Otto von Kerpen (11??-1209)

Source : Agnieszka STAF

Translation : Andrew Zolnai

Master of the Teutonic Order from 1208 to 1209.

All information on the origin of the second Grand Master of the Teutonic Order are very dubious and they should be treated with the greatest care. Often, he is said to come from a noble family living in the Rhineland, whose seat was at the castle of Kerpen close to Gillesheim. Another Brother would have come from this same family, and would have perished on July 2, 1307 during the battles near Riga. The truth remains unknown, but several historians say that the most probably Otto von Kerpen was, like Heinrich Walpot, a middle-class man of Breme. Add the fact that at the beginning of the existence of the Order, the majority of the brothers originated from this city, and this idea is very probable.

During the time Otto von Kerpen was Grand Master, the Teutonic Order was always a fragile and weak institution. Dependant upon Hospitallers and also partly of Templars, it had practically no significance in the politics of the Holy Land and the Grand Master probably had only a small troop of armed knights.

The legal situation of Teutons was also dubious. From the very start of their existence, they were engaged in a conflict with the very powerful Templars and they had to take into account the possibility of being absorbed or permanently subordinated to the Templars.
In the streets of Acre, there were often scandalous and furious brawls between the brothers of the two competitor Orders. In front of the courts of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, were held several ferocious lawsuits whose cause was the attire. Templars wore the white cloak with a red cross, they and said that Teutonic Order may not to carry the same white cloak with a black cross, and that they did not desire such similarity. In 1211, the pope Innocent III ceased these disputes by agreeing to the granting of rights to the white coat with the black cross.

The reign of Otto von Kerpen in the Teutonic Order was very short and lasted probably about a year. The second Grand Master of the Teutonic Order died on February 7th 1209 in Acre and was buried there in an unknown place.

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Translation : Andrew Zolnai
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