Prussian Confederation

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The Prussian Confederation (German: Preußischer Bund, Polish: Związek Pruski) was an organization formed in 1440 by a group of 53 gentry and clergy and 19 cities in Prussia to oppose the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. It was based on the basis of an earlier similar organization, the Lizard Union. In 1454, the leader of the Confederation, Johannes von Baysen (Jan Bażyński), formally asked the King of Poland, Casimir IV Jagiellon, to incorporate Prussia into the Kingdom of Poland. This marked the beginning of the Thirteen Years' War between the Teutonic Knights and Poland, with the Prussian cities financing the military costs of the latter.

Contents

Background

According to the 1411 First Peace of Thorn which followed the Teutonic Knights' defeat in the Battle of Grunwald, the Teutonic Order had to pay high reparations to the Kingdom of Poland. Their monastic state imposed high taxes on the cities to raise the funds as well as to re-arm for another war against Poland. In the 1420s, Grand Master Paul von Rusdorf brought stability to the military order and its relations, but a Polish attack in 1431 resulted in another Polish-Teutonic war.

Establishment

After about three decades of growing discontent, the Prussian leaders (see Prussian estates) organized themselves to oppose the rule of the order more effectively. On 14 March 1440, a group of 53 gentry and clergy and 19 Prussian cities, under the leadership of the Hanseatic cities of Danzig (Gdańsk), Elbing (Elbląg), and Thorn (Toruń), founded the Prussian Confederation in Marienwerder (Kwidzyn). Several more towns joined on 3 April, although Bütow (Bytów) did not. In Danzig, the new members signed a document[1] which was kept in the archives of Thorn.

After Grand Master Paul von Rusdorf died in 1441, his successor, Konrad von Erlichshausen, continued to negotiate a compromise until his own death in 1449. The confederation lobbied for support against the Teutonic Order within the Holy Roman Empire. Ludwig von Erlichshausen, Grand Master from 1450 to 1467, took a more aggressive stance towards the confederation. He filed a lawsuit at the court of Emperor Friedrich III (Frederick III), whose verdict of 1453 declared the confederation illegal.

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