Battle of Rudau

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Battle of Rudau
Part of the Northern Crusades
Date 17 or 18 February 1370
Location Rudau north of Königsberg
54°52′19″N 20°27′37″E / 54.87194°N 20.46028°E / 54.87194; 20.46028Coordinates: 54°52′19″N 20°27′37″E / 54.87194°N 20.46028°E / 54.87194; 20.46028
Result Teutonic victory
Belligerents
Teutonic Knights Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Commanders and leaders
Winrich von Kniprode and Henning Schindekop  Algirdas and Kęstutis
Strength
2,000–3,000 (realistically)[1][2]
Casualties and losses
26 Knights and 100[3] or 300 men[4] 1,000 men[3] or 3,500 men[4] (exaggerated)

The Battle of Rudau (German: Schlacht bei Rudau, Lithuanian: Rūdavos mūšis) was a medieval pitched battle[5] fought between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights on 17 or 18 February 1370[6] near Rudau village north of Königsberg (now Melnikovo village in the Kaliningrad oblast). According to the Teutonic chronicler Wigand of Marburg and the Livonian chronicle of Hermann de Wartberge, the Lithuanians suffered a great defeat.

The Teutonic Knights had waged a crusade against the pagan Lithuanians since the 1290s in order to Christianize the country. Each side would organize military expeditions against each other and then retaliate. In August 1369 the Knights burned a Lithuanian fort in the mouth of the Nevėžis River; 109 people perished in the fire.[7] During truce negotiations Kęstutis, brother and right-hand man of the Grand Duke Algirdas, warned the Prussian Marshal Henning Schindekop that he would organize a retaliation.[8] This gave time for the Knights to prepare for an attack and they organized their army in Königsberg. Kęstutis and Algirdas led their army, composed of Lithuanians, Samogitians, Ruthenians, and Tatars,[8] to Prussia earlier than anticipated by the Knights. The Lithuanians took and burned Rudau Castle. Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode decided to take his army from Königsberg to meet the Lithuanians near Rudau.[1] Contemporary Teutonic sources do not give details about the course of the battle, which is somewhat unusual.[7] Details and battle plans were later provided by Jan Długosz (1415–1480), but his sources are unknown.[1]

The Lithuanians suffered a defeat. Algirdas took his men to a forest and hastily erected wooden barriers while Kęstutis withdrew into Lithuania.[1] Marshal Schindekopf pursued the retreating Lithuanians, but was injured by a spear and died before he reached Königsberg.[8] The Lithuanian noble Vaišvilas is presumed to have died in the battle.[9] Teutonic sources exaggerate the Lithuanian losses, claiming that 1,000 to 5,500 men perished due to wounds, freezing weather, and starvation.[1] That such numbers were exaggerated is shown by several robust Lithuanian military campaigns in the same year: a raid to Ortelsburg (Szczytno), large advances in the Galicia–Volhynia Wars, and the second raid to Moscow.[1] The Teutonic Knights also suffered heavy losses:[2] they lost several of their officers, including the marshal and two komturs.[7] That the victory was not so one-sided as claimed by official Teutonic sources is also supported by a local legend that at a critical moment, when the Knights were about to give in to Lithuanian pressure, apprentice shoemaker Hans von Sagan replaced the fallen standard-bearer of Marshal Schindekop and led the Knights to victory.[1][8][10] The victory was attributed to the Virgin Mary and in her honor Kniprode established the Augustinian convent at Heiligenbeil (Mamonovo).[11] The battle marked the last serious threat from the Lithuanians in Prussia in the 14th century.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g (Lithuanian) Ivinskis, Zenonas (1953–1966). "Rūdavos kautynės". Lietuvių enciklopedija XXVI. Boston, Massachusetts: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla. pp. 57–58. LCC 55020366. 
  2. ^ a b c Urban, William (2006). Samogitian Crusade. Chicago: Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. p. 158. ISBN 0-929700-56-2. 
  3. ^ a b According to Wigand of Marburg
  4. ^ a b According to Hermann de Wartberge
  5. ^ Rowell, S. C. (1994). Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series. Cambridge University Press. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-521-45011-9. 
  6. ^ German sources give February 17; Lithuanian sources – February 18.
  7. ^ a b c Simas Sužiedėlis, ed. (1970–1978). "The Battle of Rūdava". Encyclopedia Lituanica IV. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 540–541. LCC 74-114275. 
  8. ^ a b c d Wyatt, Walter James (1876). The History of Prussia 1. London: Longmans, Green and Co. pp. 444–446. ISBN 1-142-41553-8. 
  9. ^ (Lithuanian) Ivinskis, Zenonas (1953–1966). "Vaišvilas". Lietuvių enciklopedija. XXXII. Boston, Massachusetts: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla. pp. 488–489. LCC 55020366. 
  10. ^ "Art Notes". The Ladies' Repository 1 (XXXVI): 81. January 1876. 
  11. ^ Christiansen, Eric (1997). The Northern Crusades (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 222. ISBN 0-14-026653-4.