Commonly known as the Teutonic Knights, the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem was formed during the Third Crusade to the Holy Land in 1190. Initially, a group of German merchants established a fraternity to run a hospital in Acre. In 1198, when the German contingent in Palestine was short of men to fight, fellowship transformed into a knightly order. It was the third Catholic knight order organized in a similar way to the already existing Knights Templars and the Order of St. John.
Marienburg (today Malbork, Poland) became the capital of Teutonic State in 1309. Over the years, the original convent house was transformed into a heavily fortified city surrounded by deep moats and several rings of defensive walls. The High Castle contained the convent refectory and a church. An old settlement outside the outer walls was also expanded. A spacious Middle Castle was available to knights and guests from the Western Europe. Apart from living quarters, the Middle Castle contained the largest hall known as the Grand Refectory as well as the Palace of the Grand Masters. In the 14th and first half of the 15th century, a third part of the stronghold, the Low Castle was established and expanded. It was here where workshops, stables, smithy, brewery, and granary were all located. Also, most of the Teutonic Order armory and cannons were stored in the Low Castle.