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The Mongol Invasion of Europe, fought sporadically throughout much of the mid-thirteen century, mainly from 1240 to 1247, was one of the largest and most devastating international conflicts the world had ever seen, in both number of nations involved and number of soldiers fielded by both sides. The conflict saw the destruction of the East Slavic principalities, such as Kiev and Vladimir, the invasion and fragmentation of much of eastern and central Europe, and led to the complete destruction and diminishing of many of Europe's strongest regional powers. The first invasions of Europe were largely masterminded by General Subutai and commanded by Batu Khan and Kadan, both grandsons of the Mongolian leader Genghis Khan.
The invasions found new fervor under Ögedei Khan, who approved a renewed invasion in 1242, which would spread into much of the Holy Roman Empire and beyond, causing great financial and infrastructural damage to European cities and societies. During this time the Mongol Empire would siege and successfully occupy for a time the city of Constantinople, collapsing the fledgling Latin Empire after a seven month long siege, albeit with significant Venetian aid. The conflict was not settled until the Treaty of Rome, an all encompassing treaty signed between a coalition of western nations, spearheaded by the Pope in Rome, and the Mongol Empire, which formally recognized the Mongol annexations of parts of the Holy Roman Empire and Eastern Europe, in exchange for a lasting peace. Following the conclusion of this treaty much of the remaining sections of central Europe were placed nominally in a state of tribute to the Mongol Empire, lasting for many years after the war.
Initially during the Mongol invasion of Europe, combatants were largely limited to states under direct attack from the Mongols, and early campaigns on the part of the Europeans was often uncoordinated and sporadic. During the invasion of the Rus' states the Mongols encountered united armies from across the region, including contingents from Vladimir, Kiev, and other important Rus' cities. During this early campaign the Mongols also encountered armies of Cumans, Alans, and other nations, especially during their campaigns in the south and in the Caucasus region.
During the Mongol invasion of Poland, resistance against the Mongols was organized into a number of states collectively united as the Kingdom of Poland, and later was joined or supported by the Moravian Margraviate and Silesia, under Henry II the Pious, then Kingdom of Bohemia, under Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, and a number of holy orders and German volunteers, including contingents from the Knights Templar, he Knights Hospitaller, and the Teutonic Knights. Later against the Kingdom of Hungary, the Mongols would also encounter forces from Croatia, as well as additional contingents from Germany.
Mongol invasions of Germany, brought the Duchy of Austria, under Duke Frederick II, into conflict, as well as the Kingdom of Bohemia. After the fall of Austria, Wenceslaus I of Bohemia would unsuccessfully claim the throne of Austria for his son Vldislaus, leading to the fall of Bohemia soon after. Bohemia would establish a number of marital ties and alliances with other nobles of the Holy Roman Empire, drawing forces from Brandenburg and Bavaria into the conflict. At the same time as the conflict in Bohemia and Bavaria, Bernhard von Spanheim, Duke of Carinthia, managed to place his son Ulrich III on the throne of Carniola. Ulrich would launch an invasion of Austria himself, temporarily being crowned Duke of Styria, before being repulsed from his lands.
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, would be forced to leave his campaign in the Italian peninsula to combat the Mongols advancing through Austria. After a peace treaty was established between the Emperor and the Pope, hostilities in Italy ceased, and the Pope declared a crusade against the Mongol forces. This brought the forces of Louis IX of France, as well as contingents from across Central Europe, into direct conflict with the Mongols.
Invasions and conquest of Rus' lands
The Russian states first encountered the Mongol horde in 1223, during a period of further fragmentation of the former Kievan Rus'. As detailed by Russian chroniclers of the time, the Mongols were of unknown origin to the locals, and attacked with great ferocity. Word arrived to the princes of the Rus' of the coming Mongol invasion from Cuman nomads, a group of people formally associated with pillaging settlements along the frontier, now known for their peaceful relations. The Cumans appealed to the Rus' states, for assistance against the mysterious threat, although initially their requests went unheeded. It was not until almost a year later, when the Mongols marched along the Dniester River into the Rus, was a response warranted. In response to this threat Mislav the Bold and Mstislav Romanovich the Old of Kiev both assembled armies and marched eastward to meet the Mongols in battle, at the same time arranging an alliance of Rus' states which also included Yuri II of Vladimir-Suzdal, who promised support for their campaign, and other states.
The Mongols detected the movement of the Rus' army, from the east side of the Dnieper River awaiting re-inforcements from Jochi, Genghis Khan's eldest son, who at the time was undertaking a campaign across the Aral Sea. These re-inforcements, however, did not arrive, as Jochi soon fell ill and was unable to command his army. As the Mongols waited, the Rus' states attempted the trap the Mongols. Forces under the command of the Princes of Galich and Volhynia both were transported south down the river, while the forces of the Princes of Kiev and Chernigov advanced north, planning to attack the Mongols from the rear, supported by an army from Kursk, which attacked from the front. With the Mongols now surrounded, a contingent of ten envoys was sent to the Prince of Kiev, claiming that the Mongols were in the process of leaving Rus' lands, as they had no feud with the Rus' states. In response the Prince of Kiev had the envoys executed, prompting a second contingent of ambassadors to meet with the Rus' to declare war.
The Mongol generals Jebe and Subutai head of the Rus' attempts to entrap them, and marched their army east, away from the enemy force. During this withdraw however, a force of 1000 men under the command of the officer Hamabek stayed behind, to report the movements of the enemy armies. The Rus' forces had no commander-in-chief appointed from among the princes, leaving each army to act independently of each other. Despite the lack of coordination, Mstislav the Bold reached the other side of the river under heavy arrow fire, and he engaged the Mongols, who fought to the very last man after being overwhelmed.
With the Rus' armies now in pursuit of them, the main Mongol army fled for nine days, until they reached the Kalka River. Here the Russian and Mongol forces engaged in close combat, until the Cumans, the Russian allies, were seen fleeing the field of battle, having been led through a gap in the Rus' line by the armies of Volhynia and Kursk. The Mongol cavalry quickly chased into this gap, encountering the confused army of Chernigov, which at that moment advanced into combat before running head on into the retreating Cumans. The army of Chernigov was caught off guard and confused, and the Mongols managed to rout this force, killing their leader Prince Mstislav of Chernigov. This led to mass confusion in the ranks of the Rus' armies, which were then slaughtered by Mongol forces.
As this detachment of the Mongol army cut down the retreating Rus' forces in the center, the Mongol wings closed in on the flanks, shattering the defending lines and cutting off their retreat. Now surrounded by Mongol forces, the defending Rus' armies that still remained were targeted by repeated volleys, and the occasional cavalry charge, devastating the Rus' forces. During this time a small force, led by Mstislav the Bold, managed to cut through the Mongol line and escape, while all else still encased were killed.
Mstislav of Kiev arrived to the field of battle with an army of 10,000 men, and when he saw the current state of the Rus' forces, retreated to his camp, established on a defensive hill by the Dnieper. The Mongols caught up to the remaining Rus' forces and laid siege to Mstislav's camp, who managed to hold out against the attacking Mongols for three days. With his forces heavily depleted, Mstislav of Kiev finally surrendered, on the condition that his forces be allowed to return unharmed to Kiev. Despite this agreement, once the Mongols had secured the enemy camp, the defending army was slaughtered, and Mstislav and a group of nobles were taken prisoner.
The Battle of the Kalka River left the Rus' states heavily weakened and in disarray. After a single engagement, the Rus' had lost a large percentage of their manpower and resources, and were now left vulnerable to a continued invasion deeper into their territory. Out of the many Rus' princes to engage in the battle, only the wounded Daniel of Volhynia and Mstislav the Bold managed to escape the carnage. After the battle Mstislav of Kiev and his nobles were executed in the traditional Mongol fashion reserved for royalty and nobility; without any blood spilled. As such they were buried and suffocated under the victory platform of the celebrating Mongol generals.
The Mongols returned to the east after their victory, where they met with Genghis Khan and the main Mongol army in the steppes east of the Syr Darya River. The achievements of his generals was greatly praised by Genghis Khan, and Jebe and Subutai received great appreciation. The two generals had completed one of history's longest cavalry raids, traveling almost 9000 km in three years, before their eventual return. The Mongol army had also succeeded in placing numerous spies in Rus' territory, which helped to provide frequent reports of activity in Russia and Europe in general. Jebe, however, would die soon after his return, and would not partake in the next phase of the Mongol invasion, in the following decade.
The remaining Rus' forces who had managed to flee the battle were railed under Mstislav the Bold, who managed to reach the western side of the Dnieper. All the boats that Mstislav could find were destroyed, hoping to diminish the Mongol's ability to cross the river and buy himself some time to prepare adequate defenses. Instead the Mongols pursued the Prince of Galich, pillaging towns in the south of the Rus', before turning around. An army of 35,000 horse archers, under the command of Batu Khan and Subutai, next crossed the Volga River, and passed through Volga Bulgaria in autumn of 1236, before being defeated by the Bulgars in an ambush. Despite this initial victory, the Bulgars would be defeated and routed by the Mongols later that year, who then proceeded to attack the Kanglis Cumans, who had supported the Cumans in the Caucasus in their earlier campaigns the year before. Near the Ural Mountains the Cumans were defeated, their Khan having been killed, and they were forced to pay tribute to the Mongols. After a year of fighting, the combined resistance of the Volga Bulgarians, Cumans-Kipchaks, and the Alans was now quelled, and the Mongols turned their attention once more to the Rus' states.
Envoys were sent by Batu Khan to the court of Yuri II of Vladimir, demanding their submission. The Rus' refused, and a month after their demands were sent the Mongols besieged the city of Ryazan, which was annihilated after a six day battle. Yuri II ordered his sons to lead an army and quickly capture the Mongol invaders, but were decisively defeated. The cities of Kolomna and Moscow soon fell, and were burnt down by the Mongols. On 4 February 1238, now completely surrounded by its scorched territory, the city of Vladimir itself was besieged by the Mongols. After only three days the capital fell, and those inside the city were killed in the fires that ensued, which also claimed the lives of the royal family. The Grand Prince himself managed to retreat, fleeing northward over the Volga River. Yuri II quickly assembled an army in Yaroslavl, but was too late to relieve the city of Vladimir. Instead him and his brothers were surrounded by the Mongol forces and annihilated, with Yuri II and Prince Vsevolod of Yaroslavl dying along the Sit River. With their deaths fell the hopes of a unified resistance against the Mongols.
The army of Batu Khan was divided into smaller units, and sent to ransack the cities of Rostov, Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Kashin, Ksnyatin, Gorodets, Galich, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Yuriev-Polsky, Dmitrov, Volokolamsk, Tver, and Torzhok. Utilizing Chinese siege engines and other tactics, the Mongols under Tului were able to raze the walls of the defending Russian cities. The most difficult siege and resistance against the Mongols would be the small town of Kozelsk, where the boy prince Vasily, son of Titus, managed to resist the Mongols for seven weeks before falling to hostile forces. Out of all the cities in the Rus', the only major settlements to escape complete destruction were the cities of Novgorod, which the Mongols planned to attack, but unexpectedly turned back for unknown reasons, and the city of Pskov. Of those not killed by the Mongol invaders, many fled into the northeast, hiding in forested regions, along poorer soul between the Upper Volga and Oka Rivers.
Batu Khan returned south, and in the summer of 1238 managed to heavily ransack the Crimea, before pacifying the region of Mordovia. The following winter he sacked Chernigov and Pereyaslav, and finally Kiev, after a large siege, in December 1240. Daniel of Volhynia continued to be a leader of the Russian resistance to invasion, despite losing his principal cities of Halych and Volodymyr-Volynski. The Mongol horde did not leave the Rus' states again until the following year, when they sought to march across Europe. They proceeded to invade Hungary and Poland next, with the goal of reaching the Atlantic Ocean.
Invasion into Central Europe
First Invasion of Poland
In late 1240 the Mongol force in Europe was divided into three main armies. The first army was placed under the joint command of Baidar, Kadan, and Orda Khan, who begin scouting operations in Poland, while the other two armies marched across the Carpathian mountains and followed the Danube River, respectively. Moving from the recently conquered city of Volodymyr-Volynskyi in the Rus', the first army attacked the Polish city of Lublin, followed by Sandomierz, which fell on 13 February. Central Poland was heavily ravaged by this invading force, which moved under the command of Orda to Wolbórz next, and as far north as Łęczyca, before turning south and heading via Sieradz towards Wrocław. Baidar and Kadan targeted the southern cities of Poland, sacking Chmielnik, Kraków, Bytom, Opole, and Legnica, before exiting Polish lands.
Polish forces under the command of Włodzimierz, voivode of Kraków, were gathered to assemble a defense against the invading force, blocking the road towards Kraków, and concentrating his forces around Miechow. The Mongols, however, did not directly confront the voivode of Kraków, instead towards the city via via Koprzywnica, Wislica and Skalbmierz, before withdrawing to Tursko Wielkie. The Polish forces pursued the Mongols, who fell back to a better defensible position. Meeting finally at the Battle of Tursko, the Polish forces were able to inflict heavy casualties against the Mongols and release some prisoners during the initial clashes. The Polish forces began to loot the Mongol camp, instead of focusing on pursing the Mongol forces themselves, and in when met by a second attack, the Polish forces were destroyed.
Following their success at the Battle of Tursko, the Mongol army split their forces further, with an army under the command of Baidar marching against the city of Kraków in central-south Poland, while the commanders Kadan and Orda Khan advanced in the north. Baidar's forces encountered a Polish army under the command of Włodzimierz, voivode of Kraków, and Pakosław, voivode of Sandomierz, who represented the majority of Polish knights from each of their respective provinces. At the time of this engagement Baidar had previously pursued the forces of Bolesław V the Chaste, Duke of Kraków, who had withdrawn hastily and did not engage in the battle. The flight of the Polish duke damaged the morale of the defending force significantly, and the defense of Włodzimierz and Pakosław was diminished as a result.
Initially the Polish forces managed to hold out against the Mongol attack. Seeing that they could not effectively defeat the Polish forces in direct confrontation, the Mongol army feigned a general retreat, causing the Polish defenders to exit their defenses and pursue the seemingly fleeing force. This advancing army was then bombarded by Mongol reinforcements and decisively defeated. Those Polish soldiers who remained on the battlefield were quickly routed, having suffered heavy casualties. With their last line of defense now shattered, the people of Kraków fell into a panic, and the city was abandoned. When the Mongols entered the city itself they put it to the torch, before pillaging much of the surrounding area.
With the majority of Poland now raided by Mongol forces, the remaining nobility of Poland began to gather their forces, along with Henry II the Pious, Duke of Silesia, around the town of Legnica. In order to buy more time and gather a large force to combat the Mongols, Henry II even abandoned one of his largest cities, Wroclaw, while waiting for his brother-in-law Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, to gather an army and come to his aid. While laying siege to the city of Wroclaw, Baidar and Kadan received word that a large Bohemian army was on its way to relieve the city, and elected to flee from the city without finishing the siege. Instead the Mongol army sought to intercept Henry II before he could meet with this larger force. When the Mongols finally caught up to him, Henry II had been met by the forces of Opole under the command of Duke Mieszko II the Fat, as well as Moravians led by Boleslav, son of the Margrave of Moravia Děpolt III, conscripts from Greater Poland, and volunteer Bavarian miners from Goldberg. The main force of Henry's army included his own personal soldiers from the Silesian Piast duchies, contingents of mercenaries and volunteers, and very small contingents of French Knights Templar and Hospitallers, who together made up the more experienced wing of his army.
The Mongol force gathered at the battle included no more than two tumens from the army of Subutai, who had demonstrated the advantages of horse archers, in terms of tactical mobility and speed when arriving at the field of battle in time. The Mongol strategy essentially consisted of a long series of feigned attacks and fake withdraws, which were intended to draw out the defending force into a more vulnerable position. When dispersed the defending force could be easily run down by Mongol cavalry, or targeted by archers, and as such the Mongols sought to disrupt enemy formations as much as possible, to draw large numbers from the main body of the enemy army. The Mongols' superior training and communication, which relied on a system of flags, made these tactics possible, as it allowed Mongol generals to arrange perfectly orchestrated attacks, and ensured that they had a reliable body of soldiers capable of heeding their commands. In contrast the European knights on the battlefield had virtually no form of communication with supporting forces, and were largely unable to coordinate attacks between groups.
Before the battle Henry II divided his assembled force into four sections, consisting of the Bavarian miners under the command of Boleslav of Moravia, the conscripts from Greater Poland along with some Cracovians led by Sulisław, the brother of the killed palatine of Kraków, the army of Opole under Mieszko, possibly with some Teutonic Knights, and the Silesians, Moravians, Templars and Hospitallers, under Henry's personal command. The engagement began when Henry II's Silesian cavalry engaged the vanguard of the Mongol army, and were quickly repelled. Next the cavalry of Greater Poland under the commnand of Sulislaw, and the cavalry of Opole, attacked the Mongol vanguard in succession, causing the Mongols to retreat, drawing away the allied cavalry from the main body of infantry at Henry II's disposal. The Mongol light cavalry then flanked the main Polish lines, hidden under the protection of a smoke screen, which also served to confuse the European forces. While the Mongol light cavalry engaged from the flank, the main cavalry charged against the Polish front lines, supported sporadically by Mongol archers.
At this point the Polish cavalry engaged against the Mongols fell into retreat, and Henry II was forced to call his own reserves and cavalry into battle. In the front the Mongols continued to find renewed success, using their feign tactic to repeatedly draw out the defending force. The European knights on the Polish side were soon detached from the main infantry, and the Mongols were able to separate these two groups and combat them separately as the battle wore on. In the chaos that followed both Henry II and Boleslav of Moravia would be killed in combat, along with the majority of the defending force at the battle. The Mongols also suffered considerable casualties, and were not able to proceed in attacking the main Bohemian army, not yet arrived at the battle.
Upon receiving news of the battle, Wenceslaus I of Bohemia retreated from Poland and returned to Germany, hoping to gather reinforcements from Thuringia and Saxony, but was overtaken by the Mongol vanguard at Kłodzko. Baidar and Kadan were able to pillage much of Silesia, but since their orders were to create a diversion before meeting up with the main Mongolian force, rather than continuing their offensive they marched south, meeting up with Batu and Subutai, who had defeated the Hungarians at the Battle of Mohi.
Invasion of Hungary
Invasion of the Kingdom of Croatia
Invasion of Romanian Principalities
Mongol Invasion in Germany
Following the defeat of Hungary and its allies at the Battle of Mohi in April 1241, the army of Hungary was largely destroyed, and the nation was seemingly open for pillaging by the invading Mongol forces. Throughout the rest of the year the remaining Hungarian army kept up a mostly successful defense along the Danube river, but that winter the unusually cold temperatures allowed the river to freeze over, allowing the Mongols to cross after a number of minor skirmishes with the defenders. With their defense crumbling, the Hungarian royal family fled to Austria, where they appealed to their ally Duke Frederick II for assistance. Instead Frederick had the Hungarian royals arrested, and extorted them for an enormous ransom in gold, as well as forcing the King of Hungary to cede three western counties to Austria. King Béla and some of his retinue fled to the south-west from Frederick's possession, passing through Hungarian-controlled territory to the Adriatic coast, where they garrisoned at the castle of Trogir.
As the situation worsened across Hungary, and the king himself continued to flee from capture, numerous attempts were made by the Hungarians to reach out to foreign governments in Europe for military assistance. This included messages to the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the King of France, but at the time none of these nations were interested in military involvement, or greatly underestimated the threat that the Mongols posed. At the same time the Mongols stood within a week's ride of the borders of France, and had the military capabilities to raid numerous settlements across Europe, to many European rulers. With the majority of Hungary now occupied by the Mongols, they set out to appoint a darughachi, and mint coins in the name of the Khagan, despite the ongoing conflict.
Surviving members of the royal family and their allies in central Hungary prepared to continue an active resistance against the Mongol invaders, and large bands of mostly unorganized, irregular armed peasants were employed, who used guerrilla tactics to harass the Mongol army and occasionally engage in open battle. The majority of the civilian population fled the area for neighboring regions less readily accessible to the Mongols, including high mountains in the north and the swamps in the east, often behind older earthwork fortresses consisting of mud-banked encampments on steep natural or man-made hills. As such the Mongols had a difficult time pacifying the region, and rebellions were common.
Invasion of Austria
With the majority of Hungary now pacified by the Mongols, a large force under the command of Batu continued their invasion westward, while a second force entered northern Albania. Immediately Frederick II of Austria gathered his forces in Vienna, preparing to defend against the invaders while help could arrive from elsewhere in the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick, however, was pressed for allies, as at the time he had a longstanding feud with the Emperor Frederick II and the Hohenstaufen. Frederick II of Austria's harsh rule and frequent wars with his neighbors, especially Hungary, Bavaria, and Bohemia, caused unrest among his citizens, and eventually even the Austrian Kuenringer noble family, which had remained faithful to the Babenbergs, began an insurgency against Frederick's rule upon ascension. During the rebellion led by the emperor's son Henry (VII) against Frederick II of Germany, Frederick von Babenberg appeared to side with the conspirators, in addition to refusing to appear at the 1232 Reichstag diet in Aquileia, and causing frequent fights with King Béla IV of Hungary.
Frederick II von Babenberg's defiance finally reached its peek when in 1235 he refused to attend the diet in Mainz, and Emperor Frederick II officially ostracized him, giving permission to Wenceslaus I of Bohemia to invade Austrian lands. When the Bohemians entered Austria, the city of Vienna opened its gates to the invaders, and turned the city into an imperial free city while the duke continued his ban. It was also there that the emperor had his son Conrad IV elected King of the Romans in 1237. During this time the duke established an Austria rump state at Wiener Neustadt, where he ruled until 1239. At was at this time that the emperor, in need of important allies, arranged for Frederick to end the Bohemian occupation. First the duke promised the engagement of his niece Gertrude of Babenberg to King Wenceslaus' eldest son Margrave Vladislaus of Moravia. Negotiations with the emperor on the elevation of the city of Vienna to a bishopric, and the elevation of Austria, including Stryia, to kingdom, which would have ensured the unity of Frederick's lands in the time to come. These negotiations, however, never came to fruition, as the emperor required the duke's niece Gertrude now would have to marry himself, who had also recently been banned by Pope Gregory IX. As negotiations continued, it became clear that the duke's niece was unwilling to go through with the marriage, and at the time of the Mongol invasion of Austria, talks were still at a standstill.
In late December 1241 the Mongol army entered Austria and quickly ransacked much of the region around Vienna. Already the winter season and the Duke's recent wars had weakened the city, and the Mongol invasion only served to further weaken the unprepared Austrians. The city of Vienna was surrounded, and Duke Frederick II led his army into battle against the Mongols, hoping to quickly break the siege until help arrived. Frederick's eagerness caused his army to get sucked into a feint by the Mongolian light infantry, and although initially successful, Frederick's army would be cut down in large numbers by Mongolian cavalry and archers once in the open. With his army now in ruin, Frederick fled from the city, running south with his remaining forces. The of Vienna itself soon fell, and those still trapped inside the city were killed.
The Duke of Austria arrived in the city of Wiener Neustadt, where his defenses did not fair much greater. Quickly pursued by the Mongols from Vienna, Frederick was defeated a second time, unable to fully prepare a defense in time. Humiliated, Frederick fled to Graz, but again had little time to prepare an adequate defense. During this time the Mongols managed to sack many of the cities and towns of Upper Vienna, before marching on Graz and pursing Frederick outside the city. Finally the Austrian and Mongol forces met at the Battle of the Drava River. With his back against the river, Frederick was forced to put up a defense against the Mongols, with a force that at this point consisted of very few well trained soldiers. The Austrians were quickly closed in by the Mongols, who found that initially the Austrians were not as readily drawn into combat, as they had become exhausted from marching. The Mongols were forced to launch a direct assault initially, causing heavy casualties, while at the same time drawing out the Austrians and crumbling the defenders in their weakened state. Frederick himself was killed in the battle, effectively marking the end of the ruling House of Babenberg, and sparking conflict over the imperial fiefs of Austria with its neighbors, which greatly expanded the Mongol conflict with the Holy Roman Empire.
At the time of the Mongol invasion, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II was engulfed in a war in Italy against the Pope, which had drawn away the majority of his forces. After Frederick II, Duke of Austria had been quelled in 1237, and the emperor had his son Conrad proclaimed King of the Romans, the emperor was able to divert his entire force to Lombardy to deal with hostile forces in Italy. Negotiations between the imperial forces, the Lombard cities, and the Pope soon broke down, and Frederick invaded Lombardy from Verona, where in November 1237 he won a decisive victory against the Lombard League at the Battle of Cortenuova. Frederick held a large triumph in celebration at Cremona, in the manner of an ancient Roman emperor, complete with the captured carroccio of the enemy and an elephant. Requests for peace were rejected, including large sums of money in exchange for peace form Milan. Instead Frederick demanded total surrender, which provoked further resistance from Milan, Brescia, Bologna, and Piacenza. At the Siege of Brescia Frederick was forced to withdraw, at the same time preventing attempts by the Lombards to capture him.
In early 1239 Gregory IX excommunicated the emperor while he held court in Padua, and in response the emperor expelled the Franciscans and Dominicans from Lombardy, and elected his son Enzo as Imperial vicar for Northern Italy. The Duchy of Spoleto, Romagna, and Marche, all nominally territory of the Papal States, was seized by Enzo, while Fredrick announced his intentions to destroy the Republic of Venice after they had sent a small fleet of ships against him in Sicily. Frederick next marched into Tuscany, where he marched in triumph through the streets of Foligno and Viterbo, before finally determining to march against Rome and restore the ancient empire that had once governed over the entire region. After a long siege at Rome Frederick proved unsuccessful, and broke his siege to return south. Peace negotiations were inconclusive, and the emperor sacked the papal possession of Benevento as he marched south.
After the fall of Ferrara, Frederick returned to the north of Italy and captured Ravenna, followed by the city of Faenza following another long siege. Attempts by the Pope to call a resolving council for the matter failed, and at the Battle of Meloria cardinals and church officials en route to Rome from Genoa were captured by Pisa. Again Frederick attacked the city of Rome directly, leaving behind much of Umbria in ruin, including the city of Grottaferrata. Pope Gregory IX died on 22 August 1241, and Frederick purposely withdrew his forces as a sign that his feud extended only against the previous pope, not against the church itself. The already established relationship between the papacy and the empire remained cold however, and a back and force conflict ensued into 1242.
Austrian Succession War
The sudden death of Frederick II, Duke of Austria at the Battle of the Drava River left the Duchy of Austria without a ruler, and several claimants rose to claim the throne. Each of these claims, however, was largely dependent on these neighboring rulers’ abilities to repel the Mongols and secure Austria by force, something not easily done. Wenceslaus I of Bohemia sought to place his son Vladislaus, Margrave of Moravia on the throne of Austria, ensuring that Bohemia and Austria would be united under the Přemyslid dynasty. Wenceslaus arranged for his son to marry Frederick’s daughter Gertrude, the last heir of the Babenbergs, who according to the Privilegium Minus was next in line to inherit the throne.
The Mongols left Vienna and Upper Austria in devastation, prepared to continue their conquests to neighboring regions. With the Bohemians now preparing their forces for an invasion into Austria to secure the duchy for the Přemyslid dynasty, an army under the command of Baidar split off from the main group to retaliate against the Bohemians to the north. The Mongols came to the Thaya River, where forces under the command of Vladislaus awaited them on the opposing bank. Armed with a large army from Bohemia, his remaining personal forces from Moravia, which largely consisted of armed peasants, and contingents from Silesia and other states, Vladislaus initially outnumbered the Mongols. However, the Mongols were able to stall combat and wait for the remainder of their forces to arrive. The Mongols withdrew and attempted to cross the river farther south at Raabs an der Thaya, which the Bohemian army promptly guarded from the north. The defenders, however, were unable to destroy bridges over the river in time, and the Mongols managed to send a small force across the river into Bohemia. Serving as scouts, this advanced unit from the Mongol army managed to report the movements of the Bohemian army, before retreating back over the river.
During this time the main Mongol force moved toward the city of Znojmo, taking advantage of the distraction further west, and engaged the Bohemians directly near the city. The city of Znojmo was guarded by a large stone castle, constructed in the late twelfth century as a stronghold against Austrian attack in the south, and as such the Mongols were unable to directly assault the city with ease. A siege set in, with the defenders unable to sully from the city's defenses without considerable loses. After five days of battle, Vladislaus and the majority of his remaining army managed to slip away from the city under the cover of darkness, and the next day the city fell to the Mongols.
At the same time as the Mongol advance into Bohemia, a second army under the command of Orda Khan had marched to the northeast, to continue ravaging the states of Poland. In the spring of 1241 the High Duke of Poland Henry II had been killed at the Battle of Legnica while in combat against the Mongols, and was succeeded by his son Bolesław. At the time of his ascension, Poland was divided into five duchies. However, only Bolesław and his younger brother Mieszko were considered to be adults, capable of ruling independently. Initially the boys' mother served as their regent for the first few months of their reign, but eventually Bolesław was able to begin his sole rule as High Duke of Poland. When the Mongols reentered Poland in 1242, unrest was high, with many rival Piast Dukes and nobles plotting to seize the throne for themselves. Bolesław's uncle, Konrad I of Macovia, raised his own army and sought to depose his nephew, contributing to the Polish states' weakness upon the invasion of the Mongols. Bolesław's inability to combat the invaders amid internal conflict led to the Polish nobility electing Bolesław V the Chaste on his place. At the same time unrest had broken out in Greater Poland, where the nobles Przemysł I and Bolesław the Pious had taking up arms, deciding to retake the district which once belonged to their father, Władysław Odonic, during this time of weakness.
The invading Mongols quickly marched from Silesia north, laying siege to the city of Poznań. Despite the best efforts of the city's defenders, led by the Governor of Kraków, Clement of Ruszczy, the city eventually fell to the attackers, and much of the Polish nobility were killed, including Bolesław V. Rather than directly continue the conquest of Poland, Orda Khan's forces marched back into Silesia, and into Bohemia, where Mongol forces were already locked in a campaign in the south. This second force was able to quickly push into Bohemia, as the majority of the defending forces was either locked in combat along the southern border of the nation, or defending a number of limited settlements, including Prague. Moving quickly across eastern Bohemia, the Mongols managed to ransack the cities of Ostrava and Olomouc, before marching south near Brno. Here a large army under Vladislaus defended the city, commanding elements from Silesia, Moravia, Bohemia, and a handful or religious orders.
With a numerical advantage initially, and a large amount of experienced soldiers at his command, Vladislaus met the Mongols on the field of battle. As Vladislaus advanced his left wing was struck by a cavalry charge by the Mongols, and his heavily armed knights were unable to ward off the attack. Under heavy harassment from the Mongol cavalry throughout, Vladislaus soon lost the upper hand, even losing his horse out from under him and being saved by his bodyguards. As the battle wore on, Vladislaus' heavy infantry became easily exhausted, unable to move quickly of effectively against the fast moving Mongol forces. The ability of the Mongols to cycle through their cavalry units allowed them to avoid fatigue, and it was at this crucial moment in the battle that the Mongols ordered a charge of their concealed cavalry on the defenders' position. This ambush was considered dishonorable in European warfare, and the Bohemian forces was caught off guard and easily routed. The battle turned into a decisive defeat for the defending Bohemians, and in the retreat from Brno, Vladislaus would be cut down by Mongol cavalry, causing his forces to run in panic.
With his son Vladislaus dead on the field of battle against the invading Mongols, The situation of Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia was becoming increasingly desperate. Wenceslaus managed to find an ally in Otto II Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria, and arranged for the marriage of his son Ottokar to Otto's daughter Elisabeth. During this time much of the remaining cities of Bohemia had fallen to the Mongols, and Wenceslaus himself was forced inside the city of Prague, awaiting reinforcements from Bavaria. This army did not arrive in time however, and Wenceslaus was forced to mount a defense with the small number of troops under his command.
During this time Bernhard von Spanheim, Duke of Carinthia, had arranged for his son Ulrich III to marry Agnes of Andechs, the widow of the late Duke of Austria, Frederick II. Ulrich III marched an army east from Carinthia, arriving in the city of Krainburg. Here he was hailed as the Duke of Carniola, and secured the duchy for himself. With the Mongols distracted with their invasion of Bohemia, in which they now besieged Prague, or engaged in the Balkans, the Duchy of Austria was largely left unprotected, and the Carinthians sought to capture the duchy and have it placed under the House of Sponheim. Together Ulrich III and his father Bernhard assembled a large force, including Austrian volunteers and German and Italian mercenaries, and that year Ulrich III marched this combined force into Austria. This joint force was assembled at the town of Marburg in southern Styria, before marching north to take the city of Graz.
The Carinthian army of Ulrich III experienced very little resistance, as Austria and Styria were largely unoccupied by the Mongols. The first major encounter between German and Mongol forces during this campaign would be at the Battle of the Mur River, in which a small force of Mongol skirmishers would be defeated. Confident in their ability, the Germans marched on the city of Graz and initiated a siege against the small Mongol garrison in the city. The rapid advance of the German army caused the Darughachi of Austria to take action, and his garrison in Vienna was called to respond to the attacks in the south. Requests for reinforcements to the main Mongol army in Bohemia were also sent, while the region's garrison attempted to hold back the Germans until their aid could arrive. The army from Upper Austria did not arrive in time, and after a relatively short siege, the city of Graz fell to Ulrich III. Heavily outnumbered, the Mongols in the city were killed, while the city's few inhabitants took up arms to join the invaders.
In the city of Graz Ulrich III would be crowned Duke of Styria to much applaud from the city's inhabitants. Under his rule the city began reconstruction, while the duchy's levies were raised in preparation for further campaigning. Now heavy confident in his ability against the Mongols, perhaps in vain, Ulrich III marched his army into Mongol held Austria. Near the town of Pinkafeld the forces of Ulrich III were met by the Mongol garrison in Austria. Initially Ulrich ordered his high morale infantry, although poorly trained and equipped, against the seemingly small Mongol force, but these forces were easily trapped by Mongol cavalry and annihilated by repeated waves of assault. Unable to secure victory in the face of a numerically similar force, and already sustaining heavy casualties, Ulrich ordered a retreat back into Styria.
Concurrent to Ulrich III's invasion of Austria, the main Mongol force maintained their siege at the city of Prague. Here the Bohemian forces under Wenceslaus were trapped, awaiting reinforcements from Ottokar and Otto II of Bavaria. These forces were slow coming, and Wenceslaus was forced to stale the Mongols at Prague for as long as possible. After seven days of intense fighting around the city, the Bohemians were finally able to gain the upper hand, having infiltrated the city with the use of siege weapons. The Mongol bombardment had left the city's defenses largely in ruin, and hand-to-hand combat ensued in the city streets, while the citizen's inhabitants fled deeper within the city. The Bohemians were eventually defeated, and the city of Prague was largely destroyed, its population slaughtered. Wenceslaus I was also killed, as were the city's remaining nobles and officials, leaving his son Ottokar as king of Bohemia.
Ottokar's army, positioned within the vicinity of Prague, withdrew to the southwest, where he could find a more fortified position in Bavaria. The allied army, consisting of Bavarian and South German soldiers, as well as a small army of Bohemians. The castle at Pilsen was fortified, while requests were sent to other German states for assistance. Wilhelmina of Bohemia, Ottokar's aunt, was wed to Otto III, Margrave of Brandenburg, establishing an alliance with Brandenburg. In Pilsen Ottokar would be officially crowned as King of Bohemia, in the presence of his army. Ottokar, although technically king and commander of Bohemian forces, was only a boy, and so his army and the others assembled were largely commanded by Otto II of Bavaria and other foreign commanders, and it's possible that his throne was desired by rival lords under their command.
The German defenders at Pilsen believed that their garrison would be unable to defend the city against the Mongol siege weapons and equipment, and instead the defenders elected to leave the city and arrange for an ambush against the approaching Mongol army. A small Bohemian garrison was stationed in the city, while the majority of the allied army, consisting mainly of Bavarian soldiers, exited the city discretely and garrisoned a series of towns in the surrounding area. The Mongol advance was stalled by poor terrain, and when they did arrive, towns around the city were attacked, bringing the stationed Bavarian skirmishes into conflict with the invaders. A section of the defending force, under the command of Otto II, was able to charge and surround the initial Mongol force, inflicting heavy casualties on both sides. The Mongols diverted their remaining army to the east, in order to flank the defenders, but by this time Otto II had withdrew from the battle.
By the end of the Battle of Pilsen, the defenders had managed to repulse the Mongols, but at the cost of heavy casualties In reality the defenders had merely convinced the Mongols to take a less direct route into Bavaria. After the Battle of Pilsen, the Mongols would spend the next week harassing the remaining Bohemian towns, and raiding along the Bavarian border. This maneuver paid off for the Mongols, as they were able to wear down the Bavarians, while at the same time diverting a portion of their forces back south into Austria, to deal with Ulrich III of Carinthia, and his campaign into occupied Austria,. Otto II of Bavaria, and other German commanders, viewed their own actions as successful as well, as by not encountering the Mongols in direct combat they were able to prolong the campaign and equally wear away against the invaders, albeit less successfully.
While the campaign into Bavaria continued, a portion of the Mongol forces after the Siege of Prague had returned to Austria, arriving first in Vienna. At the time Ulrich III and his army of Germans had bee routed in Syria, and the small Mongol army in the region had pursued him around the duchy. Ulrich knew that his forces and supplies were running low, but attempts for peace with the Mongols failed. During his reign as Duke of Syria, much of the duchy would be frequently raided or occupied, and the duke spent much of this time in retreat from engagements. With a large army now gathered, the Mongols laid siege to Graz, the capital of Syria, and managed to take the city with little opposition. This time when the Mongols entered they were determined to raze the city to the ground as retribution for Ulrich's actions. The city's small population was slaughtered, and the city was burned much like the majority of the surrounding area that the Mongols entered.
Ulrich III withdrew completely from Syria, hoping to at least defend his remaining holdings in the south. The duke's guerrilla tactics however were of little use in defending major cities of Carniola. The Mongol army marched south, ransacking Marburg and other cities, before turning west and laying siege to Sank Viet an der Gran. After only a few days the city fell to the Mongols, and Carniola was lost to the invaders, its remaining towns being systematically raided after the fall of its capital. Ulrich III withdrew to his father's domain in Carinthia, hoping to arrange for additional support to arrive and save his family's domain from complete conquest.
The threat of invasion in Bavaria and Bohemia compelled the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II to make peace in Italy, and during the papal interregnum he marched north into northeast Italy and the March of Trevino. A large army of Germans and Italians now rest in Carinthia or just south of it, and the Mongols would have a difficult time attempting to rout Frederick II directly. An initial engagement between a small Mongol force and Frederick's army ended in a German victory northeast of Aquila. The main Mongol army ceased its attempts to chase down Ulrich III, instead diverting its forces south to combat Frederick II, or into back into Austria. With a portion of the Mongol forces engaged In western Bohemia, and another engaged in Carniola, the Mongols marched a third force west from Vienna, raiding Linz before marching into Bavaria.
The sudden invasion of Bavaria from the east caught the German army off guard, and Otto II was forced to withdraw his army from Pilsen back to Regensburg. At the same time the Mongols laid siege to Passau. Within a matter of days Bohemia had been largely abandoned, as the allied army fell back into Bavaria. A such there northern most Mongol army was able to enter Pilsen with little resistance and lay waste to the city. With Bohemia secured this army pursued the fleeing Bavarians toward Regensburg. Instead of directly sieging Regensburg, the Mongols campaigned into northern Bavaria, ransacking a handful of towns north of the Bavarian position. Otto II was forced to retreat within Regensburg, fearing that if he vacated the city or diverted his forces to protect other cities, then he would be easily defeated.
Now surrounded by the Mongol advance to the north and south, the city of Regensburg was unable to withstand the Mongol siege. With supplies low and the city faltering, the city's large garrison launched an attack from the city against the invaders, led by Otto II, Duke of Bavaria. Otto led the German garrison to the northeast, lining up with the river on their flanks. Initially when the Mongols attacked Otto's line from the north he managed to hold out and successfully repulse the attackers, but his speed out line soon became weak from frequent cavalry charges and support units. At the same time as the attack in the north, the second Mongol army had managed to break through the city's southern defenses, defeating the smaller garrison guarding against this forces. Otto eventually fell back, withdrawing with a large portion f his forces back into the city. The Germans soon became surrounded and Otto II's forces were destroyed. Regensburg fell to the Mongols, and was easily ransacked.
War in Italy
At the same time as the Mongol invasion of Bavaria, the emperor Frederick II was also fiercely locked in combat I the north of Italy and Austria. The Mongols were able raid much of Carniola causing massive destruction and death against the local Germans, despite the Emperor's best intentions. This advance would not be stalled until Frederick's forces were able to engage against a detachment of the Mongol army directly, at the Battle of Klagenfurt. The small city hardly lent himself defensively, and instead Frederick elected to keep a small force in the city, while his main force encircled the surrounding area. Initially the Mongols were able to rout small contingents of the German army, while they were separated, but in the center Fredrick's tactics allowed for him to limit the effectiveness of the Mongol cavalry charges, as he could easily surround engaged units.
The Mongols were unable to take the city initially, and the Germans were successful, although with heavy casualties. Eberhard II of Regensburg, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, raised his forces in support of the Emperor, his ally during the war with the Pope, and sent this small force to bluster Carinthia. Similarly, Albert IV, Count of Tyrol, although not previously aligned in any major way, elected to support the German army, since the Mongols now pressed an immediate threat on his border. Despite the initial success of this campaign, the allied army was caught off guard when the Mongols launched an army against Salzburg. Ulrich III, in command of a portion of the German forces in the region, was more interested in securing the Carinthian capital before the Emperor did, and later Carniola, and thus was unwilling or unable to aid Salzburg in the north. Salzburg's army hastily retreated north, as did a Tyrolean army, but by the time of their arrival Salzburg was under siege and faltering.
The Germans attempted to surround the Mongol believers, but they were unable to effectively combat the city and relieve its garrison. Unknown to the German army, additional Mongol reinforcements had arrived, and were able to charge against the Germans from the rear. The defenders were annihilated and soon after the Archbishop of Salzburg fell to the Mongol horde. The remaining Tyrolean army in Carinthia withdrew to Tyrol itself, while the remaining German forces and Frederick II's army met up east of Klagenfurt and attempted to march against Syria, but were decisively defeated in northern Carniola. The German army instead withdrew west, marching through passes in the Gurktal Alps. Unable to pursue the Germans in the rough terrain, who themselves were also slowed down, the Mongols instead marched into Italy from Carniola.
While Frederick III campaigned against the Mongols, the region of Italy was left susceptible to rebellion. The city of Viterbo soon revolted, instigated by the cardinal and Papal ally Ranieri Capocci. The newly elected Pope Innocent IV supported these uprisings, sensing the ability to finally overthrow Imperial influence in the Italian Peninsula. The new pope elected to support Heinrich Raspe, landgrave of Thuringia as an anti-king to Frederick's rule, and also supporting plots to murder the Emperor. This plot was revealed however, and the plotters executed. An attempt to invade Frederick's holdings in southern Italy would also be launched, however the offensive would be halted at Spello by Imperial forces under the command of Marino of Eboli, Imperial vicar of Spoleto.
The Pope's financial and political support in Germany, as well as Frederick II's costly campaigns in Austria, would motivate a number of German lords to support Heinrich over Germany, with the archbishops of Cologne and Mainz both declaring the Emperor to be deposed. Heinrich had previously been appointed administrator of Germany, alongside the late Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, for Frederick's young son, and to this end Heinrich sought to take control of military forces in Germany and campaign in the east. Heinrich led a German army into Bohemia later that year, where he managed to find initial success against the small Mongol garrisons in the area. The Mongols responded by diverting parts of their armies in Bavaria and Austria, supported by reinforcements in the east, to corner Heinrich in Bohemia.
Confident in their abilities, the German army under Heinrich was baited to the south, where they came to the Vitava River. The small detachment of Mongol cavalry that had been chased was cut down by the Germans, who chased them into the banks of the river. At the same time a large Mongol army surrounded the Germans and in turn forced them against the banks of the river. Heinrich and the majority of his army was trapped, and after a long battle, those who managed to escape were routed from the field of battle. Heinrich and much of his personal army was slaughtered, ending the Pope's ambitions to depose Frederick II. Those who managed to escape the battle were scattered, and may fled to their respective nations, while Thuringia and the north of Germany was now at high threat of invasion.
Additionally, the important imperial city of Parma, as well as Como, Modena, and other Italian cities, soon raised their armies in revolt against Frederick II. The Imperial forces still in Italy, mainly commanded by Frederick's sons and allies, were able to combat the revolting Italians, with Frederick's son Richard of Chieti being killed while in combat. These rebellions forced Frederick to retreat further into Italy, unable to support his campaign against the Mongols. Cities such as Venice had even gone so far as to support the Mongols, in Venice's case for their own economic interests, further damaging the Emperor's position in northern Italy.
With no other option available, Frederick was forced to make a lasting peace treaty with Pope Innocent IV. With the Mongols now threatening Italy itself, combined with the news of Venice's defection to the Mongols side and the fall of several Italian cities, Pope Innocent IV became open to a peace treaty as well, even if only temporary. Attempts by the Pope to support insurrection in Germany had also failed, as that had merely helped the Mongol advance, albeit indirectly. Pope Innocent IV, alongside most of his cardinals, would make the trip from Rome to Liguria, aboard Genoese galleys, to attend a council in Lyon.
Both sides in the conflict in Italy would agree to cease hostilities, and focus their efforts on the war with the Mongols. The Emperor was forced to temporarily recognize the sovereignty of rebelling states, while the Pope condemned further insurrection and violence in the peninsula. Additionally Frederick II was forced to cede all lands previously seized from the Pope, release all prisoners taken, and agree to lower taxation in church lands following the conclusion of the war against the Mongols. Additionally the Emperor's personal friend, Louis IX of France pledged to aid the Emperor and the Papacy, having just defeated Henry III of England in his attempts to take back formerly English possessions on the continent. Additionally many other nobles across central Europe, mostly consisting of Germans and Italian states, joined the conflict, which had been called a crusade by the Pope.
During this time the forces of Frederick II entered Venetian lands, laying siege to the city of Treviso, although pressed for time the Germans would not make any significant gains. The Mongol invaders ransacked cities and towns across the Patria del Friuli, before passing west in pursuit of the Emperor. Frederick II fortified his position at Padua, awaiting reinforcements from the allies Italian states. By this time however the Mongols had managed to take Regensburg, and soon after cities across Bavaria, such as Landshut, Munich, and Ingolstadt, were also left ransacked. Swabia itself now was at risk of attack, and Frederick II withdrew the majority of his army over the Alps into Germany. A portion of Frederick's forces, plus the contingents from various Italian states, remained near Padua, under the command of various leaders, including Frederick II's son Enzo.
During Frederick II's absence, the Mongols besieged the city of Padua, which had formally been one of the most fortified cities in northern Italy. The Mongol siege lasted for several days, with an initial German and Italian sally from the walls repulsing the Mongols from around the city. The Mongols returned in full force, after ravaging much of the surrounding area, and managed to surround the city's defenders. After a week long siege the city finally fell to the Mongols, and was ransacked heavily. The remaining forces in northern Italy were rallied under the Emperor's friend Ezzelino III da Romano, tyrant of Verona, and his son Enzo, but their attempt to retake Padua and combat the Mongols outside the city failed. This army was routed, and retreated further into Italy.
Thuringian Succession War
After the battle at the city of Regensburg, the Mongol army again split their forces, creating one army to march north and combat northern states now pressing against Bohemia. Otto III, Margrave of Brandenburg, who had previously sent forces to the aid of the Bohemians and the Bavarians, now had a large army assembled, and marched south to meet up with other German forces. The German defense in the north was largely weakened by the unsuccessful march and subsequent untimely death of Heinrich Raspe of Thuringia, whose lack of heirs left Thuringia in a state of crisis.
The Ludowingian line of Thuringian landgraves became extinct in the male line through Heinrich Raspe, with his property including not only large parts of Thuringia, but also the Countship of Hesse, which had come into Ludowingian possession through the female line. Before his acquisition of the title of Landgrave, in 1112 Count Louis I of Thuringia married Hedwig of Gudensberg, the female heir of the Hessian comital family of the Gisonen. The Gisonen mainly consisted of lands of the upper Lahn area, and was inherited by Count Werner in Lower Hesse. Then through the marriage of Giso IV and Kunigunde of Bilstein, the Ludowingians also acquired the property of the Counts of Bilstein.
After the death of Heinrich Raspe, the main claimants to the throne of Thuringia were through the late landgrave's niece and nephew. Sophie of Thuringia, spouse of Henry II, Duke of Brabant, claimed the throne, as did Lothier, the daughter of Heinrich Raspe's brother Louis IV, on behalf of their son Henry. Henry III, Margrave of Meissen, the son of Henry Raspe's older sister Jutta, also claimed the throne, while the Archbishop of Mainz claimed Hesse as a fiefdom of the Archbishopric and now, after the extinction of the Ludowingians, demanded its return.
Heinrich Raspe's unsuccessful attack against the Mongols had left the majority of Thuringian and Saxon forces dead, with the remaining forces divided between claimants of his former throne. The forces of Henry III, Margrave of Meissen, marched from the Margravate west, entering Thuringia to assert his claim. In the late Landgrave's Hessian lands the nobility supported Sophia, and forces were raised in support of her son Henry. At the same time the Mongol army had marched from Regensburg, through the ravaged Bavaria, into Hohenburg and later Vogtland. The cities of Hohenburg, Waldeck, Eger, Elbogen, and other settlements were ransacked.
Henry III had arrived in the Landgraviate of Thuringia, planning to embark on a tour to unify the country under his command. The resistance against him was significant however, and by the time Henry arrived the Mongols had already arrived in the vicinity of Thuringia. This threat convinced both claimants in the conflict to pursue peace and ally together against the Mongol invaders. Sophia secured the Hessian possessions of Thuringia for her son Henry, forming the Landgraviate of Hesse. Henry III, Margrave of Meissen acquired Thuringia itself, including the Landgrave of Thuringia title, and was placed as the commander of both forces in the war against the Mongols.
The Mongol invaders pressed on into Henry III's domain, taking several towns that were relatively undefended. Local levies were empty, and towns held very little defense against the invaders on a local level. Henry quickly marched east again into Osterland. After ransacking Chemnitz and Zwickau, the Mongols besieged Leipzig, where Henry III stationed his army. Outnumbered and low on supplies, Henry launched an attack from the city, but was quickly cut down and forced to retreat. A larger army from Brandenburg and Lusatia under the command of Otto III arrived in Henry III's territory, east of Leipzig, and marched west to support the Thuringians.
Henry III, and his remaining forces after Leipzig, marched north before wrapping back to the south to defend the March of Meissen and Henry's original territory. The Mongols ravaged Leisnig, Grimma, and Nossen, before marching on Meissen itself, where the Brandenburgians and German allies had garrisoned. Outside Meissen the Germans created a defensive line in front of the garrison, while Henry III arrived with reinforcements from the west. Henry's surprise attack on the Mongol's left flank caught them off guard, while engaged against the main German lines. The initial Mongol forces broke away and was chased by the forces from Brandenburg. The Mongols rallied and charged into the German army, routing the new separated German infantry. Despite the German's good start during the battle, their attempt to chase the Mongols resulted in a costly defeat, and Henry III rallied remaining forces north.
With the Germans retreating north toward Grossenhain and Lusatia, the Mongols ransacked Dresden and other towns in the region, leaving Henry III's lands in ruin. Rather than cross the Elbe and attack the Germans on their choice of battlefield, the Mongols advanced north, along the west bank of the river, eventually laying siege to Wittenberg. Albert I, Duke of Saxony assembled an army of allies and other north German states, including Brunswick-Lüneburg, but was too late to relieve the city.
The Mongols marched further north, at times losing territory behind them as they marched, trapping themselves in the north. This army marched up the Havel River, where the combined armies of Henry III, Otto III of Brandenburg, and Albert I of Saxony managed to surround them. The Mongols charged against Otto III's line, pulling the Germans into heavy combat almost immediately. The Mongols managed to withdraw and reinitiate their charge several times, repeatedly breaking through the German lines and inflicting heavy casualties. Rather than retreat however, Otto III rallied his men and charged into the center, leaving him surrounded while drawing the Mongols into combat.
Henry III ordered his main infantry to engage and relieve Otto, and this was matched by the Saxons and other Germans, under the command of Albert I. Both armies gradually moved forward, as not to become separated and easily broken by cavalry charges, eventually surrounding the main Mongol army. Otto III was killed, as was the Brandenburg army, but ultimately the Mongols were now surrounded, and were unable to successfully charge against the Germans or retreat while limited by their lines. After several periods of intense close combat, the Mongols were finally routed, having broken through the German lines and retreating. Henry III, rather than ordering a chase, rallied his men and held back, allowing the Mongols to retreat to Wittenberg.
The Battle of the Havel River became a massive victory for the German nations, saving the city of Berlin from a possible siege, and temporarily halting the Mongol advance in the north. After the battle the army of Albert I was marched back west, meeting up with reinforcements in the west of the Margraviate of Brandenburg. At the same time a second Mongol army, which had ravaged much of northern Bavaria and the surrounding area, now marched into the Landgriaviate of Hesse, ransacking the city of Weimar among others.
Albert I withdrew to Anhalt, to protect his possessions from invasion, while the forces of Brandenburg and some of their allies remained near Berlin. Otto III's death left his elder brother John I as sole ruler of Brandenburg, and he took a hold of the nation's army. The Mongols ransacked the city of Ruguhn, before marching north to siege Albert at Dessau. The first army at Wittenberg abandoned the city and marched west into Anhalt as well, trapping Albert from the east. At the siege of Dessau the Mongols managed to take the city after several days, and razed the city and slaughtered its inhabitants.
Rather then continue to campaign against the Saxons and their north German allies, the Mongols withdrew from Dessau and returned south to Bavaria, raiding several towns as they marched. The Germans perceived this retreat as a German victory over the Mongols, and Albert I proceeded to liberate Dessau, while Henry III returned to Meissen. The returning forces to Bavaria met up with those near Regensburg and marched west across Bavaria, as they had arranged. The cities of Munich, Freising, and others, were ravaged, with Otto II of Bavaria and his allies fleeing west.
Frederick II had arrived in Swabia from Italy, having passed over the Alps, and now positioned his army near Augsburg. The Mongols now faced a combined army of German and Italian states under the command of the Emperor, with an army from France under Louis IX now on his way through Germany. Without a numerical and tactical advantage, the Mongols attempted to withdraw from the city and have the Germans chase them, but Frederick ordered his men to hold their ground. When their feign did not attract attention, the Mongols instead retreated and marched to the north.
The Mongols threatened Burgau, and Frederick finally budged from his defenses at Augsburg and marched to the city. Here the Mongols managed to draw Frederick's German allies into battle, dividing the German defenders at the battle. Taking heavy casualties after the trapping of his forces, Frederick called a retreat west into Swabia. Augsburg was later ransacked, and the Mongols chased after Frederick as he ventured deeper into Swabia. The Mongols managed to seize much of eastern Swabia, but quickly marched west after Frederick, through rocky and difficult terrain.
The Mongols came to the Altdorf Forest, where they struggled to march their horses after Frederick, but were confident in their ability to finally trap the Emperor in Swabia. Instead the Mongols unknowingly marched into a trap, where they were surrounded by German forces and ambushed. Frederick charged his cavalry into the Mongol center, while German infantry positioned around a neighboring ridge attacked the Mongols on the side and prevented a retreat. The Mongols suffered heavy casualties, and were virtually unable to use any of their main tactics in the disadvantageous terrain. A section of the Mongol army managed to break through the rear and launch a full out retreat, but the majority of the Mongol army was completely annihilated.
The Mongols withdrew as far as Bavaria, where half of their forces in Europe now garrisoned. At the same time as the the campaign in Swabia, the other half of the Mongol army, stationed at Padua, marched further into the Italian peninsula. As such, when the French army under Louis IX arrived in Swabia, the French king and his friend the Emperor created a plan to combat both hostile groups. Frederick and a section of his army, and Louis IX and the majority of the French army, planned to return to Italy and prevent the Mongols from reaching Rome. The majority of the German army, along with a portion of French forces, was commanded by Frederick's son Conrad and Louis' son Louis, and planned to defend Swabia and defend Bavaria.
During this time the Mongols in the Italian Peninsula laid siege to the city of Mantua, where they were subsequently attacked by Enzo and an army of Italian states. The Italian states marched quickly toward the city to relieve the defenders within, but then were assaulted by Mongol cavalry waiting in reserve. When Enzo's main force arrived at Mantua, his army was already worn down by Mongol hit-and-run attacks, and at the Battle of Mantua were routed. Similarly, the cities of Vewrona and Legnago were ransacked, with the Mongols managing to raid cities across low terrain in the Italian northeast.
Frederick II and Louis IX arrived near Brescia and gathered their forces along with contingents of Italian city states. The Mongols laid siege to Ferrara, and Frederick sought to relieve the city's garrison and end the Mongol advance in Italy. At the ensuing battle Frederick and Louis' army outnumbered the Mongols, and managed to surround the Mongols outside the city. An attempt by the Mongols to fall back to a better position failed, and a sally from the city walls forced the Mongols into combat. Frederick successfully led a charge against the Mongols, and the invaders were repulsed from the city.
The Mongols retreated to the east, and were pursued by a portion of the German army. At the Battle of Codigoro, the Mongols managed to draw the victorious Germans into a trap, scoring a minor victory against a detachment of Frederick's army. The main German army marched east and attempted to stop the Mongol advance back toward Padua, which they anticipated to be the Mongols next objective after a defeat at Ferrara. Instead the Mongols marched south, further into Italian territory. The Mongols laid siege to Bologna, and were pursued by Louis IX, while Frederick II marched north to Padua to prevent the Venetians from seizing territory in the north.
At Bologna the Mongols pulled away the majority of their forces, and when the French soldiers attacked those near the city, the main Mongol forces returned and surrounded the initial French force. The French forces were destroyed, and the main French army elected to fall back and not pursue the Mongols, who returned to their siege of the city. Several days later the city fell to the Mongol attackers, while the French army under Louis IX garrisoned in Modena.
In the north, Frederick marched back into Padua, where he received word that the Venetians would attempt to seize Treviso while the Italian region was in ruin. Frederick marched to Treviso and defeated a small Venetian army, forcing the Venetians to flee to the city of Venice. Without a navy to pursue them, Frederick returned south, and offered a peace treaty with the Venetians. A separate Venetian army had landed in Istria by sea, seizing portions of the peninsula devastated by the Mongols or just south of it. Neither side was willing to pursue the other further into decisive combat, and later that year Venice agreed to peace. Frederick recognized the Venetian seizure of Istria, and agreed to end all naval hostilities against him and other Italian states, while Frederick officially seized Venice's mainland territories, aside from the city itself.
In Germany the forces of Conrad marched from Augsburg, his rally point in Swabia, to the city of Munich, where the Mongols had retreated to. The Mongols exited the ravaged city and met the Germans and French forces near the town of Dachau, where the attackers spread out and formed a defensive perimeter. A detachment of the Mongol army broke off and stayed in reserve, before charging into the German flank after the engagement had begun. The Mongols managed to slowly rout the German forces, who were spread out and susceptible to attack. With the right German flank now falling apart, the main German army began to fall back, being chased by Mongol cavalry as they withdrew. Conrad ordered a retreat, and the Mongols were victorious.
Conrad and his German and French army retreated to Augsburg to regroup again, while the Mongols pursued cautiously, although to the northwest. The invaders then broke north and crossed north of Swabia. To prevent the Mongols from ambushing or cornering him while he pursued them north, Conrad marched his forces far to the west before crossing the Danube near Ulm. During this time the Mongols razed several small towns in the area, but slowed by rough terrain, the Mongols largely remained in the open and circled the area. Conrad met up with additional reinforcements from Central Germany and France, before marching against the Mongols near the Wörnitz River.
The Germans managed to surround the Mongols near the Wörnitz River, after a vast campaign of raiding across western Bavaria and Swabia. During the battle the Mongols fought desperately to break through the German lines, before surrounding the German line. Once again suffering heavy casualties in an attempt to trap the Mongols, Conrad ordered his men to withdraw rather than press on at a high cost. Thus the Mongols were able to pull back, while the Germans regrouped and covered their loses.
In Italy, with the Republic of Venice eliminated from the conflict, Frederick II marched back to the south to meet up with Louis IX. From Bologna the Mongols attempted to march south, but the rocky terrain convinced them to turn around, rather than be defeated in terrain inapt to their tactics. Instead the Mongols marched east and besieged the city of Ravenna. Louis IX broke off with his army and elected to march south, protecting the Papacy and the city of Rome from attack. Frederick however believed they should try and relieve Ravenna. With a small force at his disposal, the Emperor knew a direct assault to save Ravenna would be disastrous, and instead he marched his forces south of the city to Forli.
After Ravenna was ravaged by the Mongols, they turned their attention to the Emperor, in an attempt to finally capture the German leader. Frederick personally marched his heavy cavalry east of Forli to the coast, drawing the Mongols south after him. Frederick was seemingly trapping himself, but unknown the Mongols, he marched with the sea on his one flank, and the defenders of Forli on his other. In the south Frederick found a defensive position upon a hill and awaited the Mongols advance in between the city and the coast. Frederick was seemingly outnumbered and as good as dead, but he pressed on anyway, and defended against a deadly Mongol cavalry charge against him.
Frederick managed to hold out against the initial attack, and to his rescue rode Louis IX, with him the majority of the allied army, from the southern mountains. As the Mongols fought against the defenders of Forli and Frederick, Louis charged his forces into battle from the south and the west, surrounding the Mongols completely with allied forces. Frederick's daring strategy, which nearly resulted in his own death, paid off, and the Mongols were decisively defeated. The battle would be a massive success for the allied states, and proved that the Europeans could defend Italy from further Mongol advance.
The small amount of Mongol soldiers who managed to flee the battle fled north of Ferrara, where they could meet up with reinforcements in the northeast. After the battle Frederick II marched triumphantly into Ravenna, where he celebrated in the fashion of a Roman emperor and established a city garrison. The Mongols regrouped north of Ferrara and marched back to Mantua. The Mongols made one last chance at subduing northern Italy, laying siege to the city of Parma later that year.
An army under Frederick's son Enzo approached Parma, and the Mongols withdrew their main army into reserve. When Enzo attacked the city's besiegers, he managed to relieve the city, but was then surrounded by the main Mongol army. In the ensuing Battle of Parma the Italian army was surrounded and decisively defeated. Frederick's son Enzo was killed in the fighting, and the Italian army under his command abandoned the city and retreated from the battlefield. In response Louis IX marched his army to the northwest toward Parma, while Frederick marched a contingent of the allied army north through Bologna, toward Mantua, in an attempt to intercept the Mongols in the event of a retreat.
Rather than fight Louis outright, the Mongols feigned to the northwest, marching toward the city of Milan. The French forces pursued the Mongols until they reached the Po River, near the city of Piacenza. The French chased after the Mongols eagerly, and fell into a trap, suffering from multiple waves of cavalry charges. Louis began a retreat, when Italian forces from Milan sallied forth and marched to the opposite bank of the Po. At the same time Frederick abandoned Mantua and marched west, in an attempt to trap the Mongols at Piacenza.
Hoping to prevent another decisive defeat while trapped between hostile forces, the Mongols first charged after Louis, inflicting heavy casualties to the French army. When Frederick arrived east of the field of battle, the Mongols withdrew from Louis' army and attacked the relatively small German army under Frederick's command. Frederick retreated and garrisoned in the city of Cremona, where he met up with the Italian army from Milan. Louis returned to Parma and awaited further action from the Mongol army.
The Mongols elected to march east toward the city of Cremona, in an effort to cross the Po River and enter northern Italy. Frederick II marched quickly back to the city, along with the Italian army from Milan, and attempted to halt the Mongol crossing at the river. Frederick was too slow to destroy the city's bridges, and was forced to fight the Mongols on the battlefield as they crossed. Attempts by Frederick to march across the river and slow down the Mongols failed, and as they crossed the German defense was waning, and after the Mongols managed to break through Frederick's defenses, he ordered a retreat. The French army in the south had arrived in the city's vicinity, but not before Frederick had already withdrew.
Frederick fell back to Milan to defend the city, but instead the Mongols retreated over the Oglio River and marched back into northeast Italy. Louis IX took command of the majority of the allied forces in the Italian Peninsula and marched in pursuit of the Mongols. The French followed the retreating invaders as far east as Carniola, but the poor and rocky terrain slowed down the Mongols. In an effort to quickly fall back north, the Mongols marched through this difficult territory, rather than marching into Carniola, and was caught by the Mongols at the base of the Julian Alps.
Although being almost equally matched numerically, the Mongols were at a heavy tactical disadvantage from their terrain, and were largely limited in their movements. The Mongols attempted to charge against the French with their minimal height difference upon the edge of the mountains. The French front lines broke into loose formations upon the rocky terrain, which limited the effectiveness of the Mongol charge. When the Mongol cavalry was finally embedded in the enemy lines, the French were able to swarm the trapped cavalry and inflict heavy casualties. The Mongols retreated into Carniola and began a march through Austria, while the French regrouped with Frederick and cautiously crossed the Alps into Bavaria.
Conrad's army had marched quickly to the west of the Mongol army in Swabia, hoping to cut them off before they could advance farther west and into important cities of the empire. Instead the Mongols ransacked Ansback and Nuremberg, and when Conrad pursued them, they retreated east into Bavaria. The second Mongol arm, which marched around the Alps through Austria, would not arrive for some time, but knowing that reinforcements would soon return, the Mongol army in Germany slowly pushed back and stalled, awaiting reinforcements. Additional men from the east had also marched into Europe, and were now near the Mongols in Germany.
Conrad's army finally caught the Mongols in battle, northwest of the city of Regensburg. Here the Mongols faced very harsh terrain, as part of the Frankische Alb, and was limited in their abilities. Conrad ordered an ambush of the main Mongol army, while at the same time garrisoning Nuremberg and riding to Regensburg, to trap the Mongols in the forest. The Mongols were forced to battle their way out of the ambush in close combat, and were eventually routed. This victory pushed the Mongols to the east, where they ravaged and garrisoned in Amberg.
At this time the armies of Frederick II and Louis IX arrived once more in southern Germany, and Louis garrisoned in Augsburg, while Frederick garrisoned in Munich. At the same time, the forces of Albert I, Duke of Saxony, had arrived in the south, along with contingents from across northern Germany. The Mongols were largely becoming trapped, and quickly the Mongols abandoned Regensburg and marched north, in an attempt to flank the German forces. Near Bayreuth the army of Conrad, and some forces from Albert I, attacked the Mongols in the open, but after a brief skirmish the Mongols broke through the German lines.
In the north the Mongol army marched to Bamberg from Bayreuth, while in the south, the second Mongol army arrived in Passau. The forces of Frederick II and Louis IX quickly surrounded this force against the Danube near Sandbach, as the Mongols had left the city to get past the thick trees protecting it. With heavy casualties the Germans managed to rout the Mongols, who returned into Austria. At the same time, in the north the Mongols marched toward Wurzburg, where they encountered the army of Albert I.
The Saxons charged against the Mongols unsuccessfully, and the Mongols were able to shatter the German infantry with the use of their cavalry. Albert I retreated from the battle, while the Mongols pushed on to the city of Heulbronn. After ransacking the city, Stuttgart followed, then Heidelberg. Fearing a fall of the entire Rhineland, Frederick ordered his forces to march west immediately. In the north Conrad and Albert I both marched toward Frankfurt and Mainz, to protect the cities from the coming attacks. The second Mongol army passed into Regensburg, before defeating Louis IX in a small skirmish outside the city. This force quickly marched west to meet up with the main Mongol army, which it did south of Nuremberg.
At the same time Frederick had passed through Ulm, where he waited for the French to arrive as reinforcements. The Mongols returned west, raiding Mannheim, Worms, and other cities, as Frederick and Louis now cornered them from the south. Rather than risk the rout of his army with the Mongols within crucial territory, Conrad moved all the northern and German forces to Mainz, where he feared the Mongols would strike next. The Mongols instead crossed the river toward Darmstadt, which many believed was evidence that the Mongols marched on Frankfurt. Conrad however did not move, and finally the Mongols attacked the city from the southeast.
The Mongols were slowed down by terrain and defenses outside the city, but marched east of the city, in between the conjunction of the Main and Rhine rivers. Louis IX's son Louis personally led a selection of cavalry into to this angle, drawing the Mongols after him. Louis and his cavalry would be annihilated, but the Mongols soon released that they were now surrounded on two sides by rivers, where the Germans had garrisoned with archers and infantry on the river banks. Suffering heavy casualties on the edge of the Rhine, the Mongols fell back from the city. A detachment of the Mongol army broke off, crossed the Rhine further south, and attempted to flank the Germans and attack Mainz from the south instead.
The Mongol tactic of flanking around the defending Germans had seemingly paid off. The German right flank collapsed back from the river, into the city, in order to combat the Mongol army from the south. It was then that the armies of Frederick and Louis arrived from the south and surrounded the Mongols outside the city. The Mongols attempted to quickly rally and combat the approaching army, but by then the Mongols' rear had collapsed. The Mongols disengaged from the city, prompting Conrad to order a charge from the city, surrounding the Mongols completely. Sustaining heavy loses, the Mongols broke through in the east and fell into an all out retreat. The Battle of Mainz had been won for the European allies, and the Mongols fell back from the Rhineland.
After the Battle of Mainz the German states hoped to end the conflict while still ahead. Much of Germany had already been heavily devastated by the conflict, and it seemed continued fighting would be less productive. The Emperor sent envoys to ask for peace, but the requested terms seemed less favorable to states in the north. As such Albert I, Duke of Saxony, refused to recognize this peace, and marched on his own to the north. The Mongols pursued the Saxons, ransacking Coburg, Erfurt, and Gotha. Albert would be decisively defeated at the Battle of Friemar, but by then it seemed attempts at peace were lost.
The Mongols ravaged across the Landgraviate of Hesse, ransacking Marburg, Gudensberg, and Kassel. The Emperor and his allies were forced to respond finally, ending talks of peace momentarily. Conrad led an army from Frankfurt, meeting the Mongols at Homberg. Conrad managed to score a minor victory, however the Mongols managed to slip away from Conrad and continue to the northwest. The Emperor and his allies marched to Dortmund, while the Mongols ravaged Paderborn and the surrounding area.
Rather than continue into the Rhineland and attack important cities such as Cologne, the Mongols returned south toward Frankfurt. Frederick marched with the majority of the German army back to the city, where he laid an ambush to the north. This ambush stopped the Mongol advance, and after a decisive battle north of the city in favor of the Germans, the Mongols finally agreed to begin peace negotiations. Over exhausted by war the Germans largely had little negotiating room, but at the same time the Mongols respected the Emperor's military ability, and believed they would return home victorious regardless.
Mongol envoys were sent to the city of Frankfurt, with the Mongol army stationed outside, prepared to ransack the city if the Germans did not cooperate. In the city, Emperor Frederick II and French king Louis IX, as well as dozens of other German leaders and nobles, met with these envoys. The Mongols demanded the annexation or incorporation of Bohemia and Austria into their lands, and Frederick negotiated that Ottokar of Bohemia be allowed to return to Bohemia as a Mongol representative. The Duchy of Styria was also annexed, although parts of its land was partitioned and given to the Duke of Carinthia, Bernhard von Spanheim. Lastly the Mongols annexed the Archbishopric of Salzburg.
The Mongols then demanded that the states of Carinthia, Carniola, the northern Italian states, Bavaria, Saxony, Thuringia, Brandenburg, Hesse, Tyrol, and all surrounding states to their territory be regarded as tributary states, forced to pay tribute to the Mongols regularly. As a whole the empire would also have to pay tribute to some degree, in exchange for lasting peace in central Europe from further attack. Unable to continue the conflict, the Holy Roman Emperor agreed to these terms, ending the fourth Mongol invasion of Europe, and temporarily bringing peace to the region.
The treaty was deemed very controversial to the Papacy, and to many of the Italian states. The Pope believed that Frederick had ceded church lands to the Mongols, and had not truly defended him territory. The designation of northern Italy as a tributary state, in a general proclamation, was viewed as further hindrance of Italian independence in the long run. As such almost immediately relations between the Pope and his Italian allies, and the Emperor, quickly diminished. The treaty was also largely disputed in western and northern Germany, in areas largely not targeted by the Mongols, although Albert I, Duke of Saxony, who had essentially served as the leader of northern Germany in the war, advocated for peace.
Age of Tatar Rule
Following the invasion of Europe by the Mongols, extensive political infrastructure was created to facilitate continued Mongol rule. In the east the city of Sarai was founded on the lower Volga as the Mongol's capital in the western half of the Mongol Empire. The city of Sarai would serve as the headquarters of Mongol operations in Russia and Eastern Europe, which would remained subjugated by the Mongols for centuries to come. All the princes of the Rus', including Yaroslav II of Vladimir, Danylo of Halych, and Sviatoslav Vsevolodovich of Vladimir, acknowledged the supremacy of Batu Khan, the most respected prince in the empire following the death of Genghis Khan. Russian princes who resisted the Mongol court were exterminated, such as Michael of Chernigov, who was punished for killing a Mongol envoy in 1240.
The rule of the Mongols and their hegemony over eastern Europe became commonly known as the Mongol or Tatar "yoke". Despite implications of oppression, the Mongols had little interference in the ruling of these states, as no major settlement was undertaken. In accordance with the admonitions of Genghis, future Mongol rulers retained their nomadic and pastoral ways of life, and did little to influence the ways of agriculturists and dwellers in towns.
The Black Plague
Economic and Demographic Results
The Diffusion of Gunpowder into Europe