Battle of Świecino
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|Battle of Świecino|
|Part of the Thirteen Years' War|
|Teutonic Order||Kingdom of Poland|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
Over 1,000 killed |
The Battle of Świecino (named for the village of Świecino, near Żarnowiec Lake, northern Poland) also called the Battle of Żarnowiec or in German Die Schlacht bei Schwetz, took place on September 17, 1462 during the Thirteen Years' War. The Polish forces, commanded by Piotr Dunin and consisting of some 2,000 mercenaries and Poles, decisively defeated the 2,700-man army of the Teutonic Knights, commanded by Fritz Raweneck and Kaspar Nostyc. Auxiliary forces sent by Duke Eric II of Pomerania, temporary ally of the Teutonic Knights, did not enter the battle.
The Polish forces consisted mostly of the mercenaries hired by the Polish king, Casimir IV the Jagiellon and the city of Danzig (Gdańsk). This army included 1,000 cavalry, of which 112 were heavy cavalry, and another 1,000 of infantry. 1,000 cavalry and 400 infantry were mercenaries hired by the Polish king, while the rest were units from Danzig (Gdańsk).
Most of the Teutonic army, under the command of Fritz Raweneck and Kaspar Nostyc, were troops gathered from the nearby castles Mewe (Gniew), Stargard (Starogard Gdański), Nowe, Skarszewy, and Stara Kiszewa. This army totalled 1,000 cavalry and 400 infantry. Raweneck also had the supply chain (tabors), cannons, and up to 1,300 auxiliary infantry of Pomeranian peasants, used mainly for fortification works.
The battle started in the evening. Adopting a relatively new tactic, Polish units built a fortified camp on the Hussite model consisting of wagons linked by a chain surrounded by a deep ditch (tabor). The units of Raveneck and his subordinate, Kaspar Nostyc (commander from Conitz (Chojnice) also created a tabor. Piotr Dunin decided not to wait for the enemy and attacked first, setting infantry with crossbows on the left, defended by cavalry between the tabor and the coast of the nearby lake of Rogoźnica. Raveneck placed cavalry in front of his tabor, and infantry behind it, without any strategic plan. The first phase of the battle was started by a charge of Polish heavy cavalry under Paweł Jasieński. Fierce fighting continued for three hours and ended without a clear winner. After a short pause at midday, Teutonic units were able to push the Poles back; however, they found themselves under very heavy fire from crossbows of the Polish infantry, which caused huge losses and a withdrawal. During this fight Raveneck was wounded. He stopped his soldiers and tried to attack again, but this charge ended with a total defeat - Raveneck died and the rest of the cavalry surrendered or escaped. The Teutonic infantry tried to defend themselves at the tabor but its resistance was broken by a quick attack of Polish cavalry. At the end of the battle, reinforcements of Eric II of Pomerania appeared, however, seeing the defeat of the Teutonic Knights, the Pomeranian prince did not attack, while the Poles attacked, forcing his troops to flee.
The Teutonic Order's army lost around 1,000 soldiers, including some 300 cavalrymen. Fifty soldiers were captured. The Teutonic commander was also killed in battle and was buried in the Żarnowiec chapter church.
The Poles lost just 100 soldiers, although 150 later died from their wounds. Among the dead on the Polish side was Maciej Hagen from Gdańsk. Piotr Dunin was wounded twice.
The direct result of the battle of Świecino was that the city of Danzig and Pomerania were freed from the danger of an attack by the Teutonic Order. As a result, the royal and municipal armed forces could be used elsewhere in the war, mainly to protect the Vistula waterway and to capture the Teutonic held strongholds. This way that Teutonic forces in Prussia on the right bank of Vistula were cut off from supplies from Western Europe.
The psychological significance of the battle was that this was the first open field battle won by the royal forces, so it increased the morale of the Polish forces and lowered the morale of the Teutonic Knights. Many military historians say that the battle of Świecino was the turning point of the Thirteen Years' War, leading to the final Polish victory in 1466.
- [ Świecino near Żarnowiec Lake]
- Malbork Castle - Battle of Świecino
- Janusz Sikorski, Zarys historii wojskowości powszechnej do końca wieku XIX. [Universal history of military operations till 1900], Wojskowy Instytut Historyczny, Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, Warszawa 1972. - description of the battle of Świecino: pp. 287–288, map of the battle of Świecino: p. 288
- Janusz Sikorski (ed.), Wiesław Majewski, Tadeusz Marian Nowak, Jerzy Teodorczyk, Polskie tradycje wojskowe. Tradycje walk obronnych z najazdami Niemców, Krzyżaków, Szwedów, Turków i Tatarów X-XVII w. [Polish military traditions. Tradition of defence struggles with the invasions of the Germans, Teutonic Knights, Swedes, Turks and Tartars in 10th-17th centuries]. Wojskowy Instytut Historyczny, Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, Warszawa 1990. - description of the battle of Świecino: p. 127, map of the battle of Świecino: p. 114
- Stanisław Herbst, Wojna Trzynastoletnia - O bitwie pod Świecinem. [The Thirteen Years' War - About the Battle of Świecino], Przegląd Historyczno-Wojskowy, vol. 7: 1934/1935, issue 2, pp. 309–311, reprinted in: Stanisław Herbst, Potrzeba historii czyli o polskim stylu życia. Wybór pism. Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 1978
- K. Górski, Pomorze w dobie wojny trzynastoletniej. [Pomerania during the Thirteen Years' War], Poznań 1932 - description and 3 maps of the battle of Świecino: p. 308
- Marian Biskup, Druga faza wojny trzynastoletniej (1462-1466). [Second phase of the Thirteen Years' War 1462-1466], in: Gerard Labuda (ed.), Historia Pomorza. [History of Pomerania], Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Poznań 1972, - description of the battle of Świecino: p. 738
- Świecino, in: Róża Ostrowska, Izabela Trojanowska, Bedeker Kaszubski, Wydawcnictwo Morskie, Gdańsk 1974
- Świecino, in: Tadeusz Bolduan, Nowy bedeker kaszubski, Gdańsk 1997