lake peipus

The Battle of the Ice, also known as the Battle of Lake Peipus , was a battle between the Republic of Novgorod and the Livonian branch of theTeutonic Knights (whose army consisted mostly of Estonians) on April 5, 1242, at Lake Peipus. The battle is notable for its having been fought largely on top of the frozen lake.

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The battle was a significant defeat sustained by Roman Catholic crusaders during the Northern Crusades, which were directed against pagans and Eastern Orthodox Christians rather than Muslims in the Holy Land. The crusaders’ defeat in the battle ended campaigns against the Orthodox Novgorod Republic and other Russian territories for the next century.

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anonymous asked:

Strategicly speaking, Stannis situation at the end of dance was absolutely horrible. even if he defeats Ramsay, roose still outnumbers him, and has winterfells castle walls to hide behind. logicly speaking, he doesnt really have much of a chance here. why are you guys so certain then that he will prevail in spite of all of that, rather than being defeated and have his head mounted on a spike as seems far more likely?

The situation is very tenuous for Roose, actually. He’s got about 8,000 total forces, but he only has a reliable hold on his own forces, his Frey allies, and the Karstarks who have thrown in for him. All of whom total around 5,500 in total, 1,000 cavalry, 4,500 infantry. The Ryswells and the Dustins lost men at the Red Wedding and aren’t too fond of the Freys. They’re for Roose out of hatred for Eddard Stark, but they don’t have any especial hatred of Stannis, and Lady Dustin is a shrewd individual; she’ll jump ship if Roose’s is going down. The Manderlys, we know for a fact, are actively angling to kill Roose. But it’s not just the Manderlys, the Umbers have men inside the gates with the Lockes and Tallharts. The former are sworn to Manderly and are going along with his plan, and the latter aren’t likely to forget what Ramsay did to the widow Hornwood. Then, we have their plan. Roose’s plan is to have the Karstarks betray Stannis at a critical juncture, but as we learn in the Theon sample chapter, Stannis has already discovered the scheme and is using it to his advantage. Thus, Arnolf’s planned betrayal can’t fire off, meaning that Roose’s battleplan cannot go as planned. Stannis has received a local information advantage over Roose, one an experienced commander would utilize to tremendous effect.

Contrarily, we have Stannis, who has 5,400 troops, all of whom he can rely upon. His mountain clansmen and the Umbers have been preparing the terrain, digging snares which just recently claimed the life of Aenys Frey, the Frey field commander. Notably, Aenys Frey is a middling swordsman, but a seasoned and crafty tactician, and command now falls to Hosteen Frey, called ‘Ser Stupid’ for his lackluster intellect and skill at command. Going against Stannis, one of the most experienced and savvy tacticial wizards of his age.

But troops are just people, any good analysis includes tactics and disposition of forces, and we are indeed privileged that we know much from Theon’s sample chapter. Almost immediately, we know that the disunity of command prevents Bolton’s forces from using his numerical superiority to his advantage.

“The north remembers. The Red Wedding, Lady Hornwood’s fingers, the sack of Winterfell, Deepwood Motte and Torrhen’s Square, they remember all of it.” Bran and Rickon. They were only miller’s boys. “Frey and Manderly will never combine their strengths. They will come for you, but separately. Lord Ramsay will not be far behind them. He wants his bride back. He wants his Reek.” Theon’s laugh was half a titter, half a whimper. “Lord Ramsay is the one Your Grace should fear.”   

So with Manderly already disloyal, seeking to return Rickon via Davos, Stannis must only concern himself with the Frey attack force, though he does not know this yet, Manderly himself will not commit, and is notably taking up the rear of the fight, making it easy for him to bug out when appropriate. We do hear about his plans for meeting the Freys.

“Bolton has blundered,” the king declared. “All he had to do was sit inside his castle whilst we starved. Instead he has sent some portion of his strength forth to give us battle. His knights will be horsed, ours must fight afoot. His men will be well nourished, ours go into battle with empty bellies. It makes no matter. Ser Stupid, Lord Too-Fat, the Bastard, let them come. We hold the ground, and that I mean to turn to our advantage.”         

“The ground?” said Theon. “What ground? Here? This misbegotten tower? This wretched little village? You have no high ground here, no walls to hide beyond, no natural defenses.”


Yet implies that he is developing a plan, and needs one of those things that Theon mentions. He doesn’t have the time or the engineering corps to build an artificial berm or palisades, but a natural defense is something he happens to be sitting right by.

“He’s not wrong,” grumbled Ned Woods, one of the scouts from Deepwood. Noseless Ned, he was called; frostbite had claimed the tip of his nose two winters past. Woods knew the wolfwood as well as any man alive. Even the king’s proudest lords had learned to listen when he spoke. “I know them lakes. You been on them like maggots on a corpse, hundreds o’ you. Cut so many holes in the ice it’s a bloody wonder more haven’t fallen through. Out by the island, there’s places look like a cheese the rats been at.” He shook his head. “Lakes are done. You fished them out.”

Stannis is weakening the ice to feed his army. A dangerous tactic, but not an uncommon one in winter. Yet Stannis’s northern clansmen are using bear-paws, a type of snowshoe made to stay on top of the crisp snow instead of sinking deep. Even the light garrons of the mountain clans have some specially modified bear-paws to keep their weight spread out and reduce their impact on the ground. This means that Stannis’s northern troops exert less pressure on the hollowed ice than the southron Freys. Stannis is aware of the equipment of his enemies, he states that his enemies will explicitly fight him on horseback, and he is in a position to lead the Freys out to the frozen ice where it is likely to shatter under the weight of the southron knights and their heavy warhorses. A cavalry charge tears up the ground under it, and puts a lot of pressure on the earth. If a lead rank falls through the ice, it can disrupt the cohesion of the riders behind him, causing an entire unit to founder. Stannis is luring the Freys out to the ice, to sink them in the frozen lake.

In the Battle on the Ice, the popular (and dubious) legend is that Alexander Newsky lured the Teutonic Knights onto a frozen lake, where their heavier equipment caused it to sink into Lake Peipus. This battle is the inspiration for this leg of Stannis’s campaign, just as he used the ‘Birnam Wood marches to fight you at Dunsinane Hill‘ from Macbeth to further the previous segment of the campaign at Deepwood Motte.

Okay, so Stannis wins there, big deal. How do we go from there to actually defeating and taking Winterfell? This is where Arnolf Karstark comes into the picture. There’s a popular theory that the Stannis reported dead in the Pink Letter was actually a glamored Arnolf Karstark, and maybe it is. However, I always try to stick to conventional military tactics whenever possible as I have more information about the mundane facets of war rather than the supernatural realities of Martin’s world. So instead of a glamour, he can also use conventional misinformation, and again, Arnolf Karstark is our man. With the Manderly men turning, Stannis uses them to spread the lie that he was killed, turning over Lightbringer to proof this, and says that it happened because Arnolf Karstark turned traitor just at the right time, forcing Stannis into the frozen lake (which collapsed under him). Stannis will trick Roose into thinking his plan was successful, and the Manderlys will sell the Northern families on Stannis. Meanwhile, the Umbers link up and suddenly, Roose is outnumbered and surrounded by enemies. Stannis’s main forces march around Winterfell, because as we know, Stannis’s forces can get almost close enough to touch Winterfell without being spotted.

So strategically speaking, Stannis is not in as dire straits as you think, and Roose Bolton is perched quite precariously.

Thanks for the question, Anon.

SomethingLikeALawyer, Hand of the King


Battle of the Ice:

The Battle of the Ice (Lake Peipus) was fought April 5, 1242, during the Northern Crusades (12th-13th Centuries).

Armies & Commanders:


Hermann of Dorpat,
1,000-4,000 men.


Prince Alexander Nevsky,
Prince Andrey II Yaroslavich,
5,000-6,000 men.

Battle of the Ice - Background:

In the thirteenth century, the papacy sought to force the Orthodox Christians around the Baltic to accept papal supremacy. While earlier military efforts to this end had failed, a new attempt to create a church state in the Baltic was mounted in the 1230s. Preaching a crusade in the late 1230s, William of Modena organized a western coalition to invade the Russian state of Novgorod. This papal move to attack the Russians was in line with Swedish and Danish desires to expand eastward and both nations began providing troops as did the Teutonic Knights.
A trading power within the region, Novgorod, like most of Russia, had recently come under attack from the Mongols. Though technically remaining independent, it accepted Mongol overlordship in 1237. Aware of this, the westerners saw the Mongols as a providing a distraction to Novgorod thus making it an opportune time to attack. In the spring of 1240, Swedish forces began driving into Finland. Alarmed, Novgorod recalled Prince Alexander, who had recently been banished, to lead their forces. Mounting a campaign against the Swedes, he defeated them at the Battle of the Neva and earned the honorary title “Nevsky.”

Campaign in the South:

Though the Crusaders were defeated in Finland, they had better luck to the south. Here a mixed force of Livonian Order knights, Danes, Estonians, Russians, and Teutonic Knights succeeded in capturing Pskov, Izborsk, and Koporye in the fall of 1240. Sent to this front, Alexander campaigned in 1241 and retook the lands east of the Neva River and in March 1242 liberated Pskov. Seeking to inflict punishment on the Crusaders, he mounted a large raid west late in the month. Completing this, he began retreating east. Rallying Crusader forces in the area, Hermann, Bishop of Dorpat, followed in pursuit.

The Battle of the Ice:

Though possessing a smaller force, Hermann’s troops were better equipped than their Russian adversaries. With his pursuers gaining, Alexander began moving across the frozen surface of Lake Peipus on April 5. Crossing at a narrow point in the lake, he sought a strong defensive position and found one on the eastern shore at Raven Rock where the ground was broken and fronted by ice ridges. Turning, Alexander formed his army with the infantry in the center and his cavalry on the flanks. Arriving on the western shore, the Crusader army formed into a wedge with its heavy cavalry in the lead and on the flanks.
Moving across the ice, the Crusaders charged at the Russian position. Their advance was slowed as they struggled with the terrain and took casualties from Alexander’s archers. As the two armies clashed, hand-to-hand fighting ensued. With the battle raging, Alexander ordered his cavalry and horse archers to assail the Crusader’s flanks. Swarming forward, they began inflicting losses and effectively surrounded Hermann’s army. With the battle turning, many of the Crusaders began fighting their way back across the lake.

While myths pertaining to the battle detail Crusaders falling through the ice, this most likely did not happen in large numbers. With the enemy retreating, Alexander only allowed a limited pursuit as far as the western shore of the lake. Defeated, the Crusaders were forced to flee west.

Aftermath of the Battle of the Ice:

While Russian losses in the fighting are not known with any certainty, it is estimated that Crusader casualties were around 400 with an additional 50 captured. In the wake of the battle, Alexander offered generous peace terms which were quickly accepted by Hermann and his allies. The defeats at Neva and Lake Peipus effectively ended western attempts to subjugate Novgorod. A largely minor engagement, the Battle of the Ice later became the centerpiece of Russian anti-western ideology. This legend was furthered by Sergei Eisenstein’s nationalistic 1938 film Alexander Nevsky.

The legend and iconography of the Battle of the Ice was again invoked for propaganda purposes during World War II as it chronicled the defense of Russia against Germanic invaders.

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Watch on

Okay, this cracked me up. I didn’t expect that. 

The setting is Lake Peipus, where the Russians from the Republic of Novgorod faced off against a Livonian branch of the Teutonic Knights. It’s a famous event for Russian patriotism, though there’s a lot of historical debate as to whether it even happened. 

The famous legend is that Alexander Nevsky fought the Teutons on the frozen lake, and that the lake broke under the weight of the Teutons. Historical evidence suggests it was just a little fight of maybe 50 people, and that Nevsky saw the benefit of coming back like it was a triumph. The Teutons didn’t write anything about it. 

But again, the point is the legend. And watch the video. It honestly cracked me up.