Battle of Allenburg
Part of St. George's Night
Date 1392
Location Allenburg, Teutonic State
Result Livonian victory
TeutonicOrderFlag Teutonic Order
Coat of arms Holy See Crusaders
Flag of Sweden Swedish and Finnish exiles
LivonianFlag Livonia
  • 200px-Flag of Lithuania (state).svg Lithuanian cossacks
Commanders and leaders
TeutonicOrderFlag Konrad von Juningen
Coat of arms Holy See Richard of Bordeaux
Coat of arms Holy See Charles le Dauphin
LivonianFlag Vesse of Oeselia
40,000 men (inc. 20,000 heavy cavalry) 25,000 men (mainly infantry)
Casualties and losses
30,000 12,000

The Battle of Allenburg was a major battle in the Ingrian War which pitted a force of Teutonic Knights, aided by papally-sanctioned Crusaders, against a Livonian-Swedish force. The battle is today commonly used by scholars to mark the end of the era of heavy cavalry dominance, as the overwhelmingly cavalry Teutonic force suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of a smaller, less experienced and largely infantry army. The phrase "I fear no pagan rabble", uttered by the Teutonic Grand Master before the battle, is also used as a Livonian national motto, albeit in an ironic sense, to this day; the skull of Charles, Dauphin of France, who died in the battle, is also used in the ceremonial cup from which Livonian Dukes drink on their crowning.


The fall of Riga to the Teutonic Knights in 1391 had left them hopeful that the rebellious Livonian territories could be reconquered and their resurgent paganism eradicated. Vesse of Oeselia, the Livonian duke, was equally determined that this would not be the case, but with the collapse of Sweden in the preceding year he lacked powerful allies, except for remaining Finnish territories who refused to accept the newly installed King of Sweden, Albert of Mecklenburg. The neighbouring pagan state of Lithuania provided a small light cavalry force, but on the whole it looked as though the Knights, with the aid of recently arrived crusaders, including the heirs to both the English and French thrones, were well positioned to reconquer southern Livonia. The Knights also possessed an overwhelming force of 20,000 elite, professional heavy cavalry, along with substantial numbers of conscript infantry.

In the spring of 1392, Vesse attempted to seize the initiative by crossing the frozen Curonian Lagoon with 2000 men, and marching on the Knights' capital of Königsberg. The Knights responded by garrisoning Riga and marching southward in full force to cut him off. Vesse had timed his march well, however, and the Lagoon broke up, forcing the Knights to circle it, with both delayed and exhausted their forces. Meanwhile, Vesse devastated the countryside around Königsberg, razing dozens of German villages and recruiting from the disillusioned, and still semi-pagan, Old Prussian peasantry. Grand Master Konrad von Juningen reached Königsberg in late March and advanced southward, knowing he had Vesse easily outnumbered. However, Vesse's heir Thaarason then arrived with a more substantial force of Livonian militia, along with Swedish and Finnish exiles, who provided the Livonians' only substantial force of traditional knights, and he linked up with Vesse on April 10th near the Lithuanian frontier, close to the castle of Allenburg on the Lava River. The Knights, close behind, arrived on April 12th with their crusader allies.

Von Juningen, and the crusaders' joint, and mutually hostile, leaders Richard of Bordeaux and Charles, Dauphin of France (present on crusade as part of a papal plan to reconcile the hostile states of England and France) took council. They were confident their massive cavalry superior would shatter the Livonian army, which was largely peasant infantry. Vesse's personal guard and some of the nobility were cavalry, they were not heavily armoured or trained in traditional knightly style, fighting more like Lithuanian light cavalry, some of whom also accompanied the Livonian force. Vesse anchored his left flank on a lake, concentrating his cavalry on the right and placing his centre in front of a boggy tributary to the Lava. His best, most experienced infantry he concentrated on the far left.


Early on the morning of the 13th, von Juningen led his cavalry in a frontal charge on the Livonian infantry concentrated in the centre, who rapidly broke, but found themselves unable to cross the stream behind them. Meanwhile, the Knights' cavalry attempted to force their way through the mass of fleeing Livonians, rapidly becoming intermingled with them as a slaughter began. This drew in much of the Knights' infantry, who were eager for loot and less so for combat. Meanwhile, the crusaders had been delayed by disputes over who would be in command, but at length launched their own charge on the Lithuanian light cavalry on the right. These also fled.

The crusaders were rapidly drawn away from the main force, exposing the Knights' right flank. At this point, the Lithuanians turned around, revealing their retreat to have been feigned. The exposed crusaders were then caught in the flank by a charge of the Livonian cavalry. With their horses blown, and unable to cohesively charge, the crusaders took heavy casualties and scattered southeast, away from the battle, with individual groups of vassals defending their lords against a scattered pursuit. Drawing his cavalry together, Vesse then returned to the field; joined by the Finnish and Swedish cavalry, he drove off the Teutonic infantry reserve, turned and took the main body of the Knights in the rear. The Livonian infantry on the far left also moved rightwards, attacking the Knights' flank. Now thoroughly intermixed with the chaotic mass of Livonian peasant infantry, the heavily armoured Knights found themselves separated and assailed from all sides. Even their own conscripts began to join in, while others attempted to loot the Knights' baggage. Von Juningen attempted to rally his forces and break out, but mistook his direction, allowing the Livonians to pin many of the remaining Knights against the boggy stream at their rear and bombard them with missiles from a distance. Von Juningen surrendered around nightfall, although some groups of Knights escaped northward towards Kongisberg or into Allenburg Castle nearby. The Crusaders, who had fled toward the Lithuanian frontier, were less lucky, and were thoroughly hunted down over the next few days. Although a lucky few were captured by Swedes who understood the chivalric notion of ransom, most were killed and their bodies looted by pagans who lacked such notions. Richard of Bordeaux and Charles le Dauphin were among these.