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Prussia
Prussia
(Old Prussian: Prūsa, German: Preußen, Lithuanian: Prūsija, Polish: Prusy, Russian: Пруссия) is a historical region in Europe, stretching from Gdańsk Bay
Gdańsk Bay
to the end of Curonian Spit
Curonian Spit
on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea, and extending inland as far as Masuria. The territory and inhabitants were described by Tacitus
Tacitus
in Germania
Germania
in AD 98, where Suebi, Goths
Goths
and other Germanic people lived on both sides of the Vistula
Vistula
River, adjacent to the Aesti
Aesti
(further east). About 800 to 900 years later the Aesti
Aesti
were named Old Prussians, who since 997 repeatedly successfully defended against take-over attempt by the newly created Duchy of the Polans. The territory of the Old Prussians
Old Prussians
and neighboring Curonians
Curonians
and Livonians was unified politically in the 1230s as the Teutonic Order State. Prussia
Prussia
was politically divided between 1466 and 1772, with western Prussia
Prussia
under protection of the Crown of Poland
Poland
and eastern Prussia
Prussia
a Polish–Lithuanian fief until 1660. The unity of both parts of Prussia
Prussia
remained preserved by retaining its borders, citizenship and autonomy until western and eastern Prussia
Prussia
were also politically reunited under the German Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
(which despite the name was based in Berlin, Brandenburg). It is famous for many lakes, as well as forests and hills. Since the military conquest of the area by the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
in 1945 and the expulsion of the German-speaking inhabitants it was divided between northern Poland
Poland
(most of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship), Russia's Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
exclave, and southwestern Lithuania
Lithuania
(Klaipėda Region). The former German kingdom and later state of Prussia
Prussia
(1701–1947) derived its name from the region.

Contents

1 Prehistory and early history 2 Old Prussians 3 Christianization and the Teutonic Order State 4 Early modern era 5 Modern era 6 See also 7 References

Prehistory and early history[edit] The area was settled by the bearers of the Corded Ware culture
Corded Ware culture
in the 4th millennium BC.[citation needed] These were presumably the early Indo-European speakers,[citation needed] which in the Baltic would diversify into the satem Balto-Slavic
Balto-Slavic
branch which would ultimately give rise to the Balts
Balts
as the speakers of the Baltic languages. The Balts
Balts
would have become differentiated into Western and Eastern Balts in the late centuries BC. The region was inhabited by ancestors of Western Balts
Balts
– Old Prussians, Sudovians/Jotvingians, Scalvians, Nadruvians, and Curonians
Curonians
while the eastern Balts
Balts
settled in what is now Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus). The Greek explorer Pytheas
Pytheas
(4th century BC) may have referred to the territory as Mentenomon[citation needed] and to the inhabitants as Guttones (neighbours of the Teutones, probably referring to the Goths). A river to the east of the Vistula
Vistula
was called the Guttalus, perhaps corresponding to the Nemunas, the Łyna, or the Pregola. In AD 98 Tacitus
Tacitus
described one of the tribes living near the Baltic Sea (Latin: Mare Suebicum) as Aestiorum gentes and amber-gatherers. The Vikings
Vikings
started to penetrate the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea in the 7th and 8th centuries. The largest trade centres of the Prussians, such as Truso and Kaup, seem to have absorbed a number of Norse people[citation needed]. Prussians used the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
as a trading route, frequently travelling from Truso to Birka
Birka
(in present-day Sweden). At the end of the Viking Age, the sons of Danish kings Harald Bluetooth and Cnut the Great
Cnut the Great
launched several expeditions against the Prussians. They destroyed many areas in Prussia, including Truso and Kaup, but failed to dominate the population totally. A Viking (Varangian) presence in the area was "less than dominant and very much less than imperial."[1] Further information: Truso According to a legend, recorded by Simon Grunau,[citation needed] the name Prussia
Prussia
is derived from Pruteno (or Bruteno), the chief priest of Prussia
Prussia
and brother of the legendary king Widewuto, who lived in the 6th century. The regions of Prussia
Prussia
and the corresponding tribes are said to bear the names of Widewuto's sons — for example, Sudovia is named after Widewuto's son Sudo. The territory was probably identified as Brus in the 8th-century map of the Bavarian Geographer. The name has nothing to do with the fact the region is situated between the present day countries of Poland
Poland
and Russia, therefore merging the two names to create "Prussia".[citation needed] The Old Prussians
Old Prussians
spoke a variety of languages, with Old Prussian belonging to the Western branch of the Baltic language group. Old Prussian, or related Western Baltic dialects, may have been spoken as far southeast as Mazovia
Mazovia
and even Belarus[citation needed] in the early medieval period, but these populations would probably have undergone Slavicization before the 10th century.[citation needed] Meanwhile, the big part of later Prussia, west of Vistula
Vistula
and south of Osa rivers, has been inhabited by Lechitic (Polish and Pomeranian) tribes.

Medieval depiction of Prussians killing Saint Adalbert, the missionary bishop; part of the Gniezno Doors, c. 1175.

A Prussian Hag – Old Prussian
Old Prussian
statue, now in Gdańsk, Poland

Map of Old Prussian
Old Prussian
tribes in the 13th century. The indicated cities and castles were built by the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
to facilitate the conquest.

Old Prussians[edit] Main article: Old Prussians

The Prussian tribes in the context of the other Baltic tribes, c. 1200. The Eastern Balts
Balts
are shown in brown hues while the Western Balts
Balts
are shown in green. The boundaries are approximate.

In the first half of the 13th century, Bishop Christian of Prussia recorded the history of a much earlier era. Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen
mentions Prussians in 1072. After the Christianisations of the West Slavs in the 10th century, the state of the Polans was established and there were first attempts at conquering and baptizing the Baltic peoples. Bolesław I Chrobry
Bolesław I Chrobry
sent Adalbert of Prague
Adalbert of Prague
in 997 on a military and Christianizing mission. Adalbert, accompanied by armed guards, attempted to convert the Prussians to Christianity. He was killed by a Prussian pagan priest in 997.[2] In 1015, Bolesław sent soldiers again, with some short-lived success, gaining regular paid tribute from some Prussians in the border regions, but it did not last. Polish rulers sent invasions to the territory in 1147, 1161–1166, and a number of times in the early 13th century. While these were repelled by the Prussians, the Chełmno Land became exposed to their frequent raids. At that time, Pomerelia
Pomerelia
belonged to the diocese of Włocławek, while Chełmno belonged to the diocese of Płock. Christianization and the Teutonic Order State[edit] Main article: Teutonic Order state In the beginning of the 13th century, Konrad of Mazovia
Mazovia
had called for Crusades and tried for years to conquer Prussia, but failed. Thus the pope set up further crusades. Finally the Duke invited the Teutonic Knights to fight the inhabitants of Prussia
Prussia
in exchange for a fief of Chełmno Land. Prussia
Prussia
was conquered by the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
during the Prussian Crusade
Prussian Crusade
and administered within their Teutonic Order state, which begins the process of Germanization
Germanization
in the area as part of the Drang Nach Osten. After the acquisition of Pomerelia
Pomerelia
in 1308–1310, the meaning of the term Prussia
Prussia
was widened to include areas west of the Vistula. The city of Königsberg
Königsberg
(modern Kaliningrad) was founded in 1255, and joined the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
in 1340. Danzig
Danzig
(Gdańsk) followed in 1361. From this time Prussia
Prussia
was connected to the trade network spanning throughout the North Sea
North Sea
and the Baltic Sea. With the Second Peace of Thorn
Second Peace of Thorn
(1466), Prussia
Prussia
was divided into eastern and western parts. The western part became the province of Royal Prussia
Prussia
adjacent to the Kingdom of Poland, while the eastern part of the monastic state became a fief of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1492, a life of Saint Dorothea of Montau, published in Marienburg (Malbork), became the first printed publication in Prussia.

The Chronicon terrae Prussiae is the first major chronicle of the Teutonic Order in Prussia

The political center of Prussia
Prussia
until 1466 was the Ordensburg Marienburg in what is now Malbork, Poland

Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
circa. 1260

Early modern era[edit] Main articles: Royal Prussia, Duchy of Prussia, Brandenburg-Prussia, and King in Prussia During the Protestant
Protestant
Reformation, endemic religious upheavals and wars occurred[citation needed], and in 1525, the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Albert of Brandenburg, a member of a cadet branch of the House of Hohenzollern, adopted the Lutheran
Lutheran
faith, resigned his position, and assumed the title of "Duke of Prussia". In a deal partially brokered by Martin Luther, the Duchy of Prussia became the first Protestant
Protestant
state and a vassal of Poland. The ducal capital of Königsberg, now Kaliningrad, became a centre of learning and printing through the establishment of the Albertina University in 1544 for not only the dominant German culture, but also the thriving Polish and Lithuanian communities as well. It was in Königsberg
Königsberg
that the first Lutheran
Lutheran
books in Polish, Lithuanian, and Prussian languages were published. Rulership of Ducal Prussia
Prussia
passed to the senior Hohenzollern
Hohenzollern
branch, the ruling Margraves of Brandenburg, in 1618, and Polish sovereignty over the duchy ended in 1657 with the Treaty of Wehlau. Because Ducal Prussia
Prussia
lay outside of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick I achieved the elevation of the duchy to the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
in 1701. The former ducal lands became known as East Prussia. In Royal Prussia, an autonomous region, under the King of Poland- Lithuania
Lithuania
the official language was still German. Its population was partly Polish Catholic
Catholic
(Chełmno Land, Kociewie, Kashubia
Kashubia
and Sztum) and partly German Protestant
Protestant
(Thorn/Toruń, Gdańsk/Danzig, the Żuławy Wiślane
Żuławy Wiślane
and Elbląg/Elbing). Gdańsk
Gdańsk
had about 50,000 inhabitants, while even Kraków
Kraków
had only 20,000. Toruń and Elbląg
Elbląg
were also large cities, with 10,000 burghers. Gdańsk
Gdańsk
and the Żuławy Wiślane
Żuławy Wiślane
were partly Dutch, with some Calvinists
Calvinists
and Mennonites. Lithuanian culture thrived in the western part of the region known as Lithuania
Lithuania
Minor, while the Kursenieki
Kursenieki
lived along the coast in the vicinity of the Curonian and Vistula
Vistula
Spits. Royal Prussia
Prussia
was annexed from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
by the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
during the late 18th-century Partitions of Poland
Poland
and administered within West Prussia. The Old Prussian language
Old Prussian language
had mostly disappeared by 1700.[citation needed] The last speakers may have died in the plague and famine that ravaged Prussia
Prussia
in 1709 to 1711.[3]

Map by Caspar Henneberg, Elbing, 1576: Duchy and Royal Prussia originally with same colour (for the duchy the colour was added later)

Prussia
Prussia
after 1466: light grey – Duchy of Prussia. coloured – Royal Prussia
Prussia
with its Voivodeships as a province of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

Gdańsk
Gdańsk
was the biggest city and main port of Poland
Poland
in 15th–18th century.

Modern era[edit] Main articles: Kingdom of Prussia, Province of Prussia, West Prussia, East Prussia, Free State of Prussia, Polish Corridor, Pomeranian Voivodship, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, and Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
Oblast After unifying the region of Prussia
Prussia
into one state, it became a single province, later divided again into West and East. Also the northernmost area of Greater Poland
Poland
(Sępólno Krajeńskie, Złotów and Wałcz) was adjoined to it. Its population was still partly Polish and partly German, partly Catholic
Catholic
and partly Lutheran
Lutheran
(both divisions overlapping especially in the west). Though the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
was a member of the German Confederation from 1815 to 1866, the provinces of Posen and Prussia
Prussia
were not a part of Germany[a] until the creation of the German Empire
German Empire
in 1871 during the unification of Germany. By the Treaty of Versailles, most of West Prussia
Prussia
that had belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
since the Partitions of Poland
Poland
which began in 1772. and the German Empire
German Empire
were ceded to the Second Polish Republic. Danzig
Danzig
became a free city under the protection of the League of Nations. East Prussia, minus the Memelland, received some districts of former West Prussia
Prussia
and remained within the German Weimar Republic. According to the Potsdam Conference
Potsdam Conference
in 1945 after World War II, the German part of Prussia
Prussia
was divided between Poland
Poland
and the Soviet Union, which divided its part further between the Lithuanian SSR
Lithuanian SSR
and the Russian SFSR. Warmia
Warmia
and Masuria
Masuria
are now in Poland, while northern East Prussia
Prussia
(minus the former Memelland
Memelland
which is now the Klaipėda region of Lithuania) forms the Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
exclave of the Russian Federation. Beginning in 1944 with the westward advance of Soviet troops the native German-speaking population was subject to forced relocation or reeducation. For additional information, see Expulsion of Germans
Germans
from Poland. Today, its Polish part (with Lębork
Lębork
and Bytów) covers about 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi) and has over 4,000,000 inhabitants, while the Russian part covers 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi) and has almost 1,000,000 people. See also[edit]

Warmia Masuria Chełmno Land Pomerelia Kociewie Kashubia Lauenburg and Bütow Land Krajna Pomerania Gdańsk
Gdańsk
Bay

References[edit]

^ However, the constitution of the short-lived Frankfurt Parliament incorporated Prussia
Prussia
and the western and northern parts of the Province of Posen
Province of Posen
into Germany
Germany
from 1848 to 1851.

^ Jones, Gwyn (2001). A History of the Vikings. Oxford University Press. p. 244. ISBN 0-19-280134-1.  ^ "St. Adalbert", The Catholic
Catholic
Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907  ^ Klussis, Mikkels (2006). "Preface". Dictionary of Revived Prussian (PDF). Institut Européen des Minorités Ethniques Dispersées. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-

.