Poland celebrates 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald

The county of Poland is marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, which helped to secure the country’s independence, with various celebrations and re-enactments. Among those who took part in ceremonies were Polish president-elect Bronislaw Komorowski, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and the Grand Master of the Order of Teutonic Knights, bishop Bruno Platter.

Events were held today in Krakow as well as the battlefield of Grunwald, which is known by Germans as Tannenberg and Lithuanians as Žalgiris. The Polish and Lithuanian leaders used the occasion to speak about the common history of their two nations and their continuing strong relationship. “When our two great nations fought in the Battle of Žalgiris, united as never before, their unity brought closer together the neighboring peoples. It encouraged them to participate in the victory that shaped the further pathway of not only our countries, but also of the whole of Europe,” Grybauskaite remarked. “We now have excellent conditions for our people to work, aspire and win together. There is only one eternal and universal prerequisite — and that is unity. Only united will we stand and prevail.”

Several other events are being held around Poland, including at Krakow’s Wawel Castle, where an exhbition is being held to commemorate the battle and view how it has been portrayed over the centuries. Meanwhile, on Saturday a re-enactment of the battle will take place on the Grunwald battlefield, which will include around 2,200 participants and up to 120,000 spectators.

The Battle of Grunwald took place on July 15, 1410. The Polish-Lithuanian army led by King Władysław Jagiełło, defeated the Order of the Teutonic Knights, and killed or captured most of its leadership. The battle, which involved somewhere between 30 000 and 60 000 soldiers, 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.

“The Battle of Grunwald in 1410 is an unprecedented event in the history of the Polish state,” said Piotr Żuchowski, secretary of state at the Polish Culture Ministry. “The battle permanently strengthened the position of Poland in medieval Europe.”

Radio Poland noted that King Jagiello spent 30,000 grzywna to pay the 30,000 Polish and Lithuanian knights on his side, which amounts to approximately 37.5 million zloty (9.3 million euro) or an equivalent of thirty Ferrari 599 GTOs.

“As many as 8,000 Teutonic Knights died in the Battle of Grunwald and they were well-armoured so Polish and Lithuanian knights had great loot,” added historian Marek Janicki from the University of Warsaw. The Polish Royal Treasury was also replenished as a result of the battle. Under the Peace of Thorn in 1411, which ended the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War, the Teutonic Order had to pay about 20,000 kilograms of silver in exchange for captives. “The sum was so high that the Teutonic Knights barely were able to raise the money,” said Janicki.

Click here to read an interview with Professor Jan Ostrowski, Director of Wawel Castle, on its exhibition “Token of a Magnificent Victory”

Photos from the 600th anniversary celebrations


Sources: Radio Poland, Krakow Post, Warsaw Business Journal, Baltic Reports

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