The Teutonic Knights: A Military History

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"This penetrating study, one of the first of its kind in English, surveys the order’s rise to power, assumption of military pre-eminence, and eventual fall."
– Warfare

"Urban brings an epic quality to the lives of the German crusaders, the hard men of Europe, whose military campaigns could rival those of the Templars."
– Oxford Times

"This clever and capable author writes a brilliant overview of 500 years of its political and military history . . . The Teutonic Knights is a terrific book . . . Well-written, concise, and fast moving, you'll appreciate Urban’s efforts to highlight crusader action on the fringes of Christendom."
– Magweb (USA)

"This narrative history of the Teutonic Order . . . fills an important gap in English writing on crusading history. Urban is a distinguished historian of the Christianization of the Baltic in the period between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, and gives us a general history of the order and of the great process conversion in which it played such a major role . . . Enlivened by Urban’s occasional acerbic remarks, as exemplified in his bibliography: “Some well-known works have been omitted because their only worth is for propaganda in disputes now long forgotten or for providing the author's income."
– History: The Journal of the Historical Association

Midwest Book Review"The Teutonic Knights: A Military History is the true story of the Christian order of Teutonic Knights of central Europe during the medieval era. Covering roughly the 1200's through the 1500's, including the order's rise and fall, The Teutonic Knights examines both the order's strengths and its inequities, which have been to some degree exaggerated by propagandist, nationalists, secularists, and Protestants. A handful of black-and-white photographic plates illustrate this meticulously documented historical text, embellished with a bibliography and index. The Teutonic Knights brings the era and daily life alive, as surely as it illuminates power struggles between factions, Christian orders, noblemen, and nations, and is a superb contribution to medieval and military history shelves."
Journal of Military History, October 2006“The Teutonic Knights played an exceptionally important role in the history of the crusading movement and in the political, economic, and cultural development of northeastern Europe. Nevertheless, they have received very little attention in Anglophone scholarship, especially when compared to the Templars and Hospitallers, the contemporaries and rivals of the German Order. William Urban, who has published widely on the Baltic crusades over the past four decades, has essayed to redress this imbalance in the literature with a military history of the Teutonic Knights from their foundation in the late twelfth century until the dissolution of their independent state in the sixteenth. Urban’s thorough knowledge of the relevant source materials as well as his familiarity with the scholarship that has been published in a wide range of modern languages, make him uniquely qualified to take on this task.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781853676673
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal, Limited
  • Publication date: 2/28/2006
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

William Urban is the Lee L. Morgan Professor of History at Monmouth College, Illinois, USA. He is the author of numerous works, including the highly acclaimed The Teutonic Knights and Medieval Mercenaries.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2008

    Interesting but somewhat distracted content

    Overall I'd rate this book as an above-average read for those interested in medieval/crusading history. However the author tends to get a bit too bogged-down in his description of the Lithuanian dynasties which I found much too detailed for a book on the German Order (I can understand a certain degree of background to serve as a basis for explaining the impact of the Lithuanian rulers on the Teutonic Knights, but the author strays too far into that aspect). The book concludes with a rather rambling dissertation on the responsibilities of historians and historical authors. The writing is clear and unbiased for the most part.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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