Tannenberg, Battle of 1410

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tannenberg, Battle of (1410)


(in Russian, Battle of Grunwald), the decisive battle of the Great War of 1409–11, in which Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian troops routed troops of the Teutonic Order on July 15. On July 3, the Polish-Lithuanian-Russian army, under the command of the Polish king, Ladislas II Jagello (Jagiello), advanced from the area of Czerwiensk toward Malbork and in the vicinity of Grunwald encountered the main forces of the order under the command of Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. The troop of the order (27,000) consisted of German, French, and other knights and detachments of mercenaries (Swiss, English, and others), with 51 banners in all. The allied army (32,000) comprised Polish, Lithuanian, Russian (including Ukrainian and Byelorussian), Wallachian, Czech-Moravian, Hungarian, and Tatar detachments, with 91 gonfalons in all. The troops of the order were better armed and better trained, but the allies surpassed them in morale, since they were fighting for their independence. The allies arranged themselves in three lines on a front 2 km long, with 40 Lithuanian and Russian gonfalons on the right wing under the command of the Lithuanian grand prince Witold and 42 Polish, seven Russian, and two Czech gonfalons on the left wing under the command of Crown Marshal Zbigniew from Brzeg. On the right flank was the Tatar cavalry. The crusaders first arranged themselves in three lines, but then, in order to extend the front to 2.5 km, rearranged themselves into two lines, with 20 banners of Liechtenstein on the right wing, 15 banners of Vallenrod on the left wing, and a reserve of 16 banners in the second line. In the front were artillerymen and arbalesters.

The battle began with a volley by the order’s artillerymen, which did no damage to the allied troops. The Tatar cavalry and the first line of troops of Vytautas attacked the left flank of the crusaders, but they were turned back by a counterattack from the knights of Vallenrod. The second and third lines of troops of Vytautas entered the fighting, but the Germans threw them back and began to pursue them. Three Smolensk regiments under the command of Prince Semen Lingven Ol’gerovich remained on the battlefield and held down part of Vallenrod’s forces. The Polish gonfalons went on the offensive and broke through the front of Liechtenstein’s troops. An attack by detachments of Vallenrod who had returned after pursuing the Lithuanians was beaten back, and then they were destroyed. The troops of Liechtenstein were encircled. Then the grand master personally led his reserve into the battle, but Jagello threw in his third line to meet it, backed by the gonfalons of Vytautas, which had returned to the battlefield. The crusaders were encircled, and a large number of them were killed. The leaders of the order, headed by the grand master, perished in the battle. The great courage of the troops and the military skill of Jagello in the battle of Tannenberg dealt a fatal blow to the Teutonic Order, and its aggression in the east was stopped. In 1960 a monument was erected on the site of the battle of Tannenberg.


Dlugos, J. Griunval’dskaia bitva. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962. (Translated from Latvian.)
Isloriia Pol’shi, vol. I. Moscow, 1956.
Pashuto. V.. and M. luchas. “550-letie Griunval’dskoi bitvy.” Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, 1960, no. 7.
Kuczynski, St. M. Wielka wojna z Zakonem Krzyzackim w lalach 1409–1411. Warsaw. 1955. (Bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.