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Book Cover for: Grunwald and Orsha: The History and Legacy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's Most Decisive Battles, Charles River

Grunwald and Orsha: The History and Legacy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's Most Decisive Battles

Charles River

Like other secretive groups, the mystery surrounding the Teutonic Knights has helped their legacy endure. While some conspiracy theorists attempt to tie the group to other alleged secret societies like the Illuminati, other groups have tried to assert connections with the Teutonic Knights to bolster their own credentials. Who they were and what they had in their possession continue to be a source of great intrigue even among non-historical circles. While the military orders are now often tied to religion or conspiracy theories, they did once wield great power and influence in Europe, and their actions had consequences centuries after they had reached their peak. This was made clear in the wake of a major battle fought between German and Russian forces from August 26-30, 1914 during the First World War. It occurred in Masuria, a region of marshes, woodland, and numerous lakes in northern Poland, almost 400,000 men were involved, and it was a decisive victory for the Germans, who annihilated the Russian army. The Germans named the battle after Tannenberg (Polish Stebark), and the battle, though widely fought over 100 miles, did indeed encompass the village, but there was a historical reason for assigning the name to the battle. On July 15, 1410, Tannenberg was the site of another decisive battle between the army of the Germanic Teutonic Order and that of Poland-Lithuania, a battle now commonly referred to as the Battle of Grunwald (after another nearby village). German nationalism saw the destruction of the Russians as vengeance upon the Slavs for the defeat of 1410, and the Nazis also exploited that sentiment during their invasions of Poland and Russia. Conversely, for Poles and Russians, the Teutonic Knights were precursors of the rapacious Germans of the Second and Third Reichs, and Grunwald was a symbol of freedom and resistance. These sentiments remain strong to this day.

These considerations aside, the Battle of Grunwald was significant for a number of reasons. It marked the end of the German colonization of Slavic and Baltic lands in northeastern Europe that had begun in the 12th century. It therefore also marked the beginning of an age when the Slavic (principally the Polish) peoples could grow and expand without interference from the West. The battle also signified the end of the Teutonic Knights as a major power and marked the rise of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Meanwhile, Russia also began expanding its influence by playing a role in defeating the Mongol hordes. The Russian ruler, Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan III, married the final heir to the Byzantine throne, Sophia (born Zoe) Palaiologina, the daughter of the last emperor of Byzantium, in 1480. Sophia would go on to be the grandmother of Ivan the Terrible, the first tsar of Imperial Russia from 1547-84. As a result of this lineage, the Romanov tsars would claim they were the torchbearers of Orthodox Christianity, descending directly from Byzantium.

All of this political maneuvering would bring about one of the most famous battles in the history of Eastern Europe as the various parties sought to fill the power vacuum. The battle would be fought around Orsha, which is today a city of about 118,000 inhabitants on the fork of the Dnieper and Arshytsa Rivers in northern Belarus. One of the oldest settlements in that nation, Orsha has historically been an important center of communication and trade.

In 1514, Orsha was a much smaller town, home to a population of no more than 5,000 as part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but on September 8 of that year, the normally quiet and unpretentious town was thrust into the world's gaze when over 100,000 troops engaged in one of the 16th century's biggest battles outside the town walls. The battle pitted the forces of the King of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania against the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and it was part of a conflict known to history as the Fourth Muscovite-Lithuanian W...

Book Details

  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Publish Date: Jan 4th, 2024
  • Pages: 90
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 11.00in - 8.50in - 0.19in - 0.51lb
  • EAN: 9798873993529
  • Categories: Europe - Medieval
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