Post-classical history

Werner von Orseln (d. 1330)

Grand master of the Teutonic Order (1324-1330).

Werner was probably born between 1285 and 1290, and originated from the family of the bailiffs of Ursel in Hesse. He is first mentioned as a brother of the order while serving as commander of Ragnit (mod. Neman, Russia) in Prussia in 1312. Three years later he had become grand commander. When Grand Master Karl von Trier was deposed in 1317, Werner supported him against the opposition in Prussia. After Karl’s death, Werner was elected grand master (6 July 1324). One of his opponents, Friedrich von Wildenberg, became grand commander, thus creating a balance between the factions. Werner attempted to restore and increase spiritual life and discipline.

During Wener’s mastership the priest brother Peter von Dusburg wrote the Cronicon Terrae Prussiae, the first extensive narrative of the order’s history in Prussia, possibly aiming, among other purposes, at stirring new vigor among the brethren. Werner also welcomed the first international guests who participated in the order’s campaigns. His attempts to impose discipline seem to have caused his murder at Marienburg (mod. Malbork, Poland) on 18 November 1330. According to Peter von Dusburg, the murderer, Brother Johannes von Endorf, wanted to take revenge for having been rebuked harshly by the master.

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