Sunday, March 9, 2008

Foundation (part 3)

Master Heinrich von Walpot, who led the knights in their first decade, came from the Rhineland. He began by drawing up the Order's statutes, ready by 1199, which were confirmed by Innocent III in the Bull Sacrosancta romana of February 19, 1199. These divided the knights into two classes, knights and priests, the former being obliged to take the triple monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as well as promise to aid the sick and fight the Infidel. Unlike the knights, who from the early thirteenth century had to prove "ancient nobility", the priests were relieved of this obligation and their function was to celebrate the Mass and other religious offices, to administer the sacraments to the knights and the sick in their hospitals and follow them as almoners into war. Priests brothers could not become Masters, Commanders or even Vice-Commanders in either Lithuania or Prussia, but could become Commanders in Germany. Later these two ranks were augmented by a third class, of serving brothers (Sergeants), who wore a similar mantle but in gray rather than blue and charged with only three branches of the Cross to indicate that they were not full members of the confraternity.

Foundation (part 2)

The new institution was confirmed by Duke Frederick of Swabia, on November 19, 1190 and, with the capture of Acre, the founders of the hospital were given a permanent site in the city. Pope Clement III confirmed that by the Bull Quotiens postulatur of February 6, 1191. The Order was initially subordinate to the Master of the Hospital.

Some forty knights were received into the new Order at its foundation and the King of Jerusalem Frederick of Swabia selected their first Master in the name of the Pope and Emperor. The knights had to be of German birth a unique requirement among the Crusader Orders founded in the Holy Land. They were drawn predominately from the noble or knightly class. Their blue mantle, charged with a black cross, was worn over a white tunic, a uniform recognized by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and confirmed by the Pope in 1211. The waves of German knights and pilgrims who followed the Third Crusade brought considerable wealth to the new German Hospital as well as recruits. This enabled the knights to acquire the Lordship of Joscelin and, soon thereafter they built the castle of Montfort. Not as numerous in the Holy Land as either the Hospitaller or Templar Orders, the Teutonic knights were a formidable power.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Foundation (part 1)

The Order's inspiration was the hospital founded by German pilgrims and crusaders between 1120 and 1128 but destroyed following the fall of Jerusalem in 1187. During the Third Crusade two years later a new hospital was built outside Acre to assist those wounded in the siege. The hospital was constructed on a plot near the Saint Nicholas gate from the timbers and sails of the ships that had transported german knights to the Holy Land.

The order adopted a name “Order of the German House of St. Mary in Jerusalem” where Virgin Mary is principal Patron. The knights later adopted Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, as their second patron.