April 5 (part one)
The Battle on the Ice took place today in 1242. The battle was fought between the Livonian Order, a branch of the larger Teutonic Order, and the Novgorod Republic. The Battle was fought between two armies on top of a frozen lake, hence the battle’s name. The resulting Novgorodian victory marked the end of the Northern Crusade.
Much of the Eastern Baltic region remained largely pagan during the middle ages. This put the people in a precarious position as they were nestled between the christian nations of Eastern Europe and the Eastern Orthodox nations of Russia. Seeing an opportunity to spread christianity, Pope Celestine III called for a crusade against the pagans in Livonia, modern day day Lithuania and Latvia. Later this crusade would spread to include the Orthodox Russian Nations to the east.
Christianization efforts were brutal, and were met with fierce resistance. Eventually, the knights operating in Livonia were incorporated into the Teutonic Order, and became a branch for the order called the Livonian Order. Once they controlled the region they began to raid and take land from the neighboring Novgorodian Republic. The republic at this time had no standing army and relied on the troops under Alexander Nevsky. This allowed him to claim the title of Prince. Alexander moved to recapture territory lost to the order. The Livonian Order quickly raised an army to counter Alexander. Alexander moved up Lake Peipus, which was along the border of Livonia and Novgorod, and crossed the frozen lake. Alexander’s army set up defensive positions in the other side and waited for the Livonians.
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