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Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Ground Up: The Medieval Gothic Malbork Castle

The Teutonic Order constructed this medieval fortress in Prussia around the time of the crusades in Ordensburg, naming it Marienburg, or rather "Mary's Castle”. The name was derived from the patron saint the Virgin Mary. Malbork is one of the world’s largest red brick Gothic castles in the world, with a small middle castle nested within the outer walls.

The castle consisted of three separate sections including the High, Middle, and Lower castles, separated by dry moats and towers. It was said at one time the castle held close to 3000 knights and the High Castle enclosure measured 52 acres, which is four times the enclosed space of Windsor Castle.

The flatness of the grounds allowed for easier trading with ships and barges, thus creating a toll stop for passing vessels. The Order imposed a monopoly of amber trade, therefore building their reputation as commercial capitalists along the waterfront.

Around 1410, the castle was besieged when the armies were defeated at the Battle of Grunwald, however Heinrich von Plauen successfully led the defense, resulting in the reconstruction of the city.

During the Thirteen Years' War, the Order could no longer pay its mercenaries, therefore resulting in their transition to Königsberg, giving the castle to the Bohemian mercenaries as payment. King Casimir IV Jagiellon acquired the castle in 1457.

Under mayor Bartholomäus Blume, the city itself resisted the Polish onslaught for three more years, until the Poles captured and hanged Blume in 1460. A monument to him was erected in 1864. Castle and town became part of Royal Prussia in 1466, and served as one of the several Polish royal residences. During the Thirty Years' War, in 1626 and 1629, Swedes occupied the castle, and again from 1656 to 1660 in The Deluge (Polish history) during the Northern Wars.

Around the late 18 century, the Prussian Amry used the castke as a barracks. It wasn't until 1874 that a Prussian architect, David Gilly, surveyed the castle to determine if it should be demolished or what it's use should be left standing. His son created engravings of the castle that were exhibited in Berlin leading to a "rediscovery" of Malborks history.

In the early 1930s the Nazis used Malbork as a meeting site for Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls. It was the Teutonic Castle at Marienburg, Malbork that served as the blue print for the Order Castles of the Third Reich.
The castle has been considerably pillaged,burned, and destroyed, especially due to the aftermath of World War II. It has been rebuilt and restored over the years, so much of what we see today of the outlying structure is new construction.

by MrSco

by lostajy





Glynis Peters said...

Fairytale stuff...the castle images I mean, not the article!

Chris Stonecipher said...

The article is fascinating and your photos are beautiful! You did a great job as always.

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