French    German    Spain    Italian    Arabic    Chinese Simplified    Russian

Western Civilisation

Join Gab (@StFerdinandIII) Western Civilisation was and is superior to anything Islam has developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Raising the alarm about the fascism called Submission since 2000.  

Back     Printer Friendly Version  

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bookmark and Share

Teutonic Knights: Desmond Seward's 'The Monks of War', 1972, Penguin books.

The eastern European Crusade.

by Ferdinand III


Formed in 1198 the Teutonic Knightly Order was a prime force in the civilising of large swathes of land in what is now Poland, the Baltics and the northern Ukraine. There is little doubt that without the ruthless mission of the Teutonic Knights, these parts of Eastern Europe would have remained pagan, backwards, uncivilised and completely outside the realm of European development. In a short 200 years these Knights of Christ dragged an illiterate, impoverished and pre-medieval world into the orbit of European civilisation.

For cultural Marxists the Teutonic Knights were just another band of savage Christians, axing, stabbing, and stampeding their way into infamy. The black crossed, white robbed monkish soldier is usually portrayed as a dour, celibate German Teuton, large in size, saddled onto an even larger framed horse, singing hymns to Jesus, while fighting and killing the enemies of the church. Eisenstein's great film 'Alexander Nevsky', shot during the 1930s and which depicts Nevsky's great slaughter of the Teutonic Order at the battle of Lake Pepsius in 1243 as the Teutons attempted to invade Russia and seize the rich trading city of Novgorod or New City, is probably the best and most extreme caricature of the order. While somewhat entertaining the popular view of the order is of course wrong.

Mr. Seward's excellent compendium of the Orders 'The Monks at War', gives some rather outstanding examples of the civilising attitude and objectives, that animated all of the major Catholic military orders [the Crusades were entirely a Catholic enterprise of course]; including the Teutonic order in the marches and marshes of north central and eastern Europe.

The settlement of Prussia was the outstanding colonial achievement of the Middle Ages, the most successful economically. Nearly a hundred towns and a thousand villages were established under the brethren's auspices. Cultivation spread inland from the Baltic and up the lower Vistula until the southern south-eastern borderlands came under the plough...Marketplaces were set up. There were no labour dues, and peasants were not tied to the soil....Customs duty was levied, but there were no inland tolls on the well-kept roads or the rivers which were patrolled by the brethren. Understandably, there was little brigandage. By the fourteenth century, Prussia had the most contented peasant free-holders in Europe.”

This is a remarkable portrait indeed. Mr. Seward is perfectly correct in his depiction. The Teutonic Order did engage in the most enterprising, dangerous and far-reaching system of colonization in medieval European history. It was necessary. Eastern Germany and northern Poland was 'Prussia'. It was and still is of course a huge amount of territory. Pre-1200 it was savagely barbaric. The Prussian tribes including the ferocious Wends controlled the area. They still lived in the copper age. Dominated by polytheism, and the cults of many gods, the tribes of Prussia were utterly uncivilized. There was no true political-economy in our sense of the phrase. Society was pre-Roman in its construction, simplicity and coarseness. No roads, crude boats and wagons, little in the way of technology or advanced engineering could be found. Child and human sacrifice was common. Slaving, raiding, brigandage a matter of normal activity. This area of the world was a barbaric relic, juxtaposed against almost 700 years of cultural, social, technological and military revolutions which had transformed Western Europe into the world's most dynamic and rich region. Was it any wonder that a military order of Catholic monks was necessary to civilise such an inhospitable region?

The Teutonic Order, not only brought 'order' to the region, but also prosperity. Even accounting for the various wars of subjugation, the area of medieval Prussia became one of the most vibrant, and even safest, in medieval Europe. The illimitable poverty and stupidity of pre-modern Prussia was transformed by the Order into an area whose political-economy was firmly anchored to that of the advanced civilisations of medieval Europe:

The Knights had learnt the value of commerce in the Levant and kept a fleet of merchantmen. They copied Templar banking methods, bills of exchange being accepted at larger commanderies. They enforced a uniform system of weights and measures, and minted their own coinage. In 1263, at the height of the Prussian rebellion, they obtained papal permission to trade, exporting grain in vast quantities from their estates....In addition the Ordensland exported silver, timber, salt, cloth, wax, furs, horses, and falcons. It imported iron, copper and wine from western Germany, wool, and later, cloth from England. As a member of the Hanseatic League, the Hochmeister was well able to sympathize with the ambitions of the merchants..”

The imposition of modernity onto this area took just over one century. This is an incredibly fast development in time and space; transforming an area of pagan worship, still wedded to human sacrifice, into a modern political-economy. There is maybe no other example like it, save the Roman pacification of Gaul under Caesar [which really started with Marius circa 100 BC]; or the Roman annihilation of the savage Druids in England and the creation of a more intelligent Romano-British civilisation on its ruins. Certainly in the long duree of history, one may view the Teutonic conquest of Prussia as an extension of ancient Rome's civilising mission in the West of Europe, even though those conquests pre-dated the adoption of Christianity by the Roman state by some 400 years. The intent of both missions was the same. Bring a cult of life, reason, stability and modernity to regions that were for all intents and purposes mired in an endless bloody stone or at best copper-age.

The Teutonic power in eastern Europe was erased by at the battle of Tannenberg in 1410 by the combined Christian forces of the Poles and Lithuanians. But by then the mission was for all intents and purposes completed. The entire region of modern Eastern Europe was Christianized, in no small part due to the efforts of the military order. Not all aspects of the Teutonic order were either moral, or even Christian. The Order made alliances and fought with the Mongols and Muslims against the Russians in some wars for example. The endless wars to spread Teutonic power took on political and egotistical aspects as do all campaigns of expansion and imperialism. The greed to control the rich trading center of Novgorod is one example of rather 'un-Christian' imperialism. But nevertheless, we can say that on balance it is certainly true that the world was fundamentally changed for the better by the Knights of Teuton. They brought Catholic Western Europe to the east of the Continent and were instrumental in creating Christian kingdoms, wealth and prosperity.


Article Comments:

Related Articles:

Crusades


3/26/2020:  Review: 'Byzantium and the Crusades', by Johnathan Harris.

11/20/2016:  The Crusades in Christian perspective

6/28/2016:  Atheist-Protestant lies about the Crusades - all to further the victimhood status of the Moon cult

5/1/2015:  Belloc and the glory of the Crusades and the liberation of Christians.

4/23/2015:  The Legend of Don Pelayo, by Marian Horvat, Phd.

4/13/2015:  Why the Crusades were necessary. No Islam, no Jihad, no necessity for the Crusades.

3/6/2015:  Witless Westerners, the 'sack of Jerusalem', and Moslem propaganda.

3/4/2015:  The Crusades, Jerusalem and the myth of 'rivers of blood'

2/27/2015:  'Glory of the Crusades', Steve Weidenkopf. Why did they go?

2/25/2015:  'Glory of the Crusades', Steve Weidenkopf Phd [appeal to authority!]

7/17/2014:  The real cause of the Crusades was Islam of course. The moon cult's Jihad.

6/9/2014:  Tyerman and Crusading, in 'The Medieval World' edited by Peter Linehan, Janet L. Nelson, 2013

7/1/2013:  Ernle Bradford: 'The Great Siege of Malta'.

6/5/2011:  The Monks of War, by Desmond Seward

5/6/2011:  Teutonic Knights: Desmond Seward's 'The Monks of War', 1972, Penguin books.

4/25/2011:  The Albigensian Crusade and Cultural Marxism

4/20/2011:  Thomas Madden, 'The New Concise History of the Crusades', and Sultan Baibars.

4/15/2011:  Thomas J. Madden's, The Concise History of the Crusades, 2005. Part One.

3/17/2011:  Book Review: 'The Crusades', by Michael Paine, Chartwell Books 2006, 137 pages.

1/13/2011:  January 13th 1128, the Pope recognizes the Knights Templar.

1/9/2011:  The Crusades - the necessity of fighting back.

1/8/2011:  Review: 'The Crusades' by Johnathan Riley-Smith 2nd edition.

1/2/2011:  Michael Haag: 'The Templars' - part 2.

12/29/2010:  'The Templars', by Michael Haag

12/4/2010:  Joseph Attard, 'The Knights of Malta'

11/24/2010:  Cavaliero's, the Knights of Malta or 'The Last of the Crusaders' – prosperity and benign governance.

11/23/2010:  Review: Roderick Cavaliero's 'The Last of the Crusaders and the Knights of St. John'

10/27/2010:  A first-hand account: “The [Great] Siege of Malta 1565”, by Francisco Balbi di Correggio

10/13/2010:  The Knights of Malta (1530-1798). Integral to Western development.

10/12/2010:  Hospitallers part 2: The Knights of Cyprus and Rhodes (1309-1522)

10/11/2010:  A brief history of the Hospitallers and the Knights of St. John.

10/10/2010:  David Nicolle, 'Knights of Jerusalem, the Crusading Order of Hospitallers 1100-1565.'

9/17/2010:  Nicholas Kristof and the Lame-Stream media hatred of the Crusades.

9/9/2010:  'Holy Warriors: A Modern History of The Crusades', by Johnathan Phillips

8/3/2010:  Review: 'Making War in the Name of God', Christopher Catherwood

7/29/2010:  1204 and the Crusader 'sack' of Constantinople. A necessity.

7/12/2010:  Roger Crowley: 'Constantinople, The Last Great Siege 1453'

7/3/2010:  Thomas Asbridge: 'The First Crusade'. Simply bloody awful.

6/19/2010:  The beautiful Crusades and saving civilization.

6/18/2010:  Christopher Tyerman, "God's War: A New History of the Crusades" - Read it.

6/17/2010:  Piers Paul Read: 'The Templars'. A great 'Read'.

6/16/2010:  Book Review: 'The Crusades', by Michael Paine, Chartwell Books 2006, 137 pages.

6/3/2010:  Medieval Italy; why did the Christian north succeed where the Orientalized south failed ?

5/11/2010:  Book Review: 'The Crusaders' by Regine Pernoud.

4/19/2010:  Book Review; Regine Pernoud, 'Those terrible Middle Ages'

4/11/2010:  Book Review: “The Templars” by Regine Pernoud, English edition 2009.

4/4/2010:  July 15 1099 – one of the great days in history. Jerusalem retaken.

4/3/2010:  Book Review: Empires of the Sea, by Roger Crowley. [The Final Battle for the Mediterranean]

3/20/2010:  Review: Rodney Stark's 'God's Battalions – The Case for the Crusades'

3/16/2010:  Why the Crusades were a success.

4/24/2009:  Byzantium: The Decline and Fall by John Julius Norwich, 450 pgs, 1996.

3/17/2009:  Common myths about the Seven Crusades which occurred 1095 to 1299