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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XVI: The German Crusade on the Baltic,   pp. 545-585 PDF (16.2 MB)

Page 580

desperate peasant revolt, the Danes in 1346 sold Harrien and Wier land to
the Knights. 
 The order was in no position to think of conquering or colonizing the powerful
Lithuanian state of the fourteenth century. But across the wilderness separating
Prussia from Lithuania, operating from fortified centers on the Niemen and
Memel, it could conduct raids into Lithuania and thus act as host to a western
chivalry anxious at this late date to fight the pagan and to gain knighthood
as a reward. Thus there came to be organized from Livonia, and more numerously
from Prussia, the notorious Lithuanian raids, a belated caricature of the
western crusading spirit. There were two regular Prussian raids annually
in summer and winter. They were initiated with elaborate festivities which
the Knights prepared in Marienburg for their most distinguished guests. For
his "Tanz mit den Heiden" in 1377 duke Albert of Austria came with two thousand
knights and his own poet. The raids provoked furious counter-raids across
the Livonian and Prussian borders, raids making the colonization of the Prussian
wil derness practically impossible. The real spirit behind the raids is revealed
by the fact that the order did not stop them when the Lithuanians became
 The latter event was a condition for the dynastic union of PolandLithuania
formed by the marriage of the Lithuanian grand duke Jagiello to the Polish
queen Jadwiga in Cracow (February 1386) and the coronation of Jagiello as
Vladislav II, king of Poland, on March 4 of the same year. A further condition
of this union was that Jagiello should undertake to recover for the Polish
crown eastern Pomerania and Kulmerland. A halt was thus called to further
German expansion eastward, both in theory by removing the justification of
crusading war against the heathen and in practice by uniting to recover from
the Knights lands not completely colonized. German colonization had penetrated
the towns but only barely touched the countryside of eastern Pomerania. In
Kulmerland large elements of the Polish nobil ity and peasantry had maintained
themselves. Thus the advance of the Knights as the instrument of German rather
than Christian expansion precipitated a kind of national reaction among those
who had suffered from this expansion and who were cut off from future expansion
to the Baltic, the Russian princes of Novgorod and the Polish-Lithuanian
nobility. The order had reached the limit of its power. 
 If the dynastic union of Poland-Lithuania of 1386 was an external threat
to the order, the formation of the Lizard League (Eidechsen 

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