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Medieval warfare Vol IV.1 - Alexander Nevsky: Prince of Novgorod

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Medieval Warfare - IV.1 Theme: Alexander Nevsky: Prince of Novgorod Theme: Artis Aboltins... mehr
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Medieval Warfare - IV.1

Theme: Alexander Nevsky: Prince of Novgorod

Theme: Artis Aboltins & Erich Anderson, 'The reign of Alexander Nevsky - Controversial hero'.
Illustrated by Maxime Plasse.


History knows two great military leaders by the name of Alexander. Both of them are known for never having lost a battle while in direct command. One of them is, of course, Alexander the Great. The other, Alexander Nevsky, never went quite as far as his namesake, but he did become a popular saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Source: Murray Dahm, 'The Second Pskovian Chronicle - Prince among princes'.

A concise biography of Alexander Nevsky, probably written in the thirteenth century, has come down to us in several codices of the Second Pskovian Chronicle and not in its own textual tradition. It is the earliest major source for the life of Alexander Nevsky and contains vital details about his military campaigns.

Theme: Dr. Konstantin Nossov, 'Russian medieval fortresses - Country of 'gorods''.
Illustrated by Vladimir Golubev.


By the thirteenth century, Russian fortification had a 1500-year-long history. It had developed from erecting elementary defences exploiting the advantages offered by terrain to the building of complex structures. Original inventions by Russian masters co-existed beside foreign constructions. Some of them took root while others fell into oblivion, with only ramparts and ditches surviving. However, recent studies show that these ramparts still hide a lot of surprises and used to represent a principally different, very formidable defensive structure.

Theme: Ronald Delval, 'The Livonian Sword Brethren - Riga's iron fist'.
Illustrated by Giorgio Albertini.


The Sword Brethren (Schwertbrueder) are known as the Fratres Militiae Christi de Livonia or the 'Livonian Brothers of the Sword', among many other names. They were founded in 1202 in the household of the Bishop of Riga, Albert of Buxtehude (or Buxhoeveden), and were created to assist the Bishop in achieving his goals of persuading the inhabitants of Livonia to convert to Christianity.

Theme: Erich B. Anderson, 'The Battle of Lake Peipus - The Teutonic Order kept at bay'.
Illustrated by Jose Antonio Gutierrez Lopez and Milek Jakubiec.


As the Mongol hordes conquered most of the Russian lands in the south and east in 1237-40, the city of Novgorod managed to avoid the devastation wrought by the nomadic invaders. However, the Catholic armies to the west saw the invasion as an opportunity to strike the Orthodox Rus' while they were weak and distracted.

Theme: Thomas Williams, 'The Battle of Wesenberg - After Alexander'.
Illustrated by Milek Jakubiec.


The political vacuum left by Alexander's death in 1263 was - as always in medieval Russian politics - deeply destabilizing. Alexander's Mongol-appeasing policies in Novgorod had left bitter resentment amongst Novgorodians towards their nominal overlords, the grand princes of Vladimir-Suzdal, while the power of the princes was largely dependent on the goodwill of a seemingly allpowerful Mongol Khan. It was into this turbulent political vortex that the Lithuanian Prince Dovmont (Daumantas) strode in 1266.

Specials

Special: Fillippo Donvito, 'Saladin's Christian hostages and prisoners - Hangman or gentleman?'
Illustrated by RU-MOR.


The great Islamic conqueror Saladin (1137-1193) has become an integral part of western chivalric romances to such an extent that some traditions have him knighted and baptized at the point of death. His mercy to the enemy, albeit infidels, was surpassed only by his extraordinary generalship. All legends start with a kernel of truth, but how far did Saladin's posthumous fame exaggerate the historical truth? The best way to answer this question is to consider the fate of the enemies who fell into the hands of the powerful sultan.

The Battle: Susan Abernethy, 'The Battle of Montlhéry - Claiming victory'.
Illustrated by Julia Lillo.


On a hot day in July 1465, two armies faced each other across a wheatfield just outside the village of Montlhéry in France. The larger army was under the command of Charles, Count of Charolais, the future Duke of Burgundy. Along with other French noblemen, Charles had formed the League of the Public Weal to fight against their liege lord, King Louis XI of France. Louis, called the 'Universal Spider' by a chronicler due to his penchant for creating webs of intrigue, was outnumbered.

Special: Daniel Mersey, 'Poetry and warfare in early medieval Britain - Y Gododdin'.

It's a plot worthy of a Hollywood epic: a band of elite warriors are brought together from far and wide, feast in a luxurious mead-hall as guests of a generous benefactor, and ride together on one last mission. They fight well, but only one returns to tell the tale.
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