Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 5 1242 - Battle of Lake Peipus

Also known as the Battle of the Ice, this was a great medieval battle that checked the Eastward expansion of not only the Teutonic Knightly orders, but also of Roman Catholicism in 13th Russia.

The 768th anniversary of the battle of Lake Peipus - or "Schlacht auf dem Eise" as the German's know it.

It was the battle between the Teutonic Knights and their Estonian peasant allies (all led by Prince-Bishop Herman of Dorpat who was intent on invading the neighboring Novgorod. The troops included those of the Order as well as the Estonian troops (Chuds) totaling about 4000.

The exiled prince Alexander Nevsky of Novgorod was begged to come back by the people when they knew that the Teutonics were coming to get them, so they begged Alexander to come back - which he did. He hooked up with his brother Andrei. Their forces consisted of the Druzhina (bodyguards) of the two princes, plus Pagans and Eastern Orthodox Christian troops (total about 5000).

The battle was fought over the thick ice of Lake Peipus and the attached Lake Pskovskoe (now you know why that lake is never remembered). The knights and their allies battled the main line of the Russians for hours, when Alexander had his numerous archers join the fray. That disordered the Teutonics, and when the light Russian cavalry appeared, they fled back over the frozen lake. On the far side they began to rally and gather for a counter-charge, but by that time the thinner ice at the edge of the lake began to give way, and (according to legend and the Eisenstein movie made under Stalin's regime) the knights crashed through the ice to their frozen watery grave.

Regardless of the outcome, it is a great medieval battle, and worthy of a Wayne presentation (he has the Teutonic figures, I am sure).

All fought (originally) on April 5, 1242.

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