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The Grunwald Battle: Today is 600th anniversary of the greatest medieval battle.


Olaf 6 | 956
15 Jul 2010 #1
Not a wide-known fact outside Poland, but the Grunwald battle (15.07.1410) was one of the most spectacular victories and one of the biggest battles in medieval times. Too bad the victory was not used politically to gain something or at leaast to finally crush the Teutonian order. Big celebrations are prepared starting from today. There should be more of such dates celebrated here, not only cult of loses and martyrology.
Bratwurst Boy 7 | 10,433
15 Jul 2010 #2
*don's on Teutonic Knights armor*

*fastens helmet*

*screams battle cry*

*tries to convince horse to move forward*
convex 20 | 3,978
15 Jul 2010 #3
Not a wide-known fact outside Poland, but the Grunwald battle (15.07.1410) was one of the most spectacular victories and one of the biggest battles in medieval times.

Not sure about being one of the biggest...or that spectacular for that matter. Do completely agree with you on the second part however..
OP Olaf 6 | 956
15 Jul 2010 #4
Battle of Grunwald was definitely one of the greatest. I don't only rely this on the source below, but it was the fastest to find to confirm. And for Poland it was of much greater importance too.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_warfare
Bratwurst Boy 7 | 10,433
15 Jul 2010 #5
Well, it's rarely known outside of Poland...compared to Vienna or Waterloo for example.

*imagines ABBA singing "Grunwald"*
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
15 Jul 2010 #6
Not sure about being one of the biggest...or that spectacular for that matter. Do completely agree with you on the second part however..

50.000-70.000 participants - by far the biggest medieval battle in Europe.
30.000+ heavy cavalry on both sides - biggest cavalry battle in Europe in the entire period.

Less then 500 losses on the polish side (including about 50 knights) - 24.000 killed and captured on the Teutonic side.

Its the mother of all medieval battles, nowhere before or after these kinds of forces or such an awesome victory was won, in six hours the entire armed forces of a belligerent were snuffed out with the loss of only several hundred men and yeah it is the biggest.

Well, it's rarely known outside of Poland...compared to Vienna or Waterloo for example.

Thats mainly because the TO was wiped from historical record after WW2 due to Germany using it as a propaganda reference in the Nazi period, today most kids in Germany dont know why their army uses a cross for example.

Amusingly enough the Teutonic Order was one of the most ardent opponents of Hitler and quite a few of them went to the concentration camps for refusing to lend Goebbels their voices.
OP Olaf 6 | 956
15 Jul 2010 #7
Waterloo

- big indeed, but not quite medieval;)
jwojcie 2 | 763
15 Jul 2010 #8
Too bad the victory was not used politically to gain something or at leaast to finally crush the Teutonian order.

Well, I was taught the same thing in school :-) but I've listen recently interesting broadcast about this battle with some historian, and supposedly not exactly true. According to this historian:

1. United forces under Jagiello wanted badly to capture Malbork castle, but at those times it was almost imposible to capture such well maintained castle by force. It was some time before powder were invented for such purpose in Europe.

2. It is not true that it wasn't used politically. This notion is very resistant in polish historiography mostly due to Jan Dlugosz (most known polish chronicler in XV century). This guy just didn't like Jagiello and he deliberately reduced Jagiello successes in his writings. In fact after this battle (and entire campaign) Teutonic Order was no longer a threat from political, economic and military point of view. The fact that in XVIII almighty Prussia was born there is just different story.

Well, but history is not math there are countless interpretations there...

50.000-70.000 participants - by far the biggest medieval battle in Europe.

This guy said that latest estimates are more or less like this:
30000 on Jagiello said
15000 on Teutonic Order side
so in line with lower boundary of your numbers.
Anyway, the fact that historians are using round numbers tells us, that they are far from knowing the actual size of this battle :-) But for sure it was very big battle considering medieval Europe standards :-)

PS. I've heard that this year there will be about 2200 people taking part in reconstruction
and camp should be about 6000. Well it should be quite cool event :-)
Last year:
youtube.com/watch?v=M9F6Le950bg&feature=related

This is quite cool to: 32 people embroiders "The Battle of Grunwald" by Jan Matejko :-) :

bialystok.gazeta.pl/bialystok/1,35233,8123236,Krzyzacy_z_krzyzykow_na_finiszu.html
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
15 Jul 2010 #9
so in line with lower boundary of your numbers.

We know it was more then 15000 or 30000, attempts of armchair historians to put their own twists are rather silly, we cant tell whether it was 23.000 or 30.000 TO and 35.000 or 40.000 Allies but the numbers you quote are a bit on the low side.

1. United forces under Jagiello wanted badly to capture Malbork castle, but at those times it was almost imposible to capture such well maintained castle by force. It was some time before powder were invented for such purpose in Europe.

Rubbish, siege guns were well in use by then also Malbork was completely out of food, there's a lot of reasons why Jagiełło did not capture it but they're all completely political and have a lot with preserving lithuanian power over polish interests.

2. It is not true that it wasn't used politically. This notion is very resistant in polish historiography mostly due to Jan Dlugosz (most known polish chronicler in XV century). This guy just didn't like Jagiello and he deliberately reduced Jagiello successes in his writings. In fact after this battle (and entire campaign) Teutonic Order was no longer a threat from political, economic and military point of view. The fact that in XVIII almighty Prussia was born there is just different story.

It was not, Poland could have grabbed all of the TO territories which would make it the most powerfull country in the world overnight, instead Jagiełlo decided on leniency fearing that Poland would become too strong of a partner and marginalize Lithuania.

He was a polish king but a Lithuanian by birth after all.

Heck, Germans wanted to become part of Poland by then, the other options were the yoke of the TO or the oppressive and poor HRE.
aligator_s - | 77
15 Jul 2010 #10
it was almost imposible to capture such well maintained castle by force

tunneling under the walls, packing pitch and pig carcasses around your pit props and then setting the whole lot alight before retiring to a safe distance tended to work in most cases

hurling rotten animal carcasses over the walls in order to spread disease was another option if you had the time

and don't forget leaving a huge wooden horse outside the gates as an offering from the Gods. that one works every time :-)
jwojcie 2 | 763
15 Jul 2010 #11
Rubbish, siege guns were well in use by then also Malbork was completely out of food, there's a lot of reasons why Jagiełło did not capture it but they're all completely political and have a lot with preserving lithuanian power over polish interests.

Well, I can't agree it is rabbish. The siege lasted until end of September and didn't achive anything. Even in 1454-1466 war, when finally those lands fallen under Polish king, it wasn't conquered but entry was bought from mercenaries. Malbork wasn't and isn't just any castle, it is still the largest brick castle in the world after all...

Anyway, there can be many speculations, some cool advert of this year reconstruction:

youtu.be/vpR_Ckg3q6s
Bartolome 2 | 1,085
15 Jul 2010 #12
Waterloo

It was in the Western backyard, that's why. Sometimes I go to the library, and the Eastern history is almost nonexistent in Western history books (some exception is Russia).
Darun 1 | 55
15 Jul 2010 #13
50.000-70.000 participants - by far the biggest medieval battle in Europe.
30.000+ heavy cavalry on both sides - biggest cavalry battle in Europe in the entire period.

Great battle indeed, but not so big.

Eg 1: The battle of Vaslui (or Podul Inalt) the biggest victory of Christianity - January 10, 1475
Participants: around 50.000 Romanians, 3.000 Hungarians, and 2.000 polish against 60.000 - 120.000 ottomans
To not say I'm biased, and also not to quote wiki:
statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Battle-of-Vaslui

Eg2: The night attack (Vlad Tepes against ottomans) - June 17th, 1462
Combatants: agreed upon - 30.000 Romanians against number most agreed upon 100.000 - 200.000 ottomans (most of the sources of that time placed the numbers of the ottomans at 200.000 - 400.000, but nowadays historians think this is impossible and agreed on the lower)

Again:
nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/The-Night-Attack
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
15 Jul 2010 #14
70.000 participants is huge, both armies were among the largest in Europe and both fielded the largest heavy cavalry contingents fielded ever.

Teutonic Knight approximately 20.000 including guests, Poland approximately 24.000.

Eg 1: The battle of Vaslui (or Podul Inalt) the biggest victory of Christianity - January 10, 1475
Participants: around 50.000 Romanians, 3.000 Hungarians, and 2.000 polish against 60.000 - 120.000 ottomans

Rubbish, the 120.000 Ottoman troops was the total amount of troops that entered Moldavia, the 50.000 is the grand total Romanian troops available for mobilisation, the battle was fought between 20.000 allied and 45.000 Turks, Wikipedia inflates the number just like the battles of Dimitr against the Golden Horde which still puts it a solid 5-10 thousand below Grunwald.

Given that Romania was sparsely populated even when compared to relatively underpopulated Poland fielding anything remotely close to the number given by Wikipedia (i assume you use "anyone can edit me" as a source).

Eg2: The night attack (Vlad Tepes against ottomans) - June 17th, 1462
Combatants: agreed upon - 30.000 Romanians against number most agreed upon 100.000 - 200.000 ottomans (most of the sources of that time placed the numbers of the ottomans at 200.000 - 400.000, but nowadays historians think this is impossible and agreed on the lower)

Your own source says it was 90.000 Gregor Hunyadi writes extensively about the conflict where the actual battle is between 8-12.000 on Tepes' side and 50.000 Turks, thats still much much lower then Grunwald.

Of course if you're hellbent on quoting editable sources or ones you haven't even read yourself why not quote Tuetonic sources where they claim Poland had 50 million men who overwhelmed the 6 million German knights?:))))

Still Grunwald remains the biggest, the only battles we could argue to get close or match it would be those fought in Spain but even then barely.
Darun 1 | 55
15 Jul 2010 #15
Good attempt Sokrates, but just an attempt.

I've given that source since it does relay on books with multiple sources, the other on grunwald being from wiki.
You give a Huniade (not recognising the name, perhaps you have the original spelling) - and only one man, and expect to believe him when there were several other historians such as the Greek Chalconydes, the Venetian envoy - Tomassi, another Italian - Tocco who placed the numbers far higher and observed the battle.

Also, if you read the article you will see some sources mentioned who somewhat agree on the numbers, and are by far bigger - the cassette with numbers seems rather alleatory written, the text giving more details. As for the 1st battle, the Pope named it the biggest battle of Christianity, and the sources of that time agreed on it - among which being also Jan Dlugosz.
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
15 Jul 2010 #16
there were several other historians such as the Greek Chalconydes, the Venetian envoy - Tomassi,

Tomassi in your own source claims there was 90.000 Turks, did you even read it?
OP Olaf 6 | 956
15 Jul 2010 #17
Sometimes I go to the library, and the Eastern history is almost nonexistent in Western history books

- Touche

60.000 - 120.000

- that difference is very inconsistent

200.000 ottomans (most of the sources of that time placed the numbers of the ottomans at 200.000 - 400.000, but nowadays historians think this is impossible and agreed on the lower)

- since the historians "agree" on the number then we might as well treat this source as completly unreliable
Darun 1 | 55
15 Jul 2010 #18
The same goes for history overall. That's the problem, even if contemporary sources with the event, are available, there is hard to tell wether they are accurate or not.

The same goes for every event of this sort, for Grumwald for example, as well, as admitted above actually. I usually like to see that there are more sources than 1 or 2, and of various origins. I've posted those battles because the events were reported by many, and of various backgrounds, from Italians to Poles or even Greeks (leaving aside the major parts directly involved).

Grumwald and Mariemburg were major battles, I didn't contest that, just that they weren't the biggest, from the region perhaps but not overall. As Bartolome observed, the sources are uneven from West to East, quite unfortunate.

Just as a paranthesis: it is however a good sign, that more and more people are interested in those "unkown" events. Various countries have received the support and dedication of "objective" and well respected historians among academics, and have found in those a kind of PR officers and advocates of their histories, such as for example for Poland - Norman Davies.

We may argue as much as we want who's (battle) was bigger, but I find it a good thing even the talk about it. I'll leave you to your topic now.
Dudeski - | 25
16 Jul 2010 #19
jwojcie
Anyway, there can be many speculations, some cool advert of this year reconstruction:



They should make a full-length movie out of this :-]
ZIMMY 6 | 1,601
16 Jul 2010 #20
Less then 500 losses on the polish side (including about 50 knights) - 24.000 killed and captured on the Teutonic side.

Those figures are hard to believe. It's a 48 to 1 ratio. Now, I could believe 1 Pole knocking out 10 Teutons.........
Dudeski - | 25
16 Jul 2010 #21
Yeah? Then think about Wizna or Westerplatte if you find it hard to believe.

We are vicious bastards when attacked, heh
ZIMMY 6 | 1,601
16 Jul 2010 #22
Oh, I'm hip, and let's throw in the Hel peninsula as well.......

It's just that in the 1400's lots of the military action was one-on-one . unless the Poles were using a Gatling Gun, it would be more than remarkable if the ratio was as high as the knowledgeable Sokrates stated.

As I said, I could believe that 10 Poles could cause 100 Teuton casualties but a 48 to 1 ratio is suspect. Wait, what is that music I'm hearing, is it? can it be? .........

Marsz, marsz, Dąbrowski
Do Polski z ziemi włoskiej
Za twoim przewodem
Złączym się z narodem
..........................
Niemiec, Moskal nie osiędzie,
Gdy jąwszy pałasza,
Hasłem wszystkich zgoda będzie
I ojczyzna nasza

Marsz, marsz...
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
16 Jul 2010 #23
Those figures are hard to believe. It's a 48 to 1 ratio. Now, I could believe 1 Pole knocking out 10 Teutons.........

Actually we know approximately 50 polish knights died, i made up the rest of the losses behind various historical estimates since some infantry and light cav was bound to bite the dust, all in all less then 600 men died on the alliance side.

The losses such as they were came from Teutonic Knights being surrounded and charged by heavy infantry, while their losses were probably 2000-3000 men up to the point of being surrounded once they were, and Jagiełło ordered heavy infantry regiments to attack the ration could very well become 100:1.

Add to this that when fleeing TO had exhausted horses while Poles still had light cavalry that was unused in the battle so anyone trying to bolt from the battle would almost 100% be cought and killed, at least 4000 of those losses were TO infantry who were left unsupported on flat fields against heavy cavalry too.

30:1, 48:1 we wont be sure of the exact ratio but it was significant
OP Olaf 6 | 956
16 Jul 2010 #24
It's a 48 to 1 ratio. Now, I could believe 1 Pole knocking out 10 Teutons.........

Maybe they are exagurated but I imagine that if you wound or capture a knight, all his "soldiers" are confused and either give up or are killed or are taken as slaves for which their master has to pay later. Get one knight and you actually capture his whole crew;)
Bratwurst Boy 7 | 10,433
16 Jul 2010 #25
Those figures are hard to believe. It's a 48 to 1 ratio. Now, I could believe 1 Pole knocking out 10 Teutons.........

Not only "unbelievable" but also not true:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Grunwald

Belligerents
Kingdom of Poland
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Polish-Lithuanian vassals, allies and mercenaries:[1]

Ruthenia,[2] Masovia,[3] Moldavia,[4] Tartars,[5] Czechs, Bohemia,[1] Moravia,[1] Wallachia[6]

Strength
16,000-39,000 men[7]

Casualties and losses
4,000-5,000 dead
8,000 wounded[8]

Belligerents
Teutonic Order, guest crusaders, and mercenaries from western Europe

Strength
11,000-27,000 men[7]

Casualties and losses
200-400 knights killed
8,000 dead
14,000 captured

;)

16,000-39,000 men against 11,000-27,000 men
4,000-5,000 dead to 8,000 dead

And whoever points to other sources, the stats from wikipedia are the currently mainstream accepted facts by the majority of historians!
OP Olaf 6 | 956
16 Jul 2010 #26
Ok, but do not rely solely on wikipedia. It is not the most reliable source, just provides a lot of information that needs to be checked. Even historians are cautious with numbers in this battle. But mostly they don't argue it was the biggest - or one of the biggest.

Bratwurst, are you Teutonian decendant? ;) hahaha
Bratwurst Boy 7 | 10,433
16 Jul 2010 #27
Ok, but do not rely solely on wikipedia.

Wikipedia isn't "solely", that's what many people don't get.

Most articles of broader interest are researched and discussed by whole groups of historians and all has to be documented with lot's of sources to guide you further (sources and references)

It's a good starting point to see what is accepted mainstream history and what not.

Bratwurst, are you Teutonian decendant?

It was an Order I believe, not a people or a race!
I as a pagan would not had been a natural friend but I love the uniforms!!! ;)

And since they are roman catholic more Poles could become members than protestant Germans...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teutonic_Knights
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
16 Jul 2010 #28
Wonder who edited the wikipedia, we know exactly how many knights died since they've been all accounted for, 54 Polish knights.

Also why is it not believable? British losses at Agincourt were around 200 dead, Polish losses were probably 3 times that much, even if we stretch it and say that allies lost 1000 men thats still 24 times less then the TO.

And whoever points to other sources, the stats from wikipedia are the currently mainstream accepted facts by the majority of historians!

No BB, the stats from Wiki are figures anyone can put in if he feels like it, i still remember when Nathan edited an article to put the sizes of Ukrainian and Polish armies at roughly 10x their real size.

Maybe they are exagurated but I imagine that if you wound or capture a knight, all his "soldiers" are confused and either give up or are killed or are taken as slaves for which their master has to pay later. Get one knight and you actually capture his whole crew;)

The case was more with TO having to retreat on tired horses ie being slower then their pursuers.

To put in perspective the leisure at which the TO soldiers were slaughtered, out of 205 TO brothers in the battle (senior members of the TO) 203 were killed.

Given that the order had 280 full brothers in total thats about 70% of the ruling elite of a country killed in one battle so the loss ratio is very realistic.
Bratwurst Boy 7 | 10,433
16 Jul 2010 #29
Well, I too am an editor (mostly Prussia/Germany related articles) and I can tell you for example about the hot discussions between Prussia-fanboys and Prussia-haters (english Wiki), what stayed at the end was the common agreed facts (under the whip of a professional wiki editor) which needed to be documented several times to survive the scratching.

That's why I spoke about "topics of broader interest". It can be that in local wikis, with not many interested people and unobserved someone can wreak havoc for a short time but that is not possible for the majority of the articles (and especially not in the english wiki).

Just my experience...

PS: If you don't like the article itself just take the sources and references on the end and go from there

PPS: And if you believe you have more trustworthy sources why not opening a discussion in Wiki? Who knows...you might be able to change the entry! :)
OP Olaf 6 | 956
16 Jul 2010 #30
Wikipedia isn't "solely", that's what many people don't get.

I know that, I happened to be an author of some articles in in too. But there are mistakes - it is not the most reliable source in all cases. Agree?

I as a pagan would not had been a natural friend but I love the uniforms!!! ;)

And since they are roman catholic more Poles could become members than protestant Germans...

My obvious joke turned out to be a bit dry:). Anyway, the Germans always seemed to have one of the best uniforms. Trendy and comfy;). Isn't Germany the country of Karl Lagerfeldt?

I personally admit that TO had cool coats and plate armors and those heavy swords.

a pagan

- I just love it when someone calls themself a pagan. Are you using this just as a synonym for atheism or you mean really pagan??


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