3. Kompanie Reichsgrenadier Regiment 'Hoch- und Deutschmeister'
Reichsgrenadier Division 'Hoch- und Deutschmeister'
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Early History

In 1190AD the ‘Deutsche Ritterorden’, or ‘Teutonic Order’ as it was more commonly known in the English speaking world, was formed in Acre. The Knights helped to protect the Christian faith and provided hospitals for pilgrims in the Holy land. The medieval Order played an important role in Outremer, controlling the port tolls of Acre. After Christian forces were defeated in the Middle East, the Order moved to Transylvania in 1211 to help defend Hungary against the Kipchaks. The Knights were expelled in 1225, after allegedly attempting to place themselves under Papal instead of Hungarian sovereignty.

In 1230, following the Golden Bull of Rimini,  Hochmeister (Grandmaster) Hermann von Salza (above right) and Duke Konrad I of Masovia launched the Prussian Crusade, a joint invasion of Prussia intended to Christianise the Baltic Old Prussians. The Order then created the independent Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights in the conquered territory, and subsequently conquered Livonia. The Kings of Poland accused the Order of holding lands rightfully theirs.

The Order lost its main purpose in Europe with the Christianisation of Lithuania. The Order became involved in campaigns against its Christian neighbours, the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Novgorod Republic (after assimilating the Livonian Order). The Teutonic Knights had a strong economic base and hired mercenaries from throughout Europe to augment their feudal levies, and became a naval power in the Baltic Sea. In 1410, a Polish-Lithuanian army decisively defeated the Order and broke its military power at the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg).

In 1515, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I made a marriage alliance with Sigismund I of Poland-Lithuania. Thereafter the Empire did not support the Order against Poland. In 1525, Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg resigned and converted to Lutheranism, becoming Duke of Prussia as a vassal of Poland. Soon after, the Order lost Livonia and its holdings in the Protestant areas of Germany and the Teutonic Order fell in to decay and had all but disappeared until in 1530 a new order was formed called the 'Hoch- und Teutschmeister'. During the time of the wars with the Ottomans, the new order was unable to take a decisive role in the defence of what is now Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland – the time of the knightly orders had finally come to an end!

In 1696 Franz-Ludwig, Count Palatine, Duke of Neuberg, authorised the raising of a ‘Hoch- und Teutschmeister’ Regiment, composed of three battalions, each containing four companies. This action by the Count is considered to be the formal ‘birth’ of the present ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’, which is still considered to be the one of the elite regiments in the military history of Imperial Austria.

During the regiment’s baptism of fire and prominent role at the battle of Zenta, ably led by Prince Eugen, victory over the Ottomans was achieved, the outcome of which was to break Ottoman power in Europe for some time. History also records the victorious involvement of the regiment during the storming of Belgrade in 1717 and in the attack on Kolin in 1757 which helped to decide the Seven Years War.

1769 saw the Austrian military establishment introduce the numbering of their regiments with the 'Hoch- und Deutschmeister' Regiment being allocated the number 4 – ‘K. (u.)k. Infanterie Regiment Nr 4’.  In 1871, under Kaiser Josef II, the regiment became the home regiment of Vienna and recruitment for its ranks centred there. The regiment became known as the “Wiener Edelknaben” or “Vienna Squires” as the sons of the best families within Viennese society sought positions within the regiment as a method of social advancement. Indeed, members of the regiment during this period included Archdukes and Imperial Princes.


During the last war with the Ottomans, the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ Regiment helped to conquer both Belgrade and Cetin in 1788 and 1790 respectively. During the Napoleonic wars, the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ Regiment fought against the French in over 90 battles during a 25 year period including the battles of San Michelle (1813), Mincio & Valeggio (both in 1814), culminating in a victory parade through Paris in 1815 following the defeat of Napoleon.

In 1849, under General Radetsky (above), the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ Regiment helped to crush the Hungarian revolt against Hapsburg rule. In the 1866 Austro-Prussian war the regiment suffered defeat at the battle of Königgrätz thus ending Austrian influence in the regions of what is now Germany and Poland. In the years of peace that followed prior to the Great War, the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister’ Regiment became a central part of the image of Vienna particularly the regiments band which became the prize of Vienna with two of its marches, the ‘Hoch- und Deutschmeister Marsche’ and the ‘Deutschmeister Marsche’, both becoming known worldwide.

During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the ‘Hoch-und Deutschmeister’ had 3 battalions, each of which carried their own battalion ‘colours’. In 1868, a new set of Austrian Army regulations stipulated that only the 1st and 2nd battalions would be authorized to carry ‘colours’. The 1st battalion retained its ‘colours’ and the 2nd battalion took on the ‘colours’ of the 3rd battalion. The reason for this was because during the wars of 1866 the 3rd battalion had particularly distinguished itself in battle, so therefore the 2nd battalion’s ‘colours’ were retired and instead that battalion carried the ‘colours’ formerly belonging to the 3rd battalion. Army regulations were changed again in 1889, this time with all 2nd battalion ‘colours’ being retired throughout the Army as well leaving a single regimental ‘colours’ based on that used by the 1st battalion. A request by the regiment allowed them to retire the 1st battalion’s ‘colours’ and instead retain the former 3rd battalion flag as their sole regimental ‘colours’. The 2nd battalion was also granted the privilege to continue carrying it for the regiment. Additionally, unlike other Austrian regiments which paraded their ‘colours' in the centre of the regimental formations, the ‘Hoch-und Deutschmeister’ was entitled to carry their ‘colours’ in the lead of the regiment. These exceptions remained basically in effect through World War I.

1896 also saw the regiment celebrate its 200th anniversary.

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