Presumed writing time

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By the contents of the chronicle, it is relatively safe to say that it must have been written after the crusaders took Tartu's fort in the summer of 1224, because until that time, Henry predicts the flow of events: for example, prince Vjachko's(Vetseke) death, who was killed in Tartu, is predicted already several years earlier, when Henry writes about his escape from Koknese.

It is likely that the capture of Tartu was to be chronicle's final even, as it is followed by a solemn prologue. The description of the conquest of Saaremaa was added later, but most likely during 1227.

The motive of writing the chronicle rises a different question. It is often hinted that the work was meant to be a crusade-report to the legate of the Pope, Wilhelm of Modena (Guillelmus), because Henry was part of his party in 1225-1226. It is also thought that Henry wrote his chronicle by the orders of bishop Albert or even by those of the Brotherhood of the Sword.

The latter is unlikely, because the chronicle is obviously bishop-minded and anti-Brotherhood. Henry himself has said that several of his companions asked him to write it, and he himself did not want the events of the crusade to be forgotten. Whatever the reason for writing, it is a very good and thorough source, giving an overview of the XIII century Estonia and Livonia, without which our current knowledge about the Baltic Crusade would be very limited.

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


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