Battle of Viljandi

Battle of Viljandi
LocationViljandi, Estonia
Coordinates: 58°21′34″N 25°35′46″E / 58.35944°N 25.59611°E / 58.35944; 25.59611
Result Livonian Victory
Brothers of the Sword
Commanders and leaders
Engelbert von Thiesenhusen
Berthold of Wenden
Caupo of Turaida
Lembitu of Lehola 
100 10,000
Casualties and losses
1 wounded 9999 killed, 1 captured

The Battle of Viljandi was a battle during the Livonian Crusade in 1211.[1] The battle ended with no decisive victory for the invaders as they were unable to take the stronghold. They did however, manage to baptise the people inside the stronghold.

In spring 1211, a larger objective for the Livonian Brothers of the Sword was to take the stronghold of Viljandi. They plundered the neighbourhood, robbed their food supplies, and killed and kidnapped the villagers who were staying in the villages nearby. Some of the prisoners were brought in front of the stronghold where they were killed to frighten the defenders before being cast off into the moat.

In the first collision in front of the stronghold gate, the defenders managed to fend off with heavy casualties the surrounders and equip themselves with the enemy's equipment. The besiegers built a turret, the moat was filled with wood and the turret was rolled onto it. From there they threw spears and crossbowmen fired upon the defenders. The Estonians also tried to light the turret. It was here the Germans first used a bricole on Estonian soil. With the bricole they threw rocks into the stronghold at day and night, inflicting relatively serious damage. Soon the invaders managed to break one of the fortifications, but behind it there was another. Also, the Estonians were able to put out the fire on parts of the stronghold that were lit.

Unable to take the stronghold in five days, the invaders started negotiating on the sixth day. Because there was a lack of water, many wounded and killed in the stronghold, the elders were willing to make peace with the besiegers. They allowed only the priests inside the stronghold, who were said to have sprinkled holy water on the stronghold, houses, men and women. Massive baptism didn't occur, it was deferred because of "very enormous bloodspilling". Having sons of elders and noblemen as hostages, the German army retreated.[2]


  1. Toivo Miljan, Historical Dictionary of Estonia, Scarecrow Press 2004, ISBN 0-8108-4904-6
  2. Mäesalu, Ain (1997). Eesti ajalugu (1. osa). Avita. p. 168. ISBN 9985-2-0043-8.

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