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Flags in the 'Banderia Prutenorum' Manuscript (Teutonic Order)

Last modified: 2002-06-14 by santiago dotor
Keywords: banderia prutenorum | dlugosz: jan | teutonic order | deutscher orden | banner of arms |
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The Banderia Prutenorum Manuscript

Banderia Prutenorum is a manuscript made by Jan Dlugosz (1415-1480) containing 56 images of flags captured from the Teutonic Knights by the Polish after the battle of Tannenberg (15 July 1410, Grunwald, nowadays in Poland) and designed in 1448 by the Polish painter Stanislao Durink. The flags were still conserved in the Wawel cathedral in Krakow until 1603, later they disappeared. The manuscript has always been considered a very important document: on 19 May 1940 the German General Governor for Poland, [Hans] Frank, gave it, with a solemn ceremony, to the Gauleiter of Danzig and East Prussia, Forster, to be conserved in the [Teutonic] Knights' castle in Marienburg (nowadays Malbork, Poland). Today the manuscript is conserved in the library of Krakow University. Most of the flags reproduced in the manuscript are higher than longer, as was common at the time, sometimes with a Schwenkel [Editor's note: a long, occasionally tampering tail continuing the flag's top].

Mario Fabretto, 19 July 1998

The Choragwie Pruskie cz. 1 - Jan Dlugosz [Jan Dlugosz's Prussian Standards] website has flags captured from the Teutonic Knights at the battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg), where the joint Polish-Lithuanian hosts, with their allies (Rusins — presumably Ukrainians and Byelorussians, if I recall correctly), as well as some Tartars if I am not mistaken, defeated the Teutonic Knights. The defeat spelt the beginning of the end for the Teutonic Knights. Interesting to note is that there are two Polish flags among the captured flags:

  • The fourth flag is of Conrad the White, a Polish prince from Silesia (which was then outside the kingdom). His flag was captured, his forced defeated, but he was pardoned by the Polish king for his part in fighting against the Kingdom.
  • The other Polish prince fighting on the Teutonic side was Casimir of Slupsk (Kazimierz, ksiaze Slupski), near Szczecin in Pomerania. He is mentioned in the paragraph following Conrad, but his flag is not shown.

The first flag shown on the page is the greater flag of the Master of the Teutonic Knights (Ulryk von Junigen), while the one immediately following was his lesser flag.

The third flag is that of the Great (Grand?) Marshal of Prussia, Frederick Wallerod, whose family came from Franconia. Franconian nights served under this flag in the battle. He was killed in the battle.

The italics under each flag give its dimensions. The first (Grand Master's) flag "has a length of three elbows (Lokcie) and a width of two and a quarter elbows" (don't ask me what an elbow is).

Robert Czernkowski, 6 September 2000

Cubits, at a guess? Proportions 3x4, I see.

John Ayer, 6 September 2000

An 'elbow' is about 50 cm according to my Bible-Encyclopedia.

Jarig Bakker, 2 June 2001

Known in English as a 'cubit' and not likely to be found outside an old Bible or a Bible-Encyclopedia. A 'hand' if at all comparable to the English measure (now used only of the height of horses) would be about ten centimeters.

John Ayer, 2 June 2001

An English Translation

[Editor's note: the following translation by Chrystian Kretowicz of the Banderia Prutenorum manuscript is based on a translation from Latin into Old Polish, available at the Choragwie Pruskie cz. 1 - Jan Dlugosz webpage. Also this appears to be only a first part of the manuscript.]

Jan Dlugosz was a contemporary historian and royal scribe, who among many other things, wrote a very vivid account of the 1410 Battle of Grunwald-Tannenberg. He was an eyewitness and was watching the battle from king's encampment. The original was written in Latin, the text on the Choragwie Pruskie cz. 1 - Jan Dlugosz [Jan Dlugosz's Prussian Standards] webpage is a translation into old Polish which is nowadays very archaic and obsolete. In the following translation please note that 'banner' [choragwie] in Polish means both a piece of cloth with symbols and a military unit (like a regiment).

Prussian Banners, part 1 — Jan Dlugosz

Lifted (the banners) in AD 1410 (on the holiday of the Apostles) against the Polish King Ladislaus Jagiello and fallen by him and send to Cracow, hang in the cathedral church. There, they are painted as below:

1. Great Banner of the Master of the Teutonic Order [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here]. Under the leadership of Grand Master Ulrich von Junigen were there most illustrios knights and aristocrats. His tunic, in which he was killed, was made out of the finest Arras textile. Presently, that clothing is in possession of the parochial church in Kije. (Note: Banner is 3 cubits long, 2 and 1/4 cubits wide.) [Editor's note: about 150 cm × 112 cm.]

2. Banner of the Master of Teutonic Order (smaller) [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here] under which served the most famous Teutonic knights and also, heavily-armored knights who came from Germany and other lands. Some of the servants of the Grand Master and members of his court served in this unit as well. (Note: Smaller Banner or Pursuit Banner is a cubit and a quarter long, only one cubit wide). [Editor's note: about 62 cm × 50 cm.]

3. Banner of the Teutonic Order [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here], under which Grand Marshal of Prussia, Friedrich Wallerod, native of Franconia and of illustrous lineage, who, with his family, has a coat-of-arms of the river marked with cross and on the helmet, a crowned rooster. He was killed in this battle and his remains transported to Marlborg. He was an uncle of Christopher, bishop of Lubusz. In this unit served mostly knights from Franconia. Note: Banner is 3 and 1/4 cubits long, 3 cubits wide. [Editor's note: about 162 cm × 150 cm.]

4. Banner of Conrad the White, prince of Olesno from Silesia [Jan Dlugosz's image here]. He commanded the banner [here a military unit] personally and it was composed of his own people-knights from the Principality of Wroclaw (Breslau) and from Silesia. He was captured and lost his banner as well as his fortune, but was freed by magnanimous King Ladislaus. It has to be noted, that among all the Silesian (or Polish) princes, only he and Casimir, prince of Slupsk (or Stettin) went over to the Grand Master's side and it is a horrendous shame they betrayed their Fatherland and their native-tongue helping the enemy in the destruction of their own country. Both however were forgiven, together with their captured knights, by King Ladislaus. Note: this Banner is 2 and 1/4 cubits long and 2 cubits wide. [Editor's note: about 112 cm × 100 cm.]

5. Banner of St.George on the Teutonic side [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here], which was led by an enormously brave, never abandoning the battlefield, Jerzy (George) Kerzdorff. He stood fearlessly on the battlefield, holding the banner until Polish knights captured him physically and tore the banner from his hands. Under that banner were excellent and courageous knights from various German tribes and lands, all extremely brave and battle-hardened. And almost all were killed, except the very few who managed to escape. Whichever place one of them took in battle, he held it to the last, facing his opponents and dying rather than surrendering.

6. Banner of Chelm town [Jan Dlugosz's image here], which was carried into the battle by Nicholas, also known as Niksz, native of Schwabia. Some say that he was executed by the Grand Master for lack of courage in the battle. The banner [here a military unit] was led later by Janusz Orzechowski and Conrad von Ropkow. Others say it is not true Nicholas was murdered for cowardice by Grand Master Heinrich von Plawyen, successor to, fallen in battle, Ulrich von Junigen. These say Nicholas was brave and respected for his military skills, but when he saw the total defeat of his side and himself wounded and in rags, finally captured, he asked for and got permission to access King Ladislaus and begged for mercy. He received it from the magnimonious king and then asked to see the banner which he carried in the battle. Next day, the banner was shown to him, he embraced it and died on the spot. The king ordered his burial at the scene. Under that banner served knights and the city-folk from the Land of Chelm and Chelm town. Note: this banner is 3 cubits and one hand long, 3 cubits wide. The tail [schwenkel] runs 3 and 1/4 cubits and tapers to the end. [Editor's note: the flag is about 160 cm × 150 cm, the schwenkel about 162 cm long.]

7. Teutonic Banner [Jan Dlugosz's image here] which was led by Thomas Moerheym, vicetreasurer of the Order. He was killed in the battle together with most of his armored knights and servants, whom he led under the sign of his office.

8. Banner of the Bishop of Pomezan [Jan Dlugosz's image here], led by Maekward von Reszemburg, composed of knights from the Pomezan Bishopric and mercenary knights. That banner was taken by force by Polish knights led by Mikolaj Morawiec from Kunosowka near Ksiaz, knight of Powale coat-of-arms. Ladislaus, the Polish King, sent it on tour of the country, first to his wife, Anne, then to the Archbishop of Gniezno, Mikolaj Kurowski, to Cracow and all over the country, as a sign of his victory with the help of God and annihilation of the Teutonic Order [?].

9. Banner of the Komturia and Town of Grudziac (Graudenz) [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here] led by Wilhelm von Ellfenstein, the Komtur. Composed of knights and city-folk from Graudenz, the majority of them belonged to the clan which bore the oxhead in its coat-of-arms, that is why they were given this banner. It is another proof that the land of Chelm was always part of the Polish kingdom. Komtur Wilhelm von Ellfenstein was killed in the battle, as most of his people.

10. Banner of the Komturia and Town of Balgi [Jan Dlugosz's image here]. It was led by the Komtur himself and was composed of the knights of the Order (brothers) and some hired mercenaries. Note: banner is 3 cubits long, 2 cubits without half of the quarter [i.e. 1.875 cubits] wide. [Editor's note: about 150 cm × 94 cm.]

11. Banner of the Komturia and Town of Schonsze [?] (Kowalewo) [Jan Dlugosz's image here] led by Komtur Niklosz [Nicholas] Wylcz with brothers of the Order and hired mercenaries.

12. Banner of Komturia Starogard [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here], led by Wilhelm Nyppen with brothers of the Order, own knights and hired help.

13. Banner of the Bishop and Bishopric of Sambia [Jan Dlugosz's image here], led by Heinrich, Count of Chemnitz in Meissen [Saxony]. Composed of vassal knights of the Bishop, members of the Bishopric Court and hired armored knights. Note: this Banner is 2 and 1/2 cubits long, 2 and 1/4 cubits wide. [Editor's note: about 125 cm × 112 cm.]

14. Banner of the Komturia and Town of Tuchola [Tuchel] [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here], led by one Heinrich (Komtur of Tuchola) with brothers of the Order, apprentice-knights from the region and hired, armored help. This Heinrich, native of Franconia, from the beginning to the end of this war, displayed extreme arrogance, over self-confidence and contempt. He ordered two naked swords to be carried always in front of him and his troop, as to celebrate the victory before the fact. He was admonished by the Grand Master and other officials, to no avail. He stated that he would put away both swords only after they drew Polish blood. But, God willing, when he shamefully ran from the battlefield to the village of Wielhnio, he was caught by the Polish knights and butchered mercilessly — a punishment for his extraordinary arrogance.

15. Banner of the Great Komturia of Sztum [Stuhm] [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here], led by distinguished gentleman, Brother Conrad Lichtersten and composed of hired knights from Austria with few brothers of the Order. Note: this banner is 3 and 1/4 cubits long, 3 cubits wide. [Editor's note: about 162 cm × 150 cm.]

16. Banner of the Komturia of Nieszawa [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here], led by Godfryd Hoczfelth with brothers and hired help.

17. Banner of the knights from Westphalia [Jan Dlugosz's image here]. They came to help the Order on their own [initiative] and at their own cost, that is why they wanted to fight under their own banner. Note: this Banner is 2 and 1/4 cubits long and 2 cubits wide. [Editor's note: about 112 cm × 100 cm.]

18. Banner of the Town and Commune of Rogozno [Jan Dlugosz's image here], led by Friedrich von Wed. Composed of the knights of the Doliwa coat-of-arms, which is yet another proof that the area belonged to the Polish realm.

19. Banner of Komturia and Town of Elblag (Elbing) [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here]. Led by Komtur Werner Thetinger, composed of brothers, knights and city-folk of Elbing and some hired help.

20. Banner of the Komturia and Town of Engelsburg (Pokrzywno) [Jan Dlugosz's image here], led by the Komtur, Burkard Wobek. Composed of brothers and hired hands.

21. Banner of the Komturia and Town of Brodnica (Strassburg) [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here], led by Baldemin Stoll, brothers and hired help. Note: banner is 2 cubits minus a quarter [i.e. 1.75 cubits] long, 1 and 1/2 cubits wide. [Editor's note: about 87 cm × 75 cm.]

22. Banner of Bisphoric and Bishop of Chelm [Jan Dlugosz's image here], led by member of the Court, one Teodoryk von Sowemburg. Domestics, court-members and vassal knights composed that banner [here a military unit]. Note: Banner is 2 and 1/4 cubits long, 2 cubits without half-quarter [i.e. 1.875 cubits] wide. [Editor's note: about 112 cm × 94 cm.]

23. Banner of the Castle of Bratianu and Nowe Miasto [Jan Dlugosz's image here], led by Jan von Redere, Voyt of Bratianu. Composed of brothers, city-folk from Nowe Miasto and hired help.

24. Banner of the Town of Brunsberg (Braniewo) [Jan Dlugosz's image here], led by ...(?), composed of city-folk, vassals and some hired help.

25. Banner of German Knights from ...(?) [Komturia of Mewe/Gniew] [Jan Dlugosz's image here, FOTW image here] led by ...(?). Composed of German knights, who came at their own expense to help the Order.

Chrystian Kretowicz, 2 June 2001

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