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European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe


Teutonic Knights
AD 1190 - 1525

The Order of the Teutonic Knights of the Hospital of the Blessed Virgin was a military-religious organisation which restricted its membership to Germans only. Originally part of the Hospitallers, they soon broke away to form their own order, taking as their uniform a distinctive white cloak bearing a plain black cross on the left shoulder.

Upon the fall of Acre in 1291 they retired to Venice where Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II commissioned them to convert the heathens in Prussia. The Order immediately began to support the military enterprises of the German colony in the land of the Livs, founded in Riga in the middle of the twelfth century. The chief purpose was to create a German state in the East Baltic area. Christian slogans were used in this war against the last 'pagans' in Europe, or 'the Saracens of the North', as they were called, so that the Order easily enlisted numbers of adventurous kings, princes, and knights with their armies from all over Europe to fight for the Order's cause. They became a highly successful order between 1309-1509, with a new headquarters being established at Marienburg (East Prussia).

(Additional information by Leitgiris Living History Club, from Encyclopedia Lituanica, Sužiedėlis Simas (Ed, Boston, 1970-1978), from Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345, S C Rowell (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series, Cambridge University Press, 1994), and from External Links: The Balts, Marija Gimbutas (1963, previously available online thanks to Gabriella at Vaidilute, but still available as a PDF - click or tap on link to download or access it), and Leitgiris.)

1190 - 1192

Meister Sibrand

First leader of the Brotherhood in Outremer.

1192 - 1193



The Knights make their headquarters in Acre.

1193/94 - 1195



1195 - 1196


1196 - 1198


Preceptor, probably Heinrich Walpot von Bassenheim.

1197 - 1198

Philip Hohenstaufen, youngest brother of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI and a former bishop of Würzburg, has already been made duke of Tuscany in 1195. In 1196 he had become duke of Swabia on the death of his brother Conrad, and now appears to be the guardian of Henry's son, the infant Frederick (II). In 1197, Philip sets out to fetch Frederick from Sicily for his coronation as king of the Germans when he hears of the emperor's death and returns at once to Germany.

Many other members of the German nobility also hurry back to their seats in order to protect their interests during the coming struggle. They have been involved in the short-lived German Crusade (otherwise known as the Crusade of 1197 or the Crusade of Henry VI), including Ulrich II of Carinthia. Henry VI had been determined to complete the work of his father in the Holy Land with a fresh expedition, but he himself had died before even embarking. Those who remain in the Holy Land capture territory for the kingdom of Jerusalem between Tyre and Tripoli, restoring the land link to the county of Tripoli, but the campaign ends abruptly with the recapture of the lordships of Beirut and Sidon in 1198 (both lost to Saladin in 1187 - the brotherhood of the Teutonic Knights is also elevated in this year to a spiritual military order, and its priors become grand masters).

1198 - 1200

Heinrich Walpot von Bassenheim

1200 - 1208

Otto von Kerpen

1208 - 1209

Heinrich von Tunna


In Acre, the Teutonic Knights side with the Hospitallers and the barons in Acre against the Templars, something which sparks a long-standing feud between the Templars and the Teutonic Knights. In the same year the knights secure their first foothold in the fragmenting duchy of Franconia, the bailiwick of Franconia. From 1216 the bailiwick serves as the order's capital in Franconia.

1209 - 1239

Hermann von Salza


Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II grants the Knights the same status as the Templars and Hospitallers in the kingdom of Sicily.


Pope Honorius III grants privileges to the Knights. As an order, they are now on the same level as the Templars and the Hospitallers.


The Golden Bull of Rimini is issued by Frederick II, giving the Knights wide-ranging powers in the name of the Holy Roman empire in Prussia. The Teutonic Knights join the Northern Crusade, a war that has already been raging since the beginning of the century.

Teutonic Knights
Already veteran soldiers from their time in the Holy Land, the Teutonic Knights would have presented a fearsome spectacle to the Prussians - and a deadly opponent


The Polish Prince Konrad of Mazovia invites the Teutonic Knights to settle in the Lower Vistula on the border with the Prussians, who have been ravaging Mazovia. The Order attempts to Christianise the pagan Prussians and starts off by conquering Prussian territory in a campaign which takes half the Prussian lands in a decade.

1236 - 1238

The Order of the Knights of the Sword are decimated by the Samogitians and Semigallians at the Battle of Schaulen (Saule or Šiauliai) in 1236. The following year the surviving Knights join the Teutonic Knights as an autonomous branch in Livonia. While being subject to the grand master of the Teutonic Knights, the Livonian Knights continue to operate on their own behalf. By 1237-1238, Pamedė (of the Pomesanians) and Pagudė (of the Pogesanians) are already under the Order's rule. Next, the Teutons push on along the Frisches Haff and in 1240 defeat the united Bard (Bartians), Natangians, and Warmians.

1239 - 1240

Konrad von Thüringen / Conrad

Former count of Gudensburg in Hesse.

1240 - 1244

Gerhard von Malberg

1241 - 1249

The conquered and newly baptised Prussians, no longer able to stand the oppression of the conquerors, rise up in revolt, but they are defeated by 1249. Following this interruption, the Order continues its advance to the north, intent on forming its own military-religious state (known as the Ordenstaat) which it governs for the next three hundred years.


Bishop Hermann and his Ungenois forces in Dorpat are defeated along with the Teutonic Knights on 5 April by the prince of Novgorod, Alexander Yaroslavitz Nevsky during the Battle of the Ice on Lake Peipsi. This halts the eastwards advance of the German crusaders. However, Courland falls under the domination of the Knights through their acceptance of the Livonian Knights as a sub-order.


The Papal legate, William of Modena, oversees the creation of the three dioceses of Culm, Ermland, and Pomesania within the recently conquered Prussian territories.

1244 - 1249

Heinrich von Hohenlohe

1249 - 1252

Günther von Wüllersleben

1252 - 1256

Poppo von Osterna


The Knights take northern Prussia, with the result that the bishopric of Samland is formed there, comprising the Frisches Haff (Vislinskii Zaliv) and Kurisches Haff (Kurskii Zaliv), with Königsberg serving as the administrative headquarters.

1256 - 1273

Anno von Sangershausen

1260 - 1274

The Order of the Knights and Teutonic Knights are abandoned by their Estonian and Couronian vassals and defeated again, this time severely, at the Battle of Durbe in Livonia by the Samogitians. As a result, numerous rebellions break out against the Teutonic Knights all across the Baltics, including what is known as the Great Prussian Uprising throughout Prussia itself.

The bishop of Courland leaves and only re-enters the territory in 1290, although the Couronians are defeated in 1267. The Prussians win several battles against the hard-pressed Knights, with Duke Skomantas of the Yotvingians attacking the stronghold of Chełmno in 1263, and by 1264 the situation is critical. Reinforcements arrive from Germany and the Order launches an attack against the rebels, with final defeat of the Prussians coming in 1274.

1273 - 1282

Hartmann von Heldrungen

1280 - 1281

The estate of Duke Skomantas of the Yotvingians is devastated. Skomantas is forced to flee to Black Ruthenia with three sons: Galms, Gedetes, and Rukals. Black Ruthenia is under Lithuanian control at this time, so he is relatively safe there. He soon returns, accepts baptism into the Roman Catholic church, and acknowledges the superiority of the Teutonic Knights.

1282/83 - 1290

Burchard von Schwanden


The Knights continue to advance north through Prussia, and having conquered the lands of the Skalvs and part of that of the Yotvingians, they drive the Nadruvians to the River Nemunas in 1283, right on the border with Lithuania. The population of these areas is killed off, with only a few managing to escape across the border.

1290 - 1297

Konrad von Feuchtwangen


The bishop of Courland re-enters his territory following the successful suppression of the Baltic rebellions. However, in the same year the cathedral chapter is incorporated into the territory belonging to the Teutonic Knights, resulting in the bishopric being subject to the Order, and many of its incumbents being members of the Order. The same process has already been forced upon the dioceses of Prussia, with the exception of Ermland which maintains its independence.


Acre is conquered by the Mamelukes, signalling the end of Outremer. The Knights move their headquarters to Venice.

1297 - 1303

Gottfried von Hohenlohe

1303 - 1311

Siegfried von Feuchtwangen

1308 - 1309

Following the conquest of the Old Prussians, including the Nadruvians, and Skalvs, and the seizure of Pomerania in this year, the state ruled by the Knights reaches from the Lower Vistula to Klaipeda (on the modern Lithuanian coast), which has been ceded to them by the Livonian Knights. The following year, the Knights move their headquarters from Venice to Marienburg in Prussia. Their state is extremely centralised and heavily militarised, and colonists from Germany are invited to settle while the Knights continue to fight the pagan Lithuanians and Catholic Poland.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1300
By around AD 1300 the Swedes and Norse had taken full control of southern Scandinavia and were starting to extend their influence northwards, while the Swedes were also becoming heavily involved in what is now southern Finland (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1311 - 1324

Karl von Trier

1324 - 1330

Werner von Orseln

1331 - 1335

Lothar / Luther von Braunschweig

1335 - 1341

Dietrich von Altenburg

1342 - 1345

Ludolf König

1345 - 1351

Heinrich Dusemer


The Danish king sells North Estonia to the Livonian Knights for ten thousand marks. This gives the Teutonic Knights control over the bishopric of Reval. All of Estonia is now ruled by a German nobility class. The official transfer of power takes place on 1 November 1346.

1351 - 1382

Winrich von Kniprode

Uncle to the identically-named bishop of Ösel-Wiek.


Ziemowit IV of the duchy of Plock loses much of his territory to the Teutonic Knights, including Belz, Plonsk, Wizna, and Zawkrze.

1382 - 1390

Conrad Zöllner von Rothenstein

1385 - 1387

The Union of Kreva (Krewo) is agreed by Grand Prince Jagiello of Lithuania as the only certain way to halt the crusading attacks by Poland, the Teutonic Knights and Moscow. The union includes the throne of Poland in return for the Catholic Christianisation of the Lithuanians and, in 1386 Jagiello becomes king of Poland under the name Wladyslaw Jagiello.

In part, the offer is made in order to diminish the power of the Teutonic Knights, long a thorn in the side of Poland, but the Knights refuse to acknowledge the baptising of Lithuania and continue their war through to the end of the century. In 1387, though, their junior branch, the Livonian Knights, fail to protect Polotsk when Jagiello attacks it, virtually gifting it to him. The writing is on the wall for the various knightly orders.

1391 - 1393

Konrad von Wallenrode

1393 - 1407

Konrad von Jungingen


The Knights conquer the duchy of Samogitia, removing it from Lithuanian control. Their dream of uniting their Prussian lands with those of Livonia and Courland has become a reality. However, the Samogitians refuse to surrender. Duke Charles II of Lorraine is with the knights around this time, aiding them in their conquests.

1407 - 1410

Ulrich von Jungingen


The Battle of Tannenberg on 15 July (which is known more locally as the Battle of Grunwald) is one of the region's greatest battles and one that is remembered for centuries afterwards by Germans. It is triggered by a Samogitian revolt in 1409, and sees Polish and Lithuanian forces under Polish leadership crush the Order's army. Although the defeat is not followed up, it halts the eastward expansion of the Teutonic Knights, and after this defeat, the Livonian Knights begin to weaken and disintegrate.

Battle of Tannenberg
The Battle of Tannenberg (or Grunwald) witnessed the shock defeat of the Teutonic Knights at the hands of a Polish-Lithuanian army and destroyed their authority in the Baltics

1410 - 1413

Heinrich von Plauen

1411 - 1422

Samogitia is recaptured by the Lithuanians in 1411, who incorporate it into their state as a district which accesses the Baltic Sea between the duchy of Courland and Prussia, and the situation is officially recognised by the Knights under the terms of the Treaty of Melno in 1422. Their aggression is permanently ended.

1414 - 1422

Michael Küchmeister von Sternberg

1422 - 1441

Paul von Rusdorf

1441 - 1449

Konrad von Erlichshausen

1449/50 - 1467

Ludwig von Erlichshausen

1454 - 1466

The next blow to befall the Knights comes in the Thirteen Year War (1454-1466) against Poland, which concerns the domination of Prussia. During the war, the Knights lose Pomerania and Danzig (modern Gdansk), and end up as nothing more than a Polish vassal. However, the grand masters try to avoid giving the vassal's oath of loyalty to Poland, and on occasion even resist by military means.

Following the unsuccessful conclusion of the war, the Knights move their headquarters from Marienburg to Königsberg (founded by the Knights in the thirteenth century and now Kaliningrad). By this time they have greatly declined in power and importance and are in desperate need of help. As an attempt to strengthen the Order's position and possibly attract the attention of the Holy Roman Emperor, they appoint grand masters who are drawn from the German nobility, rather than being elected on merit.

1467 - 1470

Heinrich Reuß von Plauen

1470 - 1477

Heinrich Reffle von Richtenberg

1477 - 1489

Martin Truchseß von Wetzhausen

1479 - 1480

The seat of the archbishop of Riga remains temporarily vacant as competing claims delay the process of appointing a replacement. The Livonian Order proposes Simon von der Borch, bishop of Reval and relative of Bernhard von der Borch, grand master of the Order (1471-1483). Both have been staunch opponents of Archbishop Silvester Stodewescher. Pope Sixtus IV, however, prefers the candidate who has been put forward by Grand Master Martin Truchseß von Wetzhausen - Stephan Grube.

1489 - 1497

Johann von Tiefen

1497 - 1510

Frederick of Saxony

Son of the duke of Saxe-Meissen.

1510 - 1525

Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach

Albert of Prussia.


The monastic state (the Ordenstaat) is secularised during the Protestant Reformation and replaced with a duchy in East Prussia, in order to protect it from the threat of war and to spread the Lutheran faith. The last great master of the Teutonic Knights agrees to resign his position, convert to Lutheran Protestantism, and submit to Polish suzerainty in order to govern his new state, which becomes the first Protestant state in Europe.

Teutonic Knights
AD 1525 - Present Day

The Teutonic Knights, ousted entirely from power, remained as mere titular administrators, supported by the Holy Roman Emperor who continued to hold a claim on East Prussia. The Knights continue to hold landed possessions in Germany which were administered by the 'Deutschmeister', while further holdings in Livonia were administered by the 'Hochmeister' so, as the new head of the order, Walter von Cronberg combined the titles and duties and became the first Hoch- und Deutschmeister. The headquarters were moved from Prussia to Bad Mergentheim in the duchy of Württemberg.

1527 - 1543

Walter von Cronberg

First Hoch- und Deutschmeister (from 1530).

1543 - 1566

Wolfgang Schutzbar

1558 - 1561

Following Russian provocation and the conquest of Dorpat, the Livonian Wars erupt in the Baltic states between 1558-1583. The Livonian Knights and the archbishop of Riga seek help from Sigismund II of Poland-Lithuania, but the army of the Livonian Knights is completely destroyed by the Russians at the Battle of Ergeme in 1560, and a year later, on 29 November, the master of the Order, Gotthard Kettler, acknowledges the supreme power of Sigismund II over all areas regarding the Order, including its territories, formally dissolving the Livonian Knights. North Estonia surrenders voluntarily to the Swedes, and Livonia is drawn into the Lithuanian state.

1566 - 1572

Georg Hundt von Weckheim

1572 - 1590

Heinrich von Bobenhausen

1590 - 1618

Maximilian of Austria

Austrian count of the Tyrol.


The duke of East Prussia (Albert Frederick) dies without an heir and the territory is inherited by the senior Hohenzollern line in Brandenburg.

1619 - 1624

Karl I of Austria

1625 - 1627

Johann Eustach von Westernach

1627 - 1641

Johann Kaspar von Stadion

1641 - 1662

Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria

Son of Ferdinand II of Austria.

1662 - 1664

Archduke Karl Josef of Austria

1664 - 1684

Johann Caspar von Ampringen

1685 - 1694

Ludwig Anton of Palatinate-Neuburg

1694 - 1732

Ludwig Franz of Palatinate-Neuburg


Franz-Ludwig, Count Palatine of the Rhein, and duke of Neuberg, authorises the Hoch- und Teutschmeister infantry regiment in the Austrian army, to be composed of three battalions of foot. This is considered to be the formal birth of the Hoch- und Deutschmeister line, possibly the proudest name in Imperial Austria's military history.

1732 - 1761

Prince Clemens August of Bavaria

Son of Maximilian II of Bavaria.

1761 - 1780

Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine

Son of Leopold Joseph of Lorraine.

1780 - 1801

Archduke Maximilian Franz of Austria

Son of Maria Theresa of Austria.


The location of the longstanding bailiwick of Franconia and the occasional seat of the order's grandmaster in the later years of the eighteenth century - at Ellingen (now in the Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen district of Bavaria) - is changed to Bad Mergentheim (now in the district of Main-Tauber-Kreis in the German state of Baden-Württemberg). The order has held territory here since the early thirteenth century, thanks to a donation by the counts of Hohenlohe.

1801 - 1804

Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen

Son of Leopold II of Austria.

1804 - 1835

Archduke Anton Viktor of Austria

Brother. First hereditary master of the Austrian imperial house.


Archduke Anton Victor is the son of former Austrian Emperor Leopold II and the first hereditary master of the Teutonic Knights. He had also served as the last archbishop-elector of Cologne and prince-bishop of Münster before those posts had been abolished in 1803. In 1816 he becomes viceroy of Lombardy-Venetia.


Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France, commands the Order to be dissolved, and removes from it the last of its secular holdings. Adapting to changing circumstances yet again in its history, the Order instead retires to Vienna in Austria and works as a ceremonial body with charitable leanings.

Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli
Napoleon Bonaparte's progressive conquest of Europe swept away everything that he saw as irrelevant to his modern Europe

1835 - 1863

Maximilian of Austria-Este

1863 - 1894

Wilhelm Franz Karl of Austria

1894 - 1923

Eugen F Pius Bernhard of Austria

Last hereditary master of the Austrian imperial house.

1923 - 1929

Dr Norbert Klein

Last Hoch- und Deutschmeister.


The Teutonic Order changes its role again to become a clerical religious order within the Roman Catholic church, still headed by a grand master.

1929 - 1933

Dr Norbert Klein

1933 - 1936

Paul Heider

1936 - 1948

Robert Schälzky

1938 - 1945

The Order is officially outlawed by Adolf Hitler, but survives the rise and fall of the Nazi Third Reich in Germany and reforms after the war.

1948 - 1970

Dr Marian Tumler

1970 - 1988

Ildefons Pauler

1988 - 2000

Othmar Wieland

2000 - Present

Dr Bruno Platter

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