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The Livonian Brothers of the Sword

The History of the Medieval Catholic Military Order That Fought Pagans in Eastern Europe
Narrated by: Mark Norman
Length: 1 hr and 43 mins
Categories: History, European

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Publisher's Summary

For centuries, Christians and Muslims were embroiled in one of the most infamous territorial disputes of all time, viciously and relentlessly battling one another for the Holy Land. In the heart of Jerusalem sat one of the shining jewels of the Christian faith, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Legend has it that this was where their Savior had been buried before his fabled resurrection. What was more, it was said to house the very cross Jesus Christ had died upon. It was for precisely these reasons that fearless pilgrims, near and far, risked their lives and made the treacherous trek to Jerusalem.

Like other secretive groups, the mystery surrounding the Catholic military orders that sprung up in the wake of the First Crusade helped their legacies endure. While some conspiracy theorists attempt to tie the groups to other alleged secret socities like the Illuminati, other groups have tried to assert connections with them to bolster their own credentials. Who they were and what they had in their possession continue to be a source of great intrigue.

Although many have heard of the Crusades and some of the more famous orders like the Templars, few know about the Livonian Crusade or the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. This organization was one of many Catholic military orders that sprung up during the Middle Ages in response to the papacy’s call for holy war, and the Livonian Crusade is the term used to group together dozens of military actions undertaken by German knights in Eastern Europe.

In essence, the Holy Roman Empire sought to control influential trade routes throughout the region by subjugating the native peoples and forcefully converting them to Christianity, and in this regard, the differences between the Livonian Crusade and those taking place further east, where crusaders attempted to retake the Christian Holy Land of Jerusalem, are readily apparent. In particular, there was no actual religious justification for the Livonian Crusade, and many of the knights deciding to join were often more interested in the political and economic benefits gained from the war. When it comes to understanding the history of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, scholars have their work cut out for them, as few primary sources survived the conflict, and the order has had many different names over the years, including the Swordbrothers, the Livonian Order, and the Swordbrothers.

All that said, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword bore many similarities to their counterparts in other countries, including being affiliated with the Catholic Church. Many of the knights took vows of celibacy and poverty, and the internal structure of the organization could be compared to the Knights Hospitaller or the Templars. Moreover, while relatively few people know of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword by their original name, the order would go on to become one of the most influential of religious knighthoods by incorporating into the Teutonic Knights. The order was also significant for consolidating the power of the Holy Roman Empire in Eastern Europe, as well as subjugating the native peoples and spreading Christianity by force, leading to numerous tensions that lasted centuries between the future nations of Estonia, Prussia, and others.

The Livonian Brothers of the Sword: The History of the Medieval Catholic Military Order that Fought Pagans in Eastern Europe chronicles the known history of the order and examines the important battles the order fought in. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Livonian Brothers of the Sword like never before.

©2019 Charles River Editors (P)2019 Charles River Editors

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