Review: Teutonic Knight: 1190-1561, David Nicolle

Rating: 2 out of 5

While Ospreys may be an acquired taste, what one should find in one of these really shouldn’t surprise the reader (at least negatively). For a description of the “warrior” knight, this book really doesn’t mention anything useful. Both of Mr Turnbull’s Teutonic Knights’ castles book were far more informative while this one barely mentions a battle.

What Mr Nicolle’s work does, however, is give a relatively decent administrative history of the Order. This is very much focussed on the beginnings — almost none of the complexity of the later periods is described — although this comment could actually be made on the entire book: the focus is on the 13th century and everything that came after is a blur, barely mentioned (at best) or not even described (typically).

One of the more interesting notes (and again on the German Order’s administrative capacity) I found was the proverb, “If you are so clever, go and deceive the lords of Prussia”. Beyond this, the author also relies on both the Chronicle of Henricus de Lettis and the Older Rhymed Chronicle which are to be expected — but no great conclusions are drawn from these. Some interesting notes on travel times in the Baltic are made, however, both for the Knights’ armies as well as their supporting naval troops.

Overall, this Osprey misses its mission statement and while it could be counted as a relatively decent story of the Teutonic Knight, 1190-1346, it doesn’t described the Order beyond this time in the detail it deserves.

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