The Later Crusades, 1274-1580: From Lyons to Alcazar

By Norman Housley | Go to book overview

12
The End of the Baltic Crusade 1382-1562

IN the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Iberia and the Baltic present, from the point of view of the crusades, an interesting study in contrasts. As we have seen, Spanish crusading enthusiasm attained new heights in the conquest of Granada, and went on to find novel channels of expression in both the Old and the New Worlds. By contrast, the Baltic region experienced what one historian has aptly termed 'the withering of the crusade'. By 1500 crusades had all but ceased to be preached, the Ordensstaat was in the last stages of decay, and the Teutonic Order itself faced a grave crisis. Few would have predicted such developments in 1382, when the Christian states of Iberia were enmeshed in internecine disputes, while the Teutonic Order was flourishing, and its war against Lithuania was regarded by almost all of Catholic Europe as a praiseworthy endeavour. Unlike the other fronts examined in this book, the Baltic crusade had no discernible life after about 1520. In this chapter we shall therefore be looking at the effective demise of a crusading tradition (see maps 13 and 14).

Historians have long recognized that the most important event leading to this demise was the marriage of Jadwiga of Poland and Jogailo of Lithuania in 1386. This dynastic union posed the same threat to the Ordensstaat which the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1469 would come to constitute for Granada: of three hostile powers, two were now united, their resources combined and directed against the third. In crusading terms, however, the result of the marriage of Jogailo and Jadwiga was precisely the opposite of that of Ferdinand and Isabella. For since the marriage of 1386 was preceded both by Jogailo's baptism, and by his promise to bring about the conversion of his subjects, it robbed the

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