Faculty Advisor

Elizabeth Swedo

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


When people think of Crusades, they often think of the wars in the Holy Lands rather than regions inside of Europe, which many believe to have already been Christian. The Baltic Crusades began during the Second Crusade (1147-1149) but continued well into the fifteenth century. Unlike the crusades in the Holy Lands which were initiated to retake holy cities and pilgrimage sites, the Baltic crusades were implemented by the German archbishoprics of Bremen and Magdeburg to combat pagan tribes in the Baltic region which included Estonia, Prussia, Lithuania, and Latvia. The Teutonic Order, which arrived in the Baltic region in 1226, was successful in their smaller initial campaigns to combat raiders, as well as in their later crusades to conquer and convert pagan tribes. As an Order that focused on Eastern Europe and the Baltic, the Teutonic Order had to balance their relationship between both the papacy and other Christian kingdoms near the region, particularly the Holy Roman Empire. The Teutonic Order successfully balanced the support of the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy, to become a powerful theocratic state carrying out a mission of conquest and conversion in the Baltic region. Eventually the Teutonic Order, despite its success through the Baltic crusades, would eventually fail in the sixteenth century against a coalition of Mongol, Russian, and Turkish forces.

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