The Grand Master is the holder of the supreme office of the Teutonic Order. It is equivalent to the master of other military orders. Hochmeister, literally high master, is used in reference to the Teutonic Order. An early version of the title in Latin was Magister Hospitalis Sanctae Mariae Alemannorum Hierosolymitani. Since 1216, the full title Magister Hospitalis Domus Sanctae Mariae Teutonicorum Hierosolymitani was used, the offices of Hochmeister and Deutschmeister were united in 1525. The coat of arms representing the grand master is shown with a cross fleury or cross potent superimposed on the black cross. The golden cross fleury overlaid on the cross becomes widely used in the 15th century. While this legendary account cannot be traced back further than the modern period there is some evidence that the design does indeed date to the mid 13th century. Compared to other governments, transfer of power within the Teutonic Knights was run efficiently. Upon the death of a master, the vice master called a capitulum of the leading officers of the order. The general chapter would select a twelve-person electoral college composed of seven knights, four sergeants, once a majority-candidate for grand master was chosen, the minority electors would concede to support unanimity. These elections usually provided a grand master within three months. Candidates for the position of master had experience as senior administrators for the order and were usually chosen on merit. When the Teutonic Knights were originally based in Acre in Outremer, after the orders capital moved from Venice to Marienburg in 1309, the grand masters power was at its height. He had ultimate control over Prussia, which gave him command over the Prussian commanders, when the general chapter would meet in Elbing, he was able to use this influence to ratify administrative measures he proposed. The grand master also served as the castellan of Marienburg and was aided by the orders treasurer and he was also a member of the Hanseatic League, allowing him to receive some of the leagues custom dues. Excavations in the church of Kwidzyn performed in 2007 yielded the remains of three Grand Masters of the late medieval period, Werner von Orseln, Ludolf König and Heinrich von Plauen. The church had been known as the place of the bishops of Pomesania
Image: Siegel Grossmeister Deutschritterorden
Hermann von Salza, fourth Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, in a Baroque-era portrait.
Coats of arms of the 29 grand masters (until 1470, Heinrich Reuß von Plauen) in the St. Gallen armorial (Cod. sang. 1084)