The Charge of Polish Knights and Infantry at the Battle of Grunwald

The Charge of Polish Knights and Infantry at the Battle of Grunwald

Holewinski, Felix L.

White Eagle: Journal of the Polis Nobility Association, Fall/Winter (2010)

The Battle of Grunwald, considered one of the greatest battles of Medieval Europe, marked its 600th anniversary on July 15, 2010. Known as the Battle of Grunwald in Poland, the Battle of Tannenberg in Germany and as the Battle of Zalgirio in Lithuania, the military clash was one of the largest and longest battle fought during the medieval period. Notably, casualties were also among the highest of any battle of that era. It battle also saw one of the earliest uses of cannon on a European battlefield.

The Battle of Grunwald is considered by historians as the greatest victory in Polish and Lithuanian history. This military achievement of Polish and Lithuanian troops in 1410 had a dramatic impact on the future of Central and Eastern Europe. The battle likewise enhanced the evolving, divergent mythologies for Germanic and Slavic cultures through the centuries and to the present.

The roots of the battle can be traced to the 13th century when the Polish Prince Konrad of Mazovia petitioned the Teutonic Knights, a German monastic order of crusading knights, to settle in and around the town of Chelmno in northern Poland. Prince Konrad wanted the Order to assist him fighting the neighboring pagan Prussian tribes. The Knights arrived in 1230 and were subsequently awarded added territories by a Papal Bull along the southern and southeast shores of the Baltic Sea. The Order eventually exterminated the Prussian tribes and occupied their land. It then launched a crusade against the pagan Lithuanians to the east and southeast. Then during the 14th century the Order came into increased conflict with the Polish Crown, raiding and pillaging towns, villages and farmsteads on Poland’s northern frontier.

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