Post-classical history

Peter von Dusburg (d. c. 1330)

Priest in the Teutonic Order and author of the Chronicon Ter- rae Prussiae, a Latin chronicle of the order’s early history.

Peter von Dusburg is thought to have been born at Duisburg in the Rhineland. He wrote his chronicle at Konigsberg (mod. Kaliningrad, Russia), dedicating it to the Grand Master Werner von Orseln. It is the first comprehensive history of the Teutonic Order, and details its foundation, its transfer to Prussia, and its subsequent campaigns until 1330. It is largely based on oral tradition in the order, but Dusburg also used the prologue of the statutes of the order and the Narratio deprimordiis ordinis Theutonici, an account of the order’s history written in the mid-thirteenth century. He also used the chronicles of Martin of Troppau and Tolomeo of Lucca to place the order’s history in a wider context. Chapters 221-362, covering the final thirty years, are thought to be eyewitness accounts.

Although it is the main source for the early history of the order, the chronicle appears to have been written primarily as a devotional and inspirational work for its members. Extensive references to the heroes of the historical books of the Old Testament and to St. Paul’s allegory of spiritual weaponry develop the idea of the militia Christi (knighthood of Christ) within the context of the wars in Prussia and reinforce the order’s claim that its Baltic campaigns were in the same tradition as the earlier crusades to the Holy Land. The chronicle was translated into Middle High German by Nicolaus von Jeroschin shortly after its completion, and it is that version of the work that was most widely disseminated.

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