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As early as 1053 pope Leo IX created the Knights of Saint Peter (Milites Sancti Petri) as a militia against the mercenary Normands led by Humphrey de Hauteville (the count of Apulia). The Normand victory at Civitate on the Fortore river, northwest of Foggia, led to Leo's imprisonment at Benevento for almost nine months. But the tradition of establishing military orders within the Catholic church came later, after the First Crusade recovered Jerusalem in 1099. The first military order (militaris ordinis) was the Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici (the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, usually referred to as the Knights Templar) was founded in 1119 when Hugues de Payens approached king Baldwin II of Jerusalem and patriarch Warmund of Jerusalem to promote the creation of a monastic order to protect pilgrims. Baldwn let them use a wing of the royal palace on the Temple Mount in the captured Al-Aqsa Mosque, the site of the Temple of Solomon. Originally the order had few financial resources and relied on donations; its emblem was of two knights riding on a single horse. But the nephew of one of the founding kights was St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the French abbot primarily responsible for the founding of the Cistercian Order of monks, who in 1129 persuaded the Council of Troyes to endorse the order. With this formal blessing, the Templars became a favored charity throughout Christendom, receiving money, land, businesses, and recruits. In 1139 pope Innocentius II exempted the order from obedience to local laws, allowing them to pass freely across borders, freed them from taxes, and exempted them from all authority except that of the pope. Though the knights were sworn to individual poverty, the order was given control of wealth beyond direct donations; it often managed all of the assets of a Crusader while he was away from home. Heavily armored Templars wearing distinctive white mantles with a red cross often charged the Muslim forces ahead of the main army bodies in an attempt to break opposition lines; for instance, in 1177 at Montgisard, 500 Templar knights were responsible for defeating Saladin's army of 26,000 soldiers. However, although the primary mission of the order was military, relatively few members were combatants; the others were financial managers. In 1150 they began generating letters of credit for pilgrims, who deposited their valuables with a local Templar preceptory, received a document indicating the value of their deposit, traveled safely on their pilgrimage since they were no longer attractive targets for thieves, and then used that document to retrieve an amount of equal value once they arrived. The order acquired large tracts of land, bought and managed farms and vineyards, built massive stone cathedrals and castles, had their own fleet, and were involved in manufacturing, import, and export; at one point they owned Cyprus. But when the Muslims regained the Holy Land, support for the order faded. In 1307 king Philippe IV of France, deeply in debt to the order, arrested many of the order's members in France, tortured them into giving false confessions, burned them at the stake, seized their assets, and pressured pope Clemens V to disband the order in 1312 and turn over much of its property to the Hospitallers.
In 603 pope Gregorius I commissioned abbot Probus of Ravenna to build a hospital in Jerusalem to treat and care for pilgrims, but it was destroyed by khalifa Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah in 1005. Khalifa Ali az-Zahir gave permission to merchants from Amalfi and Salerno led to rebuild it in 1023 on the site of the monastery of St. John the Baptist in the Muristan district of Jerusalem; it was served by the Benedictine order. Gerard Thom, a lay brother in the order, was named rector of the hospice in 1080, and in the wake of the First Crusade founded the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (Ordo Fratrum Hospitalis Sancti Ioannis Hierosolymitani, the Hospitallers) and acquired territory and revenues throughout the kingdom of Jerusalem and beyond. He was succeeded in 1118 by Raymond du Puy de Provence, who expanded operations to an infirmary near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and organized a militia to escort pilgrims, which soon grew into a substantial force under Baldwin though without losing its charitable character. Pope Paschalis II confirmed it in 1113 and charged it with the care and defense of the Holy Land; In 1130 Innocentius II gave the order its coat of arms, a silver cross in a field of red. In 1248 Innocentius IV approved a standard military dress for them to wear during battle: Instead of a closed cape over their armor, which restricted their movements, they wore a red surcoat with a white cross emblazoned on it. With the Templars they became the most formidable fortifiers and battlers in the region, and particularly distinguished themselves in the siege of Ascalon in 1153. At their height the Hospitallers held seven great forts, including the Krak des Chevaliers and Margat in Syria, and 140 other estates in the kingdom of Jerusalem and the principality of Antioch.
The city of Jerusalem fell in 1187, followed by the kingdom in 1291, and the Hospitallers sought refuge in Cyprus; their Master, Guillaume de Villaret, created a plan to acquire their own temporal domain on Rhodes, which was part of the Byzantine empire. His successor, Foulques de Villaret, took Rhodes in 1310 after a four-year campaign. In 1334, the Knights of Rhodes defeated the Byzantine forces of Andronikos III Palaiologos, withstood an invasion by the sultan of Egypt in 1444 and another by sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1480, who had conquered the Byzantine Empire in 1453. In 1494 the Knights created a stronghold on the peninsula of Halicarnassus (presently Bodrum). But in 1522 sultan Suleiman the Magnificent led 10,000 troops against grand master Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam's 7,000; the Hospitallers resisted for six months and were allowed to withdraw to Spanish Sicilia. After seven years of wandering they were given Malta, Gozo, and Tripoli by Carlos I of Spain as King of Sicily, in perpetual fiefdom. When the Knights arrived, the Maltese viewed them as arrogant, mostly-French intruders, while the Knights were dismissive of the local nobility and excluded the Maltese from serving in the order. They resumed their military resistance to the Muslims by policing the Mediterranean from the Ottoman-endorsed "Barbary pirates" operating from the North Africa. In 1565 Suleiman sent 40,000 men to besiege the 700 knights and 8,000 soldiers against Malta, defended by Jean Parisot de Valette; by the time the assault ended he only had 600 men left who were able to bear arms, but only 15,000 Turks returned to Istanbul. After the siege a new city had to be built, between 1566 and 1571: named Villetta, it became the home port of one of the Mediterranean's most powerful navies. Meanwhile, rich commanderies of the order in northern Germany and the Netherlands became Protestant and separated from the main Catholic order, and the Hospitallers were disestablished in England, Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere.
For a time, the order possessed a German langue which was part Protestant and part Catholic and pursued the restoration of England as one of its member states during the reign of Elizabeth I. Many Hospitallers turned to piracy, adopted idle, luxurious lifestyles, marrying local wives, and enrolling in the French and Spanish navies, which were skirmishing against each other, even while France and the Ottomans pursued an informal cease fire. Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy, a prominent member of the order, was named governor of the French colony on Saint Kitts in 1639, and he bought the island of Saint Croix as his personal estate which he deeded to the Hospitallers; in 1651, the Knights bought the islands of Sainte-Christophe, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthélemy, but with de Poincy's death in 1660 their position became tenous; they sold their Caribbean holdings to the French West India Company in 1665. In 1798, en route to Egypt, Napoleon Bonaparte stormed Malta. The Knights were dispersed, with the largest number going to St. Petersburg and electing czar Pavel I as grand master; though the election was not ratified under Catholic canon law (after all, Pavel was an Orthodox Christian, not a Catholic), he established a massive Russian grand priory that admitted all Christians; until 1810, 90% of the order's income came from Russia. In 1806 the order rejected Sweden's offer of Gotland to the order in exchange for renouncing its claim to Malta. In 1834 the Knights settled in Roma and concentrated on hospital work. Today its sovereign status is recognized via diplomatic relations with 106 countries, official relations with 6 others and with the European Union, and permanent observer missions to the United Nations and its agencies as well as representation on other international organizations; it issues its own passports, currency, and stamps, and has a permanent presence in 120 countries, including medical facilities staffed by 13,500 members, 80,000 volunteers, and over 25,000 professional medical personnel.
In 1143 pope Celestinus II ordered the Knights Hospitaller to take over the management of a German hospital in Jerusalem which accommodated German pilgrims and crusaders but mandated that its members would always be German. After the loss of Jerusalem in 1187, merchants from Lübeck and Bremen founded a field hospital to assist the defense of Acre (Akko, Israel) in 1190, which became the nucleus of the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem (Ordo domus Sanctæ Mariæ Theutonicorum Hierosolymitanorum, or Orden der Brüder vom Deutschen Haus St. Mariens in Jerusalem, commonly known as the Deutscher Ritterorden or the Teutonic Knights). Celestinus III recognized it in 1192 and placed the monks under Augustinian rule. After a new crusade ended with the death of Holy Roman emperor Heinrich VI, the order was transformed into a military order in 1198 under grand master Heinrich Walpot von Bassenheim to secure the remaining crusader states, a process which was accelerated under its fourth hochmeister Hermann von Salza, who first appeared in that role at the coronation of count John of Brienne as king of Jerusalem in 1210. The Knights wore white surcoats with a black cross, granted by Innocentius III in 1205. Emperor Friederich II elevated Hermann to the status of Reichsfürst ("Prince of the Empire"), making him the equal of other German princes, and pope Honorius III gave his order equal status with the Hospitallers and Templars. In 1211 king András II of Hungary, who had been involved in negotiations for the marriage of his daughter with Hermann's son the landgrave of Thuringia, granted Burzenland in Transylvania to the Teutonic Knights to defend against the Turkic nomadic Cumans (Polovtsi); in an effort to establish their independence in 1224, they petitioned pope Honorius III to be placed directly under his authority, provoking András to expel them in 1225. Hermann accompanied Friederich on the Fifth Crusade against Damietta in 1219, and served as the emperor's mediator in the papal curia from 1222 onwards, was partially responsible for his marriage to John of Brienne's daughter Yolanda, convinced him to undertake the Sixth Crusade, and attended his coronation as king of Jerusalem in 1225. In 1220 the Knights acquired Montfort (Starkenberg), northeast of Acre, which defended the route between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Sea and became the grand master's seat in 1229. In 1226 duke Konrad I of Masovia in north-eastern Poland appealed to Hermann to defend his borders against the pagan Pruzzen, the indigenous peoples from a cluster of tribes that inhabited the southeastern shore of the Baltic sea between the Vistula and Curonian lagoons, and granted the Teutonic Knights the use of Kulmerland (Ziemia Chelminska) as a base for their campaign; after gaining papal and imperial approval the Knights began their lengthy campaign there in 1230; they began by seizing Kulmerland, making it the basis of the independent Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights, to which they added continuously the conquered Pruzzen territory and Livonia. In 1235 they assimilated the Order of Dobrzyń, which had been established by the first bishop of Prussia.
(Meanwhile, the Fratres militiæ Christi Livoniae, the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, were waging a similar crusade against other Baltic pagans. In 1199 archbishop Hartwig of Bremen and Hamburg had named his nephew Albert von Buxthoeven bishop of Livona on condition that he conquered and converted the Livonians, Latgalians, and Selonians; Albert led 1500 troops into the region in 1200 and founded Riga with merchants from the island of Gotland in 1201, and he founded the military order the next year, which pope Innocentius III sanctioned in 1204. Albert converted many Livs under their leader Caupo in exchange for protection against neighboring Lithuanian and Estonian tribes, and he subjugated the Latvian principalities of Koknese, Jersika and Tālava. From its foundation, the undisciplined order tended to ignore its supposed vassalage to the bishops. In 1218, Albert asked king Valdemar II of Denmark for assistance, but Valdemar instead arranged a deal with the Brotherhood and conquered northern Estonia. Albert died in 1229. In 1232 pope Gregorius IX asked the Brothers to defend Finland from Novgorodian attacks. The Order was decimated by Lithuanians and Semigallians at Schaulen [Saule] in 1236, leading to its absorption by the Teutonic Knights the following year, though it continued as an autonomous entity.) Despite Hermann's successes, the Knights recalled him from his political activities in Europe in order to lead them at home; he retired to Salerno in 1238 and died there in 1239, but his successors continued his exansionist policies. Attempts to expand into Kievan Rus failed after Aleksandr Nevsky of Novgorod defeated them in 1242. In 1260 the Knights suffered another disastrous defeat by the Samogitians, sparking rebellions throughout Pruessen and Livonia. After the Teutonic Knights won a crucial victory in the 1262-65 siege of Königsberg, they subjugated the Curonians in 1267 and the Semigallians in 1290.
After the fall of the kingdom of Jerusalem at Acre in 1291, the knights moved their headquarters to Venice and continued their crusade against Lithuania, gaining significant victories at Strėva in 1348 and at Rudau in 1370, meanwhile suppressing a major Estonian rebellion in 1343-1345; in 1346 they bought the duchy of Estonia from Denmark. The margraves of Brandenburg occupied the duchy of Pomerelia in 1308 but failed to take the citadel of Danzig (Gdańsk), and duke Władysław I the Elbow-high of Poland recruited the Knights to expel them; the Knights evicted the Brandenburgers but kept Danzig and massacred the inhabitants. Control of Pomerelia allowed the order to connect their monastic state with the borders of the Holy Roman Empire while blocking Poland's access to the Baltic, while also providing it the opportunity in 1309 to move its headquarters from Venice to Marienburg (Malbork) on the Nogat River, beyond the reach of secular powers. In 1337, emperor Ludwig IV allegedly gave the order permission to conquer all Lithuania and Russia. The 1343 treaty of Kalisz ended open warfare with Poland, but the Knights retained Culmerland and Pomerelia. However, in 1386, grand duke Jogaila of Lithuania was baptized and married queen Jadwiga of Poland, becoming king Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland; the Knights tried to play Jagiello and his cousin grand duke Vytautas of Lithuania against each other, but this strategy failed when Vytautas began to suspect that the order was planning to annex parts of his territory. Meanwhile, king Albrekt of Sweden ceded Gotland to the Knights in exchange for eliminating the Vitalienbrüder (Victual Brothers) from the strategic island. Albrekt had long been struggling against queen Margareta I of Denmark, who had imprisoned him and besieged Stockholm in 1392; the Swedes hired blockade runners to keep the city supplied -- hence the name Vitalienbrüder. After turning to piracy and coastal plunder, the privateers sacked Bergen in 1393 and conquered Malmö and Gotland in 1394, occupied parts of Frisia and Schleswig, and brought maritime trade in the Baltic to a virtual standstill. Finally, at Albrekt's urging, Teutonic hochmeister Konrad von Jungingen took Gotland.
By 1407, the Teutonic Order reached its greatest territorial extent (Preussen, Pomerelia, Samogitia, Courland, Livonia, Estonia, Gotland, Dagö, Ösel, and the Neumark), but Prussian aristocrats under Nicholas von Renys had formed the Lizard League (Eidechsenbund) to transfer Kulmerland to Poland in 1397 and the order was torn by internal rivalries. Władysław II Jagiełło and Vytautas allied against the Knights and defeated them at Grunwald (Tannenberg) in 1410; hochmeister Ulrich von Jungingen and 50 of his 60 highest dignitaries were slain. Nicholas von Renys carried the banner of the Kulmerland troops for the Teutonic Order and perhaps contributed to their defeat when it was prematurely lowered, leding to an unauthorized retreat; the Lizard League was also suspected of sending messages advising Marienburg to surrender. After the war Renys was executed and the other League members fled to Poland; it was declared illegal by pope Gregorius XII and emperor Sigismund and subsequently dissolved, but it laid the foundation of the Prussian Confederation. After Marienburg refused to surrender, the two sides negotiated the First Peace of Thorn (Toruń) in 1411; he League suffered minimal territorial losses, though various territorial disputes continued until the Peace of Melno in 1422 ended the Gollub War and the Knights lost some border regions and renounced all claims to Samogitia. Nevertheless, the Knights' power was broken, and the financial burden of war reparations caused an economic downturn in the lands under their control. The western Prussian lands of the Vistula River valley and the Brandenburg Neumark were ravaged by the Hussites, who defeated a Teutonic relief force, and the Poles fdefeated them again in the Polish-Teutonic War (1431-1435). In 1454 the Prussian Confederation revolted, beginning the Thirteen Years' War. In the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), the defeated Monastic State of the Teutonic Order recognized Poland's rights over western Prussia but retained eastern Prussia under nominal Polish overlordship. Because Marienburg was given to mercenaries in lieu of their pay, the order moved its base to Königsberg in Sambia and later to Bad Mergentheim in Württemberg. After another Polish-Teutonic War (1519–1521) hochmeister Albert of Brandenburg became a Lutheran in 1525, secularized the order's remaining Prussian territories, and accepted hereditary rights to the duchy of Prussia as a vassal to his uncle king Sigismund I of Poland. Elsewhere, the Teutonic Order retained its noncontiguous territories within the Holy Roman Empire and Livonia; but many of the imperial possessions were ruined in the German Peasants' War from 1524 to 1525 and subsequently confiscated by Protestant rulers, and the Livonian territory was partitioned by neighboring powers during the Livonian War (1558–1583) between Russia and a varying coalition consisting of Denmark–Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, and Poland; in 1561 the Livonian master Gotthard Kettler secularized the order's southern Livonian possessions to create the duchy of Courland, also a vassal of Poland. After the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 ended Europe's religious wars, the Teutonic Knights opened their membership to Protestants, though the majority remained Catholic. Teutonic Knights from Germany, Austria, and Bohemia led mercenary troops against the Turks, but in 1809 Napoleon I dissolved the order and his vassals and allies confiscted its remaining secular holdings. By 1810, only its bailiwicks in Tyrol and Austria remained. After 1923 its hochmeisters were priests rather than aristocrats, and in 1929 it was renamed the Deutscher Orden and converted to a purely spiritual Catholic religious order; it has approximately 1,000 members, including 100 priests and 200 nuns.
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