Prussian Confederation

The Prussian Confederation (Preußischer Bund or Bund vor Gewalt; Związek Pruski) was an organization formed in 1440 by a group of 53 gentry and clergy and 19 cities in Prussia to oppose the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights.


According to the First Peace of Thorn which followed the Teutonic Knights' defeat in the 1410 Battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg), the Teutonic Order had to pay high reparations to the Kingdom of Poland. Their monastic state imposed high taxes on the cities to raise the funds. In the 1420s, Grand Master Paul von Rusdorf brought stability to the military order and its relations, but fighting with Poland resumed in 1431 with another Polish-Teutonic war.

At that time, Johannes von Baysen was one of Paul von Rusdorf's ambassadors, as well as an intermediator to the cities.


After about three decades of growing discontent, the Prussian leaders (see Prussian estates) organized themselves to oppose the rule of the order more effectively. On 14 March 1440, a group of 53 gentry and clergy and 19 Prussian cities, under the leadership of the Hanseatic cities of Danzig (Gdańsk), Elbing (Elbląg), and Thorn (Toruń), founded the Prussian Confederation in Marienwerder (Kwidzyn). Several more towns joined on 3 April, although Bütow (Bytów) did not. In Danzig, the new members signed a document which was kept in the archives of Thorn.

After Rusdorf died in 1441, his successor, Grand Master Konrad von Erlichshausen, continued to negotiate a compromise until his own death in 1449. The confederation lobbied for support against the Teutonic Order within the Holy Roman Empire. Ludwig von Erlichshausen, grand master from 1450 to 1467, took a more aggressive stance towards the confederation. He filed a lawsuit at the court of Emperor Frederick III, whose verdict of 1453 declared the confederation illegal.

Thirteen Years' War

In February 1454, the Prussian Confederation rose against the Teutonic Order's rule. Gabriel von Baysen and Johannes von Baysen, now leading the confederation, requested the protection of King Casimir IV Jagiellon of Poland, who was in the process of marrying Elisabeth of Austria, the daughter of the German king Albert II. They also asked for, and received, a guarantee of their continued city rights and privileges for the gentry.

The resulting Thirteen Years' War ended in the defeat of the Teutonic Order and the 1466 Second Peace of Thorn. The Order lost control of western Prussia, the cities there succeeding in their secession. As Royal Prussia, it became an autonomous subject of the Polish Crown. The Teutonic Knights retained eastern Prussia, but only under the overlordship of the Polish king. The Prussian Confederation, with its members now divided in two different states, ceased to exist as such.


Both the Polish and Teutonic sides agreed to seek the confirmation of the Second Peace of Thorn from Emperor Frederick III and Pope Paul II, but they also agreed that this confirmation would not be needed for validation of the treaty. Soon after, however, a dispute about the status of the Bishopric of Warmia started a smaller conflict called the War of the Priests.

Participating towns

Towns which founded the Prussian Confederation on 14 March, 1440:

German name Polish name Russian name
Thorn Toruń
Neustadt ("New Town") of Thorn part of Toruń
Culm Chełmno
Elbing Elbląg
Neustadt of Elbing part of Elbląg
Danzig Gdańsk
Braunsberg Braniewo
Altstadt ("Old Town") of Königsberg Królewiec Kaliningrad
Kneiphof Knipawa part of Kaliningrad
Löbenicht Lipnik part of Kaliningrad
Graudenz Grudziądz
Strasburg Brodnica
Neumark Nowe Miasto Lubawskie
Löbau Lubawa
Rehden Radzyń Chełmiński
Wehlau Welawa Znamensk
Allenburg Alembork Druzhba
Zinten Cynty Kornevo
Heiligenbeil Święta Siekierka Mamonovo
Landsberg Górowo Iławeckie

Towns which joined the Prussian Confederation on 3 April, 1440:

German name Polish name
Mewe Gniew
Altstadt of Danzig part of Gdańsk
Neuenburg Nowe
Lauenburg Lębork
Leba Łeba
Hela Hel
Putzig Puck


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