History of Pomerelia

Pomerelia (Latin: Pomerelia; German: Pomerellen, Pommerellen), also referred to as Eastern Pomerania (Polish: Pomorze Wschodnie) or Gdańsk Pomerania (Polish: Pomorze Gdańskie), is a historical region in northern Poland.

Pomerelia lay on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea and west of the Vistula river. Its capital and biggest city is Gdańsk (Danzig). Since 1999 the region forms the core of the Pomeranian Voivodeship. Pomerelia is part of the historical region of Prussia and is traditionally divided into Kashubia and Kociewie.

During Władysław's rule, the Margraviate of Brandenburg staked its claim on the territory in 1308, leading Władysław I the Elbow-high to request assistance from the Teutonic Knights, who evicted the Brandenburgers but took the area for themselves, annexed and incorporated it into the Teutonic Order state in 1309 (Teutonic takeover of Danzig (Gdańsk) and Treaty of Soldin/Myślibórz). At the same time, Słupsk and Sławno became part of Duchy of Pomerania. This event caused a long-lasting dispute between Poland and the Teutonic Order over the control of Gdańsk Pomerania. It resulted in a series of Polish–Teutonic Wars throughout 14th and 15th centuries.

Since 1466, Pomerelia has been part of Polish Royal Prussia as the Pomeranian Voivodeship. Lębork and Bytów have been Polish fief ruled by Pomeranian dukes. In the early modern times Gdańsk was the biggest city of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and most of its export (especially grain) used to be made through this port. Gdańsk and Żuławy Wiślane were German/Dutch-Protestant, while most of the region remained Polish/Kashubian-Catholic. In the 17th century Pomerelia has been attacked and destroyed by Swedish army.


Pommeralia (Pomerellen) during the 14th/15th century

As part of Royal Prussia, Pomerelia was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia during the 18th century Partitions of Poland, becoming part of the new Province of West Prussia. After World War I (1914–1918), the Treaty of Versailles transferred most of the region from Weimar Germany to the new Second Polish Republic, forming the so-called Polish Corridor. Gdańsk with Żuławy became Free City of Danzig. In 1939 whole Pomerelia was annexed by the German Reich, but in 1945 it returned to Poland, while Germans escaped and were expelled. After the war it has been roughly similar to Gdańsk Voivodeship, as well as the dioceses of Gdańsk and Pelplin.

History of Pomerania

The history of Pomerania, an area in modern-day Germany and Poland, dates back more than 10,000 years. The name Pomerania comes from Slavic po more, which means Land at the Sea.

Settlement in the area started by the end of the Vistula Glacial Stage, about 13,000 years ago. In the High Middle Ages, the area became Christian and was ruled by local dukes of the House of Pomerania and the Samborides, at various times vassals of Denmark, the Holy Roman Empire and Poland. From the late 12th century, the Griffin Duchy of Pomerania stayed with the Holy Roman Empire and the Principality of Rugia with Denmark, while Denmark, Brandenburg, Poland and the Teutonic Knights struggled for control in Samboride Pomerelia. 

Throughout the High Middle Ages, a large influx of German settlers and the introduction of German law, custom, and Low German language turned the area west of the Oder into a German one (Ostsiedlung). The Wends, who during the Early Middle Ages had belonged to the Slavic Rani, Lutician and Pomeranian tribes, were assimilated by the German Pomeranians. To the east of the Oder these development occurred later; in the area from Szczecin eastward, the number of German settlers in the 12th century was still insignificant. The Kashubians descendants of Slavic Pomeranians, dominated many rural areas in Pomerelia.

A conversion of Pomerania to Christianity was achieved primarily by the missionary efforts of Absalon and Otto von Bamberg, by the foundation of numerous monasteries, and by the assimilatory power of the Christian settlers. A Pomeranian diocese was set up in Wolin, the see was later moved to Cammin

The Teutonic Knights succeeded in annexing Pomerelia to their monastic state in the early 14th century. Meanwhile the Ostsiedlung started to turn Pomerania into a German-settled area; the remaining Wends, who became known as Slovincians and Kashubians, continued to settle within the rural East. In 1325 the line of the princes of Rugia (Rügen) died out, and the principality was inherited by House of Pomerania, themselves involved in the Brandenburg-Pomeranian conflict about superiority in their often internally divided duchy.

In 1466, with the Teutonic Order's defeat, Pomerelia became subject to the Polish Crown as a part of Royal Prussia. While the Duchy of Pomerania adopted the Protestant Reformation in 1534, Kashubia remained with the Roman Catholic Church. The Thirty Years' and subsequent wars severely ravaged and depopulated most of Pomerania. With the extinction of the Griffin house during the same period, the Duchy of Pomerania was divided between the Swedish Empire and Brandenburg-Prussia in 1648.

Prussia gained the southern parts of Swedish Pomerania in 1720. It gained the remainder of Swedish Pomerania in 1815, when French occupation during the Napoleonic Wars was lifted. The former Brandenburg-Prussian Pomerania and the former Swedish parts were reorganized into the Prussian Province of Pomerania, while Pomerelia in the partitions of Poland was made part of the Province of West Prussia. With Prussia, both provinces joined the newly constituted German Empire in 1871. Following the empire's defeat in World War I, Pomerelia became part of the Second Polish Republic (Polish Corridor) and the Free City of Danzig was created. Germany's Province of Pomerania was expanded in 1938 to include northern parts of the former Province of Posen–West Prussia, and in 1939 the annexed Polish territories became the part of Nazi Germany known as Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia.

After the German Reichs's defeat in World War II, the German–Polish border was shifted west to the Oder–Neisse line and all of Pomerania was placed under Soviet military control. The area west of the line became part of East Germany, the other areas part of the People's Republic of Poland. The German population of the areas east of the line was expelled, and the area was resettled primarily with Poles (some themselves expellees from former eastern Poland) and some Ukrainians (resettled under Operation Vistula) and Jews. Most of Western Pomerania (Vorpommern) today forms the eastern part of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Federal Republic of Germany, while the Polish part of the region is divided between West Pomeranian Voivodeship and Pomeranian Voivodeship, with their capitals in Szczecin and Gdańsk, respectively. During the late 1980s, the Solidarność and Die Wende movements overthrew the Communist regimes implemented during the post-war era. Since then, Pomerania has been democratically governed.

Contemporary administrative units with Pomerania in the name