It’s summer of the year 1361.Danish King Valdemar Atterdag tries to overcome the Hanseatic domination in the region, and invades one of its most important trade centres on the Baltic Sea. Despite the unfavourable odds, Gutnish yeomen gather and attempt to fend off the invaders. It has been eight years since the death of the wretched King Christian. Christian’s ineffectual rule lead to the partition of the Danish realm, which was subsequently controlled by a number of counts, with Gerhard, Count of Holstein, holding a good part of Denmark. In April of the year 1340, a minor Danish nobleman, Niels Ebbesen, together with his retinue, sneaks into Count Gerhard’s residence and murders him, thus inciting a revolt. This event marked the end of the uneasy interregnum period in Denmark. Soon, Danish nobility proclaimed Valdemar, exiled youngest son of Christian, as the new King of Denmark. Though Ebbesen’s revolt ended after the unsuccessful siege of Skanderborg Castle in November of the same year, the new king turned out to be a wise and determined leader, unlike his father before him. Valdemar’s realm was limited to the northernmost part of Jutland, the rest of his kingdom was either mortgaged out or taken over by his neighbours. Soon, Valdemar started the struggle to rebuild the former power of Denmark. Due to the poor reputation of his father, Valdemar wasn’t initially recognized as a real threat in 1340, which made his ambitious plan somewhat easier at the outset. He used his wife’s dowry to buy back the rest of Northern Jutland, where he immediately imposed a heavy taxation, discontenting Jutlandish peasants. Soon, with his treasury enriched, he acquired the remaining southern part of Jutland and Northern Friesland. A few years later, Valdemar sold the far-off province of Estonia to the Teutonic Order, and used the funds to reclaim Zealand, probably his most important target. In the latter case, currency was not enough to ensure his goals, so Valdemar retook some parts of the island by force and by 1347 got his hands on the whole of Zealand. This enabled him to control the busy trade routes going through the sound, and to get more capital. Valdemar spent the next years on strengthening his rule and organising his kingdom. In 1350 the destructive Black Death finally reached Denmark, killing about half of the total Danish population, and many of Valdemar’s opponents as well. His power had grown significantly over the years, enabling him to influence the neighbouring German states, and claim his right to Scania, another land lost by his father then possessed by Swedish King Magnus. In 1360 he crossed the sound with an army and captured Helsingborg. He quickly became aware that Magnus wasn’t strong enough to resist his claims and captured the whole region shortly there after. Despite his successes, Valdemar still had some serious opponents, in particular the rising power of the Hanseatic League a league officially established in 1358 as a trade and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and trade centres operating on the Baltic and North seas. But Valdemar was an ambitious man, and decided that no trade organisation could stand in his way. In 1361 he assembled an invading force and set sail to plunder Visby, then an important Hanseatic trade centre located on the Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea. In the midst of XIV century, Visby was a thriving town and busy port, benefiting from its perfect location at the crossroads of the trade routes going through the Baltic. It was inhabited mostly by Danish, German and Russian merchants, while the rest of the island was a rural area with farmlands cultivated by Swedish peasants. These two groups were antagonistic towards each other, and, due to rising tensions, the town-dwellers had already started to fortify the town in the late XIII century in order to keep their warehouses and goods safe. On the 22nd of July, Valdemar reached Gotland and landed fourty kilometres south of Visby. His army was probably between 2,000 and 2,500 men strong, and the majority of them were equipped with chainmail and early plate armor. A good part of his troops consisted of German and Danish mercenaries – experienced soldiers that fought in various minor feuds in Northern Germany. Valdemar clearly used his wealth to gather solid, professional troops, able to force his rule on the island. The Gutes were probably warned by King Magnus of Sweden that Valdemar was planning to invade the island, so they might have been prepared to some extent. In order to delay the Danish march to the north, they destroyed the Ajmunds bridge south-west of Masterby, which forced Valdemar to seek out another route to cross the steep banks of the stream. The suitable passage was found a few kilometres northeast near Fjale marshes. While Danes attempted to cross the stream, they were suddenly attacked by 1,500 Gutnish yeomen, who were hoping to take advantage of the boggy terrain, limiting the manouverability of the heavily armored Danish soldiers. But the summer was hot and the marshes were dry, and thus moving in formation was not difficult. Valdemar’s army managed to withstand the initial push of the Swedish peasants, then swiftly regrouped and quickly overwhelmed their unexperienced opponents, killing hundreds of them and routing the rest. The Gutnish plan failed; Danish forces completed the crossing and proceeded north. On the 27th of July, Valdemar finally reached the outskirts of Visby and encountered another peasant army guarding the gates to the city. About 2,000 of Gotland’s farmers, fishermen and other inhabitants armed with pikes, axes and bilhooks lined up to fight for their lands. Archaeological evidence indicates, that approximately a third of the defenders were either too old or too young to wield a weapon, with even some cripples amongst Gotland’s forces. The citizens of Visby didn’t join the fight, and the town gates remained closed. Valdemar’s archer and crossbowmen units stepped to the front and rained arrows and bolts on the shaky Gutnish line, crippling their morale and killing many of the defenders. Then, the main body of the Danish army charged at the Gutes and inflicted further casualties. Melee combat begun, but with solid Danish training, equipment and cohesion, the advantage was clearly visible. Inexperienced Gutes were not able to hold the line for long as Valdemar’s units pushed relentlessly. Soon, the defenders’ line was broken, and the Danish soldiers slaughtered those who still dared to face them. The battle lasted barely two hours when the remaining Gutnish units were forced to flee. More than 1,500 of the Gotlanders were killed defending their homes, with just a few hundred dead on Valdemar’s side in a brutal, one-sided battle. Citizens of Visby could see the merciless slaughter from the city walls, and decided to open the gates to avoid further killing. Valdemar stepped into the town, sacked a few churches, ransomed the citizens and set sail back to Denmark with a considerable amount of wealth on board. Danish action against the Gotland marked the beginning of the war between the Hanseatic League and Valdemar, fighting for domination over the North European trade routes. Although the Danish King eventually lost the war and was forced to sign the unprofitable Treaty of Stralsund, he also brought Denmark back to life, and laid the foundations for the upcoming Kalmar Union.