The battle of Lake Peipus took place in 1242 between the Teutonic Knights and the Russian city-state of Novgorod, led by its inspirational leader Alexandre Nevskii. The Teutonic Knights were a powerful military order, backed with the crusading zeal of Europe, the blessing of the Pope, and the support of the Holy Roman Emperor. The clash of arms around the frozen shores of Lake Peipus was immortalised in Eisenstein's epic film 'Alexandre Nevskii'. This battle, although little-known in the west, was important in the history of the medieval eastern crusades. As a result of the Teutonic defeat at the battle not only were the Crusaders forced to give back all the lands they had conquered in their Crusade against Novgorod, but also their defeat led to a new relationship between Catholics and Orthodox in the Baltic, with a new Pope, Innocent IV, trying to win over the Russians diplomatically rather than by military means. Finally, the battle also convinced a chastened Bishop Hermann of Tartu to accept the Teutonic Knight's priorities, which were to crush the pagan Lithuanians and to Christianise all the Baltic lands, rather than interfering in Russian affairs. David Nicolle's excellent book looks at the battle in detail and examines the Crusade against Novgorod of which it was a part.
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