History of the House
The House of Mauritius was built in the year 1230 and is the oldest preserved building on the shores of the Baltic Sea.
The house was built as a residence for Mauritius de Revalia, the prior of Tallinn Dominican Monastery and a philosopher of the Middle Ages; in his honour the building was named the House of Mauritius. Mauritius de Revalia was a student of Albertus Magnus and a fellow student of Thomas Aquinas; according to the medieval chronicles he met with Dante Alighieri on at least two occasions. Mauritius de Revalia (Mauritius of Tallinn) was a great philosopher; one of his tractates, dedicated to the game of chess, was very popular until the end of the Middle Ages. He contributed much to the development of education and there is currently an institute in his name in Tallinn – Institutum Mauritianum.
For several decades the ground floor of the House of Mauritius was used as a convent hall where meetings were held and guests were received. The Pope’s legate Wilhelm of Modena has stayed in the House (his visit to Tallinn is related to a white unicorn legend). In the winter of 1255, the House of Mauritius hosted Albertus Magnus!!, the legendary scholar and philosopher of the Middle Ages who is considered to be the creator of the idea of European unity. Thanks to him, the history of Europe is now accounted starting from the era of Ancient Greek and Ancient Rome instead of the mythological King Arthur’s times.
The first written words in the Estonian language were recorded in the House of Mauritius, written by hand on pages of other books. The Tallinn Code of the Lübeck City Rights was prepared here, and those sources of Estonian history were stored for a long time on shelves in nooks of the House of Mauritius. The shelves made of wood, untouched by time, are still present in the House.
The House of Mauritius went into private hands in the year 1397 when it was acquired by Gert Witte, abbot of the Monks’ Church and a member of the Tallinn City Council; his signature stands on the peace treaty that ended the trade war between the Hanseatic League and Novgorod.
In subsequent centuries the building was owned mainly by members of the City Council s and rich traders, many of whom were descendants of Baltic courtiers. In the middle of the ХIХ century, the House of Mauritius was bought by Karl Girard de Soucanton, a burgomaster and a major industrialist who later, in 1874, sold the building to consul Andreas Koch. The Koch family owned the building and its accompanying land until the year 1940. A preserved reproduction of a painting displays Nikolai II taking a walk in the presence of Isabella von Ungern-Sternberg and Amalia Koch in the year 1912.