The Westphalian wing of the Livonian Order wins the quarrel over power

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1441

Already during the first decades of the XV century, the Livonian Order begun to grow more independent from the Teutonic Order. This process accelerated after the Teutonic Knights had lost the Battle of Grünwald in 1410 to the joint army of Poland and Lithuania, and was forced into a shameful truce, with what it lost Samogitia area (in Western Lithuania), a land strip that had connected the lands of the Livonian and Teutonic Order. The Grand Master got into even more trouble when fighting Poland and Lithuania, and thus needed the help of the Livonian Order. Latter was not interested in the wars in the south, as after Lithuania had joined with Poland, it was clear that it is impossible for the Order to conquer already christened Lithuania. Still, the Masters of the Livonian Order participated in the wars in Lithuania in 1430s, but these were unsuccessful for the Order. Especially bad was year 1435, when the Order was defeated at Swienta River, the defeat that threw over its superior position in Livonia.

In the following years, the Masters of the Livonian Order were reluctant to aid the Teutonic Knights. They were after making changes to the election system of the local Master of the Order, as so far, the Livonian Order had presented the Grand Master with two candidates to the position of the Master, and the Grand Master had choosen the one he preferred. There were two competing groups in the Livonian Order, westphalians and rhinelanders, thus the candidates came from both groups. In Livonia, the westphalians held the majority, but in the central area of the Teutonic Knights, Prussia, rhinelanders were dominant. Therefore, the Grand Master preferred the rhinelanders, which created even more confrontation with the Livonian Order. In 1438, the members of the Livonian Order chose a westphalian, Heidenreich Vincke von Overberg , as the Master of the Order, but the Grand Master appointed another man to the position, a rhinelander, Heinrich von Notleben. The confrontation had escalated into a situation where the Livonians refused to accept the decision of the Grand Master. Livonians were also supported by the Master of a branch order of the Teutonic Knights. In 1441, the Grand Master was forced to appoint the man that the Livonians had preferred, and from that on he held no right in deciding who becomes the Master.

 


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