DECLINE OF EMPIRE AND PAPACY

CHAPTER IX.

THE TEUTONIC ORDER

 

The lands that surround the inland sea of Northern Europe were till the twelfth century quite unknown. The ancients knew of them only as a source of amber and as a region, like Arabia and Central Asia, which sent forth periodically hordes of warriors. Even the Viking age threw little light for civilised Europe on the homeland of these redoubtable invaders. The Ostsee of the Germans, the Varyag sea of the Russians, remained a region of darkness and legend; and to Adam of Bremen, the first writer to use the name “Baltic”, the land directly east of the Elbe was “Slavia”, while the vague territories beyond were still known as “Scythia.” Apart from the Scandinavians, the inhabitants of the Baltic region fell into three linguistic groups: the Slavs, the Balts, and the Finns. Of the Slavs east of the Elbe, the Obotrites and Lyutitzi had long been known to the Germans. The Pomeranians, “dwellers by the sea”, who occupied the seaboard between the Oder and the Vistula, were less known. Farther east, the Poles and Russians were cut off from the sea by the Baltic and Finnish tribes. The Balts or Letto-Lithuanians are quite distinct from the Slavs. The group originally consisted of (1) the Prussians, who occupied the seaboard from the Vistula to the Niemen; (2) the Jadzwings, who dwelt on the upper Narew; (3) the Lietuva or Lithuanians, comprising the Aukstote, i.e. “uplanders”, on the upper Niemen and its tributaries and the Zhemoyt (Samogitians or Zhmudz), i.e. “lowlanders,” on the lower Niemen; (4) the Latuva or Letts, consisting of the Letgals north of the Dvina, the Seis or Selones between the Dvina and Lithuania, the Zemgals north-east of the Zhemoyt, and the Lettish tribes in Kurland who were just absorbing the Finnish Kurs and taking their name. The Finns inhabited an enormous area on the Volga and in North Russia. The Finns on the Baltic comprised (1) the Kurs stretching from the Kurisches Haff to the Gulf of Riga; (2) the Livs who dwelt between the Dvina and the Salis; (3) the Ests who dwelt in the islands and formed a compact mass between the Salis, the sea, and Lake Peipus; (iv) the tribes between the Narva and the Neva; (v) the tribes north of the Gulf of Finland and round the Gulf of Bothnia. These tribes, who were called Finns by the Germans and Chudes by the Russians, had no common name for themselves.

All these peoples dwelt in scattered tribal groups near the sandy coasts, the remote swamps and lakes, and in the wooded plains of the Baltic region. The Lithuanians alone were plunged in the more remote primeval forest. All were pagans, with little civilisation and no political cohesion. Only slowly did any idea of racial unity grow up among them, owing to the pressure of the more advanced peoples on their borders. The Scandinavians were the first to penetrate these remote lands. The Swedes had sailed up the Dvina and Neva and played a great part in the history of Russia. The Danes had early relations with the Ests and the Prussians, and by the thirteenth century were a great power in Pomerania and Mecklenburg. The Russians had penetrated to the coast at an early date. Novgorod had conquered the Vods and Ingrians between the Narva and the Neva, and from time to time took tribute from some of the Esthonian tribes, among whom Yaroslav founded the city of Yuriev (Est, Tartu). The Letts of Tolova on the Aa paid tribute to Pskov; and Polotsk founded principalities for its junior princes at Gersike and Kokeynos on the Dvina to rule the riverine Letts and Livs and to safeguard the trade route to Gotland. The Poles made several attempts, notably under Boleslav I, to conquer the Prussians, but all these expeditions, like the missionary efforts of SS. Adalbert and Bruno, failed to impress the stubborn pagans. Boleslav III, with the aid of Otto of Bamberg, successfully converted the Pomeranians, whose land came into the Polish political orbit. But the most effective penetration of the Baltic lands was made by Germans. The work of Henry the Lion and Albert the Bear established strong German outposts in Mecklenburg and Brandenburg, and, by the foundation of Lubeck in 1143, brought Germany into the Baltic as a commercial power; and soon the German trader sailed eastwards to the unknown lands. The missionary followed; and in the century 1184-1284 almost all the pagan lands were won for Christianity and civilisation.

The Danes first sent missionaries to Esthonia, and soon began to settle on the north coast, where they founded the city of Reval (Est, Tallinn). It was the old Varangian trade route up the Dvina that attracted the traders of Bremen; and in 1184 an Augustinian canon, Meinhard of Holstein, set out to convert the heathen. Asking permission of Vladimir of Polotsk to preach the gospel to the Livs, he settled some way up the Dvina at the village of Ykeskola (German, Uexküll) where he built a church. His colleague Theodoric converted the Livs of the neighbouring province of Toreida on the Aa, and Meinhard was made Bishop of Uexküll under Hartwig, the ambitious Archbishop of Bremen. He died in 1195, and his successor Berthold, who believed in more militant methods, perished in battle. An abler man was needed to direct the infant colony, and in Albert, a nephew of the archbishop, a real statesman was found, whose foresight, ability, and ambition transformed a small missionary enterprise into one of the greatest colonial achievements of the Middle Ages. Albert soon made use of the opportunities that fortune offered him. The decline of German monarchy made many knights and burghers disposed to adventure and settlement over the sea. The golden days of the Crusades were over, but it was easy to win men for a crusading effort in a less remote country, where the risks were less and the opportunities greater than in Palestine, especially when indulgences were granted by Innocent III, who saw in Albert a kindred spirit and gave him every support. Besides recruiting crusaders and preachers from North Germany, Albert solicited help from Canute VI, the greatest ruler in the Baltic, from the Swedes of Gotland and the merchants of Bremen and Lubeck. In 1201 he set sail from Lubeck with his great fleet carrying warriors, priests, traders, and artisans, especially stonemasons—for the building art was to play a great part in the success of the new colony. On a small tributary on the right bank of the Dvina he founded his new capital Riga, where he persuaded a number of German burghers to settle with full municipal liberties. Finding that his casual enlistment of crusaders was inadequate for the defence and expansion of the colony, he founded a crusading Order, the Fratres militiae Christi, popularly known as the Sword Brothers. The Order, which adopted the rule of the Templars, received a charter from the Pope in 1204. Supported by a sufficient military force, the bishop proceeded to strengthen his spiritual resources by the foundation at Dünamunde of a Cistercian monastery. With occasional setbacks, the work of conquest and conversion proceeded apace, and by 1206 the Livs of the lower Dvina, of Toreida, Idumea, and Metsepole were members of the Christian colony, so that Albert had fresh fighting material and a little time to consider his future plans. The situation of the colony was not secure. To the east, it is true, lay a large Lettish population, which had suffered from the raids of the war­like Livs and Ests and was not likely to be an obstacle to German expansion. But they fell within the sphere of Novgorod and Polotsk, which deeply resented the spread of German influence. South of the Dvina were the warlike Zemgals and Kurs. North of Livonia were the aggressive Ests. Moreover the bishop had to keep his Livs fast in the faith, to check the growing pretensions of his Knights, and to emancipate his episcopate from the metropolitan claims of the Archbishops of Bremen and Lund. He attached Kaupo and other Livonian chiefs to him by the impressions they gained during visits to Germany and Rome. With the help of the Order and fresh crusaders he succeeded in driving the Russians out of their Dvina principalities, where he built the castle of Kokenhausen, and conquered the Seis south of the river and the tribe of Vends1, among whom the Knights built the castle of Wenden (Lettish, Kes).

As the result of these successes, Albert won the support of the Lettish chiefs of the interior, who solicited his help against the Ests. This marks the second stage in the expansion of the colony. Esthonia consisted of three distinct regions: the two great provinces of Saccala and Ugenois (of which the latter was tributary to Novgorod) in the south; the provinces of Jarwe, Viro, and Harju (where the Danes were founding a rival colony) in the north; the maritime provinces and the islands of Oesel and Dago in the west, the inhabitants of which were hardened pirates, the most pagan and warlike of all the Baltic tribes. With an army of 8000 men, half of whom were Livs and Letts, the bishop and the Master invaded Esthonia. Their first occupation of the southern provinces was followed by a great effort on the part of the natives, aided by their Russian allies. It was not till the stubborn battle of Fellin (Est, Wiljandi) in 1217, in which the gallant Kaupo on the German side and the Est leader Lambito were killed, that Saccala was won. The Russians and Ests held out obstinately in Yuriev, and it was not till its capitulation in 1224 that Ugenois was conquered. A last advance culminated in the overthrow of the Osilians in 1227, when Oesel was conquered and the cult of the local god Tarapilla brought to an end. Conversion followed conquest, but conflicts continued unceasingly with the Russians and with the Danes, to whom the Germans were forced to yield the northern provinces of Viro and Harju, which they held till 1346. Any attempts to conquer the south were foiled by the growing power of the Lithuanians, who were gaining influence over the Russians of Polotsk and helping the Letts of Semigallia and Kurland to resist Christianity and the German sword.

The colony of Livonia was organised administratively during the actual campaigns. To Albert’s bishopric, which embraced the whole of the south, i.e. Livonia proper, were added two new dioceses for Esthonia: that of Ugenois or Dorpat (first held by Albert’s brother Herman) for Saccala and Ugenois, and that of Leal or Oesel for the maritime provinces and the islands. The bishopric of Reval in Danish Esthonia was under the Archbishop of Lund, but Albert, who now called himself Bishop of Rig a, was freed from the metropolitan control of Bremen. Albert had now to reckon with the claims of the Order, which had played so gallant a part in the work of conquest. Happily for the peace of the colony, the Pope sent as legate William, Bishop of Modena, whose religious fervour completed the conversion of the natives, while his tact and statesmanship effected a peaceful partition of the land between the ambitious prelate and the truculent Knights of the Order, whose two Masters Wenno (1204-23) and Volquin (1223-36) were determined to hold the lands they had won by the sword. The conquered territories were divided between the bishops and the Order in the proportion of two-thirds to one-third, each bishop still to retain spiritual control over, and exact tithes from, the whole of his diocese. The bulk of the Liv country west of the Aa and on the Dvina fell to the Bishop of Riga, the Order receiving the lands of the Vends and Letts east of the Aa. Farther east, the southern Lett country fell to the bishop, the north to the Order. In Esthonia, all Ugenois and some lands north of the Embach were awarded to the Bishop of Dorpat, Saccala and Jar we to the Order. The islands and most of the coast fell to the Bishop of Oesel. The lands of the Order were divided into administrative units, each under a Komtur or a Vogt. Such were Ascheraden, Segewold, Wenden, Fellin, Weissenstein, and Pernau. The headquarters of the Master were at the Jürgenhof in Riga, but Wenden and Fellin always remained the chief castles of the Order. If we consider that the monastery of Dünamünde owned the land along the Dvina estuary, that the cities like Riga, Dorpat, and Pernau became prosperous communes owning considerable estates, it can be realised that the colony was not a unitary State but suffered from all the disruptive elements of feudalism. Both the Order and the bishops gave large estates in fee to their vassals, some of them natives like Kaupo, the ancestor of the Lieven family, but mostly immigrant nobles from Westphalia like the Meyendorff’s, Tiesenhausens, and Rosens. No German peasants settled in Livonia. The native population soon lost its liberties, but retained its various languages.

The great bishop died in 1229, having seen the completion of his main task, but leaving many difficult problems for the future. The relations of the Order and the bishops, the conquest of the Zemgals and Kurs, and the danger from external enemies offered possibilities of trouble. But the most urgent question was the drying up of the sources of military power. The depression of the natives and the scarcity of crusaders were as serious a problem as the depletion of the Order by their losses in war. The burghers were hastening to exploit the lucrative trade with Russia; the vassals were settling down to enjoy their new lands. The heroic age of the colony was nearly over. An attempt to conquer the Kurs and Zemgals ended disastrously on the Saule, where Volquin was killed with the majority of his Knights. The Order was forced to seek outside support, and approached the Teutonic Order which had just begun its triumphant career in Prussia.

While the Germans were thus successful against Dane and Slav in the north, they were engaged in a similar rivalry with Dane and Slav in Mecklenburg and Pomerania. The Pomeranians never became a united people, but they displayed some tenacity in resisting German and even Polish pressure, though they welcomed the civilisation that was diffused from such monasteries as Kolbatz and Oliwa. German influence was strong in Western Pomerania, but Eastern Pomerania was part of the diocese of Kujawia and still considered as within the Polish sphere, though a native dynasty had supplanted the Polish princes in the twelfth century. Prussia was quite outside the German sphere of influence. It was the ambition of the Poles to convert these formidable neighbours to Christianity, as they had converted the Pomeranians a century before. Godfrey, Abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Lekno in Great Poland, revived the missionary effort in Prussia; and so successful was his enterprise that his colleague Christian was made Bishop of Prussia by the Pope, and was granted considerable lands by his Prussian converts in the border region of Lubawa (German, Lobau). Unfortunately, the Prussians at this time (like the Lithuanians a century later) underwent a transformation which made them a menace to their neighbours. Kujawia and Mazovia suffered terribly from their raids. At this time Poland was divided into several principalities which had little connexion with each other. The Prince of Mazovia, Conrad, was able to defend his possessions during the lifetime of his brilliant general Krystyn. But the frontier was constantly over-run, and the border district of Chelmno became almost a desert. The bishop and the prince persuaded the Pope to preach a crusade which attracted a number of Poles and a few Germans. Chelmno was won and again lost. The disputes of the Polish princes convinced Conrad that a permanent military force was indispensable, and he was advised to open negotiations with the Teutonic Order. In 1225 he approached the Grand Master and built a castle for the Order near Torun. Meanwhile the Bishops of Kujawia and Plock had organised a new Order, on the model of the Livonian Knights, which took its name from the district of Dobrzyn granted to it. This donation to a rival stirred the Teutonic Order to activity. This famous Order—Ordo mllitum hospitalis S. Mariae Teutonicorum Hierosolimitani—was an association formed during the Third Crusade, on the model of the older Orders, to support the German hospital and to organise Germans to fight against the infidel. It owed its importance to the influence and statesmanship of Herman of Salza, Grand Master for nearly thirty years (1210-39), under whom it had acquired wide possessions in Palestine, Armenia, Achaea, Sicily, and Germany. But its career in Transylvania (1211-24) had shewn Europe how far more usefully and successfully a crusading Order could be employed nearer home. The King of Hungary, however, alarmed at the growth of a German power on his borders, revoked his concessions just about the time that Conrad’s suggestion was offered. The prospect of a crusade in a land suitable for German settlement, where the conversion of the heathen could be accompanied by the accumulation of wealth and power, was irresistible. Herman accepted Conrad’s offers (in 1228 and 1230) of Nieszawa, the land of Chelmno, and the possession of all lands to be conquered in Prussia, and he also negotiated with Bishop Christian for the lands of his diocese. It is probable that Conrad, who was a poor diplomat, did not intend to confer in perpetuity the complete ownership of Chelmno, and that he hoped to share in the future conquests. But Herman outwitted him by obtaining the right to both Chelmno (“terra Colmensis”; German, Kulm) and all conquests in Prussia from both the Emperor and the Pope. On this firm legal basis he sent Herman Balke with a body of Knights to occupy Nieszawa and begin the campaign in Kulm.

The conquest of Prussia was completed in fifty years. What the Poles had failed to do by hard fighting and religious fervour was accomplished by building, sea-power, method, and discipline. The Order had a great advantage over the Poles in that it was a corporation with a consistent policy, with a large experience of warfare, with diplomatic and legal skill, and with all the prestige and resources of the Empire and the Holy See behind it. On the site of Torun and Chelmno strong castles called Thorn (1231) and Kulm (1232) were built. The Prussians who had occupied the land were dislodged by astute diplomacy; German settlers were brought in, while many Poles and Pomeranians returned to their former estates. The recovery of the province with scarcely any fighting was followed by an expedition down the Vistula which resulted in the foundation of Marienwerder in 1233. All was favourable for a campaign against the Pomezanians, the Western Prussian tribe beyond the Ossa. A crusade was preached, and a large army consisting mainly of Poles and Pomeranians descended the Vistula, and, through the strategy of Sventopelk of Pomerania, won a decisive victory on the Sirgune (1233). In three years, with the help of the Margrave of Meissen, all Pomezania was occupied. The crusaders sailed along the Frisches Haff against the Varmians and Natangians, built the castles of Elbing (1237) and Balga (1239), and soon the coastal strip as far as the Pregel was occupied. Otto of Brunswick helped the Knights to complete the conquest of these tribes and to build castles at Kreuzburg, Bartenstein, and Rossel in the territory of the Bartonians (1241).

The conquest was followed by the wholesale conversion of the natives. So high did the credit of the Order stand that the Livonian Order requested to be united to the Teutonic Order, an offer which was accepted and confirmed by a papal bull in 1237. Herman Balke, who had shown moderation and ability in his treatment of the Prussians, was sent to Livonia as Landmeister with sixty Knights to restore the situation there. At first he was successful. The jealousy of the local Germans was gradually overcome; the Danish question was settled; and the situation was restored south of the Dvina. An aggressive policy was inaugurated against the Russians. Crossing the Narva, the Germans occupied the country of the Vods, built a fort at Koporie, and projected a Catholic diocese there. Izborsk and then Pskov, the great bulwark of north­western Russia, were captured, and a plan for the conversion of Orthodox Russia to Catholicism was concerted by the Order and the Pope—a mirage that has often deluded Western Europe. But a great man was found to save Russia in the person of Alexander Nevsky, the Prince of Novgorod, who had recently defeated the Lithuanians and driven the Swedes from the Neva. He quickly recovered Koporie and Pskov and in 1242, on the ice of Peipus, he utterly routed the Older in one of the most decisive battles in Baltic history.

The First Revolt

In Prussia also dark clouds were gathering. A quarrel had broken out with the bishop, who resented the high-handed treatment he met with from the Order, which regarded him as a subject rather than an equal—a very different position to that in the northern colony where the bishop was the predominant partner. But a more serious enemy arose in Sventopelk of Pomerania with whom a dispute was inevitable, since his position on the Vistula was always a threat to the vital communications of the Order, while he resented the claims of the newcomers to the Vistula delta, and viewed with surprise and misgiving the rise of a new State and its alliance with the Poles, who claimed suzerainty over his country. He found fruitful soil for intrigue among the Prussians. Only superficially Christians, mindful of their past liberty and resentful at the forced labour imposed on them by the preparations for a Mongol invasion, the Prussian leaders were ready for mischief. The departure of Balke left native affairs in the hands of less sympathetic Knights, while the prestige of the Order was lessened after its defeat at Liegnitz by the Mongols. Sventopelk attacked Prussia, murdered all the Germans he could reach, and raised revolt all over Prussia. Only the Pomezanians remained loyal. All the other tribes rose and massacred the Germans. In Kulmerland 40,000 Christians are said to have perished. Only Thorn, Kulm, and Reden held out. In the north Varmians, Natangians, and Bartonians drove out the Germans everywhere except from Elbing and Balga. Particularly formidable were the unconquered Pogezanians of the interior. Luckily for the Order, they were loyally supported by the Polish princes. The castles were relieved and recovered, and the rebels forced to surrender. The Pomeranian prince made peace in 1243 and 1248, but war again broke out and ended finally in 1253. The Order did not really extricate itself from its dangerous position till the arrival of large crusading forces. In 1254 the Czech King Ottokar, Rudolf of Habsburg, and Otto of Brandenburg with over 60,000 inen assembled at Elbing, marched to Balga, and not only recovered Varmia, Bartonia, and Natangia, but embarked on a campaign against the Sambians of the peninsula, the most important of all the Prussian tribes, strong in their military resources and their geographical isolation, wealthy with their amber and their horses. The peninsula was conquered, and a city was built called Konigsberg in honour of the King of Bohemia. The conversion of the Sambians was a great blow to the pagan tribes—the Nadrovians on the Pregel, the Skalovians on the Niemen, and the Sudavians of the lake district—who continued to raid Sambia and incite the natives to revolt.

Meanwhile events were happening in the north which vitally affected East Prussia. The submission of the Kurs had been effected in 1245-50 by the Landmeister Grüningen, and his successor Stuckland, although he had to face the hostility of the Zemgals and Lithuanians, was equally successful. The Zemgals were forced to pay tribute; Kurland became a tranquil province, and a new diocese was established there. The prince of Lithuania, Mindovg1, failing to hold the Kurs and Zemgals by force, resorted to a new device. He feigned to become a convert to Christianity, was crowned king by the Bishop of Kulm, renounced all pretensions to Kurland, and endowed the Order with extensive territories in Samogitia. The simultaneous successes in Kurland and Sambia and the conversion of Mindovg led the Order to conceive the great project of uniting their territories by the annexation of Lithuania—a plan which had the hearty support of the Papal See. Stuckland in 1252 built a new town, Memel, on the Tange to prevent the import of arms to the Kurs, and to check the mutual help given to each other by the Kurs and Sambians. Communication with Memel was established by the foundation of Labiau on the Deime, and a fort called Georgenburg was boldly set up on the Niemen; so that, on the legal basis of Mindovg’s con­cessions, it was hoped to occupy Samogitia and effect a junction with Kurland at Amboten. But the Zhemoyt invested Georgenburg, and Lithuanians attacked the Livonian army at Durben in 1260 where, through the treachery of the Kurs, the Order suffered one of the greatest disasters in its history, the Landmeister, the Marshal of Prussia, and 150 Knights being left on the field. The results of this defeat were appalling. The Kurs revolted. Mindovg apostatised and over-ran Livonia. The Russians ravaged Ugenois and besieged Dorpat and Wenden; the Lithuanians swept over Livonia as far as Pemau; and the Osilians rose in Esthonia. The repercussion of these events was felt in Prussia, where the natives headed by the Sambians apostatised and threw off the German yoke. In the north the situation was restored by valour and by good fortune. The Est revolt was quelled by the Danes; the Kurs were gradually crushed; the Lithuanians were defeated at Dunam unde; and a Russo-Lithuanian force failed before Wenden. The death of Alexander Nevsky in 1263 was followed by the death of Tevtivill, the able Lithuanian ruler of Polotsk, and of Mindovg himself. Russia was weakened, and Lithuania relapsed into anarchy. The Order was able to subdue not only the Kurs, but also the stubborn Zemgals, in whose territory they built Mitau. Livonia was saved.

In Prussia, the rebellion lasted over thirteen years. The Order owed its salvation to its strong position in Kulm and Pomezania, where the population was mainly German and Polish, to the quiescence of Pomerania, to its command of sea communications, and to the assistance given it by the numerous crusaders who flocked to defend threatened Christianity. It had to deal now not with mere barbarians, but with able national leaders who had lived in Germany, had mastered the art of war, could take fortresses and work in concert. The mild attitude towards the natives was abandoned, and a policy of extermination was the German answer to the atrocities of the Prussian rebels. It is owing to the ruthless­ness displayed in this war that Prussia is today German rather than Lithuanian. Some cities held out in the darkest hour, especially Konigsberg, which was relieved by the ingenuity of a Lubeck sailor. The Knights made their greatest effort in Sambia, to which they had access by sea, and which they reduced to such a desert that forests grew where once a numerous people had dwelt. By 1263 the Sambians were practically exterminated, and in 1266 Otto of Brandenburg built a castle called after his own country. The rebels, aided by the independent Sudavians, not only held their own, but continually raided Kulmerland and Pomezania. In 1272 with the help of the Margrave of Meissen the Knights obtained some successes, but it was the death of leaders like Charles Glappon and Henry Monte which disheartened the natives, and in 127.3 the Varmians and Natangians made peace. The Bartonians followed suit, and from 1274 to 1283 the Knights took the offensive against the independent tribes. Despite a fresh rising in 1277 among the obstinate Pogezanians, who were exterminated, the Nadrovians, Skalovians, and Sudavians were reduced to obedience. A great many of the Sudavians were settled in desolate Sambia, where they retained their language for four centuries. The irreconcilables under Skurdo left Prussia for ever, and were given lands by the Lithuanians, whom they inspired with an undying hatred of the Germans. By 1283 the war was over, and Prussia was completely in the possession of the Order.

The wars with Lithuania

Successful in its Prussian mission, the Order turned its attention to Lithuania. For the Order as a religious body the conversion of the pagan Lithuanians was as natural a task as the occupation of Samogitia was essential to its political security. For the next hundred years, while the acquisition of Pomerania and its relations with Poland bring the Order most prominently before Europe, its main tasks were the colonisation of the interior and the Lithuanian Wars. The two are inseparably con­nected, because hostile raids were the chief obstacle to settlement, while systematic colonisation was the best basis for the penetration of Lithuania. The German colony of Prussia was quite small and was separated from Lithuania by an enormous area called the Wilderness. The Galindians and Sudavians of the lake district and the Jadzwings farther east had disappeared. Lithuania was practically bounded by the Niemen, so that the wide stretch of country in between, separating Prussia from Mazovia and Lithuania, was mainly forest, marsh, and lake, inhabited by a few pioneers (Prussians, Mazovians, and German adventurers). This gave the war certain peculiar features. Colonisation by means of fortified towns was the best method of defence, so we see a great development of peasant and burgher settlement. Strassburg (1285) and Neumark (132-5) defended Kulmerland on the Drewenz. In the Komturei of Christburg grew up Saalfeld (1315), Liebemühl and Deutsch Eylau (1335), Osterode and Gilgenburg (1336). From Elbing there were founded Preussisch Holland (1290) and Mohrungen (1327); in the diocese of Varmia, Guttstadt (1325), Rossel (1337), Seeburg (1338), and Allenstein (1348); in the Balga Komturei, Bartenstein and Lunenburg (1326), Preussisch Eylau and Landsberg (1335), Rastenburg (1344), and in the heart of the Wilderness Johannisburg(1345); in the Komturei of Brandenburg, Barten and Lotzen (1285). From Konigsberg were founded Gerdauen (1325), Wehlau (1335), and in 1289-93 Ragnit and Tilsit, which formed a separate Komturei. It will be noticed that each Komturei occupied a zone in the Wilderness. Another characteristic feature of the period was the development of guerrilla warfare. Already during the rebellion a band of Germans and Prussians under Martin von Golin used to make its way into hostile country, cut off supplies, kill small bodies of the enemy, and even surprise towns. Later on, they made their way through the marshes and surprised a Lithuanian ship which they successfully piloted some 250 miles down the rivers to Thorn. Another guerrilla leader Mucko is mentioned as operating in Varmia. These people were called “struter” by the Germans, “latrunculi” in the Chronicles. Even Knights of the Order did not disdain this mode of warfare, and in 1376 the Chronicler mentions them as organising an expedition pedestres more latrunculorum. Probably Skumand the Sudavian and other loyal Prussians taught the Germans this craft and shewed them the paths through the lake district. There were two main routes for the invasion of Lithuania—the route through the Wilderness to the upper Niemen, and the water route to Samogitia. The former had the merit of surprise, since no one could tell what force might emerge from those vast solitudes. On one occasion the movement of an aurochs might disclose a whole army. On another the Lithuanian prince might be captured by a small band. But the distances were great: Balga to Grodno 170 miles, Brandenburg to Merecz nearly as much. Provisions for several months had to be carried; armour could not be donned till the Niemen was near; starvation, flood, and surprise by the foe were the normal conditions of warfare. The second route was easier. Across the river from Ragnit was Samogitia, and 75 miles up the river was Kovno, from which the enemy’s capitals were quite accessible. Consequently the main German attacks were made by this route, and the prosperous city of Memel and the Komturei of Ragnit were its bases, connected by sea with Kurland and by water through Labiau with Konigsberg. The activities of the brothers Liebenzell led to the occupation of Karsovia, the western part of Samogitia, and to the establishment of a new base at Christmemel in 1315. The fate of Lithuania depended on the strip of river between Ragnit and Kovno; yet it took the Order a hundred years to occupy it. Seldom has a war been waged so stubbornly and with such ferocity. It was not uncommon for captured Knights to be burned alive in their armour and for Lithuanian raids to devastate whole areas, even in Kulmerland. The Knights used to ravage systematically and massacre all the inhabitants. On the lower Niemen castle after castle was set up by the Germans, Christmemel, Baierburg, Gotteswerder, Marienwerder, Ritterswerder, only to be captured by the enemy, whose more primitive forts, Bissene, Kolayn, Junigeda, Valevona, and Kovno, always rose again after each defeat. At least two raids were made annually into Samogitia, sometimes supported by raids from Livonia, though these were generally directed towards Upita, Vilkomir, and Vilna.

The explanation of the obstinate resistance of Lithuania is to be found in her rapid expansion under Gedymin. While Keystut (1342-82) at Kovno fought the Order, his brother Olgierd (1345-77) at Vilna was ruler of all Western Russia. The mobility of their armies was amazing. One year raiding Esthonia, another year invading the Crimea, Olgierd would leave the siege of distant Moscow and appear suddenly on the Drewenz to threaten Thom. Lithuania’s successes were facilitated by the growing hostility to the Order in Poland and by the feud in Livonia between the Order and the archbishop. A further calamity for the Order was the Esthonian revolt of 1343 and the ravages of the Black Death. But the campaigns against the pagans continued to attract crusaders, and the house of Luxemburg were specially fervent supporters of the Order. John of Bohemia made three great expeditions to Lithuania, while Lewis of Hungary, Albert of Austria, Lewis of Brandenburg, Charles of Lorraine, William of Holland, Henry of Derby, and many others made the Crusade there. In 1348 a great victory was won on the Strawa over Keystut and Olgierd by Winrich von Kniprode, whose tenure of the Grand Mastership (1351—82) was the golden age of the Order. He died the same year as Keystut and Lewis of Hungary and Poland; and the next year saw a political revolution of sinister import for the Order. By the Treaty of Volkovysk the Poles effected by diplomacy what the Germans had failed to do in a century of warfare—the conversion of the Lithuanians to Christianity. Olgierd’s son Jagiello was to marry Jadwiga Queen of Poland. The conversion of Lithuania changed the whole situation for the Order, and marks the end of the Baltic Crusades.

The dynastic union of Poland and Lithuania was the direct result of the aggressive policy of the Order. Although the Poles had supported the Knights against Sventopelk, they came to see that the Pomeranian prince had been right, that the Order did not intend to share its conquests with any ally, and that it was becoming a far more formidable neighbour than the barbarian Prussians. Moreover the national feeling, just then reviving in Poland, was conscious of the dangerous German element with which it was confronted. The external aggrandisement of Brandenburg, the German colonisation of West Pomerania and Lower Silesia, were no less a menace than the widespread settlement of Germans inside Poland, especially in the towns. The settlement of German peasants and burghers in Prussia was a further economic and political blow. The loss of Kulm seemed permanent, and the Order was casting covetous eyes on Dobrzyn, Michalow, and the Mazovian borderlands. It was the Pomeranian question which brought matters to a crisis. The adroit diplomacy by which the Order was wont to extract profit from its disasters was never better displayed than in their occupation of strategic points on the Vistula during the war with Sventopelk. They received further accessions of territory on the death of his son. But it was when Pomerania passed by inheritance to a Polish prince that an opportunity for interference really presented itself. By unscrupulous tactics and by violence culminating in the notorious massacre at Danzig, they gained possession of all Eastern Pomerania. This high-handed action first revealed to Europe how far the Order had abandoned its Christian ideal, and earned for it the undying hatred of the Poles. Securely established in the Vistula delta, the Order decided to make Prussia the centre of its possessions. The Grand Master, who had moved from Acre to Venice in 1291, took up his residence in 1309 in the magnificent castle recently built at Marienburg. The reasons for this step were the failure of the Crusades in Palestine and the need for justifying the existence of the Order. It was scarcely a coincidence that the transference took place during the trial of the Templars in France. The change also marks the formal appearance of the Order as a territorial power in Europe, and was a recognition of the vitality with which German life was pulsating in outlying colonies when the Empire was declining. The Order’s relations with Henry VII reveal it as a German colony, not an international crusade. Once the spoilt child of the Papal See, the Order had found Boniface VIII supporting its enemy Poland, and its policy was to ignore his weaker successors and seek support among the German princes. In the long process of the Poles against the Order—one of the most elaborate lawsuits of the time—and in the wars and diplo­matic struggles that ensued, the Order was consistently supported by the Bohemian kings, while Poland sought aid from the Angevins of Hungary. The first wars of Poland against the Order (1326-33) were purely defensive and confined to the maintenance of integral parts of Poland like Kujawia, Mazovia, and Dobrzyn rather than to the recovery of Pomerania. Such, at any rate, was the policy of that stern realist Casimir the Great who, by the Peace of Kalisz in 1343, definitely shelved the Pomeranian question and left the Order for over sixty years in undisturbed possession of its gains.

Between the Peace of Kalisz and the “Great War” the Order attained its greatest power and influence, and amazed Europe by its military strength, its wealth and prosperity. Apart from its estates in Germany and Italy, the Order was now the supreme power in Esthonia—Danish Esthonia had been annexed in 1346—Livonia, Kurland, Prussia, and East Pomerania. By the purchase of the Neumark in 1402 its position in West Pomerania was strengthened, and the occupation of Samogitia gave it an unbroken territory from the Narva to the Oder. All these lands were ruled by the Grand Master (Magister generalis, Hochmeister) from his capital at Marienburg. The Grand Master was elected for life by all the Knights at a general Chapter. The Order was nominally subject to the Pope and the Emperor; but in practice these feudal relationships were manipulated with great dexterity. While the Papacy was strong, the Order was its most devoted servant. When it was weak, the Order ignored its exhortations on behalf of Poland or the Archbishop of Riga. The bond with the Empire was regarded as a means of support rather than as involving any responsibility. In practice, then, the sovereignty of the lands of the Order, with certain qualifications, rested in the Grand Master and his Council, which consisted of the five chief officials—the Grosskomtur, the Ordensmarschall, the Spittier, the Trapier, and the Tressler. The administration was subject to the criticism of the Grand Chapter of the Knights, which met annually in September. Under the Grand Master were the Deutschmeister and a few lesser officials in charge of the scattered Balleien of the Order, the Landmeister of Prussia, and the Landmeister of Livonia. But even in Prussia the Order had to share its possessions with the ecclesiastical bodies—the four bishops and the four cathedral chapters; these received definite parts of their dioceses in which they were absolute landowners with their own jurisdictions and administrative officials; so that Prussia really consisted of eight distinct States besides the Order. The partition of the land was carried out during the conquest by William of Modena on the principle that two- thirds of each area was awarded to the Order and one-third to the bishop, of whose share one-third went to the chapter. In the diocese of Kulm, owing to the dispute with its first bishop, the apostle Christian, the episcopal estate was less than a third and was mainly in Lobau, with smaller tracts of land at Kulmsee where the cathedral was situated. The Bishop of Pomezania was granted actually a third of his diocese—a compact estate between the Vistula, the Ossa, and the lakes, with a cathedral at Marienwerder. The Bishop of Sambia, too, received a third of Sambia proper, but a very small addition (near Insterburg) from the later extension of his diocese between the Pregel and the Niemen. The largest diocese was that of Varmia, embracing the whole centre of Prussia from the Komturei of Elbing to the Pregel. The bishop received as his property the central portion with a cathedral at Frauenburg. These large ecclesiastical domains were administered by the bishops and chapters quite independently of the Order. But in practice, in lands that were surrounded by the territories of the Order, they found it expedient to conform to the administrative system and customs of the Order. The Grand Master had control of foreign affairs, war, and peace, and the ecclesiastical troops served under him in the field. Moreover, three of the chapters were persuaded to accept the Rule of the Order, so that the difference between the Priest Brothers and the canons disappeared except in the diocese of Varmia, where the bishops, who were great colonisers and soldiers, were more independent, like the Livonian bishops. In these ecclesiastical domains there were landowners—vassals of the bishops, towns, monasteries, and peasants, to whom they granted privileges. All four bishops were subordinate to the Archbishop of Riga.

The rest of Prussia was administered by the Landmeister. The unit of organisation was the “House”, a group of twelve or more Knight Brothers with Priest Brothers and Serving Brothers, who led a communal life in a castle under a Konitur (Commendator) or a Pfleger, and occupied a definite area called a Komturei. All the Knights took the oath of chastity, obedience, and poverty, i.e. they could not own land or marry, and their life was one of equality, stem discipline, and war against the heathen. With the growing prosperity of the Order these ideals ceased to influence the Knights. From such small “Houses” grew the great Komtureien into which Prussia was divided. They were ten in number. Kulm, from its special position as a semi-Polish region, had a special Landkomtur with subordinate Komturs at Thorn, Graudenz, Golub, Strassburg, Kulmsee, and Birgelau. It comprised such parts of Kulmerland and Lobau as were not under the bishop. The small region of Marienburg was under the Grosskomtur. The great part of Pomezania became the Komturei of Christburg and extended south into the Wilderness at Osterode, which in 1341 became a separate Komturei with new castles at Soldau (1349), Hohenstein (1359), and Neidenburg (1376) in Galindia. The Komturei of Elbing comprised the Pogezanian land and possessed an isolated portion of the Wilderness with castles at Ortelsburg and Passenheim. East of the bishopric of Varmia were the two Komtureien of Balga and Brandenburg, originally small coast districts but gradually extending in thin strips to occupy all the Sudavian lake region. Farther east was the great Komturei of Konigsberg, usually held by the Ordensmarschall, originally comprising Sambia only, but later occupying the vast land of the Nadrovians on the Pregel and Angerapp. In the far north the Komturei of Ragnit was an important military area, and the small Komturei of Memel was annexed to Prussia in 1328, but remained part of the diocese of Kurland.

In the wide territories of the Order sweeping changes had taken place through the conquest. From the first, the Order shewed that it intended to base its power in the new colony on German elements, and it took advantage of conditions in Germany to attract nobles, burghers, and peasants to Prussia. In the lands of the Order, as well as in the ecclesiastical domains, there grew up a large class of vassals who held land on feudal tenure and formed an important part of the military forces. Beginning with a charter to Dietrich von Tiefenau in 1236, a great number of nobles, at first from Westphalia and later from Thuringia and Franconia, received privileges. Polish knights also settled down as vassals and formed an important part of the nobility of Kulmerland. Even some of the Prussian nobles retained their lands, but they gradually became Germanised. The wide liberties granted to urban and rural communities, under the Kulmische Handfeste (1233)’ and similar charters, attracted large numbers of German settlers to Prussia. The foundation of a castle on the site of an old town like Thorn or Kulm, or in a new strategic position like Christburg or Balga, soon led to the growth of a town. The Prussian towns, with full autonomy, were allowed to group themselves together as members of the Hansa League, and played a separate, but very prosperous part in the history of the colony. The peasants were partly Prussians, especially in Sambia, partly Polish (in Kulmerland) and Pomeranian (in Pomezania). The natives were at first well treated by Balke, but after the revolts those who survived had their liberties cur­tailed and soon sank to serfdom. The position of the German peasants is of special interest. Even if we admit that the life of the medieval peasants was far more fluid than used to be supposed, that by negotiation, revolt, or desertion they could better their position, the German peasants had special opportunities for migration into the east. In Prussia, as in Poland, there was a vast field for settlement under conditions far better than in the homeland. Their migration took place in groups under a tocator who usually settled down with land of his own as Schultheiss or head of the village, which became a corporate community with its own privileges and law based on the Kulmische Handfeste. The peasants in Prussia had as their main obligation the payment of rent and feudal dues to the Order, bishop, or vassal on whose land they settled. But they possessed their own land and were not burdened at first by “forced labour,” since their land­lords were soldiers rather than agriculturists. They had to perform certain labour for the army, in which the Schultheiss was forced to serve. During the early period, then, the German peasants were not badly off, because it was in the interests of the Order to attract colonists to fill the empty spaces of Prussia and to supply labour for military purposes.

Colonisation. Administration of Livonia

The colonisation of Prussia was successful because it was near to Germany and because Germany had the men to send. It was only 260 miles from Meissen, itself about 100 miles from Weimar, to Thorn through Kottbus, Zbandzin, and Poznán (Posen). Along this road in the thirteenth century marched crusaders, adventurous younger sons, monks, burghers, and peasants to the new colony. Even by sea it was only half as far from Lubeck to Königsberg as to Dünamünde. Thus, while Livonia, with its numerous peasant serfs, attracted the nobility of West­phalia and the traders of Bremen and Lubeck, Germans of every class and from a wide area flocked to Prussia. The first settlements at Kulm were among a Polish population, but German colonisation established itself firmly in Pomezania, along the coast, and in Sambia. These early settlements clung to the waterways, and all advanced posts inland disappeared in the great revolt. The first capital, Kulm, gave place to Elbing and then to Marienburg. Elbing became a prosperous port which, like Danzig and Riga, possessed considerable territory and was the seat of a Komtur. Balga, Brandenburg, and Konigsberg, at first mere outposts, became great centres of military movements and of colonisation. The second wave of colonisation after the Prussian war, in the years 1285­1350, has been mentioned. The third advance in the days of Kniprode is marked by the activity of the Komturs in the Wilderness, especially at Osterode (1341), Ortelsburg (1360), Rhein (1377), Seesten (1374), and round advanced posts like Angerburg, Insterburg, Lyck, and Johannisburg. During this period the central inland part of Prussia really became a German colony, but it was not till the cessation of Lithuanian raids that permanent settlement took place in the Wilderness. Pomerania, which had been divided into six Komtureien at Danzig, Dirschau, Mewe, Schwetz, Tuchol, and Schlockau, also received German colonists in the towns, but the country remained Slav.

Livonia, a far larger country than Prussia, always retained important features of its own. In relation to the Grand Master the Livonian Landmeister was far more independent than the Prussian Landmeister. But his power over the colony was far less, because in Livonia the bishop had been the chief founder of the colony. The ecclesiastical territories were larger than the lands of the Order, though the Order had received the lion’s share of the more recent conquests in Kurland and Semigallia, where new Komtureien were established at Goldingen, Amboten, Mitau, Frauenburg, Neuenburg, Doblen,and finally at Dünabuig in 1275. With the annexation of Danish Esthonia in 1346 the Order’s lands were ruled by about 20 Komturs and 13 Vogts. The Lithuanian wars enhanced the prestige of the Knights, and its position in relation to the Church was strengthened by the depression of the natives to serfdom and the immigration of nobles. The depression of the peasants was a natural phenomenon. They were all natives who spoke no German, they were mostly captured in war and on many occasions revolted, particularly in Esthonia where the “jacquerie” of 1343-45 was one of the most serious peasant outbreaks in the Middle Ages. Only a few groups of natives, like the so-called Kur “kings”, retained their liberties. The nobles, while they obtained relatively small estates in the lands of the Order, grew very powerful in the ecclesiastical domains and in Danish Esthonia. They began to combine as in the Dorpat League of 1304, and from the Landtag of Pernau in 1315 an active constitutional life began, such as did not exist in Prussia till the middle of the fifteenth century. The strong position of their vassals—the Uexkülld, Tiesenhausens, Rosens, Ungern-Stembergs, and others—weakened the position of the bishops; and from the time of Albert Suerbeer, a German from Cologne who had been Primate of Ireland and became in 1253 Archbishop of Esthonia, Livonia, Kurland, and Prussia, a long struggle for predominance began. The purchase of Dünamünde by the Order and the capture of Riga in 1330 were the first events in a struggle in which one side called in the pagan Lithuanians, the other the Russians—a feud which only ended with the Reformation, and which raised the nobility to unexampled power. The history of the towns belongs more properly to the history of the Hansa League, and rivalled the prosperous development of Danzig and Elbing. Above all Riga, situated on two great trade routes, was the seat of the archbishop and the capital of the Landmeister. Apart from internal differences Livonia was sharply divided from Prussia by its interest in Russia and its complete detachment from the Polish question, which became the main preoccupation of the Prussian Knights.

The dynastic union of Poland and Lithuania made war with the Order inevitable. One of the terms of the treaty had been that Jagiello should recover the lost lands of the Polish crown, but any hope of recovering Pomerania seems to have died down in Poland, while the reoccupation of Kulmerland was not even thought of. In 1404 Poland solemnly reiterated her renunciation of all claims to Pomerania. The direct causes of the “Great War” were the occupation of Samogitia by the Knights and the frontier questions involved in the purchase of the Neumark by the Order in 1402. Brandenburg had once been a great danger to Poland, but had declined with the rise of the Order. The possibility of a union between the two—as history shewed later—would be fatal to her existence as a State. The war was delayed by the tortuous developments of Lithuanian policy under Vitold, which were due to the presence in Lithuania, alongside the Catholic, philo-Polish party, of a pagan element in Samogitia which followed the traditions of Keystut, and of a great Orthodox population in the Russian provinces which drew Vitold into Muscovite and Tartar questions away from Poland and Prussia. Swayed by the ambition to create a great Russian Empire and drive the Tartars over the Volga, Vitold was for a time indifferent to the fate of Samogitia. After the disaster of the Vorskla in 1399 he pursued a more purely Lithuanian policy, which gave a possible basis for co-operation with Jagiello; and when the crisis became acute in 1409 he joined Poland in the war against the Order. The first year of the war was indecisive, but the second year saw the complete overthrow of the military power of the Order at the battle which the Germans call Tannenberg, the Poles Grunwald. The Order survived this disaster through the support of Hungary, the arrival of help from Livonia and the Neumark, the withdrawal of Vitold, and the exhaustion of Poland. The land was all occupied by the Poles except a few castles, but by the peace that followed only Samogitia was given up. But the Order was doomed. Mercenaries took the place of the old levies and crusaders, and a second war (1414-22) ended indecisively. A third war, due to the rise of the Russian party under Swidrygiello, culminated in the decisive victory of Zygmunt, Jagiello’s cousin, at Vilkomir in 1435. Jagiello had won over his Russian subjects by the concession of political rights, and his successors now took advantage of the situation in Prussia, where the colony was in revolt against the Order, to hold out the lure of Polish constitutional liberties to the nobles and cities. The first appearance of constitutional life in Prussia was the Prussian League (1240), initiated by the Polish nobles of Kulmerland and directed against the oppressive rule of the Order. In the last war (1454-66) the Knights of the Order with their castles and mercenaries had to fight against their own vassals and cities as well as against the Poles. Danzig, in particular, threw all her wealth and men into the struggle against the Order. The ferocity and greed of the mercenaries on both sides made the war a tedious succession of sieges and devastations, in the course of which it is calculated that the Order, the Prussians, and Poland each lost 100,000 men. At one time Poland possessed nearly the whole of Prussia, but the victory at Konitz (Chojnice) enabled the Order to recover, and in the end the Poles, who shewed great diplomatic ability in dealing with the European powers, consented to a partition of Prussia. The Peace of Thom was concluded in 1466 on the following terms: (1) The annexation to Poland of Kulmerland, Pomerania, Marienburg, Elbing, and the diocese of Varmia. (2) The Order to retain the Komtureien of Christburg, Elbing (without its capital city), Osterode, Balga, Brandenburg, Konigsberg, Ragnit, and Memel. (3) The Grand Master to do homage to the Polish king for these lands. (4) The Order to be open to Poles.

Prussia was henceforth divided into the lands of the Order with Konigsberg as capital and Royal Prussia, which was divided into three Wojewodztwa and became an integral part of Poland. It was granted a very extensive autonomy including a Senate and House of Deputies presided over by the Bishop of Varmia, who had made a special treaty by which his vast possessions became a principality and his diocese was held directly from the Pope. The line of Prince-Bishops contained many eminent Polish scholars from Kromer the historian to Krasicki the satirist; but Varmia’s chief title to fame is the tomb of Copernicus in the magnificent cathedral at Frauenburg, where the great astronomer lived and worked. The struggle of the Order against Poland became an internal one, and the Grand Masters constantly refused to do homage to the kings. But the most important development in the fifteenth century was the colonisation of the Wilderness. It had been the deliberate policy of the Order, for military reasons, to keep Galindia and Sudavia a desert and concentrate their energies on the northern frontier, so that only a scattered population fished and hunted in the lake district—nomad out­posts who may be compared with the early Cossacks in the Russian borderlands, save that they lacked the stimulus of religious and national fervour which led the latter to combine in free communities. With the cessation of the great Lithuanian raids this region became open for settlement. The Bishops of Varmia were the first to plant settlers in the southern part of their lands. The “progress'” of Kniprode through the Wilderness in 1377 was symptomatic of the growing importance of the south. The hostile raids gave place to regular warfare on the lower Niemen and the Vistula, which did not affect the colonisation but rather brought fresh human material. The Prussian natives were few in number, but the wars brought in refugees from the devastated areas of Prussia and Poland and Lithuanian converts. Above all, Mazovia, the most densely populated part of Poland, sent so many emigrants over the border that Galindia and Sudavia are now known as the Mazurian lake district. When the Order lost its best provinces it was natural that an intensive colonisa­tion of the south should take place. New Komtureien appeared at Rhein and Insterburg, but generally settlement proceeded through smaller units under a Pfleger. Round Rastenburg, Rhein, Angerburg, Lyck, Johannis- burg, and Ortelsburg appeared numerous settlements which received privileges under feudal law, canon law, local custom, and burgher law, especially Kulm law. German nobles and burghers and Mazovian peasants formed the majority. The rent registers of Elbing, Balga, and Brandenburg shew the phenomenal growth of settlement, and when Prussian settlers reached the borders of Mazovia and met Lithuanian settlers in the new Wojewodztwo of Troki, the Wilderness disappeared.

Meanwhile the Grand Masters realised the artificial position of a crusading Order in the fifteenth century, and saw in the lax morality of the Knights and their privileges over the other classes the need for drastic reform. They sought for help in Germany, and it was no accident that a Hohenzollern was chosen as head of the Order. Albert, the last of the religious Grand Masters, took advantage of the Reformation to break off from the Order and transform its Prussian territory in 1525 into an hereditary, secular duchy under the suzerainty of the King of Poland. With the extinction of his line in 1611, the Brandenburg branch of the family succeeded to the duchy and availed themselves of the em­barrassments of Poland to throw off the suzerainty of the king. Royal Prussia remained part of Poland till the Partitions; and Chelmno and East Pomerania were reunited to the other Polish lands in 1919. Livonia recovered from the disaster of 1435, but was faced with the rise of a dangerous neighbour in Moscow, which threw off the Tartar yoke and annexed Novgorod. The danger was averted by the statesmanship of a great soldier and diplomat, Walter von Plettenberg (1494-1535), but the weakness of the Order excited the cupidity of Sweden and Denmark. The last Master, Gotthard Kettler, solicited the support of Poland and, following the example of Albert, formed a secular duchy of Kurland and Semigallia for his own family under Polish and Lithuanian suzerainty. Ivan IV failed to make any permanent gains, and after the great Northern War Poland obtained the south-east of Livonia with Marienhausen and Dünaburg, the rest falling to Sweden. The Swedish part was conquered by Russia in 1721, the Polish part fell to Russia at the Second Partition. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 the whole region was divided between the new republics of Esthonia and Latvia.

The great services rendered to civilisation by the achievements of the two Orders were the conversion of the pagan tribes and the colonisation of the waste spaces of Northern Europe. This was carried out partly by the ideals of the Orders and the zeal of the preachers and monks who accompanied them, and partly by a wonderful military organisation, made possible by the permanence and concentration of energy of a corporation which was in itself a standing army and united its vassals, its native subjects, its allies, and large forces of crusaders under a common banner. A direct result of these efforts was a great development of muni­cipal life, trade, and commerce which did for the Baltic Sea what had been done by the Italians in the Mediterranean. If the rise of the Hansa League was due largely to the independent enterprise of German cities, it was the Order which built, developed, and administered, and gave it security in the lands where its trade thrived most. And in these lands art and learning flourished, particularly in the construction of magnificent castles and cathedrals and in the account of human events recorded by the accurate rhymed Chronicles and in the fine history of such an annalist as Henry the Lett. Generally speaking, the history of the Teutonic Order is one of the most glorious achievements of the Middle Ages, and, in a narrower sense, it is the greatest triumph of medieval German civilisation. The work of the Swedes in Finland was on a smaller scale, the brilliant expansion of civilisation by the Poles and Russians was less complete.

The darker side of the picture shows the extermination or reduction to serfdom of almost all the natives of the new colonies, the decadence of morals among the Knights and the continuance of strife and intrigue when the work of conversion was accomplished, the retention of privileges by the Knights over the subjects of the Order which led inevitably to revolt, and the aggrandisement of Prussia at the expense of its Christian neighbours which led ultimately to defeat. A religious Order of soldiers had become an anachronism in the fifteenth century if it failed —as the Teutonic Order failed—to turn its arms against the infidel. The Order was not dissolved, as is sometimes stated, since it retained its possessions in Germany and Italy, and as late as 1784 the first History of the Order is dedicated to its contemporary Grand Master, Maximilian of Austria. But in Prussia and in Livonia it suffered defeat, and then simply disappeared beneath the rising tide of Protestantism. When Albert secularised his lands, all but five of the Knights had abandoned the Rule of the Order.

The rise and decay of an institution is a natural phenomenon, but certain later developments can be traced back to the activities of the Order. The establishment of a German colony in East Prussia and of German upper and middle classes in Livonia was permanent, and the unfortunate fact that these colonies cut two great Slav races off from the sea and planted Germans amid a Slav population in Prussia and among the Letts and Ests of the Baltic, left to posterity an ethnological puzzle in Livonia and a national feud and complex political problem between Germans and Poles. The aggression of the Order led to the Union of Poland with Lithuania and the rise of a new great Power with parliamentary institutions. The long Prussian wars enabled the Polish gentry to extract from their kings, in return for financial support, wide constitutional liberties, which enabled the kingdom of Prussia, later on, to hinder reform and bring about the partition of Poland. The German nobles in the Baltic Provinces, after contributing to the rise of Sweden, were utilised by Peter the Great, after 1721, to mould his administrative machine, and played an important part in the maintenance of the autocratic principle in Russia. If the civilisation of the Baltic had been achieved by international co-operation rather than by a German association, it might have been slower and less methodical, but it would not have left so unfortunate a legacy to later history.

 

CHAPTER X

THE POPES OF AVIGNON AND THE GREAT SCHISM