In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

Lithuanian archaeologists have reported that they have found the ruins of Pilenai Castle, which has become legendary and legendary due to the desperately courageous defenders who fought with the German crusaders.

More than six and a half centuries ago, the garrison of the fortress preferred to commit suicide, but not surrender to the invaders. Lenta.ru recalled the history of suicidal heroism.

The Germans are coming!

German crusaders appeared on the territory of the present Baltic countries at the end of the XII - beginning of the XIII century. They did not appear with the world, but with the faith of Christ: the local tribes adhered mostly to pagan beliefs and strongly opposed the conversion to Catholicism. Already, therefore, their territories and riches were considered by Christians as legitimate prey, and the pagans were subject to forcible baptism or destruction - in case of impossibility of the first.

It is not surprising that the local population put up fierce resistance to the newcomers. It soon became clear that the conquest of the Balts required a powerful and organized military force. As a result, in 1202, the Germans created in the occupied territories the “Brotherhood of the Soldiers of Christ”, better known as the “Order of the Swordsmen”. But on September 22, 1236, the knights were utterly defeated by the soldiers of the Samogit and Zemgale tribes (the ancestors of the Latvians and Lithuanians) near the Saul River.

After that, a more powerful Teutonic Order came to the Baltics, which with difficulty completed the conquest of the Latvians and Estonians. The Riga historian Igor Gusev told Lente.ru that the Estonians had fierce resistance to the crusaders, raised Latgali and Liv revolts, not once defeated the Teutons zemgals and curtsons: forced to betray the memory of fathers and grandfathers. " These words are very important for understanding the events that will be discussed later.

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

Remnants of Pylenay discovered in the Bilenaii mound

Unlike other Baltic tribes, the ancestors of the current Lithuanians did not submit to the knights.The war, with varying success, went on for several centuries and ended with the Teutonic Order leaving the Baltics under the onslaught of the Poles and Lithuanians at the beginning of the 16th century.

However, in 1336 this was still far away. The Order was then at the height of its power, but Lithuania, where the Grand Duke Gedimin reigned, quickly turned into a strong power. The fact that Gediminas increased its state at the expense of the Russian lands left after the invasion of the Mongols without a strong unifying center played a significant role in this. The prince waged a fierce battle with the German knights, inflicting significant defeats on them, but this did not prevent the Teutons from making new invasion attempts. The Lithuanians did not conduct written documentation at that time, and the descendants of the heroic acts of that era came, perhaps in a highly embellished form - in the form of legends and tales.

Die but not surrender

One of these events was the siege of Pilenai Castle, which was on the border with Prussia, conquered by the crusaders. Lithuanian landmarks erected a fortress on a high place, surrounded by a wide moat and a high wall of thick oak logs. The knights were indignant: "The damned Pilensk prince is a real dog who lies at the threshold of his hut and does not let anyone in."

Once the Germans managed to defeat the army of the Prince of Pilen, kill him, and capture his little son Margiris. The Crusaders took him to Prussia and tried to bring him up in their own way. A few years later, Margiris did not remember his parents, his own castle, and his father’s language. “We will grow up a good German from that Lithuanian dog!” The Teutons rejoiced.

However, when Margiris turned 20, he met in the order capital Marienburg a Lithuanian prisoner who was able to awaken those who had fallen asleep in the heart of the young man who remembered about his homeland and patriotic feelings. One fine day, Margiris escaped from Germany and returned to Pylenay. There he was greeted with tears in his eyes by his mother, who ran the castle after the death of her husband.

Having not forgiven the young prince for escape, the Germans with a large army headed by Supreme Master Dietrich von Altenburg set off on their way to Pilonay. On February 25, 1336, they surrounded the castle from all sides. According to the German chronicles, that day there were four thousand Samhites in the fortress. Everybody participated in repelling the attack - from small to large. The Teutons climbed the walls, knocked them out of catapults, and the Lithuanians pierced enemies climbing with swords and spears, poured boiling water on them, threw stones.But the forces were unequal, and Margiris realized that there was no hope of salvation. “See, brothers, that we will not overcome the Crusaders. Could it be that we will become slaves? Lithuanians born free and free must die! ”The prince addressed his compatriots.

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

At the siege of the fortress killed about four thousand people.

“We will not be slaves! We will die free! ”Cried the inhabitants of Pilenai with one voice. Women laid out a fire in the middle of the castle courtyard in which the piltene burned all the property. Then they, incited by their priests (this happened before the baptism of Lithuania), killed the children, the sick, the wounded, and finally themselves ...

When the fire was almost burned, the Germans finally broke into the castle. Screaming with fierce joy, they rushed into the courtyard and froze at the sight of a terrible picture. However, Margiris, as they say, with his servants after that for another hour defended one of the fortifications and killed many enemies. When the forces finally dried up, the prince jumped into the basement, in which he hid his wife, killed her and killed himself. “Yes, the Lithuanians know how to die free!” Said the shocked Germans.

And here is how a German chronicler Wiegand von Marburg reports these events: “The pagans, seeing the army, were frightened and, not believing in preserving the castle,a lot of property was thrown into the fire and killed themselves, where, as they say, some old heathen woman killed one hundred with an ax, and then took her own life from herself. The Lithuanian king, being struck with alarm, ran away and disappeared into some sort of refuge, and he killed his wife and threw them into the fire. The pagans, afflicted by misfortune, bowed their heads, and the king killed them all ... ”Afterwards, the crusaders leveled the rebellious castle to the ground.

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

Prince Margiris at the defense of Pilenai in 1336

Echoes of time

For the next centuries, the heroic defense of Pilenai and the death of its defenders was considered one of the most prominent episodes in the history of Lithuania. Historians and writers wrote about the defenders of the castle, and the composer Vytautas Klova dedicated an epic opera to them, in 1957 awarded the State Prize of the Lithuanian SSR. But the exact location of the castle remained unknown - it was searched, but could not be found.

Archaeologists hypothesized that Pilenai is located on the Bilenai Kurgan in the Shilal district of Samogitia. Last summer, American scientists who conducted research there confirmed that the mound has a deep cultural layer. A group of Klaipeda University staff headed by renowned archaeologist Gintautas Zabela arrived at the scene.and they proved with high probability: Pilenai was located exactly here! Zabela told Lenta.ru, which initially set himself a very modest goal: to find out what historical period the mound belongs to and look for any information that could confirm or disprove the hypothesis about the location of the Pilanei castle there.

“Were carried out excavations of intelligence nature. “We have excavated only fourteen square meters - this is the minimum share of the territory of the settlement,” the scientist explained. “But we were surprised at how rich and diverse the cultural layers of this settlement were. The finds began from the very top layer. ” According to him, it was possible to understand that this is the strengthening of the XIV century, thanks to the findings characteristic of this particular period. In addition to human bones and grains, archaeologists have discovered characteristic handicrafts: ceramic remains, a metal buckle, an awl ...

In addition, an important proof was the fact that the discovered structure was burned. The scientist emphasizes that only a few mounds with the remains of burned grain were found in Lithuania, and this is the first in емomaitia.It is precisely because there is a very powerful layer of burnt remnants here that it seems convincing that this is Pilenai. In any case, there is still a lot of work ahead, and therefore, archaeologists will have to solve the issue of financing. But if the initial assumptions are confirmed, then Lithuania will acquire its national shrine, and thousands of pilgrims who want to feel involved in the heroic spirit of the ancestors will reach the ruins of the “castle of suicides”.

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In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

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In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

In Lithuania, found the ruins of the legendary castle of suicides

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