Dirschau, Germany.
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski

This is the Pomorskie Vojvodship official coat of arms.
This coat of arms has been used since September 2001
approved by the Sejmik Wojewodzki,
then the Heraldic Commision changed it slightly
and ratified it as the official coat of arms.
It features a black griffon on a yellow shield.
The black griffon is the symbol of Cassubia/Kassubia.

Dirschau, Germany - the Birthplace of Leo Stempnakowski:

Dirschau, Germany is now part of Poland and is called Tczew. It had a small castle for defence. Dirchau (now called Tczew) is located forty (40) miles south of Ddansk. Tczew has a population of 61,000 inhabitants (in 2001). Since 1999, Tczew is the capital of Tczew County in Pomerania. Tczew(formerly Dirschau) is now part of the Pomeranian Voivodship (since 1999). It is part of the old West Prussia or Royal Prussia (royalists). It was in the possession of the Branderburgers. From 1975-1998 Tczew was part of the Gdansk Voivodship. The German name of Pommern is from the Slavic Pomorze meaning "by the sea." The ancestral lands of the Slavs lay in the valleys of the Odra and the Vistula Rivers. The Vistula is the longest river in Poland. This area spreads from Kashubia to the Elblag Heights with a varied landscape. Kashubia is part of the Baltic Heights averaging 50-60 meters above sea level. Wiezyca has the highest elevation at 329 meters. Kashubia is covered by large tracts of forests with many kinds of tree, both coniferous and dediduous.

The landscape reminds one of a wildlife preserve. Many mushroom beds. are found in this area, and it is one source of commerce.

The tri-city area includes: Sopot, Gdynia, and Gdansk. These cities are located near the Morainal Hills. There is a municipal railway that provided mass transit from on city to the other. The Vistula River, the longest Polish River, runs through the entire area and there is a extensive network of canals. This area around the Vistula is the only low lying area and has flooding from time to time. The Vistula enters the Baltic Sea. The Vistula Sandbar separates the Vistula Lagoon from the Baltic. This area of large dunes protects the area from Baltic storms. The town of Elblag is the biggest town on the Elblag River. Between Elblag and Gdansk lies the town of Tczew, Poland. There are roads to Poznan, Bydgoszcz, and Gdansk from this town. Tczew is a part of the Vistula Delta. Tourist attractions in this area are Malbork Castle and Frombork. This area was called the fertile lowlands. The cities of Royal Prussia occupied a special place.

The current population of this city is 61,841. The city is 95% Catholic, according to 1992 statistics. This town as chartered in 1260. From 1400-1450, Danzig became the cultural center of all Prussia, followed by Thorn, Marionburg, Elbing, abd Königsberg (Urban, 147). Tczew became a part of Poland in the late 13th century, but was held by the Teutonic Knights from 1308 until 1466, when it reverted to Poland. The Teutonic Knight, Heinrich von Plötzke was the first to capture Tczew/Dirchau in 1308. It then passed to Russia in 1772 and was changed back to a Polish possession in 1919 and reincorporated to Poland in 1945. Poland is the size of New Mexico.

THE TEUTONIC STATE:

All of Old Prussia was conquered by the Teutonic Knights and left in desolation, as all inhabitants were massacred or expelled. Until 1525, Prussia was an Ordenstaat, a country owned by the Christian Military Order. Its successor states was Brandenburg (Jones).

"Incorporated in the main in the era before 1454, when they had formed part of the Teutonic State ... in Elbing (Elblag), Dirschau (Tczew), Frauenberg (Frombork), Konitz (Chojnice), Braunsberg (Braniewo) and Hel, they included the only cities in Poland which adopted the law of Lëbeck as opposed to that of Magdelsburg" (Davies, 295).

Those of the Prussian League negotiated tax exemptions and privilages after 1569, together with Cracow and Wilno they sent observers to the Sejm.

These Baltic areas were less affected by economic problems than those of the interior. Royal Prussia (Prussians were originally from the Ulmigeris tribe) was the only province of Poland-Lithuania where the burgher estate could hold its own against the encroachment of the nobility.

POMERANIA:

The future Visigoths unter Götrijk landed in Rügen and Pomerania. Eastern Pomerania was first settled permanently by the West Slavic tribes, who were closely related to the Poles. The Oksywie culture was in eastern Pomerania. Western Pomerania centered on Szczecin (Stettin) and was ruled by a native slav dynasty and was contested in turn by the Poles, Danes and Brandenburgers. Boleslaw III Krzywousty was active in this area. He reduced the Pomeranian forts of Nial~ograd (Belgard). Kol~obrzeg (Kolberg). Wolin (wollin), Kamien (Cammin), and Szczecin (Stettin) to submission over a period of years. In 1124, Bishop Otto of Bamberg (1069-1139) was sent to this area to convert the heathens. The Pomeranians were converted to Christianity in 1128.

Pomerania and Brandenburg preferred and deliberately chose German domination to the "hated overlordship" of Poland (Thompson, 433, 446). The Polish Duke of Mazovia summoned the Teutonic Order in 1226 to help him subdue the independent Prussians. Wislaw of Rügen was a Slav prince of the feudatory of Denmark. In 1221 he stated: God forbid that the land should even relapse into its former state, that the Slavs should drive out the German settlers..."

Waldemar the Victorious (1202-1241) was the master of Holstein, Mecklenburg, and Pomerania. The German emigrants entered Pomerania (Barraclough).

The Oder Pomerainians (Eastern) were the first to resist the Polanian monarchy.

The Vistulan Pomeranians were later known as Cassubians. The Vistulan dialects were nearer to that of Polish. Pomeranians extended from the mouth of the Vistula River to the mouth of the Oder River. This area was cut off from the rest of Poland by forests and marshes. Their cultural development was conditioned by the sea. Pomeranians, in general developed a more advanced form of culture than the inland Slavs. There was in the Vistulan Pomerania a ducal family related to the Piasts, because of this it was thought that the Vistulan Pomeranians recognized the Piast hegomony of their own free will. The origins of the Piasts is not clear. The Oder Pomeranians, on the other hand, resisted the encroachment of the Piast monarchy. Vistulan Pomerania was a border country. Across the Vistula was the Baltic Prussian domains, and Gdansk (Danzig) was its chief city. The Vistulans were once ruled by Sarmatian Croatians, who were assimilated by the conquering Slavs. The Vistulan state was under Moravian overlordship in 906. The Moravian Empire was destroyed by the Hungarians (Magyars). East of the Gulf of Gdansk was Old Prussia. Finnish peoples were known as the Wends and Poles as Pruzi (Prussians). The tribes of Old Prussia were devoutly Pagan. In 997, Adalbert, bishop of Prague was killed while trying to convert the Old Prussians. Bruno of Magdeburg was similarly killed in 1009.

Numerous local Polish ducal families of the Vistulan Pomerania had a close relationship with the Piasts and they intermarried.

THE PIASTS:

Gallus states in Chronicon Polonorum records the beginning of the Piasts in the twelfth century. There were said to be three predecessors of Mieszko I. The Piasts all descended from a humble ploughman of the same name. Piast was from Gniezno, and was the humble subject of Popiel. His sons were:

  1. Ziemowit
  2. Leszek, who inherited the throne after his brother Ziemowit's death.
  3. Ziemomysl the son who overthrew Popiel. Ziemomysl was considered to be the father of Mieszko I. Ziemomysl had risen to an official of the Popiel regime.

Mieszko I converted to the Christian faith. The Piasts intermarried with the Arpad dynasty. Dobrawa (of the House of Przemyslide) was a Bohemian princess. She married Mieszko I in 965. Some think that Mieszko might have been a widower at the time of this marriage. Gallus thought he had seven wives before 965. Remember polygamy was the rule if you were a pagan. However, the only recorded children were those of Dobrawa. This is because when Mieszko became Christian, the Christian scribes keep records from that point onward. They also recorded his children by his German wife, Oda. Mieszko married Oda in 980. She was thought to be a Saxon. She bore him three sons. Mieszko was married nine (9) times and must have had many more children than were recorded. The Piasts ruled until the fourteenth century. In his will, Mieszko I divided his estate between all his sons, the numbers are not certain. However, only one son was given the power of the State when he died. Dobrawa's eldest son, Boleslaw expelled Oda and his half-brother (her son) from Poland.

Boleslaw was married four (4) times:

  1. Rigdaga, was the daughter of a Saxon Duke. They were married about 985, and the marriage was later dissolved.
  2. A Hungarian princess of the House of Arpad. She bore a son named Bezprym who took the throne after his father's death.
  3. Emnilda was the daughter of a Slavic prince from Elbe. She was considered his favorite wife and she was the only one able to control his violent temper. Mieszko II was Emnildas' eldest son. He was chosen to be king after his father's death. She died before Boleslaw and he remarried.
  4. A German princess.

Boleslaw Chrobry was thought to be the greatest of all the Piasts to his time. He was a competant military commander, and was well educated.

Mieszko II, the son of Boleslaw and Emnilda married princess Rychesa. Boleslaw was given the Holy lance of St. Mauritius by Rychesa's uncle, Emperor Otto III.

Mieszko's sister, Alelaida married Geizaa of Hungary. Geiza's son Stephen was made a saint.

Mieszko's other sister, Swietoslawa, married (1) Swen Forkbeard in 994/5 and had his sons Harald and Canute. (2) she married Eric of Sweden.

SOURCES:

Barraclough, Geoffrey. The Origins of Modern Germany. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984.

Davies, Norman. God's Playground: A History of Poland. Volume I (origins to 1795). New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.

Dziecioi, Witold. The Origins of Poland. London: Vertus Foundation Publication Centre, 1962

Jones, Prudence and Nigel Pennick. A History of Pagan Europe. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1995

Thompson, C. Feudal Germany.

RELATED LINKS:

Stempnakowski Records in Tczew, Poland

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