The build: Malbork Castle was forged by the Teutonic Knights, a powerful order of German crusaders, in the 13th century. Historically known as Marienburg, it is the greatest fortification built by medieval knights during the Baltic Crusades, a mission to convert pagans to Christianity in Prussia and Lithuania. Believed to be the largest brick castle in the world, its unusual building blocks make its design stunning, both visually and militarily. Part of a network of castles with the same basic blueprint that stretch across modern-day Poland, its ingenious moat system, stand-alone tower and lofty High Castle place it among the Teutonic Order’s most incredible military –and architectural – achievements.
The siege: The castle was besieged by the combined forces of King Jagiello of Poland and Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania in 1410, shortly after the celebrated Battle of Tannenberg, fought by the knights’ Grand Master. The attackers brought an arsenal of siege weapons, including the trebuchet and light artillery. Inside Malbork, a united garrison, led by Heinrich von Plauen, fought for both their God and their lives with crossbows and heavy cannon. The outcome of this campaign would challenge the gains of the Polish crown and define the future of the Teutonic Knights.