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the Teutonic Order stood at a
threshold of a new golden age as Europe changed around them from the High
Middle Ages. The monastic knights had been formed in 1190 to protect
pilgrims and fought valiantly through the Crusades.
Upon the request of Duke Konrad I of Masovia in northeastern Poland, the
knights went to war with the pagan Old Prussians in 1226. Rather than
simply killing enough of the pagans to end the threat, the knights set
forth conquest and Christianization of the land. Novgorod and Lithuania
followed, establishing something of a monastic empire on the Baltic
controlled by the knights. In 1306, they acted again, working to solve the
disputed succession of the Duchy of Pomerelia, which led to war with
Poland. Tying with the Holy Roman Empire through Teutonic Pomerania, the
supply lines led to a powerful flow of crusaders at ready.
"I don't know if the Teutonic Order could have held
it together for that long. That's a mighty rough neighborhood. What would
happen when Peter the Great rose to rule Russia?" - reader's comments
however, made for strong defense. While the knights were able to fight
their way to the conquest of Danzig in 1308, the Polish grew up a
generation of defenders. Diplomatic ministers also began to work against
the Teutons, leading to legal disruptions and an investigation by the Pope
of war crimes. Lithuania began uprisings, spreading the knights thinly
through their lands. Even with so many proverbial fires, the knights were
able to reorganize themselves, moving their headquarters from secular
influence in Venice to Marienburg where they would be free to rule and
fight with only God to judge them.
"If the Teutonic Order controlled Russia through
"Russian-born Teuton Ivan the Beholden" and his heirs, would there even
have BEEN a Peter the Great? " - reader's comments
On a renewed
campaign in 1331, the knights invaded Poland and were counterattacked at
P?owce by an army commanded by Prince Casimir III (pictured). The prince
led a frontal charge, reinforced by attacks from the flank by Poles hiding
in the forest. Shortly after beginning the battle, a messenger was sent to
recall the prince, but the fierce fighting killed him before the order
could go through. Minutes later, the prince was slain on a lance. Though
the battle was heading toward a Polish tactical victory, the morale of the
Poles collapsed as news of the prince's death spread. German
reinforcements broke the Poles, and the rout would continue to the gates
of Brze?? Kujawski. The rest of the campaign would be impressive victories
for the knights as Poland descended into civil war over succession.
Finally, in 1343, the Treaty of Kalisz would end the war with Poland as a
protectorate of growing Teutonic power.
"You do realize that this would _increase_ the
Muslim domains by virtue of the locals preferring them to the people
telling them how to worship? In short, what made Egypt and the Levant such
a walkover. " - reader's comments
In 1337, Holy Roman Emperor
granted the Order the privilege of conquest of Lithuania and Russia.
Campaigns throughout the next century would push the knights ever eastward
in addition to military contributions to friendly nations, such as the
conquest of the pirate haven Gotland at the request of King Albert of
Sweden. As Mongol influence fell from the Rus, the Teutons took its place,
creating a massive new land swearing loyalty to the Pope. Russian
peasantry was slow to change their ways from orthodoxy, and the Teutonic
Inquisition spent decades persuading the populous to the unquestionable
right. The Russian-born Teuton Ivan the Beholden led further expeditions
to the central Asian steppes in the mid-sixteenth century.
"Absolutely. Islam in this timeline would have a
massive upsurgence in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. They'd probably
be the most advanced liberally and scientifically culture in the world. "
- author's response
By 1618, the Teutons had slowed expansion in the
business of ruling their empire and maintaining uprisings among the Poles,
Lithuanians, and Rus. When the Bavarian Revolt began against the wishes of
the chosen successor of the Holy Roman Emperor, the Teutons were quick to
give aid to their long ally. Swedish armies joined the growing Protestant
influence, which the Teutons abhorred, and war between the two great
powers broke out. France, Denmark, and much of southeastern Europe joined
against the Knights and their allies, who soon gained Spain, though much
of Italy remained neutral and divided. The war, which was to become known
as the Fifty Years' War, spread throughout Europe until it finally ended
with Catholic victory.
Because of their great effort, the Knights were granted the crown of the
Holy Roman Empire, solving the issue that had begun the war. Their
influence expanded geometrically across Europe, establishing a fierce,
disciplined, Christian union of nations. Inquisitions routinely cleared
illegal beliefs like those of Calvin or Locke while expeditions of
conquest began in North America as well as against Christendom's eternal
enemy, the Ottomans.
Eventually, the Teutonic Empire would find itself ungainly. Revolutions
began at the fringes with demands of freedom of religion from conquered
Turks, Scandinavians, French, and, especially, settlers across the
Atlantic. These demands would expand to independence, and the end of the
eighteenth century would see the shattering of the empire into dozens of
new republics and kingdoms. The Second Renaissance would cause a new age
of learning, bringing up old ideas of heliocentric solar systems and
rights of the individual that had long been suppressed.