The summer of 1211: Lembitu is mentioned for the first time; Rubene area is pillaged

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June 1211

Leole's (most likely Lõhavere's) elder Lembitu steps onto the pages of history in 1211, in relation to Saccalian raid to Northern Latvia. Henry of Latvia tells us that they were lead by two elders, Lembitu and Meeme, who crossed Ümera (Jumara) River and torched a nearby church.

In addition, they stripped the priest of all his possessions, stole the cattle, killed the men and took a lot of women, children and girls with them. It is very likely that the mentioned priest was Henry himself, and the the church was that of Rubene.

It is thus possible that this raid brought Henry and Lembitu face to face for the first time, which is why Henry later follows the deeds of the Estonian elder so closely. Henry certainly has a reason to hold a grudge because of this raid, but on the other hand he may have been thankful for not being killed. Unfortunately, the chronicle gives us no information about the relationships between the priest and Estonians.


It is sometimes surmised that Lembitu may have been among the elders christened after Viljandi's fort was taken in 1211, but Henry does not mention his name. Therefore is is more likely, that at that time the elder of Leole was residing in his own fort, where the crusaders never came to.

Source: Eesti ajalugu elulugudes: 101 tähtsat eestlast. Tallinn: Olion, 1997, lk-d12–13.

Henriku Liivimaa kroonika = Heinrici chronicon Livoniae. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982.


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