The Wendish Crusade (1147-1185) was an attempt by neighbouring Christian powers to convert and dominate the wild Slavic people, known as the Wends. These pagan people constantly resisted change, refusing to accept Christianity into their lives, and become part of the Holy Roman Church.
The Wends lived around the Baltic Sea, occupying parts of Germany, Prussia and Poland. The Wends actively practised a pagan faith, as their forefathers had done for centuries. By the 12thcentury, they found themselves trapped on a virtual island, surrounded by a sea of Christians. Much of Western Europe had converted to Christianity, along with eastern lands of Poles and Russians had followed suit.
Monks reported Wends lived under a primitive form of democracy, with a council of elders who would rule on thorny issues. Military power was by way of warlords who would rule an area, and fighting between warlords kept Wends divided and disjointed.
The Wends hated Christian missionaries coming onto their lands without invitation. Most were driven out, and persistent ones who kept returning would be killed.
Wendish slaves were prized by Muslim and Christianized Europe; Men were tall and muscular and their women were physically endowed.
The Wends were conquered in the 6thcentury by the Avars, formerly from the Steppes of Russia. The Wends way of life changed, they were forced into a life of farmers, caring for their cattle, the stable diet of Avars. Villages were rebuilt in giant circles, with inner courtyards for cattle. Eventually the Avars empire crumbled and the Wends spread out along the Baltic coast in the late 7thcentury.