Poles commemorate their own fiasco

  On April 9, 1241, at 16 degrees east longitude, the Mongol Western Expedition and the Polish-Moravian coalition fought a skirmish in what is today Legnica, a small town in western Poland. The war ended in a great victory for the Mongol army.
  Compared with the results of the war, the significance of this war is that the Battle of Legnica was the geographical westernmost point of the mighty Mongol army’s western expedition.
  781 years later, in the same place, Poles put on armor and mounted warhorses, repeating the battle of Legnica in 1241. In June 2022, another “bloody storm” was staged in the midsummer season.
  The Legnica War Show is an annual festival in the western Polish town of Legnica, organized by cultural institutions from the city of Legnica, the Wroclav region and Mongolia. The venue was on the site of the war that year, on the open grassland next to the Legnica Battle Museum on the outskirts of Legnica.
“The Eve of the Great War”

  The Legnica War Show has different meanings to different people. In the small venue, there were singers singing songs in various languages, Mongolian artists playing matouqin, fortune tellers with cranes and white eyebrows, and college scholars who loved shamanic culture. Some people came to Legnica to witness the war that year, some came here to experience the carnival in midsummer, and some came here to explore the intersection of cultures.

Battle of Legnica, Codex Rubin (Vita beatae Hedwigis), 1353

  Whether it is the Polish Plain or the Northeast Plain, there is a legend of the wolf and the white deer.

  Invited by a friend, I travelled to Legnica at night. As soon as I arrived at the scene, already exhausted, I was full of blood. Heavily armed medieval knights, lightly armed Mongolian cavalry, graceful marquise, delicate-faced nuns… Even the huskies at the scene seemed to be barking from the 13th century. When a Polish brother dressed as a marquis saw me, he nodded his head and smiled wickedly at me, as if to say, “Haha, you Mongols are killing again!” The
  Legnica War Show lasted for two days. One day is the warm-up phase, which is simply drinking, singing, and eating barbecue; the next day is medieval tournaments, archery competitions, and the highlight: the Legnica war simulation show.
  During the warm-up phase, you can see Poles in Mongolian robes eating hamburgers, and medieval knights in heavy armor gorging on hamburgers and drinking draft beer. In the sound of the band’s performance, everyone sang and danced to enjoy “the tranquility before the war”. The girls went to the fortune teller to test their marriage, the men lined up in front of the beer and steak stand, the children began to gesture with the plastic swords, and the hawker who played with the raptor between his palms was even more so. It attracted a lot of attention from the audience.
  Under the scorching sun, I kept drinking beer with my friends, raising my bow and arrow to join this “pre-war mobilization”. Satisfied and curious, I visited interesting booths and asked them about their understanding of the war and their knowledge of oriental culture.
  Monica is a masters graduate in anthropology from the University of Warsaw, and her husband is a sociologist. Dressed in medieval lifestyle clothes, they set up their own booths on site, selling their latest work. Their new book is about shamanism.
  Monica told me that although Poland is a country with a strong Roman Catholic atmosphere, with the development of the times, more and more Poles want to know what their ancestors have experienced, to find their roots and beliefs, The shamanic culture believed in by the Mongolians also existed for a long time in the long history of Poland.
  They found that, whether it is the distant Far Eastern civilization or their own Slavic civilization, there are memories of totem beliefs in the distant memories. Whether it is the Polish Plain or the Northeast Plain, there is a legend of the wolf and the white deer. They hope to meet more people from other cultures in this event, and also hope to let Poles know more about the beliefs related to their own ancestors.
Reinventing the war scene

  As an Asian face, I am not alone in Legnica. Besides me, “Mongolian Naadam” was written next to the stage. In midsummer, it is the annual Naadam Conference of the Mongolian people.

  Putting on his armor, taking up his shield, and slashing at his opponent with his sword, was the happiest thing for him.

  The Blig family immigrated to Poland from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia many years ago, and then took root in the homeland where their ancestors had expeditions, teaching Mongolian music and art in Polish universities. After learning that I was from Hohhot, he and his family and friends kindly invited me to drink milk tea and eat meat.
  After a mouthful of mutton, I was instantly taken back to my hometown of Chahar grassland. The old man Bilig took to the stage and sang a well-known Mongolian song. His wife Tuya and friends played the matouqin on the European steppe. Under his leadership, the audience also jumped up. The once war has become today’s joyous ocean of singing and dancing, and the once rain of swords and arrows has become a date between Eastern and Western cultures.
  In the European summer at 10:30 in the evening, the sky began to darken, but the children were still playing, the singing and dancing of the young people were at their climax, and the band’s performance was still going on. big day”.
  The first day was a carnival before the war, and on the second day, everyone had the opportunity to see the competition between real swords and real guns. The first is the Medieval Quanzhen Tournament. The contestants came to the scene with their own simulated shields and swords to catch and fight. Pavor, 52 years old this year, came from Krakow overnight to participate in the competition with his heavy weapons and armor. He told me that putting on the armor, taking up the shield, and slashing at the opponent with the sword was the happiest thing for him.
  Just lifting the imitation refrigerated steel sword made me sweat, and the contestants on the scene had to fight in full armour, worthy of being the “country of winged cavalry”.
  After the tournament, we looked forward to the main event: the Legnica War Show.
  On June 18, 2022, Legnica, Poland, the temperature was 35 degrees, the performance had not yet started, and the audience outside the guardrail had already been crowded. Despite the scorching sun, the audience seemed to be more enthusiastic. Dad held his daughter above his head, the puppy kept looking forward curiously, and photographers let their drones start hovering in the air. I circled around a lot and finally found a small gap and drilled into the front row.

  The historical battle of Legnica was tragic for the Polish people. The Polish-Moravian coalition forces, desperate to resist the Mongolian army, fell into the tactical trap of the Mongolian army feigning defeat, and almost all the middle and high-level generals were wiped out. The leader of the coalition, Henry II, was killed in battle, and his wife could only find her husband’s body based on the fact that he had one more toe than others.
  As a spectator, I am curious how the Poles will act out this piece of history, will they rewrite it?
  With the smoke billowing and the horses roaring westward, the generals from both sides of Mengbo rode on horseback and completed a magnificent appearance. Needless to say on the Polish side, all the roles were played by Poles.

The contestants came to the scene with their own simulated shields and swords to catch and fight.

People in Mongolian costumes sing and dance on stage

  On the Mongolian side, most of the Mongolian soldiers are also played by Poles. Although they were blond and blue-eyed, they wore Mongolian robes, held curved sabers, and flew their horses. From a distance, they really had the smell of Batu Khan’s expedition to the west. Although the number of performers is small, each actor is dedicated.
  In the infantry battle, the sound of the collision of the spear and the shield resounded throughout the audience. In the long-range ambush battle, the archers of the “Mongolian Army” were even more successful, and all shot into the Polish army base camp. In the cavalry confrontation, the Mongolian cavalry moved like a rabbit, constantly attacking the flanks of the Polish army, while the heavy-armed horses of the Polish army were fully armed and steady, trying to use a stable formation to resist the intrusion of the Mongolian army.
  The sound of rushing and killing, a horse and knife; the roar, a burst of speed and passion. The wolf smoke rolled down, the Polish army was wiped out, the men lay in the wilderness, and the weeping women walked out of the village to the battlefield, looking for the bodies of their husbands.
  Some audience members were full of sadness, while others were impressed by the performers’ superb riding and archery skills, while others were unwilling to leave. All performers circled around the venue, thanking the audience for their support and paying tribute to the heroic ancestors.
  Most of the performers of the Legnica war show come at their own expense. They came to the battlefield one day in advance, set up tents, set up camp on the battlefield, set up iron pots, and simmered a pot of Polish famous dish pork sauerkraut. For them, the annual Legnica War Show is their stage, their festival. Here, they put on their favorite clothes, ride their beloved horses, and hold their own weapons. Here, people can go back to ancient times and enjoy this war show that is both true and false.
cultural exchange opportunities

  For the Legnica people, they have no intention of emphasizing the right and wrong of the war; they prefer to hold the annual war show into a cultural event, a party for medieval fighting lovers, a scorching A carnival in summer, an exchange of Eastern and Western cultures, a hymn to praise heroes, and a cherishing of current peace.
  Andre, wearing a Moroccan national costume, is a big fan of the event. He told me that the Legnica war show has been suspended for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and this year is the first year it has resumed. Before that, he would come almost every year, and each time he would meet different friends and get different feelings. He said that history allows people to meet, and history allows people to know each other and then love each other.
  Every city has its own life and value. For the little-known Polish town of Legnica, the once “God’s Whip” has become a “gift from God”. What the wars of thousands of years ago left here is the feeling of telling the history to the descendants, and it is also the distant memory of connecting the civilizations of Eurasia. The fighting back then has become today’s jade silk, and the fighting back then has finally turned into today’s joyous song.