Teutonic Order






The Arms of the Order

The Arms of the Grand Masters

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Part 1




The Teutonic Order was founded in 1190 during the siege of Acre, when a hospital brotherhood was established to care for the many sick German crusaders. It was given a building after the conquest of the city, and in 1198 was turned into a military-monastic order on the model of the Hospitallers of Saint John and the Templars. This creation reflected the growing involvement of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in the Holy Land.

From the start, the order started a policy of conquering land and building up independent territory: in the Holy Land, in Hungary in 1211-25, and later in Prussia, after it absorbed the Sword-Brethren in Livonia. It was in Prussia that the order fought with the Polish dukes of Masovia and Silesia to subjugate the pagan Prussians and fight against Novgorod. After the fall of Acre in 1291 the Grand Master went to Venice, and, following the conquest of Pomerelia in 1309, to Marienburg in Prussia. Thus the Order, by now exclusively nobiliary, came to form an independent political entity. In 1243, Pope Innocent IV had placed the Order's possessions in the Pope's domain, but in practice the Order was completely independent. Its fortunes began to fade in 1410 with the defeat inflicted at Tannenberg by Poland-Lithuania, and a revolt in its territories in 1454-66 further diminished it and it became a vassal of Poland.

The Reformation brought many changes to the Order. In 1525, the Hochmeister Albrecht of Brandenburg-Anspach secularized the Order's Prussian holdings into the duchy of Prussia, resigned from the order, became Lutheran, and gave homage for the duchy to the king of Poland on April 10, 1525. In Livonia, the Ordenmeister Livlands Gotthard von Ketteler did the same in 1561 and turned the remnants of the order's estates (most of which had been divided between Sweden and Poland) into the duchy of Kurland. In the German Empire, the Deutschmeister became Grand Master in 1530 and the seat of the Order was transferred from Marienburg to Mergentheim; the order survived in Germany, adapting to local politics. The protection of the Habsburg dynasty (which reformed the order in 1606) proved a mixed blessing: the order survived, but it never regained any independence, and its efforts were redirected in the Habsburgs' wars against the Turks. With the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist knights received equal rights within an order headed since the late 16th century by a Habsburg Grand Master. Some bailliwicks like Elsass, Burgund, Koblenz, Österreich, Bozen remained Catholic, others like Thüringen, Sachsen were Protestant, and Hessen was tripartite (Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist). In 1637 the (Protestant) Dutch knights broke away and formed the Ridderlijke Duitsche Orde, Ballije van Utrecht, which still exists. In 1809 the order was expelled from most German states, and survived only in Austria. Reduced to four knights in 1839, it was reorganized by the Austrian emperor as a Catholic charitable institution. Nuns were introduced (they had existed in the medieval Order). Knights of honor (1866) and Marianer (1871) were created to attract financial support, while the knights themselves were essentially noble Austrian officers.

With World War I and the end of the Habsburg monarchy the order lost its last possessions. In 1923 archduke Eugen resigned as Grand Master; in 1929 the Pope reorganized the order as a purely religious order of priests. No more knights were created and the last one (Friedrich Graf Belrupt-Tissac) died in 1970. The order suffered during World War II when it was abolished by the Nazis in Austria and Czechoslovakia, but it survived in Italy and started again after 1945 in Austria and Germany.

In its current form, the order has 87 brethren, 294 sisters, 12 honorary knights and 613 Marianer or associates. The Hochmeister resides in Vienna.




The Arms of the Order


I. Hospitallers


Seat in Akkon

until about 1230


II. Order of Chivalry


After the creation of the Order the friars wore white cloaks. This was to the displeasure of the Order of the Temple the friars of which also wore a white mantle, causing much confusion.  By a Bull of Pope Innocent III the friars of the Teutonic order were forbidden to wear white cloaks in 1210. [2] Eleven years later they were wearing black crosses on their cloaks of undefined colour. [3]  In 1222 however they were permitted to wear the white cloaks again as their cloaks caused mockery and confusion. [4]  Representations of the black Teutonic cross on a white background however date from several decennia later.


Seat in Montfort

1230 ca-1271


Convent seal of the Teutonic Order in Prussia. 1232


Seal on a charter of 1232. Standing warrior with shield charged with a square claw cross on a pole. L.: X s(igillum) fr(atrum) TEV[TONICOR]V(m) IN PRVSCIA. In the field: S(anctus) GEOR(gius).[5] 


Ensign of the Teutonic Order

Resurrection. Psaltery from Cologne or surroundings, middle of the 13th century. [6]


1300 ca A knight of the Teutonic Order.

Manesse Codex fol. 264 r°: Der Tanhuser lxxviii


The cross on the cloak of the archaic form of a square cross potent.


Between 1232 and 1233 the form of the cross was changed from a square cross potent into a plain square cross.


Seal of the City of Kulm in West Prussia 1233


Come into being not long after 1233 but preserved on a charter of about 1300. In the field a rider with a triangular shield and a pennon both charged with a cross. [7]


Seal of the Marshal of Livonia


Seal: Rider with shield and pennon both charged with a cross. W.: Kruis. L.: X s(igillum) marscal­ci de livoni­a. Date: 1250 but preserved on a charter of 1348. [8]


Seat in Akkon



Seal of the Marshal in Prussia


Rider with shield and pennon both charged with a cross. L.: X S(IGILLUM) : MERESCALCI : DOM(US) THEVTO(N)I­COR(VM) D(E) PRVSCIA. Date: 18.05.1282 (probably a stamp from ca. 1249). [9]


Seat in Venice



Because Montfort had fallen in 1271 and Acre in 1291, Grand Master Conrad von Feuchtwangen (1291-’96) moved his residence to Venice.


Seat in Marienburg



In 1309, when Philip IV of France destroyed the Templars, Siegfried von Feuchtwangen (1301-’11) took the precaution to move his residence to Marienburg. Probably earlier coats of arms of the Grand Master have been destroyed in Monfort or Acre, or have disappeared from the period of 1291-1309 in Venice.

In that case the mould stone of Montfort could have been used until 1271 by the Grand Masters. In any case it was not taken to Acre so that the Grand Masters should have used another model between 1271 and 1291.

Oldest seal of the Chief Marshal


Seal: Rider wih shield, crest (screen) and pennon all charged with a cross. L.: S(igilllum) * MARE­SCHALCI * ORDINIS * DOMVS * TOVTVNICE. Date: 30.05.1344 [10]   


Tomb of Luther von Brauschweig (r. 1331-’35)

In Königsberg Cathedral.

On his breast a black latin cross


Teutonic Knight dressed in white mantle ensigned with a black square cross. Middle of the 14th century

I.e. Landgraf Konrad von Thüringen as a Teutonic knight. Marburg, Elisabethkirche. [11]



14th century brass stamp of the Teutonic Order. L.: "+ S. VISITATORV + MAGRI + ALLEMANIE +" (Visitatorum Magister in Allemaniae). [12]


Two marshals of the Order with the banners and coat of arms of the Order and their personal arms and crests

Fresco in the Juditten Church near Königsberg (Kaliningrad) bef. 1393.


The knight on the right Konrad von Jungingen, Commander of Osterode (13807), Grand master 1393-1407.

Equestrian seal of the Landmarshal of Livland, 1398


Arms: Cross. Pennon: Cross. L.: X S LANT-MARSCHALCI  LIVONIE.


Banner of St. Maurice with the arms of the order

In the Banderia Prutenorum fol. 44v


St. Mauritius of Africa in armoury, proper, his skirt Azure, his belt, elbows and knees Or, ducally crowned and nimbused Or, armed with a halberd Argent and Or, and a shield Argent, a cross Sable. In sinister chief a shield Argent, a cross Sable.

The legend reads:


"Banderium Liwonitarum, quod in prelio anno M quadringentesimo trice­simo primo comisso Theodoricus Croe, marscalcus Liwonie, ducebat."


Nota: hec ymago debet stare ex alia parte illius banderii, in quo stat depicta ymago sanacte Marie, quia in una parte predicti banderii debet depingi ymago virginis gloriose, in alia vero parte ymago sancti Mauricii, prout hic apparet.


Sub hoc vexillo duobus signis et imaginibus, videlicet beate Virginis et beate Mauricii, et duabus crucibus nigris depicto tricente haste militum electorum consistebant solum de equitibus preter pedestres; omnes viri armati armis fulgentibus et docti ad prelium. Iste Theodricus Croe, marscalcus Livonie, cum pluribus aliis comendatoribus et sue gentis atque exterarum militibus fuit captus et longo tempore in Cracouiensi arce in turri versus sanctum Bernardinum sita carcerales angustias perpessus, sed tanden pietate Wladislai secundi, Polonie regis, de illis solutus.


Ensign of the Marshal of Prussia at the Battle of Tanneberg, 1410

Jan Długosz Banderia Prutenorum, fol. 3 [13]

Ensign: White, the free end split in three, a black cross.


The legend reads:


Banderium ordinis cruciferorum, quod Fridericus Ballerod, magnus marscalcus Prussie, ducebat, nacione Francus  et nobilitate insignis qui pro armis cum sua familia defert fluvium cruce signatum et in galea gallum cristatum, qui in eodem prelio fuit occisus et in Mariemburk reductus; patruus germanus Christoferi episcopi Lubuczensis; sub quo erant milites de Franconia


Which is:

Banner of the Order with the cross flown by Frederick Ballerod, grand marshal of Prussia together with his Frankish family arms of nobility of a river and a cross, crested with a combed cock, who was killed in the same battle and brought back to Mariemburk; nephew of bishop Christopher Lubuczenzis; under whom were the soldiers of France.


Nota: banderium hoc continet in longitudine tres ulnas cum quartali, in latitudine vero tres ulnas minus quartali (=227´193cm ca)


  Chief Marshal’s Seal of office, 1416

Arms: Cross.

Crest: A screen of the arms

Pennon: Square with one pointed lappet, [white] a [black] cross


So-called Lithuanian Rider Pavese, 15t cent.

Spruce. Obverse painted hemp cover; Reverse painted linen cover. Handle of split animal tendon. 64,5 Î 33/32 cm. Thickness above 10,5, below 8,5 cm. Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum W 971.[14]


Arms: Argent, a square cross Sable.


The arms of the Grandmaster and the officials of the Teutonic Order

From the Berliner Wappenbuch, 1450-‘60

Legend:  geschriben bischoff kumpttur undgebiettiger und gewelt des hochmaisters inren ratte


dis nach geschriben bischoff kumpttur und gebiettiger

sind gewest des hochmaisters inren raette


hochmeister zu prussen un oberst spital herr vo iherusale


eps heylperg; gros kompttr; marschalk; elbing










Schloß Beuggen (Baden Württemberg) arms on the  Alten Schloß, 1438

From left to right: German Master (Deutschmeister) (with pair of wings as a crest); Territorial Commander Ludwig von Landtsee (¼ Gules, a fleur de lis Argent & Argent, a fleur de lis Gules; Commander Burkhard von Schellenberg (barry of four pieces Sable and Or).


Seat in Köningsberg




Schilling 1470-‘77

Schilling 1477-‘89


Seat in Mergentheim



The original form of the cross of the Order after 1233 was a simple square- or latin cross. In the 17th century the cross became a square- or latin cross patée to avoid confusion, it is said with the cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Since the General Chapter of 1606 a white bordure around the cross was common practise for breast- and neck crosses. The last was only introduced at the beginning of the 16th century, a silver bordure being forbidden as an abuse. Because the silver bordure could not be prevented any more it was approved in 1606.

The common practise for the cross in the arms remained for a long time the plain square cross but in the 18th century a cross patée also appeared.





Neck-cross, 16-17th cent.

Vienna, Treasury of the Teutonic Order


Breast-cross, 16-17th cnet.

Vienna, Treasury of te Teutonic Order



Neck-cross of Christoph Eckbert von Spiegel. KTO, 1697

Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt Kg. 63:475

Design of the breast cross, 1730

Watercolor, 19´13.9 cm

BPS VI B6 Stadtarchiv, Mainz



In this period the arms of the Territorial Commanders (Landkomture) were marshalled of the arms of the Order and their personal arms. This was done in imitation of the marshalling of the arms of the Grandmaster since Friedrich zu Sachen (1498-1510) who had a quarterly of his own arms and the Grandmaster’s cross over all. The Territorial Commanders since then marshalled of the arms of the Order and an escutcheon of their own arms, of a per pale of the arms of the Order and their own arms and of a quarterly of the arms of the order and their own arms. This apparently was done according to their own preference and the different ways of marshalling can occur together. In the mean time their arms of office remained the arms with the cross crested with a pair of wings ‘of the arms’.


Arms of Hugo Dietrich von Hohenlandenberg, 1594

Landkomtur der Deutschordensballei Schwaben-Elsass-Burgund

Bay.Staatsbibliothek Cod. Icon 326 030


Arms of the Territorial commanders of Reinach and Hoheneck

on the Deutschhof  in Heilbronn, 1712


Achievement of Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaar (*1692-†1766)

in Alden Biesen Castle, Rijkhoven (Belgium)


Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaar was a territorial commander of the Bailliwick Utrecht of the Teutonic Order, 1763-’66. His arms achievement as a territorial commander were:


Arms: ¼: 1&4: Argent a square cross patée Sable; 2&3: ¼ Gules, three crescents Or 2&1 & Azure a fess Or and in nombril point Argent a cross Sable.

Crown: The crown of a count of three leaves and two groups of three pearls.

Supporters: D. a griffin and S. a lion.


Seat in Vienna


Neck-cross, 19th cent.

Bruntál, Okresní vlastivědné muzeum 262/66/4


The Iron Cross


The square cross patée of the Teutonic Order was made the emblem of the Order of the Iron Cross in 1813. Nowadays it is the emblem of the German Federal Army. The latin cross of the order remained the emblem of the religious branch of the order.

The military decoration called the Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz) which existed in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later in the German Empire and Third Empire, was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and first awarded on the 10th of March in 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars. The recommissioned Iron Cross was also awarded during the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, and World War II. The Iron Cross was normally a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions.

The Iron Cross was used as the symbol of the German Army from 1871 to March/April 1918, when it was replaced by the bar cross. The Iron Cross was reintroduced as an award in the Wehrmacht in 1939 with a Swastika added in the center during the Third Empire in World War II. In 1956, the Iron Cross resumed its German military usage, as it became the symbol of the Bundeswehr, the modern German armed forces. The traditional design is black and this design is used on armored vehicles and aircraft. A newer design in blue and silver is used as the emblem in other contexts.




Realized design of

K.F.Schinkel 1813

The Iron Cross of Knighthood

The Iron Cross of Knighthood

with swastika


Army Emblem in WWI

The Square cross after the end  of WW.I


The Iron Cross of the Federal Army since 1956


III. Religious Order



After 1929 the latin cross patée was maintained for the breast- and neck crosses, the square cross patée being the cross of the Prussian- and  German Order of the Iron Cross (founded 1813). The arms of the Order remained the traditional arms Argent, a (square) cross Sable.



Present Arms of the Teutonic Order

Present Cross of the Teutonic Order


Grandmasters of the Teutonic Order




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© Hubert de Vries 2015-05-29



[1] The arms and the patron of the Teutonic Order above the entrance of Marienburg Castle, Poland. Probably a 19th cent. copy of an older sculpture. Photo Hubert de Vries 2015.

[2] and: No. 299: 1. 1210 august 27 Bull of Innocentius III to the Friars of the Teutonic Order

Laterani. Innocentius III vetat fratres hospitalis Theutonicorum Acconeneis alba pallia deferre.

Innocentius etc. magistro et fratribus hospitalis Theutonicorum Acconensis etc. Suam nobis dilecti filii fratres militie Templi querimoniam obtulerunt, quod, cum in primordio institutionis ordinis sui eis fuerit ab apostolica sede concessum, ut in religionis signum milites milites Templi albis palliis uterentur ad differentiam aliorum; vos, in confusionem ordinis supradicti nuper alba pallia portare cepistis. Nolentes igitur, ut ex hoc inter vos et ipsos emulationis seu discordie materia suscitetur, presentium vobis auctoritate precipiendo mandamus, quatinus vestro contenti habitu existentes huiusmodi alba pallia, que, sicut premissum est, in signum religionis concessa fuerunt Templariis antedictis, nullatenus deferatis. Alioquin venerabili fratri nostro patriarche Ierosolymitano, apostolice sedis legato, nostris damus litteris in mandatis, ut inquisita plenius et cognita veritate id appellatione remota super hoc statuat, quod religioni pariter et saluti viderit expedire. Datam Laterani vi kal. septembris pontificatus nostri anno tertiodecimo.

[3] Ibid. No 342:  2. 1221 January 21 Bull of Honorius III: 1221 ianuarii 21 Laterani (cf. 1222 ianuarii 21 Laterani), Honorius III iubet false, ut eleemocynas colligerent, nigris ordinis Theutonici crucibus omatos, ecclesiastica disciplina coerceri,

Honorius episcopus servus servorum dei venerabilibus fratribus archiepiscopis et episcopis et dilectis filiis abbatibus, prioribus, archidiaconis, decanis, et aliis ecclesiarum prelatis, ad quos littere iste pervenerint, salutem et apostolicam benedictionem. Decet pastoralis sollicitudinem dignitatis, pravas et enormes iniquitates evellere et vicia, que periculum pariunt animarum, radicitus amputare.

Detestandum siquidem facinus et plurimum abhorrendum per diversas mundi partes accepimus pullulare, quod quidam avaricie amore cecati pocius quam zelo religionis accensi nigras cruces, quas fratres hospitalis sancte Marie Theotonicorum Ierosolimitani deferunt, sibi imponere et eas portare minime verentur, ut sic possint sub tali velamento elemosinas pauperibus deputatas colligere et sibi animarum perniciem generare. Quocirca universitati vestre per apostolica scripta mandamus, quatenus eos, qui crucem nigram portandam assumunt aut signum, quod dictorum fratrum homines deferunt et oblati, cum non sint de professione ac collegio ipsorum fratrum, omni cum districtione compellere studeatis, ut a tanta stulticia et errore desistant et crucem aut dictum signum nulla racione ulterius deferre presumant.Si quis vero a vobis commonitus a sua noluerit temeritate cessare, in eum ecclesiastice animadversionis gladium auctoritate nostra, omni occasione et appellatione postpositis, exeratis. Datum Laterani xii kal. februarii pontificatus nostri anno quinto

[4] Ibid. No 368: 1222 April 17, Veroli. Bull of Honorius to the Templars: 1222 aprilis 17 Verulis. Honoritts III dehortatur Templarios, ne ob alba mantella a fratribus ordinis Theutonid ferri solita moveantur.

Honorius episcopus servus servorum dei dilectis filiis . . magistro et fratribus domus militie Templi salutem et apostolicam benedictionem.

Quanto vos ampliori caritate diligimus, tanto nobis amplius displiceret, si, qnod absit, reprehensione seu etiam irrisione dignum aliquid faceretis.

Siquidem privilegia fratribus domus sancte Marie Teutonicorum ab apostolica sede concessa manifeste demonstrant, qnod ordo vester in clericis et militibus ac aliis fratribus, Hospitalis vero in pauperibus et infirmis in ipsa domo iam dudum extitit institutus et per sedem apostolicam confirmatus.

Licet antem fratres ipsi tum propter negligentiam suam, dum essent panci et pauperes, tum etiam propter scandali vestri metum tam in habitu deferendo quam in quibusdam aliis aliquando contra institutionem fecerint memoratam, nos tamen inclinati sue religionis merito et precibus carissimi in Christo filii nostri F(riderici), Romanorum imperatoris illustris semper augusti et regis Sicilie, qui in die coronationis sue id a nobis pro speciali munere postulavit. institutionem ipsam de communi consilio fratrum nostrorum nostro privilegio confirmavimus, domum ipsam aliis privilegiis, indulgentiis et libertatibus munientes.

Accepimus autem, quod vos occasione alborum mantellorum, super quibus deferendis specialem a nobis indulgentiam impetrarunt, pro eo quod in hoc specialiter fecisse contra institutionem huiusmodi videbantur, moti estis aliquantulum contra eos, qnod quantum sit vestra religione indignum, quisquis recogitare voluerit, facile recognoscet.

Si enim vos ab huiusmodi motu nec apostolica nec imperialis reverentia cohibet, cohibere saltem omnium id audientium subsanatio vos deberet, quibus videtur sicut est revera ridiculum vos indigne ferre alios a vobis album portare mantellum presertim a vestro habitu sic distinctum signaculo speciali, ut timeri non possit, ne quis unius ordinis fratres ordinis esse alterius arbitretur.

Ideoque circumspectionem vestram attente rogandam duximus et hortandam, quatinus omni rancore deposito, si quem forte contra dictos fratres occasione huiusmodi concepistis, ambuletis in caritatis spiritu et unitatis vincnlo cum eisdem, eorum profectum, sicut decet viros religiosos, proprium reputantes, ita quod idem imperator, cum illuc deo dante pervenerit, fraternam inter vos inveniat unitatem, quia, si aliter faceretis, non solum apostolicam et imperialem incurreretis offensam, verum etiam in detractionem vestram ora qnorumlibet audientium laxaretis.

Datum Verul. xv kal. maii pontificatus nostri anno sexto.

[5] 800 Jahre Deutscher Orden. Gutersloh/München 1990  (= 800JDO) no. VI.3.7.

[6] Staats- u. Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg, Cod. 83 in scrin. fol. 5v.

[7] Die Zeit der Staufer Cat. 143, fig.. 72

[8] 800JDO no. VI.3.23

[9] 800JDO no. VI.3.13

[10] 800JDO no. VI.3.10

[11] 700 Jahre Eisabethkirche in Marburg, 1283-1983.Die Heilige Elisabet in Hessen. Ausstellung, Marburg 1983 kat, n° 77   Thüringen, reverse of Abb. 26)

[12] Wikipedia signed P. Frank Bayard - Deutschordens Zentralarchiv, Singerstraße 7, 1010 Vienna, Austria

[13] Ekdahl, Sven: Die “Banderia Prutenorum” des Jan Długosz - eine Quelle zur Schlacht bei Tanneberg 1410. Göttingen 1976.

[14] 800JDO Abb. IV