Russian campaign to Livonia


In Novgorod a new man had come to power: the brother of the previous prince Svjatoslav, former prince of Pihkva, Vsevolod Mstislavich-Borissovich. Together with Pihkva Vladimir, they gathered a big army to raid Estonia. Because in the previous year, Russians had failed to join the Battle of St. Matthew's Day, and because the Estonians had been defeated, it was much harder for the Russians to persuade the Estonians to join them and thus no significant Estonian army formed. At the same time, German army was on its way to Northern Estonia, where Revalia was targeted. According to Henrik, Germans found out about Russian's plan, but on the last moment, when they had already reached Viljandi. After getting the message, the army turned around, and started to move towards Ugaunia. Russians, meanwhile, were crossing Väike Emajõgi River.

Battle took place on the Saccalia side of Väike Emajõgi River, near Tõrva, in the river mouth of a small river, probably know as Õhne River. According to the chronicle, Livonians and Latgalians fled as soon as they saw the Russian army, and Order's forces stopped Russian advance. The Germans, however, pulled back to Riga and Russians could move forward.

Russians moved to Latvia, torched a church in Ümera, sieged Latvian fort in Urele (Unguri), raided the church estate in Roope (latvian Straupe), pillaged in Idumea, met the Germans near Toreida, in Immeküla (Latvian Inciems) and together with the Estonians sieged Võnnu (Cesis) fort in Pähklimäe. All this, however, brought along no significant change and soon Russians returned home, passing through Trikāta area and Ugaunia.

The whole campaign can be seen as a failure. Russians could not include Estonians, the army stayed too far from Riga and failed to capture any of the forts. In addition, the Lithuanians had managed to pillage Pihkva in the mean while. The position of the Germans strengthened, as there was no need to fear another large scale campaign from Russia.

Image: Pähklimägi in Võnnu (Cesis)

Source: Sulev Vahtre. Muinasaja loojang Eestis. Vabadusvõitlus 1208-1227. Olion: Tallinn 1990