History of Pomerania: Content
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Pomeranian_Griffin: Worldwide Pomeranian Group for History, Culture and Genealogy

6. Pomerania under Prussian and Swedish Rule (1648-1815)

Brandenburg must have felt cheated and betrayed because of its inheritance through the 1529 Treaty of Grimnitz. It had to think about remedial action, because Sweden kept Eastern Pomerania (Hinterpommern) occupied even after the Westphalian Peace Treaty of 1648, it was not until 1653 that the borders of Brandenburg were finally honored by the "Grenzrezess" (compromise concerning the borders) of Stettin. Moreover, to Brandenburg's disappointment, Sweden kept half of Eastern Pomerania's shipping duty. Before 1650 the last titular bishop of Kammin, Duke Ernst Bogislaw von Croy (1620-1684), a nephew of Bogislaw XIV and son of his sister Anna, was compensated with 100,000 Taler so he would relinquish his rights to the diocese. Later he became the first governor of Eastern Pomerania (1665-1670); afterwards he was governor of (East) Prussia until he died in its capitol of Konigsberg. The territory of the diocese was easily integrated but in 1669 confirmed as "reichsunmittelbar" (responsible directly to the Empire) . Brandenburg received the principality of Kammin with a seat and a voice in the Reichstag.

Eastern Pomerania (Hinterpommern) became part of Brandenburg. There was a standing army since 1644. Commissioners of the ruler were responsible for the basics of the army. These were the first executives, who were introduced to Pomerania. When a new government was established in Kolberg in 1653, it consisted of a president and chancellor, a high court, a conservatory, and a general superintendent. In the 1660's a hunting-and-wood ordinance was issued as well as a coin in Stargard. The local administration was at domain offices of the ruler, established grand families, estates from the monastery in Kammin, knight districts, and the district free towns. Above the authorities and establishment were some honorary governors placed there by the elector respectively king. At the beginning of the 16th century until 1916 it was usually a member of the house of kings, the Hohenzollern, that held that office.

In 1654 the privileges and the status of the people were ratified. Though they were supposed to accept the establishment of the army garrisons, it was only after long arguments with the new ruler (that dragged on till the year 1665) that all the conditions in East Pomerania were integrated into Brandenburg's system of laws, which was represented by the commissioner administration in the country. The aristocracy held its possessions and districts in a strong position and continued doing the "Bauernlegen" ("enclosure movement"; proceeding of the great land owners against dependent peasants in order to enclose their land into the estate). However, the aristocracy lost political power, and those representatives took a place in the services of Brandenburg. Government, courts and the consistorial offices were first moved temporarily in 1668 to Stargard, but became permanent in 1686. So Stargard became the capital of Eastern Pomerania.

The part of Pomerania that belonged to Brandenburg was now integrated into the state federation. On the other hand, Swedish Pomerania went its own way and came under the rule of the Swedish crown. It had a double position with its own rules as both a territory of the Empire and a Swedish province. This led to administrative negotiations and government arrangements in Vorpommern (West Pomerania). It took a long time because the negotiations of the Western Pomeranian representatives in Stockholm dragged on until 1663. The system that the government issued at that time was based on the 1634 constitution that was maintained until 1806. The crown's representative in Vorpommern was a general governor and under him was an upper board of directors (judge, chancellor, a head of a castle, and two government advisors) all from Pomerania. On the same level with the governor was a federal state parliament with three ecclesiastical offices (Kurie) . Thus the dual reign of the crown was updated and there was a feeling of Pomeranian independence. In Prussia the people would have been considered subjects of the state and therefore subject to all Prussian rules and regulations. The highest court for all of Sweden's possessions in Germany was established in Weimar in 1653. The high court of Stettin was officially moved to Greifswald where it had been since 1657. The seat of the Swedish Pomeranian consistorial office was established while Stralsund kept its own. The country was divided into districts containing a royal office and a noble district. Knighthood was strongly in existence. Socially large property owners prevailed and became even larger through the "Bauernlegen" ("Gesindeordnung" of 1682). Vorpommern was the main source of Sweden's great military power in central Europe: surrounded with a network of two main fortresses, six small fortresses, and sixteen minor forts. All together 2000 to 3000 men belonged to the garrison, supported by 60 % of the provincial budget. The back bone of Swedish rule was the financial administration with a chamber in Pomerania, directly subordinated by a sister chamber in Sweden. There was also an annual provincial budget prepared that was binding for the government.

Prince Friedrich Wilhelm (or Frederick William) of Brandenburg, the "Great Elector" who reigned from 1640-1688, wanted to make his country a shipping power that would push Sweden out of Pomerania. In the first Nordic War (1655-1660) when Sweden opposed the Emperor, Poland, Denmark, and Brandenburg, he was successful to some extent. But he had to return his conquest according to the 1660 Peace (treaty) of Oliva. In 1657 he finally received a clear title to Lauenburg, Butow, and Draheim from the Polish king. He also gained full sovereignty of the Duchy of Prussia (East Prussia). In the Swedish-Brandenburg War (1672-1679) the elector defeated Sweden in an open field battle close to Fehrbellin (June 1675) and conquered Stettin in 1677; Rugen, Greifswald, and Stralsund in 1678; and in the winter campaign of 1678-9, drove Sweden almost from the entire Baltic coast. However, like 1660, the brilliant military commander and capable politician was beaten by the French diplomacy again. The peace treaty of June 29, 1679, held near Paris in German-en-Lave required this conquered land be returned to Sweden. Just the border of East Pomerania was shifted toward the west in favor of Brandenburg which received a parcel strip of land with the cities of Bahn, Greifenhagen, and Kammin, as well as the parts of Sweden's duty taxes that had been collected in the East Pomeranian ports. In 1682 East Pomerania had to pay the same excise duty and sales tax as Brandenburg.

The Nordic War which Sweden led and lost under Karl XII (1697-1718) involving Russia, Saxony-Poland, and Denmark since 1700, determined the fates of both parts of Pomerania. Because Vorpommern was occupied nearly to the borders by its opponents, once again the country had to suffer with all its difficulties; for example, Gartz on the river Oder and Wolgast were looted and burned to ashes in 1713. In the same year on September 19, the besieged Stettin fell into the hands of its opponents. On October 3, Russians and Prussians met near Schwedt where they agreed on a substantial land gain for Prussia. Stralsund surrendered to Prussian troops in 1715. According to the peace treaty of January 2, 1720, in Stockholm, Prussia received Stettin, Usedom, Wollin, and the land to the Peene (Alt-Vorpommern or old east Pomerania) for a payment of two million Taler to Sweden. Sweden kept the land north of the Peene River and Rugen, an area later named Neuvorpommern (New East Pomerania) .

In Prussia in the meantime the "soldier king" Friedrich Wilhelm I reigned (1713-1740) and moved the government of Pomerania and Kammin to Stettin in 1723. This was the highest regional court, subordinating the courts in Stargard ( which moved to Stettin in 1739) as well as that of Koslin (founded 1720). In 1723 the actual administration in Stettin included the Boards of War and Finance. Then in 1725 a Medicine and Health College was founded in Stettin. In 1763 a branch of the assembly was established in Koslin. It was in 1746 that the government and high courts were combined into one department of justice in Stettin while the Koslin court was made larger. Then in 1724 Prussia-Pomerania was divided into four taxable town districts (Stettin, Pyritz, Kolberg, and Stolp) and 17 county districts. In addition there were three church districts that also had three governing bodies. At the head of each district was a district president who was a county official and a civil servant. In the cities there was the tax representative who was obligated to report to the governor only. This was the upper administration. The lower administrations included the town councilmen, the Knights' estate owners, and domain officials. At this time the Bauernlegen (proceeding of the great land owners against dependent peasants in order to enclose their land into the estate) was not abolished. Back in 1719 the hereditary subservience of domain farmers had already been waived in principle. In 1810 only the hereditary and estate subservience was cancelled in Prussian Pomerania. By 1811 the redemption of land leasing as well as workload duties were regulated by law.

Between 1724 and 1740 Stettin was built up to become the strongest fortification in all of Prussia. The whole Prussian Pomerania was subject to the strict conditions of the "Kantonsreglement" of 1733. In 1747 Koslin became the seat of the consistory for East Pomerania but the theological examinations remained in Stettin. The orthodox Lutheran church was prevalent in all of Pomerania. Since the end of the 17th century, however, both parts of the Pietism devotions prevailed. It was persecuted by the Swedish sovereign, but it was promoted by the Brandenburg-Prussian sovereign (1707 Stargard Bible). At the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th, refugees from France formed the French colonies in Stargard, Kolberg, Stolp, Stettin, and Pasewalk with their confession of reformed Evangelic faith. Several municipalities had already professed to use the reformed evangelic confession before. Prussia-Pomerania grew very rapidly into the Brandenburg-Prussian state federation. Kings Frederick William I and his son Frederick the Great praised Pomerania and its people in their political legacies as faithful, straight-lined, and valuable subjects and vassals.

Potatoes were cultivated for the first time in Pomerania in Torgelow in 1727. Although Pomerania had remained exempt from the first two Silesian wars, it would suffer very much from the Seven Years' War (1756-1753). Kolberg had to capitulate to Russia in December 1761 in that it had to obey the tsarina. In 1763 the population of Hinterpommern (east Pomerania) and Alt-Vorpommern (old west Pomerania) had lost 72 000 people, falling to a population low of just 298 000. That is why the reconstruction of the province of Pomerania was started under the leadership of Friedrich the Great (1740-1786) with assistance from Franz Balthasar Schonberg von Breckenhoff who had already been active in colonizing work from 1747-1753. Netze and Warthebruch and the Thurbruch on Usedom were drained; Vilm and Lake of Leba, Leba and Ihna rivers were lowered or drained for new villages for the new settlers from Germany to cultivate. In 1765 Swinemunde, newly founded in 1744, was under municipal law. All in all, over 2000 villages and settlements were founded with over 26 000 people.

In Swedish Pomerania the old conditions were restored after 1720. The aristocracy could once again strengthen its power as many domains had been pledged to them. The seat of the government was in Stralsund with the area divided into the districts of Franzburg-Barth, Tribsees, Grimmen, Loitz, Greifswald, Wolgast, and Rugen. There were also a federal state, nine parliament cities, and five small towns. The Swedish-Pomeranian Bauernlegen (proceeding of the great land owners against dependent peasants in order to incorporate their land into the estate) continued as in the past. Compared to the large number of poor farmers and bonded serfs, there were relatively few owners of the big knight estates. Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769-1860), a teaching historian, born in Gross Schoritz (Isle of Rugen), published "Attempt to Relate the History of the Serfdom in Pomerania and Rugen" (1803) which contributed substantially to the abolishment of bondage in Swedish Pomerania in 1806 and again in 1810.

After the defeat of Prussia against Napoleon in the double battle of Jena and Auerstedt, the well armed city of Stettin capitulated without a fight against just a French advance guard in autumn 1806. Only Kolberg offered brave resistance (with the Prussian commander August Neidhardt von Gneisenau, Major Ferdinand von Schill and citizen Joachim Nettelbeck). The Treaty of Tilsit (July 7-9, 1807) involved heavy losses and was very humiliating for Prussia. Stettin remained occupied. Large Prussian reforms followed under the capable minister Baron Karl von und zum Stein. In the edict of October 9, 1807, Prussia lifted the hereditary subservience of the farmers and thousands of Pomeranian people were declared free. In like manner the city order of November 1808 was dissolved. In the course of the liberation wars, the French retreated from Swedish Pomerania in March of 1813, and Stettin was handed over to Prussia on December 5, 1813. At the peace of Kiel in 1814, Sweden returned its part of Pomerania to Denmark in exchange for delivering the crown of Norway to Sweden. The execution of this order was prevented by resistance from Norway and the Duke Malte von Putbus, who was then the general governor of Swedish Pomerania. The Congress of Vienna drew up a new map of Europe whereby Swedish Pomerania as Neu-Vorpommern fell to Prussia. Denmark then received the duchy of Lauenburg (that Prussia had previously received from the kingdom of Hanover) as well as a payment of 2,600,000 Taler for transfer of the land holdings. Prussia paid another compensation sum of 3,500,000 Taler to Sweden. On October 23, 1815, Swedish Pomerania was officially handed over to the kingdom of Prussia, thus uniting Pomerania again after nearly two centuries. The hereditary Treaty of Grimnitz from the year of 1529 was finally fulfilled.

Next Chapter: 7. Pomerania as a Prussian Province (1815-1945)