By Martin Hofbauer
Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Vol.13:1 (2010)
Introduction: The Teutonic Order dates back to the time of the Third Crusade (1189-1192). Around 1190, during the siege of Acre in the Holy Land an order of nurses was founded. This order was converted in 1198 into an order of knights, the so-called Teutonic Order. It was confirmed a year later by Pope Innocent III. The Order acquired its first properties in Palestine, Armenia and Cyprus, and from 1200 on also in Germany. Eventually it spread over large parts of Europe. The competition with older orders of knights in the Kingdom of Jerusalem as well as the failed crusades prompted the order to look for a new field of activity.
In 1225-26, Duke Konrad I of Masovia from Poland invited the Teutonic Order into the Chełmno Land in Prussia to assist him in fighting the still pagan Old Prussians in the north. After intensive negotiations, a missionary war was started in 1231. Some 50 years later, in 1283, the conquest of Prussia was essentially completed. The confirmation issued by Emperor Frederick II in the Golden Bull of Rimini (1226) and the document issued by Pope Gregory IX (1234), in which he put the Chełmno Land and Prussia under the protection of the church, promoted the independence of the Teutonic Order and gave it a task, that of fighting and converting the pagans to Catholism.
In addition to Prussia, the Teutonic Order quickly gained a foothold in Livonia. Since 1202, a separate crusaders’ order, the so-called Livonian Brothers of the Sword, had been waging a missionary war and expanding settlements there. After a crushing defeat at the hands of the Lithuanians in the Battle of Saule in 1236, the remaining brothers joined the Teutonic Order. This meant that the Order ruled a second major piece of territory in the northeast of the Baltic region.
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