Pomesanians


Pomesanians

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Pomesanians
population = Extinct in 17th-18th century


image_caption=Pomesanians and other Prussian clans during the 13th century
region1 = Pomesania, East Prussia (now northern Poland)
languages = Old Prussian, later also German
religions = Prussian mythology (Paganism)
related-c = Other Prussians and Balts

Pomesanians were one of the Prussian clans. They lived in Pomesania ( _de. Pomesanien; _lt. Pamedė; _pl. Pomezania), a historical region in modern northern Poland, located between the Nogat and Vistula Rivers to the west and the Elbląg River to the east. It is located around the modern towns of Elbląg and Malbork. As the westernmost clan, the Pomesanians were the first of the Prussians to be conquered by the Teutonic Knights, a German military crusading order brought to the Chełmno Land to convert the pagans to Christianity. Due to Germanization and assimilation, Pomesanians became extinct sometime in the 17th century.

Etymology

The territory is said in folk etymology to have been named after Pomeso, a son of Widewuto, legendary chieftain of the Prussians. Georg Gerullis determined that its name was actually derived from the Old Prussian word "pomedian", meaning "fringe of the forest". Lithuanian term "pamedė", having the same meaning, was introduced by Kazimieras Būga.

History

The area was inhabited by Baltic people at least since the 9th century and possibly earlier. At the dawn of the 13th century the population is estimated at around 16,000–20,000. The clan, together with neighbours Pogesanians, made frequent raids into Masovian lands. In 1225 Duke Konrad I of Masovia asked the Teutonic Knights to protect his territory from such raids. In 1230 the Knights settled in the Chełmno Land and began the Prussian Crusade. In 1231 they crossed Vistula and built Thorn (Toruń). Pomesanian leader Pepin unsuccessfully besieged the city, but soon he was captured and tortured to death. In 1233 the work began in Marienwerder (Kwidzyn), and during the winter the Prussians gathered a large army for a major battle on the Sirgune River, where they suffered a great defeat. During the next three years all of Pomesania was conquered and made part of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights. The city of Elbing (Elbląg) was founded in 1237 by the Order near the ancient Prussian trading town of Truso.

In 1243, the Bishopric of Pomesania and the other three dioceses (Bishopric of Samland, Ermland, and Bishopric of Culm) were put under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Riga by papal legate William of Modena. The diocese of Pomesania was later placed under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) (until 1821). Pomesanians joined the other Prussian clans during the First Prussian Uprising (1242–1249), but was the only clan not to participate in the Great Prussian Uprising (1260–1274). As the westernmost Prussian territory, it was the most exposed clan to German colonists and their culture. They assimilated and became extinct a bit faster than the other Prussians.

The region became a part of the Polish province of Royal Prussia with the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), but was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia during the First Partition of Poland in 1772. With the rest of Prussia, it became a part of the German Empire during the unification of Germany in 1871. When the Treaty of Versailles granted most of former Royal Prussia to the Second Polish Republic as the Polish Corridor in 1920, Pomesania remained in Germany as part of the exclave and province of East Prussia. After World War II ended in 1945, Pomesania returned to Poland according to the Potsdam Agreement. It is currently divided between the Warmian-Masurian and Pomeranian Voivodeships.

References

* | pages=172–174


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