Teutonic Knights Order
Order of Teutonic Knights has been created after the crusades in Jerusalem. Together with Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller was one of the largest three orders created on the legacy of crusades. Teutonic Knights Order was based on participants of the crusaders of German origin. Initially order was to act as guards of injured and sick knights of German origin. Pope Clement III officially founded the order when the knights moved from Jerusalem to Akka. After the conquest of Akka the Pope gave the city and its neighbourhood into the power of the order. Over many years of diplomatic efforts of the Grand Master Hermann von Salza, Teutonic Knight become a powerful and respected force in Europe. Vatican and the Holy Roman Empire awarded the Teutonic Order with land and many privileges in Palestine and in Europe. The ambitions of the Grand Master were to create an independent Teutonic Country. Teutonic Order obtained great land donations in Transylvania in Hungary in 1211. However, the donations have been withdrawn after the Teutonic Knights broke the agreement of the donation in 1225. In 1226 the Order has received a lese of land in Poland from Konrad I of Masovia.
Teutonic Knights in Poland
Duke of Masovia, Konrad I of Masovia invited the military religious Teutonic Knights Order to Poland having problems with Prussian rides over his land. Main role of Teutonic Knights was suppose to be christianisation of pagan Prussia and keeping peace on the border with Masovia. Teutonic Knights conquered Prussian land and created their own country. Ambitions of the Order become even larger and in the next century great Polish - Teutonic war has started. The war has definitely ended in 1525 when Teutonic Knights lost their land in Poland and keept only their possessions in the Holy Roman Empire.
On the map above we marked all Teutonic castles in Poland. Well preserved castles have been marked in red and ruins in blue. The largest Teutonic castle has been build in Malbork that became a capital of the Teutonic Country. The castle in Malbork is until today the world largest castle.
Present Teutonic Knights
The Teutonic Order functions until today. Its headquarter is located in Viena and the Order possesses many locations in Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Order is nowadays focusing on running hospitals, helping older people and running nursing homes. Bruno Platter is the Great Master of the Teutonic Order since 2000. At the 600th anniversary of the the great Polish-Teutonic battle in Grunwald, Bruno Platter visited Poland and was a guest of Polish president.
The legacy of Teutonic Knights in Poland is a great tourist attraction. Many of the castles have been destroyed during wars, but large fraction of them with the castle in Malbork for example have been very well preserved and turned into museums.
See also :
10 reasons to visit Poland