Eastern Baltic
before Christianization

to the left :
The Coat of Arms
of the Teutonic Order

source : Teutonic Order Homepage

The Teutonic Order, 1230-1309

In 1198, in the time of the CRUSADES, the Order of the German Hospice St. Mary's at Jerusalem (TEUTONIC ORDER) was established. In the 13th century, it looked for other areas of activity, had defended the Hungarian BURZENLAND against the pagan Cumans 1211; they stayed until 1225 when the order was expelled by order of the Hungarian king.
The pagan Prussians from time to time undertook plundering raids into neighbouring christian Masovia (Poland). In 1224, Duke Conrad of Masovia asked the Teutonic Order to help. Grand Master HERMANN VON SALZA complied. In 1226 he obtained an Imperial charter, confirming that the conquered pagan lands would become the Order's possession. In 1230, Duke Conrad of Masovia transferred the Land of CULM to the order. Castles were built at THORN and at Culm. The Teutonic Order began with the conquest of the right bank of the lower Vistula river. As fighting the pagan Prussians was regarded a crusade, the Order could rely on a constant flow of crusaders joining their fight. The order called German farmers and townspeople to settle in their lands. Thorn, Culm, soon Marienburg and ELBING became flourishing cities, German in character, as became much of the countryside. The order slowly expanded eastward, subjugating East Prussia and populating the more fertile stretches of the land with German settlers.
The order erected the magnificent MARIENBURG, a huge castle never taken. In 1309 the Grand Masters moved here, it became the administrative center of the Teutonic Order's state. In 1237, the LIVONIAN ORDER formally was federated with the Teutonic Order, but in practice preserved a separate organization. The Empire, where the Order recruited it's members (who lived celibate, as military brethren), was divided in many COMMANDERIES, each of them having a house commanded by a (provincial) Deutschmeister. In some areas this supporting structure survives until today.
Conquest, the establishment and expansion of a MONASTIC STATE was the aim of the order, not the conversion of the indigenous Prussians. The fact that the Prussians were heathen and refused baptism was the Order's raison d'etre.

Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order, 1225-1308
Hermann von Salza
Konrad von Thueringen
Gerhard von Malberg
Heinrich von Hohenlohe
Poppo von Osterna
Anno von Sangershausen
Hartmann von Heldrungen
Burkhard von Schwanden
Konrad von Feuchtwangen
Gottfried von Hohenlohe
Siegfried von Feuchtwangen

The Teutonic Order, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Timeline of the Teutonic Order, from ORB
A Brief History, from the Teutonic Order Homepage
The Teutonic Order of Holy Mary in Jerusalem, by Guy Stair Sainty, detailed history
The Sense of Humor among the Teutonic Knights of the Thirteenth Century, essay by William Urban, from illinois Quarterly 1979 pp.40-47
Timeline Northeast Prussia, from

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 11th 2004

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