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One negative result was that many of the Balts were killed or enslaved by Crusaders. In 1147 as Bernard of Clairvaux was preaching the Second Crusade to the Holy Land; the north German Saxons, in an effort to save travel time, conducted a Holy War against the pagan Wends, a Baltic tribe. After many brutal battles some Wends accepted the cross, only to fall back into paganism when the Crusaders departed. In 1199CE Albert of Buhoeveden was appointed bishop of Livonia, a pagan Baltic kingdom, and armed with a Papal bull from Innocent III which granted Livonian Crusaders the same privileges as Crusaders in the Holy Land as well as dedicating the region to the Virgin Mary, for more than 25 years, until his death, Albert led a brutal campaign of conquest. Albert founded the city of Riga c.1200CE. Only the Livs and a few Latvians converted voluntarily, (Albert had promised protection from the Estonians and Lithuanians) the rest of Livonia was brought to Christ by the sword c.1230CE. Albert had founded a chivalric Order, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, which fought in Finland as well as Livonia and was merged with the Teutonic Knights in 1236. The Teutonic Knights led the the Crusade to Christianize Prussia. From c.1230CE to to the end of the 13th century the Teutonic Knights had "converted" Prussia, mainly by killing the pagan Prussians and resettling German Christians in the newly vacated lands. The Teutonic Knights also attempted to conquer Russia and extirpate the Orthodox Church, but were defeated at Lake Peipus by Alexander Nevsky in 1242. Lithuania was the next target. After the fall of Acre to the Mameluks in 1291 European Knights no longer had easy access to the Holy Land and many concentrated thier efforts agianst the Lithuanians. As might be expected in a Holy War, prisoners were not well treated and fighting continued even after the conversion of the Lithuanians in 1386. Crusaders maintained the fiction that they were raiding hostile pagans. These reysen, as the raids were called, brought Knights from all over Christendom. Henry IV of England took part in a 1390 campaign that culminated with the siege of Vilnius, the Lithuanian Capitol. So to sum up, the Baltic Crusades were brutal and inhumane ventures whose main goal was not the conquest of souls for Christ, but rather the conquest of Lebensraum in the east at the expense of Slavic peoples. Sound familiar? These are the same war aims Adolf Hitler had. No wonder Himmler adopted the Teutonic Knight's colors for the Nazi SS. It also bears mentioning that most of the Crusaders were violent anti-Semites, and each Crusade was accompanied by bloody pogroms.

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