Members of the Teutonic Order. An order of knights who have taken religious vows. They were formed in the late 12th century in Palestine to aid to pilgrims to the holy places. They were based in Acre, and received Papal orders for crusades to take and hold Jerusalem for Christianity. When the mission of the order in Palestine ended, they moved operations to Venice, Italy, and worked to defend Christian Europe from the bordering pagan nations. Over the centuries the Knights became embroiled in civil disputes and wars, had members who were more concerned with land, power and prestige than protection of Christendom, and who otherwise let military power corrupt them in all the inevitable ways. However, in all times they also had many men who believed deeply in the Church and their mission. In 1809 they lost the last of their secular holdings. They continue today with a select international membership, and are devoted to charitable work.