The events addressed by Senkevich in the novel The Crusaders were of great importance both for the history of Poland and for the Slavic and Baltic peoples neighboring it, which became the object of German feudal aggression. This is the decisive stage in the struggle against the Teutonic Order, when the famous Battle of Grunwald took place in 1410, power was broken and the expansion of the robber state was suspended.
The Teutonic Order, or the Order of the Crusaders, was a German Catholic spiritual and knightly order. He appeared in the XII century, in the era of the Crusades, in Palestine. Pope Innocent III approved it in 1198 (then the knights began to wear white cloaks with a black cross). Remaining in Palestine, the Order first attempted to settle (but unsuccessfully) in Transylvania
Its further expansion was due both to land where there was an unbaptized population (Lithuania), and at the expense of Poland, which had adopted Catholicism long ago (in the tenth century), was using methods of forcible seizure and through intrigues, bribery, deception, and diplomatic tricks. In the Eastern Baltic, the Order had its own branch: the Livonian Order created in 1237 from the remnants of the Order of the Sword-bearers, subordinated to the Papal-episcopal authorities of the land of Latvians and Estonians, attempting to advance further, but
In the tavern “Ferocious tour”, in which are Zbyshko and Matsko, the princess arrives with servants. Zbyshko, seeing Danuska among them, is fascinated by her beauty and, having learned that her mother was tortured by the Crusaders, gives her a vow to put several peacock sultans at her feet (peacock feathers adorning the crusaders’ helmets) thus becoming her knight.
In the abbey in Tynz, Zbyshko prays to God that he soon sends him a crusader, with whom he could fight. On the way to Krakow, Zbyshko sees a crusader and, thinking that this enemy is sent to him by God himself, rushes at him. But suddenly someone breaks his spear and stops the horse. This is Povala from Tachev. He informs Zbyshko that the crusader is Kuno Lishtenstein, the Ambassador of the Order. Povala advises Zbyshka to beg Kuno for mercy, but Zbyshko refuses.
In Krakow, Zbyshko is imprisoned for insulting the ambassador, he faces the death penalty. When he is led to the scaffold, where the executioner is already waiting, Danuska throws a blanket over him (this means that she saves him from death, but the rescued one must marry her). Matsko, who went to Malborg, the stronghold of the Crusaders, to ask for the great master of mercy for Zbyshka, was shot down in the forest on the border by bandits, but then rescued by Jurand.
Zbyshek, after going free, meets with Jurand and asks to be allowed to marry Danuska. Yurand, for some unknown reason, refuses.
Zbyshek and Matsko go to their ancestral estate Bogdanets. During previous raids, he was devastated and the bedroom was almost utterly utterly destroyed. At Matsko, the arrowhead was stuck; to get it out, you need to drink bear fat (folk way, the tip will come out of the body). Zbyshko goes hunting. He almost kills a bear, but at the most critical moment he slips. But then Yagenika comes to his aid. The bear is killed. Matsko drinks fat. One night the tip comes out of it, Matsko saved.
Leaving the war, Matsko laid his land abbot, his relative. Now they need to be redeemed. Sly Matsko arranges everything in such a way that the abbot does not take money, but gives back the land for free.
Matsko and the abbot want to wield Zbyshko and Yagenko with all their might. They can not do anything. Jagenka loves the young knight with all the strength of her soul, and he, though he likes Yagen, is true to his Danuska.
Zbyshko, who was kept in Bogdanets only by a sick uncle, when Matsko recovered, began to rush to the border, perform a vow, beat the Crusaders. He leaves Bogdanets. Yagenika, worried about her beloved, sends the Czech head to Zvyashko to become his squire. On the way, they become acquainted with the knight de Lorsch, who is visiting the crusaders.
The way Zbyshko lies in the castle of Tsekhanov, where the retinue of the princess and Danuska are.
Hunting for the tour: rounding up a huge number of animals. In the end – tours. Zbyshko, seeing that one beast rushes towards the princess and Danuska, rushes to him across. Zbyshko is wounded, de Lorsch rushes to his aid. The Beast Celebrates the Czech Chapter. Wounded Zbyshko is married to Danuska.
The crusaders sought the Prince to extradite them to Yuranda from Spykhov (a detachment of crusaders attacked the land of Yurand and sent him a challenge to fight, and Yurand agreed, provided that they leave his lands and send out their troops – then he will fight with them, but the crusaders do not they did, and therefore Jurand attacked them, beat them, drove them away.). The prince refuses them. The Crusaders are furious. They decide to kidnap Danuska, because they know that her father loves her madly. What they do.
Rothger, one of the four villains who carried out this insidious plan, challenges the knights of the prince (he proves that the crusaders are not involved in the kidnapping of Danuska – God’s court). Zbyshko takes the call. They fight, Zbyshko kills Rotger (almost chopping off his hand), Czech The head kills Rotter’s squire.
At this time, Jurand comes under the walls of Malburg (the stronghold of the Crusaders) to ask the Knights of the Order to release his daughter. Several nights he is not allowed into the castle, he sleeps at the walls and once he hears the voice of his daughter, who sings (as he assures that Danuska is in Malburg).
Finally, they let him in; in every possible way they mock him and in the end they take him to a girl. It’s not his daughter, but some kind of crazy girl. Yurand assures them that this is not Danuska. They again mock him. Finally, Danfeld at the pleas of Yuranda tells him that if he releases Danuska from the castle, then “only with my bastard!”. Yurand becomes fainted, grabs Danfeld, raises him in the air and throws him to the floor. Brains of Danfeld on the surrounding crusaders. Yurand grabs the sword from the wall and begins to crumble the knights, not noticing their wounds and not sparing enemies. He also cuts down Gottfried, and besides him there is a bunch of people, until they finally manage to cope with him and put him in the dungeon.
At this time in Malburg bring the body of Rotger, killed by Zbyshkom. Sigfrid Rothger is a son. Siegfried in rage causes the executioner, goes to the dungeon and orders to cut off the language of Yuranda, burn the pitch of his eye and chop off the hand (the latter – as if instead of the severed hand of Rotger). After that he expose the helpless Juranda from the castle.
Zbyshko does not find a place, he goes to the land of the Crusaders, to seek his Danuska. At the same time, Matsko decides to take Jagenka closer to Zbyshko, thinking that the guy will think better and will not chase after his, probably already dead wife. They go to Spiha (Yagenka, disguised as a man, Matsko, Head, servants). On the way, they stumble upon a blind and stupid old man. Yagenika will recognize Yuranda from Spyhova. The detachment takes Juranda to Spiha.
Crusaders attack the Mazovian lands. Zbyshko joins the resistance squad. Resistance, which includes the militia and a little knight, with varying success, defend their land. Zbyshko tirelessly searches for even the slightest traces of Danuska. Matsko and the Head arrive, who inform Zbyshko about the fate of Yuranda.
During the battle with the detachment of the Crusaders, Zbyshko captures the leader of the detachment, who is de Lorsch. Young people made friends even more.
Finally, there is a trace: Siegfried with knights and Danuska. Zbyshko overtakes them and discourages the girl. Danuska went insane.
The head of Siegfried’s luck in Spihov, Zbyshko carries Danuska there, but with a backlog. The detachment of the Crusaders captures Matsko.
Jurand dismisses Siegfried, does not want to take revenge. Siegfried hangs on a tree.
Danuska dies in the arms of Zbyshko next to Spyhov. Later, he performs a vow and brings to the grave of Danuska a bunch of peacock feathers.
Zbyshko redeems his uncle from captivity. Together they return to Bogdanets. The head remains the steward in Spyhov, he marries the servant of Yagenka, Anulka.
Yagenka and Zbyshko finally explain themselves to each other. Get married. Matsko rebuilds Bogdanets and builds a family castle.
The old Master of the Order of the Crusaders, Conrad, does not want war with the Poles, since he believes the prediction of Saint Brigitta that the Crusaders will lose the war. But war is inevitable, and as soon as Conrad dies and elects a new master, Ulrich von Jungingen, war begins.
By the time the war was declared, Zbyshko and Yagenka were already settling in the castle built by Matsko; they have 4 children.
Matsko and Zbyshko go to war. The central place of the book is the Battle of Grunwald (the description before and during will have to be looked at).
Matsko summoned Kuno Lishtenstein to a duel; he gave a vow to God to fight him when Kuno Zbyshko was in prison awaiting the death penalty through the fault. Matsko wins, ruthlessly finishing off the enemy.
The Order is destroyed: “The time has come, and their teeth are broken and the right hand is cut off!!” (the prophecy of Saint Brigitta is justified!).
“Matsko and Zbyshko returned to Bogdanets. The old knight lived for many more years, and Zbyshko waited in the prime of his life and health to see the happy moment when Malborg was leaving with the tears of a master of the Crusaders in one gates, while at the head of the army a Polish governor, in order to take the name of the king and the kingdom under his arm the city and the whole region to the gray waves of the Baltic “