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Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights
Independent monastic state,
1525-1660 First Protestant State, fief of Lithuanian-Jagiellon Poland king



Flag Seal of the Grand Master
The Order State and the Prince-Bishoprics of Livonia and Prussia c. 1410
Capital Malbork (1308-1454; German: Marienburg in Westpreußen), Königsberg (1454-1525)
Religion Roman Catholicism
Government Principality
Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights
 - 1209–39 Hermann von Salza
 - 1510–25 Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Historical era Middle Ages
 - Northern Crusades 1224
 - Absorbed Livonia 1237
 - Purchased Neumark 1404
 - Hanseatic cities¹ leave, found Prussian Confed. 1440
 - War of the Priests 1467–79
 - Reformation 1525
1. The Hanseatic cities that seceded from the Teutonic Knights in 1440 were Danzig (Gdańsk), Elbing (Elbląg) and Thorn (Toruń)

The State of the Teutonic Order, (German: Deutschordensland), also Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights or Ordensstaat[1] (pronounced [ˈɔːdn̩sˌʃtɑːt]) ("Order-State"), was formed during the Teutonic Knights' conquest of the pagan West-Baltic Old Prussians (Latin: Prutenii) in the 13th century in 1224 during the Northern Crusades.

The Livonian Brothers of the Sword controlling Livonia were incorporated into the Teutonic Order as its autonomous branch Livonian Order in 1237.[2]

In 1346, the Duchy of Estonia was sold by the king of Denmark for 19 000 Köln marks to the Teutonic Order. The shift of sovereignty from Denmark to the Teutonic Order took place on November 1, 1346 [3] Following its defeat in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 the Teutonic Order fell into decline and its Livonian branch joined the Livonian Confederation established in 1422-1435.[4]

The monastic state in Prussia was secularized in 1525 during the Protestant Reformation and was replaced by the Duchy of Prussia in eastern Prussia. The western part of Teutonic Prussia was separated in 1454/60 into Royal Prussia and became part of Poland. In old texts and in Latin the term Prut(h)enia refers to Teutonic Prussia, Royal Prussia and Ducal Prussia alike. The pertaining contemporary adjective is Prut(h)enic.



Brandenburg Wappen.svg
Coat of arms of North German Confederation.svg

History of Brandenburg and Prussia
Northern March
pre-12th century
Old Prussians
pre-13th century
Margraviate of Brandenburg
1157–1618 (1806)
Duchy of Prussia
Royal (Polish) Prussia
Kingdom in Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
Free State of Prussia
1947–1952 / 1990–present

Prussia withstood many attempts at conquest preceding the Teutonic Knights'. Bolesław I the Brave of Poland began the series of unsuccessful conquests when he sent Adalbert of Prague in 997. In 1147, Boleslaw IV of Poland attacked Prussia with the aid of Russian troops, but was unable to conquer it. Numerous other attempts followed, and, under Duke Konrad I of Masovia, were intensified, with large battles and crusades in 1209, 1219, 1220, and 1222.[5]

The West-Baltic Prussians successfully repelled most of the campaigns and managed to strike Konrad in retaliation. However the Prussians and Yotvingians in the south had their territory conquered. The Yotvingians land was situated in the area of what is today Podlesia. The Prussians' attempted to oust Polish or Masovian forces from Sudovia and Kulmerland or Chełmno Land, which by now was partially conquered, devastated and almost totally depopulated. Konrad of Masovia had already called a crusade against Prussians in 1208, but it was not successful. Konrad, acting on the advice of Christian, first bishop of Prussia, established the Dobriner Orden Order of Dobrzyń, a small group of 15 knights. The Order, however, was soon defeated and, in reaction, Konrad called on the Pope for yet another crusade and for help from the Teutonic Knights.

As a result, several edicts called for crusades against the Prussians. The crusades, involving many of Europe's knights, lasted for sixty years.

In 1211 Andrew II of Hungary granted the Burzenland (fiefdom) to the Teutonic Knights. In 1225, Andrew II expelled the Teutonic Knights from Transylvania, and they had to transfer to the Baltic Sea.

Early in 1224, Emperor Frederick II announced at Catania that Livonia, Prussia (with Sambia), and a number of neighboring provinces were Reichsfreie. This decree subordinated the provinces directly to the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire only (as opposed to being under the jurisdiction of local rulers).

At the end of 1224, Pope Honorius III announced to all Christendom his appointment of Bishop William of Modena as the Papal Legate for Livonia, Prussia, and other countries.

As a result of the Imperial Bull of Rimini and the Papal Bull of Rieti, Prussia came into the Teutonic Order's possession. Under their governance, woodlands were cleared and marshlands made arable, upon which many cities and villages were founded, including Marienburg (Malbork) and Königsberg (Kaliningrad).

Further history

Years 1225–50
Years 1308–1455

13th century

In 1234, the Teutonic Order assimilated the remaining members of the Order of Dobrzyń and, in 1237, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. The assimilation of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword (established in Livonia in 1202) increased the Teutonic Order's lands with the addition of the territories known today as Latvia and Estonia.

The Teutonic Order's control also changed the ethnic composition of the Prussian lands. A cropped image of a section of the Monastic State in Prussia from "Spread of German settlements to the Eastward, 800-1400". (Full map.)

In 1243, the Papal legate, William of Modena, divided Prussia into four bishoprics: Culmerland, Pomesania, Warmia, and Sambia. The bishoprics were ruled by the Archbishopric of Riga under the mother city of Visby on Gotland.

14th century

At the beginning of the 14th century, Pomerania, a neighboring region, plunged into war with Poland and Brandenburg to the west. Brandenburg's rulers, who ruled Pomerelia (Eastern Pomerania) in the 1250s, entered into a treaty on August 8, 1305 with Wenceslaus III of Bohemia, promising the March of Meissen the Bohemian crown in exchange for Pomerelia.

In the Teutonic takeover of Danzig (Gdańsk), the Teutonic Knights seized the city in November 1308. The Order had been called by King Władysław I of Poland. According to historical sources, many of the inhabitants of the city, Polish and German, were slaughtered. In September 1309, Margrave Waldemar of Brandenburg sold his claim to the territory to the Teutonic Order for the sum of 10,000 Marks in the Treaty of Soldin. This marked the beginning of a series of conflicts between Poland and the Teutonic Knights as the Order continued incorporating territories into its domains.

The Teutonic Order's possession of Danzig was disputed by the Polish kings Władysław I and Casimir the Great -- claims that led to a series of bloody wars and, eventually, legal battles in the papal court in 1320 and 1333. Finally, in 1343, peace was concluded at Kalisz, where the Teutonic Order agreed that Poland should rule Pomerelia as a fief and Polish kings, therefore, retained the right to the title Duke of Pomerania.

15th century

In 1404 the Teutonic Order bought the Brandenburg Neumark.

In 1410, with the death of Rupert, King of the Germans, war broke out between the Teutonic Knights and a Polish-Lithuanian alliance supported by Ruthenian and Tatar auxiliary forces. Poland and Lithuania triumphed following a victory at the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg). The Order assigned Heinrich von Plauen to defend Pomerania, who moved rapidly to bolster the defence of Castle Marienburg in Prussia. Heinrich von Plauen was elected vice-grand master and led the Teutonic Knights through the Siege of Marienburg in 1410. Eventually von Plauen was promoted to Grand Master and, in 1411, concluded the First Treaty of Thorn with King Władysław II Jagiełło.

Year 1466

In March 1440, gentry (mainly from Culmerland) and the Hanseatic cities of Danzig, Elbing (Elbląg), Thorn (Toruń) and other Prussian cities founded the Prussian Confederation to free themselves from the overlordship of the Teutonic Knights. Due to the heavy losses and costs after the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War, the Teutonic Order collected taxes at steep rates. Furthermore, the cities were not allowed due representation by the Teutonic Order. In February of 1454, the Prussian Confederation asked King Casimir IV of Poland to support their revolt and incorporate Prussia into Poland. King Casimir IV agreed and the War of the Cities or Thirteen Years' War broke out. The Second Peace of Thorn in October of 1466 ended the war and provided for the Teutonic Order's cession of its rights over the western half of its territories to the Polish crown, which became the province of Royal Prussia and the remaining part of the Order's land became a fief of Poland.

16th century

During the Protestant Reformation, endemic religious upheavals and wars occurred. In 1525, during the aftermath of the Polish-Teutonic War (1519-1521), Sigismund II Augustus, King of Poland, and his nephew, the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a member of a cadet branch of the House of Hohenzollern, agreed upon that the latter resigned his position, adopted the Lutheran faith and assumed the title of "Duke of Prussia". Therefore it was referred to as Ducal Prussia (German: Preußen herzoglichen Anteils or Herzogliches Preußen, Polish: Prusy Książęce), remaining a Polish fief. This in a deal partially brokered by Martin Luther, the Roman Catholic Teutonic State of Prussia was transformed into the Duchy of Prussia (German: Herzogtum Preußen), being the first Protestant state. Sigismund's consent was bound to Albert's submission to Poland, which is known as the 'Prussian Homage'.

The Habsburg-led Holy Roman Empire continued its hold on a claim to Prussia and furnished grand masters, merely titular administrators of Prussia. In 1618, the Duchy of Prussia passed to the senior Hohenzollern branch, the ruling margraves and prince-electors of Brandenburg, who ruled Brandenburg, being a fief of the Holy Roman Empire, and Ducal Prussia, being a Polish fief, in personal union. This being the case, a cross-border real union was legally impossible. De facto Brandenburg and Ducal Prussia were more and more ruled as one, and colloquially referred to as Brandenburg-Prussia.

Frederick William the Great Elector, duke of Prussia and prince-elector of Brandenburg, was after acquiring Royal Prussia in order to territorially connect his two fiefs. So he took the opportunity when Charles X Gustav of Sweden, in his attempt to conquer Poland (cf. Swedish Deluge), promised to cede to Frederick William the Prince-Bishopric of Ermland and four further Polish voivodeships, if Frederick William would support Charles Gustav's effort. The deal was on spec, since he would definitely have to provide military support, while the reward was only under the condition of a victory.

John II Casimir of Poland didn't take the Swedish-Prussian alliance lying down. He submitted a counter-offer and Frederick William accepted. On July 29, 1657 they signed the Treaty of Wehlau in Wehlau (Polish: Welawa; now Znamensk). In return for Frederick William's renunciation of the Swedish-Prussian alliance, John Casimir recognised Frederick William's full sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia. After almost 200 years of Polish suzerainty Prussia regained full sovereignty, which was a necessary prerequisite for upgrading Ducal Prussia to become the sovereign Kingdom of Prussia, not to be confused with Polish Royal Prussia, in 1701. The government of de facto collectively ruled Brandenburg-Prussia, seated in Brandenburg's capital Berlin, mostly appeared under the higher ranking titles of Prussian government. However, the Kingdom of Prussia being a sovereign state, and Brandenburg, being a fief within the Holy Roman Empire were only amalgamated legally after the latter's dissolution in 1806.

See also


  1. ^ France, John (2005). The Crusades and the Expansion of Catholic Christendom, 1000-1714. New York: Routledge. p. 380. ISBN 0415371287.  
  2. ^ Frucht, Richard C. (2005). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 69. ISBN 1576078000.,M1.  
  3. ^ Skyum-Nielsen, Niels (1981). Danish Medieval History & Saxo Grammaticus. Museum Tusculanum Press. p. 129. ISBN 8788073300.  
  4. ^ Housley, Norman (1992). The later Crusades, 1274-1580. p. 371. ISBN 0198221363.  
  5. ^ Edward Henry Lewinski Corwin The Political History of Poland. 1917, The Polish Book Importing Company p45.

External links

  • cities, castles and landscapes of the Teutonic Knights (German)


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