German Expansion to the North and East Part II

On the Baltic coast and in the immediate hinterland, the German expansion reached its maximum development with the conquests of the knights of the Teutonic Order and Sword-holder: the occupation of Prussia (1230-1283), to which the regions north of the Memel were added after that the Teutonic Order had absorbed (1237) the Knights Sword-bearers, who had carried out a similar conquest in Livonia starting from 1204; and Eastern Pomerania, or Pomerelia (1309). In 1346 the purchase of Estonia brought the knights of the Order up to the Gulf of Riga. Also in all these countries the German peasants were transplanted, who made the forests and marshes fertile, and between the Vistula and the Memel they almost replaced completely the people of the place, the Prussians of the Baltic group, always remained tenaciously pagan, despite the efforts of St. Adalbert archbishop of Prague (died in 997), of St. Brunone (died in 1009), of the Christian monk who in 1215 Innocent III had consecrated bishop of Prussia. Of the Prussians, exterminated during the conquest, almost only the name remained, passed on to the new residents of the region. And here too numerous city centers arose or had their definitive development, active in tragic situations, in close relations with the Hanseatic league. Only between the end of the century. XIV and half of the century. XV, the Lithuanian-Polish union (1386) first halted progress, then weakened the power of the Teutonic Order (battle of Tannenberg, 15 July 1410). Finally the peace of Thorn (October 19, 1466) would have created between East Prussia, left to the knights as a Polish fief, and ducal Pomerania,

To the south of Mecklenburg and Pomerania the German expansion was led by the ascanio Alberto the Bear, who extended his dominions, and the settlements of the settlers brought from Germany, towards the Oder, inheriting the region of the Havel and of the Spree (1150), which from its center took the name of Brandenburg, a name to which since then he also supported his title of marquis. Alberto’s successors pushed the Neumark, formed in the lands north of the Netze and Varta, to the borders of Poland. The Premonstratensians collaborated with the Ascanîs, who, introduced in Brandenburg by their founder, Norberto archbishop of Magdeburg (died in 1134), had their headquarters in Jerichow near this city. South-east of Brandenburg, in Lusatia and Silesia, which, after various events, in the century XIV remained definitively joined with the kingdom of Bohemia, in Poland itself, the German colonization was favored by the Slavic princes of the place, due to the need to repopulate those desolate regions from the raids especially of the Mongols. The German peasants settled in the country, retaining their own customs, laws, regiments, and having only very slight loads. Bourgeois elements also immigrated, and the Slavic villages were transformed into German cities. Wroclaw, destroyed by the Mongols, was resurrected by German immigrants (Breslau). Above all, Lower Silesia Germanized itself until it eventually ceased to be Slavic. In Poland, German penetration was mainly active in the cities, as in Poznań, in Krakow; but also the Polish rural population suffered the influence of the communities formed by the settlers who came from Germany and tried to take them as a model, improving their conditions in front of their lords. The Cistercians were also active in Silesia, who founded important monasteries there, such as in Leubus (1175) and Heinrichau (1222). In Bohemia and Hungary German peasants and bourgeois were encouraged to come to the princes and sovereigns, leading here too to the decisive improvement of the agricultural economy and the development of urban centers, enjoying, especially in Bohemia, ample autonomy, flanked in the their work of civilization, from that carried out by the Premonstratensians and the Cistercians in the religious field, always under the auspices of Germanism. And finally, with no different characteristics, this made its way into the Alpine regions dominated by the Dukes of Austria, of Styria,

In the 12th-14th centuries, according to Topmbadirectory, the reversal of the situation could therefore be said to have been completed, which had created in the lands of ancient Germany the Slavic immigrations following the Germans who emigrated to the lands of the Roman Empire. The reconquest, initiated by the Frankish kings, carried by Charlemagne, founder of the medieval empire, up to Elba and the Saale, had begun to spread beyond with Otto I, restorer of that empire, then had triumphed not under the leadership unity of the sovereign, in the awareness of a common national interest, as it was in Spain against the Muslims and in France against the English, but under the impulse of particularistic interests. However, the historical fact always remains great. Almost everywhere where the conquering princes have established their direct dominion and also where, as in Mecklenburg and Pomerania, there are still princely families of avenging origin, only the names of rivers and localities of Slavic were preserved over time. The center of gravity of Germany, from the Rhine, to which France instead returns to extend, has shifted towards the east: three of the four secular princes, who exercise electoral privilege for the choice of emperors, have their dominions in removed countries. to the Slavs or remained Slavs (Brandenburg, Saxony-Wittenberg, Bohemia); the very choice of the sovereign ends up being fixed in families that have the nucleus of their power in the east and south-east (Luxembourg, Habsburg); in lands of Slavic origin the dynasty destined to unify Germany will take the royal crown (Königsberg), and will derive the name of the new kingdom (Prussia), nucleus of the future German Empire,

German Expansion to the North and East 2