Post-classical history

Wesenberg, Battle of (1268)

A battle fought between Livonians and Russians near Wesenberg (mod. Rakvere, Estonia), a fortress in the district of Vironia in northeastern Estonia, which at the time belonged to the Danish Crown.

Wesenberg had been a target of the Novgorodians in their attempts to ward off a new crusade against Russia. In 1267 the Novgorodians besieged the fortress unsuccessfully and retreated with losses. They then prepared for another attack, mustering a large army from the Novgorodian state and elsewhere in northeast Russia. They also signed a treaty with the archbishop of Riga, the bishop of Dorpat (mod. Tartu, Estonia), and the Livonian master of the Teutonic Order, which forbade their interference in the war between the Russians and the Estonian vassals of the Danish king.

On 23 January 1268 the Russian troops entered Vironia, but unexpectedly came upon a combined army of the Livonian rulers who had broken the treaty. The battle took place on 18 February, by the river Kegol about 8 kilometers (5 mi.) from Wesenberg. The Russians managed to drive the Livonians back to Wesenberg, but in the evening the Livonians attacked their enemies’ baggage train and thus drew the Russian forces off. Fighting ceased in the darkness, and as both armies had suffered heavy losses, the action was not begun anew the next morning. The Russians retired, and the Livonians did not have sufficient forces to pursue them. Alexander, bishop of Dorpat, Mikhail, the mayor of Novgorod, and many Russian noblemen were killed in the battle.

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