The Teutonic Knights
The Teutonic Knights were founded in the late 12th century to care for German soldiers who were wounded during crusades. When no crusades to the Holy Land were in progress, the Knights busied themselves by battling pagans in Eastern Europe. A crusading rather than a missionary order, they gained territory by murdering pagan inhabitants and replacing them with Christian immigrants: a particularly malignant combination of faith and force.
Originally sworn to plain apparel and few possessions, the Knights over time became wealthy and influential, and were granted extensive lands in Hungary, Prussia, Livonia and Italy. (Picture them like the Knights Templars in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.) Eventually the Knights lusted for more and more land, whether or not it was occupied by pagans: hence events such as the invasion of Lithuania described in this episode.
Henry Sienkiewicz, author of Quo Vadis, described the Teutonic Knights as they appeared to their neighbors ca. 1399:
Our affairs are in a bad condition and it cannot be otherwise with such neighbors [as the Knights]! Apparently it is the time of peace; they exchange ambassadors and letters, but notwithstanding all that nobody can be sure of anything. The one who lives on the borders of the kingdom, never knows when he goes to bed in the evening, whether he will awaken in fetters, or with the blade of a sword in his throat, or with a burning ceiling over his head. ... Neither the weak nor the powerful can agree with the Order, because the knights despise the weak and try to ruin the mighty. Good deeds they repay with evil ones. Is there anywhere in the world another order which has received as many benefits from other kingdoms as the knights have received from Polish princes? And how have they repaid? With threats, with devastation of our lands, with war and with treachery.... [I]n their hearts they are always plotting means to annihilate this kingdom and the whole Polish nation. -- Henryk Sienkiewicz, The Teutonic Knights (Krzyzacy), tr. Samuel A. Binion, 1899
Jagiello in Cracow
Ignacy Jan Paderewski had two passions: the piano and his native Poland. As a child he resolved that he would commission a monument to the 500th anniversary of King Jagiello's victory at the Battle of Grunewald. Decades later, as a world-famous pianist, he sponsored a competition for such a sculpture. The winning entry, in granite and bronze, shows 4 life-size groups around the base that represented scenes from the Battle of Grunwald. At the top is Jagiello, armored but with his sword at rest. To the hundreds of thousands who came to the statue’s dedication, Paderewski declared:
It is our ardent desire that each Pole and each Lithuanian, all the sons of Poland within her ancient boundaries as well as all the Poles across the seas, shall look at this monument as a sign of future unity, an evidence of universal glory, and, prompted by a strengthened faith, a prophecy of better times. – Paderewski, 1910No wonder the Nazis felt threatened by Jagiello!
Richard Gleaves wrote the exceedingly catchy melody with a Slavic ring that’s perfect for Jagiello. The music and the animated Teutonic Knights marching into Lithuania make this one of my favorite episodes. When I listen to other episodes, I typically remember the parts of Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan that I cut to fit the restraints of an app format. But when I read the essay on Jagiello in Outdoor Monuments, I hear the music from this episode.
Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante