By David Kuijt
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Historical opponents listed for the Teutonic Order are Later Medieval Scandinavian (#131b), Prussian or Estonian (#148a), Lithuanian (#148b), Later Polish (#149), Mongol (#154), and Post-Mongol Russian (#157).
The Teutonic Order were dedicated to the conquest and conversion of the heathens in the Baltic. The first opponents of the Order was the Prussians and Estonians. By the middle 13th century these foes were mostly conquered, although regular revolts continue until the end of the army list for Prussian/Estonian. After the middle 13th century, the Teutonic Order's crusading efforts were focussed on Lithuania. Armed raids and atrocities were constant. Although usually enemies, the Teutonic Order were briefly allies of Lithuania from 1250-1253 and again in 1435 for the Swienta campaign.
The success of the Teutonic Order quickly put them in conflict with the other powers in the area, especially the Poles and the Danes.
The enemies list for the Teutonic Order should also include the Early Russian (#129). The crucial battle of Lake Peipus in 1242 was between the Teutonic Order and Russians, and the Post-Mongol Russian list doesn't begin until 1246 AD.
The enemies list should probably include Early Polish (#122). It didn't take long for the Polish princes to regret inviting the Teutonic Order into their area, and there was friction between the Teutonic Order and the Polish long before 1335 (the beginning of the Later Polish list).
Similarly, conflict between the Teutonic Order and the Danes very likely occurred before the end of the Early Medieval Scandinavian list in 1350. I don't know of any specific battles, so this must be regarded as speculation, but the Early Medieval Scandinavian army (#131a) is a reasonable foe given the conflicting goals in the Baltic. It might even be reasonable (if a little speculative) to propose adding the Viking (#106a) army list to the Enemies list, representing the Danes in the 60 years between their conquest of Estonia in the 1220s and the beginning of the Early Medieval Scandinavian list in 1280.
The power of this army comes from its four elements of Knights. Many of these would be the knights of the Teutonic Order, outfitted in their distinctive white cloaks with black crosses.
Only about half of these would be knights of the Teutonic Order itself; the other two elements should represent "crusader" knights; basically adventurers come to crusade against the heathen for a season or two. Although the bulk of these adventurers were German, knights from France and England were common as well.
A further element of Knechte was made up of mounted sergeants of the order, supplemented by poorer crusaders outfitted by the order and serving for a one-year term. The Knechte were largely equipped with crossbows; they were considered very poor troops. Their official battlefield role was to form up next to the baggage and pray for success.
The remainder of the mounted contingent was formed of subject horse called Turkopolen after the native mounted Turcopoles in Outremer. These would be Livonian and Lithuanians, fighting in their own fashion as light horse. The Lithuanians favored distinctive ribbed shields and fought with a lance, although they also carried a bow. Livonian light horse seem to have been primarily horse archers.
Three types of infantry formed the foot contingent of Teutonic Order armies. One element of spear represents Dienende Bru"dern (serving brethren) of the Teutonic Order, marked by their grey tunics and truncated "Tau" crosses where the knights of the order wore white tunics with black latin crosses.
Other Dienende Bru"dern fought with crossbows, often supplemented with mercenary crossbowmen. The crossbows were perhaps the most effective Order troops aside from their mounted knights.
The last, and least reliable, part of the Teutonic Order army was the horde of subject foot. Although they sometimes stayed and fought, many times their contribution to a battle for the Teutonic Order was marked by the rapidly disappearing sound of their fleeing feet at a crucial moment. Equipped with simple shields painted with the cross of the order, they would be largely unarmoured, fighting with spears or axes and a few bows.
The Teutonic Order has some of everything; knights, cavalry, light horse, heavy foot, missile troops, and rough-terrain troops. Their biggest problem is exactly that variety. Their mounted troops will often outpace their foot, and coordination of attacks in such a varied army can be very difficult.
The lone spear element often acts as a lead weight on the army, but it is tremendously useful if it can ever get in battle, as few of the historical enemies have any heavy foot. Against enemies with lots of Cavalry, like the Russians and Poles, the single element of spear can be a bastion of strength in the center of the battle line. Assuming, of course, that you can ever get a battle line with a slow spear in it into battle at all!
Against the Light Horse armies of the Lithuanians and Mongols the best Teutonic Order troops are their crossbowmen. The spear element should probably become the camp guard, making assaults by enemy light horse nearly impossible. The knights must be kept with the army for as long as possible. They have a tremendous kick when they hit, but their impetuous nature can throw them dangerously deep into enemy lines, isolating them from the rest of the army.
The bulk of the figures shown are Gladiator FE range, carved by Josef Ochman. Herr Ochman is a very talented sculptor; they are beautiful figures. The Lithuanian Turkopolen are Essex EMED24; the Livonian Turkopolen are Essex EMED22. One or two Museum NC range figures are mixed into the Teutonic Order Knights.
Page created: June 14, 1999.
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