BALTIC STATES

  v3.0 Updated 30 May 2014

 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

INTRODUCTION. 1

Chapter 1.            COURLAND. 3

Chapter 2.            ESTONIA. 4

Chapter 3.            LIVONIA. 5

Chapter 4.            PRUSSIA. 5

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

The present document describes the early history of the states along the eastern shores of the Baltic sea.  Before the early 13th century, the area appears to have attracted little attention from the Lithuanians to the south, the Poles and Pomeranians to the south-west, the Scandinavian kingdoms to the west, and the Russian principalities to the east.  After the fall of Jerusalem to the Muslims in 1187, and the subsequent decline of the crusader states along the eastern Mediterranean coast, the eastern Baltic represented the last major pagan stronghold in Europe and provided a new area of opportunity for crusading.  In 1193, Pope Celestine III called for a crusade against the pagans of northern Europe.  German crusaders conquered much of the present-day republic of Latvia in the early 13th century and established the city of Riga in 1301.  During the papacy of Pope Innocent III, the Livonian order of the Knights of the Sword (fratres militiæ Christi de Livonia) was founded in 1202 by the Cistercian monk Theoderich to intensify the fight against pagans in the Baltic area[1].  However, it was the knights of the Teutonic Order who became the dominant force in the area and established for themselves an independent state which lasted for more than two hundred years. 

 

The Brothers of St Mary's Hospital of the Germans in Jerusalem (fratres hospitalis sancte Marie Theutonicorum Ieruolimitanorum) was founded by Germans in Jerusalem in 1143.  In 1199, it was raised to an order of knighthood by Pope Innocent III, often known as the Teutonic Order (Ordo Theutonicorum).  After founding establishments in Palestine, Armenia, and Cyprus, it assumed the protection of the Burzenland in Transylvania in 1211 but was expelled from Hungary in 1225 by King András II[2].  The Teutonic Knights were offered a new field of activity by Konrad Duke of Mazovia [Piast] who was fighting the heathen Prussians.  The Grand Master of the Order, Hermann of Salza, was granted far-reaching privileges for the Order by Emperor Friedrich II at Rimini in Mar 1226[3].  A smaller group, the Knights of Christ of Dobrin, was founded in 1228 by Christian Bishop of Prussia, Konrad Duke of Mazovia and the Bishop of Płock, but was incorporated into the Teutonic Knights in 1235/37[4]

 

In the early 13th century, the whole of the eastern Baltic area was loosely known as Prussia.  The early 14th century Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ of Peter von Dusburg describes "terra Prussie" as including "Wiselam, mare salsum, Memelam, terram Russie, ducatum Masovie et ducatum Dobrinensem", with the river "Wisela" dividing Poland and Pomerania from Prussia[5].  The Teutonic Order completed its conquest of Prussia in 1283.  Under the Treaty of Soldin in 1309, the Order divided its possessions in eastern Pomerania with Brandenburg, with the state of Pommerellen (see the document POMERANIA) being incorporated into the territory of the Teutonic Knights[6].  The eleventh Grand Master, Siegfried von Feuchtwagen, transferred his residence from Venice to Marienburg in 1309[7].  This marked the start of a period of consolidation in Prussia, with the clearance of huge forest areas and the planned settlement of numerous villages for settlers who arrived in considerable numbers from Westphalia, lower Saxony, central Germany and Silesia[8].  Conflict with Poland was terminated by the peace of Kalisch in 1343. 

 

The union between Lithuania and Poland presaged the end of the Teutonic Order's power in Prussia, Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen being killed in the battle of Grunwald [Tannenberg] in 1410.  Szamaiten and other regions were surrendered under the First Peace of Thorn, which also required payment of a large settlement sum.  Grand Master Heinrich von Plauen was deposed in 1413[9].  The "League of Lizards" of west Prussian knights, founded in 1397, supported Poland and opposed the central government of the Order.  Grand Master Paul von Russdorf instituted a grand council of the land in 1432 and in 1440 the Prussian League of nobility and towns was formed.  The League overthrew the government of the Order in 1454, when Danzig was annexed by Poland.  Marienburg was surrendered to Poland in 1454 and Grand Master Ludwig von Erlichshausen moved his seat to Königsberg.  Under the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466, Kulm, Pommerellen and the Samland were ceded to Poland and the Order acknowledged Polish sovereignty over the rest of the state. 

 

The Order was finally secularised in 1523 and 1525[10].  The last Grand Master declared himself Duke of Prussia and continued to rule over the Order´s remaining territories as such.  Under his successors, the duchy of Prussia expanded westwards and eventually passed to the senior Hohenzollern electoral line of Brandenburg.  Friedrich III Elector of Brandenburg adopted the title king of Prussia in 1701. 

 

A collection of charters relevant to this region was published in the mid-19th century by von Bunge in his Liv-, Esth- und Curländisches Urkundenbuch nebst Regesten, the first three volumes of which cover the period up to 1393[11].  These documents trace the development of Danish influence in the late 11th/early 12th century, the arrival of Christian missionaries and foundation of bishoprics under Papal sponsorship, and of course the consolidation of the power of the Order of Teutonic Knights and the succession of its Grand Masters. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1.    COURLAND

 

 

 

The area of Courland (Kurzeme, Kuramo) is the south-western part of the present-day republic of Latvia, south-west of the river Daugava.  It was conquered by the Knights of the Sword, and passed into the sphere of influence of the Teutonic Knights in the 1230s when the two orders were amalgamated, although the Knights of the Sword retained a semi-autonomous existence in the form of the Livonian Order which continued to rule a large part of Livonia and Courland.  The early 14th century Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ of Peter von Dusburg records the conquest of "terre Curonie" by the Teutonic Knights in 1260[12].  The Teutonic Order conquered new lands in Livonia, Kurland and Estonia after absorbing the cathedral chapter and town of Riga in 1393[13].  Courland existed as an independent duchy from 1561 until 1795, as a vassal state of the kingdom of Poland.  The dukes of Courland fall outside the chronological scope of Medieval Lands.  The duchy was ceded to Russia by the last duke of Courland. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2.    ESTONIA

 

 

Denmark conquered the northern part of the present-day republic of Estonia in the early 13th century: the Icelandic Annals record that "Valdemarus rex Dannorum" waged war in Estonia in 1219[14].  King Valdemar II established his illegitimate son as duke, although later the title was held directly by the kings of Denmark.  The southern part of Estonia was conquered by the Knights of the Sword, and passed into the sphere of influence of the Teutonic Knights in the 1230s when the two orders were amalgamated.  Denmark and the Knights of the Teutonic Order agreed the division of Estonia between them in the treaty of Stensby 7 Jun 1238[15].  Estonia remained under Danish government until 1346 when it was sold to the Teutonic Order[16].  The Teutonic Order conquered new lands in Livonia, Kurland and Estonia after absorbing the cathedral chapter and town of Riga in 1393[17]

 

 

1.         KNUD Valdemarsen, illegitimate son of VALDEMAR II "Sejr/the Conqueror" King of Denmark & his mistress Helene Guttormsdotter (1211-15 Oct 1260, bur Ringsted Church)Duke at Tallinn in Estonia 1223 to 1227, and [1238-1240]. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3.    LIVONIA

 

 

Albert of Buxhövden was consecrated Bishop of the Livonians in 1199, under the archiepiscopal jurisdiction of Bremen, but later as a direct vassal of the Pope.  The town of Riga was founded in 1201.  Livonia was conquered by the Knights of the Sword, but, as the "Terra Mariana", was established as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire by Philipp King of Germany 2 Feb 1207[18].  It later fell under the direct jurisdiction of the Papal legate.  The early 14th century Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ of Peter von Dusburg records that the Teutonic Order conquered "terra Lyvonie", dated to 1236[19].  The following year the Order of the Knights of the Sword was amalgamated with the Teutonic Order, along with its territories, although the Knights of the Sword retained a semi-autonomous existence in the form of the Livonian Order which continued to rule a large part of Livonia and Courland, while the archbishopric of Riga ruled most of central Livonia.  The Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ of Peter von Dusburg records that "rex Vithenus cum multitudines copiosa Lethowinorum" invaded "terram Lyvonie" in 1296[20].  The Teutonic Order absorbed the cathedral chapter and town of Riga in 1393 and conquered new lands in Livonia, Kurland and Estonia[21].  After the battle of Swienta 1 Sep 1435, the Livonian Order and the Livonian ecclesiastical authorities, together with city representatives, signed the Livonian Confederation agreement 4 Dec 1435. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4.    PRUSSIA

 

 

As noted in the Introduction to this document, the term "Prussia" was originally the name given loosely to the whole geographic area covered by the eastern Baltic states.  The early 14th century Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ of Peter von Dusburg describes "terra Prussie" as including "Wiselam, mare salsum, Memelam, terram Russie, ducatum Masovie et ducatum Dobrinensem", with the river "Wisela" dividing Poland and Pomerania from Prussia[22].  At that time, the term represented no political entity.  In 1511, Albrecht von Brandenburg, younger son of Friedrich V Markgraf von Brandenburg in Ansbach und Bayreuth and his wife Zofia of Poland, was appointed Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights.  After the Order was secularised in 1525, Albrecht declared himself Duke of Prussia, under the suzerainty of his maternal uncle Zygmunt I King of Poland, and converted to Lutheranism.  His rule was confined to the area south-west of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, with Königsberg as its capital.  His grand-daughter Anna, daughter and heiress of Albrecht Friedrich Duke of Prussia, married Johann Sigismund Kurprinz von Brandenburg who in 1608 succeeded as Elector of Brandenburg and in 1618 inherited the duchy of Prussia on the death of his father-in-law.  The Treaty of Wehlau 19 Sep 1657 confirmed the independence of the duchy of Prussia from the kingdom of Poland, and 18 Jan 1701 Friedrich III Elector of Brandenburg was proclaimed King of Prussia at Königsberg, a title which was recognised by the emperor and became the main title by which the family was known until 1871.  The dukes of Prussia fall outside the chronological scope of Medieval Lands

 

 

1.         ALBRECHT von Brandenburg, son of FRIEDRICH V "der Ältere" Markgraf von Brandenburg in Ansbach & his wife Zofia of Poland (Ansbach 17 May 1490-Schloß Tappiau 20 Mar 1568, bur Königsberg Cathedral).  Canon at Würzburg cathedral 1507/11.  Canon at Mainz cathedral 1509/11.  Canon of St Gereon at Köln until 1511.  Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights 1511, until 1525 when he secularised the order, married and declared himself Duke of Prussia (Herzog in Preußen) under the suzerainty of the King of Poland.  m firstly (Königsberg 1 Jul 1526) DOROTHEA of Denmark, daughter of FREDERIK I King of Denmark (1 Aug 1504-Königsberg Schloß 11 Apr 1547, bur Königsberg Cathedral).  m secondly (Königsberg 26 Feb 1550) ANNA MARIE von Braunschweig-Lüneburg, daughter of HEINRICH I Herzog von Braunschweig und Lüneburg in Calenberg (23 Apr 1532-Schloß Neuhausen 20 Mar 1568, bur Königsberg Cathedral). 

-        DUKES of PRUSSIA[23]

 

 



[1] Haverkamp, A. (1988) Medieval Germany 1056-1273 (Oxford University Press), p. 18. 

[2] Haverkamp (1988), p. 19. 

[3] Haverkamp (1988), p. 20. 

[4] Haverkamp (1988), pp. 19 and 20. 

[5] Hirsch, T, Töppen, M, Strehlke, E. (eds.) (1861) Scriptores rerum Prussicarum, Band I (Leipzig), Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ Petri de Dusburg, III, p. 50. 

[6] Leuschner, J. (1980) Germany in the Late Middle Ages (North Holland Publishing Company), p. 131. 

[7] Haverkamp (1988), p. 20. 

[8] Leuschner (1980), p. 131. 

[9] Leuschner (1980), p. 134. 

[10] Leuschner (1980), p. 135. 

[11] Bunge, F. G. von (1853, 1855, 1857) Liv-, Esth- und Curländisches Urkundenbuch nebst Regesten, Bänder I, II, III (Reval) (available in Google Book). 

[12] Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ Petri de Dusburg, III, p. 96. 

[13] Leuschner (1980), p. 134. 

[14] Íslenzkir Annálar sive Annales Islandici (Copenhagen, 1847) ("Annales Islandici"), 1219, p. 95. 

[15] Christiansen, E. (1980) Saxo Grammaticus, Danorum Regum Heroumque Historia, Books X-XVI (B. A. R. International Series 84), p. 242, footnote 45. 

[16] Haverkamp (1988), p. 20. 

[17] Leuschner (1980), p. 134. 

[18] Bilmanis, A. (1944) Latvia-Russian Relations: documents, p. 10 (available in Snippet View in Google Book). 

[19] Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ Petri de Dusburg, III, p. 65. 

[20] Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ Petri de Dusburg, III, p. 163. 

[21] Leuschner (1980), p. 134. 

[22] Chronicon Terræ Prussiæ Petri de Dusburg, III, p. 50. 

[23] Extinct in the male line in 1618.