1309-1409 Duchy in Prussia

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

source : Teutonic Order Homepage

The Teutonic Order, the Decline, 1410-1525

In 1409 a rebellion broke out in Schamaiten (modern Lithuania; acquired by the Order in 1398/1403); the rebels were supported by Poland-Lithuania, and the Order declared war. In 1410, troops of the Teutonic Order and of Polansd-Lithuania clashed in the BATTLE OF GRUNWALD/TANNENBERG. The Order was defeated, it's Grand Master ULRICH VON JUNGINGEN fell. Peace was concluded in 1414; the Order ceded Schamaiten to Lithuania, the Land of Dobrin to Poland.
The Order lost it's military supremacy. Even worse, Europe realized that there were no pagans any more to be converted in the region. The influx of crusading knights, which had provided the order with much of it's strength, stopped.
The Order had been a model state in efficiency. However, it's administration also was costly. High taxation in 1440 resulted in the Prussian cities, foremost DANZIG, ELBING and THORN, to found the Prussian Federation. The GRAND MASTER, residing in the MARIENBURG, a huge, yet unconquered fortress, attempted to force the cities to pay high taxation, and this led to the secession of the Prussian federation in the Prussian War (Thirteen Years' War) 1454-1466. Almost all of the order's lands were under the control of the rebels. The Order hired Bohemian soldiers (Hussites); the Prussian Federation paid homage to the Polish king, asking for his assistance. No battles were fought. The Order, unable to pay the Bohemians, handed them over the Marienburg (Malbork) as a pawn. As the Order was unable to repay, the Bohemians sold the Marienburg to the Polish king.

In 1466 the Second Peace of Thorn (Torun) was signed. Royal Prussia, with Danzig, Elbing, Thorn and the bishopric of Warmia (Ermland) were now part of the Kingdom of Poland, as was the Marienburg. The remnant - eastern Prussia with Königsberg - was all what was left of the state of the Teutonic Order.
In 1467-1479 the Order was involved in the Warmia Stift Feud; in 1520-1521 the Rider War was fought - the Order's last war with Poland. The last Hochmeister, Albrecht von Brandenburg, transformed the state into a Duchy and took it as a fief from the Polish king, Sigismund I., who welcomed the opportunity to have Polish sovereignty over Prussia recognized (hitherto, the Order had ruled over an independent state).

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
Renaissance Humanism in Prussia : the Court of the Grandmasters, essay by William Urban, from Journal of Baltic Studies 1991, pp.95-112
Timeline Northeast Prussia, from euronet
Der Deutsche Ritterorden (the Teutonic Order), from Preussen Web, in German

List of Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order, from Wikipedia, scroll down
This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 11th 2004

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