The Baltic lands of Estonia, Livonia and Courland were governed by Teutonic Order state until 1561. Thereafter they were governed variously by Poland and Sweden until 1710 or 1795, depending on exact location, and then became provinces of Russia.
In 1561 the Baltic Germans (Baltendeutsche), also called German Balts (Deutschbalten), were given written guarantees for maintained German language, German legal system and Protestant religion.
Local (indigenous) rural people the Baltic region enjoyed no comparable rights under the Baltic German nobility to those of their brethren in Germany, Sweden or even Poland, rather was their fate comparable with that of the serfs in Russia. Harsh treatment resulted in some uprisings that were brutally suppressed. The situation in the cities were in some cases better.
A number of Baltic Germans, such as J.F.v.Eschscholtz and Adam Johann von Krusenstern became famous as explorers or scientists.
In connection with the Russian Revolution, the subsequent Russian Civil War, and then under the Soviet Union, many of the Baltic Germans fled, were killed off, exiled to Siberia, or otherwise expelled from their homeland.
For instance the ancestors of Sweden's Olof Palme were of Baltic German origin.