Exile and Return?

Gdańsk in the Aftermath of the Teutonic Order’s Actions in Pomerelia during the First Half of the Fourteenth Century

In: East Central Europe
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  • 1 University of Gdańsk
  • 2 University of Gdańsk

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After the Teutonic Knights successfully broke through Gdańsk’s defenses on 12/13 November 1308, they set about massacring not only those knights who supported the rule of the margraves and Brandenburg, but also Gdańsk’s burghers. In 1310, Pope Clement v set up a special commission to investigate whether it was true that the Teutonic Knights had killed more than ten thousand people in Gdańsk. The Teutonic procurator, in response to allegations of slaughter, argued that Gdańsk was harboring thieves who were causing great damage to the Order. After the massacre, it was claimed that the burghers who survived were asked several times to expel the lawbreakers, and were threatened with the destruction of the town if they failed to do so. Fearing for their lives, the burghers handed over fifteen criminals to the Teutonic Knights, and left the town to go and live elsewhere, their abandoned houses falling into ruin. Though it is unknown what happened to the exiled burghers who survived the massacre in Gdańsk, it is likely that they took refuge in other German cities, possibly Lübeck. For over ten years historical records make no mention of life in Gdańsk or of its burghers, until 1327, when it is noted once again as a thriving city. There is little doubt that its favorable location—on the Baltic coast—ensured its revival. The resurrected city was founded next to the one destroyed in 1308.

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