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Grunwald (Tannenberg) - battlefield - Zabytek.pl

Photo Gallery of the object: Grunwald (Tannenberg) - battlefield

Grunwald (Tannenberg) - battlefield

History monuments Grunwald


woj. warmińsko-mazurskie, pow. ostródzki, gm. Grunwald

The Grunwald (Tannenberg) battlefield commemorates one of the largest battles of medieval Europe. By the latter half of the 14th century the Teutonic Order had become a major political power playing a leading role in the Baltic region. The last hurdle in the construction of their empire was the state of Lithuania, in particular Samogitia, which lay between the Order’s Prussian and Livonian properties. However, the Polish-Lithuanian Union forged in the 1380s struck a blow to the Teutonic Knights’ policy of expansion. The prospect of their pagan neighbour’s conversion to Christianity left not only the reason for their Teutonic mission under question, but also the very raison d’etre of the Order itself. After years of relative peace, Poland’s conflict with the Order was renewed, and events began to lead towards a conclusive resolution.

In 1409 the Teutonic Knights began a campaign which culminated in the Battle of Grunwald (formerly Grünfeld). On 15 July 1410 the Teutonic armies, commanded by the Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen, consisted of around 16,000 cavalry (among them c. 500 brothers of the Order) and c. 3700 mercenaries from Silesia, Bohemia, Moravia and Western Pomerania, as well as guests from western Europe. Their ranks also included around 5000 foot soldiers with field artillery at their disposal. The allied Polish-Lithuanian forces, led by King Jogaila (Ladislaus Jagiełło), outnumbered their opponents: the Polish army comprised c. 20,000 cavalry and c. 2000 mercenaries from Bohemia and Moravia. Including the armed peasant soldiers and Taborites it amounted to around 35,000 men. The Lithuanian armies, under the command of Grand Duke Vytautas, assisted by Russian and Tartar units, numbered c. 11,000 light cavalry. The all-day battle, a regular feature of Polish and Slavic traditions, ended in a crushing defeat for the Teutonic Knights. The course of the battle proved that Jagiełło had been right in deciding not to participate in the battle in person. Commanding from a hilltop position, he could influence the direction of events, sending support troops to the sectors under threat. The Grand Master, who took part in the battle personally, was devoid of this opportunity, and at the moment of defeat was even unable to order a retreat. He died, along with over 200 brothers of the Order and several thousand soldiers fighting for the Teutonic cause. Around 40 banners were captured by the Polish forces. This splendid military success was not, however, built on. The Peace of Thorn (Toruń) entered into with the Teutonic Knights in 1411 did not give Poland any satisfactory resolutions. The Order remained a dangerous enemy, its state cutting off Poland’s access to the Baltic and limiting its export opportunities. Thus, Poland was to wage war against the Teutonic Knights for a further 13 years before finally returning to the Baltic in 1466.

The victory at Grunwald took on a symbolic dimension and became of national value, permanently etched in the Polish conscience and memory. The battle became the subject of numerous books and paintings; memorials and plaques commemorating the victory were founded. The battlefield itself became a pilgrimage destination. Prayers were said before the painting of Our Lady adorning a chapel built after the battle, and later demolished in the 18th century by the Prussian authorities, who formally banned pilgrimages to the site in 1866. In the early 20th century a monument honouring Ulrich von Jungingen was raised in its place. After the Second World War the chapel ruins were excavated and made accessible to visitors.

The landscape of the battlefield survives to this day probably in unaltered form. The area was demarcated in 1960. That same year work began on the construction of a memorial designed by Jerzy Bandura and Witold Cęckiewicz. It comprises a monolith depicting the faces of knights in visors, and several 30-metre-high masts symbolising the standards of the Polish and Lithuanian banners. The site also features an amphitheatre and a museum, opened in 1963.

Category: battlefield

Protection: Historical Monument

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_28_PH.8924