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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XVI: The German Crusade on the Baltic,   pp. 545-585 PDF (16.2 MB)

Page 583

leading to conspiracy and murder; the flagrant importation into the order
of the tribal disputes of the German aristocracy, between Swabians and Franconians,
for example, or Rhinelanders and West phalians; and finally the separatism
in the order, the desire of the Livonian branch and the German bailiwicks
to free themselves from the grand master—all this pointed to serious
incompetence. The chief purpose of the Knights had in fact long since disappeared,
and the order itself was constantly assailed before councils of the church
(Constance) and the imperial and papal courts. 
 Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the spirit of revolt
contained in the earlier Lizard League grew after 1410. Under the leadership
of men like John Czegenberg and Hans von Baysen and supported by towns like
Danzig and Thorn, it took final shape in the powerful Prussian League, formed
on March 14, 1440, at Marien werder by some fifty-three nobles and eighteen
towns of western Prussia. The efforts of this League to come to terms with
the order after 1440 were unavailing. The order sought rather to have it
dissolved by both emperor Frederick III and pope Nicholas V. When the imperial
decision for dissolution was made (December 1453), the League chose rather
to fight and started the civil war that was to cost the order its independence,
or as Treitschke has put it, to bring about "this unnatural state of affairs
that Slays should rule Germans." After occupying most of the order's fortifications,
the League sent Hans von Baysen to Cracow to negotiate terms of surrendering
Prussia to king Casimir IV of Poland. The Polish declaration of war against
the order came on February 22, 1454. The document incor porating Prussia
into Poland was completed on March 6, and three days later Hans von Baysen
was made the governor of Polish Prussia. 
 The final struggle between the order and Poland and the Prussian League
lasted until 1466 (the Thirteen Years' War). It was largely an unedifying
struggle between the mercenary forces of each side. With no money to pay
the wages of its troops (Danzig supplied most of the money for the troops
of the League), the order was obliged to turn over its towns instead, and
Polish-Prussian League victories were won by buying these towns from the
order's mercenaries. Thus on June 4, 1457, after the grand master Ludwig
von Erlichshausen had been removed on the previous day never to return, Marienburg
was delivered to Poland for a very high price. The taxes which Prussian towns
such as Danzig, Thorn, and KE5nigsberg levied on their citizens caused furious
revolts of protest. When the end came (second treaty of Thorn, October 19,
1466) the order lost to Poland Kulmerland and eastern Pomerania, including
Thorn, Kuim, Danzig, Marienburg, 

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