Nicholas von Renys

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Nicholas von Renys (German: Nikolaus von Renys; Polish: Mikołaj z Ryńska) (1360–1411) was a secular member of the Teutonic Knights and a participant in the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War (1409–1411). The Knights blamed their defeat in the Battle of Grunwald on treason committed by von Renys, who was beheaded in 1411.

Nicholas von Renys was born in Rhein (Ryn) near Lötzen (Giżycko) in Prussia, within the komturship of Balga. Jan Długosz described him as a German (Nicolaus dictus Niksz, nacione Swewus) in his Banderia Prutenorum.[1] Historian Stephen Turnbull identified him as a "secular knight of Polish descent ... of the clan Rogala",[2] although noted Polish-American heraldic expert Leonard Suligowski doubts whether he was actually a member of the Rogala clan.[3]

Together with his brother and cousins from the gentry of Culmerland (Chełmno Land), von Renys established the Lizard Union for mutual support against the Teutonic Knights in Kulm (Chełmno) on 24 February 1397.

During the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, von Renys carried the banner of the Culmerland troops for the Teutonic Order, described in the Latin Banderia Prutenorum.[1] Unwilling to fight against Poland, he lowered the banner, which was considered a signal for retreat that contributed to the defeat of the Knights. In violation of the terms of the Peace of Thorn (1411), which prohibited persecution of traitors after the battle, the Order beheaded him in Graudenz (Grudziądz) in May 1411 and had all his male descendants killed.


  1. ^ a b Długosz, Jan. Banderia Prutenorum. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  2. ^ Stephen R. Turnbull (2003). "Tannenberg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights". Richard Hook. Osprey Publishing. p. 79. ISBN 1-84176-561-9. 
  3. ^ Suligowski, Leonard. "A Translation from Symon Konarski' s "0 Heraldyce I Heraldycznem Snobizmie" (On Heraldry and Heraldic Snobbery)". Polish Genealogical Society of America. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-01-22.