Historical story

Grunwald? What's that? A few words about a forgotten battle

Every child knows that Jan Długosz wrote about the great battle fought on July 15, 1410 between the villages of Grunwald and Tannenberg. It might therefore seem that the theme of this historical clash has become a permanent element in the memory of Poles. Nothing could be more wrong. Not so long ago, even historians did not know what this Grunwald was, and those who had something in their heads confused both the name and the date.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the entire history of medieval Prussia and the Teutonic Order did not arouse much interest in Poland. If it has already been mentioned, it is only to recall a few key moments:the mission of Saint Adalbert, bringing the Teutonic Knights, battles fought by Łokietek or Poland's return to the Baltic Sea in 1466.

Great Battles? Of course, space was also left for them, but the battle of Płowce was considered the most important (the Poles did not even win it). Grunwald was written at best as a side skirmish.

"Pamiętnik Warszawski" from 1809 reported on the anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, fought 400 years earlier ... that is, in 1409. In turn, Tomasz Święcki in his "Description of Ancient Poland" (published in 1828) dated the clash on July 14, 1411.

Although it is hard to believe in the first half of the 19th century, hardly anyone remembered the Battle of Grunwald.

For him, Grunwald was Grünevald, while for Dominik Szulc ("On the Importance of Ancient Prussia" from 1846) a skirmish fought at Ruda. Also, the authors of the 1844 Biographical and Historical Dykcjonarz were not sure what to call this little-known clash. On one page they wrote about Tannenberg, on the other about Grunwald.

The romantics, including Adam Mickiewicz, showed some interest in the heroic battle. The Polish national poet even wrote the poem "Zižka" about the Czech hero who fought at Grunwald, although he never gave the name of this clash (neither in the form of Tannenberg nor Grunwald). Apparently, it did not seem to be known or important enough to pollute the readers' memory.

It wasn't until the mid-nineteenth century that something moved, when various historians began to use the theme of the forgotten battle more eagerly. The long description in Jędrzej Moraczewski's 1842 "Antiquities of Poland" played an important role. However, even he placed Gilgenburg (Dąbrówno) in the place of Grunwald, and he dated the battle on 22 July. Of course, the end of the 19th century is already the era of an avalanche of interest in Grunwald. However, we will write about it on another occasion.


Trivia is the essence of our website. Short materials devoted to interesting anecdotes, surprising details from the past, strange news from the old press. Reading that will take you no more than 3 minutes, based on single sources. This particular material is based on:

  • Norbert Kasparek, On the Battle of Grunwald in the first half of the 19th century [in:] The Grunwald landscape in the history of Poland-Teutonic Knights and Poland-Germany over the centuries. Around myths and reality, ElSet 2009, pp. 153-164.