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Historians Debate over 13th Century Freedom Fighters

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The intellectual debate of the year so far has revolved around whether the 13th century fight against crusaders was in fact a fight for freedom by a single nation, as it was seen for much of the 20th century, ERR News reported.

The just-released second volume of University of Tartu Institute of History and Archeology's six-volume general history distances itself from the nationalist-romantic view, saying it wasn't - that Estonians were not a full-fledged people back then but a collection of rival clans.

Linda Kaljundi, one of the 11 authors of the volume, said in a panel discussion on ETV that that the interpretation of an "ancient fight for freedom" came into existence only after the 1918-1920 War of Independence to find a legal basis for independence.

One of the authors' leading critics is the historian Lauri Vahtre, who says that it was not genetic stock but culture that determines national unity.

He said there was not sufficient evidence to say that Estonians were not a nation in the early 13th century and that this did not give rise to a continuous line of succession leading up to the present day.

Along with the ETV panel, a heated debate took place on Tuesday at the Great Guild Hall in Tallinn, which houses the History Museum.

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