Teutonic Knights in popular culture

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Deutscher Orden-Reenactment, Poland, Sanok-Mrzygłód, 2010

This article is about depictions of the Teutonic Knights in popular culture.


  • The knight who narrates Geoffrey Chaucer's "Knight's Tale" is described as having served with the Knights.[1]
  • In the chapbook Des dodes dantz, printed in Lübeck in 1489 and in a 1649 watercolour from the Dance of Death cycle by Albrecht Kauw in the cemetery of the Dominican convent of Bern, a Teutonic Knight is one of the representative figures cut down by Death. The knight is notably treated as a particularly dignified character in both, which likely derive from a common source.
  • The Order and its relations with Poland, Masovia, and Lithuania are the main subject of Nobel Prize-winning Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz's historical novel The Teutonic Knights, which describes the era of the Battle of Grunwald from the Polish point of view. A Polish film based on the novel, Krzyżacy, was released in 1960.
  • The conflict between the Order and Poland is featured in James A. Michener's historical novel Poland.
  • The conflict between the Order and Poland in years 1409-1411 with the Teutonic-Lithuanian conflict and Hansa cities trading business as background is featured in Dariusz Domagalski's fantasy-historical series of novels and novelettes, Delikatne uderzenie pioruna, Aksamitny dotyk nocy, Gniewny pomruk burzy, I niechaj cisza wznieci wojne. The fantasy portion is mostly connected with true nature of the world (meaning there is no God in Christian understanding, but Sephirots (meaning "emanations") taken from the Kabbalah. Many of the novel's characters serve those attributes while the world in in war between two groups of them. Many historical characters are depicted in the series.
  • In the Conrad Stargard science fiction series, by Polish American writer Leo Frankowski, the Teutonic Knights are depicted in an extremely hostile way, including repeated references to their "bad body smell". The title character, a modern Polish engineer who is sent back in time to the 13th century and introduces modern technology, encounters Teutonic Knights who are taking children into slavery, whereupon he kills them and sets the children free. Stargard's later conflicts with the Teutonic Knights culminate with his exterminating the entire order by flooding the city of Torun with poison gas.
  • Descendants of the Teutonic Knights play an important role in the novel Le Roi des aulnes (translated as The Erl-King or The Ogre) by the French Goncourt Prize winner Michel Tournier, which takes place in Nazi times.
  • Author Bruce Quarrie, an historian of the Third Reich, titled his study of the elite Waffen-SS Panzer Divisions Hitler's Teutonic Knights.
  • In the book cycle "The Mongoliad" the Teutonic Knights and some similar rivals are the central characters on a quest to kill the Khan of the Mongols.[2]
  • In the 1967 Nick Carter spy novel, The Bright Blue Death, the Teutonic Knights are a neo-Nazi paramilitary organization intent on overthrowing the West German government


  • Emperor William II of Germany posed for a photo in 1902 in the garb of a brother of the Teutonic Order, climbing up the stairs in the reconstructed Marienburg Castle.[3]
  • German nationalism often invoked the imagery of the Teutonic Knights, especially in the context of territorial conquest from eastern neighbours of Germany and conflict with nations of Slavic origins, who were considered to be of lower development and lacking in culture. The German historian Heinrich von Treitschke used imagery of the Teutonic Knights to promote pro-German and anti-Polish rhetoric. Such imagery and symbols were adopted by many middle-class Germans who supported German nationalism. During the Weimar Republic, associations and organisations of this nature contributed to laying the groundwork for the formation of Nazi Germany.[3]
  • During World War II, Nazi propaganda and ideology made frequent use of the Teutonic Knights' imagery, as the Nazis sought to depict the Knights' actions as a forerunner of the Nazi conquests for Lebensraum. Heinrich Himmler tried to idealize the SS as a 20th-century incarnation of the medieval knights. The modern Order, however, was banned in the Third Reich in 1938, due to long-standing belief of both Hitler and Himmler that Catholic military-religious orders were untrustworthy and politically suspect as subordinates of the Vatican, and representatives of its policy.[4]

Film & Music[edit]

Reenactment and Roleplaying[edit]

The Teutonic Knights are recreated by many re-enactment groups around the world. Many historical and fantasy fighting groups recreate the teutonic order, an example are the Teutonic Knights of Daghorhir which encompass two separate units in New York and Texas respectively.[5]

In countries such as England, Poland, and Estonia, the popularity of reenactments of the Teutonic Order has increased with organizations recreating the Order's fights in battle demonstrations, living history exhibits and of course battle reenactments commemorating some of the Knights' famous battles.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ Chaucer, Geoffrey; Canterbury Tales, 'General Prologue' II 43-6, 51-4. This likely reflects the participation by Henry, Earl of Derby (son of Chaucer's patron John of Gaunt) in the reysas of 1390-1391 and 1392-1393.
  2. ^ The Mongoliad
  3. ^ a b (Polish) Mówią wieki. "Biała leganda czernago krzyża". Accessed June 6, 2006.
  4. ^ Christiansen, p. 5
  5. ^ http://teutonicknightsdagorhir.yolasite.com
  6. ^ http://rotoil.blogspot.com/
  7. ^ http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/features/article_1571486.php/2-200-knights-reenact-medieval-battle-in-Poland-Feature
  8. ^ http://www.medieval-siege-society.co.uk/Households/KnightEnvoysoftheTeutonicOrder.aspx