Historically, the Teutons were a Germanic tribe that participated in the Great Migration when the Huns pushed various tribes out of modern-day Germany and into contact with the declining Roman Empire. They eventually settled in modern-day Germany and some in modern-day Italy. In the game, they represent the Holy Roman Empire, Crusader states, and crusading orders such as the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar. They rely on infantry, cavalry, siege units, and fortifications, which is typical for a medieval European army.
The Teutons are an infantry civilization. As such, they have excellent infantry with all upgrades plus the Teutonic Knight, a unit that is, albeit slow, unrivaled in melee combat. Their cavalry is, in fact, limited to the Paladin, which unfortunately lacks Husbandry and thus misses out on an important speed bonus; it remains a strong unit, however. Their archers are very weak, missing improvements all over the board, but Hand Cannoneers are available. The siege weapons are great, mostly due to Ironclad, which helps patch up their main weakness: melee attacks. The Teutonic navy is very underwhelming without Dry Dock and Bracer, which is an unfortunate combination as both the Fire Ship and Galleon are greatly hindered by their absence. Teutonic Monks are excellent, but lacking Herbal Medicine does not aid the defensive capabilities, which otherwise are great, mostly thanks to Crenellations and overall solid defensive structures. Their economy is good, particularly their Farms, which are the most cost effective of all civilizations.
In-game, Teutonic units speak Old and Middle High German, which are the ancestor languages to modern standard German and several dialects. They were spoken in Germany roughly between 700 and 1350, so this corresponds well to the time period depicted in the game. The Goths speak the same language in-game, but actually, the Goths had their own Gothic language which was spoken as early as the 4th century and became extinct by the 8th or 9th century.
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Teutonic AI characters:
Albert the Bear (c. 1100-1170): The first Margrave of Brandenburg (a domain of the Holy Roman Empire) from 1157-1170. Took part in crusades against the Slavic Wends, as well as the 1162 Storming of Milan. Called "the Bear" for his strength and restlessness.
Conrad the Salian (c. 990-1039): Holy Roman Emperor from 1027-1039; first emperor of the Salian House; grandson of Otto the Great. Notable for repressing rebellious factions of the Empire.
Emp. Leopold I (1640-1705): Holy Roman Emperor from 1658-1705. Famously summoned an imperial army to defeat the Turks at Vienna, however had less military success against the French. A patron of learning and the arts.
Emp. Lothair (795-855): Holy Roman Emperor from 817-855. Son of the previous Holy Roman Emperor Louis the Pious, fought a civil war against his siblings which led to the breakup of Francia.
Frederick Barbarossa (1122-1190): Holy Roman Emperor from 1152-1190. Established German dominance within the Holy Roman Empire; reasserted imperial rule in Italy. Known for his ambition, charisma, and political savvy, as well as his battlefield successes.
Frederick II (1194-1250): Holy Roman Emperor from 1220-1250. Presided over the height of the Holy Roman Empire's territorial expansion; also presided over the sixth crusade, which secured Jerusalem under the control of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Henry III (1016-1056): Holy Roman Emperor from 1046-1056. Last of a succession of emperors who successfully dominated the Papacy. Son of Conrad the Salian.
Henry the Lion (c. 1130-1195): Duke of Saxony from 1142-1180 and of Bavaria from 1156-1180. Used his political and military acumen to gain control of large swathes of the Holy Roman Emperor. Son of Lothair II.
King Heinrich (876-936): Heinrich der Volger (or Henry the Fowler), Duke of Saxony from 912-936 and King of East Francia from 919-936. Defeated Magyars at the Battle of Riade, and successfully subdued various Slavic tribes. Father of Otto the Great.
King Karl: Most likely depicts the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1500-1558), who served from 1519-1556; he also served as Charles I, ruler of the Spanish Empire, from 1516-1556. An heir to Hapsburg, Valois-Burgundy, and Trastámara families, his extensive territory included the Spanish Empire, the Low Countries, and much of Central Europe.
King Rupert (1352-1410): Elected by German Princes to become King of Germany in 1400 after the deposition of King Wenceslas; served until his death. Attempted to travel to Rome to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor but was defeated by an Italian ally of Wenceslas.
King Wenceslas (1361-1419): King of Bohemia from 1361 until his death; elected German King in 1373 but deposed in 1400. After refusing to recognize his dethronement in favor of King Rupert, he paid for military campaigns against Rupert and his allies, leading to years of war and instability.
Lothair II (1075-1137): Holy Roman Emperor from 1133-1137. Won a civil war against the house of Hohenstaufen and its supporters. Father of Henry the Lion.
Maximilian II (1527-1576): Holy Roman Emperor from 1564-1619. Famous for relatively tolerant religious policy, leading to a brief period of piece in the region. Son of King Karl (Charles V).
Maximilian of Hapsburg (1459-1519): Holy Roman Emperor from 1493-1519. Through marriages, military and political pressure, as well as success on the battlefield, added significant territory to Hapsburg holdings.
Otto the Great (912-973): Holy Roman Empire from 962-973. Oversaw the consolidation of the Holy Roman Empire through use of the church and by the decisive defeat of the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld, ending their incursions into the empire's realm. Son of King Heinrich (Henry the Fowler).
Rudolph of Swabia (1025-1080): Duke of Swabia from 1057-1079. Elected German king in opposition to Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV; conflict between them culminated in the Great Saxon Revolt, in which Rudolph of Swabia was killed.
Like the Saracens generally representing the Islamic factions (before the introduction of the Berbers), the Teutons, alongside the Franks, generally represent the Christian factions.
Their unique unit, the Teutonic Knight, was a group of soldiers of the Teutonic Order, who participated in the Northern Crusades against many pagan nations of the Baltic Sea. They later fought other Christian nations as well, particularly Poland.
Except for Native American civilizations, the Teutons are the only civilization in Age of Empires II that do not have access to Light Cavalry.