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Context Literature / TheKnightsOfTheCross

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1[[quoteright:300:]]²[[caption-width-right:300:Jan Matejko -- The Battle of Grunwald]] ²²''The Knights of the Cross'' (Polish: ''Krzyżacy'') is a 1900 historical novel written by Henryk Sienkiewicz, a UsefulNotes/{{Pol|and}}ish writer and [[UsefulNotes/NobelPrizeInLiterature Nobel laureate]].²²The novel was written in partitioned Poland, with most Poles living under the rule of the Russian Empire - one of Sienkiewicz's goals in writing ''The Knights of the Cross'' being to encourage and strengthen Polish national confidence against the occupying powers of [[UsefulNotes/TheSoundOfMartialMusic Austria]], [[UsefulNotes/ImperialGermany Prussia]], and [[UsefulNotes/TsaristRussia Russia]]. To circumvent Russian censorship, Sienkiewicz placed the plot in [[TheLateMiddleAges medieval]] UsefulNotes/{{Prussia}} (region) and the State of the [[UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights Teutonic Order]]. He used offences (well known to his readers from the newspapers) perpetrated in his own time by the Russians to fill in the details. ²²The actual, historical [[WarriorMonk religious military]] order of UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights, which from the 13th to the 16th centuries controlled large parts of the Baltic Sea coast, and its defeat in the Battle of Grunwald[[note]] known in German historiography as the Battle of Tannenberg (1410)[[/note]] by Poles and Lithuanians, serves as backdrop for the story, which also focuses extensively on medieval life and customs in both the cities and the rural part of medieval Poland.²²The novel inspired a 1960 [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] which was one of the most popular Polish films up to that point.²²²!!The book and its adaptations contain examples of:²* ActionGirl: Jagienka, as far as the setting permits. She doesn't take part in any actual fighting, but hunting on her own definitely counts.²* AdjectiveAnimalAlehouse: the Ornery Auroch inn where the story starts.²* AlwaysChaoticEvil: UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights are the [[ObviouslyEvil very obvious villains]] of the story.²* AssInAmbassador: Lichtenstein, the Teutonic envoy, apparently enjoys aggravating and humiliating the Polish nobles.²* BabiesMakeEverythingBetter: [[TearJerker Sadly]] (and historically) [[AvertedTrope averted]] for queen Hedwig - everyone's thrilled to hear she's expecting, but her DeathByChildbirth shatters the spirits of both her husband and the nation.²* BadassBoast: "Swords are aplenty in our camp, but we shall accept these." Yes, this is a BadassBoast, since it's delivered very calmly in answer to UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights [[TrashTalk taunts]]. And followed by kicking their collective ass in battle.²* BadassFamily: Zbyszko and his uncle Maćko. [[spoiler: Later, the family also includes Jurand as Zbyszko's father-in-law and ActionGirl Jagienka as Zbyszko's second wife]]. Also, Jagiełło and Witold who were first cousins.²* BattleTrophy: After Grunwald, the Polish warriors capture quite a lot of enemy banners, which are then displayed as a proof of victory.²* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Zbyszko prays for some Teutonic heads to smash. Sure enough, he gets one soon... ²* BigBadassBattleSequence: The climax of both the book and the movie is the Battle of Grunwald.²* BreakTheCutie: [[spoiler: Danusia ends up kidnapped by the Teutonic Knights, in an attempt to get her father to turn herself in, and [[KillTheCutie dies during the rescue attempt]]]].²* CostumePorn: It's TheLateMiddleAges, so everyone who can afford it dresses very colourfully and opulently.²* CourtlyLove: Zbyszko seems prone to it, at least at the beginning (he used to be in love with princess Ryngałła, now he [[LoveAtFirstSight falls for Danusia]]).²* DrivenToSuicide:²** One of the villains responsible for [[spoiler:Danusia's death and the blinding of Jurand]] is captured by the heroes and subsequently kills himself when Jurand [[CruelMercy orders him set free]].²** Also, while the army is marching towards Grunwald, the Lithuanian prince Witold learns that two of his soldiers have plundered a church on the way. He becomes so furious he orders them to build gallows and hang themselves: which they do in all haste, fearing he might get [[CoolAndUnusualPunishment more creative]] if they keep him waiting.²* EyepatchOfPower: Jurand starts the book as a fearsome warrior with one eye missing. [[spoiler:The Teutonic Knights burn away the other one.]]²* FaceHeelRevolvingDoor: Historically, Witold was this to Jagiełło, but finally, he suppported his cousin in the battle of Grunwald.²* TheGoodKing: Władysław Jagiełło. Also, Janusz of Mazovia (though not a king, just a duke) is a fair ruler and seriously invested in looking after Danusia.²* GreaterScopeVillain: Ulrich von Jungingen. While he is not a direct main villain of the book, he is the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights and shows up for the final battle where he dies like he did in RealLife.²** Granted, Ulrich's something of a NobleDemon; even the Poles recognize him as a [[WorthyOpponent just and chivalrous knight]] who just happens to be on the wrong side of the whole conflict.²* GuileHero: While he is just as capable as Zbyszko in a fight, Maćko also seems to do the thinking for both of them. This is most evident when he tricks Jagienka's two hot-headed suitors into guarding her from each other while Zbyszko is away. Also prince Witold, [[TruthInTelevision true to history books]].²* HappinessInSlavery: Hlava, Zbyszko's squire who was [[MadeASlave captured by Zych of Zgorzelice]] in the battle of Bolesławiec and later given by Jagienka to Zbyszko. He is completely devoted to the two of them and Zbyszko later makes him the administrator of Spychów.²* HeirClubForMen: Averted with Queen Hedwig who inherited the throne from her father and was beloved by the nation. When she gives birth to a girl, everybody seems to be ready to accept the new princess as the heiress. Sadly, they both die.²* TheHighQueen: The [[HistoricalDomainCharacter historically]] saintly (canonized in XX century) Hedwig. Who, legally speaking, [[SheIsTheKing was the king]], but fit this trope a lot better.²* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Lots! Most notably the king Władysław Jagiełło, who might have got a ''slight'' HistoricalHeroUpgrade. Kuno von Lichtenstein was also real.²* HopeSpot: When Zbyszko is being tried for attacking Kuno Liechtenstein, the injured party says he forgives Zbyszko for attacking him... then, having fooled us all into thinking things might work out, he adds that attacking an ''envoy'' is an offense to God and must not be left unpunished.²* ImprobableAge: Zbyszko. While Sienkiewicz did plenty of research for the book, he did less research for character ages. Eighteen is impossibly old for a squire, though in Zbyszko's defence his home was burned in a random civil war, and he and his uncle served in various armies.²%%* TheIngenue: Danusia.²* TheJester: Ciaruszek, Jagiełło's jester, is very good at making people laugh and [[HonestAdvisor turning their attention to things that need to be attended]].²* LadyInWaiting: Danusia is one to duchess Anna, like her mother before her (since she was best friends with the duchess, Anna took her daughter to foster when she died).²* TheLateMiddleAges: Their negative aspects are [[DownplayedTrope downplayed]] for the Poles (for whom this was start of a Golden Age), but played straight for UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights.²* LeeroyJenkins: Zbyszko attacks the first Teutonic Knight he sees, not bothering to stop and think that a Knight this far into Polish territory ''might'' be, for instance, an envoy...²** [[AvertedTrope Averted]] (again, true to history) by Jagiełło at Grunwald - he listened not to one, not to two, but to three Masses, just to keep the opponent sweating (literally - it was July) on the field a bit longer. This was a tactical thing.²* MyOwnPrivateIDo: [[spoiler: Zbyszko and Danusia are married secretly with only duchess Anna and De Lorche for witnesses.]]²* ParentalMarriageVeto: Jurand opposes to Zbyszko nad Danusia's marriage because he promised to God that the girl would be a nun. [[spoiler: However, when the two are married in secret, he finally accepts Zbyszko as his son-in-law and they work together for a while to free her from the Teutonic Knights.]]²* ParentalSubstitute: Maćko for Zbyszko and duchess Anna Danuta for Danusia.²* {{Plunder}}: That's how knights make a living. The CostumePorn best clothes]] Zbyszko and Maćko have are plundered.²* PerfectlyArrangedMarriage: Downplayed perhaps, but duke Janusz of Mazowsze and his duchess Anna Danuta seem quite happy together.²* PostRapeTaunt: Danveld brags to Jurand, as a final act of humiliating him in Szczytno, about raping [[WouldHurtAChild his 12 years old daughter]]. [[spoiler: This is the last thing he does in his life.]]²* PropheciesAreAlwaysRight: Saint Bridget's prophecy of how UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights are going to fall. (If you're thinking of starting a historical discussion now, please refrain - we'd be here forever).²* RightMakesMight: And UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights are not nearly as right as they think.²* SecondLove: For Zbyszko, [[ActionGirl Jagienka]].²* SnakeOilSalesman: Sanderus, a comedy relief friar who sells indulgences, along with some ridiculously fake religious relics (he can sell you some sweat of [[Myth/SaintGeorge St. George]], from his fight with the dragon! Really!)²* SuddenlySignificantRule: A little known law says a young man can't be executed if a pure maiden claims him for marriage. [[spoiler: Duchess Anna and Danusia make use of it to save Zbyszko after the unfortunate incident with Lichtenstein]].²* RulingCouple: Queen Hedwig and king Władysław Jagiełło. Also, duchess Anna Danuta and duchess Aleksandra both seem to have quite a big influence on their respective husbands' politics.²* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Queen Hedwig. Note that she was canonized later in RealLife (but after Sienkiewicz's death).²* TrialByCombat: The most famous example in Polish literature.²* TwentyBearAsses: In order to impress Danusia, Zbyszko vows to get three peacock plumes from the helmets of UsefulNotes/TheTeutonicKnights he defeats. This almost gets him executed for [[LeeroyJenkins (unwittingly) attacking]] an envoy.²* UnskilledButStrong: When asked to choose the weapons for the duel, Zbyszko chooses axes. The narrator states that it is a good choice since his opponent is much more experienced and would be at a serious advantage in a sword fight.²** "Unskilled" being relative here, as the narration describes in detail Zbyszko's patient, cautious way of fighting. He might not be a MasterSwordsman but he is obviously VERY good at fighting.²* UnstoppableRage: Jurand, when the captors of his daughter push him too far. Zbyszko during the duel.²* WarriorPrince: Both Jagiełło and Witold.²* WouldHurtAChild: The four Teutonic Knights who kidnapped Danusia. Also, the two who "inspired" them to do it - von Salzbach and Szomberg who supposedly killed prince Witold's children.²* WoundThatWillNotHeal: Maćko gets shot by a crossbow bolt, part of which breaks off and causes a [[RealLife realistic]] unhealing wound. It takes years to heal.²* [[YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe Ye Olde Polishe]]: A mild, tasteful example, but it's there.²----


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