Gdansk before 1309 1454-1522

Danzig under the Teutonic Order, 1309-1454

In 1308, the territory of POMMERELLEN including the city and castle of Gdansk (Danzig) were contested between Duke Wladyslaw and the Duke of Brandenburg. The TEUTONIC ORDER was asked to mediate, and for the time of mediation, the castle of Gdansk (Danzig) was handed over to the Teutonic Knights. They held on to Danzig and Pommerellen (Referred to as West Prussia from then onward). A Teutonic Order administration as formally established in 1309.
Danzig had enjoyed the status of a city since c.1224; under the rule of the Teutonic Order the city prospered and her population grew; the sources of the 14th century show Danzig's city council to be in the hands of German merchant families. The city applied the Magdeburg city law, in 1377 replaced it by the Luebeck city law; the city's merchants participated in the HANSEATIC LEAGUE, and when it reorganized itself into the City Hanse in the course of the 14th century, Danzig formed a prominent member. Danzig was among the leading cities of the Hanseatic PRUSSIAN QUARTER.
Around 1340, the Teutonic Order constructed a castle at Danzig; other than many Hanseatic cities of the west, Danzig did not enjoy an almost unlimited political autonomy, but had to act in communication and cooperation with the Teutonic Order's High Master.
Her location on the Vistula estuary favoured the development of Danzig's commerce; the city developed into Prussia's leading port - from here the expeditions conducted by the Teutonic Order against Gotland in 1398 and 1403 departed - and gained a large share in the Poland trade, for the Vistula was Poland's economic main artery.
In 1409 the Teutonic Order lost the BATTLE OF GRUNWALD (in German books allocated to Tannenberg) to a Polish-Lithuanian force. Poland- Lithuania, combined in a personal union, now replaced the Teutonic Order as the leading military power in the region. The Teutonic Order began a period of steep decline. For the city of Danzig, the financial burdens laid upon her by the order proved an increasing problem.
In June/July 1416 the craftsmen rebelled against patrician rule; the rebellion was suppressed. A new craftsmen's ordinnance was passed, requiring the craftsmen to hand in their arms; craftsmen's assemblies were abolished.
The winter of 1423 was extraordinarily cold, the Baltic Sea largely froze over.
In 1433 a Hussite army appeared outside Danzig, ravaging the countryside of West Prussia, but failing to force entrance into the city. In 1435 the city council, for the first time, admitted representatives of the city's guilds. In 1436, councilman Hildebrand Tannenberg was dismissed for his pro-Order stance.
In 1440 Danzig joined the PRUSSIAN FEDERATION, an organization intended to unite the forces resisting excessive demands by the Teutonic Order's High Master. After numerous attempts to achieve relief by the means of negotiations failed, open conflict erupted in 1453 (Prussian Civil War, 1453-1466). Some members of the Prussian Federation recognized the sovereignty of King Casimir of Poland in 1454; Danzig followed in 1457.

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DOCUMENTS Coat of Arms, from International Civic Heraldry
Regesten zum Preussischen Urkundenbuch (Regests to the Prussian Diplomatarium), posted by Stuart Jenks
REFERENCE Erich Keyser, Danzigs Geschichte, (Danzig 1928) Reprint Hamburg : Danziger Verlagsgesellschaft Paul Rosenberg, undated (History of Danzig), 300 pp.
Hans Georg Siegler, Danzig - Chronik eines Jahrtausends (Danzig - Chronicle of a Millennium; a timeline), Düsseldorf : Droste 1990, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on August 9th 2002, last revised on November 11th 2004

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