Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ukrainian knights will take part in 2010 reenactment of the battle of Grunvald.

The re-enactment of one of the most important medieval battles takes place every year. This unique historical performance is carried out with participation of knights from Poland, Germany, Italy, France, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and even the USA. Almost 1,500 knights take part in the battle every year, and their battle is watched by 100,000 spectators.2010 is an exceptional year, since mid-July marks the 600th anniversary of the victory of the Polish and Lithuanian armies over the Teutonic Order. This is an occasion for a grand scale re-enactment (17 July 2010) and accompanying events – marching parades, concerts, festivities and mock battles.

The Battle of Grunwald or 1st Battle of Tannenberg was fought on July 15, 1410, during the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War. The alliance of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led respectively by King Jogaila (Władysław Jagiełło) and Grand Duke Vytautas (Witold), decisively defeated the Teutonic Knights, led by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. Most of the Teutonic knight's leadership was killed or taken prisoner. While defeated, the Teutonic Knights withstood the siege on their fortress in Marienburg (Malbork) and suffered only minimal territorial losses at the Peace of Thorn (1411). Territorial disputes continued until the Peace of Melno was concluded in 1422. However, the Knights never recovered their former power and the financial burden of war reparations caused internal conflicts and an economic downturn in their lands. The battle shifted the balance of power in Eastern Europe and marked the rise of the Polish-Lithuanian union as the dominant political and military force in the region. The battle was one of the largest battles in Medieval Europe and is regarded as the most important victory in the history of Poland and Lithuania. It was surrounded by romantic legends and nationalostic propaganda, becoming a larger symbol of struggle against invaders and a source of national pride. During the 20th century, the battle was used in Nazi and Soviet propaganda campaigns. Only in recent decades have historians made progress towards a dispassionate, scholarly assessment of the battle reconciling the previous narratives, which differed widely by nation.
Polish and foreign heads of state have arrived at Grunwald, in northern Poland, to mark the 600th anniversary of the Polish-Lithuanian victory over the German order of Teutonic knights on July 15, in 1410. After hearing an address by Polish President-elect Bronisław Komorowski, participants will lay wreaths at the battlefield and later visit the Teutonic Knight's castle in Malbork. Prominent guests include Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Romanian President Traian Bāsescu, acting President of Moldova Mihai Ghimpu as well as the Grand Master of the Order of Teutonic Knights, bishop Bruno Platter. The main part of the celebrations have taken part on Saturday, July 17, with a reenactment of the historic battle at 2 pm. The reenactment included around 2,200 participants, and about 120,000 spectators. The reenactment was preceded by speeches from politicians such as Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Sejm Speaker Grzegorz Schetyna, Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek. “The Battle of Grunwald in 1410 is an unprecedented event in the history of the Polish state,” said Piotr Żuchowski, secretary of state at the Polish Culture Ministry. “The battle permanently strengthened the position of Poland in medieval Europe.”