James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) online

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bishoprics, churches and monasteries, and
also to his ministeriales and knightly
adherents. In some cases the Wendish
nobles who had submitted were left in
possession of their property, and amalga-
mated with the immigrants to form a new
race. Christianity seems to have begun
in this quarter with the summons to the
colonists from North-west Germany ;
Bishop Anselm of Havelberg and the
Premonstratensian Order were transplanted
to the mark from the neighbouring town of
Magdeburg, where the founder of the order,
St. Norbert, had been archbishop in 1126
and had died in 1134.

The popular Cistercian Order did good
service in the colonisation and Germanisa-
tion of the north-east. The work of Albert
the Bear is continued by his successors
in those parts of Brandenburg which were
acquired about 1260, the Ukermark and
the Newmark, Lebus and Sternberg.

The third of the royal colonisers of the

twelfth century was the most powerful of

them all ; this was Henry the Lion, duke of

Saxony and Bavaria. Originally he con-

_ tented himself with the tri-

Henr butes of the Wendish Ponces,

including the Abodrite Niklot.

the Lion ^ , ' ., . , . ,

Purely territorial interests in-
duced the Guelf to initiate an aggressive
policy against the Elbe Slavs. After the
foundation of Liibeck by Adolf II., the
customs revenue of Bardowick, the chief
commercial town on the Lower Elbe,
belonging to Henry the Lion, began to
dwindle, and the duke, by the right of
the strong hand, deprived the count of
Schauemburg of his new town (1157-1158).
This action redounded to the advantage
of the people of Liibeck, for the Guelf
overwhelmed this productive source of
imposts with privileges. In order to free
the town on the Trave from the molesta-
tion of Slav pirates, Henry attacked the
Abodrite prince, and made his territory,
which had hitherto been tributary, a
component part of the duchy. Following
the example of Albert the Bear, he divided
the conquered district among his noble
comrades, among squires and knights who
had joined in the expedition, and among
bishops and monasteries. The three new
territorial bishops of Liibeck, Ratzeburg,
and Mecklenburg-Schwerin were invested
by him personally, and not as were the
bishops of Brandenburg by the emperor.
In addition to the territory of the

Abodrites, the modern Mecklenburg, he
also subjugated Pomerania, though the
princes, who were already Christians,
were not deprived of their power. On the
other hand, the Danes overpowered the
last refuge of piracy and heathenism, the
Island of Riigen. In the summer of 1168,
King Waldemar I. and Bishop Absalon of
Roskilde conquered the strong
The Dane* defences of Arkona . A deep

G" Tld*! i m P ress i n was made upon the
conquered by the action of the
Danes, who broke the four-headed idol
Swantewit in pieces, and threw it into
their camp fire. It was only by secret
intrigues that Henry the Lion could
secure from the Danes the cession to him-
self of half the temple treasures of Arkona
and half of the tribute of the island.

The colonisation of the lowlands on the
right bank of the Elbe displays certain
features which recur in the German
settlements of Silesia and Prussia, also in
Bohemia and Hungary. The margrave,
the monastery, the noble, or anyone who
possessed a superabundance of land,
called in colonists, who were chiefly
Saxons of the Rhineland. Flemings, and
Netherlanders, though here and there
Central and Upper Germans made their
appearance. A contractor, known as the
locator, divided the land appointed to
him among the settlers who had come
with him, and now became village com-
panions. Again, some Slav township
might be divided among the new comers
when the former population had been
expelled. These new settlements generally
took the form of villages with one or more
streets, according as the houses were built
in one or two rows ; the land belonging to
every house formed a connected strip
extending to the wood or marsh. Generally
speaking, individual allotments did not
exceed the average size of thirty acres.

While the German colonists of the Elbe

and Oder district had taken possession

of the mainland in the twelfth

GermJL century, and had founded a

countless number of villages,

Expansion , , , . ,

the thirteenth century was
especially the age of the foundation of
towns. The process of Germanisation
was not concluded, and did not show its
full power until t-he foundation of German
towns endowed with German rights
chiefly modelled upon those of Magde-
burg. In the founding of towns a general
plan was also followed, and we discern an



increasing technical power of arranging
detail. One or more locators stand at the
head of the enterprise proposed by
ecclesiastical or secular nobles. At a
suitable spot, which is already inhabited
in part, a market-place is marked out,
which is of large size, square and level,
and is generally known as the " ring-

Spaces are marked off for the council
house and exchange, and sites are
then measured along the market-place
for the settlers ; these are neither broad
nor deep, in order that as many as possible
may share this privileged position. In
addition to this, a few parallel streets of
approach are marked out, and the whole
is surrounded by a circuit wall of con-
siderable strength. In some cases new
towns and suburbs are formed, which are
united upon occasion with the old town.
The locator ranks as mayorof the town,
in possession of privileges of every kind.

The town annually pays the land-
owner or territorial lord, after the lapse
of the stipulated period of exemption, a

lump sum, which is contributed by the
individual families, and becomes a smaller
burden as the wealth of the community
increases. Whenever German municipal
privileges are introduced, the process of
development does not cease until complete
independence is secured. The mayor is
assisted in his judicial functions by asses-
sors ; the affairs of the town are in the
hands of a town council, and the mayoralty
is finally transferred from the lord of the
town to the community. When the
community has thus become entirely free,
the usual struggle begins between the
mercantile patriciate and the industrial
classes to secure admission to the council
and the state offices. This stage of develop-
ment, however, was undergone by every
town in the mother country, and reappears
in the colonial towns, though in abbre-
viated form.

Together with the agricultural village
and the commercial or manufacturing
town settlements, the mining colony
forms a third kind of settlement . After the
discovery of the silver mines of Freiberg,


Town life was unknown among: the early Teutonic races, who dwelt in village settlements around which were fortifications
of earth and wood that served as a refuge for the population. The chiefs ruled over small districts protected by wilder-
nesses, swamps and other natural boundaries, their own headquarters being stockaded as shown in the illustration.

the half Slav Erzgebirge attracted not only
German miners, whose first starting-point
seems to have been the Hartz Mountains,
but also other colonists. These completed
the Germanisation of the modern king-
dom of Saxony. Such colonies developed
codes of their own capable of expansion,
and in Moravian Iglau and Bohemian
Kuttenberg the mining industry soon
formed centres similar to that of Saxon
Freiberg,, ,

All these institutions which arose upon
the old Slav territory are also found in
Silesia, which was entered by German
colonists at a later date than Brandenburg. .
Their invasion was directed by the power
of the Church and the princes.

In Poland, which was regarded as be-
longing to Silesia until the thirteenth
century, Christianity had become pre-
dominant so early as the tenth century.
The Polish Church retained*- the^ traces of
its German origin, and in cons<?ierasness
of this fact an attempt was made to counter-
balance German preponderance by the
introduction of French clergy. Circum-
stances, however, brought it about that
in the twelfth century not only the Church,
but also, and to a greater extent, the ducal

power facilitated the general triumph
of German nationality throughout Poland,
and secured the complete Germanisation
of the larger part of Silesia. The dukes
enjoyed almost unlimited power and pro-
perty, while the Church and the growing
order of the nobles shared the privileged
position of territorial lords. In conse-
quence the peasant class, originally free,
gradually dwindled, and Was replaced by
a disorganised mass of occupants, subject
to tribute, burdened by forced service,
and bound to the soil. There were no
free towns, although we can detect traces
of an early Polish town constitution, which
bears some similarity to the old Russian
town system.

After the time of Boleslav III., who
died in 1138, Poland was broken
petty principalities, and Silesia
acquired a kind of independence,
neighbourhood of Germany, the connec-
,tion of the dyn-asts-with "German princely
houses, the influence of .German women
and mothers, and of princes educated
in German schools, secu ed the advance
of the Germans to the central districts
of the Oder in the twelfth century.
As in Pomerania and Mecklenburg, this




movement was a bloodless one, completed
under the protection of princes of Slav
origin, without the slaughter or expulsion
of the non-German previous and present
occupants -a peaceful contrast to certain
proceedings in Wagria, Brandenburg, and
Prussia. Where the authorities failed to
support the movement and the Polish
G nationality was able to maintain

its ground, as in Upper Silesia,
Advance ,, ^ , i r ,

, the Slavs were also left in pos-
m Poland . T , , < -r. i j

session. In the rest of Poland,

whither the Germans advanced in the
thirteenth century, with no less success
than in Silesia, an irresistible national
reaction took place forthwith.

The peasant colonisation of Silesia by
the importation of German immigrants
was begun by the German Cistercians
who Were first called in by Duke Boleslav
the Long to Leubus in 1175 ; these were
soon followed by Premonstratensians and
Augustinian Canons. The Germans settled
in new or old villages the latter were,
however, in ruins under the same favour-
able conditions as in Brandenburg. From
the first moment the settlements of the
tenant peasantry struggling with the
swamps and primeval forests formed a
salutary contrast to the scattered villages
of the Polish serf population, who were
both incapable and disinclined to work.

It was not surprising that princes,
bishops and lords began to found villages
"of German right " both in Greater and
Lesser Poland. As Schiemann observes,
" The privileges of the German peasant
colonies consisted in the fact that they
enjoyed immunity from the princely juris-
diction except in criminal cases, while they
had free markets, freedom from imposts
and military service, and were relieved
from the manifold forms of forced service
which oppressed the Polish peasant."

Of the Silesian dukes none performed
greater service for the Germanisation of
the country than Henry I. the Bearded
(1202-1238). Under him were founded
such towns of German right as Neumarkt,

Lowenberg, Neisse, Goldberg, Oppeln,
Ratibor, etc. Especially after the great
invasion of the Mongols and the bloody
battle of Liegnitz on April gth, 1241, the
process of colonising and founding of
towns received a greater impulse. At
that time Breslau began its development
and secured the privilege of Magdeburg
in 1261, while Liegnitz, Landshut, Brieg,
Glogau, Beuthen, etc., were also prosperous.
The Duke Henry IV. Probus, after the
battle of the Marchfield in 1278, received
Silesia as a fief from the German king,
Rudolf I., and thus the political separation
of Silesia from Poland was completed.
United with Bohemia by the last Premys-
lids after 1291, it became in 1327 " feuda-
tory to the crown of St. Wenzel." During
the time of Charles IV. it was once more
prosperous, but upon the whole it remained
a mere appendage of that kingdom. As
such it passed to the Hapsburgs in 1526,
with whom it remained until Frederick II.
in 1740 asserted the hereditary claims of
the Hohenzollerns to Liegnitz, Brieg,
Wohlau, and Jagerndort.

The German element in Silesia suffered
no diminution by the union with Bohemia,
though its eastern expansion came to an
end. The Polish clergy declared against
German colonisation in 1260, and from
the time of Vladislav I. Lokietek (1320-
1333) the Polish crown generally displayed
a spirit hostile to the Germans This
M spirit predominated among

Noblea as ^ the powerfu ] no biHty until
ro essiona Q erman i n fl ue nce was entirely
Robbers , , , ./

broken down under the

Jagellons, and the kingdom of the national
Polish Schlachta began to decay.

At the close of the fourteenth century
the general culture of Silesia was at a
low ebb. The nobles had degenerated,
and were professional robbers ; the towns
were impoverished, especially the smaller
of them, and the peasants were over-
whelmed by a stupefying servitude which
was very little more tolerable than that
of their Polish and Bohemian equals.









LJENRY THE LION seemed to have
*1 assured the position of the Germans
on the Baltic. The Osterlings, the German
Baltic navigators, sailed the sea as far as
Gothland and the Gulf of Finland. German
factories existed before the end of the
twelfth century in Wisby and in Great
Novgorod. The Germans began to vie
with the Scandinavians and the Slavs
for the possession of a world that had
hitherto been inaccessible to them. The
ecclesiastical or secular conqueror and
coloniser was now joined by the merchant,
who had been a somewhat insignificant
figure in the expansion of Germany until
the end of the twelfth century.

The prospects of further advance sud-
denly became extremely gloomy ; the
all-protecting power of Henry the Lion
collapsed, and Frederic Barbarossa
divided the remnants of the Guelf
possessions among his adher-

fth 4Ue ents in z l8 1 The barrier was

. e . now torn away which had

Ling hitherto checked the advance
of Danish conquest. The Danish king,
Waldemar II. (1202-1241), overpowered
Holstein, forced Mecklenburg and Pomer-
ania to do him homage, brought Liibeck
under his supremacy, and received the
confirmation of his possession of all
lands beyond the Elbe and Elde from the
Emperor Frederic III, who, in 1214, at
seventeen years of age, had come to
Germany. In Esthonia the Danes also
established a footing, and thence they
menaced the new colonies of the Germans.
Suddenly, however, fortune changed.
Duke Henry the Black of Schwerin
captured the Danish king and his eldest
son, who bore his name, to satisfy
a private quarrel, at the little island
of Lyo, near Fiinen, in May, 1223,
and brought them in safe custody to
Danneberg. While Waldemar II. was
confined in the " king's hole," the Germans
again secured possession of all the terri-

tory to the east of the Elbe with the ex-
ception of Riigen. The king, when set
free on November lyth, 1225, attempted
to recover what he had lost by force of
arms, but was defeated at the battle of
Bornhovede on July 22nd, 1226. The
German imperial forces had no share in
this great victory over the Danes. As
n affairs in the country on the


aj , without their inter .

the Baltic , r j.1. r> in-

ference, so also upon the Baltic

coasts the advance of German nationality
continued without their aid. Their inter-
ference, as a rule, was a hindrance rather
than a help, and their lack of interest,
upon the whole, proved a benefit.

At the time of Waldemar II. a remark-
able colonial settlement had been formed
upon the shores of the Baltic on the fifty-
seventh parallel of north latitude. Nations
of foreign tongues inhabited the country
south of the Gulf of Finland .Esthonians,
Livonians, Courlander, and Oeseles who
belonged to the Finnish branch of the
Mongolian races ; to the south-west of
them were settled Indo-Germanic peoples
Letts, Lithuanians, Semgallians, and
Prussians. The ethnical characteristics
of this region were complicated, even from
primitive times, by the infusion of Finnish
and Lettish elements and by the influence
of Scandinavian immigrants. These races
were, without exception, still in a state
of barbarism, and none rose to any form
of constitutional organisation.

How Small Chiefs mled oyer small
Distnct, were districts tected by wilder .

nesses, stockades, and
swamps. Apart from village settlements
there were also fortifications of earth and
wood which served as refuges for the popu-
lation when revenge or the instinct of
piracy led to raids upon the country. Town
life was unknown. While the Letts
were occupied in cattle-breeding and
agriculture, and also in hunting, the Finns



were fishers and mariners or pirates. The
religion of the Finns was allied to Sham-
anism.. As regards the religion of the
Letts we know that the old Prussians
had a national sanctuary in Romovo, in
which the high priest, Kryve-Kryvejto,
tended the everlasting fire in honour
of Perkunas and offered the sacrifices of
victory. All the Baltic peoples
Religion of bdieved in a yfg a f ter death,

p Itlc as is clearly shown by the
objects found in their tombs.
During the eleventh and twelfth cen-
turies the Baltic districts were repeatedly
ravaged by the Russians, who were unable,
however, to secure more than a temporary
payment of tribute. In the year 1030
the people of Novgorod built the fortress
of Vurieff to overawe the district ; this
was destroyed by the Esthonians thirty
years afterwards. The modern Russians
have, however, given the old eleventh-
century name to the German town of
Dorpat, which rose .on the same spot.

It was not, however, fated for the
Russians to bring Christianity and the
elements of civilisation to the Baltic
territory ; this was the work of the
Germans, especially of the Low Germans,
who extended their linguistic area to the
Gulf of Finland, while it touched the allied
district of the Dutch and Flemings on the
west. German merchants first' came from
Gothland (Wisby) to the gulf at the mouth
of the Dvina. Sailing up the Dvina
they came to Poleck and Witebsk, whence
an overland route led to Smolensk in the
district, of the Dnieper. It was, indeed,
possible to reach Smolensk from Novgorod,
but the road was longer, and in Novgorod
the Germans were exposed to the hostile
rivalry of the Scandinavians, who were
older settlers in that town. Thus, the
Germans, and especially the sailors of
Liibeck, gained a trading district free from
rivalry by this "passage of the Dvina."
They left their country in the spring,
pitched their booths on the
Dvina in the summer, and
returned home in the autumn.
Individuals even then began
to pass the winter among the Livonians
and among the Esthonians.

Missionaries soon ventured to Livonia ;
among these were the Augustinian canon
Meinhard, who built the first stone church
at Uxkiill, and was consecrated bishop in
1186 by the Archbishop of Bremen,
Hartwig, and the Cistercian, Theo.doric.


to the


The Germans gathered about their settle-
ments, clearing the forests and setting an
example of higher morality to the natives.
But neither Meinhard nor his successor
Berthold, who summoned the crusaders
into the land and Was killed in battle in
1198, was ever more than a mere pioneer.
After the retreat of the first crusaders
the Livonians adopted so threatening an
attitude that priests and merchants fled
from the country.

At this critical moment the right man
appeared to found the predominance of
the Germans in the Baltic territories.
This was the canon of Bremen, Albert of
Buxhovede also called Albert of Appel-
dern who had been consecrated third
bishop of Livonia. Before entering his new
sphere of work, he secured the favour of the
Danish ruler by a personal visit, gained
the protection of King Philip of Swabia,
and was granted a crusading bull by
Innocent III. In 1200 he sailed up the
Dvina with twenty-three ships to the
settlements of Uxkiill and Holm, which
had been founded by Bishop Meinhard.
He chose, however, a more suitable spot
for his residence ; at the mouth
of the little river Riga, at its
confluence with the Dvina,
where a considerable bay
appeared likely to invite merchants, he
began the construction of the town of
Riga in 1201. In the following year
citizen settlers" came out from Bremen and
Hamburg, and even at the present day the
civic shield of Riga combines the armorial
bearings of Bremen and Hamburg.

The Cistercians entered the new mona-
stery built at the mouth of the Dvina in
1208. The Order of St. Bernard was
followed by the Premonstratensians, and
within a short time, in the extreme
north-east, the two spiritual corporations
were rivals in the work of colonisation.
It was never possible, however, to bring
a sufficient number of German peasantry
to Livonia and to the territories on the far
side of the Niemen ; the peasantry would
not go by sea, and it was quite im-
possible to reach this remote district
by land without crossing hostile and
inhospitable districts.
' The German plough was thus unable to
conquer Courland, Livonia, and Esthonia
as thoroughly as Brandenburg and even
Prussia. Hence the difference between
the history of this Baltic land and that of
the territory between Liibeck and Memel.


of the Town
. _.


In the late Middls Aofes all Germany was a land of splendid princely strongholds, as witness the castled
Rhine. Many of these castles are still inhabited, like that of the Counts of Eltz, shown at the top of this
pa^e, the picturesque Schloss Lichtenstein on the left, and the ancestral castle of the Hohenzollern on the right.
None excelled ia grandeur or beauty of site the Castle of Heidelberg, which is to-day a splendid ruin of its past.




" Brothers
of the

The struggle with the Finnish and
Lettish peoples did not begin until the
moment when the Livonians were regarded
as subjugated and baptised shortly after
1200. An occasional body of crusaders
was then no longer enough to guarantee
the protection necessary for colonial ex-
pansion. Hence, about 1202, the knightly
Order of the Brothers of the
Sword was founded by Bishop
Albert, and confirmed by the
Pope in 1204. This ecclesiastical
and military brotherhood was organised
upon the same principles as the Templars,
the Knights of St. John, and the Teutonic
Knights, who had originated in the Holy
Land. Like these Orders it was divided
into three classes .the priests, the knights,
and the serving brothers .among whom
the squires were to be distinguished from
the artisans. The uniform of the " Brothers
of the Knighthood of Christ in Livonia "
consisted of a white coat and cloak to which
a red cross was sewn, formed from two
swords crossing each other, hence the name
" Brothers, or Knights, of the Sword."
On service the heavy armour then in use
was naturally worn, though covered with
the cloak of the Order.

At the head of the Order was the Master,
who was chosen by the Knights from
their own class, and all the authorities of
the order, the Commanders, Bailiffs, etc.,
were unconditionally subordinate to him.
In important cases the Chapter was
summoned, which, however, could only
advise, and not decide. The number of
the Brothers was never great ; like the
Order of the Teutonic Knights in Prussia,
they rather formed a kind of official or
general staff corps, to officer the local
levies and reinforcements of Crusaders.
The Order was recruited chiefly from the
North German nobility as long as it
remained independent.

Hardly had Bishop Albert been invested
by King Philip with Livonia, and elevated
, to the position of an imperial


Order, in return for its

services, took a third of all
the land that was conquered or was to be
conquered thereafter. Forthwith the de-
structive opposition of the episcopal power

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 28 of 55)