Post-classical history


Ingria, or Izhoria, was a region of northwestern Russia, situated on the southeastern shore of the Gulf of Finland, that was a target for crusader attacks from Sweden and Livonia in the period of the Baltic Crusades.

Ingria included the basins of the rivers Kovashi and Izhora, and extended to the east as far as the river Neva. It was inhabited by a Finnic people known to the Russians as Izhorians and in Latin sources as Ingrians; their native names were Ingeri, Inkeri, or Inkerikot.

Ingria was incorporated into the territory of the Nov- gorodian state in the eleventh century, forming an administrative unit called the Izhorskaya Zemlya (Izhorian Land). The Ingrian “elders” (the social elite) had extensive landed possessions and controlled external trade. Some of them, together with their dependents, had adopted Orthodox Christianity and served the Novgorodian state, but the majority of the Ingrians remained pagan up to the mid-thirteenth century. Only one Ingrian elder is known by name: Pelgusii (baptized as Philip), who owned lands between the rivers Neva and Izhora and served Novgorod by watching over navigation at the mouth of the Neva with his followers. In 1240 the Swedes launched an expedition into Ingria with the aim of establishing control by building a fortress at the mouth of the river Izhora and cooperating with Ingrian elders who opposed Novgorod. Thanks to Pelgusii’s watchmen, the arrival of the Swedish ships was quickly communicated to the Novgorodians, who were able to surprise and defeat the Swedes in battle at the Neva (15 July 1240).

The Swedes were more successful in 1300 when they built a fortress called Landskrona on an island in the mouth of Neva, but being unable to come to terms with the Ingrians they had to abandon it. Ingrians joined with the Novgorodians to drive the Teutonic Knights of Livonia and their allies out of Votia in the winter of 1241-1242, and they also repelled Swedish attacks in 1292 and 1348. In the winter of 1444-1445 the Livonians devastated the Ingrian lands as far as the Neva. After the Russian-Livonian Treaty of 1448, there were no more major attempts by Swedes or Livonians to conquer Ingria in the Middle Ages, although sporadic smaller-scale hostilities continued.

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