Post-classical history

Dietrich von Altenburg (d. 1341)

Grand master of the Teutonic Order (1335-1341), who organized important crusading campaigns against the Lithuanians.

Dietrich was a son of Dietrich II, burgrave of Altenburg in Thuringia. The year of his birth is unknown, although some late sources of debatable value give 1255. Dietrich probably entered the Teutonic Order between 1301 and 1307. He spent his entire career in Prussia, where he acted as commander of different castles before being made marshal in 1331. On 3 May 1335, Dietrich was elected grand master. His time in office witnessed repeated efforts to settle the conflict with Poland that had arisen after the order’s conquest of Pomerelia in 1308-1309, but no peace treaty could be concluded during Dietrich’s mastership.

Like his predecessors, Dietrich promoted literary activities within the order. He also had numerous castles reinforced. New castles were erected, especially along the Lithuanian border. Under his leadership many noble guests joined the campaigns against the Lithuanians. Dietrich had been in charge of organizing these crusading campaigns since becoming marshal. Now his expansive (although unrealized) designs on Lithuania were reflected by a grant of the Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig IV, who enfeoffed the order with the whole of Lithuania in 1337. Dietrich died on 6 October 1341. He was the first grand master to be buried in the chapel of St. Anne at Marienburg (mod. Malbork, Poland).

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