rothers of the Sword



The Order of Livonian Sword Brothers (official name Fratres Militiae Christi also knoown as Schwertbrüderorden) was one of many knightly orders that were created during the Crusades. It was created in 1202 in Riga by Albert von Buxhoeveden, Prince-Bishop of Riga and Livonia.  The goal of the Order (or Brotherhood) was to assist Roman Catholic church in the conversion of then pagan aboriginals of Livonia and Curonia (Livonians, Curonians, Zemgalians, Latgalians and Selonians)  through the conquest of their land along the Gulf of Riga.

The rules and regulations of the Sword Brothers were quite similar to those of The Templars . The uniform of the Order was a white mantle with the red sign of a cross over a sword. Most of the brothers came from Northern Germany although some of them were originating from England, Scotland Scandinavia and France. The core of the Sword Brothers’ army were some 200 knights. However, together with the “serving brothers”, “pilgrims”, Bishop’s vassals and mercenaries, the Order could raise up to  2000 men.



Between 1202 and 1236 the Sword Brothers launched successful campaigns against Novgorod-supported Principalities of Hercike, Kukkenois and Thalawa, as well as against Curonians, Latgalians, Selonians and Lithuanians. As a result, all of Livonia, Curonia, Zemgalia and Latgalia fell into the hands of the Sword Brothrs who shared all their conquests with Bishop Albert and his brother Bishop Hermann. 

In 1218 – 1219  the Sword Brothers conquered Estonia together with the army of King Valdemar II of Denmark ceding to him districts of Vironia, Harrien and Jerwen in Northern Estonia.



In 1225 – 1236, all the territory conquered by the Sword Brothers (most of modern Latvia and Estonia) was organized into Livonian Confederation with 5 member states: the Sword Brotherhood State and the Episcopates of Riga, Curonia, Dorpat and Oesel.

The Brotherhood's headquarters and Master castle were in Fellin(Viljandi / Estonia).

Other known major castles (some of them still standing) included Ascheraden (Aizkraukle), Segewold (Sigulda), Traiden (Toraida) and Wenden (Cesis).


The five-member Council of the Order was headed by the Order’s Master and included Commanders of Fellin, Goldingen (Kuldīga), Marienburg (Alūksne), Reval (Tallinn) and the Bailiff of Weissenstein (Paide). The first Master of the Order was Winno von Rohrbach (1202 - 1209) and the second and the last one was Wolkwien von Winterstatten (1209 - 1236).


In 1233 – 1234 the new military  campaign against Prince Yaroslav of Novgorod  ended up with an unsuccessful siege of Irboske (Izborsk) and serious defeat at the battle of Emajogi .


In 1236 the army of the Brotherhood was almost wiped out by the united forces of Lithuanians and Zemgalians at the battle of Saule (Shiauliai). The Brotherhood of Sword failed to recover after that defeat and in 1237 it merged with the Teutonic Order. Since then it became an autonomous branch of the Teutonians under their own Commanders who were subordinate to the  Teutonic Order’s Grand Master




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