Prussian War 1454-1466
also referred to as the Thirteen Years' War

A.) Prehistory of the War

The state of the Teutonic Order, ever since the defeat in the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg) in 1409, was in a decline. The establishment of a personal (later dynastic) union of Poland and Lithuania and the conversion of the hitherto pagan Lithuanians to Catholicism had deprived the Teutonic Order of its raison d'etre. Increasing taxation had caused resentment by the Prussian cities. In 1440 the cities of Danzig (in Polish : Gdansk), Thorn (in Polish : Torun), Elbing (in Polish : Elblag), a number of smaller cities and numerous noblemen established the Prussian Federation.

B.) The War

On February 22nd 1454 the members of the Prussian Federation revoked their oaths of loyalty to the Order; additional tolls imposed by the Grand Master had caused the Thirteen Years War. The rebels razed the Order's castle at Danzig. The Prussian Federation placed herself under the protection of King Casimir of Poland (March 6th 1454); the king sent 6,000 men to support the rebels. Danzig and Elbing manned a fleet which blocked the sea coast of the territory still controlled by the Order; the Order in return promoted acts of piracy against the rebellious Prussian cities.
On September 18th 1454, an Order army defeated a larger Polish army in the Battle of Konitz (Chojnice). The Grand Master hired an army of Bohemian (mostly Hussite) mercenaries, 6,000 men strong; they defeated and dispersed the Polish force. Unable to pay the mercenaries, in 1455 the Grand Master handed over to them the Marienburg - the principle fortress of the Order, believed to be impregnable - as a pawn. In 1455 the city of Königsberg deserted the Prussian Federation and placed herself again under the Order. The Bohemian mercenaries meanwhile offered to hand over the Marienburg to King Casimir of Poland, if he was able to pay them the 140,000 Fl. owed to them by the Grand Master. The cities of the Prussian Federation, foremost Danzig, collected addictional taxation in order to provide the sum. A conspiracy of Thorn burghers to deliver their city to the order was uncovered in 1455, and 70 burghers were decapitated. In 1457 the Order's knights moved out of the Marienburg; they established a new residence in Königsberg. King Casimir of Poland, after having paid off the Bohemian mercenaries, took possession of the Marienburg (in Polish : Malbork). In 1461 King Casimir lead an army into Prussia, but left after only six weeks. On September 17th 1462 a Polish army defeated an Order army in the Battle of Schwetz (Swiecin). September 29th 1462 the Danzigers defeated a force of the Order. In 1464, Grand Master Paul von Lengendorf placed Warmia (the Ermland) under the protection of the Polish King. In 1466 a Polish force defeated the Order's army. In the Second Peace of Thorn, Oct. 19th 1466, the Order ceded Pomerellia, Danzig, Kulm, Thorn, Elbing and Warmia (Royal Prussia) to King Casimir of Poland; Royal or Western Prussia retained a high degree of independence.

C.) The Legacy

The Teutonic Order never recovered from that blow; it had lost her most thriving cities. In 1525 the Order was converted into the Duchy in Prussia, a fief held by the last Grand Master, Albrecht von Brandenburg, anmd his descendants, from the King of Poland.
Neither Emperor Friedrich III. nor the Pope recognized the 2nd Peace of Thorn.

Zeittafel zur Geschichte Ostpreussens (Timeline East Prussia), posted by HJW, in German
Geschichte von Elbing (History of Elbing), by Marek Januschewski, German translation
Article Royal Prussia, from Wikipedia
Article Second Treaty of Thorn, from Wikipedia
Article Thirteen Years' War, from Wikipedia, detailed
DOCUMENTS Chroniken zur Geschichte des Dreizehnjährigen Krieges (Chronicles on the 13 Years' War), posted by Jürgen Sarnowsky, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 21st 2004, last revised on November 16th 2004

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