Post-classical history

Christburg, Treaty of (1249)

The peace treaty that ended the first great insurrection of the native Prussians against the rule of the Teutonic Order.

After the defeat of the order’s Livonian branch by Prince Alexander Nevskii (Yaroslavich) of Novgorod on the ice of Lake Peipus, the newly converted Prussians apostatized in 1242 and allied withDuke Swantopelk II of Pomerelia, an enemy of the order. However, with the support of crusaders from Germany the order largely prevailed. At the end of 1247,

Pope Innocent IV dispatched his legate Jacques Pantaléon, archdeacon of Liège (later pope as Urban IV), to Prussia. Jacques first mediated a peace between Swantopelk and the order and subsequently the Treaty of Christburg (mod. Dzierzgon, Poland) was concluded on 7 February 1249.

The treaty identified the severe lordship of the order as the reason for the insurrection. As a result, personal liberty was granted to the Prussians, comprising rights of property, inheritance (including inheritance rights for women), trade, marriage, and legal representation. Prussians could become clerics, enter religious orders, and receive the belt of knighthood if they were of noble birth. This liberty was to be forfeited if the Prussians apostatized or rebelled against the order, their overlord. The Prussians were also given the right to their own civil law and chose that of the neighboring Poles. They were obliged, however, to abandon all pagan customs and ceremonies, including polygamy, the purchase of wives, the making of idols, and heathen burial rites. Christian duties such as fasts, infant baptism, and annual confession and communion had to be observed. Twenty-two churches were to be built and maintained in places named in the treaty, with priests to be provided by the order. Finally, the Prussians had to participate in the military campaigns of the order. The treaty was rendered invalid when a second insurrection broke out in 1260.

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