Pogesanians were one of the eleven Prussian clans mentioned by Peter von Dusburg. The clan lived in Pogesania (German: Pogesanien; Latin: Pogesania; Lithuanian: Pagudė), a small territory stretched between the Elbląg and Pasłęka rivers. It is now located in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, northern Poland. Pogesanians, as the rest of the Prussians, were conquered by the Teutonic Knights and became germanized or polonized. The old Prussian language became extinct sometime in the 17th century.
In 1237 the Teutonic Order, who had received papal and imperial orders to conquer, christianize the ‘still heathen’ Prussians, invaded the region by sea. Elbing (now Elbląg) at the (Ilfing) Elbing River (now Elbląg River) had already been founded by Hanseatic tradesmen from Luebeck. The arrival of the Teutonic Order marked the beginning of the crusade for Pogesanians, as the Knights sought to fulfill the contracts to convert the Prussians to Christianity and to govern the country of Prussia, which was given to as them their property. Pogesanians soon destroyed the city, but the Knights rebuilt it. Elbing remained as one of the Teutonic strongholds and grew to become a port and center of commerce. The city served as the base for further incursions into the Prussian territory. Pogesanians joined other Prussian clans in the First Prussian Uprising (1242–1249). However, they did not sign the Treaty of Christburg and the fighting continued until 1251 or 1252. The Pogesanians were forced to surrender to strong Teutonic reinforcements from Germany.
During the Great Prussian Uprising (1260–1274), the Pogesanians elected Auktume as their leader and joined the fights. They were able to capture some smaller Teutonic castles, but the stronghold at Elbing remained a serious threat. A major battle occurred in 1271, when joint forces of Bartians led by Diwanus and Pogesanians led by Linka organized a raid into the Chełmno Land. The Battle of Paganstin saw twelve knights and 500 other Teutonic soldiers killed. The Prussians immediately assaulted Christburg (now Dzierzgoń) and almost captured it. However, soon cavalry from Elbing arrived and the Prussians were forced to escape. Pogesanians were the last clan standing in the uprising. They made a surprise raid into Elbing and ambushed its garrison. In 1274 the Knights made a great expedition to revenge this raid. They captured a stronghold at Heilsberg (Lidzbark Warmiński), the rebel headquarters, and the uprising ended.
Pogesanians soon rose again. In 1276 news spread that Skalmantas, leader of Sudovians, successfully raided Teutonic lands and, with help from Lithuanians, collected 4,000 for a raid into the Chełmno Land. However, other Prussian clans did not join the Third Uprising. Pogesanians were soon suppressed, and some of their survivors relocated to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The last attempt at freedom was made in 1286, when Pogesanians and Bartians conspired to invite Duke of Rügen, grandson of Świętopełk II of Pomerania, to free them from the Knights. Many of the natives were turned into serfs and the Knights invited German colonists to repopulate the land. As time passed Germans outnumbered the Prussians, and after centuries of Germanization and assimilation Prussian identity ceased to exist.
Pomerelia: Slavic people until 1125
In its early history, the territory of later Pomerelia was the site of the Pomeranian Culture (also Pomerelian face urn culture, 650 BC -150 BC), the Oxhöft (Oksywie) culture (150 BC – 1 AD, associated with parts of the Rugii and Lemovii), and the Willenberg (Wielbark) Culture (1 AD – 450 AD, associated with Veneti, Goths, Rugii, Gepids).) In the mid-6th century, the Vistula estuary is mentioned by Jordanes, describing it as the home of the Vidivarii. Pomerelia was settled by West Slavic tribes in the 7th and 8th century.
Duchy of Pomerelia
- For a list of dukes, see Pomeranian duchies and dukes.
In 1116/1121, Pomerania was again conquered by Poland. While the Duchy of Pomerania regained independence quickly, Pomerelia remained within the Polish realm. In 1138, following the death of Duke Bolesław III, Poland was fragmented into several semi-independent principalities. The princeps in Pomerelia gradually gained more power, evolving into semi-independent dukes, in contrast with other Polish territories that were governed by Piast descendants of Bolesław III. The Samborides ruling Pomerelia gradually evolved into independent dukes, who ruled the duchy until 1294. Before Pomerelia regained independence in 1227, their dukes were vassals of Poland and Denmark.
The duchy was temporarily partitioned into the principalities of Gdańsk (Danzig), Białogarda (Belgard a.d.Leba), Świecie (Schwetz), and Lubieszewo-Tczew (Liebschau, Dirschau). The most famous dukes were Mestwin I (1207–1220), Swantopolk II (1215–1266), and Mestwin II (1271–1294).
Christianity was introduced when the area was under Polish rule. While the bulk of Pomerania was within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cammin, Pomerelia was made part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leslau. The Christian centre was Oliva Abbey.
Pomerelia as a part of the Teutonic Order state