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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Wednesday 11 January 2023

Teutonic Knight v Lithuanian Warrior

 This is the latest in Osprey's combat series, in which they look at two troop types that faced each other. I was initially sceptical about this series, concerned that it was an excuse to rehash material already covered in other series. For example, there is already a book on the Teutonic Knights in the Warrior series.

However, the Warrior title is pretty general and doesn't cover the less well-known Lithuanian forces. The authors are also different, and Mark Galeotti arguably brings a more modern perspective, particularly on the actions of the Teutonic Knights towards the local population. This was criticised in its own time, let alone today.

The book breaks down both troop types, helped by glorious colour plates. The Lithuanian warriors started to look like western knights in this period, although more lightly armoured. How this played out is examined by looking at three battles - Voplaukis 1311, the siege of Kaunas 1362, and Grunwald 1410. The latter is also known as the Battle of Tannenburg and is the subject of a title in the Osprey Campaign series. I suspect the first two actions will be less familiar. The siege is an interesting action, although it does not do much to highlight the two troop types that are the subject of this book. Teutonic castles also have their own books in the Fortress series.

The analysis chapter is interesting and points to the shift from fighting pagan tribes to organised states like Lithuania and Poland. The Teutonic Knights adjusted their strategy to reflect this, but it also pointed to redundancy. By the end of the period, they were not Crusaders at all.

As you would expect, the book is well illustrated, with colour plates and excellent maps. I spent a week driving from Lithuania to Estonia many years ago, visiting the remains of the castles. So, I have been interested in them historically and on the wargames table for a long time. At GDWS, we did Tannenberg as a display game in 28mm back in 2010. Others may feel there is insufficient new material here to justify this book. However, if you don't have the other Osprey books, this is a good introduction to the subject, and Mark is an excellent writer.

My Teutonic Knights in 28mm.

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