Fight with the "pirates" from Saaremaa.

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First military conflict between Estonians and Germans took place in Visby, the capital of Gotland.

In spring 1203, bishop Albert was staying in the port of Visby. He had gathered a larg army of crusaders in Germany, and was now on his way to Riga. At the same time, seamen form Saaremaa (Oesel) (see image) arrived, who had been pillaging Listerby, municipality that belonged to Denmark.

Germans found it very angering, that pagans, who had been attacking Christians, were allowed to the port; nonetheless, the Gotlanders assured, that they had signed a truce with the Oeselians.

Ultimately, Albert gave in to the demands of his crusaders, who were itching to fight and loot, and allowed them to attack the ships of the islanders. Germans succeeded to capture and loot two ships, kill the crews and free the prisoners. Rest of the islander sailed back home.

Image: engraving of Friedrich Ludwig von Maydell, "Fight with the pirates from Saaremaa" (1839), from the art collection of the Library of the University of Tartu.

Source: Sulev Vahtre. Muinasaja loojang Eestis: vabadusvõitlus 1208-1227. Tallinn: Olion. 1990
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006. Image source:


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