Lithuanian Crusade

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The Lithuanian Crusade was a series of campaigns by the Teutonic Order and the Livonian Order, two crusading military orders, to convert the pagan Grand Duchy of Lithuania into Roman Catholicism. The Livonian Order settled in Riga in 1202 and the Teutonic Order arrived to Culmerland in 1230s. They first conquered other neighboring Baltic tribesCuronians, Semigallians, Latgalians, Selonians, Old Prussians (see Livonian Crusade and Prussian Crusade). The first raid against the Lithuanians and Samogitians was in 1208 and the Orders played a key role in Lithuanian politics, but they were not a direct and immediate threat until 1280s. By that time the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was already an established state and could offer organized defense. Thus for the next hundred years the Knights organized annual destructive reise (raids) into the Samogitian and Lithuanian lands but without great success: border regions in Samogitia and Suvalkija became sparsely inhabited wilderness, but the Order gained very little territory. The Grand Duchy finally converted to Christianity in 1386, when Grand Duke Jogaila accepted baptism from Poland before his wedding to reigning Queen Jadwiga and coronation as King of Poland. However, the baptism did not stop the crusade as the Order publicly challenged sincerity of the conversion at the Papal court. Lithuania, together with its new powerful ally Poland, defeated the Order in the decisive Battle of Grunwald in 1410, which is often cited as the end of the Lithuanian Crusade. The final peace was reached by the Treaty of Melno (1422).

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