Stefan Donecker

Chroniclers, Crusaders, and the Last Pagans of Europe

The multi-faceted transformation processes that occurred in the Baltic Sea Region during the thirteenth and fourteenth century provide significant case studies that demonstrate how characteristic medieval patterns of social cohesion were adopted in the European periphery:
  • As Prussia, Livonia and Lithuania became the last territories of Europe to be integrated into the Christian oekumene, chroniclers like Henry of Livonia or Saxo Grammaticus faced the challenge of incorporating the inhabitants of these countries into the corpus of ethnographic knowledge. Schooled on intellectual paradigms rooted in Greco-Roman antiquity and the biblical tradition, these chroniclers had to adapt well-established principles of ethnic classification in an area where few, if any, classical authorities could provide guidance.
  • The Teutonic Order, one of the driving forces behind the Baltic Crusades, relied, to a considerable extent, on foreign knights that volunteered to serve in Prussia for a limited time. An in-depth ex-amination of the measures employed to instill a sense of togetherness among heterogeneous crusaders can provide us with a deeper understanding of military cohesion in the Middle Ages.