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The Crusades were a series of religiously-sanctioned wars called by the Christian Church in the late 12th to early 15th century, and enacted by the Roman Republic, and supported by Russia. The stated motivation was to take the Christian Holy Land, which consisted of Jerusalem, and the lands surrounding it, from control of the polytheistic Egyptian Empire, and to convert the Egyptians to Christianity. The Roman Senate agreed under heavy pressure from both the Church and some of the more pious military officers, with the hope of establishing an additional foothold against the Muslims and Egyptians. People were told by the clergy that they could be redeemed by God if they enlisted in the legion, and participated in the Crusade, which lead to a surge in recruits. The fifth, and final crusade was fought against the Norse Kingdom with the Russian Duchy, with support from the Egyptians and Romans respectively.
Modern opinions on the Crusades are generally negative. It was believed amongst crusaders that Egyptians and Norselings, being pagan, were inherently inferior, and thus not worthy of mercy. This opinion also extended to Muslims, and to lesser extent Jews, leading to the deaths of thousands. They are now held up as an example of overuse of Church power, and letting religious need trump political needs.
None of the five crusades ended in Christian victories, which severely damaged Christianity's standing in the world. It also marked the beginning of a pagan revival in Rome, and contributed to the end of Christianity's dominance over Europe.
Egypt had held control of Jerusalem and the region for almost a thousand years now, after taking control of it from the Persians. Much of that time it had been ruled indirectly through a native King, until the Palestinian War, wherein the last king and his family were killed by Muslim invaders. After retaking it, then pharaoh Seti XIV, instead named himself the king of Jerusalem. The pharaohs were very tolerant, and allowed pilgrims of all religions to come to Jerusalem, though they themselves remained followers of the native Egyptian religion, Kemetism, and prohibited the building of Kemetist statues or temples. To that end, Jerusalem held absolutely no religious importance to the empire, who instead viewed it as one of the empire's primary footholds in Asia, and as among the first defenses against northern invaders.
According to existing records, the Christian upper hiearchy took offense at non-Christians, and polytheists at that, controlling the Holy Land. Kemetism was thought of as a "great other" to Christianity, with the two having many opposing viewpoints, including views on idols, the nature of the divine, and ethics. There exist several texts and letters that indicate that many high ranking Christian officials held Egypt in contempt also because it had sheltered groups that were viewed as dissidents by the church, such as the people who fled Greece during the Megáli̱ Apódrasi̱. Christianity, while practiced in Egypt, failed to take off there like it did in other places (possibly because there was more content amongst the lower classes then there were Rome), despite the best efforts of missionaries.
At the time prior to the first Crusade, Rome had been recovering from a recent conflict with the Mongols, who had invaded from the East, and almost reached Germania, before being stopped. While the Romans had defeated the Mongols, it was at great cost, thinning the Roman treasury, and causing the country to lose several legions. The Senate was not interested in going to another war so suddenly, especially with an enemy that was on the defensive, and very well fortified.
Unlike the religious officials, the Senate viewed the Arabs as the greater threat, and the Egyptians as negligible, since it was apparent they were more interested in expanding South. There even exist some documents that suggest that the Senate was in the process of debating about a potential defense treaty against the Arabs with the Egyptian Empire. Some Senators expressed nervousness about Egyptian expanse of power in general, but failed to raise the issue enough for it to gain much attention.
Within Jerusalem itself, however, things were growing increasingly tense amongst the respective sects. Though directly controlled by the Egyptian imperial government, nomarchs (provincial governors) were generally appointed from the native population, so as an attempt to ease local concerns. However, because the nomarchs appointed were often devout Jews, it was not unheard of for other religious gropus to be marginalized. In addition, small, but vocal Jewish nationalists were also on the rise, who opposed the allowance of Christians and Muslims being able to freely worship. Then pharaoh Sesostris VIII, who at the time was trying to set up administration in the newly conquered lands in Africa, was reluctant to deal with nationalists in what was a comparably smaller, and more stable nome. To that end, he named a Jewish noble, David of Harel, as nomarch (who was a nationalist sympathizer), and re-deployed another 3000 soldiers to Jerusalem, hoping to ease the tensions of the nationalists, while maintaining stability.
Unfortunately, five months into his rule, David issued a decree that non-Jews would have to pay a religious tax in order to worship, which would got to the maintenance of the Temple. Whether word of this failed to reach Sais, or nothing was done, the imperial government did not address the issue, at least not to the satisfaction of Christians and Muslims. This lead to riots throughout the city amongst both demographics, which were responded to violently. This culminated when Jewish nationalists attempted to storm the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, resulting in the deaths of approximately 30 Christians, before being stopped by imperial soldiers. Interrogations of the rioters revealed that David had organized them.
In hopes of placating Christian and Muslim concerns, Sesostris ordered David to be brought back to Egypt to be punished. While this punishment was accepted by Egyptian Christians and Muslims, it outraged Roman Christians. Bishop Peter demanded that the Egyptians be ejected from Jerusalem, and converted to Christianity. Under increased pressure from the populace, the Senate issued a vote for a formal declaration of war. The supporters won, and Rome officially declared war against Egypt.
After the formal declaration, five Roman legions were dispatched for a land invasion of Palestine, in addition to another three legions dispatched by sea for a naval invasion. Most of the legionaires were new recruits, given the standard training, and then deployed without pause. Though the religious establishment called for larger armies to be sent, fear of a resurgent Mongol invasion, combined with regular Norse raids, discouraged the Senate from sending more legions.
The declaration of war had occurred only a few months after the Great March South, in which the Egyptians conquered most of Africa, was completed, and thus most of the Egyptian army was still marching back from southern Africa. Because of this, the 40,000 army Sesostris assembled had to be taken primarily from the defense. Jerusalem itself held a garrison of roughly 4000, the primary purpose being for maintaining public order, and not military defense. As Jerusalem was well fortified, it was held that the city could be held with a comparably smaller force than the invaders held.
The Roman legions that traveled by land departed from Edessa (the largest eastern-most city in the Republic), and advanced in Egyptian-held Syria. They were not met with resistance, as they sacked Antioch, before advancing to Tripoli, and sacking it as well. The opinion of the Egyptian military was that the Romans would have the field advantage if they met them in open ground, and victory would be too costly; to that end, most of hte Egyptian army was kept in Jerusalem.
The legions traveling by sea were met with the Egyptian navy, where a naval battle erupted. The battle ended in the favor of the Egyptians, though one legion managed to arrive mostly intact, and part of another also landed safely. However, this was considered a disaster by Roman commander Cadmus Diomos Aeson, as much of the strategy involved being reinforced by these new legions. Despite this, he pressed on, hoping that he could starve the Egyptians in Jerusalem.
On March 5, 1179, the full Roman army surrounded Jerusalem, and laid siege to it. The intial plan was for trebuchets to break down the walls, but most of the Roman trebuchets were destroyed by better placed Egyptian ones. The Romans attempted to use siege towers, but trenches dug along Jerusalem's walls prevented them from being fully utilized. It became increasingly apparent to that taking the city would be virtually impossible without taking heavy casualties. After several weeks of siege, internal dissent amongst Roman forces forced the siege to be broken, and the legions to retreat to Roman territory.
There were hopes to continue the invasion after restocking was complete, but by this point, much of the Egyptian army had returned from Africa, and an additional 50,000 soldiers were coming to reinforce the forces in Jerusalem. Bolstered by this support, Sesostirs marched his army out of Jerusalem, and pushed the Romans out of Egyptian territory. The Roman general, Silvius Efrem Glaucia, then sent an appeal to the Senate to end the war. The appeal was accepted, and the Romans offered peace, which the Egyptian supported, and the Roman legions left for Rome.
When the legionaires arrived in Rome, they were subjects of shame, and disgrace, as they, as Christians, failed to take Jerusalem from pagan Egyptians. Non-Christians also began to be viciously persecuted, as blame shifted to them. Many would flee to Egypt. Upon returning to Egypt, Sesostris commissioned the construction of a monument to the war, depicting Horus stepping on a Roman soldier, putting a spear through a shield with a chain ring. While the Egyptian establishment remained religiously tolerated, Christians became targets for discrimination amongst the populace, and many converted to Kemetism to avoid outright persecution.
The religious establishment was never satisfied with the failure of the Roman army to capture the Holy Land, and there were recurring petitions to continue the Crusade, though they were always rejected by the Senate. However, eventually, after the reign of Adheem, who was considered to be a volatile, dangerous warmonger by the Romans, fear of a resurgent Egypt in the North took hold, and on August 14, 1243, the Senate voted to support the clerics' calls for war, as justification for an invasion. Twelve legions (72,000 soldiers) under the command of Severus Neri Caos were dispatched from Edessa to invade Egyptian territory, not bothering to take other cities or settlements. At the same time, a large Roman fleet departed from Crete, to attempt to invade Egypt itself.
The Egyptian forces fortified in Jerusalem to prepare for the siege. However, when the Roman navy defeated the Egyptians at sea, the garrisoned forces were ordered to return to Egypt, to prepare for a potential assault on the homeland. The Roman siege of Jerusalem lasted barely a week, before they entered the city. In the ensuing assault, over 7,000 people were killed, including Egyptian Christians, and non-Christians.
The taking of Jerusalem encouraged the Roman Senate to push harder against the Egyptians, and with perceived control over the Mediterranean, it was believed to be useful to try and attack Egypt as well. On January 23, 1244, the Romans departed Jerusalem, and advanced on Suez.
Battle of Suez
There was no attempt to take Egypt via sea, as all the remaining Egyptian fleets were anchored along the coast, and armies in their coastal cities. Any attempt to invade would have to go through the desert, which was considered suicidal. The only option that left was attacking Egypt through Suez.
The Suez fortifications were well known by other nations, having never been breached. The distance between the edge of the canal and the wall was 200 feet, not enough space to deploy large siege equipment. The only way to try and take the walls was with siege ladders, and try and use ship catapults to break down the walls. However, the canal at that time was 300 feet, not wide enough for large scale bombarding of a single space in the wall.
The Egyptian forces garrisoned at the fortifications numbered 30,000 men in total (much of the army had been garrisoned in Sais, in case of a Roman attack). Every 100 feet was a guard tower, armed with an Egyptian fire pumping device, and balistae throwers. There were also 200 elephants throughout the fortifications. The commander of the garrison was General Sobekwasr.
The Roman legions assembled on the opposing side of the bank, where the Egyptians could see them. The Romans knew that Egyptians held the advantage, and Caos plan was to snipe at the walls with light, long range siege weapons, and weaken the forces on the walls, and then charge with ladders. Sobekwasr planned to simply withstand the assault, until reinforcements came.
On February 18, 1244, the Romans commenced their bombardment with trebuchets, though most of the projectiles were too small for significant damage to the wall, though it did cause casualties amongst the Egyptian forces. This continued for three days, until Caos ordered five legions (30,000 men) to cross the canal, and advance on the wall. The legionaires landed, and began advancing on the wall, all the while being pelted by arrows and bolts. Soldiers closer to the towers were hit with Egyptian fire, causing heavy casualties. The Roman ladders reached the walls, and they began to climb, though any Roman that managed to reach the top was promptly slaughtered by the Egyptians. Eventually, the Romans were forced to retreat, having lost 6000 soldiers in the assault.
This strategy continued for several days, though each time failed. Two weeks after the siege began, nearly 30,000 of the 72,000 Romans were either killed or captured, compared to the 2000 Egyptians dead. Eventually, another 40,000 Egyptian soldiers arrived at the wall. With no other choice, Caos was forced to retreat.
Sobekwasr then promptly launched a counter offensive, hitting the retreating Romans, and completely smashing the legions; Caos himself was among those killed in the attacked. They then advanced into Jerusalem, where the native Jews rose up against the Romans, and Jerusalem was promptly recaptured. Under Sobekwasr's command, the Egyptians pushed the Romans all the way back to the original borders at the Euphrates, though in the campaign, he lost his left arm.
By this point, the Crusades had earned the attention of other nations, including the Mongolians and Norse. The Mongolians took this as an opportunity to launch another assault on the Romans. The Roman legions were forced to redeploy in order to face the attacking hordes. This marked the end of the Second Crusade.
Only a few years later, Sobekwasr would become pharaoh himself when Pharaoh Rameses XV died without any heirs. To prevent Jerusalem from being taken again, he fortified Jerusalem further, and further fortifications were built throughout the nome.
Pharaoh Sobekwasr was a described as having been a devout Kemetist, and noted by some to have been anti-Christian. While he did not reverse the religious tolerance policy of the empire, he began issuing edicts unfavorable to Christianity. Christian missionaries had to pay a tax in order to publicly preach, and churches always had to be smaller than any Kemetist temple. While these edicts did not take effect far beyond Sais, they offended many Christians in Rome. The Church called for another Crusade, but was refused by the Senate.
Unable to garner the support they needed from the official army, the would be crusaders instead formed a private militia, which entered into Egypt, and began to wage a guerrilla war against the Egyptians. They would attack Egyptian military convoys, and smaller settlements. The militia itself was small, only a couple thousand strong, and only some of them had any military training; they would generally operate in cells of one hundred at the most.
These incursions were not tolerated by Sobekwasr, and he would send entire military divisions into the Judaean Desert to seek out insurgents. Most of the groups would retreat in the mountains, where the larger armies couldn't travel. If a cell was found, they would be brought back to Egypt to face execution.
The insurgency continued for the majority of the year 1257, until the winter began to set in, and the insurgents began to suffer from attrition. Food supplies quickly ran low, and the harsh environment began to take its toll on the crusaders. Eventually morale began to fall apart, and they began to leave back for Rome. The crusade was unofficially declared over in March, 1258.
Since its inception, the Mongol Golden Horde was never popular amongst the native Russians, and local resistance was commonplace. Attempts by the vassal princes to revolt were ruthlessly crushed. However, the Golden Horde in 1305 was starting to suffer from internal strife, and was beginning to show signs of decay. Taking this as a sign to continue the rebellion, a Russian prince named Kiril rallied a number of the other princes to revolt. He then appealed to other nations for aide, but only the Romans agreed to it.
While the Mongol advance had been halted by the Romans in years prior, the continued presence of the Golden Horde was viewed as a continued threat. To prevent further Mongol incursions, a series of fortifications were built along the Roman-Mongol border in Poland, though the Mongols never attempted to invade again. When the Russians appealed for aide, this was viewed as a potential chance to deal with the Mongol threat. To garner support for the campaign, the Church declared it the Fourth Crusade, and in March 1305, thirteen Roman legions (78,000 men) departed Poland, and entered into Mongol-controlled Russia.
The revolting Russian force was roughly 50,000 strong, though only some of them were trained soldiers. The exact size Golden Horde army is not entirely known, but records from Roman sources indicate that it was roughly the same size of the crusading army. The Roman and Russian armies linked up on the Western steppes of Russia, and advanced on the Mongol army.
The three armies met near Nizhny, where the Crusaders inflicted a sharp defeat on the Mongols, and pushed the occupying forces further back. The Crusaders advanced further East, but when winter began to set in, the terrain became increasingly difficult for the Romans to navigate, which severely slowed the army's momentum. Kiril and his army advanced ahead, splitting the forces.
Only a few weeks after the separation of the forces, the marching Romans were hit in the flank by the Mongol forces. The Roman forces were decimated, taking at least 20,000 casualties. The Romans were forced to retreat back to Rome, though the Mongols did not chase them, and instead marched against the rebellious Russians. Kiril retreated back to his stronghold at St. Petersburg. The Mongols did not attempt to lay siege to St. Petersburg.
While the crusade was considered a failure, Kiril and the majority of his army survived. Eventually in 1323, while he was unable to fight in the rebellion himself, his son, Grigori would manage to successfully expel the Mongols from Russia. This would lead to the ultimate foundation of the Russian Duchy.
The Norselings were always aware of the Crusades, but viewed it as a distant issue, not worth their attention. Though a number of these incursions were taken as opportunities to further raid Roman cities with less opposition. However, they never attempted anything further than that. This changed with the ascension of High Queen Elsa Ísshǫnd. Elsa was a militarist and expansionist, who aspired to unite all of the Scandinavian peninsula under Norse rule, which meant taking Finland from Russian control. Russian dominion over Finland was considered to be a threat, as there were few natural barriers, and much of the Russian army was closer to Finland than any other location.
Since its founding, the Russian Duchy had been suffering from internal problems, especially food shortages. Having a large, inhospitable territory to now rule, Duke Dimitrus, the grandson of Kiril, struggled to maintain order, and after a bad harvest, Dimitrus was facing large scale riots. This was taken by Elsa as an indication that it was time to invade Finland, who raised an army 70,000 strong, and on 1355, she marched into Finland.
The Norse army steamrolled through any Russian force that got in their way. The Norse forces sacked the town of Rovaniemi, and then moved south, towards the city of Helsinki, where the Russian government was based. When news reached St. Petersburg of the Norse invasion, Dimitrus ordered an army 50,000 strong to enter Finland to stop them. The Norselings and Russians met at Kuopio, where the Norse forces decisively defeated the Russian forces. Dimitrus himself was badly wounded, and forced to retreat back to St. Petersburg. The Norselings then easily took Helsinki, as the remaining Russian forces retreated out of Finland.
Dimitrus hoped that after claiming Finland, the Norselings wouldn't go any further. However, Elsa saw this as an opportunity win further fame and wealth for her kingdom, and in 1358, moved her army into Russia, where she laid siege to St. Petersburg. The siege lasted for three weeks, before the Norselings breached the walls, and sacked the city, though Dimitrus, his family, and most governing officials escaped, where they traveled West to Moscow. Desperate, Dimitrus called for aid from the Romans. Not wanting to run the risk of Russia being conquered by the Norselings, and then having to share a large land border with them, the Romans agreed, and dispatched ten legions under the commander of Melius Varos Alius to Russia.
Elsa actually saw this as an opportunity, opposed to a danger. She, and a number of Norse earls, resented Roman control over Denmark, the only remaining part of Scandinavia that was not under their control. Elsa then pulled back her forces from Russia, and assembled a fleet to cross the Baltic Sea to Denmark. With many of the Romans leaving for Russia, they were caught off guard when the Norse armada landed in Northern Denmark, and stormed its way South. The Roman legionaires scrambled to redeploy against the attacking Norselings, but by the time they reached Denmark, most of it had been taken by the Norselings.
Word of the Norse success against the Russians and Romans reached Egypt. This was seen as a opportunity by Pharaoh Setnamset to squeeze potential terms out of the Romans. The Egyptian navy then departed Syria, and entered into Roman Turkey, where they crossed the Black Sea, and traveled through the Ukraine, defeating a Russian army that was moving to support the Romans.
In Western Poland, the Norse and Egyptian armies joined up, and began a joint march West into Germany. Twenty Roman Legions (120,000 men, one of the largest armies every deployed by Rome in a single conflict) were deployed to intercept them. The three armies met in the Battle of the Rhine on July 9, 1359, where the Egyptians and Norselings defeated the Romans, pushing them back into Gaul.
The combined pagan army advanced farther West, entering into Gaul. There, there was a dispute between Elsa and Setnamset. Elsa wanted to maintain the invasion of Gaul, while Setnamset wanted to enter into Italy, and march on Roma, hoping to bring a decisive end to the conflict. Egyptian scribes recorded the debates they had, where it's indicated that Elsa ultimately won out, though she agreed to support the Egyptians in future negotiations. Shortly after, she marched against Paris.
The Norse forces commenced the siege against Paris with Egyptian support, though most attempts by the Norselings to scale the wall ended in failure. In Roma, the Senate voted to end the war, and on November 18, 1359, the Romans sued for peace.
The terms given by the Norselings were steep. Elsa demanded that both the Romans and Russian acknowledge her kingdom's territorial claims over Finland and Denmark, as well as granting Norse ships preferential access to Roman ports. Setnamset requested that the Straits of Gibraltar be surrendered to Egyptian control; this would allow the Egyptians to freely enter and exit the Mediterranean, without having to circle around Africa through the canal. Not in a position to refuse, the Romans agreed, despite heavy protest from Russia.
After consolidating her conquered claims, Elsa sailed back to Fjordborg, and Setnamset returned to Sais. Before parting, the two traded murals depicting the war as a gesture of mutual friendship. The murals depicted images of both the Kemetist, and Asatru gods defeating images of the Christian god, and Roman legions. Both murals still exist in the present, with the Norse mural being on display in the Sais Musuem of History, and the Egyptian mural still being in the castle of Omrfell.
By the war's end, several Roman cities were in ruin, including Paris, and the Romans began the long process of rebuilding. Much of the Parisian treasures, religious or otherwise, were raided by the Norse, and the treaty stipulated that the Norse got to keep everything they raided. This would further contribute to Christianity's ultimate downfall in Rome.
Effect on Politics
The Crusades, while very costly to Rome, proved quite beneficial for the Egyptian Empire, and Norse Kingdom, with the latter making significant territorial gains through them. For the Egyptians, now able to travel out of the Mediterranean at their leisure, were able to trade freely via sea with the Norse, and were able to explore farther West as they saw fit. This would contribute to the discovery of the Americas for the Egyptians, who would ultimately colonizes parts of it.
The alliance between Egypt and Scandinavia came to be known amongst Christians as the "Heathen Alliance", though pagans saw it as the "Alliance of Religious Freedom". The alliance while strong, ultimately ended after the Norse started raiding East Asia in the 1500s; that said, while the alliance ended nominally, the two empires maintained strong relations. It's been suggested that the reason the Egyptians publicly severed the alliance was to prevent any repercussions on them from the Asian nations the Norse had been raiding.
In the aftermath of the Crusades, relations between Rome and Russia soured. While Rome had managed to recover economically and militarily from the war relatively quickly, Russia recovered very gradually, and relied greatly on the Romans for aid. The Romans ended any aide they may have been sending to the Russians, as it was quickly becoming costly, and the Senate decided an alliance that ultimately contributed very little to the Republic wasn't worth it. Isolated in many respects, it would be over a century before Russia fully recovered from the Crusades.
While they never involved themselves in any the Crusades, it attracted the attention of the Ayyubid Sultanate, who had been watching relatively passively as two of their largest rivals fought it out. There were said to have been musings throughout Arabia to march out against the Egyptians, but nothing was ever made of them. This poses some questions to historians, as there were multiple opportunities for them to seize territory from both Egypt and Rome. It's been suggested that then sultans feared repercussions from Egypt, which had recently tripled its territory in its conquest of Africa.
Effect on Religion
The consistent failure of the Crusades had harsh repercussions on the Church. They were stripped of their seat in the Senate, and the military oath was altered, from "I swear upon God Almighty, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and Mary Mother of God", to "I swear upon my soul on the souls of my fathers". Many legionaires were disillusioned with Christianity as well, and some would paint over the chain on their shields.
Christianity as a whole was dealt a harsh blow. Five times Christians had marched against pagans (or Muslims in the case of the Fourth), and five times they were decisively defeated. This discredited the Church, which lead many to question it, and its concepts. Basically, the question asked amounted to "If the Christian god cannot defeat the pagan gods, why keep worshiping the Christian god?". This lead to a new interest in Hellenistic polytheism, and marked the beginning of conversions back to Hellenism, conversions which would slowly increase in amount.
The Church responded to these reversions violently, with an estimated 2000 people being burned at the stake for apostasy. This was not tolerated by the Senate, who ordered the legions to advance into Vatican City to forcibly put down the Holy Guard. The Guard was forced to disband, and the Church had to start paying a tax to the Senate. A new law guaranteeing the freedom of religion was later passed. The Church never recovered from these losses, and gradually began to lose both power and influence.
Eventually, facing increasingly hostility from the Romans, the Church establishment left Roma, and moved to St. Petersburg. This increased the reversions from Christianity to paganism, until Christianity lost its majority status, which it would never recover.
Some military historians have noted that the Crusades demonstrated represent prime examples of poor planing on the part of the commanders, and failing to fully understand the enemy. There were several instances where the Crusaders held the strategic advantage, though the advantage was squandered due to poor planning,or lack of foresight.
The Battle of Suez is also considered to be an example of strategic blunder. Some historians state that if Caos had maintained the bombardment at the Egyptian towers, he may have been able to land siege towers on the opposing bank, and could've taken the walls. It's believed that the reason Caos didn't maintain the bombardment, was because the supply chains that were vital to maintain the legions, were being hindered by banditry throughout Israel (the Egyptian navy dominated the sea, so no relief could come from there), and he didn't think he could maintain the siege at his current pace.
The decision in the Fourth Crusade by the Russians and Romans to split their forces is now widely held as one of the worst strategic decisions in history. When together, the combined crusader force was approximately 128,000 strong, which outnumbered the forces of the Golden Horde. It's been suggested that Kiril feared losing momentum in the war because of the slowing of the Roman advance, and wanted to hit the Mongols quick. However, once he did, the Roman advance slowed further, leaving it vulnerable to the Mongol counterattack.
The Norse sacking of St. Petersburg is notable for the sheer aggression that the Norse showed when attacking it. Instead of trying to weaken the walls, or starve the Russians in, Elsa decided to charge the wall with siege towers and ladders. It's believed that the reason this worked so well, was because many of the soldiers garrisoned in St. Petersburg were either survivors from Kuopio and Helsinki, or fresh, inexperienced forces, especially compared to the Norse soldiers, many of whom were tried veterans.