Estonian (eesti keel) is the official language of the Baltic state of Estonia. It belongs to the Uralic language family, specifically the Finnic branch which also includes Hungarian, Finnish, Udmurt and Mari.
Estonian is historically split into two different languages which can also be considered dialects. The North and South Estonian Languages as they are known evolved from migrations into the territory of Estonia in two distinct waves, and although the migrants both spoke with Finnic vernaculars, they were considerably different. Modern Estonian evolved from the Northern Estonian dialects.
During the 13th Century, The Northern Crusades, sometimes known as The Baltic Crusades were carried out by the Christian kings of Sweden and Denmark, and their allies in the Teutonic and Livonian military orders in Germany. The target of these crusades was the pagan population around the eastern and southern shores of the Baltic Sea. The campaign against the Estonians lasted from 1208 to 1224, although the Estonian island nation of Saaremaa held out until 1261. The introduction of Christianity in the region introduced the Latin language and alphabet. This delayed the rise of an indigenous literacy in Estonia. The oldest written record of the Finnic languages of Estonia dates back to this time, Originates Livoniae in the “Chronicle of Henry of Livonia” has Estonian words, place names and sentences included in the Latin text.