Wednesday, July 15, 2009

599th Anniversary

This July 15 is the 599 anniversary of the victorious battle of Grunwald .
The Battle of Grunwald (or 1st Battle of Tannenberg) was fought on July 15, 1410 between unified armies of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania, under the command of His Royal Majesty Władysław II Jagiełło (with his trusted councilor bishop Mikolaj Traba having had most likely developed this war's strategy and summer campaign), against the army of the knights of the Teutonic Order and their Western (English, German, French etc) knights-guests, led by the Grand Master of the Order, Ulrich von Jungingen.
This was one of the most important battles of the late Medieval Europe, and the probably one of the largest battles to involve mounted knights fighting one another with lances, tucks, maces, warhammers, axes, swords and daggers.
Notwithstanding the knights there were plenty many of commoners that took part in this herculean struggle, including mercenary infantry from as far away as Italy (Genoa), Tatars, Hungarians, Ruthenians (today's Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians) , Czechs, and perhaps Slovaks. As usual you may read the depiction of the battle described in many websites on this glorious net, e.g. Wikipedia.
Every year there is a great reenactment of this battle in the same fields where the final mortal struggle took place six centuries ago, I think I will attend the next year 600 anniversary, it should be fun.

Well, I just want to commemorate this anniversary with my 3-penny post, also remembering one of the most fascinating knights ever to have been born in the Polish realms – Sir Zawisza Czarny z Garbowa, of the Sulima Coat of Arms ( a great specialist on the subject of the Polish nobility coats of arms but unfortunately passed away friend Mr. Suligowski would have appreciated this post a lot :) - rest in peace, Panie Suligowski).
Sir Zawisza is very special in our Polish history ans psyche, as to this day he symbolizes the virtues of honor, duty, and courage; and his spirit is still carried in the hearts of Polish scouts (harcerze) and perhaps soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces. His life story does merit at least one Hollywood film, perhaps one day...

So I decided to show two old drawings of a knight with his coat of arms -Sulima. I really never draw knights, and these two are rather old, from the time when his majesty 'read my lips' Bush Sr. was el 'presidente' of the US or slightly little after when the great cigar smoker and truth seeker Billy Clinton assumed the post of the Commander-in-Chief (still pissed at him for having bombed into the stone age the most faithful US ally in the Balkans, Serbia ). Nolens volens I cannot vouch for any arms and armor correctness, this is for a pure enjoyment.
Could not resist to include in this post the most emotionally charged (it is an allegory and not a historical reconstruction) painting of the Polish historical genre of the XIX century – Jan Matejko's Battle of Grunwald. This artwork survived the World War Two, its survival aggravated by the numerous Nazi Germans attempts to locate and annihilate the masterpiece, and now can be admired in the National Museum in Warsaw – if you in Warsaw, Poland, do see it, it is breathtaking.
Funny thing is that pan Jan Matejko was a Czech by origin yet being born in Cracow he became more Polish than the ethnically pure (whatever that may be) Poles, and as history has it Pan Jan has become the most important Polish painter ever, no matter what all his jealous critics say - na pohybel a los criticos.

Until the next time....

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