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The Teutonic Knights in the Holy Land, 1190-1291

The Teutonic Knights in the Holy Land, 1190-1291

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Teutonic Knights in the Holy Land, 1190-1291
    Book Description:

    The Teutonic Order was founded in 1190 to provide medical care for crusaders in the kingdom of Jerusalem. In time, it assumed a military role and played an important part in the defence of the Christian territories in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Baltic regions of Prussia and Livonia; in the Levant, it fought against the neighbouring Islamic powers, whilst managing their turbulent relations with their patrons in the papacy and the German Empire. As the Order grew, it colonised territories in Prussia and Livonia, forcing it to address how it distributed its resources between its geographically-spread communities. Similarly, the brethren also needed to develop an organisational framework that could support the conduct of war on frontiers that were divided by hundreds of miles. This book - the first comprehensive analysis of the Order in the Holy Land - explores the formative years of this powerful international institution and places its deeds in the Levant within the context of the wider Christian, pagan and Islamic world. It examines the challenges that shaped its identity and the masters who planned its policies. Dr NICHOLAS MORTON is Lecturer in Medieval History at Swansea University.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-768-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xi)
    Nicholas Morton
  5. Abbreviations and Editorial Note
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In 1190, while the forces of the Third Crusade laid siege to the city of Acre, a group of crusaders from Bremen and Lübeck established a small field hospital under a ship’s sail to care for some of the many sick and wounded among the Christian forces.¹ In time this organisation grew into a major military order that would command vast resources, great estates and shape the history of the western world. Its members became known collectively as the Teutonic Knights.

    As with every military order, the foundation of the Teutonic Hospital was a response to a specific need. The...

  7. CHAPTER 1 The Foundation of the Order, 1190–1215
    (pp. 9-30)

    In 1187, the forces of the kingdom of Jerusalem suffered a crushing defeat on the slopes of an Iron Age fort called the Horns of Hattin, above Lake Tiberias. With the destruction of the Christian field army, the path was open for the Muslim forces under Saladin to seize control of Jerusalem and the other cities of the kingdom. Within months, only the city of Tyre remained in Christian hands.

    In the West, the arrival of this news provoked outrage and disbelief. Pope Urban III is said to have died from the shock.¹ Nine days later his successor, Pope Gregory...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The Fifth Crusade and the Development of the Teutonic Knights, 1216–1223
    (pp. 31-42)

    Building upon their early foundations the Teutonic Knights grew rapidly during the thirteenth century and enhanced their ability to conduct their military vocation. The Fifth Crusade specifically was the event which heralded an almost meteoric rise in their fortunes.² Although this venture was ultimately a failure, it provided the brethren with the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities under the watching eyes of western Christendom.

    In the aftermath of Henry VI’s crusade, Pope Innocent III attempted to raise new forces for the defence of the East. Accordingly, he proclaimed a new crusade, which is now known as the Fourth Crusade.³ This...

  9. CHAPTER 3 The Preparations for the Expedition of Frederick II
    (pp. 43-59)

    The failure of the Fifth Crusade’s Egyptian campaign caused many to demand a scapegoat. According to the evidence of several accounts, the responsibility lay with Frederick II because he had not fulfilled the crusading vow he had made at his coronation. Writers described how the crusaders at Damietta had anticipated his arrival in vain.¹ In his defence, Frederick had offered some support by sending contingents to Egypt under nobles such as Henry of Malta and the duke of Bavaria.² Despite these efforts, the simple fact remained that by 1221 the crusade had failed and Frederick’s vow lay unfulfilled. In the...

  10. CHAPTER 4 From the Crusade of Emperor Frederick II to the Death of Herman von Salza, 1227–1239
    (pp. 60-84)

    In 1227 Frederick II sailed for the Latin East as had been agreed in 1225, but shortly afterwards he became ill and returned to Italy. Having recovered, he re-embarked, yet the delay created by his convalescence caused him to miss the deadline for departure which he had accepted in 1225. The new pope, Gregory IX, was not inclined to overlook this fact and in September 1227 he excommunicated the emperor. Shortly afterwards, Gregory began to prepare an invasion against Fredrick’s kingdom of Sicily. Consequently, Frederick departed for the Levant in the full knowledge that war was brewing against him in...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Conrad von Thüringen, the Barons’ Crusade and a Change of Policy
    (pp. 85-95)

    In 1238 Herman, now an old man, became ill and travelled to Salerno for his health. He died on 20 March 1239.¹ Shortly after his passing the Teutonic Knights were faced with two major dilemmas. Firstly, with the end of the truce in the Latin East and the final preparations for a new crusade, they were required to render assistance to the Holy Land. At the same time, however, they were locked in conflict with the rus in Livonia. The Order’s new master, therefore, needed to decide how he would divide his institution’s material resources. The second problem concerned the...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Dependence and Independence
    (pp. 96-117)

    Conrad von Thüringen disturbed the Teutonic Knights’ political equilibrium and began a new phase in their relationship with the papacy and the empire. Conrad’s successors continually shifted their stance on this issue, drawing criticism on the brethren from all quarters and exacerbating internal divisions. The turbulence of the Teutonic Knights’ relations with Christian rulers was aggravated further in the 1240s by a series of battlefield defeats: in the Latin East against the Egyptians and Khwarazmians, in Prussia and Livonia against the Rus and Pagans and in Poland against the Mongols. These stretched the brethren’s resources beyond their capabilities, demonstrating the...

  13. CHAPTER 7 The Division of Resources between the Holy Land and the Baltic
    (pp. 118-130)

    By 1258 the Teutonic Knights had performed a strong recovery both in the Baltic and in the Holy Land, yet the Order which emerged from these crises had changed significantly in character. Where previously the brethren had been split by their relative loyalties to the papacy and the empire, they were now divided between the ongoing needs of the eastern Mediterranean, Prussia and Livonia.² As threats arose on all these frontiers they were constantly forced to address their priorities and to determine how their resources should be divided. This question would only have been complicated by the disparate fortunes of...

  14. CHAPTER 8 The Politics of the Levant
    (pp. 131-143)

    By 1258, the Teutonic Order had become one of the foremost defenders of the Latin East. Under Herman von Salza, the Order’s prominence had been derived partially from his personal diplomatic credentials. By this time, however, the brethren’s military and material power alone ensured their influence and, although never as important as the Hospitallers and Templars, they possessed significant political power. The previous chapters have discussed the Teutonic Knights’ wider policy between the Latin East and the Baltic; this section will examine their role in the governance of the kingdom of Jerusalem in the years after 1258.

    After Frederick II’s...

  15. CHAPTER 9 The Military Organisation of the Teutonic Knights in the Holy Land
    (pp. 144-158)

    I now turn to the internal and constitutional framework which enabled the Teutonic Knights to carry out their diplomatic, charitable and military functions. To begin discussion on this subject it is necessary firstly to examine the history and composition of the Order’s statutes. These regulations were intended to be the blueprint for the institution’s structure and they defined the responsibilities of the major officers. The first surviving version has been dated to c. 1264 and comprises three main parts (the rule, laws and customs) as well as the subsidiary sections (the prologue, vigils, calendar, Easter tables and genuflections).¹

    The first...

  16. CHAPTER 10 Control, Co-ordination and Supply
    (pp. 159-184)

    The diplomatic and military roles of the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic and the Holy Land required an international administrative support network in Western Christendom. In their early years, the brethren received gifts of money and property from both pilgrims and secular and ecclesiastical patrons from Western Christendom. Over time, as the lands granted to the Order multiplied, they began to be grouped by area into administrative units or commanderies. These were then gathered into provincial or national districts under the authority of a local commander or Landkomtur, in much the same way as the Templars and Hospitallers.¹ The commanders...

  17. Conclusion
    (pp. 185-188)

    Herman von Salza cast a long shadow over the history and development of the Teutonic Knights. In 1291, and possibly beyond, the Teutonic Order was still very much the institution he had created. Many twentieth-century works discuss his life and these tend to lavish praise upon his character and achievements. Wojtecki describes him as ‘epochmachenden’ (epochmaking), Urban as ‘brilliant’, Arnold as ‘one of the famous diplomatists of the thirteenth century’, Militzer as ‘one of the most important politicians of his generation’.¹ In some ways this study has followed a similar pattern, although the affairs of the Holy Land are more...

  18. Appendix A: The Location of the Masters, 1210–1291
    (pp. 189-196)
  19. Appendix B: Rural properties of the Teutonic Order
    (pp. 196-198)
  20. Appendix C: Masters of the Order, 1210–1296
    (pp. 199-199)
  21. Appendix D: The Crops and Agricultural Infrastructure of the Order
    (pp. 200-201)
  22. Appendix E.1: Marshals of the Order 1208–1300
    (pp. 202-203)
  23. Appendix E.2: Grand Commanders of the Order, 1215–1291
    (pp. 204-206)
  24. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-220)
  25. Index
    (pp. 221-228)
  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-229)