Threats of the Germans and the campaign to Ugaunia.

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By 1208, Livonians and other Latvian tribes were firmly ruled by Germans. That is why it was decided to start a campaign against Estonians.

Henrik of Livonia informs us, that in 1208, priest of Toreida, Alebrand, was sent to Ugandi (lat: Ugaunia) county, and demanded that the Ugaunians returned the goods that, long time ago, had been robbed off from a merchant caravan, travelling to Pihkva.

In summer 1208, representatives of the Order and elders of Latgalians arrived in Ugaunia, presenting same demands. In both cases, they were laughed at, and had to leave, ashamed.

Negotiations with Estonians also failed at Latgalian villages, and parties left with severe threats, "pointing their sharpest spears at each other".

In summer or autumn of 1208, the first German campaign against Estonians took place, in Ugaunia county. Villages were pillaged, people killed and the fort of Otepää was set afire.

After returning from warpath, Latgalians started to reinforce their forts, and brought there their belongings, preparing thus for a supposed Estonian attack. It was not in vain, as soon people from Ugaunia and Sakala (lat: Saccalia) counties came raiding, surrounding the Beverin fort.

Latgalians got even by plundering southern regions of Saccalia county, Aliste parish, or Alisetkunna (modern Halliste-Karksi-Ruhja area) in December 1208. After this, byGerman initiative, a year long truce was made. The crusaders felt still relatively insecure in Livonia, and they needed some time to rally additional forces.

The first attacks of Ugaunians and Saccalians were even less conquest oriented, made mainly to loot and scout.

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


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