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Stanford researchers find clues to the Baltic Crusades in animal bones, horses and the extinct aurochs

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Source: Stanford University

Marienburg MalborkCastle built by Teutonic knightsThe Teutonic Order’s Marienburg Castle, Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, now Malbork, Poland

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By Melissa Pandika

 

Stanford Assistant Professor Krish Seetah and Reading University student Rose Calis analyze animal bones in the basement of Riga Castle, Latvia. (Photo: Aleks Pluskowski)

Stanford researchers have discovered that pagan villages plundered by medieval knights during the little-known Baltic Crusades had some problems in common with the modern-day global village.

Among them: deforestation, asymmetric warfare and species extinction.

According to a research paper published in Science, a project investigating the Baltic Crusades’ profound environmental legacy could yield valuable insight into colonialism, cultural changes and ecological exploitation – relevant issues not only throughout history, but especially in today’s increasingly globalized society.

The researchers, including professors at Stanford and in Europe, are drawing from disciplines as disparate as history and chemistry to analyze their findings, which they’ve already begun synthesizing into a database of unprecedented depth and scope.

Their study spans the years from the 12th century to the 16th century, when the Teutonic Order, a Germanic brotherhood of Christian knights, waged war against the last indigenous pagan societies in Europe in a region that includes modern-day Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and parts of Sweden and Russia.

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AN INTRODUCTION TO THE POLISH HUSSARS (16th-17th cent.): Evolution, weaponry and tactics

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By Periklis Deligiannis

 

harquebus
A short-barreled harquebus (below) and a pistol (above) of the Polish-Lithuanian Hussars (source: kismeta.com).

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Semi-cuirasses and helmets of Polish hussars of the mid-17th century (National Museum, Krakow). The armor in the background is accompanied by the renowned wing-construction.

In 1386 the Polish Kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were united on the basis of a personal union under the Lithuanian Jagiellonian monarchs. Ladislaus (Russ. Vladislav) II Jagiello, the duke of Lithuania, married Hedwige, the queen of Poland. The royal couple joined their dominions forming a new strong Roman Catholic kingdom centered on Krakow, which included large Eastern European areas. The new state included Lithuania, modern Belarus, most of modern Poland and Ukraine and parts of modern Russia. The Jagiellonian borders were quite close to the Russian metropolises Moscow, Novgorod and Tver. In 1410 the Polish-Lithuanian forces crushed the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg), ensuring a territorial outlet to the Baltic sea for the binary kingdom. Simultaneously the Lithuanians regained Samogitia from the Teutonic Order. Soon afterwards, the princes of Moldavia and Wallachia became vassals of Ladislaus, thereby the Polish-Lithuanian power reached the Black Sea. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was ruled by a Sejm (parliament) of aristocrats and an elected monarch, who was elected by the Polish nobles among the Lithuanian dukes. In 1413 the Polish and Lithuanian nobles confirmed the Polish-Lithuanian union with a treaty.
The Catholic Commonwealth faced the threat of the Muslim Ottomans on its southern borders and of the Orthodox Russians in the East. Moreover, the majority of its people were of Russian origin (who later mostly evolved to the nations of the Ukrainians and Belarusians). At the same time, Poland-Lithuania followed an expansionist policy against the Germans with whom was bordering in the North and West. Ladislaus III, who was also king of Hungary, tried to stem the Turkish advance at Varna (Bulgaria) but he was defeated (November 1444) and the Commonwealth lost permanently the two Danubian principalities. In contrast, the Poles-Lithuanians achieved major victories over the Germans. In 1454 the former conquered some territories from the Teutonic Knights, thus starting the “Thirteen years’ war.” The war ended in 1466 with the Commonwealth being the winner which imposed its overlordship on the Teutonic Knights and won the districts of Pomerellen and Ermland, and the strategic port of Gdansk (Danzig). The Poles-Lithuanians managed to stop the German counter-attack and the Ottoman attack, but failed to achieve the same against the Russians. Since the mid-15th century, the aggressive Grand Duchy of Muscovy pressed hard Lithuania, managing to capture large areas with Russian population, including the major cities of Smolensk and Chernigov. In 1514 the Poles-Lithuanians overwhelmingly defeated the Muscovite army at the battle of Orsza (1514) and later regained Smolensk, Chernigov and other areas.

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Harold Bluetooth’s Vikings were Polish mercenaries

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By  Gunver Lystbaek Vestergaard

https://i2.wp.com/www.au.dk/uploads/pics/vikinger_originalbillede.JPG

As part of an international team of researchers, archaeologists at Aarhus University can reveal that a large part of Harold Bluetooth’s Viking army consisted of foreigners – possibly from Poland.

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The story of Harold Bluetooth, who converted the Danes to Christianity and unified the Kingdom of Denmark during the Viking Age, is one of the most archetypal Danish stories in existence. Bluetooth’s achievements are immortalised at places such as the rune stones in Jelling, which date from the tenth century.

It was previously believed that Harold Bluetooth’s Viking army mainly consisted of ‘native’ Danish solders. However, archaeologists from institutions including Aarhus University can document via analyses of skeletons found at the burial site at Trelleborg on the Danish island of Zealand that many of the soldiers – possibly more than half – were actually foreigners.

 

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BREAKING THE ETERNITY OF ROME: THE GOTHS AGAINST THE ROMAN EMPIRE

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

 Goths

Earlier  related  article:  BIRTH  OF  THE  STORMERS  OF  ROME:  ON  THE  GOTHIC  ETHNOGENESIS  AND  MIGRATIONS

After  the  carnage  of  the  Roman  army  in  the  Battle  of  Adrianople  (AD  378),  the  new  emperor  Theodosius  checked  as  possible  the  Visigoths  until  AD  382  when  he  came  to  an  agreement  with  them,  formally  accepting  their  settlement  in  the  Roman  territory  as  foederati  (dependent  allies).  The  Goths  joined  en  masse  the  Eastern  Roman  army  which  was  decimated  after  the  defeat  at  Adrianople.  They  soon  acquired  considerable  political  influence  in  the  court  of  Constantinople.  It  is  characteristic  that  a  Goth,  the  famous  Gainas  (Gaenas),  came  up  to  all  the  offices  –  one  by  one  –  of  the  military  hierarchy  and  ultimately  tried  to  seize  the  imperial  throne,  but  without  success.  The  Eastern  Romans  (Early  Byzantines)  realized  the  mortal  danger  of  the  Goths  that  was  threatening  the  Empire  and  reacted  violently.  An  intense  anti-Germanic  feeling  prevailed  in  Constantinople  and  in  a  few  years  most  Goths  had  been  expelled  from  the  administration  and  the  military.  Later,  the  Byzantines  settled  many  Goths  in  Asia  Minor  (in  the  territory  of  the  later  thema  of  Opsikion)  who  were  gradually  Hellenized  and  were  called  Gotthograeci  (Gotho-Greeks).
Until  recently  the  modern  historians  used  to  believe  that  the  historical  Visigoths  were  the  descendants  of  the  Western  Goths  of  Gutthiunta  and  that  the  Ostrogoths  originated  from  the  Eastern  Goths  of  Hermanaric.  During  the  last  decades  it  was  ascertained  that  these  correlations  were  not  correct.  The  Visigoth  tribal  union  was  formed  around  the  time  of  the  battle  of  Adrianople,  possibly  in  the  eve  of  the  battle,  when  the  Thervingi  combined  forces  with  a  portion  of  the  Greuthungi  who  had  escaped  from  the  Hunnish  yoke  and  with  other  barbarian  groups.  The  Ostrogoth  tribal  union  was  formed  a  few  decades  later  (around  AD  400)  when  the  rest  scattered  Greuthungi  and  other  Gothic-German  and  Sarmatian  groups  (namely  the  Goths  of  the  Amali  Dynasty  and  later  the  Goths  of  Theuderic-Strabo,  of  Radagaesus,  some  Alan  groups  and  others)  joined  forces.  However,  most  modern  books,  studies  and  disquisitions  continue  to  use  anachronistically  the  ethnic  terms  Visigoths  and  Ostrogoths  for  the  historical  events  before  378.

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BIRTH OF THE STORMERS OF ROME: ON THE GOTHIC ETHNOGENESIS AND MIGRATIONS

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 By  Periklis  Deligiannis

Scandinavians

These  Scandinavian  warriors  are  almost  identical  with  their  Gothic  relatives  because  of  their  unity  of  culture.  The  weaponry  of  the  Scandinavians/Vikings  was  in  fact  originated  from  the  arms  and  armor  of  their  Germanic  kinsmen  in  the  main  European  continent , especially  from  those  of  the  Eastern  Teutonic  tribes.

The  Goths  lived  and  fought  in  most  parts  of  the  European  continent.  From  the  dense  frosty  forests  of  Scandinavia  and  contemporary  Poland,  and  the  frigid  Baltic  Sea,  to  the  warm  civilized  countries  of  Greece,  Italy  and  the  Mediterranean,  and  from  the  vast  grasslands  of  Ukraine  and  the  Black  Sea  to  the  Iberian  Atlantic  coast,  their  martial  migration  course  is  a  truly  unparalleled  feat.  Their  Vandal  brothers  managed  to  colonize  North  Africa,  while  other  Gothic  branches  settled  in  Britain (Jutes) and  Asia  Minor.  The  History  of  the  Goths  is  one  of  the  most  exciting  in  general  World  History,  while  their  admirable  martial  art  brought  the  Dawn  of  Chivalry  in  Europe.

The  modern  theories  on  the  ethnogenesis  of  the  Goths  are  divided.  The  best  known  view (supported  mainly  by  modern  Teutonic  historians  and  scholars)  considers  them  of  pure  Germanic  origins,  originating  from  Gotland  (“Land  of  the  Goths“),  i.e. modern  South-Central  Sweden  and  the  adjacent  long  island  of  the  same  name.  This  view  is  supported  by  a  number  of  medieval  sources.  However,  there  is  also  the  theory  (supported  mainly  by  modern  Slav  historians  and  scholars)  that  the  Goths  and  the  Vandals  were  indigenous  non-Germanic  peoples  of  modern  Poland,  who  adopted  their  Germanic  language  from  a  Teutonic  ethnic  element  sparsely  settled  in  their  area.

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