THE BATTLE OF AIZKRAUKLE - 1279
The Battle of Aizkraukle or Ascheraden was a battle fought on March
5, 1279 between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led by Traidenis, and the Livonian Order near Aizkraukle (German: Ascheraden)
in present-day Latvia. The Order suffered a great defeat: 71 knights, the Grand Master Ernst von Rassburg, and the leader
of the knights from Danish Estonia Eilart Hoberg were killed. It was the second-largest defeat of the Order in the 13th century.
After this battle Duke Nameisis of the Semigallians recognized Traidenis as his suzerain.
In 1273 the Order built a castle in
Dünaburg (Daugavpils) on lands nominally controlled by Traidenis. The castle was of great strategic importance: it was
used as a base for raids into central Lithuania in hopes that weakened Traidenis would discontinue his support of Semigalians
who rebelled against the Order. When Traidenis besieged the castle for a month, but failed to capture it, the Order started
organizing a grand campaign into Lithuania hoping to strike a final blow and force Traidenis out of war.
The army of Livonian Order reached as far
as Kernavė. They did not meet any open resistance and plundered many villages. On their way home the knights were followed
by a small force of Traidenis troops. When the enemies approached Aizkraukle, the Grand Master sent most of the local warriors
home with their share of loot. At that point Lithuanians attacked and achieved a decisive victory.
The Order lost its achievements over six preceding
years: Semigallians, who were one of the first to retreat from the battlefield, rebelled once again and submitted to Traidenis
for protection. However, Traidenis died ca. 1282 and Grand Duchy of Lithuania was unable to reap all the benefits. The Order
decided to elect one Grand Master with the Teutonic Knights so that any future attacks would be carried out simultaneously
from the west and north.