CARSTEN SELCH JENSEN
TEOLOGICKÁ FAKULTA KODAŇSKÉ UNIVERZITY, DÁNSKO
UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN FACULTY OF THEOLOGY, DENMARK
THE BALTIC CRUSADES: A THEOLOGY OF HOLY WAR IN BALTIC SEA REGION AROUND 1200
Abstract: This notion of a biblical inspired holy war against the enemies of God and his holy church
came to influence much of the theological reasoning of the crusades and the overall military campaigns
that became part of the crusades. That also holds true with regards to crusading activities in
the Baltic Sea Region. This paper discusses first of all the developments in the theological reasoning
behind the notion of these holy and divine wars and how they came to merge with the idea of
mission and crusading. In that respect, some scholars have argued that the legal tradition of the
just war dating back to Roman times with an important supplement through the writings of St.
Augustine slowly was put on the defensive by a more theological based notion of a biblical holy war
during the high medieval period that in a more profound way came to influence the theological and
practical ideas behind crusading warfare, not least in the Baltic Sea Region. The paper presents first
an outline of the general developments of these ideas before looking more closely at the chronicle
of Henry of Livonia and the overall developments in the Baltic Sea Region especially in the early
decades of the thirteenth century. Thus, for chroniclers like Henry of Livonia and his contemporaries
it made very much sense to talk about “the Lord’s Wars” as essentially the ultimate holy war taking
the form of a (formal) regional crusade promising penance in the form of indulgence to those partaking
in these wars along the lines of reformist popes as Eugenius III, Gregory VIII, and Innocent III.
Keywords: Holy War; crusade; crusading; mission; Baltic Sea Region; Estonia; Livonia; St. Augustine;
Henry of Livonia; theology
THEOLOGICAL REVIEW, Vol. 92, 2021, No. 4, Number of Article 3, p. 444 – 462.