The Teutonic Knights
A chivalric order of warrior/monks incepted in 1198 during the Third Crusade via the spiritual authority of Pope Celestine in order to protect and provide for German pilgrims and Christendom's holdings in the Holy Land. It was from their crusades in the pagan lands they conquered along the Baltic coast in present day Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and northwest Poland during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, however, that the Teutonic Knights' renown (and notoriety) would be heralded. It was from the Order's holdings in the Baltics that the Kingdom of Prussia would come into existence. It is also from the Teutonic Knights' battle standard, a black cross against a white background, that the famed military decoration known as the Iron Cross originated and still survives today as the emblem of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr).