 1726 and another one in 1826.

In the castle hangs a picture of a portrait of Christian Poll, he was married (3rd wife) to Adelheid Catherina Budde and became one the next governors of Saaremaa. Adelheid was the granddaughter of Matthias, and the daughter of Johann.

In the meantime I have made contact with one of his descendents, Odert von Poll, who lives in Frankfurt. He also owns the original oilpainting from which the picture at Kuressaare is taken.


There was also an inscription in the altar chalice of Peude (Põide) reading: “Johann Budde Anna Treiden IFVVHMCVK Geschenkt in Peude Kirche”.

Johann is the same one as mentioned above under Tõlluste. Anna Treiden was his first wife. They married in 1648.

We did find the church, however the building was struck by lightning in 1940 or 1941. We couldn’t find the original altar, while there were bits and pieces on exhibition; a new altar had been installed after the destruction. The church looks more like a fortress, very tall and very robust. It was the head office the Teutonic Order on the island.

Põide Church.

Põide St. Mary’s church dominates the surrounding low countryside. Due to its massive size, it gives the impression of a fortress rather than a church. Indeed, its history is entwined with Saaremaa’s battles and fortresses. After the conquest of Saaremaa in 1227, the eastern part of Saaremaa belonged to the Livonian Order, who built a fortress at Põide as their headquarters during the second half of the 13th century. The Saarlanders destroyed this fortress during the wave of uprisings against the occupying forces that took place in Estonia and Saaremaa during the St. George’s Night uprisings of 1343. There was a chapel on the southern side of the fortress, and the walls of this chapel form the central part of Põide Church. The church was last burnt and its interior completely destroyed during WW II. It is slowly being restored.


The family was not a part of the listed Oesel Knight society as the first list (Matrikel) wasn’t produced until 1739, at which time no Budde lived on the island.

Matthias wife, Ursula von Behr, came from the Courland (Kurzeme) region in Latvia. However, as is also indicated below, there are no known links between him and the Budde lineage in this region.

During the Livonian and following wars the island remained a battle field the Danes, then the Swedes to be followed by another Danish invasion, then the Russians and finally the Swedes again in 1645. After the Brömsebro Peace Treaty Saaremaa became permanently Swedish. In 1651 Queen Christine from Sweden confirmed the property rights of the Buddes on Saaremaa. Eventually however the Buddes left Oesel and moved back to Denmark.

The Swedes lost their Baltic possessions to the Russians in 1710. The Tsarist Empire came to an end in 1917, but Saareema was immediately reoccupied by German troops who left in November 1918. It then finally became part of a new independent Estonia after WWI in 1918.