Teutonic Order

The German Order, also known as the Order of the Teutonic Order or Knights of the Teutonic Knights, is a religious community similar to that of the Knights of St. John or the Maltese Order.




During the period of the Third Crusade and the Siege of Acre 1189-1191 prevailed in the local area inadequate sanitary conditions. As a result, Crusaders from Bremen and Lübeck decided to set up a hospital there for the treatment and care of the sick. Through alms and donations, the hospital was able to hold and enlarge. In 1191 the official recognition by Pope Clement III took place. In March 1198 the elevation to the status of a knightly order followed.




The Order in the Holy Land:

Until the final loss of occupied areas of Christians in the Holy Land, the Order succeeded in acquiring some properties and parts of the Port of Acre duty. Real estate could u.a. the castle Montfort (1220), the dominions Toron (1229) and Schuf (1257) and the castle Toron in the reign Banyas (1261) are brought into possession. However, the early decline of the Crusaders in the Holy Land became apparent, so the Order also acquired property in Sicily and the Levant. To supply the pilgrims were also created in Greece some branches. With the loss of Akkon in 1291 the engagement of the Teutonic Order in the Holy Land ended and one concentrated on the real estates within the imperial borders and the Eastern European areas as in Prussia.



Niederlassungen der Ritterorden im heiligen Land bis 1291

Branches of the Order of Knights in the Holy Land until 1291




Failed state formation in Hungary:

The German Order had been gifted by possessions that were scattered throughout central and southern Europe and the Holy Land. Thus, the Grand Master Hermann von Salza came to mind to create a coherent and dominated by the German Order area. For this purpose, in 1211, the request for help from the Hungarian kingdom came in handy when, for help in the fight against Cumans, they acquired a right to a home in Burzenland in Transylvania. In addition to the Order important church tasks such. the tithing, its own coinage and the fortification of stone castles are granted.

The tensions between Hungary and the Order, however, were not long in coming and ended in 1224 with military action by the Hungarian King Andrew II against the Order. Due to the complete superiority of the Hungarian army, the few castles of the Order were quickly taken and the Order finally expelled in 1225 from Hungary.



Die Niederlassungen des Deutschen Ordens in Europa um 1300

The branches of the Teutonic Order in Europe around 1300




The establishment of the Teutonic Order:

The formation of a state of the Teutonic Knights in the territory of Prussia and the Baltic was much better. In 1226, the Polish Duke Konrad I of Mazovia called the Order to help in the fight against the Prussians for the Kulmerland. Becoming careful due to the negative experiences in Hungary, the Order this time obtained the legal backing of Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX.
In addition, the conquered territories should fall into the domain of the Order and this only directly subordinated to the Pope, no other ruler.
In 1230, after some hesitation, Duke Konrad I of Mazovia in the Treaty of Kruschwitz the Kulmerland "for ever" under the rule of the Order. In 1231, the order also began to exceed the change in the Kulmerland and began to build its first castle Thorn.

In 1234, the Order incorporated the remaining Knights of the Order of the Brothers of Dobrin (fratribus militiae Christi in Prussia), which was founded in 1228 to protect the Mazovian heartland by Duke Konrad I. 1236, after a devastating defeat in the Battle of Schaulen, followed in 1202 founded in Riga sword brothers and was also part of the German Order. As a result of this merger, the Order and the Livonian Coming became a second heartland, the so-called Livestar Masterpiece.

Expansion attempts of the Livonia Union to the east ended at the river Narva and led to constant battles between Knights of the Livonian Order branch as well as followers of the Livonian bishops and Russian departments until 1242 a peace treaty could be negotiated.



Erwerbungen des Deutschen Ordens in Preußen und des 1237 mit ihm vereinigten Schwertbrüderordens in Kurland und Livland bis 1260; bei den schraffierten Gebieten handelt es sich um die umkämpften Territorien in Preußen und Schamaiten

Acquisitions of the Teutonic Order in Prussia and the 1237 united with him Sword Brothers Order in Courland and Livonia to 1260; the hatched areas are the contested territories in Prussia and Shamaites




The heyday of the Order:

In 1308, the Order took possession of Danzig and Pommerellen, which resulted in a significant deterioration of the relationship with Poland in the south. Władysław I. Ellenlang was able to reunite the fragmented territories into a unified Polish kingdom and continued the disputes with the Order. Lithuania also gained in importance in the southeast and regularly waged war against the order.

Despite the ongoing conflicts with its neighbors, the Order, led by Konrad von Jungingen, was able to conquer Gotland, peacefully acquire the Neumark and Samaitens and thus achieve the largest extension of the Order.

In 1386, the marriage of Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania with Queen Hedwig of Poland united the two enemies of the Order into a strong alliance, so that in August 1409 Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen declared war on them. On 15 July 1410, the army of the German Order suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg. Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen was killed by countless medal warriors. In the subsequent peace treaty of Thorn in 1411 the Order had to cede some of its territories, but could retain the majority with large sums of money.



Die Besitzungen, Hauptsitze und Erwerbungen des Deutschen Ordens in Preußen und der Livländischen Union bis zum Jahre 1410

The possessions, headquarters and acquisitions of the Teutonic Order in Prussia and the Livonian Union until the year 1410




The fall of the Teutonic Order:

After the defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1410 and the resulting peace treaty of Thorn, the German Order was weakened militarily and structurally. Due to the high contributions (payments to the Polish-Lithuanian Alliance), the Order also had to introduce a special tax in order to remain solvent. In addition to internal disputes, the high tax led to the fact that the cities of Prussia and the united in the lizard covenant aristocracy of kulmer territories to the Prussian federation, put themselves under the protection of Poland and openly rebelled against the Order. This was followed by the 13-year war, which ended less by military action than by the greater financial strength of the Prussian federal government and Poland. Already severely damaged by the peace treaty, the Order was unable to raise the cost of the war and had to agree to a second Thorn peace treaty.

In the second peace treaty of the Order had to cede other areas, including Pomerelia, the Kulmerland, the Warmia and Marienburg. In addition, many Prussian cities and areas of the western area detached from the Order.



Marien's castle


Marien's castle


Marien's castle



The last Grand Master Albrecht of Brandenburg-Prussia tried 1519 to 1521 in the so-called cavalry war one last time to relieve the Order of the guardianship of Poland and restore its former glory. This campaign failed, and the Grand Master had no other choice but to give up the High Master's title, to convert Prussia into a secular duchy, and to swear allegiance to Sigismund I of Poland. From 9 May 1525 the new Duke Albrecht I resided in Königsberg.



Das nach dem 2. Frieden von Thorn 1466 verbliebene Ordensland Preußen sowie das Meistertum Livland; das grün dargestellte Ermland war Teil des Königlich (polnischen) Preußen geworden, hatte darin aber einen Sonderstatus mit weitgehender Autonomie

The Order of Prussia remaining after the Second Peace of Thorn 1466 and the masterpiece of Livonia; Warmia, depicted in green, had become part of the Royal (Polish) Prussia, but had a special status with extensive autonomy




The Restorden in the Holy Roman Empire:

After the losses in Prussia remained the Order, except for a few properties in Livonia, mainly only the possessions in the territory of the Holy Roman Empire. Thus it came about that the order was reformed internally and externally by Walther von Cronberg. Thus, led by the Landkomturen led bales to largely independent units, also branched out the interdependence between the Order and the noble families by the inclusion of children for education. Especially with the House of Habsburg such relationships were very close.

In addition to the main task of pastoral care and leadership of hospitals, since the 17th century, the use of the Knights of the Order in the fight against the Turks has again increasingly come into focus. Many Order members served in the imperial army before they could take on further tasks in the Order.

After the Thirty Years' War from 1618 to 1648, a time for the Order and its commander broke out, which was mainly characterized by many construction activities. Thus, e.g. in Ellingen, Nuremberg, Sachsenhausen, Altshausen, Beuggen, Altenbiesen and in many other places elaborate castles or castle churches.




The Order during the Revolutionary Wars:

The time of Napoleon and his victories over the Allied States in Europe also had consequences for the Order. In the first coalition war (1792 - 1797), France won and after the peace of Campo Formio ended on 17 October 1797, the left bank of the Rhine had to be ceded to France, so that the Balleien Alsace and Lorraine were completely lost, Koblenz and Biesen to a large extent.

After the defeat of the Austro-Russian coalition in 1805 at Austerlitz, Napoleon decreed that the possessions of the Order and the Office of the German and Hochmeister must be ceded hereditary to the House of Habsburg of Austria.

With the fifth coalition war in 1809 and the invasion of the Alliance in Bavaria, Napoleon declared the Order dissolved in the territory of the Confederation of the Rhine and handed over its possessions to the princes. This left the Confederation only the possessions in Silesia and Bohemia and the Ballei Austria.




The Order after the World War One:

After the First World War and the associated end of the Habsburg monarchy, the possession of the Order, which was regarded as part of the monarchy on the basis of the inheritance law of 1805, should first be confiscated. Due to the resignation of the Grand Master Archduke Eugen of Austria-Teschen to his office and the appointment of his successor by the religious priest and Bishop Norbert Johann Klein coadjutor in 1923 enough time could pass until 1927 the successor states of the Danube Monarchy recognized the Teutonic Order as a religious order and the possessions remained in the hands of the order. In addition, the Balleien remained in the Kingdom of Italy, in the Czechoslovak Republic and in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.




The Order during and after World War Two:

The National Socialist government in Germany issued on September 6, 1938 an instruction to the complete dissolution of the Order. After the incorporation of Austria this instruction was applied there as well as in the Czech areas, which were also later incorporated. Although the order remained in Italy, there were attacks on people and property by fascist groups.

In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Order was spared prohibitions and dissolution and served as a hospital during the war with its properties. After the war there were attacks and expropriations on the part of the Germans because of the name and war crimes. The Order was subsequently expelled from Yugoslavia as well as from Czechoslovakia. In Austria, the order of 1938 was repealed and the possessions and property returned to the Order.

In post-war Germany, the Order founded a convent in Darmstadt. 1953 followed in Passau for the nuns in the former Augustinian Monastery St. Nikola a mother house, 1957 a house as the seat of the Procurator General in Rome which also serves as a pilgrimage.

The German Order is today with about 1,000 members with the official title "Order of the Brothers of the German House of St. Mary in Jerusalem" a religious order whose territorial districts are in Germany in Weyarn, in Austria in Vienna, in South Tyrol / Italy in Lana, in Slovenia in Ljubljana and in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Troppau. The main tasks are limited to charitable tasks such as care for the elderly and handicapped persons as well as the educational areas.




The coat of arms:

The coat of arms of the German Order resembles that of the Knights Templar. If it was a red cross on a white background, the German Order used a black cross on a white background. In the later course of the Order, the former beam cross transformed into a paw cross.
The cross was also worn on the cloaks of the Knights of the Order on the left shoulder and on the shields.

In Prussia and the Empire, the coat of arms was also used as a military emblem and for awards. The Wehrmacht took over this symbol, but used the Balkenkreuz, only the Bundeswehr reintroduced the Tatzenkreuz as a national emblem.



Coat of arms sign of the German order


Cross with beams of the Wehrmacht


German Armed Forces sovereign badge






You can find the right literature here:


Teutonic Knights

Teutonic Knights Paperback – December 15, 2011

The Teutonic Knights were powerful and ferocious advocates of holy war. Their history is suffused with crusading, campaigning and struggle. Feared by their enemies but respected by medieval Christendom, the knights and their Order maintained a firm hold over the Baltic and northern Germany and established a formidable regime which flourished across Central Europe for 300 years.

This major new book surveys the gripping history of the knights and their Order and relates their rise to power; their struggles against Prussian pagans; the series of wars against Poland and Lithuania; the clash with Alexander Nevsky’s Russia; and the gradual stagnation of the order in the fourteenth century. The book is replete with dramatic episodes - such as the battle on frozen Lake Peipus in 1242, or the disaster of Tannenberg - but focuses primarily on the knights’ struggle to maintain power, fend off incursions and raiding bands and to launch crusades against unbelieving foes. And it was the crusade which chiefly characterized and breathed life into this Holy Order.

William Urban’s narrative charts the rise and fall of the Order and, in an accessible and engaging style, throws light on a band of knights whose deeds and motives have long been misunderstood.

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Teutonic Knight: 1190–1561

Teutonic Knight: 1190–1561 (Warrior) Paperback – November 20, 2007

Osprey's study of Teutonic Knights from 1190 to 1561. The Military Order of Teutonic Knights was one of the three most famous Crusading Orders; the others being the Templars and the Hospitallers. Like these two, the Teutonic Knights initially focused upon the preservation of the Crusader States in the Middle East. Wielding their swords in the name of their faith, the crusading knights set out to reclaim Jerusalem. Unlike the Templars they survived the crises of identity and purpose which followed the loss of the last Crusader mainland enclaves in the late thirteenth century and, like the Hospitallers, they managed to create a new purpose - and a new field of combat - for themselves. Whereas the Hospitallers focused their energies in the eastern Mediterranean battling against Muslim armies, the Teutonic Knights shifted their efforts to the Baltic, to the so-called Northern Crusades against pagan Prussians and Lithuanians and, to a lesser extent, against Orthodox Christian Russia. As a result the Order of Teutonic Knights became a significant power, not only in the Baltic but in north-central Europe as a whole. Paradoxically, however, it was their fellow Catholic Christian Polish neighbours who became their most dangerous foes, breaking the Order's power in the mid-fifteenth century. The Teutonic Knights lingered on in what are now Estonia and Latvia for another century, but this was little more than a feeble afterglow. This title will examine this fascinating military and religious order in detail, revealing the colourful history of the crusades within Europe itself which inexorably changed the future of the continent.

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The Teutonic Knights: The Catholic Church’s Most Powerful Warriors

The Teutonic Knights: The Catholic Church’s Most Powerful Warriors

The Teutonic Knights may receive less attention than the other two Catholic orders of Crusaders—the Hospitallers and the Knights Templar—but their history is just as storied and complex as that of their monastic peers. They were founded in the Middle Eastern fortress of Acre in 1190 AD, and the duress of this war-torn pressure cooker developed in the Teutonic Knights a ferocity that has rarely been matched. The Teutonic Knights were tough—so tough that on some occasions just the sight of their heavy armor, huge broadswords, and helmets with horns reaching to the sky was enough to send their enemies into a full-blown panic. Here in this book, we will explore the finer points of this mysterious order. We will cover who the knights are, where they came from, and where they may go in the foreseeable future. From the Crusades of Acre to the battlefields of World War Two, to the Teutonic organizations of today, we leave no stone unturned as we tell the story of this intrepid group of fighting monks. Come along with us as we delve into the history of the Catholic Church’s most powerful warriors.

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The Last Years of the Teutonic Knights: Lithuania, Poland and the Teutonic Order

The Last Years of the Teutonic Knights: Lithuania, Poland and the Teutonic Order Hardcover – November 30, 2018

The Battle of Grunwald was one of the largest battles in Medieval Europe and was the most important in the histories of Poland and Lithuania.

It was fought on 15 July 1410 during the Polish-Lithuania-Teutonic War between the alliance of the Kingdom of Poland (led by King Jagiello) and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (led by Grand Duke Vytautas) against the German-Prussian Teutonic Knights (led by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen) and with the assistance of Sigismund, then King of Hungary and Croatia.

The Teutonic Knights, a crusading military order, were defeated and most of their leaders were killed or taken prisoner. This defeat would mark the beginning of their decline and they would never again regain their former power.

Following the battle, the balance of power shifted in Central and Eastern Europe and so came the rise of the Polish-Lithuanian union as the dominant political and military force.

In this compelling account the action takes place in Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and Germany. There are bloody battles; fascinating characters; intrigue; betrayals; sex; unexpected twists of fate; religious heresy and a smattering of saints. There is also the monumental end of one era making way for the beginning of another.

Written by William L Urban, an internationally respected authority on the history of European warfare, while there has long been interest on the crusades outside of the Holy Land, this book is unique in the sheer breadth and depth of its research.

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