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Battle of the Ice Area Today

A map of the area around the battle positions

Battle of the Ice summary

Devastated by the Mongol invasions of 1237 Cristian Orthodox Russia looked vulnerable to and the Papacy organized a crusade against Novgorod. In many respects it was just a continuation of the attack against the Greek Orthodox Church initiated with the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders in 1204. Swedes campaigned in the north by sea, Danes and their allies in the centre, and the Teutonic Knights and and their allies in the south. Alexander Nevsky with an army from various Russian states raided into Crusader Livonia. Hermann von Buxhövden, Bishop of nearby Dorpat (Tartu), lead a mixed Crusader force against Nevsky. Nevsky retreated back into Russia, but turned to fight on the eastern edge of frozen Lake Peipus.

  1. The Battle, also known as the Battle of Lake Peipus took place in 1242. Despite popular stories and the famous film of Sergei Eisenstein the ice was very thick and did not break due to the weight of crusader armour.
  2. Inferior in numbers but superior in equipment and training the Knights charge first. They hope to break the Russians before their greater numbers overwhelm them.
  3. Nevsky unleashed his mounted archers. Their presence was not expected and the Danish knights are the first to suffer.
  4. The Danish knights break and flea. Now it is the time of the Livonian knights to suffer the arrow pounding.
  5. The Livonian knights flee back across the ice not long after the Danish knights.
  6. The Teutonic Knights are left surrounded and heavily outnumbered.
  7. The Teutonic Knights break out of the Russian envelopment but suffer heavy casualties in the process.
  8. Nevsky allows pursuit of the Crusaders for a limited distance only.
  9. Nevsky offered lenient peace terms which Hermann accepted. This defeat damaged their prestige resulting in revolts against the Teutonic Knights and Danes in Prussia and Estonia respectively.