The Teutonic Order owned lands, variably, within Germany, Hungary, the Levant, Prussia, and the modern Northern Baltic.

While some of these lands -- such as the territories in Germany -- were certainly part of the Holy Roman Empire, there is more confusion about the other territories, specifically the Baltic territories

For example, WP says the following (unsourced):

The monastic state of the Teutonic Order (German: Deutschordensstaat) and its later German successor state of Prussia were never part of the Holy Roman Empire.

Despite the statement, the illustration to that exact claim actually includes the Teutonic Order State's lands in Prussia:

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While an illustration for 1356 does not include the lands in Prussia:

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Meanwhile, the WP on Medieval Livonia says:

It was established on 2 February 1207, as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire, but lost this status in 1215 when Pope Innocent III proclaimed it as directly subject to the Holy See.

The above is based on Herbemann's 1907 'Catholic Encyclopedia' which actually notes:

In 1207, this territory became a principality of the Holy Roman Empire, but in 1215 Pope Innocent III took the Livonian bishopric under his direct protection, naming it Terra Mariana.

There is no specific mention of "lost this status" as in the WP article.

Meanwhile, the State of the Teutonic Order WP says about a moment after 1215 where the Emperor made decisions affecting those very same lands:

Early in 1224, Emperor Frederick II announced at Catania that Livonia, Prussia with Sambia, and a number of neighbouring provinces were under Imperial immediacy (German: Reichsfreiheit). This decree subordinated the provinces directly to the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Emperor as opposed to being under the jurisdiction of local rulers.

Further, the same article writes about the 16th century:

[After secularization...] The Habsburg-led Holy Roman Empire continued to hold its claim to Prussia and furnished grand masters of the Teutonic Order...

Implying that there was an Imperial claim to the Teutonic Order.

This is confusing, given the number of sources and their conflicting statements. Therefore, I am looking for an explanation on whether the lands of the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic region (Prussia, Estonia, and Latvia) were a part of the Holy Roman Empire?

  • 2
    A definite answer may be optimistic. You will certain find suggestions that at least Pomerelia and possibly Prussia were Teutonic Order territories and part of the HRE from 1308 (while its Baltic territories further north were under commission from the Emperor) and contrary suggestions that they were Polish fiefs – Henry Sep 1 '16 at 15:47
  • i'm not sure , but normans ruled Normandy which was part of France and England which was a separate country/kingdom .... so i guess unless the land was given to the them by the emperor the answer is no – max Sep 3 '16 at 11:46
  • 3
    There's a doctoral thesis (in Estonian) I discovered when trying to run this up, and the short answer is that the Emperor considered the German Order to be in a feudal relationship with him, that is also including the Livonian Chapter. Nevertheless, direct contact between the Livonian Chapter and the Emperor was rare up until the secularisation of the German Order in 1525 when the electorship of the Order was passed to the new Livonian Order. The full link to follow up is here dspace.ut.ee/bitstream/handle/10062/56361/…. – gktscrk Sep 26 '18 at 21:53
  • 1
    The question has been entirely rewritten from the author's original. I think its a good question now, but I'd like to see either an acknowledgement from the original author that they are OK with these changes, or a re-edit that mostly leaves the original intact and just adds the new supporting material. – T.E.D. May 16 at 4:15
  • @T.E.D.: Given this was re-opened (without my input this time round), should we add the original post to the top of this version to at least satisfy your second point? – gktscrk Jun 28 at 10:31

Yes, absolutely, that is exactly what the Teutonic order was, it was an order by the pope to bring Prussia in to the Holy Roman empire.

Papal edicts

Papal edicts

As a result of the Golden Bull of Rimini in 1226 and the Papal Bull of Rieti of 1234, Prussia came into the Teutonic Order's possession. The Knights began the Prussian Crusade in 1230. Under their governance, woodlands were cleared and marshlands made arable, upon which many cities and villages were founded, including Marienburg (Malbork) and Königsberg (Kaliningrad).

If you click on the map below. You will see a time-line of the Holy Roman Empire, which amazingly never once breaches in to Denmark

Timeline map

As those lands at the time belonged to Denmark, there may be a dispute as to whether it could be construed as belonging to the Holy Roman empire, however. But, they were definitely "apart" of it.



In 1346, the Duchy of Estonia was sold by the King of Denmark for 19,000 Köln marks to the Teutonic Order. The shift of sovereignty from Denmark to the Teutonic Order took place on 1 November 1346.

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  • I'm sorry, no. You don't account for the legal complexity of the time at all when Papal and Imperial authority were in a dual relationship. The Popes' religious supremacy was never an important matter for the Teutonic Knights as they had carved out an independent state for all intents and purposes. – gktscrk yesterday

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