The Order of the Teutonic Knights, whose full name is Teutonic Order of the Hospital of Saint Mary of JerusalemIt was a religious and military order founded by German crusaders between the years 1190 and 1191, coinciding with the siege of the Palestinian fortress of San Juan de Acre, at the time of the third crusade.
like the Order of Hospitallers, the Teutonic order began its journey in Holy Land as a charitable order, charged with caring for and relieving the German pilgrim nurses who fell victim to fever, diphtheria, poisonings, plagues and other diseases of the desert. However, in those days it became clear that the conquest of the holy places was not going to be an easy task, much less since Saladin proclaiming Sultan of Egypt in 1171 and proclaims a “Jihad"Or"Holy war" against the crusader knights.
Thus, as was the case with the hospital knights, the armed wing of the order was born, where hundreds of knights were integrated. This, of course, does not mean that they abandoned their dedication to pilgrims and wounded knights, far from it. The order continued to manage the hospitals under its charge, with the constant work of German monks and anchorite women. However, the order began to have a military aspect with a structure very similar to that of the Hospitaller Knights and the Knights Templar.
In other words, there was a mass of warriors called "sergeants” (they were men skilled in arms but who had not yet reached the level necessary to be considered knights) and above these, the true teutonic knights, the epitome of the German warrior, a warrior who had to be a German and a legitimate knight to be part of their ranks. Thus, only a male who was the son of another knight could aspire to become a true knight of the order, must possess a certifying title for this purpose, and must also take the crossed vows.
The order like her fellow crusaders, it was also ruled by a grand master, who served as prince of the order. This position was the top of the pyramid, whoever held such position, held the maximum power of its military and hospital structure. Although the order was founded in 1191, it did not obtain the official recognition of the pope Innocent III in 1198.
¿What differentiated the Teutonic order from other military orders such as the Templar?
We could say that both orders were formed by the cream of the European chivalry and that their only difference was perhaps their attire, the Teutons having a white mantle like the Templars but with a black paté cross instead of red. Indeed, the main difference at first glance might seem this, that insignia of the black pate cross which would eventually adopt the German and Prussian shields (the iron cross).
However, the chronicles provide certain identifying data of the teutonic knights in combat they do not seem to share other orders. The Teutons are described as barbarians, blond giants with an imposing complexion, who seemed to attack the enemy with unparalleled fierceness and aggressiveness.
They are also described as overly proud warriors with an extreme fondness for drink and quarrel. Of course, it is most likely that such descriptions are due on the one hand to the patriotic German chronicles that they tried to praise the fierce character of the Germans, and on the other hand to those chronic satires of Franks and English against their German companions.
The return from the Holy Land.
At first the Order was established in the provinces of Antioch and Tripoli. However, over time, as more and more Christian territories were lost, its nerve center came to reside in Starkenberg Castle in Acre.
Although during the 13th century, the Teutons participated in almost all the great battles, they never had such an important weight as the Templars and Hospitallers they soon left the Holy Landback to Europe.
The maintenance as a distinctive sign of its national identity and the impossibility of growing up in the Holy Land led the Order to focus on European lands. Shortly after the election of Hermann von Salza as Hochmeister, the King Andrew of Hungary He requested the help of the Order in 1210 to confront the bands of Cumans, a people of Ukrainian origin, who were looting the province of Transylvania. As compensation for his help the King promised the Order the concession of the district of Wurzenland (Brasow in present-day Romania). The Order, under the command of Frater Teoderich, began the crusade with its own funds and by 1225 they had pacified the province and established German settlers in it.
Despite this achievement, as was the case in Holy LandThe intrigues of the order soon became apparent. The grand master asked the papacy to depend directly on Rome instead of the king of Hungary. Thus, King Andrew, with a certain fear that those knights would decide to take away the government of his kingdom and establish a teutonic state He ordered that they be expelled from Romania, although estimating the great help of those gentlemen in his company, he allowed all the settlers of German origin to remain in those lands.
That conspiracy attempt didn't go well for the order, but that move gave them a bigger perspective, and soon the Teutonic Order set his sights on Eastern Europe, where a new crusade.