The Northern Crusades


#1

What is the Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim, Atheist/Agnostic and Pagan view regarding the Northern - or as others call ‘Baltic’ - Crusades?

Everyone knows about the Holy Land Crusades, but little do they talk about the exploits and efforts of the German(Teutonic) Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Livonian Order of Knights. Is it really that much of an undervalued work? Aren’t all Crusades, in some way, important in forming and shaping the modern world as we know it?

Please discuss.
-Karl


#2

It helped convert people, and it helped the Holy Roman Empire expand (didn’t it?), so I don’t see a problem. :smiley: But, like the “other” Crusades, there were bad parts to it. But the original intention was good.


#3

[quote="CarloMagnus, post:1, topic:275744"]
What is the Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim, Atheist/Agnostic and Pagan view regarding the Northern - or as others call 'Baltic' - Crusades?

Everyone knows about the Holy Land Crusades, but little do they talk about the exploits and efforts of the German(Teutonic) Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Livonian Order of Knights. Is it really that much of an undervalued work? Aren't all Crusades, in some way, important in forming and shaping the modern world as we know it?

Please discuss.
-Karl

[/quote]

Genocide.


#4

I imagine the Atheist view is rather negative, as is the Pagan view.

The Orthodox view would similarly be quite negative, largely because after they finished with the Balts, the crusaders began to move into Orthodox territory. St. Alexander of Neva is famous in the East for his defeat of the Tutonic Order.

My personal opinion is that they didn’t accomplish all that much. They turned the region Catholic by the sword, but that only lasted about 100 years. They were among the first to go Protestant, and then Atheist.
There is probably a lower percentage of Christians there today than there were before the Crusades.

But I guess they did result in a bunch of flags for European countries that aren’t boring tricolours. So credit for that.:thumbsup:


#5

[quote="Hesychios, post:3, topic:275744"]
Genocide.

[/quote]

Not Genocide at all. The Sword Brethren formed in Livonia by the Bishop of Riga and took the Templars' rule. Their habit was white, marked with a red sword and red cross on the left shoulder.


#6

[quote="CarloMagnus, post:1, topic:275744"]
What is the Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim, Atheist/Agnostic and Pagan view regarding the Northern - or as others call 'Baltic' - Crusades?

Everyone knows about the Holy Land Crusades, but little do they talk about the exploits and efforts of the German(Teutonic) Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Livonian Order of Knights. Is it really that much of an undervalued work? Aren't all Crusades, in some way, important in forming and shaping the modern world as we know it?

Please discuss.
-Karl

[/quote]

I didn't know - I always find it rather odd to think of carrying swords in the name of God or religion. Swords were not real handy for reading scripture, giving sermons, saying prayers or other things that bring meaning to life, or enhance a holy lifestyle. Insofar as I am aware, swords have one main purpose, which is to kill people, in which case we find ourselves violating a main tenet of most religions. So we carry the message of peace and love on the edge of a sword. Of course they didn't have printing presses back then, so other than a book of hours or two, few of them were probably carrying a bible. If they did, they would be carrying around in one hand a book with a proclamation from God about how people who live by the sword die by the sword, while in the other hand carrying a sword. So I guess all crusades do serve a purpose if we let them. We can ponder on them and use them as a reminder to ask ourselves regularly as a species "what kind of asinine things are we up to today?" And usually, we can think of something.

Your friend
Sufjon


#7

[quote="Sufjon, post:6, topic:275744"]
I didn't know - I always find it rather odd to think of carrying swords in the name of God or religion. Swords were not real handy for reading scripture, giving sermons, saying prayers or other things that bring meaning to life, or enhance a holy lifestyle. Insofar as I am aware, swords have one main purpose, which is to kill people, in which case we find ourselves violating a main tenet of most religions. So we carry the message of peace and love on the edge of a sword. Of course they didn't have printing presses back then, so other than a book of hours or two, few of them were probably carrying a bible. If they did, they would be carrying around in one hand a book with a proclamation from God about how people who live by the sword die by the sword, while in the other hand carrying a sword. So I guess all crusades do serve a purpose if we let them. We can ponder on them and use them as a reminder to ask ourselves regularly as a species "what kind of asinine things are we up to today?" And usually, we can think of something.

Your friend
Sufjon

[/quote]

The priests who accompanied the crusaders were likely carrying a lectionary at the very least. ;)


#8

Most likely the Orthodox wouldn’t care if the crusaders had stopped with the pagans. But in some ways I wonder if the history of the world wouldn’t have turned out for the better if the crusaders had succeeded in turning Russia (or I guess Novgorod at the time) Catholic.

Think about it. It would have gave Russia a much stronger tie to the west which may have allowed ideas such as democracy to flourish there around the same time they did in the rest of Europe. It would have eliminated the tricky three religion problem in the Balkans because Russia wouldn’t have opposed the expansion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and with the Russians and Austrians working together the Ottomans might have never pushed into the Balkans as far and as long as they did. From there what could’ve happened is unknowable. Maybe we could have avoided a Communist Russia all together and as a result the entire Cold War period.


#9

It is pretty clear that the Prussian people met their end as a result of the Teutonic knights crusade against them. They completely disappeared as a result, not even assimilated but actually exterminated.

It is unfortunate that our holy Christian religion was used as a political excuse to attack neighboring peoples and seize their lands. Somewhat better to peacefully and lovingly convince them of the genuine Truth of Christianity in their own time and leave them in peace and intact to flourish on their own.

Decorating oneself with signs of Christ and attacking people with brute force is despicable. Better at least if they had done their dirty deeds and left Christ out of it, they have only multiplied their sins.


#10

The call of the Northern Crusade was made at the request of the German Bishops, who were responding to a pagan invasion led by a man named Niklot, who had ambitious designs to exterminate Catholics in the Baltics; to establish his own Empire. To say that a Christian has no right to defend himself is wrong; even if that Christian is Catholic.

Further Northern Crusades were led in the same designs. Always in response to pagan invasions.

The native Prussians were never “exterminated”, but rather, integrated, since you can clearly see their existence still in the 14th and 15th century. The Chronicles that follow after Nikolaus von Jeroschin were all by Prussian natives. Prussians became Germanized, and even then, grew into the most powerful of Germans; for German isn’t one group, but an ethnicity. Like the Frisians, or the Austrians. The Bavarians or the Saxons. All are German, but different.

I haven’t heard from Jews and Muslims yet. It’s something I was eager to hear.

-Karl


#11

[quote="CarloMagnus, post:10, topic:275744"]
The call of the Northern Crusade was made at the request of the German Bishops, who were responding to a pagan invasion led by a man named Niklot, who had ambitious designs to exterminate Catholics in the Baltics; to establish his own Empire. To say that a Christian has no right to defend himself is wrong; even if that Christian is Catholic.

Further Northern Crusades were led in the same designs. Always in response to pagan invasions.

The native Prussians were never "exterminated", but rather, integrated, since you can clearly see their existence still in the 14th and 15th century. The Chronicles that follow after Nikolaus von Jeroschin were all by Prussian natives. Prussians became Germanized, and even then, grew into the most powerful of Germans; for German isn't one group, but an ethnicity. Like the Frisians, or the Austrians. The Bavarians or the Saxons. All are German, but different.

I haven't heard from Jews and Muslims yet. It's something I was eager to hear.

-Karl

[/quote]

Saying those wars were defensive is like saying it is self defense to shoot the robber breaking into your home and then going to his home and shooting his entire family.


#12

That isn’t an argument, Nine_Two. Good or bad. The concept of Christian War is placed in the tenets of St. Augustine, and the members who led the Crusades understood these very well:

  1. War must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain or as an exercise of power.

  2. Just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state.

  3. Peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.

Members of the Military Orders knew all of these like the back of their hands and lived their lives under the code of Chivalry; which is why you never hear of any massacres in the Northern Crusades.

-Karl


#13

I was reforming your statement onto an individual level.

  1. War must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain or as an exercise of power.

While defence may be a good and just purpose, converting the heathen hordes by the sword, and then taking their land shows self-gain and an exercise of power.

  1. Just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state.

Do Christian Holy Orders count? I’d tend to say no.

  1. Peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.

And I’m not convinced it was.

Members of the Military Orders knew all of these like the back of their hands and lived their lives under the code of Chivalry; which is why you never hear of any massacres in the Northern Crusades.

-Karl

Chivalry is largely a myth. I can’t respond to the massacres because I’m not versed well enough on the subject matter, but I have a hard time believing it was because they were such good and god-fearing people.


#14

Not true.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Prussians


#15

Nine_Two, please show me the cases in the Northern Crusades when the Teutonic Knights or the Livonian Knights ever force-converted anyone.

Holy Orders are under direct orders from the Pope, who, in turn, has his own state. But the Crusades were also led by Kings, Princes, Dukes and Margraves, Counts and Barons. They all had their rights, and worked for their own states; simply, not in the interest of their own states, concerning Crusades.

What would convince you for the motive to be peace? All Christians have a desire - a deep desire - for peace. I don’t know a single one who has never had that in mind.

Well now you’ve done it. :smiley: You deny the very existence of something wonderful and which should still be very much alive in all our lives. The concept of chivalry first started out as a code on the status of individuals; but then shifted into a status of love, compassion, courtesy, honor, loyalty, valor and courage.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chivalry#Etymology

This source may reveal more; despite it being untrustworthy. But I am more willing to offer books on the subject of chivalry; that wonderful ideal of the Christian warriorship. If you looked into the lives of your own Orthodox Saints, you’ll find these very ideals is found within them as well. It only just lacked a name. :slight_smile: The thing is that the French were the first ones to do so.

If such ideals were so very much alive in the Age of Faith, could knights who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience truly show such evil towards those they are victorious over? I would say, no. Because to take Holy Orders is an Honor, and anyone who chooses the life of the Monk or the Priest knows what he’s getting into. You can see the same honorable behavior in your own priests from that wonderful and beautiful religion known as Orthodox Christianity.

-Karl


#16

The Teutonic Order crusaded not only against pagans, but also against their Christian brethren, trying to take advantage of their weakness caused by the Mongol Invasions. In fact, the Teutonic Order were a far more dangerous threat to the Russians than were the Mongol hordes. The first wanted to destroy the Russian culture and spirit, the second wanted tribute. And no, that is not something to be proud of.


#17

Wikipedia is taking it from a legitimate book, so I’ll just quote, and link, there:

According to Bernard of Clairvaux, the goal of the crusade was to battle the pagan Slavs “until such a time as, by God’s help, they shall either be converted or deleted”.[6] However, the crusade failed to achieve the conversion of most of the Wends. The Saxons achieved largely token conversions at Dobin, as the Slavs returned to their pagan beliefs once the Christian armies dispersed; Albert of Pomerania explained, “If they had come to strengthen the Christian faith … they should have done so by preaching, not by arms”.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendish_Crusade

Holy Orders are under direct orders from the Pope, who, in turn, has his own state. But the Crusades were also led by Kings, Princes, Dukes and Margraves, Counts and Barons. They all had their rights, and worked for their own states; simply, not in the interest of their own states, concerning Crusades.

Some of the Crusades were state run wars, others were not.

What would convince you for the motive to be peace? All Christians have a desire - a deep desire - for peace. I don’t know a single one who has never had that in mind.

All true Christians have a desire for peace, but I have my doubts that all these men were true Christians. The page I linked to gives enough reason to doubt they wanted real peace. They wanted subjugation.

Well now you’ve done it. :smiley: You deny the very existence of something wonderful and which should still be very much alive in all our lives. The concept of chivalry first started out as a code on the status of individuals; but then shifted into a status of love, compassion, courtesy, honor, loyalty, valor and courage.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chivalry#Etymology

This source may reveal more; despite it being untrustworthy. But I am more willing to offer books on the subject of chivalry; that wonderful ideal of the Christian warriorship. If you looked into the lives of your own Orthodox Saints, you’ll find these very ideals is found within them as well. It only just lacked a name. :slight_smile: The thing is that the French were the first ones to do so.

If such ideals were so very much alive in the Age of Faith, could knights who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience truly show such evil towards those they are victorious over? I would say, no. Because to take Holy Orders is an Honor, and anyone who chooses the life of the Monk or the Priest knows what he’s getting into. You can see the same honorable behavior in your own priests from that wonderful and beautiful religion known as Orthodox Christianity.

-Karl

But that’s just the thing, it was an ideal. The idea that it was actually practiced - let alone widely, is what I claim is false.
You claim that the Crusaders lived by this ideal, I contend that it was placed in their motives by later Romanticists. I have no doubt that there was the odd individual associated with the crusades whose reasons were pure, but I dispute that it was the over-riding feeling of the crusaders. Again, the page I already linked to seems to back that up.


#18

The issue, regarding those words, are that you are forgetting that all of that came about after Niklot attacked. Had Niklot not attacked, the Bishops would have sent missionaries to convert peacefully. However, another grand issue as to why sending missionaries was problematic was because the Church had already sent missionaries; and most were murdered, save St. Meinhard, who created the Livonian Sword Brothers.

St. Adelbert of Prague
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adalbert_of_Prague

St. Bruno of Querfurt
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_of_Querfurt

And finally St. Meinhard.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Meinhard

So you see, attempts at peaceful conversion were done. But the pagans were quite harsh to these men; who had nothing but the best interests for the Baltic peoples. In the face of so much persecution, St. Meinhard had already seen attacks on his Christian faithful. Obviously he called for help, and it came, in the shape of a Crusade.

If we look to Scripture, I remember that a certain Iesus Christus said a parable in which a man sent three servants to some greedy workers. One they beat, another they murdered and one they stoned. He sent more, showing mercy, yet they would not show mercy in return. Then he sent his son and his son was murdered. How else should the Father act for the death of his son?

Now I’m not saying that the same conditions apply concerning the Orthodox Christians. For with the Russians in the north, it spelled more politics than religion; which was the norm.

Please name them, but remember that the topic is mainly on the Northern Crusades.

I don’t know the meaning of ‘true Christian’. If you mean that a person who is not Orthodox is not Christian, or do you mean that someone who is not a Protestant or a Catholic is not Christian, I would disagree. For a Christian is, and has always been known as, one who believes and follows Christ. To lay doubts into the intentions of these men is to say that you knew them. And I don’t think that’s the case; especially considering that they lived so very long ago. Adelbert, Bruno and Meinhard initially converted the pagans by peaceful means, but faced with resistance and apostasy, Meinhard turned to the idea of a crusade. It wasn’t as a means of evil, for subjugation can often mean to seize upon someone who was more a trouble to themselves than to everyone else, but a means of mercy.

Nine_Two, an ideal is not just an ideal that exists because it suddenly appears. An ideal is something which attracts or detracts others to it. That is why, with the romances, like King Arthur(The History of the Kings of Britain), Tristan & Isolde, Parzival, Erec and Iwein were extremely popular works. Because they had in them the Code of Chivalry which in contrast to us would be like reading about a story from Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield or Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden (minus the Romances). It was that sense of principles that inspired.

While I can’t say that every crusader’s motives were complete goodness, neither can I say they were complete evil.

Chivalry is not just an ideal; it’s a choice, it’s a lifestyle. Orthodox Saints could attest to that, as well as Catholic Saints. Was not St. George correct to defend the innocent? Was not St. Alexander Nevski doing what was best for his people? Didn’t St. Joan of Arc accept the call from God to save her French people? These are all attributes of Chivalry. And as I believe in them then, so do I believe in them now; just as I have seen my Christian brethren act on these principles a hundred times over, which only God can know the correct amount.

You should still remember that wikipedia is still not the greatest source of information in the world.

-Karl


#19

[quote="CarloMagnus, post:18, topic:275744"]
The issue, regarding those words, are that you are forgetting that all of that came about after Niklot attacked. Had Niklot not attacked, the Bishops would have sent missionaries to convert peacefully. However, another grand issue as to why sending missionaries was problematic was because the Church had already sent missionaries; and most were murdered, save St. Meinhard, who created the Livonian Sword Brothers.

If we look to Scripture, I remember that a certain Iesus Christus said a parable in which a man sent three servants to some greedy workers. One they beat, another they murdered and one they stoned. He sent more, showing mercy, yet they would not show mercy in return. Then he sent his son and his son was murdered. How else should the Father act for the death of his son?

[/quote]

You seem to be replying only to the comment at the very end of that quote. There was much more than a pagan simply saying they would have done better if they'd sent missionaries.

The parable of the vineyard is in no way comparable. The Vineyard belonged to the owner (the father), the pagan lands of Europe did not belong to the states and orders who wared against them.

Please name them, but remember that the topic is mainly on the Northern Crusades.

Yes, I said Crusades but I was limiting myself to the Northern Crusades. I thought context would make that clear.

But, for example, the Livonian Crusade was one primarily fought by an Order rather than a state.

I don't know the meaning of 'true Christian'. If you mean that a person who is not Orthodox is not Christian, or do you mean that someone who is not a Protestant or a Catholic is not Christian, I would disagree. For a Christian is, and has always been known as, one who believes and follows Christ. To lay doubts into the intentions of these men is to say that you knew them. And I don't think that's the case; especially considering that they lived so very long ago. Adelbert, Bruno and Meinhard initially converted the pagans by peaceful means, but faced with resistance and apostasy, Meinhard turned to the idea of a crusade. It wasn't as a means of evil, for subjugation can often mean to seize upon someone who was more a trouble to themselves than to everyone else, but a means of mercy.

By true Christian I meant someone who actually believes. As opposed to a nominal one, who pays lip service and goes through the motions. I'm not sure what I've ever said to make you think that I would think non-Orthodox aren't Christians.

And to lay doubts on their intentions is pretty simple when we see what they've done. To claim that doubt cannot be laid on them is essentially saying that you don't want to hear any arguments against your position, even though you claimed to start this thread wanting to hear what others thought.
It certainly cannot be taken for granted that their motives were pure. They need to show that. The description of Henry the Lion and what his troops did certainly seems to me to suggest the Crusaders were not pure of heart.

Nine_Two, an ideal is not just an ideal that exists because it suddenly appears. An ideal is something which attracts or detracts others to it. That is why, with the romances, like King Arthur(The History of the Kings of Britain), Tristan & Isolde, Parzival, Erec and Iwein were extremely popular works. Because they had in them the Code of Chivalry which in contrast to us would be like reading about a story from Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield or Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden (minus the Romances). It was that sense of principles that inspired.

Thanks. I know what an ideal is. In addition to what you've stated they are something to strive for, but are seldom met. They are certainly not a societal standard.

While I can't say that every crusader's motives were complete goodness, neither can I say they were complete evil.

No one has argued the latter, but you certainly seem to be trying to argue the former. It is good to see that you don't actually believe it.

Chivalry is not just an ideal; it's a choice, it's a lifestyle. Orthodox Saints could attest to that, as well as Catholic Saints. Was not St. George correct to defend the innocent? Was not St. Alexander Nevski doing what was best for his people? Didn't St. Joan of Arc accept the call from God to save her French people? These are all attributes of Chivalry. And as I believe in them then, so do I believe in them now; just as I have seen my Christian brethren act on these principles a hundred times over, which only God can know the correct amount.

The Orthodox ideal would preclude having a sword in hand to start with. St. Alexander Nevski did what he had to and was a savior to his people (incidently the very Crusaders you speak of), but he was also a sinner. He was forced to live within the world. I wouldn't hold him up as an example of the Western view of Chivalry, let alone an Eastern view. He was above all a sinner, his status as a saint is only by the grace of God.

While a soldier can act with conscience, and with concern for his fellow man. The idea that he can emulate Christ with a sword (or a gun) in hand, is something that makes no sense to me.
That is not to say that soldiers cannot follow God and find salvation (certainly my own church recognizes two of those figures you mentioned), but they cannoy find salvation by way of the sword.

You should still remember that wikipedia is still not the greatest source of information in the world.

-Karl

Are you for real?
You were the first one to link Wikipedia, then I linked to that article, to a specific portion of it, noting that I was doing so because it was well sourced.

If you must, pretend I was linking to The Northern Crusades by Eric Christiansen.


#20

I replied to the main points of the argument. If you wanted a reply to the minor details as well, “ask and ye shall receive.” Although, the reason they’re minor, is because they don’t value importance to the topic or the point that’s being laid across.

Do you deny that missionaries were sent and that they were murdered?

There were Christians living in the Baltics. Catholic as well as Orthodox. But their rights were being trampled by the Pagans. So you see, the lands did belong to the Christians there, and they had a right to defend themselves. You seem to be only looking at the side of the Pagans; acting as if they’re beyond behaving in an inhuman manner.

It slipped my mind. But when you said Crusades, I assumed you meant generally. Since there were others (Holy Land, Reconquest and the Baroque Crusades).

The Livonian Crusade had participation from the Order, but its main warriors were Swedes, Danes and Germans. It’s like saying a child has friends over to play, but is incapable of leading; only guiding others. The same behavior can be found in the Holy Land or in the Reconquista.

And you don’t believe that a group of people who take up a cause that doesn’t guarantee benefit or success aren’t willing to do so out of their own devotion?

So you judge all of the Crusaders by just what one group did?

Just because you don’t see those ideals doesn’t mean they’re lacking. Such behaviors can be found everywhere, if you’re willing to look. I own the Chronicle The Crusade of Prussia by Nicholaus von Jeroschin. I’ve yet to read it, but I would be willing to bet that you would find such behavior in there without doubt.

I’m trying to keep a neutral stance. It’s quite hard when my opponent isn’t.

He was merely an example. Chivalry has nothing to do with whether one is a sinner or not. It’s whether one is honorable or not. If you can’t understand that, then you can’t understand von Aue. :smiley:

No Saint has ever been canonized because of that. I stress my mind wondering where you conjured the idea I was saying so.

Agreed.

I merely stated that Wikipedia is not trustworthy, but a book is fine.

-Karl


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