Royal Prussia (Polish: Prusy Królewskie; German: Königlich-Preußen or Preußen Königlichen Anteils, Kashubian: Królewsczé Prësë) or Polish Prussia (Polish: Prusy Polskie; German: Polnisch-Preußen) was a region of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that was previously part of the State of the Teutonic Order.
The area consisted of the following districts:
From the 14th century, in old texts (until the 16th or 17th century) and in Latin, the terms Prut(h)enia and Prut(h)enic refer not only to the original settlement area of the now extinct Old Prussians along the Baltic coast east of the Vistula River, but also to the adjacent lands of the former Samboride dukes of Pomerelia, which territory the Teutonic Knights had acquired from Poland in the 1343 Treaty of Kalisz and added to their Order's State.
Royal Prussia is distinguished from later Ducal Prussia, the remaining (eastern) parts of Prussia around Königsberg (Królewiec), which was a fiefdom under Polish suzerainty but held by the Teutonic Knights. After secularisation in 1525 it was held by Lutheran dukes of the Hohenzollern dynasty. From 1618 this area was in personal union by the Electors of Brandenburg (Brandenburg-Prussia). In 1657 feudal overlordship was removed from Poland by the Treaty of Wehlau.
Before 1308 the Pomerelian part of the region, with Gdańsk, was part of the first Polish state, enjoying periods of autonomy and independence. During the rule of Władysław I the Elbow-high of Poland, the Margraviate of Brandenburg staked its claim on the territory in 1308, leading Władysław to request assistance from the Teutonic Knights, who evicted the Brandenburgers but took the area for themselves; they annexed it and incorporated it into the Teutonic Order state in 1309 (Teutonic takeover of Danzig (Gdańsk) and Treaty of Soldin (Myślibórz)). This event caused a long-lasting dispute between Poland and the Teutonic Order over the control of Pomerelia. It resulted in a series of Polish–Teutonic Wars throughout 14th and 15th centuries.
After their defeat at the Battle of Grunwald, the Teutonic Knights according to the 1411 Peace of Thorn had to pay large contributions to the Polish kings, which strongly affected the public budget. In view of rising taxes, several local nobles and Hanseatic cities in 1440 established the Prussian Confederation at Marienwerder (Kwidzyn) protesting against the Order's internal and financial policies. The Confederation was led by the citizens of Danzig, Elbing, and Thorn. The gentry from Chełmno Land and Pomerelia participated as well. Grand Master Ludwig von Erlichshausen demanded the dissolution and in 1453 searched for help from Pope Nicholas V and Emperor Frederick III. In turn, in February 1454, the Confederation sent a delegation, under Johannes von Baysen, to King Casimir IV Jagiellon of Poland, to ask him for support against the Teutonic Order's rule and for incorporation of their homeland into the Kingdom of Poland. In this act, Prussian delegates declared the Polish king the only true heir of those lands, parts of which were earlier illegally separated from Poland. After some hesitation and negotiating the exact conditions of incorporation on 6 March 1454, the Royal Chancellery issued the Act of Incorporation that met the requests of the Prussian estates represented by the Confederation.
After the Prussian Confederation pledged allegiance to Casimir on 6 March 1454, the Thirteen Years' War ("War of the Cities") began. King Casimir IV Jagiellon appointed Baysen as the first war-time governor of Royal Prussia. On 28 May 1454 the king took an oath of allegiance from the citizens of Toruń and in June a similar oath from the citizens of Elbing and Königsberg.
The rebellion also included major cities from the eastern part of the Order's lands, such as Kneiphof (Knipawa), later a part of Königsberg. Though the Knights were victorious at the 1454 Battle of Chojnice, they were not able to finance further mercenaries in order to reconquer the castles occupied by the insurgents. Thirteen years of attrition warfare ended in October 1466 with the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), which provided for the Order's cession to the Polish Crown of its rights over the western half of Prussia, including Pomerelia and the districts of Elbing, Marienburg, and Chełmno.
According to the 1454 Incorporation Statute issued by King Casimir IV, Royal Prussia enjoyed substantial autonomy as part of the Crown of Poland: it had its own treasury, monetary unit, and armies. It was governed by a council, subordinate to the Polish king, whose members were chosen from local lords and wealthy citizens (ius indigenatus). Prussians had also seats provided for them in the Sejm (Polish Diet), but they chose not to use this right until the Union of Lublin. Thorn, Elbing, and Danzig (Danzig law) gained privileges similar to the status of a Free imperial city.
The Bishop of Warmia had claimed Imperial Prince-Bishopric status, as mentioned in the Golden Bull of 1356 by Emperor Charles IV. Although the area was never directly under the Emperor's jurisdiction and the claim seems unsupported by any bestowal document, it was in wide use in the 17th century. The bishopric continued defending this status until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.
History of Brandenburg and Prussia
|Margraviate of Brandenburg
|Duchy of Prussia
|Royal (Polish) Prussia
|Kingdom in Prussia
|Kingdom of Prussia
|Free State of Prussia
1920–1939 / 1945–present
1947–1952 / 1990–present
As a result of the Union of Lublin in 1569, Royal Prussia's autonomy was abolished and the region was united with the Polish Crown. Prussian electors became senators and representatives to the Sejm. The region became part of the Greater Poland Province (prowincja wielkopolska) together with the former duchies of Greater Poland and Masovia, with the province capital at Poznań. The Prince-Bishopric of Warmia retained a certain grade of autonomy as a Polish protectorate.
The main task of the Sejmiks was the election of MPs for the Sejm of Poland. Royal Prussia was allocated 10 MPs (167 total).
During the 1772 First Partition of Poland, the bulk of Royal Prussia was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, apart from the areas around the cities of Danzig and Toruń. The Kingdom of Prussia annexed the remaining parts of Royal Prussia controlled by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 1793 Second Partition of Poland. Its territory largely made up the Province of West Prussia created in 1773.
In 1510, after several attempts to install another governor, the office was abolished.