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This article summarizes new research on the custom of distributing the spoils of war amongst active military participants in the Holy Land. A letter of guarantee records an agreement between John of Brienne, king of Jerusalem, and the Teutonic Knights right after the capture of Damietta (1219) during the Fifth Crusade. This document is compared with contemporary sources reporting on military actions of the Teutonic Order. The article argues that the strength of a military order and power relations between parties participating in military campaigns can be studied through their sharing of the spoils of war.

in East Central Europe
in East Central Europe
AutorIn: Tamás Ölbei

Louis of Hungary recognized the danger of the Ottomans and actively participated in the preparation of a crusade devoted to erasing the enemies of Christ from the Balkans. To achieve this he, along with Pope Urban v, the emperor Charles iv, and Charles v, designed a plan to send the most feared soldiers of their time, the “Magna Socieatas,” against the “Saracens,” the “proud disciples of Lucifer.” Under the leadership of the Arnauld de Cervole, “the Archpriest,” the routiers crossed the border of the Holy Roman Empire and intended to move towards the valley of the Danube to Hungary and later on to the Balkans.

In my paper, I will analyze how the local authorities and people reacted to the migrating soldiers during their hundreds of kilometer long journey. I will describe what measures were taken by the towns and the magnates of the lands they traversed (Barrois, Lorraine, Alsace, Burgundy), what reactions we can read in the contemporary letters, and other different sources such as the chronicles and annals from Basel, Strasbourg, Lorraine, Metz. The sources used in my paper originate from the archives of Colmar, Kaysersberg, Selestat, and Strasbourg, as well as Dijon, Metz, and Barr-le-Duc.

in East Central Europe
in East Central Europe

After the Teutonic Knights successfully broke through Gdańsk’s defenses on 12/13 November 1308, they set about massacring not only those knights who supported the rule of the margraves and Brandenburg, but also Gdańsk’s burghers. In 1310, Pope Clement v set up a special commission to investigate whether it was true that the Teutonic Knights had killed more than ten thousand people in Gdańsk. The Teutonic procurator, in response to allegations of slaughter, argued that Gdańsk was harboring thieves who were causing great damage to the Order. After the massacre, it was claimed that the burghers who survived were asked several times to expel the lawbreakers, and were threatened with the destruction of the town if they failed to do so. Fearing for their lives, the burghers handed over fifteen criminals to the Teutonic Knights, and left the town to go and live elsewhere, their abandoned houses falling into ruin. Though it is unknown what happened to the exiled burghers who survived the massacre in Gdańsk, it is likely that they took refuge in other German cities, possibly Lübeck. For over ten years historical records make no mention of life in Gdańsk or of its burghers, until 1327, when it is noted once again as a thriving city. There is little doubt that its favorable location—on the Baltic coast—ensured its revival. The resurrected city was founded next to the one destroyed in 1308.

in East Central Europe
AutorIn: Attila Bárány

Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of Hungary spent much time journeying abroad. His “itinerant” court visited diverse places from Istria to Wallachia. The members of his entourage, mainly a new generation of homo novus lords, escorted him from the Aachen (1414) to the Rome (1433) coronations and were active in foreign service. This article reconstructs the itinerant entourage mostly during the Council of Constance (1414–18). It also aims to explore which “core” members of the retinue accompanied the king most of the time and show that there emerged an inner circle commissioned with special tasks. As an evidentiary control sample, the article uses Sigismund’s second period of journeys (1430–1434). There will be two further pieces of corresponding evidence examined, a list enumerated by Eberhard Windecke (1422) and a 1430 Nuremberg register. In order to give a descriptive list, the range of the available sources undergo a methodological analysis (direct and indirect evidence: royal letters and commissions; safe conducts; charters issued in personis and in praesentibus; armales and ius gladii donations; prorogatio and papal supplicatio documents; chancery writs signing someone’s relatio; narrative and iconographic sources).

A possible reconstruction of Sigismund’s retinue is given in an appendix, on the grounds of which one may conclude that the king had a special company by his side. The presence of “a Constance group” was constant in the 1420s–30s. There are some “permanently” serving families. A nucleus was being formulated, remaining together from Aachen to Rome.

in East Central Europe
AutorIn: Anu Mänd

A dozen limestone reliefs with the coats of arms of a bishop and a bishopric have survived from the churches and castles of late medieval Livonia (a historical region roughly corresponding to present-day Estonia and Latvia). This article discusses a selection of those reliefs in western Estonia, in the two centers—Haapsalu and Kuressaare—of the former Saare-Lääne Bishopric. In earlier scholarship, these reliefs have been studied from the perspective of architectural history and connected with the construction or reconstruction of the buildings. The article will offer a different perspective and investigate the role of the reliefs in the context of symbolic communication, rituals of power, and visual commemoration. In the chapel of the Kuressaare castle, there is also a relief with the coat of arms of Pope Leo x, which raises the questions of who commissioned it, when, and why.

in East Central Europe

It is a basic feature of human existence that we engage in acts of mobility and hospitality and thereby seek to infuse liminal moments marked by ambiguity or disorientation with symbolic meaning. Considerable instances from pre-modern history can be found in the communal acts of the Teutonic Order. The current article seeks to show how the dual social identity of the Teutonic Knights, that is, their belonging to the estate of the praying as well as that of the fighting or ruling, was incorporated and embodied in their rituals of mobility and hospitality. By adopting and adapting practices from the world of monasticism while also taking on practices reflective of courtly-noble culture, the Teutonic Knights sought to justify and lay claim to their dual status and function in medieval society. The study investigates the Order’s rituals under the rubric of mobility and hospitality, as they are counted among the most perceptible and striking means of symbolic embodiment known to date. Such rituals galvanised and instilled a shared identity and functioned as collective means of communication.

in East Central Europe

The political history of the small territory of Dobrzyń Land became much more complex at the beginning of Władysław Jagiełło’s rule (1386–1434). Władysław of Opole pledged part of Dobrzyń Land (the castle of Złotoria, 1391) to the Teutonic Knights. Then in 1392, after a short war against the king of Poland, Władysław of Opole pawned the entirety of Dobrzyń Land to the Teutonic knights. Neither King Władysław Jagiełło nor the Polish political elite recognized the legality of the pledge. However, the rule of the Teutonic Knights in Dobrzyń Land led to the polarization of political attitudes among the local noblemen. A faction of local noble elites, the so-called Teutonic party, accepted the rule of the Order and collaborated eagerly with the temporary rulers of the land. Another faction, the so-called the royal party, did not agree to the rule of the Order and chose to emigrate to territories ruled directly by Władysław Jagiełło. Their domains in Dobrzyń Land were confiscated by the Order. The Polish king in response gave them temporary possessions within the territory of the kingdom. The situation reversed in 1405 when Dobrzyń Land was redeemed by Władysław Jagiełło. As a consequence, the refugees returned and redeemed land confiscated by the Order. Repression in turn by the Polish ruler induced some of the Teutonic party to seek the protection of the Order in Prussia. A few years later, as a result of the Polish-Lithuanian–Teutonic war (1409–1411), Dobrzyń Land was again occupied by the Teutonic Knights. Once more, some of the nobles fled from their homeland to territories unoccupied by the Teutonic Knights, while some of the Teutonic party returned to Dobrzyń Land. In the end, as a result of the Teutonic Knights’s defeat at the Battle of Grunwald (1410) and decisions of the First Peace of Toruń (1411), Dobrzyń Land came again under the long-term rule of Polish kings. That meant the return of refugees from the royal party and again forced the Teutonic Knights’ supporters to go into exile. In the end, some of the latter reconciled with the Polish king and came back to their homeland. Some, however, remained in the Teutonic State, where they were given domains.

in East Central Europe