The Knights Fortress : Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork

The largest castle in Europe during the Middle Ages was a stronghold of the Teutonic Order and base from which to achieve their imperialistic ambitions.  The city of Malbork is in northern Poland. This solid red-brick fortification is Malbork Castle. The castle is now a museum and this is the curator. He manages the site and researches its history.

 It is quite a large castle, isnt it? This castle was constructed by the Teutonic Order, which was originally a Catholic monastic order but became a strong military order. During the 13th century after returning from the Crusades, this castle was used as a base for promoting Christianity. However, they fought not just for their faith but also for expanding their territory. They rapidly extended their influence and became the most powerful political organization in Europe. The castle was built as a monastery and the knights were supposedly the monks. Their private rooms were designed for quiet prayer. However in reality they were German soldiers assigned to exert their power and influence eastwards. They subdued pagans and took their land. Malbork castle was a symbol of their power and authority.

This is the room for the master of the order. It was known as the Palace and was as magnificent as the Kings room. The Order expanded their territory bearing this flag. The Baltic coastal area was seized by them. Between the 13th and 14th centuries the Order constructed 120 castles and 90 towns. They were steadily building their own empire. Raising money was also an important part of their activities.

This is the vault of Malbork castle. The Teutonic Order accumulated their fortune through European trade. Their main trading item was amber. The Baltic coast was an internationally-renowned amber mining centre and the Order monopolized its distribution. The castle was also a place to welcome guests from across Europe. Lavish banquets were held nightly at the banquet hall. The castle comfortably accommodated influential guests for the purpose of gaining their support. The rooms were decorated beautifully and kept warm.

This is the heating system. Heated stones were placed inside. This is the basement of the room. Stones were heated constantly by the fire underneath. However, the glorious days of the Teutonic Order did not last forever. Their autocratic method of ruling antagonized regional lords and later the Order was severely defeated in battle by a joint Poland-Lithuanian army. It is a paradox that those who wish to rule forever are swiftly swept aside. Power and authority cannot be maintained even by the walls of a mighty castle wall.

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