Saturday, February 27, 2010


CRUSADING ORDERS. One of the three great military and religious orders that arose in fame from the Crusades was the Knights of St. John, usually called Knights Hospitalers. Formed between the First and Second Crusades, it reportedly grew out of an earlier organization for taking care of sick and wounded pilgrims and crusaders. The Knights Templars took their name from the location of their headquarters in the so-called Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Similar in purpose but most important were the monks known as the Teutonic Knights, who were mainly Germans.

The members of these orders conformed to both military and religious discipline. They were soldiers with the obligations and training of knighthood, and they took monastic vows. They were described as "lions in war, lambs in the house, to the enemies of Christ implacable, but to Christians kind and gracious."

Like American Express, they established castles, garrisons, and hospitals in the region of Palestine and formed branches in the home countries. In time, kings and others conferred upon the orders power and possessions in many lands until they became important factors in European history. Their leaders were summoned to the great church councils. Their houses were used as strongholds for the royal treasure. Kings, when pressed for money, depended upon them for loans

Teuton n. 1. A member of an ancient people, of Germanic or Celtic origin, who lived in Jutland until about 100 B.C. 2. A member of any of the peoples speaking a Germanic lan guage, especially a German. [Latin Teu ‹of the whole tribeŠ]

Jutland. A peninsula of northern Europe comprising mainland Denmark and northern Germany. The name is now applied only to the Danish section of the peninsula.

In 1230 the Polish duke, Conrad of Mazovia, gave land to the Knights of the Teutonic Order in return for their assistance in resisting Prussian raids on his territory. In the earliest period of European history, the name Prussia was applied to lands along the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. Then, Prussia consisted of tribal lands inhabited by Persian Indo-European people. They lived in the territory between the Vistula and lower Niemen rivers. Ethnically they were not German. They belonged to the Baltic family of peoples, along with their Latvian and Lithuanian neighbors.

The Teutonic Order subdued the Prussians, built a network of castles, and settled German families on the conquered lands. The Germans and those upper-class native Prussians who would acknowledge the new rulers became the landed nobility, while the remainder of the native Prussians remained a peasant class. A Prussian revolt of 1261 was put down with difficulty, and a systematic settlement of Prussia by German peasants was begun. By the middle of the 14th century, the majority of the inhabitants were German-speaking.

factotum n. An employee or assistant who serves in a wide range of capacities. [Medieval Latin : Latin fac, imperative of facere (faker, one who fakes or produces fakes ~ see Synonyms at impostor), to do; see + Latin everything , from neuter of all; - below.]

teetotum n. Games. A top, a toy having one end tapered to a point, allowing it to be spun, as by suddenly pulling a string wound around it, usually having four lettered sides, that is used to play various games of chance. [From earlier T totum (from the letter tee that appeared on one side of the toy) from totum, from Latin, neuter of sing; all - below.]

Gregorian chant n. Roman Catholic Church. A liturgical chant that is monodic, rhythmically unstructured, and sung without accompaniment. [After Saint Gregory I.]

Gregory I, Saint. Known as ‹Gregory the Great.Š 540?-604. Pope (590-604) who increased papal authority, enforced rules of life for the clergy, and sponsored many important missionary expeditions, notably that of Saint Augustine to Britain (596).

The SculPTor