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The Historical Background of Prussias Unique Military Prussia was unique in that more than in any other country the army developed a life of its own almost independent of the life of the state The distinctive military history of Prussia was developed early on it its history from the origins of the Teutonic knights and brought to a level of perfection throughout the reigns of Frederick William the Great Elector Frederick William I and Frederick II These gifted strategists due to their individual history and the accomplishments of the previous generation achieved military innovations The Teutonic knights were the German order of knights who were sent by Pope Gregory IX in 1225 to convert the Prussians after the failure of their attempt to conquer the Holy land At that point in time Prussians were a people related to Lithuanians and Latvians who were among the last remaining pagans in Europe The Poles were pleased by the presence of the Teutonic knights especially the Duke of Mazovia to whom the Prussians were not only heathens but also a constant militaristic nuisance In a long war the Teutonic knights finally conquered Prussia by 1285 killing some converting some and creating a feudal state Two centuries later the order of knight succumbed to the growing power of Poland and Lithuania Under the terms of the second Peace of Torun in 1466 the order cedes their territories west of the Vistula River to the Poles In 1511 the knights elected Margrave Albert of Brandenburg from the Franconian line of the house of Hohenzollern as their grand master In the time of the reformation he introduced Lutheranism into his territory and dissolved the Teutonic Order He headed Luthers advice to marry and secularize Prussia in order to save it from absorption by Poland He married the daughter of the king of Denmark and was successful in his secularization of Prussia His actions lead to Poland recognizing Margrave as the
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