A Német Lovagrend szerepe a 13. század első felének keresztes hadjárataiban
Subject: Teutonic Order
In this paper I examine the development of the Teutonic Order through the Crusader enterprises that took place during the first half of the 13th century. I argue that the organizational role and the military deeds of the Teutonic Knights – especially during the Fifth Crusade – were the key factors behind the Order’s later rapid development. For a newly founded military order like the Teutonic Knights, a Crusade offered a great opportunity to show their worth and importance in the affairs and politics of the Holy Land. Beside the Order’s commitment to the Christian cause, the personal qualities and negotiation skills of its Grand Master, Hermann von Salza, were of huge importance in this progress. These contributed to a great extent in creating and maintaining an excellent relationship between the Order and the two most powerful Catholic rulers: the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope. Due to von Salza’s diplomatic skills and the valiant deeds of the Knights, the Teutonic Order became very popular, especially amongst German crusaders. This popularity was represented by numerous donations of land and privileges, which helped to increase the military strength of the Teutonic Order in a significant way and also elevated the Order to the same institutional level as the Templars and the Hospitallers. Thanks to its increased financial potential after its successful participation in the Fifth Crusade, the Order was able to deploy a considerable military force during subsequent Crusader enterprises. At the same time, donations and a constant flow of pilgrims allowed the Order to recover quickly from serious losses suffered during the Fifth Crusade, and even after disastrous defeats against the Muslims on the battlefields of La Forbie (1244) and of Al Mansurah (1250). However, the question of a proper division of military and financial resources between the Holy Land and the newly acquired territories in Prussia became a serious problem which had to be solved in the following decades.