Pieniężno [pʲɛˈɲɛ̃ʐnɔ] (German:
Mehlsack (help·info)) is a town on the Wałsza River in
Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland. It is located in Braniewo
County and had a population of 2,975 in 2004.
During the Middle Ages, an Old Prussian fort called Malcekuke, loosely
translated as "woods of the subterraneous" or "devil's ground", was
located near the current site of Pieniężno. This was linguistically
corrupted by German settlers to Mehlsack, meaning "flour sack", and
Poles to Melzak. In the 14th century it was founded as a town
west of Heilsberg (Lidzbark) in Warmia.
The town's coat of arms depicts three bags of flour spaced in between
a golden sword and a silver key, all on a blue background. The website
recalls a story that the inhabitants defied a Swedish siege in the
17th century by spilling their last sack of flour as a deception to
convince them that they still had plenty of food left.
Teutonic Knights built an
Ordensburg castle near Malcekuke in
1302. Both the castle and the town which developed nearby were
destroyed during warfare between the Teutonic Order and the Kingdom of
Poland in 1414. During the Thirteen Years' War, Mehlsack surrendered
to the Order, and the castle burned down during Poland's recapture of
Nicolaus Copernicus was an administrator for the districts
Allenstein (Olsztyn) and Mehlsack for a few years in the early 16th
century. From October 1518 - March 1519 Copernicus was based out of
the castle while he settled nearby villages. From 1589-1599, Prince
Andrew Cardinal Báthory
Andrew Cardinal Báthory of Transylvania, cousin of Sigismund
Báthory, was the administrator for the castle. In 1550, the Prussian
army laid siege to the city and partially burned it down.
The town was captured by Swedish troops in 1626 during the
Polish-Swedish War of 1625-29, recovered by
Hetman Stanisław Rewera
Potocki, and then had its castle partially destroyed by Swedish troops
in 1627. The town hall, dating from the 14th century and rebuilt in
the 15th century, was destroyed during the Swedish occupation in 1626.
It was rebuilt in 1666, but burnt in a fire the same year, only to be
rebuilt again in 1770. The castle was restyled in 1640 with Baroque
gables, and its function changed from being a fortress to being a
The town was annexed by the
Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia during the First
Poland in 1772, and administered in the Province of East
Prussia the following year. It became part of the
German Empire in
1871 during the Prussian-led unification of Germany.
During the 19th and 20th centuries the castle lost some of its Gothic
and Baroque features, and in 1870 its eastern and southern wings were
demolished after extensive deterioration. The remainder of the castle
was used as administrative offices for Prussian officials. From
1920-31 the western wing was renovated so the castle could be used as
a school and museum.
In 1945, near the end of World War II, Mehlsack, including its castle,
was 90 per cent destroyed by fighting and was conquered by the Soviet
Red Army. The town was placed under Polish administration under border
changes demanded by the
Soviet Union at the postwar Potsdam
Conference. Most of the remaining German-speaking residents were
expelled and replaced with Poles, many of whom had themselves been
expelled from Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union. The town was
renamed from Mehlsack to
Pieniężno after Seweryn Pieniężny
(1852-1894), an editor for the Polish-language newspaper Gazeta
Olsztyn (then Allenstein, East Prussia, Germany).
^ M. Kaemmerer (2004). Ortsnamenverzeichnis der Ortschaften jenseits
von Oder u. Neiße (in German). ISBN 3-7921-0368-0.
Coordinates: 54°14′N 20°08′E / 54.233°N 20.133°E /
Town and seat