Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (1) AD by Stephen Turnbull

By Stephen Turnbull

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There is also one of the best-preserved dansk towers in Poland. In the city the Monastery Gate and the Harbour Gate are interesting features, as is the 'Leaning Tower of Thorn', which owes its crookedness to its clay base. A colourful legend tells us that a Teutonic Knight deliberately built it in this way as a penance for a drunken spree! A town linked to a well-established castle could enjoy very considerable wealth, as is shown today by the example of Graudenz (Grudziadz). Along the slope of the ridge leading down from the castle are no less than 26 granaries, some of seven storeys in height.

Human waste fell from the tower directly into the sea. The whole of the main castle was enclosed by a concentric wall, partly revetted and screened by a terrace. To the east was another less well defended courtyard with outbuildings and the whole enceinte was protected on its three landward sides by a deep ditch. The approach to the castle was designed according to the best defensive principles. The path first passed through a gate in the north side of the eastern bailey and then via a diagonally situated bridge towards the main courtyard where the entrance could be covered from the main tower.

There is also a remarkable unity of style between castle and cathedral. The builders both of castles and churches tended to emphasise two simple shapes: the rectangle and the triangle. This ensures that the ecclesiastical buildings show the same economy and directness as a castle. Their towers proclaim their presence to the surrounding countryside, while their stepped, patterned and turreted gables, also found on the castle chapels, visibly proclaimed the Order's wealth to the citizens. Frauenburg, which is now called Frombork, lies north-east of Elbing along the coast of the Frisches Haff.

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