The Wendish Crusade of 1147, one of the Northern Crusades and a part of the Second Crusade, took place at a critical phase in the evolution of crusading rhetoric. The initiators and apologists of the campaign employed rhetorical devices to justify the occupation of a region and conversion of a population under the auspices of a crusade. A detailed examination of the primary sources shows that the justification of a crusade against apostates was not only a German endeavour, or the pope’s will, but a political reality of the twelfth century. Therefore, the attitude of the papacy is shown to be reactive rather than proactive.