The knight brothers from the Low Countries in the conflict between the Westphalians and the Rhinelanders in the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order

Johannes A. Mol

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/OM.2015.006

Abstract


In the fifteenth century the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order was internally divided by a long-lasting conflict between two groups of knight brethren, the Westphalians and the Rhinelanders, who were united according to regional origin. They each strived to control the most important offices, though their discord indirectly also concerned the political course of the Order state. The central question in this paper is how the brethren from the Netherlands – not clearly being tied to Westphalia or the Rhineland - fared in this strife for predominance within Livonia. It is shown that the brethren from the Low Countries got access to central positions by joining the Rhineland group, who - with support of Grand Master Paul von Rusdorf in Prussia – gained the upper hand for some time, especially after one of them, Cisse van den Rutenberg, was appointed Livonian Master in 1424 The result was that the ‘Dutch’ could increase their number, counting for about one sixth of the Livonian knights around 1435. Looking more closely at the background of the Rhinelanders we have to conclude that these, originating from regions at relatively great distance from each other, did not constitute a cohesive party but must have made up a broad non-Westphalian rest category. The members might have tended to seek each other’s help against exclusion by a Westphalian core group. When the Westphalians succeeded in regaining the leading position in 1438, they reinforced their grip on the recruitment and advancement of the knight brethren. For the ‘Dutch’, this meant that they lost all career perspectives, with the result that their number decreased greatly after 1450.


Keywords


Teutonic Order; Livonia; internal conflicts; 15th century; medieval prosopography; careers

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ISSN (print) 0867-2008
ISSN (online) 2391-7512

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