THE BATTLE OF KRUCKEN - 1249
The Battle of Krücken was a medieval battle fought in 1249 during
the Prussian Crusades between the Teutonic Knights and Prussians, one of the Baltic tribes. In terms of knights killed, it
was the fourth largest defeat of the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century.
Marshal Heinrich Botel gathered men
from Kulm, Elbing, and Balga for an expeditionary attack deeper into Prussia. They traveled into the lands of Natangians and
pillaged the region. On their way back they were in turn attacked by an army of Natangians. The Knights retreated to the nearby
village of Krücken south of Kreuzburg (now Kamenka south of Slavskoye), where Prussians hesitated to attack. The Prussian
army was growing as fresh troops arrived from more distant territories, and the Knights did not have enough supplies to withstand
a siege. Therefore the Teutonic Knights bargained for surrender: the marshal and three other knights were to remain as hostages
while the others were to lay down their weapons.
The Natangians broke the agreement and massacred
54 knights and a number of their followers. Some knights were executed in religious ceremonies or tortured to death. Severed
head of Johann, vice-komtur of Balga, was mockingly displayed on a spear. Others were ransomed or exchanged, including Marshal
Botel. Such barbarity gave the Knights an excuse not to treat the Prussians as civilized and honorable people. Never again
did the Knights surrender to pagans. The Natangians did not exploit their victory and did not make offensive moves into the
lands of the Teutonic Knights. It took two years for the crusading military order to recover and avenge the massacre.