The Battle of Płowce took place on 27 September 1331 between the Kingdom of Poland and the Teutonic Order.
It formed part of the Polich-Teutonic War (1326 to 1332).
The Teutonic Order attempted to take Brześć Kujawski after standing all day in the sun. The German army from the Teutonic Order had 7,000 men, and was opposed by a Polish army of 5,000 men.
On 27 September 1331, one-third of the Teutonic Order’s force of knights under Dietrich von Altenburg left the blockaded peasant town of Płowce. The Poles, under Władyslaw Łokietek (Władysław I the Elbow-high) and his son Casimir, immediately attacked in a frontal assault. They were immediately joined by Polish detachments hiding in a forest to the left of the town.
Reportedly, during the first phase of the battle Prince Casimir was ordered to depart so as not to deprive the Polish Kingdom of the presumptive heir. Despite this, in three hours the Teutonic knights had been defeated and their leader captured. The Polish forces were victorious in this phase of the battle, took prisoner 56 knights, and freed many Polish captives.
However, upon hearing the sounds of battle from Płowce, rear elements of the German formations rushed to aid their fellow knights, and soon another third of the Teutonic Order’s forces arrived. The long and bloody battle resumed and continued until dark, with high casualties on both sides. Poland scored a clear victory, with Reuss von Plauen, commander of the German army, and another 40 knights taken prisoner by the Poles. After fleeing Płowce, the knights withdrew to Toruń (Thorn).
Despite the Polish victory on the field, the battle is traditionally regarded as inconclusive given that the Teutonic Order was not destroyed. Nevertheless, it was an important battle for Poland, which was just regaining its stature as a country on the international scene, and held its own against a powerful military force.
Aftermath and Legacy
An estimated over 4,000 men (combined) were said to have fallen on the field of the battle. Of these, 73 were Knight Brothers of the Teutonic Order (the highest-ranking members of the Order).
Over one half of the dead were Germans, who had to retreat back to Toruń, their death toll climbing to one third of all their knights taking part in the war.
The Polish armies, also suffering heavy casualties, did not follow the retreating Germans.
The Battle of Plowce is commemorated on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw, with the inscription “PLOWCE 27 IX 1331”.