Later Polish IV/66: 1335 AD-1510 AD

DBA list:
1x 3Kn (General): Wladyslaw II Jagiello ( 1362 - 1434)
3x 3Kn
4x 3Cv
1x 2LH
1x 3Bd or 2LH
1x 8Bw
1x WWg or 8Bw

Wladyslaw II Jagiello

Jogaila, later Wladyslaw II Jagiello (b. about 1362 d. 1 June 1434), was the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. He ruled in Lithuania from 1377, at first with his uncle, Kestutis. In 1385 Lithuania entered into a union with the Polish Kingdom. In 1386, Jogila converted to Christianity, was baptized as Wladyslaw,and married Queen Jadwiga of Poland. He was crowned Polish king as Wladyslaw Jagiello. His reign in Poland lasted a further forty-eight years and laid the foundation for the centuries-long Polish-Lithuanian union. He gave his name to the Jagiellon branch of the Gediminids dynasty, which ruled both states until 1572, and became one of the most influential dynasties in medieval Central and Eastern Europe.

In 1401 Jagiello left the title of Grand Duke of Lithuania to his cousin Vytautas the Great, so that he (Jagiello), could be free to concentrate on Polish affairs. King Jagiello and Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas the Great (Witold) were also conscious that the Teutonic Order was gaining power year by year, preparing to conquer Eastern Europe. There was peace for a time after the union of Lithuania and Poland, but in 1398 the Teutonic knights invaded Lithuanian and Polish territory, and occupied the areas of Zemaitija (Zmudzi), Santok, and Drezdenko.The Polish-Lithuanian State considered Zemaitija to be part of its own territory and a cold war started between the Polish-Lithuanian State and the Teutonic Order.

The Poles and Lithuanians realised they were not strong enough to oppose the terror which the knights visited on the far fringes of their land, and had to bear the invasions and insults in silence.

But on 14 August 1409, Teutonic Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen declared war on the Polish-Lithuanian State. He also proposed an armistice with his neighbors, as neither side was ready for war, and for the time being, Jagiello and Vytautas accepted that.
The truce was to last from 8 October 1409 until sunset on 24 June 1410. During that time Jagiello sent spies to the occupied lands to learn all they could about the powerful enemy. In the meantime Jagiello sent some of his own people to Kiev, seeking help from the Tartars, who agreed to send 1500 cavalrymen after May 1410. The Bohemians would send 3000 men under the leadership of Jan Sokol, and help would also come from Moldova and Russia, since they understood the importance of this battle. In December 1409, Jagiello, Vytautas, and Dzala-ed-din, the leader of Tartars, met in Brzesc Litewsk, and formulated a plan of how to go to Malbork (Marienburg), and crush the Teutonic Order once and for all.

In the second week of June 1410, only eleven days before the armistice was due to end, the Polish forces were surprised by the arrival of three Teutonic Knights in full armor and bright trappings. They sought to speak with King Jagiello, proposing to him that the armistice should be extended for three weeks. Jagiello asked why, and the knights answered that knights from other nations of Europe wished to participate in the crusade, and that honour should not be denied to them. Jagiello accepted that proposal, not out of consideration for the Order, but because these extra days would be useful for better preparing his army.

In the early morning of July 15, 1410, Polish and Teutonic knights met in the fields near the villages of Grunwald, Tannenberg and Lodwigowo (Ludwigsdorf). The Polish-Lithuanian army was set up in front of the villages of Ludwigsdorf and Tannenberg. The left flank was guarded by the Polish forces of king Jogaila 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, Moldavians 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 Ioannes Longinus but does not mention the exact numbers. The other is 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.

The overall commander of the joint Polish-Lithuanian forces was king Wladyslaw II Jagiello of Poland, 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. 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.

Zbigniew z Brzezia or Zbigniew Lanckoronski (c. 1360 – c. 1425) was a notable Polish knight and nobleman of Clan Zadora. Zbigniew served as Marshal of the Crown from 1399 to 1425 and starost of Kraków from 1409 to 1410. He was a diplomat and a close co-worker of King Wladyslaw II Jagiello. He was several times an envoy to King of Hungary and Germany Sigismund of Luxembourg. During the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 he commanded the banner of the Marshal of the Crown.

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 Kracow. 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. Jan Žižka of Trocnov lost his first eye in the battle, fighting for the Lithuanians. He would later gain fame in the Hussite Wars.

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. The allies won a victory so overwhelming that the Teutonic Order's army was virtually annihilated, with most of its key commanders killed in combat, including Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen and Grand Marshal Friedrich von Wallenrode.


 

Click here to see the army pictures.

HOME