Until the 13th century Gotland was independent and could to be considered as a farmers republic. At this time the island was divided into 20 "ting" - local district courts - and the old Guta law was the rule of conduct. Gotland paid taxes to the Swedish King and he gave his protection and commercial rights.
Medieval churches on Gotland
During a period of 250 years amazingly many churches were built on Gotland. Today you will find 92 churches on the island, all built during the Middle age.
In Visby monks from the ordens of Franciscans, the Dominicans and the Jesuits built their own monasteries and churches.
Of the 17 churches which were built in Visby, 13 have become ruins and the only intact is Saint Mary, today the cathedral of Visby, built as the German parish church in 1225. The cathedral is worth paying a visit while you are on Gotland!
Gotland stand ab dem 14. Jahrhundert unter königlicher Macht, man betrachtete die Insel aber als Staat für sich und sie wurde von einem „regierenden“ Landesherrn geleitet, der das meiste wie Steuererhöhungen und Ausübung von Seeräuberei selbst bestimmen konnte.
From the beginning of the 15th century, when Gotland was ruled by different kings, the governor could still rule over the island quite independently - inventing new taxes for the farmers and devoted himself to piracy in the Baltic Sea.
After 1450 the importance of Visby as a harbour declined, mostly because of the development of larger ships which didn´t need transit harbours.The sailed directly to their destinations Riga, Tallinn or Lübeck.
However, it was not only the transit commerce that dominated on Gotland. The raw material limestone was quarried and also exported even refined like baptismal fonts and street blocks.
After the reformation the churches were abandoned and their bricks and construction material got reused for new houses.