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TEUTONIC KNIGHTS

TEUTONIC KNIGHTS


The Teutonic Order (usually, hospitale sancte Marie Theutonicorum Jerosolimitanum - the Hospital of St. Mary of the Germans of Jerusalem or der orden des D? huses - the order of the German houses, in the sources) was one of the three major knightly or military orders that originated and evolved during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Templars and Hospitallers are the other major orders.

The Castle


The military orders were "true orders" of the Roman church governed by regulations similar to those governing monks, generally variants of the Benedictine or Augustinian Rules. For most purposes, they were technically answerable only to the pope. They did have some feudal responsibilities to lay and other clerical entities as dictated by circumstances of place and time. Large numbers of knights became monks but often were found in military fortifications rather than monasteries. The members of most orders took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Origins of the Teutonic Order

According to tradition, early in the twelfth century a wealthy German couple built a hospital in Jerusalem at their own expense to care for poor and sick pilgrims who spoke German. The hospital and an accompanying chapel were dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This story is similar to the traditions of the origin of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem founded by Amalfitans. The German hospital apparently was affiliated with the Hospital of St. John, at least, in the observance of the rule of St. Augustine. After Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, there are no more records of the German hospital there. There was no indication that the German hospital ever had a military mission.

During the siege of Acre during the Third Crusade (probably 1190), Germans from L?and Bremen established a field hospital for German soldiers reportedly using ships' sails as cover from the elements. Duke Frederick of Swabia placed his chaplain Conrad in charge of the hospital and soon transformed the organization into a religious order responsible to the local Latin bishop. Although some scholars question its authenticity, Pope Clement III (1187- -1191) apparently approved the Order on February 6, 1191. The Order was taken under Pope Celestine III's (1191--1198) protection on December 21, 1196, with the name of the "Hospital of St. Mary of the Germans in Jerusalem." The name is possibly the only connection with the earlier German hospital although some argue a more direct relationship with the earlier hospital.

A ceremony purportedly held on March 5, 1198, altered the Order's raison d'etre. The patriarch of Jerusalem, the king of Jerusalem, the head of the crusading army, and the masters of the Templars and the Hospital of St. John attended the celebration establishing the Teutonic Knights as a military order. A bull by Pope Innocent III (1198--1216) dated February 19, 1199, confirmed the event and specified the Order would care for the sick according to the rule of the Hospitallers. It would conduct its other business by following the Templar rule and would wear the Temple's distinctive white cloak. Its black cross would differentiate the Teutonic Order from the Temple.

Internal Structure

During the first twenty years of its existence, the institutional structure of the Order developed and stabilized. The Teutonic Order followed the lead of the Templars and Hospitallers by creating a system of provinces. Unlike monastic orders composed of independent abbeys, the Teutonic Knights had a hierarchical chain of command with commanderies (house, Kommende) at the lowest level. Provinces or bailiwicks (Ballei, Komturei) were parts of "countries" that composed the Order as a whole. Its first independent rule was adopted in 1264.

The officials governing the Teutonic Order at the various levels were commander (Komtur, preceptor) at the local level, province commander (Landkomtur), national commander (Landmeister), and grand master (Hochmeister, magister). The highest leadership positions (including grand master, grand commander [Grosskomtur], marshal [Ordensmarschall], draper or quartermaster [Trapier], hospitaller [Spittler], and treasurer [Tressler]) were elected by the general chapter.

Membership of this mostly German-speaking order was composed of various, distinct classes: knights, priests, and other brothers (lay brothers, sisters, and "familiars"). There was a large number of people who supported the professed members of the Order, ranging from auxiliary knights to slaves. The highest ranking were secular knights, serving for free. Turcopoles (Greek for "son of Turk") were originally probably lightly-armed, half-breed cavalry whose name applied to Turkish mercenaries employed in the Byzantine army, later the term was adopted by the military orders. There were attendants called squires (knechte), and sergeants-at-arms. Footsoldiers were usually coerced from the local peasantry. Sister-aids (halpswesteren) were employed as domestics as were halpbr?; they took religious vows. Married and single lay domestics also were employed by the Order. Artisans and laborers (e.g., gardeners, carpenters, masons) worked for charity or wages. Many serfs and slaves were owned by the Order.

Rapid Expansion

From the outset, the possessions and wealth of the Teutonic Order grew astoundingly fast and its numbers skyrocketed, especially under Grand Master Hermann von Salza (c. 1210--1239). Von Salza was successful in gaining many favors for the Order because he was a confidante to both the German emperor Frederick II (1211--1250) and the popes. His immediate successors also did well. Between 1215 and 1300, one or more commanderies were founded each year, usually through gifts.

The Teutonic Order was invited into Greece (1209), Hungary (1211), and Prussia (1226) by secular rulers to perform military duties on their behalf. In the Peloponnesus the Frankish Prince of Achaia provided fiefs near Kalamata for the Teutonic Knights in return for military service; there are traces of the Order's continuous service there until 1500. The Hungarian King Andrew II (1205--1235) expelled the Order in 1225 when it became strong and may have threatened his rule. The conquest of Prussia began in 1230 (after the Order's Grand Master was named prince of the Holy Roman Empire) and lasted until 1283.

In addition to the Holy Land and these other "theaters of war," the order's members could be found elsewhere in the Mediterranean and western Europe: Armenia, Cyprus, Sicily, Apulia, Lombardy, Spain, France, Alsace, Austria, Bohemia, the Lowlands, Germany, and Livonia. Only in the frontier areas (the Holy Land, Armenia, Greece, Hungary, Prussia, Spain, and Livonia) was military service required of members.

By 1221 the German Order was given the same privileges as the Templars and Hospitallers by Pope Honorius III (1216--1227). Both senior orders fought the autonomy of the Teutonic Order until about 1240. The German Order may not have quite equaled in wealth and possessions the other two military orders which were more than 80 years older, but it became the only other order to rival them in international influence and activity.

The Baltic

After the crusaders were defeated at Acre in 1291, the Teutonic Order moved its headquarters to Venice, a long-time ally. In 1309, the Order moved again, this time to Marienburg in Prussia. Here the Order had subdued the pagan inhabitants and established a theocratic form of government.

The position of the knights in the Baltic region had been strengthened in 1237 when a knightly order in Livonia, the Brothers of the Sword (Schwertbr(der), joined the Teutonic Order. The history of the German knights in Prussia and Livonia is one of almost perpetual revolts, uprisings, raids, conquests, victories, and defeats. Many secular knights from western Europe (e.g., Chaucer's knight in the Canterbury Tales) would go to the Baltic to help the Order in "crusading activities" for a season or more. The Grand Master's prizes and feasting for especially heroic knights became legendary and reminds one of various aspects of King Arthur's knights of the Round Table.

During the fourteenth century, dozens of towns and about 2000 villages were created in Prussia by the Order. The Order was successful in trade. For example, as a Hanseatic League participant, it provided western Europe with some of its cheapest grain.

The nations of Poland and Lithuania, perennial enemies of the Order, became stronger and stronger in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. In 1410 at Tannenberg, the Order was crushed in a battle against a coalition led by these powers. The result was a bankrupting of the Order and significant reduction in its military and political capabilities. In 1467, the whole of western Prussia was ceded to Poland and the eastern part acknowledged the suzerainty of the king of Poland.

1525 to 1797

Martin Luther's (1483-1546) Reformation affected the Teutonic Order significantly. In 1525, Grand Master Albrecht von Brandenburg converted to the Lutheran faith. He then was enfoeffed by the Polish king as Duke of Prussia. As a medieval, crusading entity, the German Order essentially ended at this time.

In 1526, the Teutonic Order master of the German lands became the "Administrator of the Grandmastery in Prussia and Master in German and Romance Countries." Mergentheim became the main seat of the Order.

There was a great deal of confusion in Germany in the aftermath of the Reformation, its resulting wars, and the political changes. The bailiwicks of Saxony, Messe, and Th(ringia became Protestant until Napoleonic times. The office of Landkomtur alternated among Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic leaders in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The bailiwick of Utrecht was Calvinist until modern times. A new rule was adopted in 1606 in an attempt to accommodate the changes in the Order.

In European affairs, from time to time, the Order still participated militarily. Some 1000 troops were raised to help the Austrians against the Turks. After 1696, there was a regiment of the "Grand and German Master." But the numbers and wealth of the Order dwindled. Little other military activity is recorded.

The French Revolution and After

As the anticlerical French government expanded its political control in the 1790's, the Order lost its commanderies in Belgium and those west of the Rhine (1797). Many east of the Rhine were lost in 1805. In 1809, Napoleon dissolved the Order in all countries under his dominion, leaving only the properties in the Austrian Empire.

Even in Austria, the Order had to exist secretly for a number of years until 1839 when Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I reconstituted the Order as the Order of the Teutonic Knights (Deutscher Ritterorden). The mission fulfilled by the Order was mainly the caring for wounded soldiers.

In 1866, the "Honorable Knights of the Teutonic Order" was founded. Knights were required to provide annual contributions for hospitals. The Marianer des Deutschen Ordens, for women, was created in 1871.

In 1914, some 1,500 sponsors from the Austrian nobility supported the caregiving efforts of the Order. During World War I, the Order took care of about 3,000 wounded soldiers in their facilities.

In 1923, masters of the Order were allowed to come from among the clerics rather than the "knighthood" for the first time. Under National Socialist rule, the Order was dissolved in Austria in 1938 and Czechoslovakia in 1939. The leaders of the Third Reich abused the history of the Teutonic Order. After World War II, the Order began anew in Germany. Its possessions in Austria were returned. In Italy, the Order had changed little. A great deal of support for the caretaking and missionary Order has been found in Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, and even in North and Central America. The Order's headquarters, treasury, and archives are now located in Vienna, Austria.

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF EVENTS

This table contains dates and events that highlight the origins and development of the Teutonic Knights throughout its history; also included are significant events in medieval history that may not be directly associated with the Teutonic Knights but give perspective to the history of the order. Please note that this table is still under construction. If your browser does not support tables, choose this text-only version.

1070 - Possible founding date of the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem by Amalfi merchants

1098 - Crusaders of First Crusade captured Jerusalem

1113 - Hospital of St. John recognized by papal bull as separate order

1118 - Hugh of Payens of Burgundy and Godfrey of Saint Adhemar, a Fleming, with seven other knights were credited with founding the Templars whose headquarters was on or near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

1126 - Hospital of St. John displayed possible military attributes; its "constable" was cited in sources

1127 - Possible date of the founding of the German Hospital of St. Mary in Jerusalem 1128 - Probable circulation of St. Bernard of Clairvaux' Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae

January 1129 - Council of Troyes recognized the Temple as an order

1131 - King Alfonso I of Aragon and Navarre attempted to turn over the kingdom to the Templars, Hospitallers, and Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in his will

1143 - Two sources of Pope Celestine II mention a German hospital in Jerusalem in some kind of dispute with the Hospital of St. John; the German hospital was put under the supervision of the Hospital of St. John

1147-1149 - Second Crusade

1160's or 1170's - John of W?rzburg mentioned the German hospital in Jerusalem in his Description of the Holy Land

1172 - German monk Theodorich wrote Guide to the Holy Land

1176 - Sophia, Countess of Holland, was buried in the German hospital in Jerusalem

May 1, 1187 - Hospitallers and Templars defeated by the Muslims at Nazareth

July 4, 1187 - Battle of Hattin lost by crusaders; Hospitallers, Templars, and the "flower of the nobility" devastated

Oct. 4, 1187 - Jerusalem surrendered to Saladin

1190 - Third Crusade featured the German Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, King Richard I of England, and King Philip II of France; the crusaders lay siege to Acre; Germans from L(beck and Bremen probably established a field hospital named after the previous German hospital of St. Mary in Jerusalem

September, 1190 - King Guy of Jerusalem awarded Teutonic Order or "Teutonic Knights" a portion of a tower in Acre; the bequest was re-enforced on Feb. 10, 1192; the order perhaps shared the tower with the English Order of the Hospital of St. Thomas

Feb. 6, 1191 - Questionable bull of Pope Clement III approving the German hospitaller order at Acre

July 12, 1191 - Siege of Acre ended in crusader victory

Apr., 1195 - Count Palatinate Henry of Champagne provided Teutonic Knights the house of Theodore of Sarepta in Tyre

Mar., 1196 - Count Palatinate Henry conferred possessions in Jaffa (Joppa) on Teutonic Knights

Dec. 21, 1196 - Pope Celestine III took the "Hospital of St. Mary of the Germans in Jerusalem" under his protection

1196 - Hermann von Salza may have accompanied Landgraf Hermann von Th?ringen to the Holy Land

May 20, 1197 - German emperor Henry VI gave the Teutonic Knights a hospital in Barletta, Italy

July 18, 1197 - Henry VI gave Teutonic Knights a church and cloister (of the Holy Trinity) in Palermo, Sicily

March 5, 1198 - Teutonic Knights established as a military order in a ceremony in Acre's Temple which was attended by the secular and clerical leaders of the Latin Kingdom

1198 - First military action of the Teutonic Knights with King Amalric II of Jerusalem; Amalric gave them (in August) a tower in Acre, formerly belonging to the Order of St. Nicholas

Feb. 19, 1199 - Bull of Pope Innocent III confirmed the Teutonic Knights' wearing of the Templars' white mantle and following of the Hospitallers' rule

August 1200 - Teutonic Knights paid the sons of Theodore of Sarepta 200 besants for the house in Tyre to complete the 1195 deal

1202 - Gerold of Bozen gave the Teutonic Knights a hospital in Bozen

1202-1204 - Crusading effort led by Boniface of Montferrat diverted from Palestine or Egypt to Constantinople with influence of Venetians and pretender to the Byzantine throne

April, 1204 - Fall of Constantinople to the Latin crusaders

Early, 1205 - William of Champlitte and Geoffrey of Villehardouin conquered Patras, Andravida, Pundico Castro, Modon, and Coron in the Morea; Battle of Koundoura won by William of Champlitte and Geoffrey of Villehardouin with about 600 men over 5,000 Byzantine Greeks

1206 - Statutes of Margat adopted by the Hospitallers in annual chapter meeting

1207 - Famous singing contest held at the Wartburg; St. Elizabeth of Hungary and Hermann von Salza possibly attended

1208 - Teutonic Knights "marshal" appears in the sources; indicates the military nature of the order

1208-1229 - Albigensian Crusade in France

Early, 1209 - Geoffrey Villehardouin, Prince of Achaia, in dividing up the Peloponnesus in his capital of Andravida, gave the Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic Knights four knightly fees; the Teutonic Knights' fee is near Kalamata

1209 - Teutonic Knights side with Hospitallers and barons in Acre against the Templars and prelates; origin of long-standing opposition between the Templars and Teutonic Knights

Oct. 3, 1210 - Probable date of election of Hermann von Salza as grand master of the Teutonic Knights; the date coincided with the date of the marriage in Tyre of John of Brienne to Mary; it was also the date of John's coronation as King of Jerusalem

September 1211 - Frederick II chosen king in Germany

1211 - Burzenland settled by the Teutonic Knights with the authority of Hungary's King Andrew II

July 1212 - Peter II of Aragon defeats the Moors at Las Navas de Tolosa

1212 - Adomadana given to the Teutonic Knights by King Leo of Armenia

1212 - Children's Crusade: spring - German phase; June - French phase

Sept. 12, 1213 - Simon of Montfort wins the battle of Muret; Peter II killed

Feb. 24, 1214 - King Leo of Armenia granted Teutonic Knights Amudain, the castle of Sespin, and more

Nov., 1215 - Innocent III called the Fourth Lateran Council; new crusade proclaimed; Hermann von Salza probably at the Fourth Lateran Council representing his order

1215 - Frederick II crowned in Aix-la-Chapelle; took the cross

1215 - Magna Carta signed in England

1215 - Dominican Order founded

Feb. 18, 1216 - Innocent III issued a bull of protection for the Teutonic Knights

Dec., 1216 - Hermann von Salza attended Frederick II's court in Nuremberg; first meeting between the Teutonic Knights' grand master and the emperor

Feb., 1217 - Hermann von Salza received possessions in Sicily from Frederick II while at Ulm

Jun.24, 1217 - Frederick II granted the Teutonic Knights the same status as the Templars and Hospitallers in the Kingdom of Sicily

1217-1221 - Fifth Crusade

May - Aug. 1218 - Crusading army lands in Egypt; Hermann von Salza at Damietta; Saphadin died (1199-1218); al-Kamil, his son, became caliph (1218- 1238); crusaders captured Damietta

1218 - 1219 - Patriarch of Jerusalem, church officials, Templars and Hospitallers advised Pelagius not to accept peace terms of Sultan al-Kamil to surrender Jerusalem; contrary advice offered by King John of Jerusalem, Earl Ranulf of Chester, and the German leaders

Spring, 1220 - Hermann von Salza went to Acre with King John of Jerusalem

Nov., 1220 - Hermann von Salza was with Frederick II in Italy; first identified by name as Hermann von Salza in documents; Frederick II crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Honorius III

1220 - Leopold VI of Austria presented the Teutonic Knights the site of the castle of Montfort near Acre

Jan. 9, 1221 - Honorius III gave privileges to the Teutonic Knights; as an order, they now were on the same level as the Templars and the Hospitallers

Jan - Apr, 1221 - Hermann von Salza was in Italy; 57 privileges were given by Honorius III to the Teutonic Knights (Honorius III granted 113 to the Teutonic Knights during his pontificate)

Mid-April, 1221 - Hermann von Salza accompanied the duke of Bavaria and other German nobles to Damietta; arrived in May

Aug. 30, 1221 - Battle of Mansurah; crusaders surrendered in Egypt (Templars led the rearguard action); peace treaty; Hermann von Salza and the master of the Temple held as hostages by the Muslims

1222 - "Golden Bull" of Hungary, first issue

1223 - Hermann von Salza negotiated with the pope over Gunzelin; later in the Holy Land, he arranged the marriage for the emperor (?)

1224 - Hermann von Salza was involved in the Treaty of Dannenberg

Nov., 1225 - Frederick II married Isabella (Yolande) of Brienne and claimed the throne of Jerusalem; Hermann von Salza was present

1225 - Teutonic Knights forcibly expelled from Burzenland by king Andrew II; Conrad of Masovia requested aid from the Teutonic Knights in Prussia

1226 - "Golden Bull of Rimini" from Frederick II for the Teutonic Knights giving them wide-ranging authority in the name of the empire in Prussia

1227 - Montfort rebuilt---renamed Starkenberg

Sep., 1228 - Frederick II arrived in the Holy Land accompanied by Hermann von Salza

Feb. 18, 1228 - Frederick II took control of Jerusalem from the Egyptian Sultan al-Kamil by treaty; Hermann von Salza with Frederick

Mar. 12, 1228 - Hermann von Salza sent a letter to Gregory IX from Joppa informing him about the treaty

Mar. 18, 1228 - Frederick II crowned King of Jerusalem in the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; then held high court in the house of the Hospital of St. John

Apr., 1229 - Peace of Paris ended Albigensian Crusade

Apr., 1229 - Frederick II gave Teutonic Knights former house of Germans in Jerusalem; also a house that once belonged to King Baldwin located in the Armenian street near the church of St. Thomas (plus a garden and six acres of land)

May 1, 1229 - At odds with the Templars and Ibelins, Frederick II departed Acre; feared losing Apulia to John of Brienne

1229-1244 - German Hospital of St. Mary in Jerusalem expanded

1230 - Kulm recognized by Pope Gregory IX as belonging to the Teutonic Knights

1231 - Teutonic Knights' Hermann Balke advanced into Prussia

1231 - Gautier of Brienne gave the Teutonic Knights Beauvoir

1231 - St. Elizabeth of Hungary died at Marburg; later was canonized (1234)

1234 - Teutonic Knights won the battle at Sirguna, Prussia

1234 - Pope took control of Prussia; leased it to the Teutonic Knights

Spring, 1235 - Dobriner Order incorporated into Teutonic Knights; approved by Frederick II and Gregory IX

Sept., 1235 - Andrew II of Hungary died; Bela IV succeeded him (until 1270)

Dec. 23, 1236 - Gregory IX taxed the Peloponnesus to support crusading ventures; preceptor of the Teutonic Knights identified in the Morea as one of three collectors of the tithing effort

1237 - Frederick II's second Lombard campaign; Hermann von Salza at Battle of Cortenuova

1237 - Teutonic Knights and Swordbrothers unite

Jul., 1237 Geoffrey II of Achaia gave the Teutonic Knights a hospital in Andravida

1238 - Frederick II's third Lombard campaign; Hermann von Salza's health failed

March 1239 - Hermann von Salza died in Salerno and buried in Barletta; Frederick II excommunicated

March 1239 - Robert de l'Isle donates property (Villegrot) near Veligosti to the Teutonic Knights

Apr. 9, 1241 Battle of Liegnitz; Mongols defeat army of Poles and Germans including Hospitallers, Templars, and Teutonic Knights

April 5, 1242 - Russians under Alexander Nevsky defeat the Teutonic Knights on Lake Peipus

1244 - Muslims recapture Jerusalem

Oct. 31, 1246 - Innocent IV transferred the Hospital of St. James to the Templars

1257 - Julian of Grenier, lord of Sidon, donated a fortress called Cave of Tyron to the Teutonic Knights (about 12 miles east of Sidon) signifying the order's role in Holy Land was expanding

1257-1261 - Teutonic Knights bought large land complex (called Souf or Schuf) northeast of Sidon from Julian Grenier, lord of Sidon for 23,000 crusader besants

Oct. 16, 1258 - Peace treaty among the Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic Knights signed in Acre

1258 - Teutonic Knights buy a manor from John de la Tour, constable of Sidon, and two manors from John of Schuf and assumed the responsibility for defense north of Acre

July 1260 - Teutonic Knights routed at Durben; Prussians revolted

1261 Teutonic Knights bought fief made up of several manors called Schuf from Andrew of Schufe

May, 1263 - All Teutonic Knight possessions near Sidon lost to Muslims after Baybars won battle of Sidon

1290 - Teutonic Knights complete a 30?year effort to control Prussians

May 18, 1291 - Fall of Acre; Hospitaller and Templar headquarters moved from Acre to Cyprus; Teutonic Knights headquarters moved from Acre to Venice

1306 - Hospitallers began conquest of Rhodes

Nov. 28, 1309 - Trial of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Templars (in Paris)

1309 - Hospitallers' headquarters moved from Cyprus to Rhodes

1309 - Teutonic Knights' headquarters moved from Venice to Prussia

May 16, 1312 - Hospitallers awarded Templars' estates throughout western Europe, Cyprus, and Greece

Mar. 15, 1314 - Jacques de Molay, Templar grand master, and Preceptor of Normandy burned at the stake in Paris

Sep. 9, 1320 - Teutonic Knight commander in the Morea died in battle against the Greeks near the fortress of St. George

1348 - Plague devastated the Byzantine Empire

1376 - 1381 - Hospitallers leased the Principality of Achaia from Joanna of Naples for 4,000 ducats per year

1383 or 1384 - Strife between Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights in the Peloponnesus

1387 - Rudolf Schoppe, preceptor of the Teutonic Knights in the Morea, became the field deputy of Pedro Bordo de San Superan

1391 - List of Moreote fiefs included the Hospital of St. John and the Teutonic Knights

1401 - Jacob of Arkel, preceptor of the Teutonic Knights in the Morea, rewarded with vineyards at Modon and Coron by the Venetians

1402 - Source identified a number of Teutonic Knight monasteries in the Morea including St. Steven in Andravida

1410 Teutonic Knights defeated at Tannenberg; bankrupted

May 21, 1433 - Teutonic Knight procurator John Nichlausdorf in Rome reported he protested to the Byzantine representative the loss of properties in the Morea

Apr. 27, 1435 - Teutonic Knights' representative at the Council of Basel asked the return of possessions in the Morea from the Byzantines

1435-1437 - Johann Franke attempted to purchase Mostenitsa

1500 - Turks conquered Modon from the Venetians and expelled the Teutonic Knights from the Peloponnesus




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