Royal Prussia

Royal Prussia (Polish: Prusy Królewskie; German: Königlich-Preußen or Preußen Königlichen Anteils, Kashubian: Królewsczé Prësë) or Polish Prussia[1] (Polish: Prusy Polskie;[2] German: Polnisch-Preußen)[3] was an autonomous province of the Polish Crown, which was established after the Second Peace of Thorn (1466) from territory in western Prussia which had previously been part of the State of the Teutonic Order.[4][5][6] It became a 'protectorate' of Poland. As such, it was not part of Poland, but feudal overlord status lay to the Polish king, reflected in the title "Royal Prussia" or the King's Prussia.[4] Royal Prussia retained its autonomy, governing itself and maintaining its own laws, customs, rights and German language.[7][8] As a royal protectorate, its magnates could participate in the election of its titular monarch; however, it could not participate in the Sejm, the Polish parliament.[9]

Royal Prussia
Prusy Królewskie (pl)
Königlich-Preußen (de)
Prussia Regalis (la)
Autonomous dependency of the
King of Poland
Rzeczpospolita Royal Ducal.png
Map of Royal Prussia (light pink)
 • Coordinates54°N 19°E / 54°N 19°E / 54; 19Coordinates: 54°N 19°E / 54°N 19°E / 54; 19
19 October 1466
• Dissolved
1 July 1569
Preceded by
Succeeded by
State of the Teutonic Order
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Today part of
A faction of Prussian leaders won independence from the despotic Teutonic Order as a dependency of the King of Poland, 1454, Polish Central Archives of Historical Records

In 1569, Royal Prussia was fully integrated into the Kingdom of Poland and its autonomy was largely abandoned.[10] In 1772, the former territory of Royal Prussia was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia and subsequently re-organized into the province of West Prussia. This occurred at the time of the First Partition of Poland, with other parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth being annexed by the Russian Empire and Habsburg Austria.


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 the king of Poland in the 1343 Treaty of Kalisz and incorporated into the Order's State.

1576 map of Prussia by Caspar Henneberg, Royal Prussia (without southern Pomerelia) appears in white

Pomerelia's Lauenburg and Bütow Land to the west was ruled by the Pomeranian dukes, enfeoffed to the king of Poland.

Royal Prussia is distinguished from later Ducal Prussia, the remaining (eastern) parts of Prussia around Königsberg, founded and governed by the Teutonic Knights. After secularisation in 1525, it succeeded to the Protestant dukes of the Hohenzollern dynasty. From 1618 this area was in personal union by the Electors of Brandenburg (Brandenburg-Prussia). In 1657 the titular monarchy devolved by the Treaty of Wehlau.


By 1308, the Pomerelian part of the region was conquered by the first Polish state, who granted them autonomy and their existing self-government.[12] 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 had replaced the Brandenburgers and incorporated Pomerelia into the Teutonic Order state in 1309 (Teutonic takeover of Danzig (Gdańsk) and Treaty of Soldin (Myślibórz)).

After being checked at the Battle of Grunwald, the Teutonic Knights's prestige declined, and by the 1411 Peace of Thorn they were forced to pay large contributions to the king of Poland[citation needed], which became a financial burden on the citizenry. In 1440, as the tax burden rose, indigenous nobles and Hanseatic cities established the Prussian Confederation at Marienwerder (Kwidzyn) in resistance of the Order's domestic 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 treaty, Prussian delegates declared the Polish king the only true sovereign of their lands, justified by the historical fact that the king of Poland had earlier ruled them. After lengthy negotiation, on 6 March 1454, the Royal Chancellery issued the Act of Treaty formalizing the terms of the treaty establishing Royal Prussia's autonomy as a foreign dependency of the king.[13]

Prussian–Polish AllianceEdit

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 Thorn, and in June a similar oath from the citizens of Elbing and Königsberg was taken.[13]

The rebellion also included major cities from the eastern part of the Order's lands, such as Kneiphof, later a part of Königsberg. Though the Knights were victorious at the Battle of Chojnice in 1454, they were not able to finance more knights 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.

The Ordensburg at Marienburg in Malbork, Poland. Founded in 1274 by the Teutonic Order on the river Nogat, it is the world's largest brick castle.

Incorporation into the Polish CrownEdit

1751 map showing Royal Prussia - dependency of the king of Poland, and Ducal Prussia - enfeoffed to the king of Poland.

According to the 1454 treaty signed by King Casimir IV, Royal Prussia was incorporated into the Polish Crown and their elites enjoyed the same rights and privileges as the elites of the Polish kingdom.[14] At the same time Royal Prussia was granted a considerable degree of autonomy. Already instituted law codes were retained, only Prussians could be appointed on public offices (ius indigenatus), borders of the province had to remain intact and all decisions regarding Prussia had to be consulted with the Prussian parliament (Landtag).[15] Thorn, Elbing, Königsberg and Danzig (Danzig law) were to retain the right to mint coins, although with the image of the Polish king. [15]

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.

Integration into the Kingdom of PolandEdit

After 1569 Royal Prussia was fully integrated into the Kingdom of Poland and the Commonwealth.

In 1569, as a result of the Union of Lublin, which created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Royal Prussia was integrated fully into the Kingdom of Poland, and its parliament reduced to the status of a provincial assembly, also other separate Prussian institutions were dissolved.[10] The former territory was subsequently governed as Pomeranian Voivodeship, Culm Voivodeship, Malbork Voivodeship, and Prince-Bishopric of Warmia

History of Brandenburg and Prussia
Northern March
Old Prussians
pre-13th century
Lutician federation
983 – 12th century
Margraviate of Brandenburg
1157–1618 (1806) (HRE)
(Bohemia 1373–1415)
Teutonic Order
(Polish fief 1466–1525)
Duchy of Prussia
1525–1618 (1701)
(Polish fief 1525–1657)
Royal (Polish) Prussia (Poland)
1454/1466 – 1772
Kingdom in Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
Free State of Prussia (Germany)
Klaipėda Region
1920–1939 / 1945–present
Recovered Territories
1947–1952 / 1990–present
Kaliningrad Oblast


At the same time as the 1772 First Partition of Poland, the former lands of Royal Prussia were annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, the successor state of the Teutonic Order. In 1793, the new Kingdom of Prussia participated in the Second Partition of Poland by temporarily annexing the neighboring regions, which were almost immediately returned to the Tsarist kingdom of Poland and incorporated into the Russian Empire.


In 1510, after several attempts to install another governor, the office was abolished.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Anton Friedrich Büsching, Patrick Murdoch. A New System of Geography, London 1762, p. 588
  2. ^ Zygmunt Gloger (1900). "Volume 325". In Harvard Slavic humanities preservation microfilm project (ed.). Geografia historyczna ziem dawnej polski (Historical Geography of the former Polish lands) (in Polish). Wydawnictwo Polska. pp. 82, 144.
  3. ^ (in German) Polnisch-Preußen ("State Constitution of Polish-Prussia") (see: Excerpt in the publication of 1764, p. 581)
  4. ^ a b Karin Friedrich. The Other Prussia: Royal Prussia, Poland and Liberty, 1569-1772. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–2, 22–23.
  5. ^ Knoll, Paul W. (2008). "The Most Unique Crusader State. The Teutonic Order in the Development of the Political Culture of Northeastern Europe during the Middle Ages". In Ingrao, Charles W.; Szabo, Franz A. J. (eds.). The Germans and the East. Purdue University Press. pp. 42–43. ISBN 978-1557534439.
  6. ^ Dwyer, Philip G., ed. (2000). The Rise of Prussia 1700-1830. Routledge. p. 28. ISBN 978-1138837645.
  7. ^ Karin Friedrich. The Other Prussia: Royal Prussia, Poland and Liberty, 1569-1772. Cambridge University Press. pp. 29, 40.
  8. ^ Dr Jaroslav Miller. Urban Societies in East-Central Europe, 1500–1700. Ashgate Publishing. p. 179.
  9. ^ Frost, Robert, The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania, Vol. I[page needed]
  10. ^ a b Daniel Stone (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian State, 1386-1795. University of Washington Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-295-98093-1.
  11. ^ Stone, Daniel. A History of East Central Europe. University of Washington Press, 2001, ISBN 0-295-98093-1. p. 30
  12. ^ Frost, Robert, The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania, Vol. I
  13. ^ a b F. Kiryk, B. Ryś (red.) Wielka Historia Polski, t. II 1320-1506, Kraków 1997, p. 160-161
  14. ^ Frost 2015, p. 218-219.
  15. ^ a b Frost 2015, p. 219.
  16. ^ Acten der Ständetage Preussens unter der Herrschaft des Deutschen Ordens: 5 vols., Max Toeppen (ed.), Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1874–1886; reprint Aalen: Scientia, 1968–1974, vol. 5: 'Die Jahre 1458–1525', 1974. p. 90]. ISBN 3-511-02940-6.

Further readingEdit

  • Karin Friedrich, The Other Prussia: Royal Prussia, Poland and Liberty, 1569–1772, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-521-58335-7 on Google Books
  • Robert Frost, The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania, Vol. I: The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, 1385—1569, Oxford 2015.
  • Gerard Labuda (ed.), Historia Pomorza, vol. I–IV, Poznań 1969–2003 (also covers East Prussia) (in Polish)
  • W. Odyniec, Dzieje Prus Królewskich (1454–1772). Zarys monograficzny, Warszawa 1972 (in Polish)
  • Dzieje Pomorza Nadwiślańskiego od VII wieku do 1945 roku, Gdańsk 1978 (in Polish)

External linksEdit