It was in 2018 that dozens of explorers, archaeologists and historians from Poland and abroad, congregated to conduct an archaeological research proj
It was in 2018 that dozens of explorers, archaeologists and historians from Poland and abroad, congregated to conduct an archaeological research project on the legendary Battle of Grunwald . This group included amateurs with metal detectors as well, who were there out of curiosity and wonder. The finds of the medieval battle have been nothing short of fascinating since then, including a pair of battle axes that were discovered in 2020 .
Most recently, a history buff and treasure hunter, by the name of Aleksander Miedwiedew (the same explorer who found the axes) stumbled upon a fine arsenal of weaponry – probably that of a fallen knight. This includes “a phenomenal set in the form of a sword, scabbard, belt and two knives”, Miedwiedew was reported telling the PAP foundation (the reputed Polish Press Agency Foundation).
The Knight’s Arsenal
“Considering that these items date back to the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, and therefore they were lying in the ground for about 600 years, they are preserved in extremely good condition,” he continued. At the time of their existence, they were very, very valuable and could be conflated with modern day luxury items, like an expensive car. He handed over his discoveries to be presented and preserved at the Battle of Grunwald Museum, via the marshal of the region.
The knight’s arsenal was from northeastern Poland – Olsztyn city on the Lyna river. The Director of the Grunwald Museum, Szymon Drej was mystified about how lucky the discovery was. “It is puzzling that no one appropriated these items, very valuable at the time. Perhaps it will be possible to find the remains of the knight to whom these items belonged”, adding that further archaeological excavations are already underway to shed new light on the matter.
Due to the pandemic, there was no in-person celebration of the finds with the media; rather, there was a notification issued by the museum office after the discovery. The marshal was the one who presented the find to the museum, which now is conducting tests and examinations. “The weapons set will now undergo maintenance and research. We have some suspicions about the social status of the medieval sword owner, and we are curious what is hidden under the rust layer,” added Drej.
What Happened at the Battle of Grunwald?
The Battle of Grunwald of 1410 AD, also called the Battle of Zalgaris or the First Battle of Tannenberg was one of medieval Europe’s most epic battles. Not only was it the largest, but it was also of seismic consequences – the Polish–Lithuanian alliance defeated the German–Prussian Teutonic Knights led by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen, resulting in most of the Teutonic Knights’ leadership either being killed or taken prisoner . As a result, there was a major power shift in Poland’s favor in Central and Eastern Europe, which allowed the Polish-Lithuanian force to command considerable political clout in the region, and a strong military.
Battle of Grunwald by Jan Matejko (1878). ( Public Domain )
The Polish-Lithuanian army reportedly sent 29,000 soldiers to the battle, with the Teutonic Knights sending 21,000 in retaliation – at least 50,000 soldiers in total! Most of the Knights were either wiped out or taken prisoner, so catastrophic was the scale of defeat – reportedly, only 1,427 returned to receive their wages off the military payroll. The top leadership of the Knights was also killed – only one high ranking warrior would make the return journey.
Today, the Battle is the subject of an important Polish summer festival and is celebrated as a source of great pride and national unity, being seen as a victorious struggle against all foreign invaders. It was the beginning of the end of the Teutonic order, while the emergence of Poland-Lithuania as one of Europe’s most powerful medieval states.
Top image: Urząd Marszałkowski and Olsztynie/ Materiały prasowe
By Rudra Bhushan