Lizard Union (medieval)

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The Lizard Union or Lizard League (German: Eidechsenbund; Polish: Związek Jaszczurczy) was an organization of Prussian nobles and knights established in Culmerland (Chełmno Land) in 1397. Its declared goal was to combat lawlessness, although it discreetly sought the transfer of Culmerland from the Teutonic Knights to Poland.[1]

The union was founded by Nicholas von Renys, John of Pulkow, Frederick of Kitnow, and Nicholas of Kitnow. It was named after its emblem, a lizard (eyne eydechse), and expanded its influence to other provinces. During the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, Nicholas von Renys carried the banner of the Culmerland troops for the Teutonic Order. He lowered the banner prematurely, which was considered a signal for retreat that contributed to the defeat of the Knights according to some chroniclers of the time and continues to be recounted by some historians, but there is no historical support for this. Heinrich von Treitschke's thesis Das deutsche ordensland Preussen popularized the belief in this event. Nevertheless, these historians tend to make the act one of duplicity, not giving room for the possibility that in the fighting the banner may have moved out of sight or had fallen when a bearer was killed. After the defeat at Grunwald, there is little doubt that the Teutonic Order sought to use the Lizard League as a scapegoat. The Lizard Union was also believed to have been behind messages sent from Kulm advising surrender to the Order's capital of Marienburg, which was unsuccessfully besieged by Poland.[1]

Renys was executed by the Order after the war, causing the remaining members of the Lizard Union to flee to Poland.[2] The Lizard Union was declared illegal[citation needed] by Pope Gregory XII and Emperor Sigismund and was subsequently dissolved. However, it laid the foundation of the later Prussian Confederation, which requested the annexation of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights into Poland in 1454.

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  1. ^ a b Turnbull, p. 79
  2. ^ Turnbull, p. 80


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