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The Battle of Grunwald (or 1st Battle of Tannenberg) took place on July 15, 1410 with the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led by the king Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło), ranged against the knights of the Teutonic Order, led by the Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. The engagement in the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War was one of the most important battles in Medieval Europe, and the largest battle to involve knights.

The battle saw the forces of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knightsmarker decisively defeated, but they defended their castles and retained most of its territories. The order never recovered its former power, and the financial burden of ensuing reparations decades later caused a rebellion of cities and landed gentry.

The few eyewitness accounts are contradictory. It took place between three small villages, and different names in various languages are attributed to it.

Names and Locations

The battle was fought in territory of the Monastic state of the Teutonic Ordermarker, in the plains between the three small villages Grunwaldmarker to the West, Stębarkmarker (Tannenberg) to the North East, and Łodwigowomarker (Ludwikowice, Ludwigsdorf) to the South. The Polish king referred to the site in a letter written in Latin as in loco conflictus nostri, quem cum Cruciferis de Prusia habuimus, dicto GrunenveltOn 16 September ... the Polish King made his intentions clear in a letter to the bishop of Pomesania to have a Brigittine cloister and church built on the battlefield at Grünfelde, literally in loco conflictus nostri, quem cum Cruciferis de Prusia habuimus, dicto Grunenvelt. - Sven Ekdahl [768220]: The Battle of Tannenberg-Grunwald-Žalgiris (1410) as reflected in Twentieth-Century monuments, S. 175ff, in: Victor Mallia-Milanes, Malcolm Barber et. al.: The Military Orders Volume 3: History and Heritage, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008 ISBN 075466290X 9780754662907 [768221] which by later Polish chroniclers was interpreted as Grunwald, meaning green wood or forest in German. This was rendered in the Lithuanian as Žalgiris. The Germans had their troops deployed at Tannenberg (Stębark) (pine hill) and named the battle accordingly.

Thus, for half a millennium, the battle was referred to as
  • Schlacht bei Tannenberg (Battle near Tannenberg) by Germans
  • Bitwa pod Grunwaldem (Battle of Grunwald) by Poles
  • Žalgirio mūšis (Battle of Žalgiris) by Lithuanians

In languages of other involved nations the battle is called: , Hrúnvaldzkaja bі́tva, , Gryúnvaldska býtva, , Gryúnvaldskaya bі́tva, , , .


In the 13th century, the Teutonic Knights, subject directly to the Pope, had been requested by Konrad of Masovia to come to the lands surrounding Culmmarker (Chełmno) to assist in the Crusade against the pagan Prussians. The Teutonic Order received the territory of Prussia via golden bulls from the Emperor and papal edict, which gave them effective carte blanche as owners of a new Christianized state in the region. They later received the territory of further north Balticmarker coastal regions of what are now Latviamarker, Lithuaniamarker and Estoniamarker, and showed every sign of further expansion.

In 1385 the Union of Kreva joined the crown of Poland and Lithuania, and the subsequent marriage of Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania and reigning Queen Jadwiga of Poland was to shift the balance of power; both nations were more than aware that only by acting together could the expansionist plans of the Teutonic Order be thwarted. Jogaila accepted Christianity and became the King of Poland as Władysław Jagiełło. Lithuania's conversion to Christianity removed much of the rationale of the Teutonic Knights' anti-pagan crusades. It can be said the Ordensstaatmarker lost its raison d'etre.

In 1409, an uprising in Teutonic-held Samogitia started. The king of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania announced that he would stand by his promises in case the knights invaded Lithuania. This was used as a pretext, and on 14 August 1409 the Teutonic Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen declared war on the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The forces of the Teutonic Order initially invaded Greater Poland and Kuyavia, but the Poles repelled the invasion and reconquered Bydgoszczmarker (Bromberg), which led to a subsequent armistice agreement that was to last until 24 June 1410. The Lithuanians and Poles used this time for preparations to remove the Teutonic threat once and for all.

Military preparation

The forces of the Teutonic Knights were aware of the Polish-Lithuanian build-up and expected a dual attack, by the Poles towards Danzig (Gdańskmarker) and by the Lithuanians towards Samogitia. To counter this threat, Ulrich von Jungingen concentrated part of his forces in Schwetz (Świeciemarker) while leaving the large part of his army in the eastern castles of Ragnit (Ragainėmarker), Rhein (Rynmarker) near Lötzen (Giżyckomarker), and Memel (Klaipėdamarker). Poles and Lithuanians continued to screen their intentions by organising several raids deep into enemy territory. Ulrich von Jungingen asked for the armistice to be extended until July 4 to let the mercenaries from western Europe arrive. Enough time had already been given for the Polish-Lithuanian forces to gather in strength.

On 30 June 1410, the forces of Greater Poland and Lesser Poland crossed the Vistula over a pontoon bridge and joined with the forces of Masovia and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Jogaila's Polish forces and the Lithuanian soldiers of his cousin Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great (to whom Jogaila had ceded power in Lithuania in the wake of his marriage to the Polish queen) assembled on 2 July 1410. A week later they crossed into the territory of the Teutonic Knights, heading for the enemy headquarters at the castle of Marienburg (Malborkmarker). The Teutonic Knights were caught by surprise.

Ulrich von Jungingen withdrew his forces from the area of Schwetz (Świeciemarker) and decided to organise a line of defence on the river Drewenz (Drwęcamarker). The river crossings were fortified with stockades and the castles nearby reinforced. After meeting with his War Council, Jogaila decided to outflank the enemy forces from the East and on his attack on Prussia he continued the march towards Marienburg through Soldau (Działdowomarker) and Neidenburg (Nidzicamarker). The towns were heavily damaged and Gilgenburg (Dąbrównomarker) was completely plundered and burned to the ground, causing many refugees. On 13 July the two castles were captured and the way towards Marienburg was opened.

Opposing forces

In the early morning of 15 July 1410, both armies met in the fields near the villages of Grunwaldmarker, Stębark (Tannenberg) and Łodwigowomarker (Ludwigsdorf). Both armies were formed in opposing lines. The Polish-Lithuanian army was positioned in front and East of the villages of Ludwigsdorf and Tannenberg. The left flank was guarded by the Polish forces of king Władysław Jagiełło and composed mostly of heavy cavalry. The right flank of the allied forces was guarded by the army of Grand Duke Vytautas, and composed mostly of light cavalry. Among the forces on the right flank were banners from all over the Grand Duchy, as well as Tatar skirmishers under Jalal ad-Din khan, Moldovan light cavalry sent by Alexandru cel Bun and allegedly Serbs. The opposing forces of the Teutonic Order were composed mostly of heavy cavalry and infantry. They were to be aided by troops from Western Europe called "the guests of the Order", who were still on the way, and other Knights who had been summoned to participate by a Papal Bull.

The exact number of soldiers on both sides is hard to estimate. There are only two reliable sources describing the battle. The best-preserved and most complete account, Banderia Prutenorum, was written by Jan Dlugosz, but does not mention the exact numbers. The other is an incomplete and preserved only in a brief 16th century document. Months after the battle, in December 1410, the Order's new Grand Master Heinrich von Plauen the Elder sent letters to Western European monarchs in which he described the battle as a war against the forces of evil pagans. This view was shared by many chronicle writers. Since the outcome of the battle was subject to propaganda campaigns on both sides, many foreign authors frequently overestimated the Polish-Lithuanian forces in an attempt to explain the dramatic result.

In one of the Prussian chronicles it is mentioned that "the forces of the Polish king were so numerous that there is no number high enough in the human language". One of the anonymous chronicles from the German Hanseatic city of Lübeckmarker mentions that the forces of Jogaila numbered some 1,700,000 soldiers, the forces of Vytautas with 2,700,000 (with a great number of Russians, or Ruthenians, as they were called then), in addition to 1,500,000 Tatars. Among the forces supposedly aiding the Polish-Lithuanian army were "Saracens, Turks, pagans of Damascusmarker, Persiamarker and other lands". According to Enguerrand de Monstrelet, the knights fielded some 300,000 men, while their enemies under the kings of "Lithuania, Poland and Sarmatia" fielded 600,000. Andrew of Regensburgmarker estimated the Polish-Lithuanian forces at 1,200,000 men-at-arms. It must be noted that medieval chroniclers were notorious for sensationally inflating figures, and armies of the sizes quoted were actually impossible with the logistics technology of the day.

More recent historians estimate the strength of the opposing forces at a much lower level. Ludwik Kolankowski estimated the Polish-Lithuanian forces at 16,000-18,000 Polish cavalry and 6,000-8,000 Lithuanian light cavalry, with the Teutonic Knights fielding 13,000-15,000 heavy cavalry. Jerzy Dąbrowski estimated the overall strength of the allied forces at 18,000 Polish cavalry and 11,000 Lithuanians and Ruthenians, with the opposing forces bringing 16,000 soldiers. If these figures are accepted, this would make the battle less well attended than the Battle of Towtonmarker fought in Yorkshire, England, in the same century, which engaged two armies of around 40,000 men, 28,000 of whom died.

Historian Poland Lithuania Others Teutonic Order
Lübeckmarker Chronicle 1.700,000 2.700,000 1.500,000
Enguerrand de Monstrelet 600.000 300.000
Andrew of Regensburgmarker 1.200.000
Ludwik Kolankowski 18.000 heavy cavalry 8.000 light cavalry 15.000 heavy cavalry
Jerzy Dąbrowski 18.000 11.000 16.000 + 3.000 guests
Henryk Łowmiański 12.000 heavy cavalry 7.200 light cavalry 11.000 heavy cavalry
Andrzej Nadolski 20.000 10.000 1.000 15.000
Lonnie Johnson 39.000 Lithuanians, Russians (Ruthenians), Tatars Czechs, Wallachians 27.000
Stephen Turnbull 39.000 Lithuanians, Tatars, Ruthenians Czechs, Bohemians, Moravians 27.000
Stefan Maria Kuczyński 18.000 cavalry, 2.000 infantry, artillery 11.000 cavalry + 500 infantry Lithuanian , ca. 900 Ruthenians, ca. 300-1000 Tatars 300-600 Czechs, Moravians, Silesians, Moldavians 21.000 cavalry (3.700 mercenaries), 6.000 infantry, 5.000 serviceman, artillery
Regardless of such estimates, most of the modern historians count only the cavalry units. Apart from 16,000 cavalry, the Teutonic Order also fielded some 9,000 infantry, archers and crossbow troops and field artillery. Both armies also had large military camps, tabors and other units, which made up some 10% of their total strength.

Both armies were organised in banners, see Banderia Prutenorum. Each heavy cavalry banner was composed of approximately 240 mounted knights as well as their squires and armour-bearers. Each banner flew its own standard and fought independently. Lithuanian banners were usually weaker and composed of approximately 180 light cavalry soldiers. The structure of foot units (pikemen, archers, crossbowmen) and the artillery is unknown.

The Teutonic Knights fielded fifty one banners. Razin citing the German estimates says that Order's army was 11,000 strong, including about 4,000 knights, under 3,000 squires and about 4,000 crossbow men. The Teutonian Army was also equipped with bombards that could shoot lead and stone projectiles.

The more numerically strong allied force contained 16,000-17,000 men including about3,000 Tatars. There were a total of 91 allied banners. 50 Polish and 41 Lithuanian banners included Russian and Ruthenian lands controlled by Poland and Lithuania, respectively, as well as the banners from independent territories that joined the alliance (such as the Novgorod banner.)

While less numerous, the Teutonic army had its own advantages in discipline, military training, and superior military equipment.

Both sides included numerous mercenaries and were composed of troops coming from a variety of countries and lands. Twenty-two different peoples, mostly Germanic, were represented at the Teutonic side.

Apart from units fielded by lands of Polandmarker, Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Teutonic Order, there were also mercenaries from Western Europe, German Countriesmarker that included Alsacemarker and Lorraine, Bohemia, Moravia and Moldavia.

The overall commander of the joint Polish-Lithuanian forces was king Jagiełło, with the Polish units subordinated to Marshal of the Crown Zbigniew of Brzezie and Lithuanian units under the immediate command of Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great. Until recently it was believed that the Sword Bearer of the Crown Zyndram of Maszkowice was the commander in chief of the joint army, but this idea was based on a false translation of the description of the battle by Ioannes Longinus. The Teutonic Forces were commanded directly by the Grand Master of the Order Ulrich von Jungingen.

The commander of the Czech forces fighting on Polish side was Jan Sokol of Lamberk . One chronicler mentioned presence of Jan Žižka of Trocnov, later the commander of Hussite forces.

Course of the battle

Initial positions
Retreat of Lithuanian light cavalry
Right-flank Polish/Lithuanian assault
Polish heavy cavalry break-through
The opposing forces formed their lines at dawn. At about noon the forces of Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas started an all-out assault on the left flank of the Teutonic forces, near the village of Tannenberg (Stębarkmarker). The Lithuanian cavalry was supported by a cavalry charge of several Polish banners on the right flank of the enemy forces. The enemy heavy cavalry counter-attacked on both flanks and fierce fighting occurred.

After more than an hour, the Lithuanian light cavalry started a retreat towards marshes and woods. This maneuver was often used in the east of Grand Duchy of Lithuania by Mongols. Vytautas, who had experience in battles against Mongols, used it in this battle. Only three banners of Smolensk commanded by Lengvenis (Simon Lingwen), son of Algirdas, brother of Jogaila and a cousin of Vytautas, remained on the right flank after the retreat of Vytautas and his troops. One of the banners was totally destroyed, while the remaining two were backed up by the Polish cavalry held in reserve and broke through the enemy lines to the Polish positions.

Heavy cavalry of the Order started a disorganised pursuit after the retreating Lithuanians. The Knights entered the marshes, while Vytautas reorganized his forces to return to battle.

At the same time heavy fighting continued on the left flank of the Polish forces. After several hours of massed battle, the Teutonic cavalry started to gain the upper hand. According to Ioannes Longinus the Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen personally led a cavalry charge on the strongest Polish unit — the Banner of the Land of Krakówmarker. The Polish ranks started to waver and the flag of the banner was lost. However, it was soon recaptured by the Polish knights, and King Jogaila ordered most of his reserves to enter combat. The arrival of fresh troops allowed the Poles to repel the enemy assault and the forces of Ulrich von Jungingen were weakened. At the same time his reserves were busy pursuing the evading Lithuanian cavalry.

A pivotal role in triggering the Teutonic retreat is attributed to the leader of the banner of Chełmnomarker(Culm), Nikolaus von Renys (Mikołaj of Ryńsk), born in Prussia (identified by Longinus as Swabia). The founder and leader of the Lizard Union, a group of Order Knights sympathetic to Poland, refused to fight the Polish. Lowering the banner he was carrying was taken as a signal of surrender by the Teutonic troops. Accused of treason, ultimately von Renys was beheaded by his order, along with all of his male descendants.

After several hours of fighting, Ulrich von Jungingen decided to join his embattled forces in the main line of engagement. At this time, however, Vytautas returned to the battlefield with the reorganized forces of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and joined the fierce fighting. The Teutonic forces were by then becoming outnumbered by the mass of Polish knights and the advancing Lithuanians cavalry, which all of a sudden had come pouring on the battlefield from the surrounding forests.

Ulrich von Jungingen personally led the assault with 16 banners of heavy cavalry, which until then were held in reserve. Jogaila, however, threw in all his remaining reserves, as well as several already tired units. Putting up heavy resistance, the 16 banners of the Grand Master were surrounded and began to suffer high losses, including the Grand Master himself. Seeing the fall of their Grand Master, the rest of the Teutonic forces started to withdraw towards their camp.

Part of the routed units retreated to the marshes and forests where they were pursued by the Lithuanian and Polish light cavalry, while the rest retreated to the camp near the village of Grunwaldmarker, where they tried to organise the defence by using the tabor tactics: the camp was surrounded by wagons tied up with chains, serving as a mobile fortification. However, the defences were soon broken and the camp was looted. According to the anonymous author of the Chronicle of the Conflict of Ladislaus King of Poland with the Teutonic knights Anno Domini 1410, there were more bodies in and around the camp than on the rest of the battlefield. The pursuit after the fleeing Teutonic cavalry lasted until the dusk.

Despite the technological superiority of the Teutonic Knights, to the point of this being believed to be the first battle in this part of Europe in which field-artillery was deployed, the numbers and tactical superiority of the Polish Lithuanian alliance were to prove overwhelming.


300 px
The defeat of the Teutonic Order was resounding. According to Andrzej Nadolski about 8,000 Teuton soldiers were killed in the battle, and an additional 14,000 taken captive. Most of the approximately 250 members of the Order were also killed, including much of the Teutonic leadership. Apart from Ulrich von Jungingen himself, the Polish and Lithuanian forces killed also the Grand Marshal Friedrich von Wallenrode, Grand Komtur Kuno von Lichtenstein and Albrecht von Schwartzburg, the Grand Treasurer Thomas von Merheim.

Markward von Salzbach, the Komtur of Brandenburgmarker, and mayor Schaumburg of Sambiamarker were executed by order of Vytautas after the battle. The only higher officials to escape from the battle were Grand Hospital Master and Komtur of Elbingmarker Werner von Tettinger. Such a slaughter of noble knights and personalities was quite unusual in medieval Europe. This was possible mostly due to the participation of the peasantry who joined latter stages of the battle, and took part in destruction of the surrounded Teutonic troops. Unlike the noblemen, the peasants did not receive any ransom for taking captives; they thus had less of an incentive to keep them alive. Among those taken captive were Konrad the White, duke of Oels (Oleśnicamarker), and Casimir V of Pomerania-Stettin (Szczecin). The lost battle led Bogislaw VIII of Pomerania-Stolp to cancel the alliance all Pomeranian dukes had concluded with the Teutonic knights before, and to side with Poland in return for the southwestern areas of the defeated Teutonic Order statemarker, yet was unable to have these gains confirmed in the First Peace of Thorn.

After the battle Polish and Lithuanian forces stayed on the battlefield for three days. All notable officials were interred in separate graves, while the body of Ulrich von Jungingen was covered with royal coat and transported to Marienburg Castle. The rest of the dead were gathered in several mass graves. There are different speculations as to why Jogaila decided to wait that long. After three days, the Polish-Lithuanian forces moved on to Marienburg and laid siege upon the castle, but the three days time had been enough for the knights to organise the defence.Troops from Livonia were expected to support their brothers, and the ongoing conflict with Sigismund of Luxemburg could cause problems elsewhere. After several weeks of siege, the Lithuanian Grand Duke withdrew from the war and it became clear that the siege would not be effective. The nobility from Lesser Poland also wanted to end the war before the harvest, and the siege was lifted.

In the battle, both Polish and Lithuanian forces had taken several thousand captives. Most of the mercenaries were released shortly after the battle on the condition that they will return to Krakówmarker on 29 September 1410. After that move, the king held most of the Teutonic officials, while the rest returned to Prussia to beg the Teutonic Order officials for their liberation and ransom payment. This proved to be a major drain of the Teutonic budget as the value of a Teutonic Knight was quite high.

For instance, one of the mercenaries named Holbracht von Loym had to pay sixty times ( ) the number of 150 Prague groschen, that is over 30 kilograms of pure silver, which is worth roughly 10000 USD or EUR in modern times, but before the discovery of South America and its silver and gold, could be estimated at the times of the crusades at about a million $ or €. With his army defeated and the remnants of it composed mostly of ill-paid mercenaries, Heinrich von Plauen the Elder had little incentive to continue the fight, especially since some of the Hanseatic cities owned by the knights had changed sides. Thus, after retaking Danzigmarker from rebellious burghers, the peace negotiations were started.

According to the Peace of Thorn signed in February 1411, the Order had to cede the Dobrin Land (Dobrzyń Land) to Poland, and resign their claims to Samogitia for the lifetime of the king. This is thought to be a diplomatic defeat for Poland and Lithuania as they pushed for attempts to dismantle the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knightsmarker altogether. However, while the Poles and Lithuanians were unable to translate the military victory in the battle to greater geographical gains, the financial consequences of the peace treaty were much worse for the knights, having to pay about 5 tons of silver in each of the next four years.

The defeat of Teutonic knights' troops left them with few forces to defend their remaining territories. The Grand Masters from then on had to rely on mercenary troops, which proved too expensive for the knights' budget to sustain. Although Heinrich von Plauen the Elder, the successor to Ulrich von Jungingen, managed to keep hold on territories conquered by knights, the opposition to his rule among the citizens, the knights and within the Order itself forced his ouster.

The Teuton knights' lost support due to their internal conflicts and constant tax increases, which decades later was manifested in the foundation of the Prussian Confederation, or Alliance against Lordship, in 1441. This led to a series of conflicts that culminated in 1454 the Thirteen Years' War, ending with another defeat of the humiliated order.

The next year the Polish and Lithuanian leaders celebrated the victory with a sort of a re-enactment parade, and a voyage to visit their neighbours, Polotsk, Smolensk and Riazan, but seemingly their visits failed to impress, maybe because the monarchs made the journey without their armies, but in ships down the Dniepr to Kiev.

Influences of the Battle of Grunwald on modern culture


The battle of Grunwald is regarded as one of the most important battles in Polish history. It is often depicted by an ideogram of two swords, which were supposedly given to the King Władysław II Jagiełło and the Grand Duke Vytautas before the battle by the Teutonic knights envoys to "raise Polish desire for battle".

In 1910, on the eve of World War I, during celebration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the battle, a monument by Antoni Wiwulski was erected in Krakówmarker. The ceremony spawned demonstrations of outrage within Polish society against the aggressive politics of the German Empiremarker, including the forcible Germanization of Poles after the partitions of Poland. Polish poet Maria Konopnicka wrote the fiercely patriotic, poem, "Rota" calling to defence against Germanisation policies. About the same time, Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote the novel The Teutonic Knights (Polish: Krzyżacy), one of his series of books designed to increase patriotic spirit amongst the Poles (forty-four years later, Polish filmmaker Aleksander Ford used the book as the basis for his film, The Teutonic Knights).

The Soviets used the symbols of the battle for propaganda purposes and created the Order Krzyża Grunwaldu (The Cross of Grunwald medal) which was a military decoration created in 1943 by the commander of the Soviet proxy force Gwardia Ludowa (confirmed in 1944 by the Krajowa Rada Narodowa) and awarded for heroism in World War II.

Some Polish sport teams, including Grunwald Poznańmarker, are named in memory of the Polish victory.

Every year, to commemorate it, the Battle of Grunwald reenactment takes place on 15 July. Thousands of medieval reenactors from all over Europe, many of them in knight's armour, gather in July at the Grunwald fields to reconstruct the battle. Great care is taken with the historical details of the armour, weapons, and conduct of the battle.

During the struggles in Poland at the early 1980s, the name was used (to some opinions, abused) by "Grunwald Patriotic Union", which was accused of being both antisemitic and covertly supported by the then Communist governemnt [768222].


In the 15th century present-day Belarusmarker was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Many cities from the region contributed troops to the Grand Duchy's side:
Republic of Belarus Republic of Lithuania Republic of Ukraine Russian Federation Republic of Poland
1 Brestmarker Ukmergėmarker Volodymyr-Volynskyi Veliky Novgorodmarker Drohiczynmarker
2 Bykhawmarker Vilniusmarker Kievmarker Smolenskmarker Melnik
3 Vitebskmarker Vilniusmarker Kremenetsmarker Starodubmarker
4 Vawkavyskmarker Kaunasmarker Lutskmarker
5 Hrodnamarker Medininkaimarker Novhorod-Siverskyimarker
6 Drutskmarker Trakaimarker Ratno
7 Kobrynmarker Trakaimarker Czartoryjsk
8 Krevamarker Podolia
9 Krychawmarker Podolia
10 Lidamarker Podolia
11 Lukoml
12 Minskmarker+Zaslawyemarker
13 Mahilyowmarker
14 Mstislavlmarker
15 Nesvizhmarker
16 Navahrudakmarker
17 Orshamarker
18 Ashmyanymarker
19 Pinskmarker
20 Polatskmarker
21 Slonimmarker
22 Slutskmarker
The victory in the Battle of Grunwald is widely respected and commemorated.


140 px
The victory at the Battle of Grunwald or Žalgirio mūšis in 1410 is synonymous with the peak of the political and military power of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The demise of the Teutonic order ended the period of German expansion and created preconditions for political stability, economic growth and relative cultural prosperity that lasted until the rise of Grand Duchy of Moscow in the late 16th century. In the Lithuanian historical discourse regarding the battle there is a lasting controversy over the roles played by the Lithuanian-born king of Poland Jogaila, and his cousin, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas, the latter being favoured as a national hero. There is also well known speculation about two swords which were presented to Jogaila before battle; why two swords for one commander? Some historians believe that Teutonic Order sent one sword for Vytautas, but as he was commanding on the field of battle both of them were presented to Jogaila. This episode reflects a wider controversy: to what extent was Vytautas subordinate to his cousin Jogaila, if at all?

The term Žalgiris became a symbol of resistance to foreign domination over Lithuania. The leading Lithuanian basketball and football teams are called BC Žalgiris and FK Žalgiris to commemorate the battle. The victories of BC Žalgiris Kaunas against the Soviet Army sports club CSKA Moscow in the late 1980s served as a major emotional inspiration for the Lithuanian national revival, and the consequent emergence of the Sąjūdis movement that helped lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The historical reason for such inspirations may seem obscure. Contemporary chronicler Jan Dlugosz in Historiae Poloniae (Lib. X) describes the Lithuanians as "showing their back and running all along towards Lithuania" from the battlefield. This however could simply be propaganda at a time in which the Polish nobles came to dominate more and more the twin state of Poland-Lithuania. In fact it was the leadership of the two Lithuanian born Noblemen, Jogaila and Vytautas, who proved to be decisive for the allied victory. The so called fleeing of the Lithuanian light cavalry might have been a tactical move which at a later stage of the battle proved to be very important when those troops regrouped and attended the battlefield again, striking the final blow to the tired forces of the order.


In Germany the battle was known as the Battle of Tannenberg. In 1914 yet another Battle of Tannenbergmarker took place between Germany and Russia, ending with a Russian defeat. In German propaganda during the World War I / World War II period the 1914 battle was put forth as a revenge for the Polish - Lithuanian victory 504 years earlier, and the battle itself was purposefully named to suit this agenda.

Russia and the Soviet Union

Due to the participation of the three Smolenskmarker regiments in the battle, Russians consider the battle to be a Polishmarker-Lithuanianmarker-Russian coalition against invading Germans. However, at the time Smolensk, although founded by Russians and still inhabited by Russians, was a part of Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Furthermore, Lithuanian historian Edvardas Gudavičius argues, that those banners were actually Lithuanian forces, that under command of Lengvenis in 1408 were sent to the rioting city. After quelling the riot, Smolenskmarker became part of the Grand Duchy. The presence of regiments from those territories is noted by modern sources . Chronicler Jan Długosz (circa 1455-1480) states that "Russian knights of Smolensk fought steadfast, standing under their own banners, only them not running, thus gaining a lot of fame." Speculations over decisive role of Russian, Lithuanian or Polish forces and their contribution to common victory may be influenced by a political context.

The banner from Starodubmarker took part in the battle in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania formation. This town is now part of the Bryansk region in Russia.

In Soviet historiography, the battle of Grunwald was styled as a racial struggle between Slavs and Germans, where the Teutonic Knights were portrayed as the medieval forerunners of Hitler's armies, while the battle itself was seen as the medieval counterpart of stemming the German tide at Stalingrad.


See also


  1. Detailed old German maps at
  2. p.43,Johnson
  3. Razin, p. 485
  4. Razin, 486
  5. Razin, pp. 485-486
  6. An overview of Czech forces can be found in corresponding article on Czech Wikipedia. Czech mercenaries fought on both sides of the battle.
  7. The name of Žižka was mentioned in passing by Jan Długosz while writing about castle Radzyń. A Czech knight of similar name was possibly confused with Žižka (see Czech language article). A legend has that Žižka lost his first eye during this battle.
  9. Banner of Culm Town (Teutonic Order, Germany)
  10. Kyra Inachim, Die Geschichte Pommerns, Hinstorff Rostock, 2008, p.36, ISBN 978-3-356-01044-2
  11. Bütow, Schlochau, Preußisch-Friedland, Baldenburg, Hammerstein and Schivelbein areas
  12. Kyra Inachim, Die Geschichte Pommerns, Hinstorff Rostock, 2008, p.37, ISBN 978-3-356-01044-2
  14. p.278, Mickunaite
  15. p.44,Johnson
  16. The Small Lexicon of the Battles, 2000. - by Attila & Balázs Weiszhár ISBN 963-547-189-0
  17. Lonnie Johnson, Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends, Oxford University Press 1996, p43


  • Stephen Turnbull, Tannenberg 1410 Disaster for the Teutonic Knights, 2003, London: Osprey Campaign Series no. 122 ISBN 9781841765617
  • Разин Е. А. (E. A. Razin), История военного искусства XVI — XVII вв. — СПб.: ООО «Издательство Полигон», 1999. ISBN 5891730413 (XVI — XVII вв.), сс. 485-489.
  • V. V. Boguslavskii (ed.), Slavianskaia entsiklopediia: Kievskaia Rus' - Moskoviia. V 2-kh tomakh. Tom 1: A-M, Moskva, 2001, Olma Media Group, T. 1, ISBN 5224022509, p. 317
  • Johnson, Lonnie, Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends, Oxford University Press (US), 1996, ISBN 0195100719
  • Mickunaite, Giedre, A Medieval parade, in The Man of Many Devices, Who Wandered Full Many Ways:festschrift in honour of János M. Bak, Balazs Nagy, Marcell Sebők, Central European University Press, 1999 ISBN 963911667X

Further reading


  • Stefan Kuczyński, Szymon Kobyliński, Chorągwie grunwaldzkich zwycięzców (The Banners of the Victors of Grunwald); WAiF, Warsawmarker, 1989. ISBN 83-221-0467-7
  • Ioannes Longinus (Jan Długosz), Annales seu Cronicæ Incliti Regni Poloniæ; PWN, Warsawmarker, 2000. ISBN 83-01-13301-5
  • Ioannes Longinus (Jan Długosz), Bitwa grunwaldzka; Ossolineum, Wrocławmarker, 2003. ISBN 83-04-04632-6
  • Mečislovas Jučas, Žalgirio mūšis (Battle of Grunwald); Mokslas, Vilniusmarker, 1990. ISBN 5-420-00242-6
  • Sven Ekdahl, Die Schlacht bei Tannenberg 1410. Quellenkritische Untersuchungen. Bd. 1: Einführung und Quellenlage. ISBN 3-428-05243-9 Review at
  • Sven Ekdahl Die "Banderia Prutenorum" des Jan Długosz: Eine Quelle zur Schlacht bei Tannenberg 1410 : Unters. zu Aufbau, Entstehung u. Quellenwert d. Hs. : mit e. ... Klasse ; Folge 3, Nr. 104). ISBN 3-525-82382-7


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