5 Apr: The Battle on the Ice

A frozen Lake Peipus played host to a dramatic fight between 2,000 Catholic Crusaders and 6,000 Orthodox Christians on 5th April, 1242.

The invading forces were the Teutonic Knights, armed with spears and swords to ‘Christianize’ what they saw as a Pagan society. Novgorod’s defender, Prince Alexander Nevsky, lured the Germans to the lake, where his troops could take them down one by one, in a battle that went down in Russian lore. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal how much of the imagery of the battle was in fact crystallised by a controversial twentieth-century filmmaker; consider why the Knights were so unprepared for this particular confrontation; and ask what actual theological differences separated the warring factions… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Lake Peipus: Battle on the Ice’ (Warfare History Network, 2005): https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/article/lake-peipus-battle-on-the-ice/

• ‘Alexander Nevsky – Prince of Novgorod and Kiev’: https://www.thoughtco.com/alexander-nevsky-profile-p2-1788255

• ‘Alexander Nevsky’ (Sergei Eisenstein, 1938):