Middle Ages In the 13th century the east Baltic world was transformed by military conquest: first the Livs and Estonians, then the Finns underwent defeat, baptism, military occupation and sometimes extermination by groups of Germans, Danes and Swedes. Finland was governed as a part of Sweden, while Estonia was under a Baltic German knightly brotherhood. Finland and Estonia became independent at the beginning of the modern age at 1917-1918. The Karelians remained under Russian and then Soviet rule, and their absolute and relative numbers dwindled. With urbanization, smaller peoples were often easily assimilated to the mainstream society, since they could no longer easily maintain their village-based culture.