The subdual of the Estonians in the beginning of XIII century was part of a larger campaign on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, launched against nations that had remained as the last pagan people in Europe. In Estonia, the Baltic Crusade is known as „The Fight for Freedom"/"The Freedom Fight" (problems about such naming are discussed below). Partly lead by the pope's curia, but mainly by the local North-German bishops, a grandeurs crusade was launched, and during a hundred year long period (from the end of the XII century to the end of the XIII century) all nations living on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea were subdued and christened. All except the Lithuanians. This process is also called the Livonian Crusade. The main historic source about this event, related to Estonians, is the chronicle of a contemporary German priest, Henrik. It is called the Chronicle of Henrik of Latvia. According to it, fierce fights between the Estonians and the crusaders raged for 20 years, and even those did not guarantee the full subdual of the Estonians. Especially the people from Saaremaa island, the Oeselians, made several tries to get rid of the foreign rule. The St. George's Night Uprising in the XIV century is considered to be the final accord of the campaign in Estonia.
„The Fight for Freedom"/"The Freedom Fight" is a problematic term, as it was coined on the background of Estonian national romanticism in 1920s, when the battles if the XIII century were put side by side with the War of Independence. The concept has several weaknesses: in the beginning of the XIII century, the Estonians did not quite exist as one whole nation, besides, locals did not fight for the freedom of overall Estonia, but for the freedom of the single, separately standing counties. There may have been some sort of feeling of unified Estonia, but it not resemble the sense national unity, that had developed during the XIX century. Earlier Estonian historians have, however, considered the ancient freedom fight in the XIII century to be one of the first steps on the path towards evolving into a nation and towards forming one unified state. That is why several latter events, e.g. St. George's Night Uprising and the War of Mahtra, were tied to the concept.
Lately, historians have given this concept up and the term, "the freedom fight", has been severely criticized. Yet, as no better term has been offered to replace it, "the fight for freedom" or "the freedom fight" is still used.