Heinrich von Tunna (alias Bart) (11??-1209)

Source : Agnieszka STAF

Translation : Andrew Zolnai

Master of the Teutonic Order in 1209.

Henrich von Tunna, known as Bart, comes from a small family of managers of the property of Burgtonna subjected to the Landgraves of Thuringen and to Palatine of Saxony, Herman I, who will be also the father of Konrad de Thuringe, one of the future Grand Masters of the Teutonic Order.

Henrich Bart appears for the first time in two documents of the Landgrave of Thuringen in 1208 and 1209. At this time, he is still married and does not even dream yet of a career in the Teutonic Order.
A little later, his wife dies and Heinrich Bart, widower and without children, offers his forest of 150 arpents (130 acres or 60 ha.) to the abbey of Ettersberge, borrows 10 silver marcs from the abbot of this abbey and leaves for the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. If one believes the legend told by a historiographer of the Order, the cause of this unexpected decision was his will to make penance. He would have sinned by pride and realised it when while sleeping, when he saw the Last Judgement. At that moment, "seized with remorse", he would have left to the East where he became "a model of piety and courage". That is at least the account which the chroniclers of the Order made.

Henri Bart entered the Teutonic Order immediately, probably just after his arrival in Palestine, at the end of 1208. His career is also meteoric. When the Grand Master Otto von Kerpen dies, Heinrich Bart probably takes his place at the end of February 1209. A novitiate of barely 3 months was enough to put him at the head of the Order. That was the best proof of the weakness of the Teutonic Order at that time.

The reign of Henri Bart in the Teutonic Order did not last long, hardly a few months, because he dies already on June 2nd 1209 in Acre where he also was probably buried, in one of the vaults of the Teutonic Order.

The historians of the Order do not give him great merit. The Teutonic Order was still not very significant and its members were very few. The words of his successor, Hermann von Salza, are the best proof of that. He would have said at the time that it was elected Grand Master, that he was not even able to gather 10 knights in complete armour.

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Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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