Military Review

Knights and non-knights of the Baltic

19
Letter to Prince Mindaugas
Oh, forever! Mindaugas tribesmen!

I'd like to talk to you
And to hear the truth ...
Is Voruta's castle a reality? Or is it just a dream?
Lina Adamonite. A letter to the tribesman of Prince Mindaugas (2001)

“The heart of the Baltic Europe is made up of the lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (together with the Kingdom of Poland) and the Teutonic Order. The Danish dominium maris baltici, characteristic of the thirteenth century, gradually gave way to the German Hansa and the united Lithuanian-Polish monarchy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. ”
SC Rowell, Baltic Europe, The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 6: c. 1300 - c. 1415, edited by Michael Jones, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 701.


Knights and chivalry of three centuries. During the Middle Ages, the modern Baltic states and some neighboring regions along the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various peoples who spoke Finnish, Baltic and Slavic languages. Among them were the Prussians, Lithuanians, Livonians, Latvians, and Estonians, who for several centuries maintained their independence from the Poles, Russians, and Germans. These Baltic peoples became the target of a series of so-called “northern crusades”, because they had long adhered to the pagan faith of their fathers. Their conquest and conversion to Christianity were actually the reason for the creation of the Order of the Swordsmen, the German military order, which was then combined with the larger Teutonic Order in 1237 — 1239. Although the Teutonic Order was founded in Palestine in 1190, it flourished in the Baltic states, where it existed from 1228 until the middle of the 16th century.


Lithuanian castle Trakai - the castle on the island.


"Acts of the Danes" Saxon Grammar


Start our acquaintance with the military history The Baltic nations will have a somewhat earlier period and this is why. The fact is that in the “Acts of the Danes” by Saxon Grammar it is indicated that the kushas and the Swedes who had previously paid the Danes an “annual tribute” attacked Denmark when a certain Rorick became king of Denmark. A number of other tribes joined this rebellion, choosing even their own king. Rorik defeated these "barbarians" in a battle at sea, and then the rest of the Baltic Slavs forced him to obey and pay tribute.


The layout with the ruins of the castle of Trakai before its restoration (Museum of the castle of Trakai)


Famous Rorik and Baltic Piracy


And this very Rorik can be fully identified with the Viking known to us, Rorik, who acted on the territory of Friesland and Jutland in the middle of the 9th century. Rorik is known to have marched to Denmark in the 855 and 857 years. and then fortified in South Jutland in 857. With varying success, he attacked Dorestad, and only in 870-873. received it in flax from the Franconian kings, and in 882, he was already dead.

Saxon’s struggle of Roric in the Baltic connects him with the strengthening of his power in Jutland in 857. But the same date also coincides well with the events that took place in Russia. The version that Rorik of Yutlands and the legendary Rurik - the ancestor of the Rurik dynasty, one and the same person, today is finding more and more adherents. The Russian chronicles refer his vocation to 862, and his death to 879. And, although these dates are rather conditional, they coincide with the main dates from the life of real historical Roric.

Knights and non-knights of the Baltic

Layout of the castle Trakai in the museum of the castle. Interestingly, many castles were built in the lands of Lithuania, but not all of them were preserved in fair condition.


It is important that the struggle of Roric with the Curonians and the Swedes, which Saxo describes, is essentially an important link in his path to Russia. The Swedes had colonies in Kulandia (Grobiинa-Theburg) and in Northern Russia (Ladoga-Aldeygyuborg). And when the locals drove the Swedes across the sea, Rorik, who fought with them and the Kursh, immediately appeared. And why then the inhabitants of Ladoga did not invite him to defend them from the Swedes and beyond.

But further Saxo, albeit fragmentary, but tells about the events of the XI-XII centuries., As the period of piracy of the Curonian and other local tribes of the Eastern Baltic in the Baltic Sea. He reports pirate raids 1014, 1074, 1080 and 1170, confirming the greater activity of these pirates. That is, we can conclude that, as soon as the Viking era ended in the Scandinavian countries, the inhabitants of the Eastern Baltic States began to engage in piracy in their style. This implies first of all the squadron (trooper's) character of military affairs in the local tribes, with appropriate military equipment and combat tactics.


Russian warriors (left and above) and Lithuanian - right, middle of the XIV century. Figure M. Gorelik from the book: Gorelik MV Warriors of Eurasia: From the VIII century BC to the XVII century AD. L .: Montvert Publications, 1995.


Between the hammer and the anvil ...


However, the most important factor that influenced the development of this region of Europe was its ... “tightness” between Catholic countries in the West and Orthodox Russia in the East.

For example, Pomerania gained independence from Poland in the 1033 year, but gradually Germanized until, like a part of the Brandenburg march, it was not completely absorbed by the German Empire in the XIII century. Then, in 1231, the invasion of German Crusaders into the neighboring pagan nations began, and the Prussians were their first target. Wars continued with them in the XIV century. If we move further north, we will find ourselves on the lands of modern Estonia and Latvia, and we will know that they were captured in the 1203 year. Sandwiched between these areas, Lithuania retained its independence and even paganism in the second half of the 14th century, which can be considered a peculiar record of the existence of paganism in the center of Europe. However, by this time the Grand Duchy of Lithuania went on the offensive, eventually becoming one of the largest European states. Subsequently, she teamed up with Poland in the 1386 year to counteract the expansion of the crusaders, after which paganism was immediately officially abolished in Lithuania in the 1387 year.


Lithuanian warriors. Fig. Ian Hisa from the book: Armies of the Middle Ages by Ian Heath. L .: Wargames Research Gp. 1984. Unfortunately, in those years, Hees illustrated his books with such small graphic drawings, so you don’t know much of them. However, they used a very large amount of material, so that they nevertheless deserve attention.


"Learn from the Germans!"


However, the opposition in these lands of Christianization was a bit of everything, although separately, which helped the Crusaders very much. The local tribes were always warlike, and now in the XI and XII centuries, looking at the Germans, they tried to acquire their own equestrian elite. At the same time, however, their military equipment was still very simple, but only a few of the warriors had armor. Weapon It was usually imported from Russia or Scandinavia, and although the use of a bow was widespread, the shooting technique, and the bows themselves, were very primitive. More advanced weapons, such as the same crossbows, were usually captured or bought from their opponents or neighbors. And over time, the Balts learned to copy the siege weapons of their opponents. However, swords continued to remain rare weapons until the XIV century, but spears were certainly very common weapons.


As you can see, the armament at that time was quite simple, so it was very easy for some to adopt it from one people. Thumbnail from Humbert’s Bible, 1175-1195 Regensburg, Germany (University Library of Nuremberg, Nuremberg)


The basis of the army - light cavalry


The Latvian and Lithuanian tribes of modern Latvia were small in number, weak, and their more militant neighbors simply hunted. Soon they came to terms with the domination of the German invaders, but Estonians, Lithuanians and Prussians periodically launched revolts against them. Relatively rich and numerous, the Prussians adopted the tactics of guerrilla warfare, because they lived in swampy and wooded lands and thus tried to resist the invading armored cavalry and crossbows of the invader. The Lithuanians were poorer, although they lived in an even more inaccessible area. However, they had many horses, which allowed them to develop their own tactics that their light cavalry used. And these Baltic warriors turned out to be so effective that the Teutonic knights did not disdain to use the representatives of the local aristocracy who had converted to Christianity in such a way that they would continue to maintain their military traditions already in the service of the Order, that is, to act very far-sighted. A similar process was noticed later in some parts of Lithuania. Well, the German crusaders themselves, of course, had knightly armament in the typical Central European style.


Here they were - the German knights, terrified on the Curonians and Prussians. Miniature from Spekulum Virginium, 1200 Tire, Germany. (Museum of Augustus Kestner)


Winter is the best time for war with Lithuania


By the middle of the 14th century, part of the Lithuanian elite wore full armor, probably in the Western European style, but most still adhered to national traditions. Their military organization may have become more sophisticated by the 13th and early 14th centuries, but the main military force in Lithuania, as before, remained surprisingly large cavalry units. According to D. Nicolas, Lithuanians mostly copied weapons and armor of the Polish and Russian type, as cheaper and more affordable. Their tactics were associated with the organization of rapid raids on the enemy, to get cattle, slaves or prey, and especially in the summer, when the swamps prevented heavy Christian cavalry from pursuing them. Instead, the crusaders preferred to attack the Lithuanians in the winter, using the frozen rivers as highways.


But then stormed the city! Miniature from the Aschaffenburg Golden Gospel, 1225-1275 Mainz, Germany. (Aschaffenburg Library)


Darts against bows!


After the Mongol invasions of the 1240 and 1250, the Lithuanians borrowed a lot from them, although darts and swords were used instead of bows, and their infantry was still armed with spears, axes and, possibly, crossbows. In any case, the tactics of their equestrian battle was similar to the Mongol one: attack, throw the enemy with darts and immediately retreat. And so on until the exhausted adversary turns to flight. True, the difference was in weapons, as the Lithuanians preferred darts to bows. And, by the way, Vitovt used the same tactic in the famous Battle of Grunwald, and she was also successful! Eastern European military influence as a whole also increased, and Lithuanian weapons and armor became similar to the armaments of both their eastern neighbor, that is, the Russian principalities, and the Mongols. This was especially noticeable in the lands of eastern Lithuania, in the center of which was the city of Vilna (Vilnius). Moreover, in Eastern Lithuania, it was decided to recruit mercenaries, including the Mongols. Interestingly, Western Lithuania longer clung to its paganism, but at the same time it was influenced by the military technologies of Western Europe and the Teutonic knights.

Использованная литература:
1. Saxo and the Baltic Region. A Symposium, edited by Tore Nyberg, [Odense:] University Press of Southern Denmark, 2004, p. 63 – 79.
2. Nicolle D. Arms and Armor of the Crusading Era, 1050 - 1350. UK L .: Greenhill Books. Vol.1.
3. Nicolle D. Raiders of the Ice War. Medieval Warfare: Teutonic Knights ambush Lithuanian Raiders // Military illustrated. Vol. 94. March. 1996. Pp 26-29.
4. Gorelik MV Warriors of Eurasia: From the VIII century BC to the XVII century AD. L .: Montvert Publications, 1995.
5. Ian Heath. Armies of the Middle Ages. L .: Wargames Research Gp. 1984.


To be continued ...
Author:
Articles from this series:
Knighthood of medieval Hungary
Knighthood of the medieval Balkans
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knights of Outremer
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knights of the South of Italy and Sicily 1050-1350.
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Part of 11. Knights of Italy 1050-1350.
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Part of 10. Knights of the Kingdom of Arelat
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Part of 9. Germanic effigii
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Part of 8. Knights of the Holy Roman Empire
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Part of 7. Knights of Spain: Leon, Castile and Portugal
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knights of Spain: Aragon, Navarre and Catalonia (part 6)
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. CH 5. Knights of France. Central and southern areas
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knights of Ireland (part 4)
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knights of Scotland (part 3)
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knighthood and knights of England and Wales. Part of 2
Knights and chivalry of three centuries. Knighthood and knights of northern France. Part of 1
Polish chivalry. From Boleslav the Brave to Vladislav Jagiellon
Scandinavian knighthood 1050-1350.
19 comments
Information
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. Senior seaman
    Senior seaman 27 June 2019 18: 26
    +9
    was completely absorbed by the German Empire in the 13th century.

    What kind of empire? Maybe the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation?
    1. Basil50
      Basil50 27 June 2019 19: 37
      +1
      You're right. For some reason, it has become fashionable to describe an alternative story (AI) from fiction as really happening.
      To understand the historical events of those times, you should KNOW the history of the Slavic tribes and the history of the creation and development of the Hanseatic League.
      For the Vatican, it was unbearable that there was something that brought enormous income and without royalties to the pope.
      Therefore, the Crusades were organized with the destruction or Germanization of the Slavs. Far to the Middle East, and Asians did not hesitate to slaughter Christians, whether the Slavs were closer to them and who were divided into tribes, often opposing each other. Parallelization of Poles took place.
      1. Vend
        Vend 28 June 2019 10: 02
        +1
        Quote: Vasily50
        You're right. For some reason, it has become fashionable to describe an alternative story (AI) from fiction as really happening.
        To understand the historical events of those times, you should KNOW the history of the Slavic tribes and the history of the creation and development of the Hanseatic League.
        For the Vatican, it was unbearable that there was something that brought enormous income and without royalties to the pope.
        Therefore, the Crusades were organized with the destruction or Germanization of the Slavs. Far to the Middle East, and Asians did not hesitate to slaughter Christians, whether the Slavs were closer to them and who were divided into tribes, often opposing each other. Parallelization of Poles took place.

        Fiction in history began a long time ago, with the assertion of Normanism laughing
  2. Fayter2017
    Fayter2017 27 June 2019 18: 43
    +2
    So always, in the most interesting place, to be continued ... good
    1. _palych_
      _palych_ 27 June 2019 19: 43
      +1
      Listen to Klim Zhukov’s lectures on YouTube about the history of chivalry, the Vikings, Russia, as well as about famous battles.
  3. Operator
    Operator 27 June 2019 19: 00
    0
    The version that Rorik Yutlands and the legendary Rurik - the ancestor of the Rurik dynasty, one and the same person, today finds more and more adherents

    Better you, Vyacheslav, continued to write fiery stories about PP with disc bullets laughing

    “Russian Chronicler - Chronograph, ѣѣѣѣѣѣ в briefly about the Russian land”, sheet 313:
    “After the death of this Gostosmysl, she sent ambassadors to the Prussia land by the whole of the Russian land. They are the ones who have succeeded and regained the tamo of the kurhostra or the reclamation of the prince of the great, named Ryurik. ”

    If anything, the Chronograph (a summary of ancient chronicles) is dated to the 16th century, so the text uses the name "Pruska" instead of the original "Poruska" of the 10th century.
    1. Trilobite Master
      Trilobite Master 27 June 2019 21: 20
      +5
      Quote: Operator
      If anything, the Chronograph (a summary of the ancient chronicles) dates back to the 16 century

      He was copied so many times and he had so many authors, so many protographs, this is such a vigorous hodgepodge of fragmentary information from the Greek chronicles, Serbian, Bulgarian and Russian chronicles, as well as biblical scenes, and journalistic articles and parables that I don’t know if you can regard it otherwise than just a monument of literature of the XV - XVII centuries. Its value as a historical source is the same as that of the Joakimov chronicle. It’s strange, by the way, that you don’t bring her here as an argument.
      Quote: Operator
      the text uses the name "Pruskaya" instead of the original "Poruskaya" of the 10th century.

      I can imagine how loudly you would laugh if I began to operate with arguments of this level. Surprisingly, it seems that your idol Klesov does not stoop to primitive Fomenkovism, does not manipulate words, letters and sounds at his own discretion, where did you get it from? Why "Poruskaya 10th century", and not, for example, "Etruscan 3rd century BC", is also not clear. Or maybe, in general, was meant the "Trusky" earth, in the sense that shakes, that is, Japan? Let's fantasize, so fantasize, why are they ashamed?
      And by the way, the Prussians have never been Slavs - Lithuania, Yatvägi, Galinda or Latgali are much closer to them, for that matter.
      I reviewed the VO materials here for 2017 and earlier, came across several of your messages, read ... In two years, intellectually degraded as much as you managed to do - you have to try. Apparently, regular reading of the "reformat" affects.
      You, too, would probably be worth it, as you advised the author of the article, to deal with your technical issues and not try to demonstrate your knowledge in the field of history, since this is clearly not yours.
  4. bober1982
    bober1982 27 June 2019 19: 27
    +2
    It is not entirely clear from the article how paganism was officially abolished in Lithuania in 1387, if at the beginning of the XIV there was a Lithuanian metropolis that was subordinate to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and on the territory of the principality there were quite a lot of Orthodox parishes and churches, and whose role was great.
    In fact, Lithuania was an Orthodox principality, and the year 1387 was mentioned by the author, this is the year when Jagiello ordered the forced baptism of Christ.
    1. arturpraetor
      arturpraetor 27 June 2019 19: 43
      +5
      You somewhat simplistically imagine the religious alignment in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The main religion in Lithuania itself (the territory where zemites and other balts live) was paganism; the metropolis was needed by the Lithuanian princes for their Orthodox Russian vassals (a question of prestige and public policy). Until the 1387 year, Orthodoxy among the Lithuanian nobility was found even more often, but the positions of the pagans were still strong, among the ordinary population, paganism was even more common and some time after the 1387 year. It is a big mistake to consider the ON as a whole Orthodox state before the indicated date. Catholics were finally baptized by the ancestors of modern Lithuanians, in fact, thanks to the efforts of Jagiello.
      1. bober1982
        bober1982 27 June 2019 20: 04
        +2
        But, I don’t think that the Principality of Lithuania was a completely Orthodox state, and I agree that the positions of the pagans were strong. I said that, in fact.
        Quote: arturpraetor
        Until 1387, Orthodoxy among the Lithuanian nobility met, though more and more often,

        Even in the XIII century, long before 1387, some of the great princes were Orthodox, especially since there were many among the nobles, that is, at that time these positions were strong.
        Quote: arturpraetor
        Lithuanian princes needed the metropolis for their Orthodox Russian vassals

        The Principality was sandwiched between West and East, and gravitated more to Russia, this explains the strengthening of Orthodoxy.
        1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
          Kote Pan Kokhanka 27 June 2019 20: 52
          +6
          Considering that on the date you are considering, ON for three-quarters consisted of original Russian territories, however, like Jagiello himself, there was a minimum of half Russian blood. Naturally weighed, but from the moment of the union with Poland, ON turned to lose the status of collector of Russian lands and a century later this role strictly remains in the exclusive right of Moscow!
      2. Theodore
        Theodore 28 June 2019 19: 21
        0
        Not this way ! After 1415, that is, Grunwald, Vytautas finally decided to finally do away with paganism completely! But Zemaitiya was the stronghold of paganism! And Vitovt baptized her so much that the Neman turned red with blood! I myself read it in their history textbook.
    2. Trilobite Master
      Trilobite Master 27 June 2019 20: 32
      +5
      Quote: bober1982
      Paganism was officially abolished in Lithuania in 1387

      It would be more correct to say "banned". Vitovt carried out the forcible universal baptism of the population according to the Catholic rite and began to punish for the performance of pagan rites.
      Further, in the process of further grinding Lithuania, a slow, but consistent infringement of the rights of the Orthodox population began.
      1. bober1982
        bober1982 27 June 2019 20: 36
        +2
        Quote: Trilobite Master
        but the consistent infringement of the rights of the Orthodox population.

        Still, the population was not infringed, to know - yes, it was forbidden to occupy higher posts, and then sequential catholicity.
  5. Operator
    Operator 27 June 2019 21: 39
    -3
    Quote: Trilobite Master
    bitch from fragmentary information

    Go on as usual - I quoted the Chronograph list, dated no later than the 16 of the century, when there was no conflict between the lousy Normanists of the Scandinavian season and the domestic historians.
  6. volodimer
    volodimer 28 June 2019 06: 40
    +3
    In 1982 he visited the Trakai Castle, even then he impressed with his completeness. On the road, we drove through some less preserved ones ... just say ruins similar to the photo layout before reconstruction. Such an excellent museum condition was seen only in Tallinn, but there is the city center, the capital of the republic. And here ... Now sometimes you think: why and for whom did we restore it? After the war, did we have other problem areas? Yes, just half the country had to be restored ...
    But it was our common country and our common history, and therefore ...
  7. rayruav
    rayruav 28 June 2019 09: 49
    0
    the question remains whose architect built the castle Trakai?
  8. XII Legion
    XII Legion 29 June 2019 09: 16
    +2
    Knights and chivalry of three centuries

    As already said, once again I repeat. It is impossible to talk about a phenomenon without having decided on its content.
    It should be reported what kind of phenomenon is KNIGHTLESS, its FILLING, RECRUITING, relationship with the authorities, the specificity of LAND OWNERSHIP. Both general and regional.
    And only then to talk about chain mail and horses. Otherwise it turns out - go there I don’t know where.
  9. Nadir shah
    Nadir shah 30 August 2019 23: 07
    0
    Quote: Operator

    1

    funny that there are still people who deny the facts. However, what is there to be surprised at.