Teutonic Order (Teutonic Knights), alongside the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and the Knights Templar one of the three great organisations founded during the times of the Crusades, originally as charitable societies, and which later assumed the duty of defending and spreading the Christian faith (since 1198 religious order of knights). Duke Leopold VI called the Order (founded in 1190 at Acre, in Palestine) to Vienna at the beginning of the 13th century; other branches (commanderies) were established at Wiener Neustadt, Linz, Graz, Friesach, Bozen (Bolzano) and Sterzing (Vipiteno). After its dissolution outside the Austrian Empire by Napoleon (1809), Franz I re-established the Teutonic Order as a Catholic institution of noblemen in 1834. Between 1780 and 1923 the post of "Hochmeister (Grand Master) and Deutschmeister" was always held by an Austrian archduke (the last was Archduke Eugen). In 1929 the Teutonic Order was made a purely religious order and its activities limited to charitable and religious duties. After being banned by the Nazis in 1938, it regained all its former rights during the Second Republic. Remnants of its formerly large possessions and great cultural influence are the churches of the Teutonic Order at Vienna, Wiener Neustadt und Friesach and the chapter house at Vienna. The Sisters of the Teutonic Order still maintain their charitable institutions at Friesach (motherhouse), Klagenfurt, Thurn, Spittal an der Drau (all Carinthia).
Literature#M. Tumler and U. Arnold, Der Deutsche Orden. Von seinem Ursprung bis zur Gegenwart, 51992; 800 Jahre Deutscher Orden, exhibition catalogue of the Germanische Nationalmuseum Nuernberg, 1990; P. Stenitzer, Die Deutschordensprovinz Oesterreich unter dem Deutschmeister J. J. P. Harrach, doctoral thesis, Vienna 1992; B. Demel and W. Krones, Das Deutschordens-Haus zu Wien, 1993.