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Northern Crusades

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Crusade Series
First Crusade
People's Crusade
German Crusade, 1096
Crusade of 1101
Second Crusade
Third Crusade
Fourth Crusade
Albigensian Crusade
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Fifth Crusade
Sixth Crusade
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Shepherds' Crusade
Eighth Crusade
Ninth Crusade
Northern Crusades

The Northern Crusades, or Baltic Crusades, were undertaken by Western Europeans against the "still heathen" people of North Eastern Europe around the Baltic Sea.

The official starting point for the Northern Crusades was Pope Celestine III's call in 1193, but the already Christian kingdoms of Germany and Scandinavia had started to move to subjugate their pagan neighbors earlier. The non-Christian peoples who were objects of the campaigns at various dates included

Armed conflict between the Balts and Slavs who dwelt by the Baltic shores and their Saxon and Danish neighbors to the west and south had been common for several centuries prior to the Crusade. The previous battles had largely been caused by attempts to control land and sea trade routes and gain economic advantage in the region, and the Crusade basically continued this pattern of conflict, albeit now inspired and prescribed by the pope and undertaken by papal knights and armed monks. The first campaigns were launched in parallel with the Second Crusade to the Holy Land in the mid-1100s, and continued irregularly right up until the 16th century.

The Northern Crusades provided the primary rationale for the growth and expansion of the Teutonic Order of German crusading knights, modelled on the Knights Templar who took part in the Holy Land Crusades. The Teutonic Order came to exercise political control over large territories in the Baltic region.

Related articles

Selected Bibliography

Christiansen, Eric. The Northern Crusades. New York: Penguin Books, 1997. ISBN 0140266534

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