Baltic crusades, Baltic Sea, Crusaders, Crusades, Germans, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Poles, Teutonic Order
Source: Stanford University
The Teutonic Order’s Marienburg Castle, Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, now Malbork, Poland
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.
Cavalry, Croatia, Croats, Lithuania, medieval warfare, Military history, Poland, rennaisance warfare, Russia, Serbia, Serbs
By Periklis Deligiannis
A short-barreled harquebus (below) and a pistol (above) of the Polish-Lithuanian Hussars (source: kismeta.com).
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.
Danes, Harold Bluetooth, medieval warfare, Military topics, Poland, Poles, Scandinavia, Viking, Viking history, Viking longship
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.
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.
Ancient warfare, Battle of Adrianople, Byzantine, Constantinople, Goth, Goths, medieval warfare, Military history, Ostrogoth, Poland, Romans, Rome, Scandinavia, Sweden, Visigoths
By Periklis Deligiannis
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.
Ancient warfare, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Byzantine, Constantinople, Goths, medieval warfare, Military history, Poland, Romans, Rome, Scandinavia, Sweden, Thrace
By Periklis Deligiannis
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.