History of Teutonic Knights

 Its founders, eager to restore Christian rule in Jerusalem, adopted the name of the city of Jerusalem as part of their name, along with that if the Virgin Mary, principal patron of the Order, taking the name of "Order of the Brothers of the Hospitaller of St. Mary of the Germans in Jerusalem " (Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Domus Sanctae Mariae Teutonicorum in Jerusalem). The imperial troops, arrived at San Giovanni of Acre and join to the Siege in October 1190, they found support at the hospital of the field.


The King of Jerusalem, Guido di Lusignano (Guy of Lusignan), granted the privilege to the German crusaders, in the event of recapture of the city, to build a hospital in the inside wall. This initiative was warmly seconded by the most eminent of the German nobility in the Holy Land, Duke Frederick of Swabia, so he wrote to his brother, the Emperor Henry VI and convinced the idea also to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Hospitallers and the Templars. The new institution was confirmed by Duke Frederick of Swabia, November 19, 1190. Frederick also gave the hospital a chaplain named Conrad and a steward named Burchard. Even then in Palestine were difficult times, and then they needed someone to defend the hospital and, in doing so, some Germans Knights were called.




...nobilisimorum horum Equitum Natales referre ad autorem Fiedericum, Sueviæ, Ducem&Ann.1190 ...†

...primum Ordinis hujus fundatorem constituunt FRIEDERICUM, Sueviæ Ducem

....rogatus enim ab Henrico Imperatore donavit militiam Ordinis Teutonicorum veste alba e cruce nigra...

Fuit autem celeberrimus hic equitum Teutonicorum Ordo à Temporibus Friederici II...



Third Crusade featured the German Emperor Frederick I 
Barbarossa, King Richard I of England, and King Philip II 
of France; the crusaders lay siege to Acre.

The siege of Acre and founding of the hospital on November 19 for the Germans poor injured  pilgrims by the rich Germans brothers and knights led by Duke Frederick Hohenstaufen (son of Frederick Barbarossa). By Duke Frederick of Swabia in the name of Pope and the Emperor was appointed the first Grand Master of the Order. This was the beginning of a close link between the hospital institution and the Holy Roman Empire.

1191 The Brotherhood was legalized by Pope Clement III as well, as “Fratrum Theutonicorum Ecclesia Mariae Hiersolymitanae” with the bull Quotiens postulator, February 6.

Jul. 12, 1191 Siege of Acre ended in crusader victory.

1196 The Brotherhood took the protection of Pope Celestine III. On March 5, was celebrated the ceremony of re-founding of the brotherhood in Knightly Order exclusively for the German Knights under the name of “Ordine ospitaliero di S.Vergine Maria della Casa Tedesca in Gerusalemme”- Ordo Domus Sanctae Mariae Teutonicorum in Jerusalem (The name of Teutonic refers to the ancient Germanic tribes of the Teutonic that invaded the territory of the Romans in the II century A.C.)

1197 An Imperial Decree of Henry VI and Empress Costanza d´Altavilla (Hautville) was warded the foundation of the Hospital St. Thomas of Barletta (Apulia) and the possession of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Palermo (Italy).

The arms of the Order were originally Argent a cross sable. The emblem of the Order was a cross potent sable, thereon a cross Flory or, thereon an escutcheon of the Empire.

The cross sable was supposedly granted by the Emperor Henry VI, the cross or by the king of Jerusalem John, the fleurs-de-lys by Louis IX of France, and the escutcheon with the eagle by Frederic II Hohenstaufen.

“...rogatus enim ab Henrico Imperatore donavit militiam Ordinis Teutonicorum veste alba e cruce nigra...”

1198 The crusaders of Emperor Henry VI with the Bull “Roman Sacrosanct” by Pope Innocent III had the official confirmation of the foundation of the new order that obey to the Pope and the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Feb. 19, 1199  Bull of Pope Innocent III confirmed the Teutonic Knights' wearing of the Templars' white mantle and following of the Hospitallers' rule.

1201 Foundation of the city of Riga in Livonia and the Order of the Knights of the Sword by the German Albert of Bekeshovede.

1209 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.

1211 The confirmation of the Knights’ uniforms by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Pope.

Sep., 1211  Frederick II chosen king in Germany.

Oct. 3, 1210    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 -1215 The Teutonic Knights settle in Burzenland at the request of King Andrew of Hungary to free Transylvania from Cumani pagan people

Jul., 1212  Peter II of Aragon defeats the Moors at Las Navas de Tolosa.

1214 The Grand Master of the Order was granted the right of action in the name of the Imperial Court. Fredrick II obtains for the Teutonic Order the support of Pope Honorius II, which granted many privileges to the Knights, confirming their equality to other two the Crusade forces as the Templars and Hospitallers.

Feb. 24, 1214  King Leo of Armenia granted Teutonic Knights Amudain, the castle of Sespin, and more.

Nov., 1215  Innocent III called the Fourth Lateran. Council; new crusade proclaimed; Hermann von Salza probably at the Fourth Lateran Council representing his order.

Feb. 18, 1216  Innocent III issued a Bull of protection for the Teutonic Knights.

Feb., 1217  Hermann von Salza received possessions in Sicily from Frederick II while at Ulm.

Jun.24, 1217  Frederick II granted the Teutonic Knights the same status as the Templars and Hospitallers in the Kingdom of Sicily.

1217-1221  Fifth Crusade.

May - Aug. 1218  Crusading army lands in Egypt; Hermann von Salza at Damietta; Saphadin died (1199-1218); al-Kamil, his son, became caliph (1218- 1238); crusaders captured Damietta.

1218 - 1219  Patriarch of Jerusalem, church officials,  Templars and Hospitallers advised Pelagius not to accept peace terms of Sultan al-Kamil to surrender Jerusalem;  contrary advice offered by King John of Jerusalem, Earl Ranulf of Chester, and the German leaders.

Spring, 1220  Hermann von Salza went  to Acre with King John of Jerusalem.

Nov., 1220  Hermann von Salza was with Frederick II in Italy; first identified by name as Hermann von Salza in documents; Frederick II crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Honorius III.

1220  Leopold VI of Austria presented the Teutonic Knights the site of the castle of Montfort near Acre.

Jan. 9, 1221 Honorius III gave privileges to the Teutonic Knights; as an order, they now were on the same level as the Templars and the Hospitallers.

Jan - Apr, 1221  Hermann von Salza was in Italy; 57 privileges were given by Honorius III to the Teutonic Knights (Honorius III granted 113 privileges  to the Teutonic Knights during his pontificate).

Mid-April, 1221  Hermann von Salza accompanied the duke of Bavaria and other German nobles to Damietta; arrived in May.

Aug. 30, 1221  Battle of Mansurah; crusaders surrendered in Egypt (Templars led the rearguard action); peace treaty; Hermann von Salza and the master of the Temple held as hostages by the Muslims.

1223  Hermann von Salza negotiated with the pope over Gunzelin; later in the Holy Land, he arranged the marriage for the emperor.

1224  Hermann von Salza was involved in the Treaty of Dannenberg. Duke Corrado di Mazovia request assistance to the Grand Maester Hermann von Salza against Veteran-Prussian. 

Nov., 1225  Frederick II married Isabella (Yolanda) of Brienne and claimed the throne of Jerusalem; Hermann von Salza was present.

1225  Teutonic Knights forcibly expelled from Burzenland by King Andrew II; Conrad of Masovia requested aid from the Teutonic Knights in Prussia.

1226  "Golden Bull of Rimini" from Frederick II for the Teutonic Knights giving them wide-ranging authority in the name of the Empire in Prussia.

Mar. 18, 1228  Frederick II crowned King of Jerusalem in the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; then held high court in the house of the Hospital of St. John.

Apr., 1229  Frederick II gave Teutonic Knights former house  of Germans in Jerusalem; also a house that once belonged to King Baldwin located in the Armenian street near the church of St. Thomas (plus a garden and six acres of land).

1230 In the Treaty of  Kruschwitz, Duke Corrado di Mazovia grant  to the Teutonic Order the Land of Chelmno and all future conquest in the Prussian regions

1231  Teutonic Knights' Hermann  Balke advanced into Prussia.

1231 Teutonic Knights founded the city of Thorn in the Land of Chelmno

1234 Teutonic Knights won the battle at Sirguna, Prussia.

1234  Papa Gregorio IX subjected lands to conquer in Prussia to the High Sovereign Apostolic. The Teutonic formally submitted but became the absolute master transforming in an independent state.

Spring, 1235 Dobriner Order incorporated into Teutonic. Knights; approved by Frederick II and Gregory IX.

Dec. 23, 1236 Gregory IX taxed the Peloponnesus to support crusading ventures; preceptor of the Teutonic Knights identified in the Morea as one of three collectors of the tithing effort.

1237  Frederick II's second Lombard campaign; Hermann von Salza at Battle of Cortenuova.

1237 Teutonic Knights and Sword brothers unite.

Jul., 1237 Geoffrey II of Achaia gave the Teutonic Knights a hospital in Andravida.

1238  Frederick II's third Lombard campaign; Hermann von Salza's health failed.

Mar., 1239  Hermann von Salza died in Salerno and buried in Barletta; Frederick II excommunicated.

1240 The suburdinance established by the Bull Quotiens in February 6, 1291, was confirmed by Pope Gregory IX in the Bull of January 12 addressed to  the "fratres hospitalis S. Mariae Theutonicorum in Accon".

Apr. 9, 1241  Battle of Liegnitz; Mongols defeat army of Poles and Germans including Hospitallers, Templars, and Teutonic Knights.

Apr. 5, 1242  Russians under Alexander Nevsky defeat the Teutonic Knights on Lake Peipus.

1244  Muslims recapture Jerusalem.

Oct. 31, 1246  Innocent IV transferred the Hospital of St. James to the Templars.

1250  St. Louis IX, King of France, awarded the Grand Master of the Order “four lilies” of gold to put them on the tips of the Cross of the Grand Master; Emperor Fredrick II dies.

1251 To escape the Crusade of the Teutonic Knights, Mindaugas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, accept baptism.

1252  Foundation of the castle of Memel.

1255  Foundation of Konigsberg (Kaliningrad). The Pope authorizes the Knights to keep their conquered lands as hereditary.

1257  Julian of Grenier, lord of Sidon, donated a fortress called Cave of Tyron to the TeutonicKnights (about 12 miles east of Sidon) signifying the order's role in Holy Land was expanding.

Oct. 16, 1258  Peace treaty among the Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic Knights signed in Acre.

July 1260 The first battle between the Lithuanians and the Teutonic Knights at Durbar, the historic defeat of the Knights ending the dream of joining the Knights of Livornia and Prussian through Samogitia

1260-1274 Great Prussian Uprising against the Teutonic Kights, led by Herkus Mantas of Notangia , Glande of Sambia, Glappus of Warmia, Auctume of Pogesania, Diwanus of Bartia. All of Prussia is free except the main strongholds of the Order.

1261 Seeing that his baptism did not stop the Teutonic aggression, King Mindaugas of Lithuania renounce Christianity and return to paganism.

1262 Siege of Konigsberg by Herkus Mantas.

1263 Assassination of King Mindaugas. The Pope organizes a crusade against the Prussians.

May 1263 All assets of the Teutonic Knights near Sidon is lost after Baybars won the battle of Sidon

1271 Dafter the loss of Montfort the Holy Land Headquarters moved to Acre.

1274 Defeat of the Prussians, the Teutonic Knights attack to Nadrovia, Scalovia and Soudovia; construction of the fortress of Marienburg.

1276 The Lithuanian Grand Duke Traidenis welcomes the fugitives from Prussia, and runs in southern Lithuania; other Prussian refugees settle in central Lithuania.
1280 The city of Thorn join the Hanseatic League which later join the Prussian city of Konigsberg, Elbing, Chelmno and Braunsberg.

1283  The definite conquest of Prussia from the Teutonic Knights after fifty years of fighting.

1283-1525 Born the Catholic theocratic State of the Teutonic Order.

May 18, 1291  Fall of Acre; Hospitaller and Templar headquarters moved from Acre to Cyprus; Teutonic Knights headquarters moved from Acre to Venice.

1308-1309 Pomerania becomes part of Prussia

1308 The Teutonic Knights put under its control the strategic port of Danzica in the region of Eastern Pomerania.

Sept. 9, 1309 Teutonic Knights' headquarters moved from Venice to Marienburg, Prussia; The Grand Master took over management of today East Prussia; Hospitallers' headquarters moved from Cyprus to Rhodes; Nov. 28, 1309 Trial of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Templars (in Paris).

1312 At the Church Council at Vienne, Pope Clement V declares the case against the Templars not proven, but dissolves the Order and assigns its members to other religious Orders. The property of the Order is to pass to the Hospital of St John, to be used in the continuing war against Islam

Mar. 15, 1314  Jacques de Molay, Templar grand master, and Preceptor of Normandy burned at the stake in Paris.

Sep. 9, 1320 Teutonic Knight Commander in the Morea died in battle against the Greeks near the fortress of St. George.

1328 Began the war against Poland which ended in 1343

1343 Peace of Kalisz, that interrupted, for 60 years, conflicts with Poland.

1346 The Teutonic Knights bought from the Danish Throne all its possessions in Estonia.

1386  Baptism of Prince Lithuania Jogaila (Iagellone) which became Ladislao and married Edvige of Poland: union of Lithuania and Poland.

1390 In Konigsberg signed treaty of peace between the Teutonic Knights and Samogizitia

1404 Treaty of “perpetual peace” between King Jogaila of Poland and the Grand Master Ulrich von Jiingigen.

1409 War of the Order against Poland and Lithuania.

1410 The Teutonic Order defeated by combined Catholic Christian Lithuanian-Polish forces at Tannenberg/Grunwald. Although the Teutonic Order continued to govern Prussia, this was the death-knell of the end of the Prussian Crusade.

1411  First peace of Thorn, The Order retains much of its dominions in return for a payment.

1422 A Treaty between Prussia and Lithuania was signed near the Lake Melna. The Grand Duke Vytautas waive claim of the Memel region, while the Order abandons its policy of conquest for Lithuania.

1440 The Nobility constitutes an anti-theocratic Prussian Union (joined 53 nobles and 19 cities).

March 6, 1454 The Prussian Nobility revolted against the Order. The Prussian Union appointed as the Polish King Sigismund Prince of Prussia.

1454-1466 Thirteen Years´War (or war of the cities) between the Order and Poland Order. The Teutonic Order looses Marienburg (1457)

1457 The Grand Master escapes from Marienburg to Kònigsberg. Marienburg fell under the Polish crown. The Order headquarters was transferred to Koenigsber.

1466 Second peace of Thorn, The Teutonic Order had to give up the western part of its state and Pomerania.

October 19, 1466 East Prussia became a fief of Poland.

1500 The Turks conquered Modon from the Venetians and expelled the Teutonic Knights from the Peloponnesus.


 The Grand Master Albrecht, Markgraf von Brandenburg-Ansbach (Hohenzollern), converted to Protestantism, became hereditary Duke of Prussia and is given in fief the territory of Prussia as a vassal of the King of Poland. Decreed the dissolution of the Teutonic Knights and became the first Duke of the first Protestant state in the world.

December 16, 1526 The headquarters of the Order is moved to Mergentheim

1561 Dissolution of the branch of the Teutonic Knights in Livonia.

1595 The control of the Order passes to the House of Habsburg. The last remnants of the ancient military tradition of the Teutonic Order offers in the defense of Vienna from the assault of the Turks.

1804 Anton Viktor von Österreich Habsburgo  divenne Gran Maestro dell'Ordine dei Cavalieri Teutonici.

26 dicembre 1805  Peace of Pressburg concluded between the Empire and Napoleon that the Teutonic Order was to be secularised in favor of a member of the House of Habsburg.

April 4, 1809  Dissolution of the Order in Germany by Napoleon I. Survives in the Habsburg territories.

April 24, 1809 The Order was restored by the congress of Vienna as an “autonomous Institution military and religious” but not reinstated its properties.

March 8, 1834 The Prince Grand Master Anton Viktor von Habsburg Österreich convinces his brother, Emperor Francis II, to invalidate the contract of Pressburg and the restoration of the Teutonic Order as an autonomous institution for religious and military stronghold directly to the Empire confirming, thus, the nature a sovereign entity under the laws of the medieval Holy Roman Empire.

1877-1923 The Teutonic Order is present in the battlefields to bring assistance to the wounded.

1871 Pius IX with a Papal Bull confirms the new reform led by Grand Master Archduke William.

1886 Pope Leo XIII approved the reform of the Statute of the Order. Until the end of World War I, the Order maintains its strain in Austria

1894 - 1823  In it was named to Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Eugenio Ferdinando Pio of Habsburg-Teschen, Archduke of Austria and Prince of Hungary and Bohemia. He was the last Hereditary Grand Master of the Teutonic Order.

1929 The Holy See changes the Order´s rule, modifying its name to “Brothers of the German Order of St. Maria of Jerusalem” and so withdraws the military tradition making it a purely religious order.

September 6, 1938     Dissolution of the Order in Austria by the German Nazi who confiscates its properties.

1939 Dissolution of the Order in Czechoslovakia by the German Nazi who confiscates its properties.

1947 The Order is restored in Austria.

1993  Registration in Italy of “Sovrano Ordine Militare ed Ospitaliero di Santa Maria di Gerusalemme Teutonico” (Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Mary of Jerusalem, Teutonic) under the guide the Hereditary Grand Master Prince Paolo Francesco Barbaccia, today Barbaccia Viscardi.


2009 Sovrana Casa di Svevia Principato di Leuca” (Sovereign  House of Swabia Principality of Leuca)  transcribed  in the Ceremonial of State  of the Italian Republic (Proceedings of the Archives of the Presidency of the Councils of Ministries of the Italian Republic ) as non-state Order of Chivalry, in effect of art.7 L.3 May 1951 n. 178 of the Italian Republic.

- Sovrano Ordine Militare ed Ospitaliero di Santa Maria di Gerusalemme Teutonico (Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Mary of Jerusalem, Teutonic) defined as "non-national Order of Chivalry  (Ordine Cavalleresco non nazionale) - the circular of the  Ministry of Defense  (M_D GMILIII 104 0541891 of December 16, 2009).

Internal Structure of the ancient Teutonic Order


During the first twenty years of its existence, the institutional structure of the Order developed and stabilized. The Teutonic Order followed the lead of the Templars and Hospitallers by creating a system of provinces. Unlike monastic orders composed of independent abbeys, the Teutonic Knights had a hierarchical chain of command with Commandaries (house, Kommende) at the lowest level. Provinces or bailiwicks (Ballei, Komturei) were parts of "countries" that composed the Order as a whole. Its first independent rule was adopted in 1264.

The officials governing the Teutonic Order at the various levels were commander (Komtur, preceptor) at the local level, province commander (Landkomtur), national commander (Landmeister), and grand master (Hochmeister, magister). The highest leadership positions (including grand master, grand commander [Grosskomtur], marshal [Ordensmarschall], draper or quartermaster [Trapier], hospitaller [Spittler], and treasurer [Tressler]) were elected by the general chapter.

Membership of this mostly German-speaking order was composed of various, distinct classes: knights, priests, and other brothers (lay brothers, sisters, and "familiars"). There was a large number of people who supported the professed members of the Order, ranging from auxiliary knights to slaves. The highest ranking was secular knights, serving for free. Turcopoles (Greek for "son of Turk") were originally probably lightly-armed, half-breed cavalry whose name applied to Turkish mercenaries employed in the Byzantine army, later the term was adopted by the military orders. There were attendants called squires (knechte), and sergeants-at-arms. Foot soldiers were usually coerced from the local peasantry. Sister-aids (halpswesteren) were employed as domestics as were halpbrüderen; they took religious vows. Married and single lay domestics also were employed by the Order. Artisans and laborers (e.g., gardeners, carpenters, masons) worked for charity or wages. Many serfs and slaves were owned by the Order.


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