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Disciple of Peperna
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May 20, 2004
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I. Prelude (1409-1411)​

The Samogitian Question



As the fog that had shrouded Europe for the better part of a thousand years began to lift before the light of the Renaissance, this bitter region in modern Lithuania remained the last holdout. Clinging stubbornly to their pagan deities and festivals, these hardy people resisted attacks from Masovia, helped their cousin Semigallians decimate the Livonian Brotherhood, and stood up to the Teutonic Order.

The Teutonic Knights, formally the Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary's Hospital in Jerusalem, were established at the end of the twelfth century. In 1230 they migrated to the Baltic to join the series of crusades aimed at converting the region to Christianity. Given a near carte blanche by the Papacy and supported by the Holy Roman Emperor, the Order took in the defeated Livonians and came to hold a strip of land from Pommerania to the Russian states.

Time left the Teutons behind though. In 1242 they lost the Battle of Lake Peipus, ending any aspirations against the Rus. They continued to attack (and antagonize) pagan Lithuania, but in 1387 they finally converted as well. The monastic order was quickly losing its raison d'etre and resembled the secular states around them more and more.

A particularly mean spirited state, if reputation meant anything. Whereas the Lithuanians, despite a century of vacilliating between east and west and playing one against the other, ultimately converted a high percentage of their nobility and peasantry peacefully, the Teutons opted for more direct and brutal tactics. They chose fire and sword, and as almost always happens when a state grows too reliant on fear, the Order was about to pay a terrible price for their infamy.

As the fourteenth century ended, the Order destroyed pirates for Sweden in exchange for Gotland and continued to pressure Lithuania. Intervention in a civil war won them Samogitia. Interestingly, the Knights made no serious effort to convert the population - though raids, arson, murder and all the other crimes that go with warfare continued. The Samogitians revolted in 1404. When Paul von Wattzau came to Samogitia at the head of five hundred heavily armed 'missionaries', they did so again in 1409.


Saving Your Soul by Force

Vytautas (the Great), Grand Duke of Lithuania, announced that he would protect 'his' people against Teuton incursions. It was a flimsy pretext, but it served as Ulrich von Jungingen, Hochmeister (Grand Master) of the Teutonic Order, tersely declared war on the Polish-Lithuanian union in August 1409.

The Polish-Lithuanian War

Von Jungingen expected a two prong assault, with the Poles attacking the rich port city of Danzig while the Lithuanians would attempt to 'liberate' Samogitia and so seperate the Teuton and Livonian Orders. He attempted to drive Poland from the war in the first weeks, but Wladyslaw II repelled the German invasion and retook Bydgoszcz (Bromberg). As the harvest ripened, the Emperor arranged a truce until June 24, 1410.

The next summer the Polish-Lithuanian alliance massed a great army to destroy the crusading threat once and for all. Von Jungingen asked to extend the truce until July 4 to allow more mercenaries to arrive while entrenching the bulk of his army in castles to the east. The alliance screened their intentions with a series of raids and crossed the Vistula River on June 30. Their armies, along with banners from Masovia, Smolensk (under the Lithuanian banner) and Moldavia merged on July 2 and drove towards the Teuton capital of Marienburg.

The Knights were caught off guard, but had not been completely idle. Mercenaries were arriving by the day from German states as well as Western Europe. Von Jungingen amassed his own army and, after some maneuvering, squared off near Tannenberg.

Eyewitness accounts are contradictory, and late medieval scholars were far too generous with their numbers. The Lubeck chronicle numbers the Allied army at nearly 5 million - a ridiculous amount for a single clash of arms even if medieval logistics allowed it. Modern sources give the Teutons approximately 16,000 soldiers, mostly heavy cavalry with a large contingent of 'guests.' The Alliance numbered some 16,000 Polish heavy cavalry, 8,000 Lithuanian light cavalry, and perhaps a few thousand 'guests' of their own.

Everyone agrees the Teutons were badly outnumbered, but few soldiers in Europe were as disciplined as these crusaders. Further, they had the technological edge, having brought several lead shooting bombards to the melee. This may be the first example of cannon being used in eastern Europe - they debuted in the west during the Hundred Years War.

The Battle of Tannenberg took place on July 15, 1410 and was an unqualified disaster for the Knights. The Order's left flank chased retreating Lithuanian cavalry into the swamps where they bogged down while the Lithuanians had time to regroup. The main battle between each side's heavy cavalry proved to be very close, with the Knights gaining the upper edge until Wladyslaw II committed his reserve. This in turn forced von Jungingen, at the head of sixteen banners of soldiers, to charge into the fray.

Unfortunately the false retreat, committing his reserve too early, and betrayal by Nikolaus von Renys, a Polish sympathizer who refused to lead his unit into battle, proved to be too much. The Lithuanians returned to the battle and the now heavily outnumbered Order crumbled before the onslaught. Von Jungingen died and retreat turned into rout. Chroniclers reported more bodies were found at the Teutons' camp than on the battlefield.


What could have been a decisive diplomatic coup, a chance to gain the upper ground and prove God stood with the Polish-Lithuanian alliance, was soon soured by their own peasantry. The 'rules' of warfare prohibited wanton killing, at least of valuable nobility that could be ransomed off. The peasantry didn't stand to gain from these ransoms and had two centuries of fear and anger to avenge. Thousands died including the Grand Komtur, Grand Marshall and other high ranking officers before the nobility could restore order. Those that did survive the carnage were eventually ransomed home along with many of the mercenaries.

Here, though several castles surrendered and a few Baltic towns rose in revolt, the allied host paused. This was a fatal error, as it gave Komtur Heinrich von Plauen time to swing into action. His tough, no nonsense approach rallied the disheartened soldiers coming home. Tales of rampaging pagans incited people desperate to protect their homes, and by the time the host arrived to siege Marienburg he'd made the city difficult, if not impossible, to take.

As summer faded into autumn once more, the restive Polish and Lithuanian nobility wanted to go home before the harvest. They dissolved without taking the capital. For his part, von Plauen's heart and soul was willing to continue the desperate melee, but he knew he needed to rebuild his shattered army and economy. He agreed first to a truce, then to the Peace of Thorn in February 1411.

The Peace of Thorn was the kind of compromise that satisfied no one, angered everyone and yet was probably the best move on the table. The Poles regained the disputed Dobrin Land while Lithuania took back Samogitia. The Order agreed to pay a ransom for the survivors of Tannenberg hefty enough to choke the economy for years to come.

Though the Alliance had reason to believe their Teutonic rivals were done as a crusading threat after losing Samogitia and Gotland (the latter sold to Denmark in exchange for peace in 1409), it wasn't the crushing victory supporters promised and nobles, eager for more land and glory, grumbled about their lords' lack of resolve. Most importantly, it didn't give Poland the outlet to the sea they so badly craved to establish their place as a world power.

To the Teuton mind any surrender, any loss or compromise in their crusade was an insult to God. As the snows melted in the Spring of 1411 several notable men, including Komtur Michael von Sternberg, argued that if von Plauen had simply refused to negotiate more mercenaries and knights would come from Western Europe to reverse this disaster. The growing middle class out of Danzig hated the ruinous taxes they had to pay to fund several thousand ransoms.


Teutonic Order, 1411 (Neumark not shown)

In the end the Peace of Thorn only guaranteed there would be another round. The Baltic Crusade didn't end with the Christianization of Lithuania. Not by a long shot.
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The Teutonic Knights have fascinated me for many years now, and I've tried twice now to complete a campaign/AAR with the Order. Unfortunately things didn't go as planned.

Beyond Tannenberg: Black Eagle Rising was a EU2/AGCEEP campaign that died when I installed a map mod, not realizing it would make my game unusable, so I went to...

Beyond Tannenberg II: The Knight's Tale. This used the EU2 WATK Map Mod, and I advanced into the seventeenth century before leaving these forums for a time.

Both games, and this one as well, will be told in a 'history book' narrative. Don't look for anything too flashy as far as tactics goes - EU 2 and 3 both taught me to be a relatively conservative player and I prefer plausible results to world conquests.

This particular incarnation of Beyond Tannenberg will be played with WWM v 4.01 (1/1/10, compatible with HttT 4.1) on normal difficulty with lucky nations set to historical to encourage plausibility.

I made several initial 'decisions' for the Order to better reflect how they would have stood following a ruinous war with Poland/Lithuania. We'll go into more detail on that with the next chapter - suffice to say the Teutons are in bad shape, and it'll get worse before too much longer.

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Wow...you're a writer and a half...great start...and a lot of research.

Yeah...Poland could use a port...

Good luck playing the Teutonic Knights. I'll be following.
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Chief Ragusa: It's VERY good to see you! You were one of my biggest supporters during Tannenberg's last two incarnations, and I hope together we'll finally complete this odyssey!

Stuyvesant: Good to see you as well! There are so many faces around here now I didn't recognize - it's good to see my friends.

Range: Welcome! Thank you. The Teutons are a difficult nation to play even before Tannenberg (such as the 1399 start). I hope not to disappoint.

ALL: The first post was mostly historical. This one is as well - for the most part. There are a few differences as I begin to describe the game situation. Once the clock starts to run, of course, most bets are off though I'll try to keep it reasonably plausible.

It's good to see you all. Let's ride.
II. Gazeteer

Since we have already spoken of the history of the Teutonic Order, how they came to be on the Baltic Coast and earned such powerful enemies, let us look at the situation Hochmeister von Plauen faced following the Peace of Thorn.

Heinrich von Plauen


It's important to realize that von Plauen was an unpopular leader. A well built man, but short at 5'5", he had short salt-and-pepper hair and cold blue eyes that always seemed to blaze with fury. He was always angry and tended to lash out at whoever vexed him at the moment. In letters to Western Europe he described the Poles and Lithuanians as 'evil pagans,' and the rebellious middle class in Danzig as 'leeches.'

It didn't help that no Conclave ever confirmed him. Upon the death of the former grand master, clerical and noble representatives from throughout the land as well as Imperial chapter houses gathered to elect his successor in much the same way as cardinals chose the next pope. With much of the Order's leadership dead and an allied army miles from Marienburg, von Plauen had no time for niceties and simply took over with the blessing of the Papal legate. The legate, the same Paul von Wattzau who triggered the rebellion in Samogitia, had good reason to fear for his life and gladly grasped at any straw that might preserve it.

After the war it simply didn't matter. Von Plauen appointed 27 of the 74 men who would have confirmed or denied his post. Any election would have been a farce, and political platitudes didn't interest the grand master. Still, it might have quieted whispers that he'd usurped the knighthood. Between that, his gift for angering others and punishing disobedience, and the taxes and minting necessary to pay for the Polish-Lithuanian War, von Plauen alienated the very people who could have helped stabilize the land.

The Hochmeister enjoyed some support though. Along with the Papal legate, he relied on Friedrich von Uexkull, a knight who understood trade and economics and so was duly appointed Tressler (treasurer). Von Plauen sent him to Danzig where he became even more unpopular than the grand master. A popular caricature, nailed anonymously to the doors at Danzig's cathedral, depicted von Uexkull with several bulging bags of coin at his belt ordering that a destitute man be beaten for failing to come up with his required due.

Munzmeister (Master of Mint) Albrecht von Sangershausen attacked the Knights' financial woes by coordinating the mints at Thorn, Danzig and Konigsberg. Intelligent he was, but also unscrupulous (or perhaps desperate) for his was the first confirmed case in Teuton history of defacing coinage. In other words, each coin was assumed to be pure copper or silver and treated as the equivalent. By adding impurities such as other metals to the mix, one could buy (for example) 1 ounce of silver's worth of goods for 0.9 ounces. This helped the Knights pay off their debts, but ultimately weakened the economy as word got out.

In game terms, Stability reset to -1 via edit. I took two loans to 'ruin' the Order's economy then promptly spent the money recruiting soldiers, both to deplete manpower and to represent ransomed Knights coming home. At game start we have 2 gold and 283 manpower. Minting is on full to try and keep the economy afloat until the loans can be paid off.

Foreign Relations

The Order's relations can be broken down into four distinct groups, which through happy coincidence conform to the four cardinal directions.

To the north lay the Kalmar Union, three kingdoms united under the rule of Erik VII. Like von Plauen, Erik was an energetic, firm individual who led his combined realm well - but tended to be temperamental and mulish. He cared little for Teuton affairs, instead focusing his attention on Holstein and northern Germany. The idea of a Baltic crusade in Novgorod didn't interest him: So long as he controlled Zealand and the Kattegat, he was true master of the Baltic trade.

In 1394 the Victual Brothers took over Gotland and set up their own stronghold from which they launched pirate raids on Sweden, Denmark, Pommerania and the Knights. The Order conquered the island in 1398 at Denmark-Sweden's invitation, but the idea of Danes and Swedes ruled by Germans rankled. In 1409, with the Teutons gearing up for war with Poland-Lithuania, Erik dropped broad hints that now might be the time to take Gotland back. Hochmeister von Jungigen sold the island back in exchange for peace, ending any rivalry between the two realms.

Riga suffered a troubling early history with the Order that led to charge and countercharge as well as threat of excommunication. Simply put, having established Riga as an eastern bastion of Roman Christendom, the bishops and archbishops there established their city as one of the premier Baltic trading ports and this rankled the crusaders. Relations warmed in the last few decades however, and by 1411 Archbishop Johann V von Wallenrodt enjoyed the relative security of letting the Teutonic Knights defend their borders - so long as von Plauen minded his own affairs.

East lay the Russian states, notably the republics of Pskov and Novgorod. Relations here were notably cooler for the simple reason that the Rus people placed their faith not in Rome but Constantinople. This made them legitimate targets as far as Order doctrine went, and Novgorod in particular devoted much of their economy to defending against a future attack.

The last major incursion may have been 150 years ago, but general hostility remained. Each year unsanctioned raiders struck on both sides of the border. Yet the Russian princes knew the Teutons were weak, and further the Hochmeister seemed much angrier at Poland and Lithuania than their realms.

Still, they reasoned, what better way for the Knights to regain their shattered morale than with a short war everyone could support?

The Order's western border was complicated by the Neumark. Once owned by medieval Poland and long neglected by their Brandenburg masters, the Margrave sold this region to the Teutons in 1402. Following the Battle of Tannenberg, Michael von Sternberg used this region as a staging area to rebuild his depleted army and attack the Polish flank. Though ultimately unsuccessful, von Sternberg's actions shook the Polish nobility enough to allow for generous terms at Thorn.

Pommerania, ruled by Erik VII's father, was until very recently a firm Teuton friend. Following Tannenberg, however, Wratislaw VII agreed to cancel his pacts with the Order in exchange for the Neumark. Poland agreed to his demands - then reneged at the negotiation table.

Brandenburg was led by Sigismund, King of Hungary. Under his reign the Brandenburgers cared little for the Neumark, allowing it to suffer under Polish raiders and robber barons. Some nobles still referred to this region as East Brandenburg however and clamored for its return.

Wencesalus IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, led Bohemia. He'd actually sent soldiers to help Poland-Lithuania, but it was a half-hearted effort born of a mutual defense pact which the Teutons technically violated by declaring war. It was the Emperor who negotiated truces through the winters of 1409-10 and 1410-11, and the emperor who helped pressure Poland-Lithuania into accepting a generous peace. Generally a tolerant man more worried about trouble at home than abroad, he favored a balance between the crusaders and their enemies.

The south, of course, was dominated by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and their Masovian vassal. Wladyslaw II led Poland while his cousin, Vytautas, served as Grand Duke of Lithuania. Both men were first generation Christians, adopting the Roman rite primarily to end their isolation from Western Europe and hopefully blunt the Teutonic Order's constant interventions.

Said interventions, both for and against Vytautas, reached a head when the Lithuanian supported Samogitian rebels and triggered a war for control of the Baltic. Though ultimately successful, the allied forces failed to destroy the Teutons, and the vengenace wrought by their peasants on fallen knights failed to legitimize their realms in the eyes of Western Europe.

As has been written, the Peace of Thorn satisifed no one and merely guaranteed there would be further action in the future. Hochmeister von Plauen did not help ease tensions when he wrote of the 'evil pagans and their Tartar allies.'

Heinrich von Plauen said:
"The fact they fight for the Enemy is undeniable. Half of Lithuania is given to schismatics, half to devil worshippers conjuring the dead in profane ritual, and none at all to God. The Poles are swayed by (Satan's) forked tongue and so fall into an unknowing apostasy. To ally yourself with Rus, Tartars and Muslims all is to profane yourself. THAT is why we maintain our lonely vigil, for if we do not remain steadfast than there will be nothing to save Europe from a thousand years of terror."

In game terms: 'Free' Diplomatic Insult to Poland and Lithuania, driving relations to -64 each.

Domestic Affairs

Records from this time period are scanty - the Order had no Domesday book or the equivalent as in Norman England - but scholars estimate the population of the Teutonic Order was about 710,000 following the Peace of Thorn, of which the overwhelming majority (naturally) were Roman Catholics. Officially the realm had no interest in nor use for Jews, but matters rarely reached a head as they were adept at keeping their faith secret and dissuading outsiders.

The sole exception, as in many other cases regarding the Order, was Danzig. Founded perhaps as early as the seventh century and fortified by the Poles in the 980s, Danzig earned its city charter in 1235 and 'joined' the Knights after the usual bloodletting in 1308. They joined the Hanseatic League in 1358. As a cosmopolitan (by Baltic standards) city used to a certain degree of autonomy, they made room for a small Jewish ghetto in Neustadt (New Town).

Affairs between Danzig and their monastic overlords improved or soured almost at whim through the late Middle Ages, and noticeably cooled after the 'Great Mortality', the Black Plague struck in 1351. Though Danzig wasn't struck nearly as hard as many other cities, the Plague effectively strengthened the middle class by reducing the pool of common laborers the Teuton nobility relied upon to dominate. Polish traders used Danzig as their primary route to the Baltic and so they remained a sizeable minority. Other Hanseatic members treated Danzig almost as a free city, further alienating the Order, and they began to pick up an iniquitous reputation within the knighthood.

Arguably, a deserved reputation, for along with a dozen merchant houses and another dozen consulates to neighboring cities, Danzig was the unofficial headquarters of the Lizard Union, a sub-order of Teutonic Knights who secretly sympathized with Poland. It was one of their number, Nikolaus von Renys, who betrayed the knights at Tannenberg and paid with his life as well as those of his male heirs.

Following Tannenberg, Danzig bloodlessly revolted and tried to join the Poles, but the Peace of Thorn undid their attempted betrayal. Hochmeister von Plauen wasn't given to the Christian virtue of forgiveness however, and a brief purge did away with those sympathizers who didn't flee up the Vistula River into Greater Poland.

Most of the Teuton population, in other words the lands south and west of the Courland and Samogitia, were of the same 'Prussian' Germanic culture. The same couldn't be said of Courland and the east. Held by the Livonian Order, since the thirteenth century an autonomous part of the Teutons, this area was never successfully Germanized and so held many cultural idiosyncrasies dating back to when pagan tribes controlled the region.

Teutonic Order said:
Population: 700,000 (EU3 x 10)
Largest City: Konigsberg (Ostpreussen) 21,000
Religion: Catholic (100%)
Culture: Prussian (68.6%), Estonian (11.4%), Other (20.0%)
Tech: G 4 P 4 T 4 L 4 N 4
Prestige -1, MP 283, Gold 2, Stab -1, Infamy 0
Army: 4,000 Infantry
Navy: 9 Galleys, 5 Cogs
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Nice touch...simulating the economy (Taking loans and ransoming back the knights).
Yes, the Teutonics, the last European bastion of Medieval thought! Subscribed. :)
The style is instantly recognizable and even some of the names sound very familiar... It's like slipping into an old, comfortable coat you haven't worn in a long time. :)

I hope you'll be able to complete the game and AAR this time, however 'completion' might be defined. With this starting setup, it should be quite a ride for the Teutons...
Nice touches and mods t0 the start. Perhaps add some Infamy for Plauen's winning personality.

I have no idea how the Knights went from their prostrate position to making Novgorod their vassals inside 50 years. I look forward to being enlightenend -should you choose to go in that direction.

Annex Riga -link those lands and reclaim Gotland. Make Pmmerania pay for their betrayal.
Will follow with great interest.
Interesting writing and nice role-playing. One small nitpick though - 'Polish-Lithuanian Union' would be more correct name than 'Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth' (which didn`t exist until 1569).
Wow, this looks fantastic. I really love the highly detailed history book style. It really allows one to understand the TO much better.

I can't wait to see what you can do with the TO! :cool:
Range: Thanks! It also adds a bit of challenge.

Arya V: Very true! Though the Teutons were among the leaders in millitary tech at this time, they seem to have been caught in a cultural rut. The Teutons could never really accept that the world was changing around them - witness the deteorating relations with Poland/Lithuania, their own middle class, and ultimately being blindsided by the Protestant Reformation.

Stuyvesant: I really want to finish this. I seem to have quite a bit to say though, so this may take awhile. :)

Ar7: Thank you!

Chief Ragusa: Hm. Sounds like you want a very aggressive Order. ;) After Tannenberg the Order's in serious trouble - and historically never really recovers, but before they lost Danzig in the 1450s they had a fair chance of being a regional power. Exactly what that means for Novgorod, Riga, Gotland and Poland...we'll find out together.

Sweboy: Thank you. Glad to have you aboard!

aldriq: No..von Plauen doesn't strike me as the idle type at all. He doesn't have a firm grip at home though, so we'll see what the other officers of the Knighthood let him get away with.

Acco: Thanks and welcome.

Milites: Glad to have you. I've followed your French Hugenot AAR with great interest.

thrashing mad: Nice catch! I thought I was being clever by thinking back to my EU1 days (when Poland and Lithuania are one country from the start.) Apparently I have some more studying to do!

germanpeon: That's a high compliment! Take anything I say about the Teutons with the suitable grain of salt though, especially now that the game clock is starting to inch forward.

Game comment: Before I 'started' the game I switched to the WWM (Whole World Mod). There are some unforseen consequences which we'll discuss at the end of the next post. I chose WWM because the AI seems a little better at standing up to me, and I really like the hand drawn map ;)
During the first six months of his reign, Hochmeister Heinrich von Plauen seemed to be just what the Teutonic Order needed - a capable, confident leader who ralled the Knights during their darkest hour. Like so many before and after him however, von Plauen wasn't nearly as good at winning the peace...

III: Diplomacy - You're Doing It Wrong (1411-1412)

Misguided Control

After the Peace of Thorn the clerical 'nobility' that led the Teutonic Knights were in disarray having lost many of their friends. As a whole the rising middle class felt either that throwing away soldiers in a war over the pagan souls of Samogitia was stupid, or (in the case of Danzig) it was too bad the Poles hadn't won a more complete victory. The commoners suffered through three years of rampaging armies stealing their goods, much the same as peasants throughout Europe had for the last thousand years.

Hochmeister von Plauen had a novel way of bringing his grieving subjects together: Force.

In February 1411 he gathered representatives of different cities together at Marienburg to discuss a 1.75% tax on all possessions within town limits to pay for the war. All agreed..except Danzig. Von Plauen wanted this to take effect everywhere, so he called for another meeting in March. This time Thorn joined Danzig in holding out, so the Hochmeister threatened sanctions. Thorn quickly yielded. Danzig refused until April when, under blockade from the unscathed Teuton navy, they too agreed to the tax.

About this time the Hochmeister presented a series of decrees intended to silence grumbling under the guise of religion:


The first prohibited any criticism of God, Jesus, or the Scriptures. This in itself wasn't new, but von Plauen extended it to showing contempt for God's representative on Earth (the Pope), or those men the Pope assigned to oversee God's kingdom (like the Hochmeister.)

He directed the second decree at the grumbling burghers: Since Teutons more or less followed the Canon Law of the Roman church, he simply prohibited people outside the knighthood from studying it or reading the Bible. The former naturally had overwhelming impact on the Order's judicial system, as it became nearly impossible for the middle class to properly prosecute or defend against their superiors. Since this decree forbade reading the Bible, it allowed the Knighthood to assert theirs was the only path to salvation.

This went down about as well as one would expect, but with the Teuton navy now based in Danzig and ready to blockade the city things remained peaceful. Indeed, the Hochmeister didn't misstep badly until he turned his sight on the rest of the knighthood.


Quality +1

In September, Hochmeister von Plauen passed another decree standardizing the minimum requirements - moral as well as physical - needed to join the Knighthood or serve as a 'Soldier of God.' The speech explaining his decree made sense, and perhaps it was sincere: With von Renys turning coat at Tannenberg, and the Order quickly expanding to replace losses, it made sense to ensure the Order only spent its limited resources to recruit and train the best men available.

Many doubted his intentions however. Some believed the Hochmeister sought to usurp the Order's 'recruitment' process and fill the ranks with men beholden to him. Others, like Grand Marschall Michael von Sternberg, wondered if von Plauen sought to build his own private army to 'take care' of troublemakers.


His foreign policy, excepting his unequivocal hatred of Poland and Lithuania, went somewhat better. Then again, in the utter chaos that gripped the world in the Spring of 1411 even Hochmeister von Plauen would have trouble being branded a warmonger. Thirty-seven wars erupted worldwide between January and March, from Wales to Russia and beyond.

Closer to home, the Hochmeister signed military alliances with the Habsburgs in Austria, the Holy Roman Emperor (Bohemia) and even Pommerania. Apparently Warislaw's attempted betrayal after Tannenberg meant little next to the possibility of building a strong anti-Polish alliance.

Emperor Wenceslas IV declared Masovia under their protection .. then promptly involved themselves in a major war on the other end of the Empire when Burgundy attacked the Palatine. Wladyslaw II of Poland crushed an uprising in Posen by Zygfryd Pulaski, who claimed the throne by virtue of his family being Christian longer than 1385.

Hochmeister von Plauen remained relatively quiet. Though it's doubtful he understood (or cared) why, he knew his domestic policy left something to be desired and focused on paying off his indemnity to the Poles.


The Fate of Masovia

In December 1411, Janusz Piast, Duke of Warsaw and Podlasie, and by virtue of various inheritances the prominent lord in Masovia, disavowed his hereditary vassal/overlord relationship with the kings of Poland.

Only two years previous he'd fought at Tannenberg by Wladyslaw's side, but the Teutons weren't the only ones to suffer following the Polish-Lithuanian War. Higher taxes, Bohemia's promise of protection, and cooling relations between Wladyslaw and his Lithuanian cousin led Janusz to believe he might be able to establish Masovia as a buffer state between three feuding realms.

Piast didn't underestimate Wladyslaw II. He underestimated Philippe III le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, and his ability to rampage through western Germany, transmuting Bohemia's defense of the Palatine from Imperial duty to obsession. When Wladyslaw crossed the Masovian border with eleven thousand men, Prague did absolutely nothing.

Pommerania did, and before January was half over they launched a counterinvasion with three thousand men at Posen. Austria and Aquilea were technically Polish co-belligerents, but silent.

On January 31, word reached Marienburg that the Polish army crushed Masovia's two thousand man defense force and sieged Warsaw hours ahead of an appeal from Pommerania to step in for the sake of their fledgling alliance.

Heinrich von Plauen didn't love the Pommeranians after their bid for Neumark following Tannenberg, and if Duke Warislaw IX asked for help against any other foe, up to and including the Tatars or Turk, the messenger would have received a rude rebuke. Poland was another matter. Taking back Masovia was merely troubling, but if the Poles managed to subjugate Pommerania then the Teutons would never be safe again.

He issued an ultimatum to the Poles disavowing the Peace of Thorn and threatening retaliation. A strongly worded request went to the Landmeister of the Livonian Order for reinforcements, and he ordered Grand Marschall von Sternberg to advance into the Polish held Dobrinland.


Von Sternberg ordered his men to defend Thorn while he rushed home to confront the Grand Master. He arrived on February 2nd to find the Hochmeister rallying another six banners of knights he declared freed from their ransoms by the now voided Peace of Thorn, and so available against Poland.

No records survive of the first meeting between Michael von Sternberg and his lord, but Grosskomtur (Deputy) Werner von Tettigen, Master of Diplomats, described it as intense. Before an hour passed both men dismissed each other from their posts. Von Tettigen imposed a truce that put the question before the senior officers (Grossbietiger) of the Order.

Records for the debate that took place three days later are more complete, though filled with the usual propoganda and religious invocations one would expect from a late medieval chronicle. Von Sternberg summarized his case as follows:

Michael von Sternberg said:
The Hochmeister's impartiality in this affair is non existent. He has never hidden his desire for vengeance against the Poles. I do not necessarily fault him for that, though I believe our diplomats have a better chance of securing a lasting peace than our soldiers. What I do fault is his timing: We have not recovered from the last war financially and will not be able to afford the mercenaries we used during the last campaign. We do not have the numbers at this time to stand up to Poland, and if the Austrians honor their alliance then there is no hope at all.

Even if none of this were true, I further fault our Hochmeister for using soldiers of God to fulfill an inherently personal vendetta. Our purpose as an Order is not to fight fellow Christians (Catholics), but to bring the Word of God to the schismatics and Satan worshippers (pagans). We do not need this war, and more importantly God does not want us to fight this war.

Hochmeister von Plauen's responses lacked eloquence, and when asked he finished thus:

Heinrich von Plauen said:
I have been accused of following a private agenda. I deny and resent this.

Here is what the Marschall has not told you: We gave our word. I promised to support Pommerania. I entered that alliance with Grosskomtur von Tettigen's support. While that alliance does not force us to intervene in this particular matter, it is in the Order's best interest. If the Poles succeed in defeating Pommerania, then we lose a valuable ally in case of future action.

Yes, future action. I am accused of desiring vengeance on the Poles, but who here can deny that they are the great threat to our rule? The Rus fight among themselves. The Lithuanians could barely hold their own against the Tatars at the end of the last century, and would have failed completely without support from other countries. The Germans have no interest in conquering us, nor do the Danes. Who's left? If we allow Poland to strengthen, do you truly believe they are going to leave us in peace?

Strike now. Strike while they are weak. Our intervention may finally bring the Holy Roman Emperor into this, and that will be an end to them.

The resulting discussion among the high officers of the Order relied very little on religion, and very much on practicality: The suffering economy and people versus the very real need to keep Poland in check. Grosskomtur von Tettigen talked about possible rapproachment with the Poles, but it was too soon after Tannenberg to even discuss the possibility.

Along with von Tettigen and von Sternberg, the Grossgebietiger consisted of Tressler (Treasurer) von Uexkull, the Spitler (Hospitaler - in charge of hospital and charity affairs), and Trapier (quartermaster - arms and armor). In the end they voted 3-2 in von Sternberg's favor.

A representative from the Livonian grand master promised 3,000 men for a potential Polish campaign. Based on this, Hochmeister von Plauen stated that since the vote was so close, he would follow his own conscience and prepare for battle. "The only question left," he added, "is whether the Grand Marschall will fulfill his oath."

Aside from the monks recording the proceeding, one other man met with the Grossgebietiger: The Papal Legate invoked his right to 'advise' the Teutonic Hochmeister.

Paul von Wattzau said:
While I have every faith in your intentions and ability to wage war, I must strongly recommend you accept the advice of your council assembled. As you know, the Order answers to no one but the Bishop of Rome, and I can assure you he would be deeply saddened to see one of his greatest resources lost in battle without even the opportunity to replenish itself first.

I implore you, therefore, to stay your hand - not for the sake of the Poles, who though they are our brothers in Christ have no doubt provoked you cruelly, but for the sake of God and His representative on Earth. One day he shall call upon your swordarm to face the armies of the Enemy, and he will need the Order at full strength.

Von Wattzau wasn't motivated by faith, but by a desire to save his skin. Nonetheless, it was an argument that the grand master of a religious order couldn't honorably ignore.

Heinrich von Plauen knew this and backed down. It wasn't something he would forget though, much less forgive.

There seem to be two minor bugs with the WWM setup: First, as you see from the pic, I do NOT have a 5 yr truce with Poland. I do with Lithuania. Second, Masovia didn't start as a Polish vassal. The Polish-Masovian War will probably take care of the latter.