The world’s biggest heap of bricks

Once again I have returned from The Castle.

As it is coming to autumn now, less people are visiting the site, as if they did not know that it is open the whole year round…

But well…

The castle was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. And it was built to be a site of power. Medieval site of power and a center of the medieval world. The capital of the Teutonic State. The only such in Medieval Europe monastic state ruled by elected rulers – who all were monks.

The prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer says:

“There was a Knight and a worthy man,
Who, from the time when he first rode abroad,
Loved chivalry, faithfulness and honor, liberality and courtesy.
He was valiant in his lord’s war and had campaigned,
No man farther, in both Christian and heathen lands,
And ever was honored for his worth.
He was at Alexandria when it was won;
Many times in Prussia he sat in the place of honor above knights from all nations;
He had fought in Lithuania and in Russia,
And no Christian man of his did so more often; … “

I found this translation – so that it would be easier to read.

“Prussia” means Malbork ! Everyone (everyone significant of course) in the medieval times – at least once came to visit Prussia, with its center – Marienburg… From here all the raids to the east started. Here was the biggest feast room in Europe – the Great Refectory, built for ca. 400 guests…

Some time ago I went to the Westminster Abbey in London – to stand over the grave of Geoffrey Chaucer, so as to look onto a man who contributed to youth nightmares (I had to read the Canterbury Tales in original, not knowing then that at least the Knight’s Tale – would become so important to me)… But finally decided that I owe him a lot – and decided to just lay a flower there.

So, back to the story – dear Geoffrey must have heard how the knights “hadde reysed” in Prussia.

Even Henry of Lancaster – Duke of Derby – was among guests (twice) of the Teutonic Grand Master – he even received a special gift – falcons trained in Malbork… (by the way – dear Henry ordered beer in Gdansk, and … never paid)

Falcons trained in Marienburg – as Malbork was called earlier – were famous in the then Europe, among the richest and mightiest…

The history of the castle is the history of pride…

The Teutons settled in the Delta of the Wisła River in the 13th century, answering the invitation extended to them by one of the Polish Dukes.

Of course the historians now would and should raise a cry of disapproval. But I am not writing a historical dissertation here. Those are only my remarks…

So the Teutons came – saw the land and realized the advantages of settling here (later on in the history it was Napoleon who said “who has Gdansk, has the key to Poland” and its richess…).

And thus the story titled “The Teutons” started…

Altogether the Teutons developed a state of ca.67 thousand sq. kilometers, built about 100 castles, established many towns and confirmed rights to many already existing.

Every time I return from the Castle I am full of admiration for the medieval builders. As well as for the organizers of the building site – the investors.

The Teutons… How may builders, architects, brick makers, and others they had to employ. How rich they were and how… sure of their exceptionality. And of power.

Their power was broken in July 1410 – during the battle of Grunwald (called the Ist Battle of Tannenberg) . This was the first time the Teutonic Order lost. Then there came the next – long war – the 13 Years War. This time they had to leave their capital. That was the beginning of the end of their grandeur…

This is a first picture is of a special painting – 6 meters long… Painted by two Polish painters in the beginning of the 20th century: T. Popiel & Z. Rozwadowski

Very special is the meaning of it – as it was during the times when Poland was not existing on the maps. So they painted this to raise the national courage…

The above is a photo of the remake of the battle

(from: – which I had a great honour to translate)

Every year on the fields of Grunwald (in the north east part of Poland) thousands of people come to watch the reconstruction of this historical event. Knights from all over the world come to fight. Usually there is about several thousand of them. The today’s knights wear armours made exactly as they were made in the times of the battle. The dresses have to be sewn in a medieval way. Even the stitches have to be exactly according to the times they copy…

This year we are celebrating the round 600th anniversary of the battle. And Malbork Castle Museum is organizing a very special international conference on that historical event.


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