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Environment, colonization, and the Baltic crusader states: Terra Sacra I

Pluskowski, A. G., ed. (2019) Environment, colonization, and the Baltic crusader states: Terra Sacra I. Brepols, Turnhout, Belgium. ISBN 9782503551326

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Abstract/Summary

This book is the end result of a four-year project funded by the European Research Council on the environmental impact of the crusades in the eastern Baltic and the societies created by the process of military conquest, colonisation and religious conversion. Adopting a multi-scalar, multi-proxy methodology, synthesising a range of archaeological, environmental and historical sources, this study demonstrates how indigenous societies had already begun to significantly transform the environment in the pre-crusade period. Following the establishment of a militarised Christian theocratic regime in the regions that became known as Livonia and Prussia, environmental exploitation was re-organised alongside territorial reconfiguration. Fortified convents were at the centre of this reorganisation, and formed a network that connected the conquered territories within a hierarchy centred on the headquarters of the Teutonic Order at Marienburg, today Malbork in Poland. The Teutonic Order, which dominated the theocratic regime, promoted itself as the defender of Latin Christendom in north-eastern Europe. Environmental exploitation therefore served to secure and maintain the political and military authority of the Order, and is at the heart of understanding the success and longevity of the Baltic ‘crusader states’. However, despite the theocracy’s monolithic image and centralised administration, its impact on the conquered territories was variable. This can be synchronised with the regionally uneven and protracted process of colonisation which followed the military conquests, as well as reflecting varied relations with the indigenous population. This study provides an important contribution to our understanding of the development of Europe in the formative period of the Middle Ages, the crusading movement and how environmental change can be used as a critical proxy of colonisation.

Item Type:Book
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:73090
Publisher:Brepols

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