The Battle of Grunwald, fought on July 15th, 1410, has a kind of mythical status in the history of not only Poland, but Lithuania and Germany. Called the Battle of Tannenberg by the Germans and the Battle of Zalgiris by the Lithuanians, this clash was decisive moment in the history of the Eastern Europe.
The origins of the battle start with the emergence of the Teutonic Knights, a military order made up predominantly of Germans. Although they began in the Holy Land, the order’s activities soon focused on the Baltic region, where they fought crusades against pagan peoples. Throughout the 13th century they campaigned bitterly against the Lithuanians, the last remaining pagan-people in Europe.
The marriage between the Polish queen Jadwiga and the Lithuanian king Jagiello in 1386 created a Polish-Lithuanian Union , and brought about the conversion of the Lithuanians to Christianity. But the Teutonic Order refused to accept the conversion of the Lithuanians and continued the wars – perhaps because they truly believed that their enemies were still pagans, or maybe because they wanted to continue expanding their state on the Baltic coast, centered on the imposing castle of Malbork.
Over the next two decades the region would see warfare, truces, diplomacy and intrigue, which would involve many rulers throughout Eastern Europe. By 1409 King Jagiello and his cousin he Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautus decided to undertake a major campaign against the Teutonic Order in hopes of capturing Malbork.
They led their armies into the field and met up with the Teutonic forces under the command of Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. Each side had tens of thousands of soldiers, when they fought on the plains close to the villages on Grunwald and Tannenberg in what is now northern Poland.
The battle lasted about ten hours and early on the Lithuanians were routed. The Teutonic Knights then concentrated their attack on the Polish troops, and almost reached King Jagiello, but the Lithuanian forces returned, perhaps as a result of a deliberate ploy. The Teutonic Knights were trapped and Grand Master von Jungingen and most of their leaders were killed in the battle.
The result was a major victory for the Poles and Lithuanians. Although they were not able to capture Malbork during that campaign, the battle marked a turning point in Eastern European politics. The Teutonic Order gradually declined while the Polish-Lithuanian Union became a major European power in the Later Middle Ages and early modern period.
The battle of Tannenberg (Grunwald) in 1410, by Dmetrius Dviochenko de Markov
Poland, Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights: A Political History, by Justin Trumpickas
The Charge of Polish Knights and Infantry at the Battle of Grunwald, by Felix L. Holewinski
Na znak świetnego zwycięstwa, by Jan Ostrowski
W PRZEŹROCZU SYMBOLU GRUNWALDZKIEGO, by Kinga Lisowska and Szymon Marchlewski
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE BATTLE OF GRUNWALD AS EMOTIONAL PROMOTIONAL MESSAGE, by Janusz Hochleitner, Janusz and Michal Makowski
The Conversion of Lithuania 1387, by William Urban
The Baltic Policy of the Teutonic Order, by Leon Koczy
The Ecology of Crusading project: new research on medieval Baltic landscapes, by Aleksander Pluskowski, Alexander Brown, Lisa-Marie Shillito, Krish Seetah, Daniel Makowiecki, Marc Jarzebowski, Kaspars Kļaviņš and Juhan Kreem
The Battle of Tannenberg or Grunwald in 1410, according to Jan Dlugosz – from De Re Militari
The Lithuanian’s Retreat – translation of a letter which provides an important clue in debate over whether the Lithuanians did a feigned retreat at the Battle of Grunwald
Website of Sven Ekdahl – one of the leading historians on the battle