The Teutonic Knights: a military history
Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal, Limited
, 2005 - Religion
- 290 pages
The Teutonic knights were powerful and ferocious advocates of holy war. Their history is suffused with crusading, campaigning and struggle. Feared by their enemies but respected by medieval Christendom, the knights and their Order maintained a firm hold over the Baltic and northern Germany and established a formidable regime which flourished across central Europe for 300 years. This book surveys the gripping history of the knights and relates their rise to power; their struggles against Prussian pagans; the series of wars against Poland and Lithuania; the clash with Alexander Nevsky's Russia; and the gradual stagnation of the Order in the fourteenth century. The book is replete with dramatic episodes - such as the battle on frozen Lake Peipus in 1242, or the disaster of Tannenberg - but focuses primarily on the year-after-year struggle to maintain power, fend off incursions and raiding bands, and to launch crusades against unbelieving foes. And it was the crusade, with knights demonstrating their valor, which chiefly characterized and breathed life into this militant, conquering Holy Order. The narrative charts the rise and fall of the Order, and, in an accessible and engaging style, throws light on a band of knights whose deeds and motives have long been misunderstood.