Post-classical history

Küchmeister, Michael (d. 1423)

Grand master of the Teutonic Order (1414-1422) during a critical period of the order’s history.

Küchmeister was born into a MeiBen-Silesian ministerial family; his early career in the order is obscure. From 1396 he held different offices in Prussia. In 1411 he became marshal after most of the order’s high officers had died in battle against the Poles at Tannenberg. He opposed the warlike policy of Grand Master Heinrich von Plauen, who was deposed by Küchmeister and the other high officers in October 1413. Subsequently, on 9 January 1414, Küchmeister was elected grand master. Immediately he tried to establish peaceful relations with Poland, but a truce was only concluded after Prussia had been ravaged by Polish troops in 1414. Attempts to settle the conflict with Poland at the Council of Konstanz failed. The truce was renewed six times up to the end of Küch- meister’s mastership, but no permanent peace was made.

Küchmeister’s struggles to consolidate Prussia economically and politically brought little success, and he had to make many concessions to the Prussian estates. On 10 March 1422 he resigned because of illness, and perhaps also because of personal frustration. Küchmeister died in Danzig (mod. Gdansk, Poland) on 15 December 1423. He was buried in the chapel of St. Anne at Marienburg castle (mod. Malbork, Poland).

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