Northern Crusades

The Northern Crusades[1] or Baltic Crusades[2] were religious wars undertaken by Catholic Christian military orders and kingdoms, primarily against the pagan Baltic, Finnic and West Slavic peoples around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, and to a lesser extent also against Orthodox Christian Slavs (East Slavs). The crusades took place mostly in the 12th and 13th centuries and resulted in the subjugation and forced baptism of indigenous peoples.

The most notable campaigns were the Livonian and Prussian crusades. Some of these wars were called crusades during the Middle Ages, but others, including most of the Swedish ones, were first dubbed crusades by 19th-century romantic nationalist historians. However, crusades against northern pagans were authorized by Pope Alexander III in the bull Non parum animus noster, in 1171 or 1172 [3].


The official starting point for the Northern Crusades was Pope Celestine III's call in 1195,[4] but the Catholic kingdoms of Scandinavia, Poland and the Holy Roman Empire had begun moving to subjugate their pagan neighbors even earlier.[5] The non-Christian people who were objects of the campaigns at various dates included:

Northern countries during the 13th and early 14th centuries
  Conquered by Denmark in 1219

Armed conflict between the Baltic Finns, Balts and Slavs who dwelt by the Baltic shores and their Saxon and Danish neighbors to the north and south had been common for several centuries before the crusade. The previous battles had largely been caused by attempts to destroy castles and sea trade routes and gain economic advantage in the region, and the crusade basically continued this pattern of conflict, albeit now inspired and prescribed by the Pope and undertaken by Papal knights and armed monks.

Wendish Crusade

The campaigns started with the 1147 Wendish Crusade against the Polabian Slavs (or "Wends") of what is now northern and eastern Germany. The crusade occurred parallel to the Second Crusade to the Holy Land, and continued irregularly until the 16th century.

Swedish Crusades

The Swedish crusades were campaigns by Sweden against Finns, Tavastians, and Karelians during period from 1150 to 1293.

Danish Crusades

The Danes are known to have made two crusades to Finland in 1191 and in 1202. The latter one was led by the Bishop of Lund Anders Sunesen with his brother.[6]

Livonian Crusade

By the 12th century, the peoples inhabiting the lands now known as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania formed a pagan wedge between increasingly powerful rival Christian states – the Orthodox Church to their east and the Catholic Church to their west. The difference in creeds was one of the reasons they had not yet been effectively converted. During a period of more than 150 years leading up to the arrival of German crusaders in the region, Estonia was attacked thirteen times by Russian principalities, and by Denmark and Sweden as well. Estonians for their part made raids upon Denmark and Sweden. There were peaceful attempts by some Catholics to convert the Estonians, starting with missions dispatched by Adalbert, Archbishop of Bremen in 1045-1072. However, these peaceful efforts seem to have had only limited success.

Campaign against the Livonians (1198–1212)

Moving in the wake of German merchants who were now following the old trading routes of the Vikings, a monk named Meinhard landed at the mouth of the Daugava river in present-day Latvia in 1180 and was made bishop in 1186. Pope Celestine III proclaimed a crusade against the Baltic heathens in 1195, which was reiterated by Pope Innocent III and a crusading expedition led by Meinhard's successor, Bishop Berthold of Hanover, landed in Livonia (part of present-day Latvia, surrounding the Gulf of Riga) in 1198. Although the crusaders won their first battle, Bishop Berthold was mortally wounded and the crusaders were repulsed.

In 1199, Albert of Buxhoeveden was appointed by the Archbishop Hartwig II of Bremen to Christianise the Baltic countries. By the time Albert died 30 years later, the conquest and formal Christianisation of present-day Estonia and northern Latvia was complete. Albert began his task by touring the Empire, preaching a Crusade against the Baltic countries, and was assisted in this by a Papal Bull which declared that fighting against the Baltic heathens was of the same rank as participating in a crusade to the Holy Land. Although he landed in the mouth of the Daugava in 1200 with only 23 ships and 500 soldiers, the bishop's efforts ensured that a constant flow of recruits followed. The first crusaders usually arrived to fight during the spring and returned to their homes in the autumn. To ensure a permanent military presence, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword were founded in 1202. The founding by Bishop Albert of the market at Riga in 1201 attracted citizens from the Empire and economic prosperity ensued. At Albert's request, Pope Innocent III dedicated the Baltic countries to the Virgin Mary to popularize recruitment to his army and the name "Mary's Land" has survived up to modern times. This is noticeable in one of the names given to Livonia at the time, Terra Mariana (Land of Mary).

Sigulda Totale
Ruins of the castle in Sigulda

In 1206, the crusaders subdued the Livonian stronghold in Turaida on the right bank of Gauja River, the ancient trading route to the Northwestern Rus. In order to gain control over the left bank of Gauja, the stone castle was built in Sigulda before 1210. By 1211, the Livonian province of Metsepole (now Limbaži district) and the mixed Livonian-Latgallian inhabited county of Idumea (now Straupe) was converted to the Roman Catholic faith. The last battle against the Livonians was the siege of Satezele hillfort near to Sigulda in 1212. The Livonians, who had been paying tribute to the East Slavic Principality of Polotsk, had at first considered the Germans as useful allies. The first prominent Livonian to be christened was their leader Caupo of Turaida. As the German grip tightened, the Livonians rebelled against the crusaders and the christened chief, but were put down. Caupo of Turaida remained an ally of the crusaders until his death in the Battle of St. Matthew's Day in 1217.[7]

The German crusaders enlisted newly baptised Livonian warriors to participate in their campaigns against Latgallians and Selonians (1208–1209), Estonians (1208–1227) and against Semigallians, Samogitians and Curonians (1219–1290).

Campaign against the Latgallians and Selonians (1208–1224)

After the subjugation of the Livonians the crusaders turned their attention to the Latgallian principalities to the east, along the Gauja and Daugava rivers. The military alliance in 1208 and later conversion from Greek Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism of the Principality of Tālava was the only peaceful subjugation of the Baltic tribes during the Nordic crusades. The ruler of Tālava, Tālivaldis (Talibaldus de Tolowa), became the most loyal ally of German crusaders against the Estonians, and he died a Catholic martyr in 1215. The war against the Latgallian and Selonian countries along the Daugava waterway started in 1208 by occupation of the Orthodox Principality of Koknese and the Selonian Sēlpils hillfort. The campaign continued in 1209 with an attack on the Orthodox Principality of Jersika (known as Lettia), accused by crusaders of being in alliance with Lithuanian pagans. After defeat the king of Jersika, Visvaldis, became the vassal of the Bishop of Livonia and received part of his country (Southern Latgale) as a fiefdom. The Selonian stronghold of Sēlpils was briefly the seat of a Selonian diocese (1218–1226), and then came under the rule of the Livonian Order (and eventually the stone castle of Selburg was built in its place). Only in 1224, with the division of Tālava and Adzele counties between the Bishop of Rīga and the Order of the Swordbearers, did Latgallian countries finally become the possession of German conquerors. The territory of the former Principality of Jersika was divided by the Bishop of Rīga and the Livonian Order in 1239.

Campaign against the Estonians (1208–1224)

Kuressaare linnus (vaade hoovist)
Kuressaare Castle, Estonia, constructed by the Teutonic Order

By 1208, the Germans were strong enough to begin operations against the Estonians, who were at that time divided into eight major and several smaller counties led by elders with limited co-operation between them. In 1208-27, war parties of the different sides rampaged through the Livonian, Northern Latgallian, and Estonian counties, with Livonians and Latgallians normally as allies of the Crusaders, and the Principalities of Polotsk and Pskov appearing as allies of different sides at different times. Hill forts, which were the key centres of Estonian counties, were besieged and captured a number of times. A truce between the war-weary sides was established for three years (1213–1215) and proved generally more favourable to the Germans, who consolidated their political position, while the Estonians were unable to develop their system of loose alliances into a centralised state. The Livonian leader Kaupo was killed in battle near Viljandi (Fellin) on 21 September 1217, but the battle was a crushing defeat for the Estonians, whose leader Lembitu was also killed. Since 1211, his name had come to the attention of the German chroniclers as a notable Estonian elder, and he had become the central figure of the Estonian resistance.

The Christian kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden were also greedy for conquests on the Eastern shores of the Baltic. While the Swedes made only one failed foray into western Estonia in 1220, the Danish Fleet headed by King Valdemar II of Denmark had landed at the Estonian town of Lindanisse[8] (present-day Tallinn) in 1219. After the Battle of Lindanise the Danes established a fortress, which was besieged by Estonians in 1220 and 1223, but held out. Eventually, the whole of northern Estonia came under Danish control.

Wars against Saaremaa (1206–61)

The last Estonian county to hold out against the invaders was the island county of Saaremaa, whose war fleets had raided Denmark and Sweden during the years of fighting against the German crusaders.

In 1206, a Danish army led by king Valdemar II and Andreas, the Bishop of Lund landed on Saaremaa and attempted to establish a stronghold without success. In 1216 the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and the bishop Theodorich joined forces and invaded Saaremaa over the frozen sea. In return the Oeselians raided the territories in Latvia that were under German rule the following spring. In 1220, the Swedish army led by king John I of Sweden and the bishop Karl of Linköping conquered Lihula in Rotalia in Western Estonia. Oeselians attacked the Swedish stronghold the same year, conquered it and killed the entire Swedish garrison including the Bishop of Linköping.

In 1222, the Danish king Valdemar II attempted the second conquest of Saaremaa, this time establishing a stone fortress housing a strong garrison. The Danish stronghold was besieged and surrendered within five days, the Danish garrison returned to Revel, leaving bishop Albert of Riga's brother Theodoric, and few others, behind as hostages for peace. The castle was razed to the ground by the Oeselians.[9]

A 20,000 strong army under Papal legate William of Modena crossed the frozen sea while the Saaremaa fleet was icebound, in January 1227. After the surrender of two major Oeselian strongholds, Muhu and Valjala, the Oeselians formally accepted Christianity.

In 1236, after the defeat of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword in the Battle of Saule, military action on Saaremaa broke out again. In 1261, warfare continued as the Oeselians had once more renounced Christianity and killed all the Germans on the island. A peace treaty was signed after the united forces of the Livonian Order, the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek, and Danish Estonia, including mainland Estonians and Latvians, defeated the Oeselians by conquering their stronghold at Kaarma. Soon thereafter, the Livonian Order established a stone fort at Pöide.

Wars against the Curonians and Semigallians (1201–90)

Although the Curonians had attacked Riga in 1201 and 1210, Albert of Buxhoeveden, considering Courland a tributary of Valdemar II of Denmark, had been reluctant to conduct a large scale campaign against them. After Albert's death in 1229, the crusaders secured the peaceful submission of Vanemane (a county with a mixed Livonian, Oselian, and Curonian population in the northeastern part of Courland) by treaty in 1230. In the same year the papal vice-legat Baldouin of Alnea annulled this agreement and concluded an agreement with the ruler of Bandava in the central Courland Lamekins (Lammechinus rex), delivering his kingdom into the hands of the papacy. Baldouin became the popes's delegate in Courland and bishop of Semigallia; however, the Germans complained about him to the Roman Curia, and in 1234 Pope Gregory IX removed Baldouin as his delegate.

After their decisive defeat in the Battle of Saule by the Samogitians and Semigallians, the remnants of the Swordbrothers were reorganized in 1237 as a subdivision of the Teutonic Order, and became known as the Livonian Order. In 1242, under the leadership of the master of the Livonian Order Andrew of Groningen, the crusaders began the military conquest of Courland. They defeated the Curonians as far south as Embūte, near the contemporary border with Lithuania, and founded their main fortress at Kuldīga. In 1245 Pope Innocent IV allotted two thirds of conquered Courland to the Livonian Order, and one third to the Bishopric of Courland.

At the Battle of Durbe in 1260 a force of Samogitians and Curonians overpowered the united forces of the Livonian and Teutonic Orders; over the following years, however, the Crusaders gradually subjugated the Curonians, and in 1267 concluded the peace treaty stipulating the obligations and the rights of their defeated rivals. The unconquered southern parts of their territories (Ceklis and Megava) were united under the rule of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

2010 09 04 7Tervete37
Tērvete castle hill in 2010.

The conquest of Semigallian counties started in 1219 when crusaders from Rīga occupied Mežotne, the major port on the Lielupe waterway, and founded the Bishopric of Semigallia. After several unsuccessful campaigns against the pagan Semigallian duke Viestards and his Samogitian kinsfolk, the Roman Curia decided in 1251 to abolish the Bishopric of Semigallia, and divided its territories between the Bishopric of Rīga and the Order of Livonia. In 1265 a stone castle was built at Jelgava, on the Lielupe, and became the main military base for crusader attacks against the Semigallians. In 1271 the capital hillfort of Tērvete was conquered, but Semigallians under the Duke Nameisis rebelled in 1279, and the Lithuanians under Traidenis defeated Livonian Order forces in the Battle of Aizkraukle. Duke Nameisis' warriors unsuccessfully attacked Rīga in 1280, in response to which around 14,000 crusaders besieged Turaida castle in 1281. To conquer the remaining Semigallian hillforts the Order's master Villekin of Endorpe built a castle called Heiligenberg right next to the Tērvete castle in 1287. The same year the Semigallians made another attempt to conquer Rīga, but again failed to take it. On their return home Livonian knights attacked them, but were defeated at the Battle of Garoza, in which the Orders' master Villekin and at least 35 knights lost their lives. The new master of the Order Cuno of Haciginstein organised the last campaigns against the Semigallians in 1289 and 1290; the hillforts of Dobele, Rakte and Sidarbe were conquered and most of the Semigallian warriors joined the Samogitian and Lithuanian forces.

Prussia and Lithuania

Campaigns of Konrad of Masovia

Konrad I, the Polish Duke of Masovia, unsuccessfully attempted to conquer pagan Prussia in crusades in 1219 and 1222.[10] Taking the advice of the first Bishop of Prussia, Christian of Oliva, Konrad founded the crusading Order of Dobrzyń (or Dobrin) in 1220. However, this order was largely ineffective, and Konrad's campaigns against the Old Prussians were answered by incursions into the already captured territory of Culmerland (Chełmno Land). Subjected to constant Prussian counter-raids, Konrad wanted to stabilize the north of the Duchy of Masovia in this fight over border area of Chełmno Land. Masovia had only been conquered in the 10th century and native Prussians, Yotvingians, and Lithuanians were still living in the territory, where no settled borders existed. Konrad's military weakness led him in 1226 to ask the Roman Catholic monastic order of the Teutonic Knights to come to Prussia and suppress the Old Prussians.

Teutonic Order

The Northern Crusades provided a rationale for the growth and expansion of the Teutonic Order of German crusading knights which had been founded in Palestine at the end of the 12th century. Due to Muslim successes in the Holy Land, the Order sought new missions in Europe. Duke Konrad I of Masovia in west-central Poland appealed to the Knights to defend his borders and subdue the pagan Baltic Prussians in 1226. After the subjugation of the Prussians, the Teutonic Knights fought against the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

When the Livonian knights were crushed by Samogitians in the Battle of Saule in 1236, coinciding with a series of revolts in Estonia, the Livonian Order was inherited by the Teutonic Order, allowing the Teutonic Knights to exercise political control over large territories in the Baltic region. Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, was baptised together with his wife after his coronation in 1253, hoping that this would help stop the Crusaders' attacks, which it did not. The Teutonic Knights failed to subdue pagan Lithuania, which officially converted to (Catholic) Christianity in 1386 on the marriage of Grand Duke Jogaila to the 11-year-old Queen Jadwiga of Poland. However, even after the country was officially converted, the conflict continued up until the 1410 Battle of Grunwald, also known as the First Battle of Tannenberg, when the Lithuanians and Poles, helped by the Tatars, Moldovans and the Czechs, defeated the Teutonic knights.

The Teutonic Order's attempts to conquer Orthodox Russia (particularly the Republics of Pskov and Novgorod), an enterprise endorsed by Pope Gregory IX,[1] accompanied the Northern Crusades. One of the major blows for the idea of the conquest of Russia was the Battle of the Ice in 1242. With or without the Pope's blessing, Sweden also undertook several crusades against Orthodox Novgorod.

See also


  1. ^ a b Christiansen, Erik (1997). The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. p. 287. ISBN 0-14-026653-4.
  2. ^ Hunyadi, Zsolt; József Laszlovszky (2001). The Crusades and the Military Orders: Expanding the Frontiers of Medieval Latin Christianity. Budapest: Central European University Press. p. 606. ISBN 963-9241-42-3.
  3. ^ Christiansen, Eric. The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. pg. 71
  4. ^ Christopher Tyerman, God's War: A New History of the Crusades, (University of Harvard Press, 2006), 488.
  5. ^ von Güttner-Sporzyński, Darius. "Poland and the papacy before the second crusade". ResearchGate.
  6. ^ Georg Haggren, Petri Halinen, Mika Lavento, Sami Raninen ja Anna Wessman (2015). Muinaisuutemme jäljet. Gaudeamus. p. 380.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia. Columbia University Press. 1961. ISBN 0-231-12889-4.
  8. ^ "Estland". Salmonsens konversationsleksikon (in Danish).
  9. ^ Urban, William L. (1994). The Baltic Crusade. Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. pp. 113–114. ISBN 0-929700-10-4.
  10. ^ Lewinski-Corwin, Edward Henry (1917). A History of Prussia. New York: The Polish Book Importing Company. p. 628.
Albert III, Duke of Austria

Albert III of Austria (9 September 1349 – 29 August 1395), known as Albert with the Braid (Pigtail) (German: Albrecht mit dem Zopf), a member of the House of Habsburg, was Duke of Austria from 1365 until his death.

Alexander Nevsky

St. Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Яросла́вич Не́вский; pronounced [ɐlʲɪˈksandr jɪrɐˈsɫavʲɪtɕ ˈnʲɛfskʲɪj] (listen); 13 May 1221 – 14 November 1263) served as Prince of Novgorod (1236–40 and 1240–56 and 1258-1259), Grand Prince of Kiev (1236–52) and Grand Prince of Vladimir (1252–63) during some of the most difficult times in Kievan Rus' history.

Commonly regarded as a key figure of medieval Rus', St. Alexander – the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest – rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over German and Swedish invaders while agreeing to pay tribute to the powerful Golden Horde. He was canonized as a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church by Metropolite Macarius in 1547.

Battle of Lyndanisse

The Battle of Lyndanisse (also spelled the Battle of Lindanise) was a battle during the Livonian Crusade, fought between the Kingdom of Denmark and various German allies on one side and Estonian tribes on the other, and won by the former. The battle helped King Valdemar II of Denmark establish the territory of Danish Estonia during the Northern Crusades, which were undertaken in response to calls from the Pope. The Danes defeated the Estonians at Lindanise (Danish: Lyndanisse, today Tallinn).Today, the Battle of Lyndanisse is perhaps best known for a legend that the Danish flag, the Dannebrog, fell from the sky just as the Danes were about to lose the battle.

Christianity in the 12th century

Christianity in the 12th century was marked by scholastic development and monastic reforms in the western church and a continuation of the Crusades, namely with the Second Crusade in the Holy Land.

Crusader states

The Crusader states, also known as Outremer, were a number of mostly 12th- and 13th-century feudal Christian states created by Western European crusaders in Asia Minor, Greece and the Holy Land, and during the Northern Crusades in the eastern Baltic area. The name also refers to other territorial gains (often small and short-lived) made by medieval Christendom against Muslim and pagan adversaries.

The Crusader states in the Levant were the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and the County of Edessa. The people of the Crusader states were generally referred to as "Latins


First Swedish Crusade

The First Swedish Crusade was a mythical military expedition in 1150s to Southwest Finland by Swedish King Eric IX and English Bishop Henry of Uppsala.

Earliest written sources of the crusade are from the end of 13th Century. The main sources of the crusade, the legend of Saint Erik and the legend of Saint Henry, describes that the reason for the crusade were the multiple raids that pagan Finns made to Sweden.The crusade has traditionally been seen as the first attempt of Catholic Church and Sweden to convert pagan Finns to Christianity. However, the Christianisation of the South-western part of Finland is known to have already started in 10th century, and in the 12th century, the area was probably almost entirely Christian. According to legends, after the crusade Bishop Henry was killed at lake Köyliönjärvi by Lalli. He later became a central figure of the Catholic Church in Finland.

Hartwig of Uthlede

Hartwig of Uthlede (died 3 November 1207) was a German nobleman who – as Hartwig II – Prince-Archbishop of Bremen (1185–1190 and de facto again 1192–1207) and one of the originators of the Livonian Crusade.

Livonian Brothers of the Sword

The Livonian Brothers of the Sword (Latin: Fratres militiæ Christi Livoniae, German: Schwertbrüderorden, French: Ordre des Chevaliers Porte-Glaive) was a Catholic military order established by Albert, the third bishop of Riga (or possibly by Theoderich von Treyden), in 1202. Pope Innocent III sanctioned the establishment in 1204 for the second time. The membership of the order comprised German "warrior monks" who fought Baltic and Finnic pagans in the area of modern-day Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Alternative names of the Order include Christ Knights, Sword Brethren, and The Militia of Christ of Livonia. The seal reads: +MAGISTRI ETFRM (et fratrum) MILICIE CRI (Christi) DE LIVONIA.

Following their defeat by the Samogitians and Semigallians in the Battle of Schaulen (Saule) in 1236, the surviving Brothers merged into the Teutonic Order as an autonomous branch and became known as the Livonian Order.

Livonian Crusade

The Livonian Crusade was the conquest of the territory constituting modern Latvia and Estonia during the pope-sanctioned Northern Crusades, performed mostly by Germans from the Holy Roman Empire and Danes. It ended with the creation of the Terra Mariana and Duchy of Estonia. The lands on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea were the last corners of Europe to be Christianized.

On 2 February 1207, in the territories conquered, an ecclesiastical state called Terra Mariana was established as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire, and proclaimed by Pope Innocent III in 1215 as a subject of the Holy See. After the success of the crusade, the German- and Danish-occupied territory was divided into six feudal principalities by William of Modena.

Livonian Order

The Livonian Order was an autonomous branch of the Teutonic Order, formed in 1237. It was later a member of the Livonian Confederation, from 1435 to 1561.


Niklot or Nyklot (1090 – August 1160) was a pagan chief or prince of the Slavic Obotrites and an ancestor of the House of Mecklenburg. He became chief of the Obotrite confederacy, including the Kissini and the Circipani, between the years 1130 and 1131. He remained in this position until his death in 1160. At the same time he was Lord of (Herr zu) Schwerin, Quetzin and Malchow. For nearly 30 years he resisted Saxon princes, especially Henry the Lion during the Wendish Crusade. He fought the conversion of the pagan Polabian Slavs to Christianity.

Otto, Duke of Austria

Otto , the Merry (German: der Fröhliche; 23 July 1301 – 17 February 1339), a member of the House of Habsburg, was Duke of Austria and Styria from 1330, as well as Duke of Carinthia from 1335 until his death. He ruled jointly with his elder brother Duke Albert II.

Pope Gregory IX

Pope Gregory IX (Latin: Gregorius IX; born Ugolino di Conti; c. 1145 or before 1170 – 22 August 1241) was Pope from 19 March 1227 to his death in 1241. He is known for issuing the Decretales and instituting the Papal Inquisition, a mechanism that severely punished and executed people accused of heresy, in response to the failures of the episcopal inquisitions established during the time of Pope Lucius III through his papal bull Ad abolendam issued in 1184.

The successor of Pope Honorius III, he fully inherited the traditions of Pope Gregory VII and of his cousin Pope Innocent III and zealously continued their policy of Papal supremacy.

State of the Teutonic Order

The State of the Teutonic Order (German: Staat des Deutschen Ordens; Latin: Civitas Ordinis Theutonici), also called Deutschordensstaat (German: [ˈdɔʏtʃ ɔɐdənsˌʃtaːt]) or Ordensstaat ([ˈɔɐdənsˌʃtaːt]) in German, was a crusader state formed by the Teutonic Knights or Teutonic Order during the 13th century Northern Crusades along the Baltic Sea. The state was based in Prussia after the Order's conquest of the Pagan Old Prussians which began in 1230. It expanded to include at various times Courland, Gotland, Livonia, Neumark, Pomerelia and Samogitia. Its territory was in the modern countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden (Gotland). Most of the territory was conquered by military orders, after which German colonization occurred to varying effect.

The Livonian Brothers of the Sword controlling Terra Mariana were incorporated into the Teutonic Order as its autonomous branch Livonian Order in 1237. In 1346, the Duchy of Estonia was sold by the King of Denmark for 19,000 Köln marks to the Teutonic Order. The shift of sovereignty from Denmark to the Teutonic Order took place on 1 November 1346.Following its defeat in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 the Teutonic Order fell into decline and its Livonian branch joined the Livonian Confederation established in 1422–1435. The Teutonic lands in Prussia were split in two after the Peace of Thorn in 1466. The western part of Teutonic Prussia was converted into Royal Prussia, which became a more integral part of Poland. The monastic state in the east was secularized in 1525 during the Protestant Reformation as the Duchy of Prussia, a Polish fief governed by the House of Hohenzollern. The Livonian branch continued as part of the Livonian Confederation until its dissolution in 1561.

Swedish–Novgorodian Wars

Swedish–Novgorodian Wars were a series of conflicts in the 12th and 13th centuries between the Republic of Novgorod and medieval Sweden over control of the Gulf of Finland, an area vital to the Hanseatic League and part of the Varangian-Byzantine trade route. The Swedish attacks against Orthodox Russians had religious overtones, but before the 14th century there is no knowledge of official crusade bulls issued by the pope.

Terra Mariana

Terra Mariana (Medieval Latin for "Land of Mary") was the official name for Medieval Livonia or Old Livonia (German: Alt-Livland, Estonian: Vana-Liivimaa, Latvian: Livonija), which was formed in the aftermath of the Livonian Crusade in the territories comprising present day Estonia and Latvia. It was established on 2 February 1207, as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire but lost this status in 1215 when proclaimed by Pope Innocent III as directly subject to the Holy See.Terra Mariana was divided into feudal principalities by Papal Legate William of Modena:

Duchy of Estonia (Dominum directum to the King of Denmark)

Archbishopric of Riga

Bishopric of Courland

Bishopric of Dorpat

Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek

Military administration of the Livonian Brothers of the SwordAfter the 1236 Battle of Saule the surviving members of the Brothers merged in 1237 with the Teutonic Order of Prussia and became known as the Livonian Order. In 1346 the Order bought Danish Estonia. Throughout the existence of medieval Livonia there was a constant struggle over supremacy, between the lands ruled by the Church, the Order, the secular German nobility and the citizens of the Hanseatic towns of Riga and Reval. Following its defeat in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 the Teutonic Order and the Ordensstaat fell into decline but the Livonian Order managed to maintain its independent existence. In 1561, during the Livonian war, Terra Mariana ceased to exist. Its northern parts were ceded to the Swedish Empire and formed into the Duchy of Estonia, its southern territories became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania — and thus eventually of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth — as the Duchy of Livonia and the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia. The island of Saaremaa became part of Denmark.

Since the beginning of the 20th century Terra Mariana (Estonian: Maarjamaa) has been used as a poetic name or sobriquet for Estonia. In 1995 the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, a state decoration, was instituted to honor the independence of Estonia.

Third Swedish Crusade

The Third Swedish Crusade to Finland was a Swedish military expedition against the pagan Karelians in 1293. It followed the First Crusade and the Second Crusade to Finland. As the result of the attack, Viborg Castle was established and western Karelia remained under Swedish rule for over 400 years. The name of the expedition is largely anachronic, and it was a part of the Northern Crusades.

According to Eric Chronicles, the reason behind the expedition was pagan intrusions into Christian territories. Birger Magnusson's letter of 4 March 1295 states that the motive of the crusade was long-time banditry and looting in the Baltic Sea region by Karelians, and the fact that they had taken Swedes and other travellers as captives and then tortured them. Karelians had also been engaged in a destructive expedition to Sweden in 1257 which led Valdemar to request Pope Alexander IV to decleare a crusade against them, which he agreed.According to Eric Chronicles, Swedes conquered 14 hundreds from the Karelians.

Wendish Crusade

The Wendish Crusade (German: Wendenkreuzzug) was a military campaign in 1147, one of the Northern Crusades and a part of the Second Crusade, led primarily by the Kingdom of Germany within the Holy Roman Empire and directed against the Polabian Slavs (or "Wends"). The Wends are made up of the Slavic tribes of Abrotrites, Rani, Liutizians, Wagarians, and Pomeranians who lived east of the River Elbe in present-day northeast Germany and Poland.The lands inhabited by the Wends were rich in resources, which played a factor in the motivations of those who participated in the crusade. The mild climate of the Baltic area allowed for the cultivation of land and livestock. Animals of this region were also thickly furred, supporting the dependence on fur trading. Access to the coast line also developed fishing and trade networks. The land was attractive for the resources it boasted, and the crusade offered an opportunity for noble families to gain part of it.

By the early 12th century, the German archbishoprics of Bremen and Magdeburg sought the conversion to Christianity of neighboring pagan West Slavs through peaceful means. During the preparation of the Second Crusade to the Holy Land, a papal bull was issued supporting a crusade against these Slavs. The Slavic leader Niklot preemptively invaded Wagria in June 1147, leading to the march of the crusaders later that summer. They achieved an ostensible forced baptism of Slavs at Dobin but were repulsed from Demmin. Another crusading army marched on the already Christian city of Szczecin (Stettin), whereupon the crusaders dispersed upon arrival.The Christian army, composed primarily of Saxons and Danes, forced tribute from the pagan Slavs and affirmed German control of Wagria and Polabia through colonization, but failed to convert the bulk of the population immediately.

William I, Count of Holland

William I (c. 1167 – 4 February 1222), Count of Holland from 1203 to 1222. He was the younger son of Floris III and Ada of Huntingdon.

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