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An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2
by Ian Heath


This figure from a scene in the Polish ‘Legend of St Jadwiga’ ms. of c. 1353, depicting the Battle of Leignitz in 1241, is undoubtedly intended to represent one of the converted natives on whom the Order relied heavily for its infantry and auxiliary cavalry on the Livonian frontier. Kurs, Livs and Letts in particular could be found fighting for the Order in large numbers, though the ‘Livonian Rhymed Chronicle’ at least indicates that the majority of them were somewhat timid and far from consistently reliable, except in the regularity with which they turned in flight at the first sight of a Lithuanian war-band, invariably leaving their outnumbered Teutonic overlords decisively in the lurch. It should be emphasised, however, that the same chronicle makes a point of praising those who did loyally stand and fight, so clearly not all were of the same craven disposition. This figure wears a bleached linen tunic and trousers and carries a white, characteristic almond-shaped shield with a black cross. Most were armed with sword, spear and shield. Some had bows, but the Order relied almost exclusively on its own much-feared crossbowmen for covering fire in sieges and on the battlefield.

[Based on 'The Battle of Liegnitz' in Vita beatae Hedwigis. Silesia, Poland, 1353AD. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig XI 7, folio 11v.]

Next: 100 & 101. FOOT-SOLDIERS OF THE ORDENSSTAAT, 15th CENTURY in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath

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