Teutonic Knight's Grandmaster (Hochmeister of the Deutscher Orden's) coat of arms.........................The symbol of the Teutonic Knights was the black crusader cross on a white background emblazened with the Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. At the tips of the cross are fleur de lis gifted to the Order by the King of France................ The Teutonic Knights crusaded in the Baltic States area, converted all its pagan tribes and governments to Christianity and populated the areas with German colonists. In the process they created a Monastic State that lasted 300 years, encompassing West Prussia, East Prussia and Livonia ( today's Latvia and Estonia) . .................... The State of the Teutonic Order was a monastic military government ruled by elected Grand Masters. Their state was named in short, Deutschordensland; also known as the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights or Ordensstaat( "Teutonic Order State"). It was formed during the Teutonic Knights' conquest of the pagan West-Baltic Old Prussians in 1224 during the Northern Crusades.................. In its first 200 years, the Teutonic Order was invincible. Its heavy cavalry of ordained monks clad in white surcoats with black crosses, numbering some 3000 men, were the best in Europe and formed the core of an outstanding military machine. Superbly disciplined, mounted, equipped, trained and experienced, the Teutonic Knights had no equals in Europe let alone the Baltic region. The Teutonic Order State expanded through conquest and other means. In 1237 another group of Monastic Crusaders, the German Brothers of the Sword, were incorporated into the Order. The Sword Brothers were active in the Baltic since 1198 where they founded the great city-port of Riga and controlled a state called Livonia (mostly the area of modern Latvia and Estonia). The Teutonic State again expanded in 1346, when they purchased the Duchy of Estonia from the king of Denmark.................... The Teutonic Grandmasters organized Crusades annually and recruited temporary volunteers from all over Europe. They crusaded against pagan Prussians and pagan Lithuanians, but also fought over territorial disputes with Catholic Poles. But when they finally succeeded in converting the Lithuanians to Christianity, they lost their crusader mission and their crusader volunteers. In addition, the Poles and Lithuanians soon united as one kingdom and formed a massive army to attack the Teutonic State. A vastly outnumbered field army of Teutonic Knights was thus defeated at Tannenberg in 1410, however their State was not defeated and continued on for another 100+ years. The Teutonic Order's gradual decline began when they needed more income and thus raised taxes too high, causing discontent in the cities. Its Livonian lands revolted and created a Livonian Confederation between 1422 and 1435. The western part of Teutonic Prussia revolted and voted to join Poland in 1454/60 and became known as Royal Prussia. The remaining monastic state was secularized by the Grand Master in 1525 during the Protestant Reformation. His dissolution of the Teutonic State created the Duchy of Prussia (and also the Hohenzollern dynasty), which would eventually become the most powerful German state and instrumental in uniting the whole of Germany in 1871.