Wednesday, September 09, 2009
One of the forces to be reckoned with in the early middle Ages was the Order of the Teutonic Knights. They wore a white tunic with a black Cross. Spartan living, water, bread and old, worn clothing were all the Order promised the Knights.
After the Crusades ended (about 1198) the returning pilgrims did not know where to go or what to do and many had no clue where their home was. Some were good fighters, some were the 2nd or 3rd sons of the gentry and they found solace in the church. They joined religious orders like the Knights Templar for France or the Teutonic Knights for Germany. Being very religious they spread the good news of Christ by force, if needed, throughout the Eastern part of Europe. Notorious for brutality, for collection of taxes to support their castles, they were none the less the ‘good’ guys because they were religious zealots sanctioned by the Church. I can’t imagine what the bad guys did. Malbork (Marienburg) in Pomerania, Germany was their headquarters, at least until 1457 when the Polish took over and converted the Castle into a Royal stronghold for their King. Marienburg was held by Poland until 1772 when the German Prussians reclaimed it. In between, the Castle was besieged by Swedes, Russians, etc.
We had a tour of history. All the historical, religious changes before, during and after the Reformation in Germany can be found right here. Mostly destroyed during WW2, it has been rebuilt by Poland and is today a tourist attraction. It has the feel of a cloister with battle stations all around. Heavy fortifications, tricky traps, its immense size and history made it a worthwhile visit. Prices are high to help rebuild this former strong hold of the Teutonic Knights.
We are done with Poland, the conquest of countries and the spread of belief systems. From now on we are following the Muse. Let’s visit the Birthplace of J.S. Bach, see where he lived, where he wrote, what he wrote, etc. I think this is more fun. Besides… our bikes need some service now. We learned today that Heinz Bals in Cammer, near Minden, Germany is the best BMW mechanic. We will visit him too.