Welcome to the website of The Ecology of Crusading: The Environmental Impact of Conquest, Colonisation and Religious Conversion in the Medieval Baltic, a multi-disciplinary research programme running from October 2010-2014, funded by the European Research Council.
In the 13th century, crusading armies unleashed a relentless holy war against the last indigenous pagan societies in Europe: tribal groups in the Eastern Baltic region. Tribal territories were replaced with new Christian states run by the Teutonic Order and individual bishops - the former virtually unique in Europe. They constructed castles, encouraged colonists, developed towns and introduced Christianity. At a time of deteriorating climate, their impact on the local environment, especially plants and animals, would have been profound. Since many aspects of the natural world were sacred to the Baltic tribes, this impact would be synonymous with the cultural changes that created a new world - a European world - at this frontier of Christendom.
How did the environment change? Is it the key to understanding why the societies forged in the fires of holy war increasingly prospered and developed, at a time when the rest of Europe was in the grip of famine, disease pandemics and social crises?
This project aims to investigate this formative epoch in the emergence of European society.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 263735.