Mauritian tradition

Oxford and Cologne scholastics reached Estonia with the Dominican friars in the middle of the 13th century.

Lecturer Mauritius — the first scholar of Estonia

Friar Mauritius from Tallinn was sent to study at the Cologne University in 1268. It is probable that Mauritius studied under the instructions of St. Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas - the most outstanding medieval scholars and completed his doctorate in Paris in 1270.

In 1271 Mauritius returned from Paris to Tallinn, where he became a lecturer at the local monastery school and the prior of the monastery. Lecturer Mauritius was the first in Estonia to study and teach systematically  the scholastic thought. He can be regarded as the first scholar of Estonia in the strict sense of the word.

According to the historical records (1), Mauritius was a bright personality and an outstanding lecturer. As a prior, he played an important role in establishing remarkably stricter educational standards for educating local dominicans. It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of Mauritius and the Tallinn Dominican School for the subsequent development of educational life in Tallinn as well as the whole Estonia. The educational standards cultivated in Estonia by the Tallinna Dominicans and their ties with scholars in Paris and Cologne also facilitated the establishment of Academia Gustaviana several centuries later.

Mauritius as an universalist

Mauritius was not merely an outstanding lecturer but many-sided scholar and a universalist like St. Albertus Magnus, who was an ideal for many scholastics. The personality of Lecturer Mauritius united an erudite in scholastics, a brilliant lecturer as well as a great expert on Gothic architecture and construction works. His drawings and instructions were a basis for constructing the buildings of the local Dominican Monastery and St. Catherine's Church in Tallinn.

Mauritius' interest in direct reference to God and his emphasis on religious experience has been explained by the fact that during the period of his studies in Paris, he developed the correspondence with the stigmatised Christine von Stumbeln.

Up to the beginning of the 20 century the written heritage of Mauritius was well preserved in the library of the Tallinn Gymnasium (Gustav Adolfi Gümnaasium). Historical records refer mostly to Mauritius' tractates and particularly his study of chess symbols, known as the Mauritius' Tractate on Chess. Unfortunately the manuscripts of Mauritius were lost in the turbulent times of wars or the years of soviet occupation.


(1) Arbusow, L, Livlands Geistlichkeit vom Ende des 12. bis ins 16. Jahrhundert. Dritter Nachtrag Mitau, 1913, S 131-136; Köxhnert, E. Das Dominikaner-Kloster zu Reval, Beitrage zur Kunde Estlands. 1926, Band XII, heft 1-3

(2) Vt. Walther-Wittenheim v. G, Die Dominikaner in Livland im Mittelarter, Roma 1938, S 30 ; Lipp, M, Kodumaa kiriku ja hariduse lugu, Tartu 1897. p. 79.

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