In 1561 Gotthard Ketteler publicly abdicated his mastership of the order of the Teutonic Knights, and Riga, together with southern Livonia, became a Polish possession; after some unsuccessful attempts to reintroduce Roman Catholicism, Stephen Bathory, king of Poland, recognized the religious freedom of the Protestant population.
The Teutonic knights in the north and the Tatar hordes in the south were equally bent on the subjection of Lithuania, while Olgierd's eastern and western neighbours, Muscovy and Poland, were far more frequently hostile competitors than serviceable allies.
Like the other two orders, the Teutonic Order began as a charitable society, developed into a military club, and ended as something of a chartered company, exercising rights of sovereignty on the troubled confines of Christendom.
In the age of national migrations - from the 4th to the 6th century - the territories of the Teutonic peoples were vastly extended, partly by conquest and partly by arrangement with the Romans.
Yet the types, both in armour and dress, remained essentially Teutonic - or rather Celtic-Teutonic. Indeed, when in the course of time uniformity came to prevail over the greater part of Europe, it was the Teutonic rather than the Roman fashions which were generalized.
Their language is merely a corrupt form of that spoken around them; but a Teutonic origin seems to be indicated by their fair complexions and blue eyes.
Tacitus states that many Teutonic tribes worshipped her with orgies and mysterious rites celebrated at night.
WITOWT, or Witold (1350-1430), grand-duke of Lithuania, son of Kiejstut, prince of Samogitia, first appears prominently in 1382, when the Teutonic Order set him up as a candidate for the throne of Lithuania in opposition to his cousin Jagiello (see Wladislaus), who had treacherously murdered Witowt's father and seized his estates.
The church also contains the tombs of numerous Hessian landgraves and knights of the Teutonic Order.
Like his predecessor, Prince Gorchakov, he was educated at the lyceum of Tsarskoye Selo, near St Petersburg, but his career was much less rapid, because he had no influential protectors, and was handicapped by being a Protestant of Teutonic origin.