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Prussia (province)

Prussia's Historic Roots

See Prussia (Baltic)

Teutonic Order Prussia

Teutonic Order state

Creation of the Royal Prussia

In March 1440, the Hanseatic cities of Gdansk, Elblag and Torun (then Danzig, Elbing and Thorn, respectively) founded the Prussian Confederation with other Prussian cities to free themselves from the overlordship of the Teutonic Knights. King Casimir IV of Poland supported their revolt (February 1454) in the War of the Cities or Thirteen Years' War. The resulting second Treaty of Torun (October 1466 provided for the Teutonic Order's cession to the Polish crown of its rights over the western half of its territories, which became the province of Polish or Royal Prussia. The eastern half of Prussia remained under the rule of the Order and its successors, until 1660 under Polish overlordship.

For the history after 1772, please refer to West Prussia. The overview of the history is included in Pomerania, since Royal Prussia is also referred as Eastern Pomerania.

Creation of Ducal Prussia

During the Reformation endemic religious upheavals and wars occurred, 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, resigned his position, adopted the Lutheran faith and assumed the title of "Duke of Prussia." In a deal partially brokered by Martin Luther Ducal Prussia became the first Protestant state. In 1618 the dukedom of Prussia passed to the senior Hohenzollern branch, the ruling Margraves of Brandenburg.

The ducal capital of Königsberg (now the Russian city of Kaliningrad) became a centre of learning and printing, one of its noted sons, the leading mathematician and astronomer Johann Müller Regiomontanus (1436-76), naming himself after the Latin form of the city's name. In 1492 a life of Saint Dorothy of Montau, published in Malbork in Polish Prussia, became the first known printed publication from the region.

Early Modern Prussia

The second Treaty of Thorn had left eastern Prussia as a fief of the Polish crown. In 1660, after the Second Northern War between Sweden, Poland and Brandenburg, the Treaty of Welawa (Wehlau) granted full sovereignty to Frederick William I, the "Great Elector" of Brandenburg, as Duke of Prussia. The treaty also prescribed that when the Hohenzollern rule in the Ducal Prussia expired, the land would revert to the Polish crown. (Hohenzollern rule expired only in 1918, when Wilhelm II of Germany abdicated as German Emperor and King of Prussia, but East Prussia did not return to Poland until 1945, and even then only its southern part.)

For the history of Ducal Prussia after 1772, see also East Prussia

External links

Maps of Prussia