Leaders and commanders
The knights were led by remarkable soldiers and grand masters during their long history
After a catastrophe in Cilicia in which the majority of the Teutonic Knights were slain, in 1210 leadership of the Order fell to Hermann von Salza. As hochmeister, or grand master, von Salza oversaw a remarkable revival of the Order. He was an able diplomat who was able to win the affection of both the pope and the Holy Roman emperor.
In 1211, in response to an invitation from King Andrew II of Hungary, the Order moved a large portion of its forces to Hungary to defend against raids by the pagan Cumans. The knights provided security and recruited German settlers to the lands ceded to them by Andrew.
Andrew became worried by the Order’s success, and he expelled them in 1225. The Teutonic Knights went next to Livonia where another crusading order, the Sword Brethren, was already active. Their primary opponents were the pagan Prussians who lived deep in swampy lands and practised human sacrifice.
Prussian raids were so ferocious that Duke Conrad of Masovia had given up the province of Chelmo. He asked the Teutonic Knights to take possession of Chelmo and also granted to them the title to any lands that the knights might seize. Von Salza was given the Golden
Bull of Rimini, which gave him complete sovereignty over the lands held by the Order.
Von Salza died in 1239, having set the Teutonic Order firmly on its course of crusading in the Baltic lands of Europe.
Hermann von Salza won sovereignty for the Order over the lands it held in northeastern Europe Hermann Balke was an implacable foe of the pagan Prussians and crusaded against them without pause