The name “Teutonic order” first of all Russians makes one recall the events of 1242, when the German knights, faced with the retinue of Prince Alexander Nevsky and defeated, went to the bottom of lake Peipsi under the weight of their armor.
Mark in history. Than the famous Alexander Nevsky?
Actually Ice is only a small fragment of the extensive history of the knights in the three centuries it existed as a full-fledged European state.
Hospital under the walls of Acre
The history of the Teutonic order began in 1189 when the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa with his army, took part in the Third crusade.
At the end of August 1189, the army of the German Emperor laid siege to the Syrian fortress of Acre, an ancient city, founded around the middle of the II Millennium BC.
The siege merchants from lübeck and Bremen organized a field hospital for the wounded crusaders. The king of Jerusalem, guy de Lusignan signed the Charter on which the hospital was given the right to organize hospice in acre after the city is taken.
Pope Clement III with his bull of February 6, 1191, declared the hospital as a “Teutonic brotherhood of the Church. Mary Of Jerusalem.”
13 July 1191 after a nearly two-year siege of Acre was taken, and the field hospital moved to the city, existing already on the rights of the hospital monastery.
The position of the “liberators of the Holy Sepulchre” in the middle East has always been unstable. That is why the military functions were assigned including on hospital monasteries. In 1193, the same guy de Lusignan gives the hospital the protection and defense of one of the fortifications of Acre in the case of enemy attack.
“Help — Defend — Heal”
March 5, 1196 in temple Acres, the ceremony of the conversion of the hospital into the spiritual order. At the end of the same year, Pope Celestine publishes a bull, which recognizes the existence of the monastic Order of Saint Mary of the German Jerusalem.
Finally, the conversion of hospital to military-monastic order is completed in 1199, when Pope innocent III consecrates the status of your bull.
The task of the order proclaimed:
- the protection of the German knights;
- treatment of wounded and sick crusaders;
- the struggle against the enemies of the Catholic Church.
The motto of the order: “Help — Defend — Heal”.
From this moment the order very quickly acquires its own regular army, and military functions in his activities are the main.
The membership in the order, which is a military-religious community, has now become very prestigious among European feudal lords. Although the residence of the head of the order (Grossmeister) is located in acre, his property is rapidly growing in Europe — at the expense of land donated by monarchs and possessions of the feudal lords, becoming members of the order.
The Teutonic order, whose members were to be the knights of the German blood, which, however, was not always respected, very quickly gained strength, standing on a par with the previously established order of the Templars and Hospitallers.
The statutes of the order divided the members into two classes: knights and priests who were required to take the three monastic vows — poverty, chastity and obedience and promise to help the sick and fight the unbelievers.
Unlike knights, who first had to prove his noble birth, priests were exempted from this obligation. Their function was to perform religious services, communion of the knights and the sick in hospitals and participate in wars as physicians.
Knights lived together, slept in the bedrooms with simple beds, ate together in the dining room had a limited amount of money. They worked every day, learning to fight, watching their equipment and worked with horses.
The head of the order, like other it leaders, was elected, and his rights are limited by the knights members of the order.
The Conquest Of Prussia
Fourth, grossmeyster the Teutonic order Herman von Salza was a man with a remarkable analytical mind. For decades before the final collapse of the Crusader States in the middle East, he realized that the future of the Teutonic order in these parts, there, and began to make efforts to transfer its main activities in Europe.
Several attempts to gain a foothold in Europe was not a success, but stubborn, Grossmeister was insistent and brought his plan to the end.
In 1217 Pope Honorius III was declared the crusade against the Prussian pagans, invaded the lands of Polish Prince Konrad I Mazowiecki.
The Teutonic knights, started a war against Prussian pagans in 1232, used the following tactics — they broke them opposing the Prussian tribes singly, while the loser was used as allies in future wars.
The occupied lands of the order was founded their castles, anchored in these territories “forever”. In 1255, on the lands of the Prussians was founded the castle of königsberg.
Prussian know, was ruled by knights and becoming their allies, were gradually converted to Christianity. Happened gradually and Germanization of the Prussian tribes in the German language which is necessary for a successful career in the state of the Teutonic knights, and forced out of the Prussian dialect.
Based on the edict of the Holy Roman Emperor and the bull of Pope Prussia became a possession of the Teutonic order. So the military-monastic order, swallow up and which included a similar smaller education, has become the whole state.
The onslaught to the East
At the turn of the 1230’s – 1240-ies of the Teutonic order attempted to expand the boundaries of their possessions on the East by the conquest of the weakened Russian lands, has just survived the invasion of Batu. The knights intend to lead the local population professing Christianity, under the spiritual authority of Rome.
From 1240 1242 for years, the knights of the Teutonic order, led the territorial expansion in the Pskov and Novgorod lands, captured Izborsk and Pskov. These territorial encroachments culminated in the battle of lake Peipus April 5, 1242, the results of which are well known to all.
Despite this setback, the effect of the order continued to grow. The Teutonic order led a desperate struggle for the territory of the Great Duchy of Lithuania, which controlled in the XIII–XIV centuries and most of the Russian lands. In the XIV century the order had made more than a hundred trips in Lithuania, seeking to subordinate it to its influence.
Who with a sword to us will come… the Russians were always invincible?
Such activity of the Teutonic order in Europe is due to the fact that its activities in the middle East ended in may, 1291, after the capture of Acre by the army of the Sultan of Egypt.
In 1386 the Lithuanian Prince Jagiello converted to Catholicism and got engaged to the heir to the Polish throne, which led to the creation of a personal Union — the unification of the two States (Poland and the Great Lithuanian Principality) under the rule of one crown. Subsequently, the personal Union will lead to the creation of a full United States of the Commonwealth.
For the Teutonic order, laid claim to the lands of the Lithuanians, the Polish-Lithuanian Union was a very serious threat.
In 1409 between the order and a new state Union war broke out, the cause of which was an old grudge. Poland and Lithuania, using the uprising in Samogitia land previously owned by the Duchy of Lithuania, decided to try to win back territory previously captured by the knights.
The apotheosis of this war was the battle of Grunwald that took place on 15 July 1410. This battle, which became one of the largest and most important in the history of medieval Europe ended with the defeat of the army of the Teutonic order. An important role in this battle played the shelves of the Russian land, which was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, who demonstrated at critical moments the courage and fortitude.
Defeat for the Teutonic order were devastating: of the 25 th 8000 troops were killed and about 14,000 were taken prisoner. Among the dead were almost all military leaders of the order and its knights elite.
Although the war ended in 1411 relatively soft for Teutonic terms, his power was undermined. The destruction of his invincible army almost wiped his influence.
Huge material losses, the need for indemnity payments and the redemption of captives of the knights forced the Teutonic order to introduce new taxes on controlled territories, which caused the indignation of the population. In March 1440, the representatives of the landed nobility and the Hanseatic cities from the territory of the Order of the state organized the Prussian Confederation to reset the domination of the Teutonic knights. In February 1454, the Prussian Confederation asked the Polish king Casimir IV asking for support in their revolution and the incorporation of Prussia into Poland. The king agreed that was the start of the Thirteen years ‘ war, also known as the “war of the cities”. The result of this war was the transformation of the Western part of the former possessions of the order in the Polish province of Royal Prussia and the remaining Eastern part of the possessions of the order became a vassal of the Polish monarch.
Sunset the great history of the Teutonic order lasted for several decades and was very sad for the keepers of its traditions. Last Grossmeister, or Grand master of the Teutonic order, Albrecht Hohenzollern, disappointed in his ideals, in 1525, moved from Catholicism to Lutheranism, resigned the powers of the head of the order, announcing the secularization of the Prussian lands — the main territory belonging to the Teutonic order.
This decision was made with the approval of the king of Poland, a vassal who was also the master of the order.
On the former territories was formed the Duchy of Prussia at the head of “master the message”. This Duchy became the first European state, religion which was Protestant, despite the fact that it remained a vassal of Catholic Poland.
Sisters instead of brothers
Lost its influence of the Teutonic order however, retained control of some territory and officially lasted until 1809, when it was dissolved during the Napoleonic wars.
The order was revived in 1834 in Austria, with the support of Emperor Franz I. About the military and political ambitions it never was — the Teutonic order has returned to help the sick and charitable activities.
The military traditions of the order kept in Prussia, where even was established the order of the “Iron cross”, directly inspired by the symbolism of the Teutons.
After the arrival in Germany of the Nazis began the glorification of the military history of the order, in the first of his attempts to conquer lands in Eastern Europe. While at present the priests of the Teutonic order focused on charity, persecution.
After the Second world war, the charitable activities of the order were continued. His current residence is in Vienna. The residence contains unique historical archives on the activities of the Teutonic order, which had a huge impact on European history.
Today the Teutonic order maintains several hospitals and private health centers in Austria and Germany. Interesting point — the basis of the modern Teutonic order, are not brothers and sisters.