Ida Sophie von Uexküll-Harris

Ire of the Ritterschaft

This daughter of yours seems to be quite the woman. People like her... they tend to bring problems to their families if you know what I mean. You have spent years building up your reputation and gained the respect of your colleagues here. Sooner or later, your daughter will get caught up in something that will surely reflect poorly on yourself. Don't throw away all you've built.
— Oskar Berquist, Minister of Swedish Affairs
  Ida Sophie von Uexküll-Harris is a Baltic German noblewoman renowned in the United Baltic Duchy for her poetry and her contributions to her local newspaper, Die Öselsche Tageszeitung. She lives in Karlshof Manor and is a member of the House of Uexküll-Harris and a daughter of Karl Albert, a respected statesman in the Baltic Landtag.   People regard her as a quiet and studious young woman whose love of art and literature keeps her from other activities. Despite that, her recent actions have frustrated several prominent circles because of her outspoken defence of the peasantry.  

Early Life

I'm happy for you, dear. The Uexkülls are a prestigious family with deep roots. You've done quite well for yourself and I'd be glad to invite this man over.
— Georg Ketling, May 11, 1845
  Ida's mother, Hedvig Ketling, was the daughter of an affluent Hanoverian industrialist who had met her husband while accompanying her father to Riga. Hedvig and Karl Albert took a liking to one another and after they had parted ways, the two remained in contact with one another, exchanging letters as regularly as they could. Hedvig's father had eventually sensed his daughter's infatuation and eagerly invited the young nobleman to visit Hedvig.
Pöide / Peude Church by Public Domain
  After a year, in 1845, Ida's father travelled to Osnabrück, where the pair reunited and decided to get married. They returned to Ösel, which at the time was under the Russian Empire, in 1849, shortly before the birth of their first child.   Ida Sophie, born in 1861, is the fourth and youngest child in the family. The rest of her siblings have moved out of the manor.


  Karl Albert invested heavily in the education of his children and from a young age, Ida was attended to by private tutors. In addition to assisting Ida with her regular studies, Josef Aalberg, an Estonian Swede, gave her lessons in Swedish and the local dialect of Estonian.   Ida attended a German girls' gymnasium in Arensburg where she developed an interest in literature and art. During her years as a student, Ida lived in a private house along with her brother, Otto, and their caretaker, Hilda.

Poetic Beginnings

  During her time as a student, Ida grew close to her brother, Otto. The two got along well, and her brother would often help his sister with her studies. The two shared an interest in poetry and although Ida was hesitant at first, her brother convinced her to share her works with others.   The siblings first showcased their poetic works in 1874 at the seat of the Ösel Knighthood, where the local nobles praised them for their ways with words. Her school heard of her abilities as well, opening up more opportunities for both of them.

Lavender of Lewala

  Early in 1878, things would soon change as Otto von Uexküll-Harris had enlisted as a serviceman. Before his departure, Ida's brother enouraged her to present her writing to the locals as well, even though both of them were aware that their father would have been against such an idea. To him, only the Swedes and Germans of the the United Baltic Duchy were worthy of his and his family's time.

Midsummer's Festivities

  In the summer of '74, Ida attended a midsummers festival in Lewala, a village close to her family's estate. As nearly everyone there was an Estonian, she decided to attend in secret and avoided telling people her full name.   Ida had a decent grasp of Estonian and she was able to engage in basic conversations, but her limited vocabulary did force her to revert to German at times.
Farewell, dear Sophie. I’ll make sure to send plenty of letters. Father can be a bit uptight and mother worries too much, so the tales of my daring deeds will have to be directed at you. Just omit the dangerous aspects of my new career when talking to mother.
— Otto, February 7, 1878
Many of the attending villagers did seem distrustful of her upon hearing her accent, but whatever they murmured amongst one another, they kept to themselves. During the celebrations, several local artists performed on a small stage near the old cobble road that passes through Lewala.   A few groups performed well-known runic songs that everyone save for Ida seemed familiar with. Others played instruments as the people danced around. The only other poet there was a young man who had looked at Ida several times, but she was never sure whether his face conveyed a sense of distrust, as with the other locals, or concern.  

Warming of Hearts

  The two poets were to perform as soon as the red glow of the rising sun was visible. Ida got to go on stage first. She was well aware that presenting the locals with German poetry would have been seen in a negative light. Most would have assumed she was belittling the Estonian tongue and trying to convey the superiority of the German people or something like that.   To avoid flaring up tensions, she instead opted to go with a poem that she had memorised in Estonian by the beloved Lydia Koidula.   Her presentation of the well-known poem and her pronunciation seemed to warm a few hearts. Seeing as many of them had realised that Ida wishes to learn and be a part of their community, they allowed her to continue in German, although she did also apologise for it and promised to write in their language as soon as she felt ready.
To see frowns and glares turn to positively surprised smiles was a relief. They all seemed far more humane and kind-hearted than most of the vile lords in the ritterschaft
— Ida Sophie in a letter to Otto, June 27, 1878

Jaak of Peude

  After her performance, she returned to the bench as the audience clapped. Although many of them couldn’t speak her mother-tongue, or at least not well enough to understand her poetry, the rhymes and words themselves were pleasant and soothed tensions. While she was resting her nerves and taking in a few deep breaths, the other poet stepped on stage.   The young man introduced himself as Jaak, son of Hans, but the audience seemed to know him already and they waited with eager anticipation. He told the people that he had written up three different poems and lightheartedly joked that he hoped his words would leave either a lasting impression or give the fine folk something to laugh at.   Although Ida’s knowledge of Estonian wasn’t the best, she at least understood enough to get a basic understanding of the poems. The first one seemed to be about the harvest, or perhaps the harvest was a metaphor for something deeper. It was hard to tell. His second poem spoke of a love for one’s home and island, and the crowd seemed quite proud of that one. Finally, the third poem was one of slavery and oppression. It also resonated with the audience, having suffered under centuries of foreign rule, but as that foreigner, Ida felt uneasy and guilt-ridden.    

Bundle of Flowers

  Before he could leave the stage, he requested a bottle of vodka, taking a hefty swig before addressing the people. He announced that inspiration had struck during the evening festivities, and that the rhymes that had come to him were in need of a friendly audience. A few were skeptical, but they all listened as it seemed a good end to their gathering.   Jaak’s new poem flowed well from word to word and talked of a beautiful bundle of lavenders. With his last word, he bowed, and following a few words of praise, they all returned to their homes to recover from the food and booze.   In the morning, Ida had discovered that she had lost her notebook. Knowing that she wrote her opinions of Jaak's poetry in it, she returned to the village and looked for the bench where she had sat. Her notes were there, along with a bundle of lavenders that had been placed next to it.

Recent Activities

Apologies, sir, but from the numbers that I’ve been able to see, even after all your complaints, miss Ida Sophie brings in far more money that your needless moaning has cost us.
— Heinz Kranich, Founder of Die Öselsche Tageszeitung, October 18, 1860
  In recent months, Ida has made a name for herself as a contributor to the Die Öselsche Tageszeitung. The daily newspaper has become an opportunity for her to share her poetry with a wider audience. As she has become more proficient at speaking and writing in Estonian, she has translated a few of her old works as well as written a few new original poems in the local language.   

Tensions with the Lords

  While the local Baltic German nobles were content to let the young poet contribute to the newspaper at first, many of their opinions have by now soured on her. While they approached Ida’s German poetry, they’re less keen on her coming up with completely new content in the language of the common rabble and her opinion pieces have left the Ritterschaft baffled.   Ida’s critique of the natives’ treatment at the hand of the upper classes caused an uproar and calls to have her removed from the editorial board reached the daily newspaper’s leadership.   Such criticisms have led to some boycotting Die Öselsche Tageszeitung, but their leadership has yet to give into demands as Ida’s contributions have also led to a significant increase in readers among the Estonian-speaking community.   Ida herself is more concerned about her family’s reactions to her activities since whatever she does affects her father and his career in politics.
Arensburg Castle - A Home to the Oeselian Knighthood by Julia Solonina
Date of Birth
14th of January, 1861
Year of Birth
1861 20 Years old
Karlshof, Harris, Orrisaar Municipality, Ösel District, Governorate of Ösel, United Baltic Duchy
Presented Sex
Greyish blue
Long, light brown, wavy
164.4 cm
59.6 kg
Known Languages
German, Estonian, Swedish, English

The Arensburg Estate

  Karl Albert von Uexküll-Harris had spent a few years of his life living in Arensburg before the construction of Karlshof. The house he lived in was old, and he had found it unsuitable for himself. Once his manor was ready and he had moved out of Arensburg, Karl hired a company to renovate his old home.   After a brief inspection of the building, the construction men told Karl Albert that it would be far cheaper to demolish the house and to build a new modern estate in its stead. The proud statesman wasn’t all too attached to the house and gave the workers his approval.   Nearly two years later, the building was complete. It now serves as a home away from home for any of his close family members who wish to live in the quiet little town.   The house is situated near the heart of Arensburg, right between the castle and its surrounding park, and the centre of town where the local knighthood and town hall lies.
House of Uexküll-Harris
Organization | Feb 6, 2022

Uexküll-Harris is a Baltic German noble family from the United Baltic Duchy that holds estates on the island of Ösel, near the town of Hapsal, and in Riga.

Karlshof Manor
Building / Landmark | Feb 6, 2022

Karlshof Manor is an impressive and fairly modern manourhouse on the island of Ösel in the United Baltic Duchy that belongs to Karl Albert von Uexküll-Harris and his family.

Die Öselsche Tageszeitung
Document | Feb 7, 2022

Die Öselsche Tageszeitung is a somewhat controversial Baltic German daily newspaper that circulates in the Governorate of Ösel.

Kui kaua küll veel,
kestab see maa.
Sel mil priiuse teel,
seisab seal haav.
See vesi ja muld,
väärt rohkem kui kuld!

For how much longer,
shall last this land.
In the path of its freedom,
there lies a wound.
This water and soil,
worth more than gold!
— Vesi ja muld by Ida Sophie von Uexküll-Harris

Ida's Writing Spot

  There are a number of delightful spots where Ida likes to do most of her writing, but none are as beloved to her as the wilderness of Moon. She enjoys quiet spots in nature where she can listen to the calm waves and birdsong.   How she gets to the separate island and who takes her there is unknown, but it’s likely an Estonian, possibly someone from Orrisaar since there's a fishing port there.

Character Portrait image: by Artbreeder (edited by Dhelian)


Author's Notes

Hey! This is a whole new world so the CSS is still a WIP and will probably change a bit. If something breaks while you're reading maybe just wait a few minutes and refresh. Hopefully everything will work just fine though

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
7 Feb, 2022 08:14

Great article! This is a fascinating glimpse into the local politics and divisions. I love Ida relationship with her brother. And is she in contact with Jaak now? Seems like there is something more going on there :p Any risk of her father marrying her off to someone to make her someone else problem?   I'm curious about the style of poetry in Estonian vs German. Do they both use rhymes and count the number of syllabes? Is there something more like in English with the way they pay attention to where the accent is in the words and sentences? Ida must have become really good with Estonian to be able to translate poetry - unless she had help from someone :p

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7 Feb, 2022 14:18

Thank you for reading! And good questions. Maybe she is in contact with him, and maybe there is something going on there. Perhaps he also happens to own a handy boat as well. Who knows! Well Ida probably does but she's keeping her secrets. And yes her father might consider marrying her off as a backup plan if she proves to be too bothersome. I still need to do some more research on that kind of stuff however. Late 19th century isn't quite as backwards presumably as something more medieval, but more research is required. This whole world requires a lot of that in general.

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7 Feb, 2022 14:39

Great article! I liked how she also tries to stand up for the Estonians and how this causes tensions in the higher circles. Pretty interesting to read about these struggles!

Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
7 Feb, 2022 15:40

As I have already told you, this is wonderfully written and laid out - you really make the German feel natural, which is a huge feat for a non-native speaker! Even the names feel period appropriate and natural. Great job, if you told me this was real history I'd believe it in a heartbeat. The CSS and stylistic choices just really match the topic as well.   I've been wondering about the newspaper - the name suggests German, but you wrote that she translated her poetry to Estonian. Were there two versions? I'm guessing this is to follow in the newpsaper article, but sadly it's still locked, so I'll just ask here ;)   I second Amelie's questions about Jaak, and I would love to read more about her current life. What is her father's reaction? Did she get in trouble? What does Otto think of her opinions?Why did she choose to write opinion pieces uder her real name, not a pseudonym?

7 Feb, 2022 19:05

okay now read the article.
Her height and weight are very specific, did you convert them from imperial values? otherwise I'd suggest loosing the decimals.
I love the whole article tho! You say you created a new world, but it seems like you have alot of details already well planned out. And you planted a nice amount of seeds for future work in this world. I'll go click that follow button too now.

7 Feb, 2022 19:35

Nice and easy article to read. I hope she will do okay and keep working on the newspaper, and that whether her activities affect their father or not, she will keep doing them while she loves doing it.

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7 Feb, 2022 23:00

"Quiet young woman who's love of art and literature keeps her from other activities" -- right away, she's great :D I'm really impressed with how thorough of a backstory you've built up for Ida. Gives such a strong sense of who she was growing up.   I love the character driven conflict, it feels small and intimate. The poetry reading portion through the midsummer festivities flowed so well from point to point! I liked the tension between the Estonian and German people, and the way it sort of melted away a bit with some good poetry.   Well done Dhel! Also, loving the theme here. It's so light, crisp, clean -- feels very welcoming to look at and read.

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9 Feb, 2022 01:10

I liked it. It is a well written and well formatted article that flows easily, making it a pleasure to read. The poem was good and you provided much insight into the relationships and differences between the nobles and the general population.

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14 Feb, 2022 17:52

Great Article Dhel. Lots of lil tidbits, scattered throughout. I love you considered her writing spots.

15 Feb, 2022 17:26

I love her already. I'm intrigued by her relationship (or not) with Jaak, and the lavender. Really lovely layout and CSS too.   I really like the scene at the village and the poetry. It seems quite cosy and nice, despite some awkward moments.

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E. Christopher Clark
15 Feb, 2022 21:50

There's a lot to love here, but my favorite part is how she slowly wins over the audience in Lewala—and then the interactions between her and Jaak/Jaak's poetry, which end with the bundle of lavenders. That was a gorgeously rendered story.

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18 Feb, 2022 23:15

Amazingly written and I am already invested in this balance between politics, societal expectations, cultural conflicts, and a budding romance. The opening quote starts the article very strong, and its formatting is pleasing to look at and read - the same goes for the pictures, which are perfectly chosen to set the stage. I liked every bit of it, from start to finish.

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19 Feb, 2022 14:26

I love the character and now want to read the book centred around these events. @[email protected]   The little details that you incorporated were fun to gather—her humble beginnings with the poetry, the relation with her brother and the Midsummer poetry read. I enjoyed the lavender bouquet and how it showed a connection between Ida and Jaak. If anything, I wanted to read more about their romantic relationship. With her little (though sufficient) knowledge of Estonian, this would be an excellent way to pursue the language and culture even further. Did that relationship make her endeavour towards immersing in the Estonian language and culture even more personal?   You have a typo in the Midsummer's festivities section, where you probably meant engage.   Will you be writing a novel at some point? :>

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20 Feb, 2022 21:13

I love how you have incorporated so much local detail and history from your home here. The politics are fascinating and I am eager to see what role Ida Sophie will play in them. And I hope she elopes with Jaak! :D

Author of the Wyrd West Chronicles and the Toy Soldier Saga. Mother of Bunnies, Eater of Pickles, Friend of Nerds, First of her Name.
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