Kauja pie Saules


(Ancient Latvian warriorsong)

The battle horses were neighing,
waiting for warriors.
Warriors sharpened their swords,
crossed them for an oath:
“I would rather lose my head,
not the land of my fathers.”



The year was 1236, on the 22nd of September
after invading and pillaging Lithuanian lands
the Knights of the Order of Sword led by meister
Folkvin went back to Riga. On the halfway, near
the village Saule, they were suddenly attacked by
the Lithuanian and Semigallian armies guided
by Ringaud and a great battle had begun…

Sit down, wayfarer, by the riverside
Take a look beyond
See the level field
On the other side of stream

Where a quiet ploughman
Slowly tilling his land
In olden times there raged a battle
Many thousands did meet their death

Over there the power of the Order of Sword was razed to the ground
Lithuanians side by side with Semigalls a great victory then found

In the battle of Saule
Where Ringaud hailed the victory
At the battlefield of Saule
The bones of Christians are rotting in the ground

Through the dark forests by stealth
Has Ringaud rushed with his men
On the way to this bloody feast
Has called the Semigalls to join them

Pērkon! The almighty forefathers’ God
Who crashes the bolts from the sky
By whom the Earth and the air is trembling
Please, help us to conquer this fighting

Meister Folkvin and the whole Order of Sword for ever fell asleep
By the Semigalls some coward who tried to escape in Riga was killed

The battle of Saule, by the river Mēmele
Most splendid of the Ringaud’s victories
When passing by this place, wayfarer
Bow your head
May the memory of those heroes live forever



I raise my hands to the Sun
That shines in my face through the branches of oak
I call the words long forgotten
And feel the power of Earth flowing into me
In this sacred place I’m not alone anymore
I hear the Wood-spirits’ voices
My memories slowly wake up from the sleep

And I know – Nothing’s forgotten

And then ahead of me at the sunset
And old man appears from the oak
As hypnotized I bend my head before him
The Wood-spirits whisper me – It’s the krive of krives
The forefathers’ wisest wizard and loreman
He’s gone long ago, yet still alive

“I am the spirit of this oak-tree,
Never try to brandish your axe here
I’ll teach you enlighten your mind
If you lay open your heart

From the Earth you have come, my son,
Not from the heaven
So, return to your Mother –
May your part be your sword and the ploughshare

And be aware – Nothing’s forgotten!”



Ancient chronicles say us about Viestards – the
first chief of Semigalls mentioned who lived and
ruled in the 12-13th centuries at Tērvete – the main
Semigallian castlemound. The centre of eastern
Semigallia at that time was Mežotne – one of
the biggest castle mounds on the river Lielupe.

The messenger hastens to Tērvete now
Has brought a bad message for Viestards:
“The monks and crusaders are sitting in Mežotne castle mound
And turning the Semigalls’ thoughts to the Christian faith”

Then Viestards snatches at his sword, his heart now burns with rage:
“If guests have arrived, they shall be met with a good reception.

Let all the men from Semigallia gather here
And bring the axes and swords with them
We promise to our Gods, if they’ll give us good luck
Those heads we’ll cut off at Mežotne!”

Thunder god Pērkons now roars at horizon enraged
You, foreigner, better make off from this land!

And early in morning the army of Semigalls arrived at Mežotne
All they long they were fighting against the crusaders
Yet there’s no good fortune for Viestards today
His nephew already is killed at the field…

But meanwhile at ships along the Lielupe river
The helpmates are sailing for Christians fast
When Semigalls got it to know
They rushed to meet them full of rage

On the shallow place of the river
They attacked the ships at once
And everyone who was inside there
Was cut to the ground without mercy

Seeing that, the monks who were hiding in Mežotne castle mound
Made haste to pray for their God
And at the last hour of twilight
They all made off from the Semigallian land

The wolves are howling at their heels
Black night covers the forests in dark
This is the Semigalls’ reception for those
Who arrive here as guests uninvited.



Don’t blow, Mother Wind
Don’t bend the dry fir
While my brothers
Sail across the sea

Tread, brothers, upon your swords
Standing on this shore
Thus we’ll tread our enemies
On the shore across

From the castle mounds of Dzintare and Vārtāja
600 men of Kursa have gathered on the seashore
Their spears and swords brightly glitter in the sun
Some carry an oaken cudgel or a sharp axe
The banners of war are flapping in the tall masts of 20 ships
A long while has gone since their last pillage-sailing took place…

The olden krive has waded in the water up to his knees
He is raising the axe soiled by the offering’s blood to the sky
The name of mighty Pērkons loudly he calls
And begs for his favour and defence in this fight

The horns are blown and men shove their ships in the waves
An old man starts the ancient song of war:

“We are Kurshi – the men from the land of Amber
To the North now is leading our way
Right as the Northmen plunder our shores
To take revenge now we sail
For a long time they will remember our cudgels
And pray for their god of cross:
Oh, Lord, save us from the men of Kursa!”



Forger forged up in the sky
Sparks fell down at the seaside
Let’s go, brothers, gather them
To forge the swords for ourselves

Forge the swords for ourselves
From the nine kinds of steel
Then go to the land of Jods*
To chop up all the sons of Jods

Pērkons rode across the sky
Spoke the words severe
Spoke the words severe
Rod of iron in his hand

Pērkon, show no mercy for our enemies!

Foreign Lords, men of war
Tread the land of fathers mine
Summer will set in, Pērkons will arrive
And you’ll all be struck to pieces

Pērkon, show no mercy for our enemies!

Brothers, let’s cut our swords
Crosswise in the oak
Crosswise the branches, crosswise the roots
Crosswise we’ll ride through the war

* Jods – an evil creature of the night in Latvian mythology



(Ancient Latvian warriorsong)

The horns of war are blown
Foreign people arrive in our land
Let’s go, brothers, take your swords
Saddle the horses
Now we must ride to the war



It was one of the last great battles Semigallian
warriors gained – in March of 1287 they assailed
Riga city – the main centre of christians in Baltics.
although they failed to capture the town, all the
surroundings of city were devastated and Semigalls
attacked another city – Ikšķile. The Knights of
the Order pursued the Semigalls until both
armies met each other in forest near Garoza…

Burn, my heart, burn in blazing hate
Let my hand grip the sword tight
Over the forest the clatter of horses’ hoofs is heard
There’s someone riding to find the end on this ground
The rivers of blood will be flowing soon
And many will never see the sun again…

Dead silence is lying at forest
And darkness still covers the trees
The men who are marked by the crosses
Are sleeping, they don’t hear, don’t see

They don’t see in depths of thicket
The eyes are shining like lights
And don’t feel the breath of death
That mother of Velins* is blowing upon them

– Time to wake up, it’s time to wake up –
Is silently calling some threatening voice
There’s black raven cawing at tree:
“You all will meet your end here!”

The silence is broken by a loud battle cry
There Semigalls are coming through the thicket
Like a black shadow of death
They start rolling against the christians
They strike the crusaders’ rows
And snow is splashed by blood
Now moans are heard and swords are trickling
Many eyes are closed for the deadly sleep

Till finally the whole crowd of Christians is falling to pieces
Undefeatable is the Semigalls’ rage and battle-spirit this day

Hey, ravens, fly and bring the message to Semigallia:
“The foe lies broken in forest at Garoza!”

* Velins – souls of the dead in Latvian beliefs



It’s the sacred fire cross
Woven in the belts of priests
It’s the sign of God Pērkons
That adorns the banner of ours
The banner under whom we are born and we die
The banner by which we are standing with arms in our hands

We stand together as one
For the land of our fathers
We’re not gonna bend
We can only be killed
There’ no other way
To call yourself a Semigallian warrior
If you are not ready to spill your blood
And let it flow through this land

The sacred fire cross
Let its fire burn in our hearts

You’re not allowed to tremble
When brother falls killed by your side
Don’t cry or pray when the enemy’s slashing
What the sons yet unborn then will judge about you
Will it be worth to be born on this ground

But now my heart shivers in pride
When I’m standing on the forefathers’ land
Their blood has not been spilled in vain –
The fire cross still flames in our banner!

All music by Peter, Rihard & Zirgs
All heathen poetry by Peter, except ‘Neighed The Battlehorses’ and ‘Why The Horns Of War Are Blown’.
‘The Battle Of Saule’ based upon the poem of Vilis Plūdonis.
‘Forger Forged Up In The Sky’ inspired by Latvian folksongs – dainas