The Mongols in Poland

A number of years ago my wife and I and some other Americans visited Poland on a mission’s trip. We were in the Krakow area and made side trips into the Czech Republic and Slovokia.

While in Poland my wife came across a monument commemorating a battle against the Mongols!

I was teaching somewhere else and never did get to see the monument for myself . (sad face here because I love stuff like  that!)

I surmised that the battle being commemorated was The Battle of Liegnitz (German Silesia then, Legnica, Poland now). The Krakow area is south-east of Legnica so it’s possible the monument is for some other battle against the Mongols but I doubt it.

Henry II the Pious who lost his life at the ba...

Henry II the Pious who lost his life at the battle of Legnica, 19th century painting by Jan Matejko. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Battle of Liegnitz was a rather big deal in that area of Europe. The Mongols were just about unstoppable. The link to the left and the quote below will illustrate the point.

“The Mongols attacked the Latin world (meaning areas that were Roman Catholic) only after the sack of Kiev (December 1240). While Batu himself and three separate armies entered Hungary, two divisions protected his flank by ravaging Poland, where they crushed Duke Henry II of Silesia and his allies near Liegnitz (mod. Legnica, Poland) on 9 April 1241.”

As you can see from the quote Duke Henry II of Silesia and his allies (that included Germans, Teutonic Knights, Poles, and Czechs) were defeated. The Mongols as per their habit ravaged Silesia and the surrounding areas while the main army moved on to Hungary where the west suffered another crushing defeat.

Teutonic Knights, Battle of Liegnitz

The Battle of Liegnitz was one of the rare occasions when the so-called “Latin West” put aside their differences to try to stop a common foe.

I suspect the monument my wife saw was a monument to the attempt to stop the Mongols at Liegnitz.

Whenever I come across something like this I am forced to remember that Europe consists of many old countries with much history. We in America are relative new comers when it comes to stuff like that.

Poland and Germany and other European countries have had a historical fear of what may come out of the east. The Mongols are a big reason.

10 comments on “The Mongols in Poland

  1. If the Mongols interest you then give Conn Igguldden’s books a try…He brings the Mongols nation to life and shows the fear and devastation they brought not only to China, the Middle East but right up to the wall of Buda…


    • I started to read some historical fiction a few years ago. Started with Pressfield (Greece and Macedon) Scarrow (Rome) and Cornwall (Saxon Tales). I have a small stack of the same or similar to get to. I’ve seen Conn Igguldden in my Amazon searches and don’t have any of his YET. But I will. So much to read, so little time:-) Thanks for the recommend. I enjoy your British Empire posts. I’m a bit of a Anglophile.

  2. They are some great books Bruce…..I’m a massive fan of Historical Fiction!…For Rome give Ben Kane (Hannibal and Spartacus) Anthony Riches (Empire Series) Doug Jackson (Valerius) a go, all great writers….For Greek books you can’t beat your compatriot Christian Cameron who is truly a master of his craft…Finally if you like Vikings give Giles Kristian a go…
    I’m really glad that you like the empire posts…I’m not a writer in any shape of form so good feedback is great 🙂

    • Heh Nick,

      I read Silver Eagle by Kane and Empire by Riches. The sequels are on my list because I loved them both. I usually wait until they come down a bit in price. My interest in Roman military history drove my interest in historical fiction first and Scarrow hooked me. Recently, I finished Harry Sidebottom’s “Warrior of Rome” series and am awaiting the 4th book. Are you familiar with him? If not, Harry fills an interesting niche. Main character is a Romanized Angle around the time of Valerian and the Sassanids circa 260 a.d.. Harry knows his history. I have some other books on my stack to read by Cornwall. I pick them up in used book stores and fill in the series via Amazon. I’ve got one on the Hundred Years War (love them longbows!) and one from the Arthur series. I am noting the fellows you’ve mentioned and will no doubt increase my pile. Then there is my interest in WW2 and other military history. Geez, but you probably can identify.

      I’m not a professionial writer either which is one of the reasons I started to blog. I just wanted to improve and see if I could write a sentence that made sense. Your stuff is good, very readable and certainly in my scope of interests. One day I’d like to take a tour of Roman Britain. My wife and sister-in-law went to Scotland a few years ago and got to see Hadrian’s Wall. I am jealous.

  3. I enjoy your posts as well Bruce….You cover a lot of what I’m interested about and I like to see the post about American life and politics….I have read all of Harry Sidebottoms, I didn’t add him because i didn’t want to come across as a complete geek 🙂 I have been lucky enough to meet all of the authors mentioned and a nicer bunch you couldn’t find…Harry is particularly good on the late Roman period and is VERY knowledgeable!
    I live in Kent and I’m surrounded by Roman remains….If you ever get the chance to visit England you won’t be disappointed!

    • Wow, you are near Hastings the Medway and across from Normandy! Your area just reeks history!!!! I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Not much military history here but our State did chip in our Civil War. Our claim to war history was the Black Hawk War. Abe Lincoln was in the Illinois militia at the time and trekked up to our State to chase the poor guy and a few bedraggled Indians.

      I understand the geek thing probably because I am one too. I was on a Roman “kick” for a long time and Sidebottom was my latest find. That’s pretty neat you could meet those guys. I admire their compelling story telling and ability to create interesting characters of which Ballista certainly is one.

      I used to be a miniature wargamer and that’s when I developed such an interest in military history. How is that for “geeky?” Now it’s pc games when I can.

      Yeah, I’d love to see Britain and my wife is up for it. No language problem either or not much anyway 😉 On the other hand our friend Rob is helping me investigate my German heritage and if it pans out I might want to see the part of Germany they came from. My wife is part Scots/English and she went to Scotand for her roots. Thanks for the chat. It’s nice to get to know you a bit.

  4. Great article, I am interested in medieval history and love this kind of stuff. It is really true that neighbourhood european countries like Poland, Germany (Holy Roman Empire), France or England were always fighting each other. But when there was common enemy (like the Mongols, the Muslims and faithless) it is really surprising that they became allies.
    Also 2 days after the Battle of Legnica, the Hungarians (king Béla IV.) fought the Mongols (general Batu) at river Mohi. The Mongols won this great battle and Hungary was opened for them. There were some little campaigns which ended with sacking a lot of villages in Hungarian Kingdom. The fortunate moment was the death of Mongolian Khan, the Ogedei. Batu was attempting for the khan title, so he went back to Monglia and let Hungary and middle Europe be. This supported the construction of castles and strongholds in country.
    And by the way, it is “Slovakia”, not “Slovokia”.

  5. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

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