"The Oldest Charts of History of Szczecin" Exhibition Guide

"The Oldest Charts of History of Szczecin": The National Museum in Szczecin - The Szczecin History Museum exhibition guide

Text by: Bogdana Kozińska
Cooperation: Eugeniusz Wilgocki
Polish version edited by: Arnold Gawron
Published by The National Museum in Szczecin, 2003


The museum exhibition is a specific form of reporting history. A particular challenge is the attempt to show the multi-layered fates of a city, the story of which, like in the case of Szczecin, abounding in numerous political conflicts, changing borders and, as a consequence, destruction, significantly reduced the number of monuments that could illustrate specific issues.

The exhibition entitled "The Oldest Charts of History of Szczecin" refers to the earliest periods of over-a-thousand-year-long history of the city, trying – based on preserved objects – to show its development from early settlement to the end of the rule of the House of Griffins. While the exact start date cannot be determined, the final caesura my be clearly defined for 1637, although it is not a breakthrough moment in the history of the city. The exhibition was organized according to the concept of issue-oriented narrative, selecting thematic groups of significant importance for Szczecin. The presented monuments allow to show the changes that the circumstances and elements of the city's functioning were subject to during this period, determining its further development: a Slavic stronghold and a neighbouring settlement, spatial arrangement, fight and defense, faith and religion, city law and local government, citizens, ducal court, crafts.

The aim of this guide is to be as an information supplement to the exhibition, helping visitors to learn about the historical context of the issues presented, enriching it with facts, names and events that did not leave material documents or factual evidence. It should turn attention to issues that go beyond the direct "narration" of the object, and also expand the exhibition by those elements related to the discussed period, which were impossible to be placed within the exhibition due to the shortage of monuments or insufficient space. This text, based on chronologically ordered account, is an attempt to comment on what of the surviving objects, which are relict witnesses to history, can be read by a researcher who has a much wider range of information, resulting not only from professional experience but also obtained during the acquisition of the object, tracking its history, analogies, investigating the reasons for its creation, purpose and owners.

The monuments presented at the exhibition are only a trace of real events, a part that has survived through centuries. Each of them is connected with people who created, owned and looked at it. It was them who built the city, experienced important and everyday events there; studied, worked, entertained there; the rich and the poor, representatives of the elite and ordinary citizens: all shaped its history. The exhibition and this guide tell the story.

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For over a thousand years, the history of Szczecin has been creating the achievements of numerous generations living in the area, whose cradle and for a long time also the centre was the hill by the Oder River in the area of the current Castle Hill. Written sources confirm the existence of Szczecin only in the tenth, and mainly in the eleventh century, and its different names were used by historians and travellers: Sasin, Sitnu, Burstaborg, Stetin and many others. They have been the reason for ambiguity, which can only be resolved in cooperation of both linguists and archaeologists.

Archaeological research, that have been run since 1947 tup to the present, have made it possible to read the history of Szczecin from the times many centuries earlier than the chronicle records. They documented the oldest traces of people in this area from the Neolithic period, and then from the Iron Age, in the form of a settlement and stronghold of the Lusatian culture population from the early Iron Age (700 BC). Among the remains of the latter, traces of houses, hearths and cavities as well as defensive fortifications - embankment and moat - were found.

At the beginning of the eighth century, a settlement was founded on the foreland of the current plateau of the Castle Hill. It gave rise to the oldest, early-mediaeval Szczecin. During this period, it belonged to a complex of Slavic settlements located in the valley of the Oder estuary and in areas reaching as far as the Elbe. The network of settlements of the Western Slavs became particularly dense in the ninth century, and the growing attractiveness of these areas soon became the reason for the armed interference of the growing eastern neighbors - Polans, led by Mieszko I and Bolesław the Brave. However, it was not Szczecin that was the most important Pomeranian stronghold at that time - Wolin, Kołobrzeg and probably Białogard, where the progenitors of the duke dynasty of Pomeranian Griffins originated from, certainly played a more important role.

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On account of its convenient location, the Szczecin settlement developed rapidly - gradually but clearly gaining importance in the region. There were several phases in the process of shaping it.

In the first settlement phase, dating from the eighth to mid-ninth century, it was a rural settlement, whose inhabitants dealt mainly with agriculture, animal breeding and fishing. At the end of this phase, it became a small, local centre of craft and exchange, with a small harbour at its foot.

In the second phase, lasting from the mid-ninth to the mid-tenth century, there occurred major changes. Compact and dense appeared, with log houses, new settlement plots were marked out and the streets were covered with wood. All these elements are considered typical of the infrastructure of early cities. The area of ​​the settlement increased to about 1.25 hectares, defensive fortifications appeared in the form of embankment made of wood and earth; an early mediaeval stronghold came to existence. At that time, a marina was still used at the western bank of the Oder River, the bank of which may be recognized by the location of the imposing stave boat, dated to the 840s, and still in use at the beginning of the tenth century. This one of the oldest monuments of Slavic boat building is currently on display at The National Museum of Szczecin. Important changes in socio-economic functions also occurred in this phase. The role of far-reaching local and foreign (mainly Scandinavian) trade exchange is increasing. Craftsmanship becomes important, and the group of specialized craftsmen includes boat builders, blacksmiths, coopers and turners, as well as potters. The glass workshop operating in the town, the production of which was based on imported raw material, was one of the oldest and the most long-existing in Pomerania. Fishing was developing both on the Oder River and on Lake Dąbie and the Szczecin Lagoon. The stronghold in Szczecin was slowly taking the role of the centre of power of the Lower Oder tribal community, in which also the castles in Mścięcino, Siadło Dolne and Kamieniec remained.

In the next, third development phase, the process of full urbanisation took place. From the second half of the tenth century to the end of the eleventh century, a two-part early city complex was formed, keeping this form until the location of the city under Magdeburg law. Since then, early mediaeval Szczecin consisted of two main districts: one occupying the former stronghold - the Hill of Triglav known from written sources - along with the closest surroundings and the other, more extensive, developing at the foot of the plateau, bordering with old Oder River bed (currently Podzamcze). Despite the threats caused by pressure from the Danes from the north; from Saxon dukes, conquerors of the lands on the west side; and from Polish rulers from the east, the buildings covered the bank floodplain zone at the foot of the hill. At the turn of the tenth and eleventh centuries, the developing settlement covered over 3 hectares and at the beginning of the eleventh century it was strengthened with huge embankments, expanded and modernised over the next century. They become the source of the synonym of effective protection known among the Danes.

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In the layers that are nearly ten metres deep within the town and more than a dozen metres deep in the settlement outside it, observed in detail during excavations, researchers find clear traces of fire, flood and other disasters, as well, as layers that level the area ofter particular devastations or redevelopment. They also find various material remains - monuments testifying to the way of life of the then residents: merchants, craftsmen, farmers and fishermen.

In both settlements, buildings became successively more and more dense and solid and passages were more and more regular, covered with wood. Log houses appeared next to plaited buildings. Changing coexistence or dominance of one of these techniques were an expression of the inhabitants' wealth variations in particular periods and of several damages. Numerous monuments found here prove that local craftsmen fully satisfied the needs of the local community, weaving and spinning, manufacturing iron, wood, leather, antler, bone, clay and glass products. The economic centre was moving to the Oder River district.

At that time, the inhabitants of the stronghold and its surroundings maintained the tradition of gathering government independent of feudal power, but the decisive voice in majority of the most important matters belonged to the council of elders - the group of the wealthiest citizens and influential priests of the pagan cult of god Triglav, whose main temple, with a statue and treasury, was at the highest hill, constituting a regional cult centre. Believing in Trglav, divination interpretations of the behavior of his horse, faith in the power of holy sources and trees, the magic of wreaths, amulets, figurines and hose-related sacrifices influenced not only the everyday life of residents, but also decisions made on behalf of the entire community.

The turn of the eleventh and twelfth centuries is the beginning of the fourth phase, which lasted until middle thirteenth century. Economical changes occurred in Szczecin agglomeration. Szczecin, strictly bound with rural supply base, became the organizer of internal exchange around whole West-Pomerania. This enabled it to became the most important of Pomeranian cities, which has been confirmed by biographers of St. Otto, who recognized Szczecin as "the oldest and the mostly renown city of the people of Pomerania, the mother of Pomeranian cities". It became the centre of oligarchic municipal republic, politically independent, maintaining the traditions of tribal gathering government system. Based on archaeological discoveries it may be known that the core of the population dealt with crafts and fishing simultaneously, as well as, probably, farming and animal breeding. An opinion that at that time the Oder River bank district was inhabited by ordinary citizens along with lords and merchants is trustworthy. A market, which played an important role in the city’s economical life, was also located here.

Since the beginning of the twelfth century, the political system of a republic, derived from tribal tradition, was gradually influenced by early feudal statehood, losing its independence. The growing role of the duke in Pomerania was also vital, and Szczecin, which became the seat of the castellany, was subject to the supervision of the duke’s prefect and more and more numerous officials. Ebon - one of the biographers of St. Otto, confirms the existence of the ducal manor (castle), presumably erected near the temple of Triglav in the castle district.

At that time, Szczecin, along with the whole of Pomerania, entered the orbit of influence of the Polish prince Bolesław Krzywousty, who, conquering Pomeranian lands, took Szczecin in the winter of 1121/1122, and soon strengthened his power over the pagan country, imposing his own religion. He organized and sent to Pomerania a militarily protected Christianisation mission, which was headed by Otto, the Bishop of Bamberg, later a Saint of the Catholic Church. In 1124 he came to Szczecin, whose inhabitants, faithful to their god Triglav and his priests, succumbed only to the threat of invasion of the Polish protector of the mission and influenced by diplomatic efforts, not without material support. Following the example of duke Wartislaw I and a group of nobles, the baptism - a symbol of the new faith - was accepted by the majority of the inhabitants. According to the bishop's chronicler, this act was carried out by about 900 family fathers, i.e., according to various researchers, from 3 to 5 thousand people. By destroying pagan centres of worship, Bishop Otto founded two Christian temples - the church of Sts. Peter and Paul within the area of an open settlement, confirmed by written sources, and the one of St. Wojciech, probably in the Oder River bank district, near the market square, which was the place of gatherings and commercial transactions. The consequence of the destruction of the pagan temple on the hill were changes in the layout of buildings in this area and the demarcation of new, wide streets with wooden surfaces. It seems that in the second half of the twelfth century the service of the duke's court prevailed here.

The adoption of Christianity brought Szczecin into a zone of strong influence of the West, opening the way not only for merchants and incoming settlers, but also increasing the interest of the rulers of neighbouring countries in the region. After the death of Bolesław Krzywousty and the weakening of power in Poland, the threat from the Danes again appeared, which in 1164 prompted the Pomeranian duke Eric to seek protection from margrave Henry the Lion, to whom he paid homage. Despite this, he was forced to surrender to the powerful Danish ruler in 1173. In 1181, Pomerania submitted to the sovereignty of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, and after Szczecin was set on fire by the Danish army in 1189, until 1227, it was subject to the King of Denmark. This did not prevent the invasion of the growing Asians, who temporarily captured the city in 1214 and then in 1231.

Despite the unfavourable political situation and numerous destructive invasions, in the twelfth century Szczecin was a strong centre with early city characteristics, important in terms of  administration, economy and trade, influential, constituting a supply base of crops, mainly cereals, for the city and its merchants, maintaining more and more extensive trade contacts. Apart from the ducal court on the Castle Hill, inhabited by a large crew, there was probably a second seat, belonging to the duke's representative. It was located in the vicinity of  lords' mansions located on spacious plots in the area of the later Mariacki Square. In the outside settlement, by reinforced embankments, the native population of various status predominated, dealing with farming, animal breeding, fishing, crafts for local needs, trade, but also - although rather sporadically - military service. Next to it - located "between the fortifications and the embankment" – there was a settlement of colonists, who came mainly from Germany. Their material and legal status enabled them to establish and maintain their own harbour and to build a separate temple dedicated to St. Jacob, subject to the church in Bamberg, from where the main founder of the building, merchant Beringer, came. Recent archaeological research indicates the location of this settlement rather further in the west, closer to the church of St. Jacob than directly south of the Slavic settlement, as previously thought. The creation of a separate parish for the immigrant population, proving the strength of their autonomy among the local Slavs, preceded the Reformation process which was of crucial importance for the future of Szczecin.

The fifth phase is associated with the period of the mediaeval existence of the city, from the city location to the end of the fourteenth century. Its basis was the granting the city a number of privileges in 1237-1243 by duke Barnim I, under which Szczecin transformed from the city under the ducal law into a centre that was independent of the territorial authority, based on a code derived from Magdeburg. In the thirteenth century, this system was a model widely copied in Europe, adopted in numerous urban centres. The symbol of the city’s independence from the ducal authority was the resignation of duke Barnim from his seat and the promise made in 1249 that any new Griffin castle would never be built closer than 3 miles from the city.

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The location privilege also meant partial release from financial obligations towards the court, independence from ducal jurisdiction, land granting, fishing and customs privileges and, first of all, the transfer of power to the representation of the urban community, which was headed initially by the village head and later by the mayor, who led the group of councillors deciding on administrative, court, tax and guild matters, plots, buildings and marketplaces. We know this important document only from confirmations made by, among others, duke Bogislaw IV in 1293.

The result of the new Szczecin legislation was joining the "family" of cities with a similar legal system. Guarantees of commonly accepted principles, rights and privileges opened the way for new settlers, who could bring not only financial capital but also experience enabling further development of the city. Additional rights related to crafts and trade and establishing guilds were also crucial.

In result, there is a noticeable change in the nature of maintenance and production activities. One of the most characteristic novelties in Szczecin is, among others, the introduction of the previously unknown technology of pottery production, which consists in the use of reduction firing of ceramic vessels. As a result of numerous regulations and provisions regarding territorial planning, the city border was defined, embankments dividing housing estates were liquidated and then major adjustments in spatial development were made: streets, market squares and plots were re-arranged. There occurred a lively construction activity, which has been confirmed by studies proving the introduction of new technologies and structures in the construction trade and in a number of other fields. As soon as in the initial period of this phase, frame-pillar buildings associated with German newcomers, mainly used in residential buildings. Since the fourteenth century, brick construction begins to develop, first in public buildings, and then in burgher houses. An interesting form of development are - sporadically occurring - stone buildings called Kamenate, modelled on South-European defensive tower houses.

Along with residential and farm buildings, there appeared ones that served general purposes, which demonstrated the aspirations and financial capabilities of the residents. They included a market hall and a meeting place for councillors, as well as for court trials, later transformed into the town hall; a city scale, guild seats, including the most important one, that is of merchants and sailors. The city's image was also changed by new sacral buildings of religious orders arriving here: Franciscans with St. John’s church on the southern edge and Cistercians in the northern suburb of the city. Another one that was built soon after was the church of St. Nicholas – the saint patron of sailors and fishermen, located in the centre of Podzamcze, which was mostly inhabited by representatives of those professions. In the sixties, the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected on the grounds of the alleged ducal residence, which would soon grow to the rank of a collegiate church. A sign of Szczecin inhabitants’ foresight and a symbol of their strength was surrounding the city with fortifications, initially made of earth and wood, which were successively renovated, until, in the fourteenth century, the city could be protected by a moat and brick-stone walls. They were reinforced with a dense system of towers and open watch rooms, that divided them into sections, cared by particular guilds. The access to the city was guarded by four gates and seven doors from the river side, which closed the streets perpendicularly to the port quay. The streets were extended by piers for mooring ships. For the developing Szczecin, the port was the most important element of economic prosperity, based on trade and shipping as well as associated crafts - boatbuilding, woodworking and manufacturing metal parts, rigging, nets, sails, barrels, boxes and more products necessary at the shipyard, at the harbour and during expeditions.

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An important undertaking of the townspeople was the construction of a permanent crossing over the Oder River, erected in the 1280s in the area of the current Long Bridge. Direct connection with Łasztownia on the right bank increased its economic attractiveness, leading in 1283 to its purchase by the city. This is where warehouses were located and goods and ballast were loaded. The next stage of improving communication with the supply base that was important for trade interests facilities was, completed at the end of that century, a "stone dike" built in the extension of the bridge. It led through the marshes and floodplains of Międzyodrze towards Dąbie and further to the east, facilitating controlling vessel traffic and charging fees. The growing number of travellers justified the construction of a chapel dedicated to their patron, St. Gertrude, in Łasztownia. It was joined by wanderers’ house and a hospital. Similar functions were performed by hospital of The Holy Spirit at Vicus Superior, chapel of St. George by the Passawska Gate and other foundations and shelters supporting the poor, widows and orphans. The mentioned Vicus was one of two open settlements developing since pre-settlement times along the waterfront on both sides of the city; hence their names: Superior and Inferior – the Upper and the Lower ones. Both of them were purchased by the city at the beginning of the fourteenth century.

The period from the fifteenth century to the extinction of the Gryfit family was the last of city development phases that took place in mediaeval and modern times. Regarding the issues discussed below, the information obtained on account of archaeological research is confirmed by written sources to a greater extent than before. At that time, the contacts of Szczecin merchants increasingly connected them with powerful centres on the west coast of the Baltic Sea, including Lubeck and Rostock. In the 1280s, duke Bogislaw IV used them in a political conflict with the Ascanians, obtaining their help in exchange for trade privileges in Pomerania. In this way, the city became  the duke’s important partner and ally and at the same time approached the Hanseatic League, becoming its member recognized as a leading fish trade centre, owing it to the fishing zones off the coast of Skåne already having been guaranteed at that time. In the vicinity of fisheries, the residents of Szczecin created processing bases and large wholesale points, from where they sent fish to recipients in Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony, Silesia and Poland. Centres established along the coast of Denmark, attracting traders from various places, enabled trade of many other goods offered by Szczecin merchants and manufacturers. Such a chance was given to craftsmen on account of the possibility of associating in guild corporations, whose management - in accordance with the statute - represented their members in contacts with buyers, at searching for markets and in negotiations with municipal authorities. The elders of the guild controlled and supervised followings the regulations regarding the quality and volume of production, set prices, decided on the admission of new members and disciples, settled disputes and even supervised the private lives and religious practices of their associates. Meetings were held in more and more numerous guild seats. There was control over attending services held in churches where particular brotherhoods had altars and benches the design and sizes of which testified to the wealth of the guild.

The oldest city books mention the brotherhoods of butchers, bakers, shoemakers and weavers first. In the fourteenth century, their number increased to 24. The most important were associated with the production of foodstuffs (bakers, butchers, brewers, millers, confectioners), consumer goods (shoemakers, weavers, potters, tanners, tailors, coopers, carpenters, blacksmiths), with trade: both small, practiced by stallholders, and wholesale, as well as shipping, works in the port and shipyard. The consequence of introducing new tools, materials and products was the emancipation of groups of separate specializations and the formation of further professional brotherhoods. Many of them maintained their own stalls and outlets in the city. Representatives of clothiers also belonged to the group of the most influential ones, including cutters and wholesalers closely related to the most prestigious House of Sailors, where the elite of Szczecin used to meet. Szczecin was also the place where, according to customs common in mediaeval cities, representatives of particular professions were gathered along the same streets, which often took their names. Thanks to this, we still know where fishermen, butchers, shoemakers, metal vessel makers, weavers, rope makers, stallholders, furriers and others lived and worked. The names of streets and squares also recorded the sales traditions of specific districts, therefore within the Old Town one may find mediaeval names: Fish Market, Vegetable Market, Coal Market, Hay Market, Horse Market and Butter Market.

The richest buildings were located in the vicinity of the town hall, their brick construction stood out from other ones, of wattle-and-daub structure, and the rank and wealth of the owner was evidenced by the width of the front and the number of floors, of which the upper served as warehouses, the middle for residential purposes, and the lower as workshops and cantors. Fire prevention regulations forced the erection of brick walls, separating neighbouring houses, and ceramic roofing; documents from the fourteenth century often mention brick buildings. There are no images showing the workshops of Szczecin craftsmen. However, thanks to preserved products, tools and semi-finished products, as well as with the help of iconography, one can imagine with a high probability what the work of representatives of some professions looked like. The multitude of monuments from different periods makes it possible to trace changes in the production technology and the processes of professional specialization of manufacturers. They also give a clear picture of the transformations in the everyday lives of residents, whose closest surroundings - on a scale depending on their wealth – was gradually filling with an increasing number of items not only of universal use, but also luxury goods, increasingly sophisticated decorations, costumes, equipment used in the kitchen and in other rooms, dinnerware etc. Many elements in this field were regulated by guild statutes, which defined proper behaviour and enforced special supervision over members, however, control was not always effective. This can be demonstrated by the contents of a pot found in 1999 in the area of Podzamcze, containing a treasure hidden in unknown circumstances. In addition to the collection of Pomeranian coins from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, it included over 350 silver, gold-plated ornaments of high material and artistic value. Various buckles, rings and belt fittings, and, above all, a huge number of buttons and sequin patches allow one to assess how a festive costume of a rich patrician from the fourteenth or the fifteenth century was decorated, and what was the canon of presenting one’s material status. Over time, not only representatives of the richest spheres seem to be surrounded by luxury. This is indicated by luxury restrictions among the middle class, imposed by the duke with special ordinances issued, among others, in the mid-sixteenth century. The regulations covered the quality and appearance of costumes for particular states. Clothes from the end of that century that accord with the propagated principles, are presented by an image of a Szczecin townswoman.

The guilds were supervised by the city council, whose decisions often led to disputes or even revolts, ending with banditry in extreme cases. The last word, however, belonged to the representatives of the authorities, whose decisions were supported not only by the strength of arguments, but also by money, because its members came from a small group of the richest merchant families with considerable wealth and an established position both in the boards of major corporations and at the ducal court.

It would be unfair to state that holding senior positions in the council was a source of benefits only for the interests of an individual or of a narrow professional group. The activity of mayor Otto Jageteufel, who was remembered thanks to the will of 1399, under which an orphanage for boys was created in 1412, is certainly not an exception. Jageteufel's College would not be able to operate until the time of the Reformation - when it was incorporated into the municipal school at St. Mary's College - were it not for other generous donations to its purpose, offered by powerful protectors. In the school rooms there hung a magnificent portrait of the founder, who was presented wearing a rich outfit and surrounded by a group of pupils. These types of gestures of charity for poorer fellow inhabitants, as well as foundations for churches, altars, sculptures, liturgical vessels, votive offerings and epitaphs commemorating the deceased, were widely recognized acts of fulfilling the duties of a good citizen and Christian.

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The increase in intensity of  contacts of the ducal court with the city resulted from mutual interests, as the city's rank was accompanied by its economic position and security. A symptomatic proof of the growth in the significance of the ducal court was the breaking - after a hundred years - of the promise regarding the manor in the city, which, despite the opposition of the townspeople, was built the mid-fourteenth century by Barnim III, and, expanded in the following centuries, mainly by Bogislaw X and his sons, became a dominant in the landscape of Szczecin. The citizens did not always agree with the duke's choice of political allies, often opposing him and entering into a prolonged conflict with him. Policy towards Brandenburg, aspiring to succeed on the Pomeranian throne turned out to be particularly important for both sides. The electors intended to take the power over as early as in 1464, after the death of Otto III, when the Szczecin ducal line expired. Thanks to the support of the majority of knighthood, against the Szczecin mayor, who was in favour of the Hohenzollern side, Pomerania remained in the hands of the Wolgast line of the House of Griffins. The Pomeranian-Brandenburg conflict and the ongoing war - during which the representatives of Szczecin were not always loyal to the duke – was ended by the treaty of 1493, under which the elector renounced feudal rights to the Duchy of Szczecin at the price of consent to taking over Pomerania in the event of extinction of the ducal family. Signatory to the Pyrzyce treaty, duke Bogislaw X, turned out to be one of the most eminent rulers of the united state. In external politics, he turned to the Polish court, confirming the state relations in 1491 with his marriage to the daughter of King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk. Although he limited the independence of cities and expanded his tax powers, thanks to skilfully granted privileges and political consistency he gained their submission. Szczecin became the administrative capital, and the local castle - significantly expanded and enriched before the wedding with the Polish princess Anna – became the permanent seat of the duke. The city lost numerous of its privileges, including the right to mint coins granted in 1345, but gained the duke's support in its striving to control trade and navigation on the rivers Oder and Warta, limiting the competition from Frankfurt; it also obtained promises of winning sales opportunities in Poland. Since the mid-fourteenth century, the alliance with the Hanseatic League was weakened, caused in 1361 by Szczecin's failure to comply with military obligations at the war with Denmark which was the result of an attempt to limit the access of other Hanseatic cities to Skåne's fisheries. Special, non-Hanseatic prerogatives obtained in the mid-fifteenth century enabled Szczecin merchants to maintain a good position and guarantee free trade throughout Denmark. They were still used in the sixteenth century, and the refusal to join the anti-Danish coalition again influenced relations with the Hanse, leading to the exclusion of Szczecin from the union. It was not until 1560 that the Danes significantly restricted the Hanse monopoly on trade in Skåne, which also affected Szczecin's interests. The Hanse also complained about Szczecin’s insufficient participation in the fight against piracy on the Baltic Sea. Meanwhile, Szczecin was much more involved in the long-term, also military, fight against its commercial competition on the Oder River and in enforcement of the staple right, trying to eliminate mainly Stargard. The war, which took place in the years 1454-1464, during which port facilities and fleets of both sides were destroyed, after long mediations, participated by the bishop, the representatives of the emperor and of the Hansa, ended with the signing of an arrangement favorable to the Szczecin side. Duke Wartislaw X confirmed all privileges, extending the staple monopoly to merchants from Brandenburg, Silesia, Bohemia and Hungary. Szczecin, for which ties with the regions of the rivers Oder and Warta were of primary importance, won a great battle, which seemed more important than alliances with the Hanseatic cities, outweighing it with both the strength of the fleet and the supply of goods. However, Brandenburg was still making it difficult to make the full use of the success. Szczecin inhabitants were also looking for markets in Teutonic and Prussian cities, competing with Gdańsk, as well as taking advantage of periodic problems with deliveries of goods from Poland to these areas.

Along with the Middle Ages, the prosperity of the Baltic cities ends. The Hanseatic hegemony in siling and trade was defeated by the monopolistic position of the Dutch and the English. The crisis has also affected the economy of Szczecin. Dissatisfaction was increasingly common, especially among the lower social groups. Szczecin revolts as early as in the fifteenth century echoed at the Hanseatic League forum, which resulted in punishing Szczecin with a fine and temporary exclusion from the union. Rebellions in the sixteenth century, directed against councillors, patricians and clergy, had a much deeper character and more serious effects. The voices of supporters of reforms and new religious ideas reaching the city became the breeding ground for critics, which were increasing in power. They stigmatized church privileges, enrichment and secularization of the clergy, reprimanded their independence from municipal regulations and enjoying numerous rights and benefits that omitted the common budget. Paul von Rode was the precursor of Lutheran reforms in Szczecin since 1523. Under pressure from numerous residents, the council - divided into supporters and opponents of reforms, but trying to prevent the situation from escalation - agreed to legalize Rode's sermons first at St. Jacob’s church, then in further temples, and also to make some changes in the liturgical rite. The Reformation movement expanded systematically, and mutual accusations and pressure to settle disputes increased. The final decision to accept the Protestant denomination throughout the country was made by dukes Barnim IX and Philip I in 1534, after the assembly of the Sejm – a local parliament – in Trzebiatów. This verdict caused that the ducal authorities had enemies: the bishop of Kamień, numerous representatives of the Pomeranian nobility and the patricians of Szczecin, including the dismissed mayor Hans Loitz. It, however, gained a large wealth from seized church property and found itself closer to a group of influential Reich countries that accepted Luther's teachings, which after years resulted in the admission of Pomerania to the Protestant Schmalkaldic Union. This alliance turned out to be the source of a conflict with the Brandenburg margrave and the imperial court. Philip II ended the conflict, agreeing to accept the terms of the Augsburg Peace and a high fine. The consequence of the Trzebiatów Sejm was the implementation of the Pomeranian church ordinance, developed by Johann Bugenhagen, which regulated the principles of secularization of church property and conducting parish inspections. It also introduced a new administrative structure, headed by the superintendent Paul von Rode. An important element of the reform was the transfer of part of the monastery endowments to institutionalized care for the poor (poor fund and caring foundations were created) as well as for the development of education. In the latter field, the success turned out to be only partial, as instead of a university, only a Pedagogium - with an intermediate status between Latin school and university - was established in Szczecin in 1544. But even this institution had considerable achievements, educating youth from a large part of Pomerania, mainly from middle-class families, as teachers, government and church officials. Among the Pedagogium students there were historians and authors of precursor studies that have survived up to now, including Paul Friedeborn, Daniel Cramer, Johannes Micraelius and many other representatives of the emerging Pomeranian intellectual elite.

20160930 najstarsze 016 fot.Oczajdusza Michal Wojtarowicz

Another event of the sixteenth century, one of the few that attracted the attention of a number of European courts to Szczecin, were international discussions on the situation in the Baltic zone held here in 1570, ending the Northern War that had lasted for seven years. Choosing Szczecin for their place proves the city's position in the region and good relations with the duke, who was not only the host, but also the imperial mediator. In addition to the main participants - Sweden and Denmark, delegates of the emperor, elector, Poland and Lübeck came to the congress. In the course of negotiations conducted in the town hall, numerous problems of Pomeranian merchants were discussed, dealing with the problems of both Baltic fisheries and the areas of the rivers Oder and Warta. The latter problem has become the bargaining chip of the succession arrangements with Brandenburg. One of the participants of the congress was Stefan Loitz, whose fate soon turned out to be symptomatic for numerous Szczecin patricians, as well as for the whole of Pomerania. The Loitzs, at least from the middle fifteenh century, occupying a high position both in the administration and in the city's economy, dealt with the wholesale trade of herring, salt and grain, and conducted serious merchant business around almost whole Europe. In 1572, extensive banking operations with, among others, the Polish and Brandenburg courts, led to bankruptcy, causing problems for numerous creditors. Only the palace erected in the middle sixteenth century, reminding of the times of glory, remained of the fabulous fortune of the Loitzs.

The second half of the sixteenth century is considered the last period of prosperity in Szczecin. Not many illustrations showing the appearance of the city have survived. The oldest were created in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. They show the city fully built-up, surrounded by high walls with a moat, beyond which there are fields and gardens. The towers of churches and the impressive block of the ducal castle dominate over the city. An eye-catching element is lively traffic in the harbour, situated between the Long Bridge and Kłodny drawbridge (built in the north at the end of the sixteenth century). Among the ships there are both large sea vessels and smaller river, sailing and rowing boats, belonging to nearby suppliers. Dense buildings, spacious market squares and shipyard workshops on the left bank of the Oder River indicate that the city was not only populous, but also wealthy. It was inhabited by between 17 and 18 thousand people at that time. Due to a major increase in the number and range of operations of the Szczecin fleet, working mainly for the needs of grain merchants, Szczecin became a leading shipowner and exporter among West Pomeranian cities. There was also extensive trade in wood, wool, leather, tar and ash and imported salt, colonial goods, textiles, wines and metals. Restrictions on Danish fisheries was dealt with by exploring the North Sea.

Restrictive exclusions on the one hand, and a deliberate moving away from the losing Hanseatic union on the other, were compensated by new individual contracts. The city's attention was drawn more to another trade war with Brandenburg and to increased interest in trading with inland regions.

In the early seventeenth century, the ducal court tried to keep pace with new civilization requirements. Duke Philip II, who maintained numerous contacts with European courts, undertook, like previously John Frederick, another modernization of the ducal castle, erecting the wing in which he wanted to house his art collections, including the largest Pomeranian cartographic work - the map of the duchy, the creation of which had been commissioned to Eilhard Lubinus. The early death of the duke in 1619 caused that the construction of the new wing of the castle was completed by his successor, duke Francis I. The rule of the next duke, Bogislaw XIV, was marked by the tragic effects of the Thirty Years’ War, during which Pomerania was occupied by the imperial army,  while the duke concluded the Franzburg agreement, which, although did not allow the troops to enter Szczecin, could not cause the country or even the city to be saved from the burden of war fees.

Getting control over Pomerania by the army of Gustavus Adolphus in 1630 and the signing of the Pomeranian-Swedish alliance initiated a new period in the history of the duchy. When in 1637 Bogislaw XIV ended his life childless and the Griffin dynasty died out, Pomerania, according to the agreements of 1529 concluded with the Brandenburg margraves, should be taken by the Hohenzollerns. However, the opposition of Sweden, which referred to the alliance of 1630, caused new fights in which Brandenburg was supported by imperial troops. The final regulation of 1648, legitimatising the division of Pomerania, granted Sweden its western part with Szczecin and a part of surrounding lands. The devastated city, cut off from its supply base, became the main centre of the overseas part of the Swedish kingdom. Thus the next chapter of the history of Szczecin history began.