Von Orseln hailed from a family of vogts of Urseln near Frankfurt in Hesse. It is not known when he joined the Teutonic Order. He is first mentioned in 1312 as a Komtur of Ragnit. In 1314, von Orseln becomes the Grand Komtur and the Komtur of Marienburg.
During a coup d'etat in the monastic state, he supported Grand Master Karl von Trier and was exiled along with him. However, he returned in 1319 and he held the position of the Grand Master's resident in Prussia. He negotiated discussion and restored hierarchic discipline within the Order.
After the death of Karl von Trier, the Order's capitulum chose von Orseln as the next Grand Master. Immediately after being elected, von Orseln was forced to start negotiations with the Kingdom of Poland. These did not produce any results, however, and the Teutonic Order started preparations for war with Poland. The Grand Master formed an anti-Polish coalition consisting of the Dukes of Masovia and Silesia and the King of Bohemia. The pretext to start the war was the Polish invasion of the Duchy of Płock in 1327. In retaliation, the Grand Master ordered the conquest of Kujavia and Dobrzyń Land.
As the superior of the Order, von Orseln paid special attention to spiritual life. Despite the ongoing war with Poland, he was able to organize two assemblies of the Prussian clergy and issue several administrative acts forming the base of the political system of the state.