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Tannenberg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights (Osprey Campaign) Paperback – Illustrated, 30 May 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (30 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841765619
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841765617
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 0.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Stephen Turnbull is the world's leading English language authority on medieval Japan and the samurai. He has travelled extensively in the far east, particularly in Japan and Korea and is the author of The Samurai - A Military History and Men-at-Arms 86 Samurai Armies 1550-1615. Richard Hook was born in 1938 and trained at Reigate College of Art. After national service with 1st Bn, Queen's Royal Regiment, he became art editor of the much-praised magazine Finding Out during the 1960s. He has worked as a freelance illustrator ever since, earning an international reputation particularly for his deep knowledge of Native American material culture; and has illustrated more than 30 Osprey titles. Richard is married and lives in Sussex; his three children Adam, Jason, and Christa are all professionally active in various artistic disciplines.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The battle that was fought in the fields adjoining the villages of Grunwald and Tannenberg in present-day Poland in the year 1410 was one of the largest battles in medieval European history, and the memory of it is still capable of stirring fiercely nationalist emotions. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By wolf VINE VOICE on 9 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Doing its best to strip away the centuries of myth that have accreted around this defining battle for the Polish nation, as well as the Lithuanians and east Germans, Osprey's guide does exactly what anyone relatively unfamiliar with the story, but interested, might hope: set the battle in context and give an easily digestible explanation of what happened. As ever, with Osprey books, it is helped with a large number of illustrations and photos. There are plans showing the reconstructed positions of the armies, photographs of the battlefield and other important locations, and illustrations the opposing forces and of the battle, with plenty of use made of Jan Matejko's rather romantic nineteenth century painting.

An important battle for the history of europe and one which, as we rapidly approach the six hundredth anniversary, we should perhaps all be more familiar with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicodemus on 16 May 2014
Format: Paperback
As usual Osprey's quality works live up to expectation. The illustrated account of the 1410 Battle of Grunwald / Tannenberg informs the reader of the probably the most important clash in that part of Europe of the Middle Ages.

Whilst the title of the book presents this as a disaster it in reality was more of a setback for the order which rather than being anhililated by the Poles and their allies went into decline and eventually placed itself under the protection of the Polish crown.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By amazon customer on 28 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The perfect gift for all history buffs is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

An in-depth look at the Battle of Tannenburg excellent narrative artwork and maps. It seems the reviewers have stolen the words out of my mouth suffice to say I highly recommend this work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Rich in Historical Imagery 4 Aug. 2003
By R. A Forczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thankfully, Osprey turned its Campaign series volume #122, Tannenberg 1410, over to Stephen Turnbull, rather than its household medieval specialist, Dr. David Nicolle. Turnbull, who is well known for his earlier works on Japanese Samurai, is able to deliver passion and humanity into his historical narrative, unlike the erudite but dull Nicolle. While Tannenberg might not have been one of the most critical battles in history, it was the kind of battle that created legends and historical traditions that greatly influenced future German-Slav relations. Turnbull's telling of this classic battle between the Polish-Lithuanian allies and the German Teutonic knights is first rate.
Tannenberg 1410 follows the standard Osprey Campaign series progression from introduction, through chronology, opposing commanders, opposing armies and opposing plans. The campaign narrative itself is 49 pages long. The aftermath section is fairly long at 12 pages, since the war continued for decades after Tannenberg. Turnbull uses five 2-D maps (Eastern Europe 1386, castles of the Teutonic order, the Polish invasion of Prussia, Kauernick to Tannenberg, Eastern Europe 1466) and three 3-D Birds Eye View maps on the Battle of Tannenberg itself. The three battle scenes by artist Richard Hook are quite good: the confrontation at the Kauernick ford, the Lithuanian charge, and the death of the Grand Master. Turnbull also provides notes on sources used and a visit to the modern-day battlefield.
The Teutonic Knights are rich in imagery, clad in white tunics with black crosses, ravaging Eastern Europe with fire and sword for generations. Although the Order, as it was called, was primarily German in origin, Turnbull notes that the organization was open to "guest crusaders." Indeed, the future English King Henry IV went in 1392 and brought many archers with him. Although the crusades in Eastern Europe were cast as a religious struggle of Christian knights against Pagans, the real motives were land and power. Turnbull notes that this hidden agenda was revealed in 1386 when the "conversion of Lithuania removed any justification for the continuance of the Teutonic Knights' aggressive expansion into Lithuania under the banner of a 'crusade'. The Order, however, had no intention of giving up the struggle." The pogroms and land-grabs by the Order in Eastern Europe might be viewed as the first instance of a Lebensraum tradition. Unfortunately for the Order, the marriage of Jadwiga and Jagiello led to a formal military alliance in 1401 between Poland and Lithuania, creating a major Slav alliance. Turnbull mentions the critical role of diplomacy and money in securing allies or inhibiting foes (Muscovy, Hungary, Bohemia, Moldavia), which demonstrates the complexity of this conflict. In August 1409, the Teutonic Knights declared war on Poland after making spurious claims against Polish Christianity (due to the presence of small numbers of Tartars in southern Poland, the Order claimed that Polish and Lithuanian Christianity was a sham), thus beginning the idiotic German tradition of attacking stronger coalitions.
Tannenberg was one of the bigger battles of the Middle Ages, with about 27,000 Teutonic troops versus 39,000 Poles/Lithuanians. Turnbull corrects some misconceptions about the battle, such as his estimate that only about 250 Teutonic troops were heavily armed, mounted knights (203 were killed in the battle). Poland's army was feudal in nature, but had few foot soldiers, regulars or mercenaries. The Order placed great emphasis on field artillery to disrupt the enemy but wet weather rendered their cannon ineffective. Tannenberg was a catastrophic defeat for the Order with fewer than 1,500 Teutonic troops escaping. However, victory did not come cheaply, since the Poles-Lithuanians suffered 30% losses themselves. Turnbull notes that Tannenberg mortally wounded the Teutonic Order and that it was unusual that the battle that decided a long war should come almost right at the beginning of the conflict.
If Tannenberg teaches us any lessons, it is that final victory can be very elusive even after a decisive battle. The Poles and Lithuanians failed to aggressively pursue the shattered Teutonic remnants and allowed the hero, Heinrich von Plauen to rally survivors and hold on to key castles. The Order also used its extensive diplomatic contacts to gain foreign support and this resiliency even allowed limited counteroffensives. For over fifty years, the mortally wounded Order fought a last ditch struggle against Poland and Lithuania, until their lands were finally absorbed in 1466. Turnbull concludes that, "the German-speaking peoples did not forget this reversal of fortunes, and three centuries later the "Partition of Prussia" was used as a justification for the Partition of Poland."
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Interesting and Concise History 12 Jan. 2004
By Fred M. Blum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Tannenberg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights by Stephen Turnbull is a concise but interesting history of a little known part of European History that had little immediate importance, but significant long term effect. In 1410 the Teutonic Knights of Prussia invaded Polish territory with the intent of expanding their empire. The Poles, along with their Lithuanian allies and a contingent of Czech mercenaries were able to rout the Knights, killing their Grand Master. Because of indecisive moves the Polish/Lithuanian allies they were unable to take advantage of their decisive victory; however, the victory weakened the Knights to such an extent that they eventually became inconsequential in European affairs.
In 96 pages, following the standard Ospery format, Turnbull concisely discusses the above in a well thought out and written manner. The book is well written and interesting to read. It is highly recommended for anyone who wants a taste of this part of European history.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
July 15, 1410: An Important Date in Polish History 12 Sept. 2003
By Richard Brzostek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
July 15, 1410 is an important date in Polish history. For on this date, the Polish, Lithuanians, and hired Czech mercenaries won an epic battle against the Teutonic Knights. This battle is know as "Tannenburg" to the Germans, "Grunwald" to the Polish, and "Zalgiris" to the Lithuanians.
"Tannenburg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights" by Stephen Turnbull and illustrated by Richard Hook is a concise account of the origins of the campaign, the battle itself, and its aftermath. This volume has photographs of various castles, views of the battlefield, statues, and paintings. Various maps and illustrations are also included.
In the 96 pages of this book, the reader is given a thorough overview of the events that lead up to this significant battle, how the battle unfolded, and the effects of the Polish/Lithuanian victory.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The Beginning of the End of the Teutonic Order? 8 April 2004
By Omer Belsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As I'm more interested in political and intellectual history than military history, I probably do not appreciate this book as its target audience, presumably military history aficionados, do. For me this is a double introduction: this is the first of Ospery's 'Campaign' series books I've read, and a rare detailed look into the tormented history of Poland, known to its people as the 'Christ of the nations'.
The Teutonic Order, originally ser out to battle crusades against the infidels, became a Prussian state, and its battles against the Poles, although dressed up in religious rhetoric were actually grabs for territories and power, as became increasingly apparent after the 1386 conversion of Lithuania, which the Teutonic Knights conveniently dismissed as a sham.
The session of hostilities between Poland and Lithuania, and Lithuania's Grand Duke Vytautas acceptance of the rule of Polish King Jagiello, led to increased confrontations with the Teutonic order, culminating in a Teutonic declaration of war and a Polish/Lithuanian invasion in 1410. The approximately 27 thousand Teutonic Knights out of whom, Turmbull estimates, only 250 were heavily mounted and armored knights (p.29) were defeated by the 39 thousand soldiers on the Polish/Lithuanian side near the village of Tannenberg on July the 15th, 1410.
Turnball's book begins with an introduction, tracing the events since the foundation of the Teutonic order in 1190 to the outbreak of the war. This part of the narrative was as exciting as high school history, a long list of Kings and campaigns, with very little description or analyses. I suppose it explains the background for the struggle - but that is all it does.
Next Turnbull gives a short description of the main protagonists, and a discussion of the troops constituting the Teutonic and Polish/Lithuanian armies. Even though the book is full of (sometimes marvelous) illustration, this part is strangely bereft of them, so the reader gets no pictures of either side's weapons or armor.
The description of the battle itself I found hard to follow. The great colored so called three dimensional maps of the battlefield are often put several pages away from the text's description of the events of the field, and (possibly because I'm not familiar with the format) I found them overcrowded and not clear. For example, Turnbull writes that the Teutonic may have dug pits in the battleground, but they are nowhere to be found on the maps.
The best parts of the book are the ones following the battle, detailing the Teutonic Order's recovery from the disastrous defeat, and the continuation of the war (sometimes through other means), until the second treaty of Thorn, in which the order essentially capitulated, and all that was left of the once vast Teutonic state was a small independent entity centered around Riga. The author then briefly considers the evolution of the Tannenberg myth until the Second World War, and how it was used for Propaganda purposed by Germans, Russians and Poles.
Turnbull writes that "the battle's true historical significance remains mired in controversy". Indeed, Turnbull's declaration that the Teutonic defeat "undoubtedly proved fatal in the long term" seems arguable to me. Were the Teutonic Knights fighting a desperate battle in the 1450s really doomed from the start? And if they were, was it because of a single battle defeat 40 years past?
I think Turnbull fails to consider the option that the collapse of the Teutonic order came not from the battlefield defeat, but from the changed political climate. The Teutonic Knights, invited to Poland by the Polish King to battle usurpers, now found against them a relatively united front of Poles and Lithuanians. And the conversion of Lithuania made it increasingly difficult to describe the wars as crusades, and to draw foreign guest crusaders.
The dim memory of the Teutonic Knights still reaches us through the centuries. But were they defeated on the battleground or by the changing of the times. How was it that the Teutonic world came to an end, in a bang or in a whimper?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Osprey at its Superficial Best 27 Dec. 2008
By Marco Antonio Abarca - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The popular image of Teutonic knights is of them crashing into a lake of ice as brave Russian peasants watch on. Such is the continuing power of Eisenstadt's "Prince Nevsky." In reality, the battle of Lake Peipus was a rather small affair in the general history of the Teutonic knights drive to the East. Popular culture aside, the most important campaign in Tuetonic history is the one that reached its climax at the bloody battle of Tannenberg/Grunwald.

If you are looking for the definitve history of the Teutonic knights or even the Tannenberg Campaign this is not the book for you. Osprey's Campaign series limit themselves to around 95 pages and a follow an illustration rich general formula. For this one, Osprey pulled their Japanese history expert from their stable of military history writers. Although he lacks any specialized knowledge of this history, Turnbull does a good job of going through the secondary sources and retelling a highly readable account of the campaign that led to the downfall of the Tuetonic Order. Osprey Campagin Series books are what they are. It is just nice to read one that is well written.
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