New Evidence for the Teutonic Order’s Bavarian Origins: Fragments Found

New Evidence for the Teutonic Order’s Bavarian Origins: Fragments Found

By Dana Cushing

Published Online (2010)

Abstract: This brief article publicizes four little-known sources relevant to the history of the Teutonic Order’s first Grand Master, Heinrich Walpott von Bassenheim, for the purpose of notifying specialists and promoting further research.

Text: In researching certain questions for my work on the Third Crusade manuscript De Itinere Navali, I happened across four Urkunden that I hope shall prove helpful to my colleagues working the Teutonic Order. These items identify Fredrick Walpot of Zwernitz, a relative of the first Teutonic Master, Henry Walpott of Bassenheim; they link the Walpott family via the Reiffenberg family to the Third Crusade (during which Crusade the Order was founded); and further connect both families to important royalty and crusaders of the thirteenth century.

The trail begins at Speinshart abbey in Bavaria, which was founded about 1160 by women of the Reiffenberg family. At the time of the Third Crusade, its holdings included the village of Haselbrunn; recently, the village’s webmaster posted Joseph Scherl’s translations of the abbey’s medieval charters concerning lands now part of the village. This material includes two items notable for Crusades history, linking the Reiffenberg and Walpott families to the Third Crusade.

Item One: (Scherl, p. 195) Im Jahre 1243 kauft Probst Heinrich mit Einwilligung des Konvents zwei Güter in Trebensdorf und Haselbrunn…von den Brüdern Konrad und Otto de Ochiz. Lehensherr dieser Güter war Friedrich Walpot, der sie von den beiden Brüdern Reinhold und Eberhard von Reiffenberg, bevor sie sich zum dritten Kreuzzug im Heere Friedrich Barbarossas einschifften, vermacht bekommen hatte für den Fall, dass sie nicht mehr zurückkehren sollten.

In 1243, with the assent of the convent, Provost Henry purchased two plots in Trebensdorf and Haselbrunn… from the brothers Conrad and Otto of Ochiz (Rochlitz?). The owner of these lands was Frederick Walpot, who had had them made over to him by brothers Reinhold and Eberhard von Reiffenberg both, before they embarked themselves upon the Third Crusade with the armies of Frederick Barbarossa, in case they should not return.[1]

Thus it seems that the Walpotts may have provided the Reiffenbergs a mortgage to fund their Crusade effort, and may have managed their land until receiving word of their deaths on Crusade (in 1190?).

A second document indicates that the Reiffenbergs’ abbey had earlier regained some of its family’s land from the Walpotts through a pious benefactor. Most importantly, it links Frederick Walpot directly to Zwerenz itself:

Item Two (Scherl, p. 192) Im Jahre 1235 schenkt Gottfried de Hage dem Kloster zwei Höfe im Dorfe Haselbrunn (b. Eschenbach), die er von Friedrich Walpoto de Zwerenz gekauft hatte.

In 1235, Gottfried de Hage gave the abbey two plots in the village of Haslebrunn (near Eschenbach), which he had bought from Frederick Walpot of Zwerenz.[2]

Post-medieval sources seem to confuse Zwerenz, part of the Order’s holdings in Prussia (Hirsch et al, p. 1.807) with Zwernitz, the Walpott castle in Bavaria. Clearly the Bavarian location is meant.

Item Three (Academia Scientiarum Maximilanea pp. 8.178-179): Through Zwerenz we can connect the Walpott family to the noted Crusaders, the Dukes of Merania. Thus the same Frederick witnessed a donation at Giech [Schesslitz] in 1231:

…quod nos Otto Dux Meranie Comes Palatinus Burgundie… Ecclesie nostre venerande in Dyezzen… Datum anno Domini MCCXXXI apud Giech VIII. Kalend. Aug. testibus his presentibus: Friderico nobili de Zvernze, Hainrico de Sunenberch, Hainrico de Stritperch, Hainrico de Sauenberc, Ramungo de Blassenberg, Eberhardo puero, Eberhardo & Hainrico de Giech, Eberhardo Vorsche, Herold de Hauge, Gerungo Prothonotario & aliius quam pluribus.

For We, Otto, Duke of Merania and Count Palatinate of Burgundy… to our venerable church in Diessen… dated 1231 AD at Geich (Schesslitz) 8 Kalends August (25 July) being attested by those present: Frederick, a nobleman of Zwernitz; Henry of Sunenburg; Henry of Streitburg; Henry of Sauenburg; Raymung of Plassenburg; Eberhard his son; Eberhard and Henry of Giech; Eberhard of Vorsche; Gerald of Hague; Gerung the Prelate-notary; and many others.[3]

The appearance of Frederick first among the witnesses of a ducal charter may indicate the Walpott’s prominence and favor. Was this related to the Walpott legacy of the Teutonic Knights? Such a connection between the Walpotts, the Order and the Meranians would prove interesting if true.

Interestingly also, the name “Herold de Hauge” appears in this document of 1231, as we have just seen “Gottfried de Hage” in the Haselbrunn document dated 1235. Perhaps a colleague will determine whether these similarly-named men were connected?

Item Four (Stiftsarchiv Wilherin): Moreover, in 1237 both Frederick Walpott and the Reiffenbergs witnessesed different sections of an important charter also attested by several key contemporaries:

In nomine sancte et indiuidue trinitatis amen. Ekebertus dei gratia Babinbergensis ecclesie episcopus… venerabili fratre nostro Theodorico abbate de Wilheringen… Huius rei testes sunt: Otaker marchio de Stira, Livtoldus comes de Bleia, Gotscalcus et filii sui de Hvnesberch, Fridericus, Reinoldus de Rifenberch et filius sororis eius Vdalricus, Sighart de Stophe… Testes autem sunt: Fridericus Walpoto de Zverence nobilis, Rupertus de Nietsteine et socius suus Ramungus de Huttenhusen miles, Cunradas de Santpach, Ditricus de Wizzenburc milites, Ludewicus de Shellenberc ministeriales imperii…Datum apud Wiennam anno incarnationis dominice M. CC. XXXVII…

In the name of the holy and individuated Trinity, amen. Ekbert, by grace of God the bishop of the church of Burgundy… to our venerable brother, Theodoric abbot of Wilherin… The witnesses of these things are: Ottokar, margrave of Styria; Leotold count of Blei; Gottschalk and his sons Hunesburk, Frederick; Reinhold of Reiffenberg and his nephew Udalric; Sigurd of Stophe… Moreover, the witnesses are: Fredrick Walpott of Zwernitz, a nobleman; Rupert of Nietsteine and his friend Ramung of Huttenhusen, a knight; Conrad of Santpac; Dietrich of Wissenberg, a knight; Ludwig of Schellenberg, an administrator for the Emperor… Dated at Vienna 1237 AD…[4]

While the Teutonic Order falls outside my expertise, I hope these notes will assist my learned colleagues’ research into its origins and its founding master.

Works Cited

Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (eds) (1767)

Academia Scientiarum Maximilanea [Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften] (eds) (1767) Monumenta Boica (Munich: Typis Academicis).

Hirsch, T. et al. (eds) (1861) Scriptores Rerum Prussicarum: Die Geschichtsquellen der Preussischen Vorzeit bis zum Untergange der Ordernsherrschaft (Leipzig, Minerva GmbH).

Scherl, J. (1940) “Die Grundherrschaft des Klosters Speinshardt, seine wirtschaftliche Betätigung und seine rechtliche Stellung bis zu seiner erster Säkularisation”, Verhandlungen des Historischen Vereins von Oberpfalz und Regensburg 90, 175-222.

Stiftsarchiv Wilherin shelfmark OCist, OÖUB 3 (Wien 1862), 55-57, Nr. 50

End Notes

[1] Scherl (p. 195) cites “HStA München, Kl.Urk., Fasz. 3; Kl.Lit., Nr. 3, S.131-132″, most readily available on the Haselbrunn village website [ and then Geschichte]. Note Scherl’s anachronistic emendation of the text to include the Third Crusade – I hope a colleague in Munich can check the original charter.

[2] Scherl (p. 192) cites “HStA München, Kl.Urk., Fasz. 2”, an incomplete shelfmark. Again, I hope a colleague in Munich could check the original charter.

[3] This item is most easily found by the reader looking for the section Monumenta Diessensia – Diplomatarium Miscellum under Item 12, using the copy available on Google Books

[4] This item is most easily available online as Sequence #1237.III.02, Monasterium Collaborative Archive, Institut zur Erschließung und Erforschung kirchlicher Quellen []

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