Famous Battles in Medieval History: The Battle of Liegnitz

Also known as the Battle of Legnica

Armies involved: The Mongols vs. the armies of Poland and the Teutonic Knights

In late March of 1241, the Mongol army, under the commands of Hordu (eldest grandson of Chinggis Khan) and Peta, swept down through southern Poland and ambushed a division of the Polish army, and then pushed on to the capital of Cracow (or Krakow) and sacked it on March 24. Then the Mongols besieged Wroclaw (or Breslau), but Wenceslas (King of Bohemia) organized his army and marched to relieve Henry the Pious, Polish Duke of Solesia, at Liegnitz. Hordu lifted the siege at Wroclaw and instead turned his attention to Liegntiz, force marching his army to reunite with the Mongol army already stationed there.

Henry the Pious, not desiring to stay behind his walls and play the coward, ordered his army outside of the city walls. Henry’s army consisted of feudal levies from Poland and Moravia and knights from the Templar, Hospitaller, and Teutonic orders.

The Mongols encouraged Henry to attack their apparently weaker front, and Henry took the bait. At the moment Henry committed his entire cavalry to battle, the Mongol archers spread out along their flanks and barraged them with arrows. Supplementing their arrows with missiles from catapults, the Mongols drove Henry’s army from the battlefield, killing Henry and capturing Liegnitz. Wenceslas’s army did not provide much of a relief force, and the Mongols easily defeated them as well.


Atwood, Christopher P. “Battle of Liegnitz.” Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE49&iPin=EME325&SingleRecord=True (accessed March 10, 2009).

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