On This Day
1336 – Four thousand defenders of Pilėnai commit mass suicide rather than be taken captive by the Teutonic Knights.
Pilėnai (also Pillenen in German) was a hill fort in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Its location is unknown and is subject to academic debates, but it is well known in the history of Lithuania due to its heroic defense against the Teutonic Order in 1336. Attacked by a large Teutonic force, the fortress, commanded by Duke Margiris, tried in vain to organize a defense against the larger and stronger invader. Losing hope, the defenders decided to burn their property and commit mass suicide to deprive the Order from prisoners and loot (cf. scorched earth). This dramatic episode from the Lithuanian Crusade has caught the public imagination, inspired many works of fiction, and became a symbol of Lithuanian struggles and resistance.
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Born On This Day
1670 – Maria Margarethe Kirch, German astronomer and mathematician (d. 1720)
Maria Margaretha Kirch (née Winckelmann, in historic sources named Maria Margaretha Kirchin; 25 February 1670 – 29 December 1720) was a German astronomer, and one of the first famous astronomers of her period due to her writings on the conjunction of the sun with Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter in 1709 and 1712 respectively.
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