Saturday, March 1, 2008

1.1.03


"Because of prince Witold. The prince was allied with the Teutonic Knights, and every year they used to make an expedition against Lithuania, as far as Wilno. Different people went with them: Germans, French, English, who are the best bowmen, Czechs, Swiss and Burgundians. They cut down the forests, built their own castles on their way and finally they devastated Lithuania with fire and sword so badly, that the people who lived there wanted to leave and search for another land, even to the end of the world, even among Belial's children, as long as it was very far from the Germans."

"We have heard that the Lithuanians wanted to go away with their wives and children, but we did not believe it."

"And I looked at it. Hey! If not for Mikolaj of Moskorzowo, Jasko of Olesnica, and without any boasting, if not for us, there would be no Wilno now."

"We know. You did not surrender the castle."

"We did not. And now notice what I am going to say, because I have experience in military matters. The elders used to say: 'tough Lithuania'--and it's true! They fight well, but they cannot compare to the knights in the open field. When German horses are stuck in the marshes, or when there is a thick forest--that's a different story."

"The Germans are good fighters!" exclaimed the burghers.

"They stay like a wall, man beside man, in their iron armour so completely covered that you can barely see their eyes. They advance in one compact body. Sometimes, when they strike, the Lithuanians are scattered like sand, and if not, they will ride thru and trample them down. There are not only Germans among them, because men from all nations serve with the Knights of the Cross. And they are brave! Often before a battle a knight stoops, stretches his lance, and rushes alone against the whole army."

"Christ!" exclaimed Gamroth. "And who among them are the best?"

"It depends. For the crossbow, the best is the English, who can pierce a suit of armor, and at a hundred paces will not miss a dove. Czechs cut dreadfully with their axes. For a two-handed sword the German is the best. The Swiss is glad to strike the helmets with an iron flail, but the greatest knights are those who come from French soil.
These will fight on horseback and on foot, while speaking brave words, which you will not understand, because it is such a strange language. But they are pious people. They criticized us through the Germans that we are defending pagans and the Saracens against the Cross, and they wanted to prove it by a knightly duel. And such God's judgment is scheduled to be held between their four, and our four knights at the court of Waclaw, the Roman and Bohemian king."

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