Main: Teutonic Castle in Malbork, Poland

Murder in Malbork Castle: The Demise of Werner von Orseln, Grand Master of the Teutonic Order

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The first fact arousing suspicion is that information about the circumstances of the murder of Werner von Orseln was presented by the Prussian bishops, not the knights of the Teutonic Order. Furthermore, this document was hastily prepared and published, as was the burial of von Orseln, which took place at the cathedral of Marienwerder (Kwidzyn).

Three great masters were buried in the cathedral Kwidzyn - Werner von Orseln, Ludolf von Konig Wattzau, Heinrich von Plauen.

Three great masters were buried in the cathedral Kwidzyn - Werner von Orseln, Ludolf von Konig Wattzau, Heinrich von Plauen. (Fresco in the Cathedral in Kwidzyn)

What is known about Endorf does not suggest that he was a madman. Had Endorf truly been mentally ill, he would likely have attacked von Orseln impulsively at the first possible opportunity, that is, while he was alone with the Grand Master during their private conversation, or during prayers.

Furthermore, if the attack had originated from a knight of the Teutonic Order, like Endorf, there would have been a play for power following the death of von Orseln, but this never occurred. So if Endorf didn’t kill von Orseln, then who did?

It has been suggested that those who wished the death of Grand Master were the nobles from Poland or Lithuania. Another possibility is murder on behalf of a Livonian (from a historic region along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea) - issued by the Archbishop of Riga, an enemy of the Order. Unfortunately, we will probably never know the truth. However, it is known what happened to Endorf.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment, although some sources say that his punishment lasted very briefly.

The Teutonic Order

The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, otherwise known as the Teutonic Order, has existed since circa 1190 AD, formed to aid Christians during their pilgrimages to the Holy Land. One of their main goals was establishing hospitals. While they were established as a military order from the beginning, the military membership was small, and most of the members of Teutonic Order were focused on a wide variety of tasks.

Currently their residence is located in Vienna. In modern times, it became a purely religious Catholic order. Most of their castles are ruined or transformed into museums. The most famous ones are located in Poland, such as Radzyń Chełmiński, Malbork, and Toruń.

Featured image: Main: Teutonic Castle in Malbork, Poland ( public domain ). Inset: Portrait of Werner von Orseln ( public domain ).

By Natalia Klimczak


  1. P. Pizuński, Poczet Wielkich Mistrzów Krzyżackich , 2003.
  2. M.Biskup, G. Labuda., Dzieje Zakonu Krzyżackiego w Prusach , 1986.
  3. M. Gerner , Werner von Ursel, Hochmeister des Deutschen Ordens und Chronik von Niederursel , 1998.
  4. S. Zonenberg , Kronika Szymona Grunaua , 2000.
  5. E.G. Salburg , Der Hochmeister von Marienburg. Ein historisches Trauerspiel in fünf Akten , 1888.

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