In 1236, on this day the Livonian Brothers of the Sword consolidated thirty years of conquests by crushing the pagan Samogitians at the Battle of Saule (trans. "Sun").
Famous Livonian Victory at the Battle of SauleUnder the decisive leadership of Volkwin the Livonian Master, the Order had been forced to cope with strained financial resources, decreasing manpower, and ill reputation. Also the Order was in conflict with the papacy under Pope Gregory IX and the Holy Roman Emperor, two of its biggest supporters, over Estonia. However, on February 19, 1236, Pope Gregory IX issued a papal bull declaring a crusade against Lithuania. He targeted Samogitia, planning to conquer the coast of the Baltic Sea and connect with the Teutonic Knights in Prussia.
The Sword-Brothers wanted to keep expanding along the Daugava River and was somewhat reluctant to march against Samogitia. In fall of 1236 a party of crusaders arrived from Holstein; it demanded to be led into a battle. Volkwin gathered a large war party, which included troops from Pskov Republic, Livonians, Latgallians, Estonians.
The knights marched southward into Samogitia, raiding and plundering local settlements. They were fortunate to strike the Samogitians before the main pagan forces, led by Duke Vykintas, arrived at the camp. Because it was his delayed arrival sealed the Livonian victory, since the swampy ground was unsuitable for cavalary and a like-for-like armed battle would have favoured the javellin throwing Samogitians had they arrived on a single concentrated forced1.