Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Weapons from the Polish past

There have been two recent reports about archaeological discoveries reflecting aspects of the history of Poland and its neighbours.

The first, which can be seen at Medieval Sword Found Preserved in Polish Lake is Over 1000 Years Old is about discoveries of weapons from the tenth century and the Piast era, from the time of the foundation of the Polish realm and its conversion to Catholic Christianity in 966. 

The second report is about discoveries on the site of the Battle of Grunwald or Tannenberg I which was fought on July 15 1410 between a Polish-Lithuanian army with its allies and the Teutonic Knights and their adherents. The article can be seen at Ax heads found in Poland were used in during the Battle of Grunwald

The battle itself is discussed and placed in its historical context by a Wikipedia article at Battle of GrunwaldThere is another, shorter, article from History Today at The Battle of Grunwald,  

A third article, which is written from a Polish perspective, outlines the background and has reports and illustrations of the modern re-enactments of the battle at Battle of Grunwald: One of history’s ‘greatest battles’ remembered on 609th anniversary Such dramatic reconstructions appear both popular and well researched and presented in central Europe.

As the Wikipedia article points out the memory of Grunwald has played a part in shaping the national consciousness of both Poles and Prussians. For much of the fifteenth century they were in conflict, with the Treaty of Thorn in 1466 ending the Thirteen Years War in favour of the Poles. Time and chance, religious upheaval and dynastic changes tipped the balance back progressively towards the Prussians, culminating with the Partitions of Poland and the sense that in 1914 victory in the second battle of Tannenberg was a retaliation for defeat in 1410. For post-1945 Poland celebrating Grunwald in film and television has enabled a visual playing out of much more recent conflicts to express identity. The distant ripples of Grunwald have made waves across that part of the continent ever since.

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