The Ecology of Crusading project: new research on medieval Baltic landscapes
By Aleksander Pluskowski, Alexander Brown, Lisa-Marie Shillito, Krish Seetah, Daniel Makowiecki, Marc Jarzebowski, Kaspars Kļaviņš and Juhan Kreem
Antiquity Bulletin (June 2011)
Introduction: The Ecology of Crusading project is a new programme of research investigating the environmental impact of the Baltic Crusades. In the thirteenth century, crusading armies unleashed a relentless holy war against the last indigenous pagan societies of Europe in the eastern Baltic region. Tribal territories were replaced with new Christian states, run by the Teutonic Order and individual bishops. They constructed castles, encouraged colonists, developed towns and introduced Christianity. Recent pilot studies have suggested that the period of crusading and colonisation coincides with a marked intensification in the exploitation of plant and animal resources, and associated landscape changes in the eastern Baltic. Since many aspects of the natural world were sacred to the Baltic tribes, this impact would be synonymous with the cultural changes that created a new, European world at this frontier of Christendom.