This Russian stamp commemorates the 750th anniversary of the Battle of the Ice, where Russian troops defeated an invading force from Western Europe on the frozen surface of Lake Peipus. Many invading knights drowned in the lake as the thin ice was crushed beneath their heavy armor.

Stamp courtesy A. Sdobnikov, courtesy Wikimedia. This work is not an object of copyright according to Part IV of Civil Code No. 230-FZ of the Russian Federation of December 18, 2006.

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  • On April 5, 1242, Russian forces defeated western crusaders in the Battle of the Ice. The Battle of the Ice was fought on frozen Lake Peipus, and the political and cultural borders established by the conflict remain to this day.
     
    In the Battle of the Ice, the Teutonic Knights, a Catholic group, attempted to invade Russia and convert the Eastern Orthodox population of the Republic of Novgorod. This military campaign was part of the so-called Northern Crusades. Teutonic Knights involved in the Battle of the Ice were mostly Estonian, German, and Danish. 
     
    Russians, led by legendary figure Alexander Nevsky, repelled the invaders. Today, Lake Peipus still forms the central border between Russia and Estonia. Russia remains overwhelmingly Eastern Orthodox and Estonia remains Catholic and Protestant.
     
    Some casualties of the Battle of the Ice may have fallen victim not to Russians, but to Lake Peipus itself. Pushed to the western shores of the lake, the thin ice broke and many of these medieval knights drowned under the weight of their heavy armor. It's a great story, but many historians think that part was invented by Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein for his groundbreaking (icebreaking!) 1938 film Alexander Nevsky
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    armor Noun

    protective covering.

    border Noun

    natural or artificial line separating two pieces of land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: border
    Catholic Adjective

    having to do with the Christian denomination with the Pope as its leader.

    convert Verb

    to change or to be changed.

    drown Verb

    to die or suffocate in a liquid.

    Eastern Orthodox Noun

    loose affiliation of several Christian denominations (including Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, etc.) which follow early church hierarchy.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    invade Verb

    to enter and attack.

    medieval Adjective

    having to do with the Middle Ages (500-1400) in Europe.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    Northern Crusades Plural Noun

    (1100s to 1300s) military campaigns waged by Christian kings of Germany and Scandinavia in the pagan and Eastern Orthodox lands surrounding the Baltic Sea. Sometimes called the Baltic Crusades.

    Protestant Noun

    Christian who is not a follower of Catholic or Orthodox faiths.

    repel Verb

    to resist or push back.

    shore Noun

    coast.