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Teutonic Knights

The Teutonic Order was a crusading order of knights under religious vows which was formed at the end of the 12th century in Palestine to give medical aid to pilgrims to the holy places. They received papal orders for crusades to take and hold Jerusalem for Christianity. They were based at Acre.

When the mission of the order in Palestine was nearing its end, the Teutonic Knights moved their headquarter to Venice. The only way to continue their mission seemed to involve moving their theatre of operations to Eastern Europe, on the border with pagan nations. The Knights offered their services to the local Christian rulers posing as religiously motivated mercenaries. Nevertheless, they hoped that using their influence in the Holy Roman Empire could help them become territorial proprietors of the newly conquered lands.

In 1211 Andrew II of Hungary accepted their services. They were granted the district of Burzenland[?] in Transylvania. Andrew had been involved in negotiations for the marriage of his daughter with the son of Hermann, the Landgrave of Thuringia. The latter's vassals included the family of Hermann of Salza[?], the new master of the Teutonic Order. Led by a brother called Theoderich, they defended the Kingdom of Hungary from the neighbouring Cumans[?]. In 1224 they petitioned Pope Honorius III to be placed directly under the authority of the papal see, rather than the Kingdom of Hungary. King Andrew responded by expelling them in 1225

At the same time Konrad I Mazowiecki[?], ruler of part of Poland, suffered when pagan Old Prussians[?] occupied Culmerland[?]. In order to restore this province and conquer Prussia, Konrad hired the Knights, giving them Culmerland[?] as a fief (1226). However, in 1234 the Order received privileges from the emperor that made them independent rulers of Culmerland and Prussia. The rulers of Poland resented this, as they perceived those provinces as part of Poland.

Thanks to the income from the land owned by the Order in Western Europe, and its lack of scruples, the war of attrition against th Old Prussians had already been finished when the Teutonic Order conquered or slaughtered all theOld Prussians.

They ruled over much of the Baltic for several centuries, losing power finally in the 1466. In addition they founded numerous cities all over Central and Eastern Europe.

The Order began to lose influence during the late Middle Ages, as the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania[?] was founded. Soon the Order was involved in many wars against Poland, Lithuania and the Tatars. The biggest battle of the Teutonic Knights was the Battle of Tannenberg (1410) (in Polish, Battle of Grunwald), which they lost.

Later, the burghers of Prussia rose up against the Catholic Teutonic order and their power waned further. The emperor Maximilian I had made an agreement with the Polish king and in 1525, the grand master of the order, Albrecht of Brandenburg, converted to Lutheranism and swore allegiance to the Polish king, who made him the Duke of Prussia. This Polish king was also the grand duke of Lithuania, Sigismund I, and was Albrecht of Brandenburg's uncle.

The new Grand Magistery was then established in Württemberg and members of the Habsburg family continued as grand masters over the Order's considerable holdings in Germany until 1809, when the Order lost its last secular holdings. The order continued to exist, headed by Habsburgs through the First World War, and today operates primarily as a charitable organization.

Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order, 1191-present

  • Heinrich I Walpot von Bassenheim 1198-1200
  • Otto von Kerpen 1200-1206
  • Heinrich II von Tunna 1206-1209
  • Hermann von Salza 1209-1239
  • Konrad I of Thuringia 1239-1240
  • Gerhard von Malberg 1241-1244
  • Heinrich III von Hohenlohe 1244-1249
  • Günther von Schwarzenberg 1249-1253
  • Poppo von Osterna 1253-1257
  • Hanno von Sangershausen 1257-1274
  • Hartmann von Helbrungen 1274-1283
  • Burkhard von Schwanden 1283-1290
  • Konrad II von Feuchtwangen 1290-1297
  • Gottfried von Hohenlohe 1297-1302
  • Siegfried von Feuchtwangen 1302-1310
  • Karl Bessart 1311-1324
  • Werner von Orselen 1324-1330
  • Lothar of Brunswick 1331-1335
  • Dietrich von Altenburg 1335-1341
  • Ludolf Konig von Wattzau 1342-1345
  • Heinrich IV Dusener von Arfberg 1345-1351
  • Winrich von Kniprode 1351-1382
  • Konrad III Zollner von Rothstein 1382-1390
  • Konrad IV von Wallenrode 1391-1393
  • Konrad V von Juningen 1393-1407
  • Ulrich von Jungignen 1407-1410
  • Heinrich V von Reuss 1410-1413
  • Michael Kuchenmeister von Sternburg 1414-1422
  • Paul Belenzer von Ruszdorf 1423-1440
  • Konrad VI von Erlichshausen 1441-1449
  • Ludwig von Erlichshausen 1450-1467
  • Heinrich VI von Reuss 1467-1470
  • Heinrich VII Reffle von Richtenberg 1470-1477
  • Martin Truchsetz von Wetzhausen 1477-1489
  • Johann von Tieffen 1489-1497
  • Friedrich of Saxony 1497-1510
  • Albert of Brandenburg 1510-1525
  • Walter von Cronberg 1527-1543
  • Wolfgang Schutzbar 1543-1566
  • Georg Hundt von Weckheim 1566-1572
  • Heinrich VIII von Bobenhausen 1572-1590
  • Maximilian of Austria 1590-1618
  • Karl I of Austria 1619-1624
  • Johann Eustach von Westernach 1625-1627
  • Johann Kaspar I von Stadion 1627-1641
  • Leopold Wilhelm of Austria 1641-1662
  • Karl Josef of Austria 1662-1664
  • Johann Kaspar II von Ampringen 1664-1684
  • Ludwig Anton of Palatinate-Neuburg 1685-1694
  • Ludwig Franz of Palatinate-Neuburg 1694-1732
  • Clemens August of Bavaria 1732-1761
  • Charles Alexander of Lorraine 1761-1780
  • Maximilian Franz of Austria 1780-1801
  • Karl II of Austria 1801-1804
  • Anton Viktor of Austria 1804-1835
  • Maximilian of Austria-Este 1835-1863
  • Wilhelm Franz Karl of Austria 1863-1894
  • Eugen Ferdinand Pius Bernhard of Austria 1894-1923
  • Dr. Norbert Klein 1923-1933
  • Paul Heider 1933-1936
  • Robert Schälzky 1936-1948
  • Dr. Marian Tumler 1948-1970
  • Ildefons Pauler 1970-1988
  • Dr. Arnold Othmar Wieland 1988-2000
  • Bruno Platter 2000-present

See also

External link

The Order and its relations with its neighbours (especially Poland) are the main motive in a novel by the Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz Krzyzacy (The Teutonic Knights).

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