ARTE program on the Teutonic Order of knights

ok so I turned on french tv to ARTE*. and there was this program about the Teutonic Order** in Vienna, Austria. and I heard some wild stuff. the program is hosted by this anthropologist historian.

so the Teutonic Order is a chivalric order. basically armed and dangerous. authorized by the pope. founded in like 1197 or something. knights and stuff.

one cool thing on the program was that they show this treaty which is a huge piece of paper with 190 seals (!!!) of wax on it. like all together in this weird artistic jumble. at first I thought it looked like an art piece that was a pile of tiny clocks. but it was all these seals. awesome.

ok but the wild part was that at one point he goes to this cathedral. and he’s talking about how they buried their dead. and how the Hapsburgs imitated the practices of the teutonic order. and so he goes “these bodies are all emptied of their hearts and organs”. um. okay. then he continues on. “when someone died, especially while on crusade or on sacred land, their heart and organs were removed.” the heart and organs (“or viscera if you like”) were placed in two separate urns “with aromatics”. and then the corpse was either “boiled until it was bones” or “smoked like a ham” (YES. he verbatim said “smoked like a ham”). and then all three pieces were sent home. the smoked ham corpse “smelling very good”. and each of the three parts was given to someone important (or something. I was still processing the smoked ham corpse thing, honestly). I mean. that’s like mummification or whatever. the part that made me lose it was the way he talked about it and the mentions of “aromatics” and then “smoked ham” corpse. like, omg.

so next thing he goes down into the catacombs. and it’s not bones it’s like urns and small closed casket things. anyways. he approaches this shelf of urns of varying sizes. the shelf is inset into the wall and it has those old school european church locked mesh doors on it. but with the grating being large enough that you can stick your hand through. and so he sticks his hand in and brushes off some dust off the top of an urn to read a name or whatever. and it’s a tiny urn. the guy’s heart. and then he picks the damn thing up and he actually fucking shakes it. and goes “yeah, that’s really dried out”. like. I CANNOT. then he sticks his face close to the urns and goes “you can still smell the aromatics”. and he smells a large urn and goes “yep, smells like camphor”. and reads the date and it’s like 1805 or something. hundreds of years ago. anyways. so he puts that one back down and then just like walks off. like dude, you just told me 1800 viscera with aromatics still smells like something and you were holding a dried out heart. I NEED A MINUTE.

and then I couldn’t watch the rest of the program because I had to write that stuff down. oh man. I fucking love french tv. like. seriously.


* ARTE is a a cultural channel that is a co-production between france and germany. it airs on regular tv. it’s the fucking best.


I googled it. you can, like, buy the episode or something? don’t buy it. I’m just proving it exists.

ARTE program on the Teutonic Order of knights