Episode 132 – The Battle on the Ice

History of the Germans


This week we look at the activities of the Teutonic order in Livonia during the 13th century. The situation in Livonia was profoundly different to Prussia and posed a number of new challenges for the brothers. In Livonia there were the powerful bishops of Riga to contend with who had led the crusade there since its inception in the 1180s. The Hanse merchants who have settled in Riga, Reval and Dorpat are no pushovers. Like in Prussia, the Lithuanians are a formidable force able to inflict painful defeats on the brothers as are some of the Baltic peoples who didn’t enjoy conversion at swordpoint as much as the planners back in Bremen, Marburg and Acre had hoped. And let’s not forget some new neighbors, the Danes in Northern Estonia and the great republic of Novgorod.

In 1240 a great effort gets under way to forcibly convert the orthodox Rus’ian states, including Novgorod that are already under pressure from the Mongols. In their distress the boyars of Novgorod make the second son of the grand duke of Vladimir becomes their military leader, a man we know as Alexander Nevsky. On April 5, 1242 Alexander Nevsky and his men stand on the shore of Lake Peipus staring at a squadron of heavily armored cavalry thundering across the ice towards them…

Whilst the riders almost certainly weren’t accompanied by Prokofief’s amazing soundtrack, they may have brought an organ, but that, like everything else about the Battle on the Ice is subject to intense debate, a debate we will examine in this episode.

The music for the show is Flute Sonata in E-flat major, H.545 by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (or some claim it as BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach) performed and arranged by Michel Rondeau under Common Creative Licence 3.0.

As always:

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