Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Baltic Crusade

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Baltic Crusade

Article excerpt

The Baltic Crusade. By William L. Urban. Second edition, revised and enlarged. (Chicago: Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. 1994. Pp. v, 366.)

In the two decades since the first edition of The Baltic Crusade first appeared (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1975) study of the eastern Baltic lands has undergone significant development. Professor Urban, one of the most active American scholars in the area of medieval Baltic studies, has produced a second edition that reflects some of the changes that have taken place. Urban sees this volume as providing an introduction to the Baltic Crusades "for industrious students and lay readers."

The strength of the book is the discussion of the conflicting interests of the various parties involved in the various parties involved in the crusade. Danish and German rulers struggled with the pagans and with each other to dominate the region. Religious orders quarreled with bishops and with each other to dominate the church that was being established. Merchants from various cities, seeing profits to be made in the east, fought with fellow Christians who interfered with their pursuit of profit. The crusade was not an homogeneous movement, moving efficiently to control the lands of the eastern Baltic. It was a quarreling, inconsistent movement whose constituent members had a series of conflicting goals and interests. As Urban points out, this enabled indigenous rulers to play one Christian group off against another in order to preserve their independence.

One way in which this edition differs from its predecessor is that Urban has taken note of the work that has been done on the frontiers of Europe during the Middle Ages and the relationship of medieval expansion, in this case the crusades, to the past-1492 expansion of Europe overseas. …

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