The identities of three knights found in 2007 in Poland have recently come to light. However, these three men were no ordinary knights, but the grand masters Werner von Orseln, Henrich von Plauen and Ludolf von König Wattzau of the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, better known as Teutonic Knights.
The findings correspond to historical written sources about each of the three grand masters, the characteristic features of the skeletons (build, height, injuries, etc), approximate ages of death and DNA results. It has taken six years for archeologists and historians to verify the remains which were discovered in a crypt under a cathedral in Kwidzyn, Poland.
The crypt is believed to have been part of a smaller church which stood on the site of the current cathedral. Over time some of the coffins were damaged by bricks falling from the hastily built crypt ceiling, and apart from the skull of one knight being found on the floor instead of above his shoulders, their remains were found intact.
The Order was first formed in the Germanic region in the late 1100s to establish hospitals and aid pilgriming Christians on their journeys to and from the Holy Land. During the crusades they came to be known as Teutonic Knights when their order turned military. The word ‘Teuton’ literally means ‘German ‘.
While the Order has gone through significant upheaval, losses, gains and wars since it’s establishment over 800 years ago, it still exists today as a charitable organisation working across Central Europe. Their motto, “Help, Defend, Heal” appears to have come full circle.