Battle of Grunwald

Battle of Grunwald
Part of the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War

Battle of Grunwald by Jan Matejko (1878)
Date15 July 1410
(606 years, 4 months and 20 days ago)
LocationBetween villages of Grunwald (Grünfelde) and Stębark (Tannenberg)
Coordinates: 53°29′10″N 20°07′29″E / 53.48611°N 20.12472°E / 53.48611; 20.12472
Result Decisive Polish–Lithuanian victory

Kingdom of Poland
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Polish–Lithuanian vassals, allies and mercenaries:[1]

Czechs, Bohemia,[1] Moravia,[1] Ruthenia,[2] Masovia,[3] Moldavia,[4] Tatars and Mongols,[2] Wallachia,[5] Smolensk
Teutonic Order
Allies (Pomerania-Stettin), guest crusaders, and mercenaries from western Europe
Commanders and leaders
Grandmaster Ulrich von Jungingen 
16,000–39,000 men[6] 11,000–27,000 men[6]
Casualties and losses
4,000–5,000 dead
8,000 wounded[7]
200–400 Teutonic Knights killed
8,000 dead
14,000 captured

The Battle of Grunwald, First Battle of Tannenberg or Battle of Žalgiris, was fought on 15 July 1410 during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War. The alliance of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led respectively by King Władysław II Jagiełło (Jogaila) and Grand Duke Vytautas (Witold; Vitaŭt), decisively defeated the German–Prussian Teutonic Knights, led by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. Most of the Teutonic Knights' leadership were killed or taken prisoner. Although defeated, the Teutonic Knights withstood the siege of their fortress in Marienburg (Malbork) and suffered minimal territorial losses at the Peace of Thorn (1411) (Toruń), with other territorial disputes continuing until the Peace of Melno in 1422. The knights, however, would never recover their former power, and the financial burden of war reparations caused internal conflicts and an economic downturn in the lands under their control. The battle shifted the balance of power in Eastern Europe and marked the rise of the Polish–Lithuanian union as the dominant political and military force in the region.[8]

The battle was one of the largest in Medieval Europe and is regarded as the most important victory in the histories of Poland, Belarus and Lithuania.[9] It has been used as a source of romantic legends and national pride, becoming a larger symbol of struggle against foreign invaders.[10] During the 20th century the battle was used in Nazi and Soviet propaganda campaigns. Only in recent decades have historians moved towards a dispassionate, scholarly assessment of the battle, reconciling the previous narratives, which differed widely by nation.

Names and sources


The battle was fought in the territory of the monastic state of the Teutonic Order, on the plains between three villages: Grünfelde (Grunwald) to the west, Tannenberg (Stębark) to the northeast, and Ludwigsdorf (Łodwigowo, Ludwikowice) to the south. Władysław II Jagiełło referred to the site in Latin as in loco conflictus nostri, quem cum Cruciferis de Prusia habuimus, dicto Grunenvelt.[8] Later Polish chroniclers interpreted the word Grunenvelt as Grünwald, meaning "green forest" in German. The Lithuanians followed suit and translated the name as Žalgiris.[11] The Germans named the battle after Tannenberg ("fir hill" or "pine hill" in German).[12] Thus there are three commonly used names for the battle: German: Schlacht bei Tannenberg, Polish: Bitwa pod Grunwaldem, Lithuanian: Žalgirio mūšis. Its names in the languages of other involved peoples include Belarusian: Бітва пад Грунвальдам, Ukrainian: Грюнвальдська битва, Russian: Грюнвальдская битва, Czech: Bitva u Grunvaldu, Romanian: Bătălia de la Grünwald.


The most important source about the Battle of Grunwald is Cronica conflictus Wladislai Regis Poloniae cum cruciferis anno Christi

There are few contemporary, reliable sources about the battle, and most were produced by Poles. The most important and trustworthy source is Cronica conflictus Wladislai regis Poloniae cum Cruciferis anno Christi 1410, which was written within a year of the battle by an eyewitness.[13] Its authorship is uncertain, but several candidates have been proposed: Polish deputy chancellor Mikołaj Trąba and Władysław II Jagiełło's secretary Zbigniew Oleśnicki.[14] While the original Cronica conflictus did not survive, a short summary from the 16th century has been preserved. Another important source is Historiae Polonicae by Polish historian Jan Długosz (1415–1480).[14] It is a comprehensive and detailed account written several decades after the battle. The reliability of this source suffers not only from the long gap between the events and the chronicle, but also Długosz's biases against the Lithuanians.[15] Banderia Prutenorum is a mid-15th-century manuscript with images and Latin descriptions of the Teutonic battle flags captured during the battle and displayed in Wawel Cathedral and Vilnius Cathedral. Other Polish sources include two letters written by Władysław II Jagiełło to his wife Anne of Cilli and Bishop of Poznań Wojciech Jastrzębiec and letters sent by Jastrzębiec to Poles in the Holy See.[15] German sources include a concise account in the chronicle of Johann von Posilge. A recently discovered anonymous letter, written between 1411 and 1413, provided important details on Lithuanian maneuvers.[16][17]

Historical background

Lithuanian Crusade and Polish–Lithuanian union

Main article: Northern Crusades

In 1230 the Teutonic Knights, a crusading military order, moved to Chełmno Land and launched the Prussian Crusade against the pagan Prussian clans. With support from the pope and Holy Roman Emperor, the Teutons conquered and converted the Prussians by the 1280s and shifted their attention to the pagan Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For about 100 years the Knights raided Lithuanian lands, particularly Samogitia, as it separated the Knights in Prussia from their branch in Livonia. While the border regions became an uninhabited wilderness, the Knights gained very little territory. The Lithuanians first gave up Samogitia during the Lithuanian Civil War (1381–1384) in the Treaty of Dubysa. The territory was used as a bargaining chip to ensure Teutonic support for one of the sides in the internal power struggle.

Territory of the State of the Teutonic Order between 1260 and 1410; the locations and dates of major battles, including the Battle of Grunwald, are indicated by crossed red swords

In 1385 Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania agreed to marry Queen Jadwiga of Poland in the Union of Kreva. Jogaila converted to Christianity and was crowned as the King of Poland (Władysław II Jagiełło), thus creating a personal union between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The official Lithuanian conversion to Christianity removed the religious rationale for the order's activities in the area.[18] Its grand master, Conrad Zöllner von Rothenstein, supported by the Hungarian king, Sigismund of Luxemburg, responded by publicly contesting the sincerity of Jogaila's conversion, bringing the charge to a papal court.[18] The territorial disputes continued over Samogitia, which had been in Teutonic hands since the Peace of Raciąż in 1404. Poland also had territorial claims against the Knights in Dobrzyń Land and Danzig (Gdańsk), but the two states had been largely at peace since the Treaty of Kalisz (1343).[19] The conflict was also motivated by trade considerations: The knights controlled the lower reaches of the three largest rivers (the Neman, Vistula and Daugava) in Poland and Lithuania.[20]

War, truce and preparations

In May 1409 an uprising in Teutonic-held Samogitia started. Lithuania supported it and the knights threatened to invade. Poland announced its support for the Lithuanian cause and threatened to invade Prussia in return. As Prussian troops evacuated Samogitia, Teutonic Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen declared war on the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania on 6 August 1409.[21] The Knights hoped to defeat Poland and Lithuania separately, and began by invading Greater Poland and Kuyavia, catching the Poles by surprise.[22] The Knights burned the castle at Dobrin (Dobrzyń nad Wisłą), captured Bobrowniki after a 14-day siege, conquered Bydgoszcz (Bromberg) and sacked several towns.[23] The Poles organized counterattacks and recaptured Bydgoszcz.[24] The Samogitians attacked Memel (Klaipėda).[22] However, neither side was ready for a full-scale war.

Lithuanians fighting with Teutonic Knights (bas-relief).

Wenceslaus, King of the Romans, agreed to mediate the dispute. A truce was signed on 8 October 1409 and was set to expire on 24 June 1410.[25] Both sides used this time to prepare for war, gathering troops and engaging in diplomatic maneuvering. Both sides sent letters and envoys accusing each other of various wrongdoings and threats to Christendom. Wenceslaus, who received a gift of 60,000 florins from the knights, declared that Samogitia rightfully belonged to the knights and only Dobrzyń Land should be returned to Poland.[26] The knights also paid 300,000 ducats to Sigismund of Hungary, who had ambitions regarding the Principality of Moldavia, for mutual military assistance.[26] Sigismund attempted to break the Polish–Lithuanian alliance by offering Vytautas a king's crown; Vytautas's acceptance would have violated the terms of the Ostrów Agreement and created Polish-Lithuanian discord.[27] At the same time, Vytautas managed to obtain a truce from the Livonian Order.[28]

By December 1409 Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas had agreed on a common strategy: Their armies would unite into a single massive force and march together towards Marienburg (Malbork), capital of the Teutonic Knights.[29] The Knights, who took a defensive position, did not expect a joint attack and were preparing for a dual invasion—by the Poles along the Vistula River towards Danzig (Gdańsk) and the Lithuanians along the Neman River towards Ragnit (Neman).[3] To counter this perceived threat, Ulrich von Jungingen concentrated his forces in Schwetz (Świecie), a central location from where troops could respond to an invasion from any direction rather quickly.[30] Sizable garrisons were left in the eastern castles of Ragnit, Rhein (Ryn) near Lötzen (Giżycko), and Memel (Klaipėda).[3] To keep their plans secret and mislead the knights, Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas organised several raids into border territories, thus forcing the knights to keep their troops in place.[29]

Opposing forces

Jan Zizka in a detail of Battle of Grunwald painting
Various estimates of opposing forces[6]
Historian Polish Lithuanian Teutonic
Karl Heveker and
Hans Delbrück
16,500 11,000
Eugene Razin[31] 16,000–17,000 11,000
Max Oehler 23,000 15,000
Jerzy Ochmański 22,000–27,000 12,000
Sven Ekdahl 20,000–25,000 12,000–15,000
Andrzej Nadolski 20,000 10,000 15,000
Jan Dąbrowski 15,000–18,000 8,000–11,000 19,000
Zigmantas Kiaupa[32] 18,000 11,000 15,000–21,000
Marian Biskup 19,000–20,000 10,000–11,000 21,000
Daniel Stone[18] 27,000 11,000 21,000
Stefan Kuczyński 39,000 27,000
James Westfall Thompson and
Edgar Nathaniel Johnson[33]
100,000 35,000
Alfred Nicolas Rambaud[34] 163,000 86,000

The precise number of soldiers involved has proven difficult to establish.[35] None of the contemporary sources provided reliable troop counts. Jan Długosz provided the number of banners, the principal unit of each cavalry: 51 for the knights, 50 for the Poles and 40 for the Lithuanians.[36] However, it is unclear how many men were under each banner. The structure and number of infantry units (pikemen, archers, crossbowmen) and artillery units is unknown. Estimates, often biased by political and nationalistic considerations, were produced by various historians.[35] German historians tend to present lower numbers, while Polish historians tend to use higher estimates.[6] The high-end estimates by Polish historian Stefan Kuczyński of 39,000 Polish–Lithuanian and 27,000 Teutonic men[36] have been cited in Western literature as "commonly accepted".[5][10][35]

While less numerous, the Teutonic army had advantages in discipline, military training and equipment.[31] Their heavy cavalry was among the best in Europe. The Teutonic army was also equipped with bombards that could shoot lead and stone projectiles.[31] Both forces were composed of troops from several states and lands, including numerous mercenaries; for example, Bohemian mercenaries fought on each side.[37] The knights also invited guest crusaders. Twenty-two different peoples, mostly Germanic, joined them.[38] Teutonic recruits included soldiers from Westphalia, Frisia, Austria, Swabia[37] and Stettin (Szczecin).[39] Two Hungarian nobles, Nicholas II Garay and Stibor of Stiboricz, brought 200 men for the Knights,[40] but support from Sigismund of Hungary was disappointing.[28] The Polish Crown's troops included seven Ruthenian banners.[41]

Poland brought mercenaries from Moravia and Bohemia. The Czechs produced two full banners, under the command of Jan Sokol of Lamberk.[1] Serving among the Czechs was possibly Jan Žižka, future commander of the Hussite forces, who, according to some historians, might have lost an eye.[42][43] Alexander the Good, ruler of Moldavia, commanded an expeditionary corps.[4] Vytautas gathered troops from Lithuanian, Ruthenian (modern Belarus and Ukraine) and Russian lands – one, 36 and 3 banners, respectively.[41] The three Russian banners of Smolensk regiments were part of Lithuanian army, due to Smolensk being part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania during the period of 1387–1514. The Smolensk regiments were under the command of Władysław II Jagiełło's brother Lengvenis, while the contingent of Tatars of the Golden Horde was under the command of the future Khan Jalal ad-Din.[2] The overall commander of the joint Polish–Lithuanian force was King Władysław II Jagiełło; however, he did not directly participate in the battle. The Lithuanian units were commanded directly by Grand Duke Vytautas, who was second in command, and helped design the grand strategy of the campaign. Vytautas actively participated in the battle, managing both Lithuanian and Polish units.[44] Jan Długosz stated that the low-ranking sword bearer of the Crown, Zyndram of Maszkowice, commanded the Polish army, but that is highly doubtful.[45] More likely, marshal of the Crown Zbigniew of Brzezie commanded the Polish troops in the field.

Course of the battle

March into Prussia

Map of army movements in the Grunwald campaign

The first stage of the Grunwald campaign was the gathering of all Polish–Lithuanian troops at Czerwinsk, a designated meeting point about 80 km (50 mi) from the Prussian border, where the joint army crossed the Vistula over a pontoon bridge.[46] This maneuver, which required precision and intense coordination among multi-ethnic forces, was accomplished in about a week, from 24–30 June 1410.[3] Polish soldiers from Greater Poland gathered in Poznań, and those from Lesser Poland, in Wolbórz. On 24 June 1410 Władysław II Jagiełło and Czech mercenaries arrived in Wolbórz.[3] Three days later the Polish army was already at the meeting place. The Lithuanian army marched out from Vilnius on 3 June and joined the Ruthenian regiments in Hrodna.[3] They arrived in Czerwinsk on the same day the Poles crossed the river. After the crossing, Masovian troops under Siemowit IV and Janusz I joined the Polish–Lithuanian army.[3] The massive force began its march north towards Marienburg (Malbork), capital of Prussia, on 3 July. The Prussian border was crossed on 9 July.[46]

The river crossing remained secret until Hungarian envoys, who were attempting to negotiate a peace, informed the Grand Master.[47] As soon as Ulrich von Jungingen grasped the Polish–Lithuanian intentions, he left 3,000 men at Schwetz (Świecie) under Heinrich von Plauen[48] and marched the main force to organize a line of defense on the Drewenz River (Drwęca) near Kauernik (Kurzętnik).[49] The river crossing was fortified with stockades.[50] On 11 July, after meeting with his eight-member war council,[45] Władysław II Jagiełło decided against crossing the river at such a strong, defensible position. The army would instead bypass the river crossing by turning east, towards its sources, where no other major rivers separated his army from Marienburg.[49] The march continued east towards Soldau (Działdowo), although no attempt was made to capture the town.[51] The Teutonic army followed the Drewenz River north, crossed it near Löbau (Lubawa) and then moved east in parallel with the Polish–Lithuanian army. The latter ravaged the village of Gilgenburg (Dąbrówno).[52] Von Jungingen was so enraged by the atrocities that he swore to defeat the invaders in battle.[53]

Battle preparations

See also: Grunwald Swords

In the early morning of 15 July 1410 both armies met in an area covering approximately 4 km2 (1.5 sq mi) between the villages of Grunwald, Tannenberg (Stębark) and Ludwigsdorf (Łodwigowo).[54] The armies formed opposing lines along a northeast–southwest axis. The Polish–Lithuanian army was positioned in front and east of Ludwigsdorf and Tannenberg.[55] Polish heavy cavalry formed the left flank, Lithuanian light cavalry the right flank and various mercenary troops made up the center. Their men were organized in three lines of wedge-shaped formations about 20 men deep.[55] The Teutonic forces concentrated their elite heavy cavalry, commanded by Grand Marshal Frederic von Wallenrode, against the Lithuanians.[54] The Knights, who were the first to organize their army for the battle, hoped to provoke the Poles or Lithuanians into attacking first. Their troops, wearing heavy armor, had to stand in the scorching sun for several hours waiting for an attack.[56] One chronicle suggested that they had dug pits that an attacking army would fall into.[57] They also attempted to use field artillery, but a light rain dampened their powder and only two cannon shots were fired.[56] As Władysław II Jagiełło delayed, the Grand Master sent messengers with two swords to "assist Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas in battle". The swords were meant as an insult and a provocation.[58] Known as the "Grunwald Swords", they became one of the national symbols of Poland.

Battle begins: Lithuanian attack and retreat

A modern re-creation of the clothing and armor worn by Lithuanian heavy infantry during the 14th and 15th centuries (Columns of Gediminas on shields)
Retreat of Lithuanian light cavalry
Right-flank Polish–Lithuanian assault
Polish heavy cavalry break-through

Vytautas, supported by a few Polish banners, started an assault on the left flank of the Teutonic forces.[56] After more than an hour of heavy fighting the Lithuanian light cavalry began a full retreat. Jan Długosz described this development as a complete annihilation of the entire Lithuanian army. According to Długosz, the Knights assumed that victory was theirs, broke their formation for a disorganized pursuit of the retreating Lithuanians and gathered much loot before returning to the battlefield to face the Polish troops.[59] He made no mention of the Lithuanians, who later returned to the battlefield. Thus Długosz portrayed the battle as a single-handed Polish victory.[59] This view contradicted Cronica conflictus and has been challenged by modern historians. Starting with an article by Vaclaw Lastowski in 1909, they proposed that the retreat was a planned, strategic maneuver borrowed from the Golden Horde.[60] A false retreat was used in the Battle of the Vorskla River of 1399, where the Lithuanian army was dealt a crushing defeat and Vytautas himself barely escaped alive.[61] This theory gained wider acceptance after the discovery and publication of a German letter by Swedish historian Sven Ekdahl in 1963.[62] The letter, written a few years after the battle, cautions the new Grand Master to look out for false retreats of the kind that were used in the Great Battle.[17] Stephen Turnbull asserted that the Lithuanian retreat did not quite fit the tried formula of a false retreat. Such a retreat was usually staged by one or two units (as opposed to almost an entire army) and was swiftly followed by a counterattack (whereas the Lithuanians returned late in the battle).[63]

Battle continues: Polish–Teutonic fight

"Golden Lion banner of the newly annexed Kingdom of Rus at the Battle of Grunwald"

While the Lithuanians were retreating, heavy fighting broke out between Polish and Teutonic forces. Commanded by Grand Komtur Kuno von Lichtenstein, the Teutonic forces concentrated on the Polish right flank. Six of von Walenrode's banners did not pursue the retreating Lithuanians, instead joining the attack on the right flank.[32] A particularly valuable target was the royal banner of Kraków. It seemed that the Knights were gaining the upper hand, and at one point the royal standard-bearer, Marcin of Wrocimowice, lost the Kraków banner.[64] However, it was soon recaptured and fighting continued. Władysław II Jagiełło deployed his reserves—the second line of his army.[32] Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen then personally led 16 banners, almost a third of the original Teutonic strength, to the right Polish flank,[65] and Władysław II Jagiełło deployed his last reserves, the third line of his army.[32] The melee reached the Polish command and one Knight, identified as Lupold or Diepold of Kökeritz, charged directly against King Władysław II Jagiełło.[66] Władysław's secretary, Zbigniew Oleśnicki, saved the king's life, gaining royal favor and becoming one of the most influential people in Poland.[18]

Battle ends: Teutonic Knights defeated

Muslim Tatar fights a Teutonic Knight.

At that time the reorganized Lithuanians returned to the battle, attacking von Jungingen from the rear.[67] The Teutonic forces were by then becoming outnumbered by the mass of Polish knights and advancing Lithuanian cavalry. As von Jungingen attempted to break through the Lithuanian lines, he was killed.[67] According to Cronica conflictus, Dobiesław of Oleśnica thrust a lance through the Grand Master's neck,[67] while Długosz presented Mszczuj of Skrzynno as the killer. Surrounded and leaderless, the Teutonic Knights began to retreat. Part of the routed units retreated towards their camp. This move backfired when the camp followers turned against their masters and joined the manhunt.[68] The knights attempted to build a wagon fort: The camp was surrounded by wagons serving as an improvised fortification.[68] However, the defense was soon broken and the camp was ravaged. According to Cronica conflictus, more Knights died there than on the battlefield.[68] The battle lasted for about ten hours.[32]

The Teutonic Knights attributed the defeat to treason on the part of Nikolaus von Renys (Mikołaj of Ryńsk), commander of the Culm (Chełmno) banner, and he was beheaded without a trial.[69] He was the founder and leader of the Lizard Union, a group of Knights sympathetic to Poland. According to the Knights, von Renys lowered his banner, which was taken as a signal of surrender and led to the panicked retreat.[70] The legend that the Knights were "stabbed in the back" was echoed in the post-World War I stab-in-the-back legend and preoccupied German historiography of the battle until 1945.[69]


Casualties and captives

The battle as depicted in the Berner Chronik of Diebold Schilling

The defeat of the Teutonic Knights was resounding. About 8,000 soldiers were killed[71] and an additional 14,000 taken captive.[72] According to Teutonic payroll records, only 1,427 men reported back to Marienburg to claim their pay.[72] Of 1,200 men sent from Danzig, only 300 returned.[39] According to different sources, some 200 or 400 brothers of the Order were killed, including much of the Teutonic leadership—Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen, Grand Marshal Friedrich von Wallenrode, Grand Komtur Kuno von Lichtenstein, Grand Treasurer Thomas von Merheim, Marshal of Supply Forces Albrecht von Schwartzburg, and ten of the komturs.[73] Markward von Salzbach, Komtur of Brandenburg (Ushakovo) and Heinrich Schaumburg, voigt of Sambia, were executed by order of Vytautas after the battle.[72] The bodies of von Jungingen and other high-ranking officials were transported to Marienburg Castle for burial on 19 July.[74] The bodies of lower-ranking Teutonic officials and 12 Polish knights were buried at the church in Tannenberg.[74] The rest of the dead were buried in several mass graves. The highest-ranking Teutonic official to escape the battle was Werner von Tettinger, Komtur of Elbing (Elbląg).[72]

Polish and Lithuanian forces took several thousand captives. Among these were Dukes Konrad VII of Oels (Oleśnica) and Casimir V of Pomerania.[75] Most of the commoners and mercenaries were released shortly after the battle on condition that they report to Kraków on 11 November 1410.[76] Only those who were expected to pay ransom were kept. Considerable ransoms were recorded; for example, the mercenary Holbracht von Loym had to pay 150 kopas of Prague groschen, amounting to more than 30 kg (66 lb) of silver.[77]

Further campaign and peace

After the battle the Castle of Marienburg, which served as the Teutonic Knights's capital, was unsuccessfully besieged for two months by the Polish–Lithuanian forces

After the battle, the Polish and Lithuanian forces delayed their attack on the Teutonic capital in Marienburg (Malbork), remaining on the battlefield for three days and then marching an average of only about 15 km (9.3 mi) per day.[78] The main forces did not reach heavily fortified Marienburg until 26 July. This delay gave Heinrich von Plauen enough time to organize a defense. Władysław II Jagiełło also sent his troops to other Teutonic fortresses, which often surrendered without resistance,[79] including the major cities of Danzig (Gdańsk), Thorn (Toruń), and Elbing (Elbląg).[80] Only eight castles remained in Teutonic hands.[81] The besiegers of Marienburg expected a speedy capitulation and were not prepared for a long siege, suffering from lack of ammunition, low morale and an epidemic of dysentery.[82] The Knights appealed to their allies for help, and Sigismund of Hungary, Wenceslaus, King of the Romans, and the Livonian Order promised financial aid and reinforcements.[83]

The siege of Marienburg was lifted on 19 September. The Polish–Lithuanian forces left garrisons in the fortresses they had taken and returned home. However, the Knights quickly recaptured most of the castles. By the end of October only four Teutonic castles along the border remained in Polish hands.[84] Władysław II Jagiełło raised a fresh army and dealt another defeat to the Knights in the Battle of Koronowo on 10 October 1410. Following other brief engagements, both sides agreed to negotiate.

The Peace of Thorn was signed in February 1411. Under its terms, the Knights ceded the Dobrin Land (Dobrzyń Land) to Poland and agreed to resign their claims to Samogitia during the lifetimes of Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas,[85] although another two wars—the Hunger War of 1414 and the Gollub War of 1422—would be waged before the Treaty of Melno permanently resolved the territorial disputes.[86] The Poles and Lithuanians were unable to translate the military victory into territorial or diplomatic gains. However, the Peace of Thorn imposed a heavy financial burden on the Knights from which they never recovered. They had to pay an indemnity in silver, estimated at ten times the annual income of the King of England, in four annual installments.[85] To meet these payments, the Knights borrowed heavily, confiscated gold and silver from churches and increased taxes. Two major Prussian cities, Danzig (Gdańsk) and Thorn (Toruń), revolted against the tax increases.[87] The defeat at Grunwald left the Teutonic Knights with few forces to defend their remaining territories. Since Samogitia became officially christened, as both Poland and Lithuania were for a long time, the Knights had difficulties recruiting new volunteer crusaders.[88] The Grand Masters then needed to rely on mercenary troops, which proved an expensive drain on their already depleted budget. The internal conflicts, economic decline, and tax increases led to unrest and the foundation of the Prussian Confederation, or Alliance against Lordship, in 1441. This in turn led to a series of conflicts that culminated in the Thirteen Years' War (1454).[89]


Poland and Lithuania

A monument to the Battle of Grunwald was erected in Kraków for the battle's 500th anniversary. It was destroyed during World War II by the Germans and rebuilt in 1976.

The Battle of Grunwald is regarded as one of the most important in the histories of Poland and Lithuania.[10] In the history of Ukraine, the battle is better associated with Vytautas the Great, who stood as the leader of Eastern Orthodox Christianity at that time.[90] In Lithuania the victory is synonymous with the Grand Duchy's political and military peak. It was a source of national pride during the age of Romantic nationalism and inspired resistance to the Germanization and Russification policies of the German and Russian Empires. The Knights were portrayed as bloodthirsty invaders and Grunwald as a just victory achieved by a small, oppressed nation.[10]

In 1910, to mark the 500th anniversary of the battle, a monument by Antoni Wiwulski was unveiled in Kraków during a three-day celebration attended by some 150,000 people.[91] About 60 other towns and villages in Galicia also erected Grunwald monuments for the anniversary.[92]

About the same time Nobel Prize-winner Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote the novel The Knights of the Cross (Polish: Krzyżacy), prominently featuring the battle in one of the chapters. In 1960 Polish filmmaker Aleksander Ford used the book as the basis for his film, Knights of the Teutonic Order. A museum, monuments and memorials were constructed at the battlefield in 1960.[93] The battle site is one of Poland's official, national Historic Monuments, as designated October 4, 2010, and tracked by the National Heritage Board of Poland. The battle has lent its name to military decorations (Cross of Grunwald), sports teams (BC Žalgiris, FK Žalgiris), and various organizations.

King Władysław II Jagiełło in a 2003 reenactment of the battle

An annual battle reenactment takes place on 15 July. In 2010 a pageant reenacting the event and commemorating the battle's 600th anniversary was held. It attracted 200,000 spectators who watched 2,200 participants playing the role of knights in a reenactment of the battle. An additional 3,800 participants played peasants and camp followers. The pageant's organizers believe that the event has become the largest reenactment of medieval combat in Europe.[94]

A German National People's Party propaganda poster from 1920 depicts a Teutonic Knight threatened by a Pole and a socialist

The Battle of Grunwald is commemorated on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, with the inscription "GRUNWALD 15 VII 1410".

Germany and Russia

The Germans generally saw the Knights as heroic and noble men who brought Christianity and civilization to the east.[10] In August 1914, during World War I, Germany won a battle against Russia near the site. When the Germans realized its propaganda potential, they named the battle the Battle of Tannenberg,[95] despite it having actually taken place much closer to Allenstein (Olsztyn), and framed it as revenge for the Polish–Lithuanian victory 504 years earlier. Nazi Germany later exploited the sentiment by portraying their Lebensraum policies as a continuation of the Knights' historical mission.[96]

Due to the participation of the three Smolensk regiments, Russians saw the battle as a victory of a Polish–Lithuanian–Russian coalition against invading Germans. Chronicler Jan Długosz praised the Smolensk banners, who fought bravely and were the only banners from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania not to retreat. In Soviet historiography, the Battle of Grunwald was styled as a racial struggle between Slavs and Germanics.[97] The Teutonic Knights were portrayed as the medieval forerunners of Hitler's armies, while the battle itself was seen as the medieval counterpart to the Battle of Stalingrad.[10][97]

In William Urban's summary, almost all accounts of the battle made before the 1960s were more influenced by romantic legends and nationalistic propaganda than by fact.[69] Historians have since made progress towards dispassionate scholarship and reconciliation of the various national accounts of the battle.[96]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Turnbull 2003, p. 26
  2. 1 2 3 Turnbull 2003, p. 28
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Jučas 2009, p. 75
  4. 1 2 Urban 2003, p. 138
  5. 1 2 Davies 2005, p. 98
  6. 1 2 3 4 Jučas 2009, pp. 57–58
  7. Turnbull 2003, p. 73
  8. 1 2 Ekdahl 2008, p. 175
  9. Turnbull 2003, p. 92
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Johnson 1996, p. 43
  11. Sužiedėlis 2011, p. 123
  12. Evans 1970, p. 3
  13. Jučas 2009, p. 8
  14. 1 2 Jučas 2009, p. 9
  15. 1 2 Jučas 2009, p. 10
  16. Jučas 2009, p. 11
  17. 1 2 Ekdahl 1963
  18. 1 2 3 4 Stone 2001, p. 16
  19. Urban 2003, p. 132
  20. Kiaupa 2000, p. 137
  21. Turnbull 2003, p. 20
  22. 1 2 Ivinskis 1978, p. 336
  23. Urban 2003, p. 130
  24. Kuczynski 1960, p. 614
  25. Jučas 2009, p. 51
  26. 1 2 Turnbull 2003, p. 21
  27. Kiaupa 2000, p. 139
  28. 1 2 Christiansen 1997, p. 227
  29. 1 2 Turnbull 2003, p. 30
  30. Jučas 2009, p. 74
  31. 1 2 3 Разин 1999, p. 486
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 Kiaupa 2002
  33. Thompson 1937, p. 940
  34. Rambaud 1898
  35. 1 2 3 Turnbull 2003, p. 25
  36. 1 2 Ivinskis 1978, p. 338
  37. 1 2 Turnbull 2003, p. 29
  38. Разин 1999, pp. 485–486
  39. 1 2 Jučas 2009, p. 56
  40. Urban 2003, p. 139
  41. 1 2 Jerzy Urbankiewicz. Legenda jazdy polskiej, Vol. 1. Wyd. Wojciech Grochowalski. 1996. p. 59.
  42. "Jan Žižka at Grunwald: from mercenary to Czech national hero". Radio Prague. 2010-07-16. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  43. "Kto jest kim na obrazie Jana Matejki? Cz. 2". 14 July 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  44. Jučas 2009, p. 64
  45. 1 2 Jučas 2009, p. 63
  46. 1 2 Turnbull 2003, p. 33
  47. Urban 2003, p. 141
  48. Urban 2003, p. 142
  49. 1 2 Turnbull 2003, p. 35
  50. Jučas 2009, p. 76
  51. Turnbull 2003, p. 36
  52. Turnbull 2003, pp. 36–37
  53. Urban 2003, pp. 148–149
  54. 1 2 Jučas 2009, p. 77
  55. 1 2 Turnbull 2003, p. 44
  56. 1 2 3 Turnbull 2003, p. 45
  57. Urban 2003, p. 149
  58. Turnbull 2003, p. 43
  59. 1 2 Jučas 2009, p. 78
  60. Baranauskas 2011, p. 25
  61. Sužiedėlis 1976, p. 337
  62. Urban 2003, pp. 152–153
  63. Turnbull 2003, pp. 48–49
  64. Jučas 2009, p. 83
  65. Turnbull 2003, p. 53
  66. Turnbull 2003, p. 61
  67. 1 2 3 Turnbull 2003, p. 64
  68. 1 2 3 Turnbull 2003, p. 66
  69. 1 2 3 Urban 2003, p. 168
  70. Turnbull 2003, p. 79
  71. Urban 2003, p. 157
  72. 1 2 3 4 Turnbull 2003, p. 68
  73. Jučas 2009, pp. 85–86
  74. 1 2 Jučas 2009, p. 87
  75. Turnbull 2003, p. 69
  76. Jučas 2009, p. 88
  77. Pelech 1987, pp. 105–107
  78. Urban 2003, p. 162
  79. Urban 2003, p. 164
  80. Stone 2001, p. 17
  81. Ivinskis 1978, p. 342
  82. Turnbull 2003, p. 75
  83. Turnbull 2003, p. 74
  84. Urban 2003, p. 166
  85. 1 2 Christiansen 1997, p. 228
  86. Kiaupa 2000, pp. 142–144
  87. Turnbull 2003, p. 78
  88. Christiansen 1997, pp. 228–230
  89. Stone 2001, pp. 17–19
  90. "Битва народів": 600 Грюнвальдської битви ("Battle of Peoples": 600 Anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald). BBC-Ukraine.
  91. Dabrowski 2004, pp. 164–165
  92. Ekdahl 2008, p. 179
  93. Ekdahl 2008, p. 186
  94. Fowler 2010
  95. Burleigh 1985, p. 27
  96. 1 2 Johnson 1996, p. 44
  97. 1 2 Davies 2005, p. 99

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