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25 min
Teutonic Order
1190 - 1525

Teutonic Order

Words: nono umasy


The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, commonly known as the Teutonic Order, is a Catholic religious order founded as a military order c. 1190 in Acre, Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Teutonic Order was formed to aid Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to establish hospitals. Its members have commonly been known as the Teutonic Knights, having a small voluntary and mercenary military membership, serving as a crusading military order for the protection of Christians in the Holy Land and the Baltics during the Middle Ages.



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1191 Jan 1

Hospital founded by Germans

Acre, Israel


Hospital founded by Germans


After the loss of Jerusalem in 1187, some merchants from Lübeck and Bremen took up the idea and founded a field hospital for the duration of the Siege of Acre in 1190, which became the nucleus of the order. They began to describe themselves as the Hospital of St. Mary of the German House in Jerusalem. King Guy of Jerusalem awarded them a portion of a tower in Acre; the bequest was re-enforced on Feb. 10, 1192; the order perhaps shared the tower with the English Order of the Hospital of St. Thomas.


1198 Mar 5

Teutonic Order established as a military order

Acre, Israel


Teutonic Order established as a military order
King Richard at the Siege of Acre | ©Michael Perry


Based on the model of the Knights Templar, the Teutonic Order was transformed into a military order in 1198 and the head of the order became known as the Grand Master (magister hospitalis). It received papal orders for crusades to take and hold Jerusalem for Christianity and defend the Holy Land against the Muslim Saracens. The ceremony in Acre's Temple was attended by the secular and clerical leaders of the Latin Kingdom.


1199 Feb 19

Order get its colors

Jerusalem, Israel


Order get its colors


Bull of Pope Innocent III confirmed the Teutonic Knights' wearing of the Templars' white mantle and following of the Hospitallers' rule.


1209 Jan 1

Feud between the Orders

Acre, Israel


Feud between the Orders
| ©Osprey Publishing


Teutonic Knights side with Hospitallers and barons in Acre against the Templars and prelates; origin of long-standing opposition between the Templars and Teutonic Knights.


1210 Oct 3

Grand Master Hermann von Salza

Acre, Israel


Grand Master Hermann von Salza
Hermannus de Saltza, 17th century, Deutschordenshaus, Vienna


Probable date of election of Hermann von Salza as grand master of the Teutonic Knights; the date coincided with the date of the marriage in Tyre of John of Brienne to Mary; it was also the date of John's coronation as King of Jerusalem.


1211 Jan 1

Teutonic Knights in the Balkans

Brașov, Romania


Teutonic Knights in the Balkans
| ©Graham Turner


The Knights of the order had been called in by King Andrew II of Hungary to settle and stabilize the eastern Hungarian frontier and protect it against the Cumans. In 1211, Andrew II of Hungary accepted the services of the Teutonic Knights and granted them the district of Burzenland in Transylvania, where they would be immune to fees and duties and could enforce their own justice. Led by a brother called Theoderich or Dietrich, the Order defended the south-eastern borders of the Kingdom of Hungary against the neighbouring Cumans. Many forts of wood and mud were built for defence. They settled new German peasants among the existing Transylvanian Saxon inhabitants. The Cumans had no fixed settlements for resistance, and soon the Teutons were expanding into their territory. By 1220, the Teutonics Knights had built five castles, some of them made of stone. Their rapid expansion made the Hungarian nobility and clergy, who were previously uninterested in those regions, jealous and suspicious. Some nobles claimed these lands, but the Order refused to share them, ignoring the demands of the local bishop.


1217 Jan 1

Prussian Crusade

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


Prussian Crusade
Prussian CrusadePrussian Crusade


The Prussian Crusade was a series of 13th-century campaigns of Roman Catholic crusaders, primarily led by the Teutonic Knights, to Christianize under duress the pagan Old Prussians. Invited after earlier unsuccessful expeditions against the Prussians by Christian Polish kings, the Teutonic Knights began campaigning against the Prussians, Lithuanians and Samogitians in 1230. By the end of the century, having quelled several Prussian uprisings, the Knights had established control over Prussia and administered the conquered Prussians through their monastic state, eventually erasing the Prussian language, culture and pre-Christian religion by a combination of physical and ideological force. Some Prussians took refuge in neighboring Lithuania.


1221 Aug 30

Battle of Mansurah

Mansoura, Egypt


Battle of Mansurah


The battle of Mansurah took place from 26–28 August 1221 near the Egyptian city of Mansurah and was the final battle in the Fifth Crusade (1217–1221). It pitted the Crusader forces under papal legate Pelagius Galvani and John of Brienne, king of Jerusalem, against the Ayyubid forces of the sultan al-Kamil. The result was a decisive victory for the Egyptians and forced the surrender of the Crusaders and their departure from Egypt. Hermann von Salza and the master of the Temple held as hostages by the Muslims.


1225 Jan 1

The Order is Expulsed from Transylvania

Brașov, Romania


The Order is Expulsed from Transylvania


In 1224, the Teutonic Knights, seeing that they would have problems when the Prince inherited the Kingdom, petitioned Pope Honorius III to be placed directly under the authority of the Papal See, rather than that of the King of Hungary. This was a grave mistake, as King Andrew, angered and alarmed at their growing power, responded by expelling the Teutonic Knights in 1225, although he allowed the ethnically German commoners and peasants settled here by the Order and who became part of the larger group of the Transylvanian Saxons, to remain. Lacking the military organization and experience of the Teutonic Knights, the Hungarians did not replace them with adequate defenders which had prevented the attacking Cumans. Soon, the steppe warriors would be a threat again.


1226 Jan 1

Invitation from Masovia

Mazovia, Poland


Invitation from Masovia


In 1226, Konrad I, Duke of Masovia in north-eastern Poland, appealed to the Knights to defend his borders and subdue the pagan Baltic Old Prussians, allowing the Teutonic Knights use of Chełmno Land as a base for their campaign. This being a time of widespread crusading fervor throughout Western Europe, Hermann von Salza considered Prussia a good training ground for his knights for the wars against the Muslims in Outremer. With the Golden Bull of Rimini, Emperor Frederick II bestowed on the Order a special imperial privilege for the conquest and possession of Prussia, including Chełmno Land, with nominal papal sovereignty. In 1235 the Teutonic Knights assimilated the smaller Order of Dobrzyń, which had been established earlier by Christian, the first Bishop of Prussia.


1226 Mar 1

Golden Bull of Rimini

Rimini, Italy


Golden Bull of Rimini


The Golden Bull of Rimini was a decree issued by Emperor Frederick II in Rimini in March 1226 that granted and confirmed the privilege of territorial conquest and acquisition for the Teutonic Order in Prussia.


1237 Jan 1

Livonian Order merges with the Teutonic Order

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


Livonian Order merges with the Teutonic Order
Order of The Livonian Brothers of the Sword a branch of the Teutonic Knights


In 1227 the Livonian Brothers of the Sword conquered all Danish territories in Northern Estonia. After the Battle of Saule the surviving members of the Brothers of the Sword merged into the Teutonic Order of Prussia in 1237 and became known as Livonian Order.


1237 Nov 27

Battle of Cortenuova

Cortenuova, Province of Bergam


Battle of Cortenuova


The Battle of Cortenuova was fought on 27 November 1237 in the course of the Guelphs and Ghibellines Wars: in it, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II defeated the Second Lombard League. Grand Master Hermann von Salza led the Teutonic on knightly charges against the Lombards. The Lombard League's army was virtually annihilated. Frederick made a triumphal entrance in the allied city of Cremona, with the Carroccio towed by an elephant and Tiepolo chained on it.


1241 Jan 1

First Mongol invasion of Poland

Poland


First Mongol invasion of Poland
| ©Angus McBride


The Mongol Invasion of Poland from late 1240 to 1241 culminated in the Battle of Legnica, where the Mongols defeated an alliance which included forces from fragmented Poland and their allies, led by Henry II the Pious, the Duke of Silesia. The first invasion's intention was to secure the flank of the main Mongolian army attacking the Kingdom of Hungary. The Mongols neutralized any potential help to King Béla IV being provided by the Poles or any military orders.


1242 Apr 2

Battle on the Ice

Lake Peipus


Battle on the Ice | ©BazBattles
Battle on the Ice


The Battle on the Ice was fought largely on the frozen Lake Peipus between the united forces of the Republic of Novgorod and Vladimir-Suzdal, led by Prince Alexander Nevsky, and the forces of the Livonian Order and Bishopric of Dorpat, led by Bishop Hermann of Dorpat. This battle is significant because its outcome determined whether Western or Eastern Orthodox Christianity will predominate in this region. In the end, the battle represented a significant defeat for the Catholic forces during the Northern Crusades and brought an end to their campaigns against the Orthodox Novgorod Republic and other Slavic territories for the next century.


It halted the eastward expansion of the Teutonic Order and established a permanent border line through the Narva River and Lake Peipus dividing Eastern Orthodoxy from Western Catholicism. The knights' defeat at the hands of Alexander's forces prevented the crusaders from retaking Pskov, the linchpin of their eastern crusade. The Novgorodians succeeded in defending Russian territory, and the crusaders never mounted another serious challenge eastward.


1242 Jun 1

First Prussian Uprising

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


First Prussian Uprising


The first Prussian uprising was influenced by three major events. Firstly, the Livonian Knights – a subsidiary of the Teutonic Knights – lost the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipus to Alexander Nevsky in April 1242. Secondly, southern Poland was devastated by a Mongol invasion in 1241; Poland lost the Battle of Legnica and the Teutonic Knights lost one of its most trusted allies that often supplied troops. Thirdly, Duke Swantopolk II of Pomerania was fighting against the Knights, who supported his brothers' dynastic claims against him. It has been implied that the new castles of the Knights were competing with his lands over the trade routes along the Vistula River. While some historians embrace the Swantopolk–Prussian alliance without hesitation, others are more careful. They point out that the historical information came from documents written by the Teutonic Knights and must have been ideologically charged to persuade the Pope to declare a crusade not only against the pagan Prussians but also against the Christian duke.


1249 Nov 29

Battle of Krücken

Kamenka, Kaliningrad Oblast, R


Battle of Krücken


The Battle of Krücken was a medieval battle fought in 1249 during the Prussian Crusades between the Teutonic Knights and Prussians, one of the Baltic tribes. In terms of knights killed, it was the fourth largest defeat of the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century.Marshal Heinrich Botel gathered men from Kulm, Elbing, and Balga for an expeditionary attack deeper into Prussia. They traveled into the lands of Natangians and pillaged the region. On their way back they were in turn attacked by an army of Natangians. The Knights retreated to the nearby village of Krücken south of Kreuzburg (now Kamenka south of Slavskoye), where Prussians hesitated to attack. The Prussian army was growing as fresh troops arrived from more distant territories, and the Knights did not have enough supplies to withstand a siege. Therefore, the Teutonic Knights bargained for surrender: the marshal and three other knights were to remain as hostages while the others were to lay down their weapons. The Natangians broke the agreement and massacred 54 knights and a number of their followers. Some knights were executed in religious ceremonies or tortured to death. The severed head of Johann, vice-komtur of Balga, was mockingly displayed on a spear.


1254 Jan 1

Prussian Crusade of 1254

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


Prussian Crusade of 1254
Teutonic Knight entering Malbork Castle


A 60,000-strong crusading army gathered for an expedition against the pagan Prussians. The army included Bohemians and Austrians under the command of King Ottokar II of Bohemia, Moravians under Bishop Bruno of Olmütz, Saxons under Margrave Otto III of Brandenburg, and a contingent brought by Rudolph of Habsburg.


The Sambians were crushed at the Battle of Rudau, and the fort's garrison surrendered quickly and underwent baptism. The crusaders then advanced against Quedenau, Waldau, Caimen, and Tapiau (Gvardeysk); the Sambians who accepted baptism were left alive, but those who resisted were exterminated en masse. Samland was conquered in January 1255 in a campaign lasting less than a month. Near the native settlement of Tvangste, the Teutonic Knights founded Königsberg ("King's Mountain"), named in honor of the Bohemian king.


1260 Jul 10

Battle of Durbe

Durbe, Durbes pilsēta, Latvia


Battle of Durbe
Battle of Durbe


The Battle of Durbe was a medieval battle fought near Durbe, 23 km (14 mi) east of Liepāja, in present-day Latvia during the Livonian Crusade. On 13 July 1260, the Samogitians soundly defeated the joint forces of the Teutonic Knights from Prussia and Livonian Order from Livonia. Some 150 knights were killed, including Livonian Master Burchard von Hornhausen and Prussian Land Marshal Henrik Botel. It was by far the largest defeat of the knights in the 13th century: in the second-largest, the Battle of Aizkraukle, 71 knights were killed. The battle inspired the Great Prussian Uprising (ended in 1274) and the rebellions of the Semigallians (surrendered in 1290), the Couronians (surrendered in 1267), and the Oeselians (surrendered in 1261). The battle undid two decades of Livonian conquests and it took some thirty years for the Livonian Order to restore its control.


1260 Sep 20

The Great Prussian Uprising

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


The Great Prussian Uprising
| ©EthicallyChallenged
The Great Prussian Uprising


The major revolt began on September 20, 1260. It was triggered by the Lithuanian and Samogitian military victory against the joint forces of the Livonian Order and Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Durbe. As the uprising was spreading through Prussian lands, each clan chose a leader: the Sambians were led by Glande, the Natangians by Herkus Monte, the Bartians by Diwanus, the Warmians by Glappe, the Pogesanians by Auktume. One clan that did not join the uprising was the Pomesanians. The uprising was also supported by Skomantas, leader of the Sudovians. However, there was no one leader to coordinate efforts of these different forces. Herkus Monte, who was educated in Germany, became the best known and most successful of the leaders, but he commanded only his Natangians.


1262 Jan 1

Siege of Königsberg

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


Siege of Königsberg


The siege of Königsberg was a siege laid upon Königsberg Castle, one of the main strongholds of the Teutonic Knights, by Prussians during the great Prussian uprising from 1262 possibly though 1265. The conclusion of the siege is disputed.


1263 Jan 1

Battle of Lubawa

Lubawa, Poland


Battle of Lubawa


Battle of Lubawa or Löbau was a battle fought between the Teutonic Order and Prussians in 1263 during the Great Prussian Uprising. The pagan Prussians rose against their conquerors, who tried to convert them to Christianity, after Lithuanians and Samogitians soundly defeated the joint forces of the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order in the Battle of Durbe (1260). The first years of the uprising were successful for the Prussians, who defeated the Knights in the Battle of Pokarwis and besieged castles held by the Knights. The Prussians launched raids against the Chełmno Land (Kumerland), where the Knights first established themselves in the late 1220s. The apparent aim of these raids were to force the Knights to devote as many troops in defense of Chełmno as possible so that they could not provide help to the besieged castles and forts. In 1263 the Natangians led by Herkus Monte raided Chełmno Land and took many prisoners. Master Helmrich von Rechenberg, who was at Chełmno at the time, collected his men and pursued the Natangians, who could not move quickly due to a large number of captives. The Teutonic Knights intercepted the Prussians near Löbau (now Lubawa, Poland). Their heavy warhorses smashed the Natangian formation, but Herkus Monte with trusted warriors attacked and killed the master Helmrich and marshal Dietrich. Leaderless knights were defeated, and forty knights perished along with a number of low-ranking soldiers.


1264 Jan 1

Siege of Bartenstein

Bartoszyce, Poland


Siege of Bartenstein
| ©Darren Tan


Siege of Bartenstein was a medieval siege laid upon the castle of Bartenstein (now Bartoszyce in Poland) by the Prussians during the Great Prussian Uprising. Bartenstein and Rößel were the two major Teutonic strongholds in Barta, one of the Prussian lands. The castle endured years of siege until 1264 and was one of the last to fall into the hands of the Prussians. The garrison in Bartenstein numbered 400 against 1,300 Bartians who lived in three forts surrounding the city. Such tactics were very common in Prussia: build your own forts so that any communication with the outside world would be cut off. However, at Bartenstein the forts were far enough away to allow the castle to send out men on raids of the surrounding area. Local noble Miligedo, who showed the Knights secret ways in the area, was killed by the Prussians. The Knights managed to burn down all three forts when Bartians were celebrating a religious holiday. However, they soon returned and rebuilt the forts. Bartenstein was running out of supplies and no help was coming from the headquarters of the Teutonic Knights.


1271 Jan 1

Battle of Pagastin

Dzierzgoń, Poland


Battle of Pagastin


The first years of the uprising were successful for the Prussians, but the Knights received reinforcements from Western Europe and were gaining the upper-hand in the conflict. The Prussians launched raids against the Chełmno Land, where the Knights first established themselves in late 1220s. The apparent aim of these raids were to force the Knights to devote as many troops in defense of Chełmno as possible so that they could not organize raids deep into Prussian territory. As other clans became preoccupied fending off Teutonic attacks from their forts, only Diwanus and his Bartians were able to continue the war in the west. They made several minor expeditions to Chełmno Land each year. The major Prussian offensive was organized in 1271 together with Linka, leader of the Pogesanians. The Bartian infantry and Pogesanians besieged a border castle, but were fended off by the Knights from Christburg. The Prussians who managed to escape joined their cavalry while the Knights set up a camp on the opposite bank of the Dzierzgoń River, blocking the route home.


1279 Mar 5

Battle of Aizkraukle

Aizkraukle, Aizkraukle pilsēta


Battle of Aizkraukle


The Livonian campaign, which opened in February 1279, involved a chevauchée into Lithuanian territory. The Livonian army included men from the Livonian Order, Archbishopric of Riga, Danish Estonia, and local Curonian and Semigallian tribes. At the time of the campaign, Lithuania suffered a famine and Traidenis' brother Sirputis raided Polish lands around Lublin. The Livonian army reached as far as Kernavė, the center of the Grand Duke's lands. They did not meet any open resistance and plundered many villages. On their way home the knights were followed by a small force of Traidenis' troops. When the enemies approached Aizkraukle, the Grand Master sent most of the local warriors home with their share of loot. At that point the Lithuanians attacked. The Semigallians were one of the first to retreat from the battlefield and the Lithuanians achieved a decisive victory.


The Battle of Aizkraukle or Ascheraden was fought on March 5, 1279, between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led by Traidenis, and the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order near Aizkraukle in present-day Latvia. The order suffered a great defeat: 71 knights, including the grand master, Ernst von Rassburg, and Eilart Hoberg, leader of the knights from Danish Estonia, were killed. It was the second-largest defeat of the order in the 13th century. After the battle Duke Nameisis of the Semigallians recognized Traidenis as his suzerain.


1291 May 18

Fall of Acre

Acre, Israel


Fall of Acre | ©Real Crusades History
Fall of Acre


The Fall of Acre took place in 1291 and resulted in the Crusaders losing control of Acre to the Mamluks. It is considered one of the most important battles of the period. Although the crusading movement continued for several more centuries, the capture of the city marked the end of further crusades to the Levant. When Acre fell, the Crusaders lost their last major stronghold of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. They still maintained a fortress at the northern city of Tartus (today in north-western Syria), engaged in some coastal raids, and attempted an incursion from the tiny island of Ruad, but when they lost that as well in 1302 in the siege of Ruad, the Crusaders no longer controlled any part of the Holy Land.


The fall of Acre signaled the end of the Jerusalem crusades. No effective crusade was raised to recapture the Holy Land afterwards, though talk of further crusades was common enough. By 1291, other ideals had captured the interest and enthusiasm of the monarchs and nobility of Europe and even strenuous papal efforts to raise expeditions to retake the Holy Land met with little response. The Latin Kingdom continued to exist, theoretically, on the island of Cyprus. There the Latin kings planned to recapture the mainland, but in vain. Money, men, and the will to do the task were all lacking. 


The Teutonic Knights accepted and surrendered their tower after being allowed to leave with their women, but al-Mansuri was killed by other Crusaders. Teutonic Knights headquarters moved from Acre to Venice.


1298 Jun 1

Battle of Turaida

Turaida castle, Turaidas iela,


Battle of Turaida
| ©Catalin Lartist


The Battle of Turaida or Treiden was fought on June 1, 1298, on the banks of the Gauja River (German: Livländische Aa) near the Turaida Castle (Treiden). The Livonian Order was decisively defeated by the residents of Riga allied with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania under command of Vytenis.


On June 28, the Livonian Order received reinforcements from the Teutonic Knights and defeated residents of Riga and Lithuanians near Neuermühlen. According to inflated numbers reported by Peter von Dusburg, some 4,000 Rigans and Lithuanians died at Neuermühlen. The knights proceeded to besiege and capture Riga. After Eric VI of Denmark threatened to invade Livonia to assist Archbishop Johannes III, a truce was reached and the conflict was mediated by Pope Boniface VII. However, the conflict was not resolved and the alliance between Lithuania and Riga continued for another fifteen years.


1308 Nov 13

Teutonic takeover of Danzig (Gdańsk)

Gdańsk, Poland


Teutonic takeover of Danzig (Gdańsk)
Teutonic takeover of Danzig (Gdańsk)


The city of Danzig (Gdańsk) was captured by the State of the Teutonic Order on 13 November 1308, resulting in a massacre of its inhabitants and marking the beginning of tensions between Poland and the Teutonic Order. Originally the knights moved into the fortress as an ally of Poland against the Margraviate of Brandenburg. However, after disputes over the control of the city between the Order and the King of Poland arose, the knights murdered a number of citizens within the city and took it as their own. Thus the event is also known as Gdańsk massacre or Gdańsk slaughter (rzeź Gdańska). Though in the past a matter of debate among historians, a consensus has been established that many people were murdered and a considerable part of the town was destroyed in the context of the takeover.


In the aftermath of the takeover, the order seized all of Pomerelia (Gdańsk Pomerania) and bought up the supposed Brandenburgian claims to the region in the Treaty of Soldin (1309). The conflict with Poland was temporarily settled in the Treaty of Kalisz/Kalisch (1343). The town was returned to Poland in the Peace of Toruń/Thorn in 1466.


1309 Jan 1

Teutonics move their headquarters to the Baltic

Malbork Castle, Starościńska,


Teutonics move their headquarters to the Baltic


The Teutonic Knights moved their headquarters to Venice, from which they planned the recovery of Outremer, this plan was, however, shortly abandoned, and the Order later moved its headquarters to Marienburg, so it could better focus its efforts on the region of Prussia.


1326 Jan 1

Polish-Teutonic War

Włocławek, Poland


Polish-Teutonic War
King Ladislaus the Elbow-high breaking off agreements with the Teutonic Knights at Brześć Kujawski, a painting by Jan Matejko in the National Museum in Warsaw


The Polish–Teutonic War (1326–1332) was the war between the Kingdom of Poland and the State of the Teutonic Order over Pomerelia, fought from 1326 to 1332.


1331 Sep 27

Battle of Płowce

Płowce, Poland


Battle of Płowce
Battle of Płowce


The Battle of Płowce took place on 27 September 1331 between the Kingdom of Poland and the Teutonic Order.


1343 Jan 1

Saint George's Night Uprising

Estonia


Saint George's Night Uprising


Saint George's Night Uprising in 1343–1345 was an unsuccessful attempt by the indigenous Estonian population in the Duchy of Estonia, the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek, and the insular territories of the State of the Teutonic Order to rid themselves of Danish and German rulers and landlords who had conquered the country in the 13th century during the Livonian Crusade; and to eradicate the non-indigenous Christian religion. After initial success the revolt was ended by the invasion of the Teutonic Order. In 1346, the Duchy of Estonia was sold for 19,000 Köln marks by the King of Denmark to the Teutonic Order. The shift of sovereignty from Denmark to the State of the Teutonic Order took place on November 1, 1346.


1348 Feb 2

Battle of Strėva

Žiežmariai, Lithuania


Battle of Strėva
| ©Catalin Lartist


In 1347, the Teutonic Knights saw an influx of crusaders from France and England, where a truce was made during the Hundred Years' War. Their expedition started in late January 1348, but due to bad weather, the bulk of the forces did not proceed further than Insterburg. A small army led by Grand Commander and future Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode invaded and pillaged central Lithuania (probably areas around Semeliškės, Aukštadvaris, Trakai) for a week before being confronted by Lithuanian troops. The Lithuanian army included contingents from its eastern territories (Volodymyr-Volynskyi, Vitebsk, Polotsk, Smolensk) which shows that the army was assembled beforehand, probably for a campaign into the Teutonic territory.


The Knights were in a difficult position: they could cross the frozen Strėva River only a few men at a time and once most of their forces had crossed, the remaining soldiers would be annihilated. The knights had limited supplies and could not wait. The Lithuanians, led by Kęstutis or Narimantas, also had short supplies and decided to attack by hurling arrows and spears injuring a great number. However, at the critical moment the crusaders counter-attacked with their heavy cavalry and the Lithuanians lost their formation. So many of them drowned in the river that Knights could cross it with "dry feet." This episode caused much criticism of the source: the Strėva River is shallow, especially during winter, and could not have caused such a massive drowning.


1370 Feb 17

Battle of Rudau

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


Battle of Rudau
| ©Graham Turner


Kęstutis and Algirdas led their army, composed of Lithuanians, Samogitians, Ruthenians, and Tatars, to Prussia earlier than anticipated by the Knights. The Lithuanians took and burned Rudau Castle. Grand Master Winrich von Kniprode decided to take his army from Königsberg to meet the Lithuanians near Rudau. Contemporary Teutonic sources do not give details about the course of the battle, which is somewhat unusual. Details and battle plans were later provided by Jan Długosz (1415–1480), but his sources are unknown.


The Lithuanians suffered a defeat. Algirdas took his men to a forest and hastily erected wooden barriers while Kęstutis withdrew into Lithuania. Marshal Schindekopf pursued the retreating Lithuanians, but was injured by a spear and died before he reached Königsberg. The Lithuanian noble Vaišvilas is presumed to have died in the battle.


1409 Aug 6

Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War

Baltic Sea


Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War
| ©EthicallyChallenged


The Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War, also known as the Great War, was a war that occurred between 1409 and 1411 between the Teutonic Knights and the allied Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Inspired by the local Samogitian uprising, the war began with a Teutonic invasion of Poland in August 1409. As neither side was ready for a full-scale war, Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia brokered a nine-month truce.


After the truce expired in June 1410, the military-religious monks were decisively defeated in the Battle of Grunwald, one of the largest battles in medieval Europe. Most of the Teutonic leadership was killed or taken prisoner. Although they were defeated, the Teutonic Knights withstood the siege on their capital in Marienburg (Malbork) and suffered only minimal territorial losses in the Peace of Thorn (1411). Territorial disputes lasted until the Peace of Melno of 1422.


However, the Knights never recovered their former power, and the financial burden of war reparations caused internal conflicts and economic decline in their lands. The war shifted the balance of power in Central Europe and marked the rise of the Polish–Lithuanian union as the dominant power in the region.


1410 Jul 15

Decline of the Order: Battle of Grunwald

Grunwald, Warmian-Masurian Voi


Battle of Grunwald | ©Kings and Generals
Decline of the Order: Battle of GrunwaldDecline of the Order: Battle of GrunwaldDecline of the Order: Battle of GrunwaldDecline of the Order: Battle of GrunwaldDecline of the Order: Battle of GrunwaldDecline of the Order: Battle of Grunwald


The Battle of Grunwald was fought on 15 July 1410 during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War. The alliance of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led respectively by King Władysław II Jagiełło (Jogaila) and Grand Duke Vytautas, decisively defeated the German Teutonic Order, led by Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen. Most of the Teutonic Order's leadership were killed or taken prisoner. Although defeated, the Teutonic Order withstood the siege of the Malbork Castle and suffered minimal territorial losses at the Peace of Thorn (1411), with other territorial disputes continuing until the Treaty of Melno in 1422. The order, however, never recovered their former power, and the financial burden of war reparations caused internal conflicts and an economic downturn in the lands controlled by them. The battle shifted the balance of power in Central and Eastern Europe and marked the rise of the Polish–Lithuanian union as the dominant regional political and military force.


The battle was one of the largest in medieval Europe. The battle is viewed as one of the most important victories in the histories of Poland and Lithuania.


1414 Sep 1

Hunger War

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


Hunger War
| ©Piotr Arendzikowski


The Hunger War or Famine War was a brief conflict between the allied Kingdom of Poland, and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, against the Teutonic Knights in summer 1414 in an attempt to resolve territorial disputes. The war earned its name from destructive scorched earth tactics followed by both sides. While the conflict ended without any major political results, famine and plague swept through Prussia. According to Johann von Posilge, 86 friars of the Teutonic Order died from plague following the war. In comparison, approximately 200 friars perished in the Battle of Grunwald of 1410, one of the biggest battles in medieval Europe.


1422 Jul 17

Gollub War

Chełmno landa-udalerria, Polan


Gollub War
| ©Graham Turner


The Gollub War was a two-month war of the Teutonic Knights against the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1422. It ended with the signing the Treaty of Melno, which resolved territorial disputes between the Knights and Lithuania over Samogitia that had dragged on since 1398.


1431 Jan 1

Polish-Teutonic War

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


Polish-Teutonic War
| ©Angus McBride


The Polish–Teutonic War (1431–1435) was an armed conflict between the Kingdom of Poland and the Teutonic Knights. It ended with the Peace of Brześć Kujawski and is considered a victory for Poland.


1435 Sep 1

Battle of Wiłkomierz

Wiłkomierz, Lithuania


Battle of Wiłkomierz


The Battle of Wiłkomierz took place on September 1, 1435, near Ukmergė in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. With the help of military units from the Kingdom of Poland, the forces of Grand Duke Sigismund Kęstutaitis soundly defeated Švitrigaila and his Livonian allies. The battle was a decisive engagement of the Lithuanian Civil War (1432–1438). Švitrigaila lost most of his supporters and withdrew to southern Grand Duchy; he was slowly pushed out and eventually made peace. The damage inflicted upon the Livonian Order has been compared to the damage of Battle of Grunwald upon the Teutonic Order. It was fundamentally weakened and ceased to play a major role in Lithuanian affairs. The battle can be seen as the final engagement of the Lithuanian Crusade.


1454 Feb 4

Thirteen Years' War

Baltic Sea


Thirteen Years' War


The Thirteen Years' War was a conflict fought in 1454–1466 between the Prussian Confederation, allied with the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, and the State of the Teutonic Order. The war began as an uprising by Prussian cities and local nobility to win independence from the Teutonic Knights. In 1454 Casimir IV married Elisabeth of Habsburg and the Prussian Confederation asked Poland's King Casimir IV Jagiellon for help and offered to accept the king as protector instead of the Teutonic Order. When the King assented, war broke out between supporters of the Prussian Confederation, backed by Poland, and backers of government by the Teutonic Knights. The Thirteen Years' War ended in the victory of the Prussian Confederation and Poland and in the Second Peace of Thorn (1466). This was soon followed by the War of the Priests (1467–1479), a drawn-out dispute over the independence of the Prussian Prince-Bishopric of Warmia (Ermland), in which the Knights also sought revision of the Peace of Thorn.


1467 Jan 1

War of the Priests

Olsztyn, Poland


War of the Priests


The War of the Priests was a conflict in the Polish province of Warmia between the King of Poland Casimir IV and Nicolaus von Tüngen, the new bishop of Warmia chosen – without the king's approval – by the Warmian chapter. The latter was supported by the Teutonic Knights, by this point vassals of Poland, who were seeking a revision of the recently signed Second Peace of Toruń.


1519 Jan 1

Polish-Teutonic War (1519-1521)

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblas


Polish-Teutonic War (1519-1521)
Teutonic Knights | ©Catalin Lartist


The Polish–Teutonic War of 1519–1521 was fought between the Kingdom of Poland and the Teutonic Knights, ending with the Compromise of Thorn in April 1521. Four years later, under the Treaty of Kraków, part of the Catholic Monastic State of the Teutonic Order became secularized as the Duchy of Prussia.


1525 Apr 10

Prussian Homage

Kraków, Poland


Prussian Homage
Prussian Homage by Marcello Bacciarelli


The Prussian Homage or Prussian Tribute was the formal investment of Albert of Prussia as duke of the Polish fief of Ducal Prussia.


In the aftermath of the armistice ending the Polish-Teutonic War Albert, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights and a member of the House of Hohenzollern, visited Martin Luther at Wittenberg and soon thereafter became sympathetic to Protestantism. On 10 April 1525, two days after signing of the Treaty of Kraków which officially ended the Polish–Teutonic War (1519–21), in the main square of the Polish capital Kraków, Albert resigned his position as Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights and received the title "Duke of Prussia" from King Zygmunt I the Old of Poland. In the deal, partially brokered by Luther, the Duchy of Prussia became the first Protestant state, anticipating the Peace of Augsburg of 1555. The investiture of a Protestant fief of Duchy of Prussia was better for Poland for strategic reasons than a Catholic fief of State of Teutonic Order in Prussia, formally subject to the Holy Roman Emperor and the Papacy.


As a symbol of vassalage, Albert received a standard with the Prussian coat of arms from the Polish king. The black Prussian eagle on the flag was augmented with a letter "S" (for Sigismundus) and had a crown placed around its neck as a symbol of submission to Poland.





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References



  • Christiansen, Erik (1997). The Northern Crusades. London: Penguin Books. pp. 287ISBN 0-14-026653-4.
  • Górski, Karol (1949). Związek Pruski i poddanie się Prus Polsce: zbiór tekstów źródłowych (in Polish and Latin). Poznań: Instytut Zachodni.
  • Innes-Parker, Catherine (2013). Anchoritism in the Middle Ages: Texts and Traditions. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-7083-2601-5.
  • Selart, Anti (2015). Livonia, Rus' and the Baltic Crusades in the Thirteenth Century. Leiden: Brill. p. 400. ISBN 978-9-00-428474-6.
  • Seward, Desmond (1995). The Monks of War: The Military Religious Orders. London: Penguin Books. p. 416. ISBN 0-14-019501-7.
  • Sterns, Indrikis (1985). "The Teutonic Knights in the Crusader States". In Zacour, Norman P.; Hazard, Harry W. (eds.). A History of the Crusades: The Impact of the Crusades on the Near East. Vol. V. The University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Urban, William (2003). The Teutonic Knights: A Military History. London: Greenhill Books. p. 290. ISBN 1-85367-535-0.


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