1660-1793 1807-1813

Danzig 1793-1807

When Danzig was annexed by Prussia in 1793, the sentiment in the city was not very positive. Most burghers regretted the loss of the city's century-old "Freiheit" (liberty), as her status and degree of political autonomy was called. Prussia, over the last decades, had been the cause for much economic hardship. And the Danzig militia feared the rigid Prussian discipline. When Prussian troops approached the gates of Danzig to formally take over the city, Danzig militiamen disobeyed their superiors and opened fire, in an attempt to avoid the takeover. The mutineers were overwhelmed by burghers and volunteers, and the Prussian troops entered the city.
Danzig's constitution was adapted according to Prussian municipal law. A modern court was established (hitherto, the city council had been responsible for jurisdiction). A police force was introduced. Traditional law remained valid, the Prussian ALLGEMEINES LANDRECHT (general country law) only introduced as an additional codex. The citizens of Danzig were exempted from mandatory military service - a rare privilege granted to the city. Some of the stipulations of Danzig's traditional law, such as the prohibition for foreigners, especially for Jews, to settle in the city, were scrapped.
The Prussian administration now undertook steps to improve the city's economy. The obstacles erected in the previous decades to harm the city's trade were removed. Prussian offices, hitherto located in Stolzenberg and Langfuhr (suburbs outside Danzig territory) were moved to Danzig. The fact that provinces of western-central Poland came under Prussian rule in the partitions of 1793 and 1795 united Danzig and far stretches of her economic hinterland. Exports, especially of grain, increased again, from c. 38,000 Last annually in the late 1790es to c. 63,000 Last in the early years of the 19th century's first decade. Trade in the port of Danzig became more vivid. The city's population rose from 38,738 in 1794 to 44,511 in 1806, military personnel and their families not included (2 regiments were stationed in the city). The Prussian government took over the lion's share of the city's pre-annexation debt.
The anti-Prussian sentiment in Danzig, manifest in 1793, quickly faded away. A visitor observed many who sympathized with the institutions of the French Revolution, but did not doubt in the loyalty of the Danzigers toward the Prussian crown.

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DOCUMENTS Coat of Arms, from International Civic Heraldry
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 11th 2002, last revised on November 11th 2004

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