February 25, 2015

February 25, 1336: The "Defense of Margiris" Takes Place

Margiris mound in Punia, Lithuania, one of the possible locations
of the Pilenai fortress. Photograph by " Wojsyl", published under the
 GNU Free Documentation License on Wikimedia Commons.
In 14th century Lithuania, the fortress of Pilenai, defended by the Duke Margiris, found itself besieged by the Teutonic Knights. The inhabitants realized that defeat was imminent, but they did not wish to be surrender themselves to the enemy. Instead, they burned all their possessions, then the castle, and then every man, woman, and child in the fortress took their own life.

No one knows today exactly where the fortress stood, but there are several possibilities. The photograph is of a hill in Punia, and the inscription reads, in translation:

This is the grave of Margis' giants!
Though six ages passed,
Like them - just a handful of ashes!..
But tell more than the living.

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