3) The Baltic endeavor
Ironically the loss of opportunity in Hungary actually led to the Teutonic resolve to institute their own stronghold – an opportunity given to them by Konrad I of Masovia (who hailed from Poland’s Piast dynasty). The Duke was fighting his own expansionist wars in the adjacent pagan territory of the Prussians (not to be confused with their later-day counterparts), though his military efforts were coming to naught with enemy raids that even threatened his own residence at the Plock castle. Frustrated by the Prussian presence, the Duke finally invited the embittered Teutonic Knights in 1226 AD to fight his foes. However the military order only agreed to Konrad’s request on the condition that the Duke offered them a small territory based around the frontier town of Kulm.
Thus the Teutonic Knights finally established their own independent stronghold in the very heart of Europe, and the Baltic chapter unraveled through numerous political acts, military actions, horrendous crimes and shifting alliances. In the direct aftermath, the Teutonic Order was successful in extinguishing the Prussian state after almost 50 years of brutal warfare, and as a result the order actually ruled Prussia under charters issued by the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor as a sovereign monastic state. As for the bigger picture, the Baltic frontier opened up a power struggle between various European and Eurasian factions, including Lithuanians, Russians, Livonians (comprising Estonia and Latvia), Swedes, Catholic Poland and even the Golden Horde Mongols and Tartars.