Route to Malbork
The Polish-Teutonic past in the history of Wielkopolska is fully reflected in events related with its eastern and south-eastern area, namely former Ląd-Konin and Kalisz lands as well as borderland between Wielkopolska and Kujawy.
From the times of Władysław Łokietek, when Polish-Teutonic relations became inflamed, due to the annexation of the Gdańsk Pomerania in 1308, the eastern and south-eastern Wielkopolska became the area of combat with the Order of the German House of St. Mary in Jerusalem. After prince Władysław of Kujawy attacked the Teutonic country, during the summer 1331 the first Teutonic armed expedition moved on Konin and Kalisz areas. The second expedition of lay brothers moved to these lands in autumn that year. What saved the Polish Kingdom from even greater losses was the fact that the arrival of the Czech king John of Luxembourg and his army was delayed.
Many cities and settlements were destroyed and burned during the two Teutonic expeditions. The castellanian castle in Spicmierz was destroyed, Uniejów, Konin, Słupca, Pyzdry, Poznań, Pobiedziska, Gniezno, Żnin were burned, however, the Cathedral in Gniezno was spared. Brothers of the order robbed numerous churches. Part of Kujawy was incorporated into the Teutonic country in Prussia. There was an attempt to welcome prince Kazimierz near Pyzdry.
Attempts to recover the Gdańsk Pomerania and other lost lands during legal processes in 1320-21 (Inowrocław process) and in 1339 (Warsaw process) did not bring the Polish side any desired results. In 1339 many knights, clergymen and townsmen (Słupca, Uniejów, Kalisz, Pobiedziska, etc.), lay brothers – including the Cistercians from Ląd and Franciscan Brothers from Pyzdry testified during the process taking place in numerous locations (f. ex. Grzegorzew, Pyzdry, Uniejów), which took its name from the place, where the verdict has been given (St. John church in Warsaw). Despite the favourable verdict issued by the papal legate Galhard de Carceribus (Cahors diocese in France) there were no positive political or territorial benefits gained.
Treaty of Kalisz (1343), named after the place where guarantee documents were issued, brought calm within the Polish-Teutonic borderland.
This years 675th anniversary of the Teutonic invasion on Wielkopolska and the Płowce battle is an occasion to familiarize oneself with the cultural heritage of the so-called historical Wielkopolska reminding these events, when the war conflagration reached the precincts of Konin.
Despite the diplomatic efforts of the Polish diplomatic forces, the Polish Kingdom still had no access to the Baltic Sea, which significantly diminished the possibilities related with Kingdom’s economic growth.
Cistercian monks from Ląd, whose majority was born in bourgeoisie families in Kolonia, had significant influence on the shape of peaceful Polish-Teutonic relations. They were subjects of great masters, as since 1306 they have taken over the so-called Godziszew provostry (also called the Kłodawa provostry) near Gniew, Pelplina and Tczew, which was until then under the influence of Benedictine monks from Mogilno (near Gniezno). Brothers from this convent might be seen among witnesses of the 1339 Warsaw process; in 1405 preliminary documents of the agreement concerning the purchase of New Marchia with Brothers von der Osten from Drzenia (nowadays Drezdenko on Noteć) were signed in the monastery.
The Polish-Lithuanian Union at Krewo in 1385 was an important turning point in the Polish foreign policy. Expansion towards Ruthenia was somewhat interrupted and attempts were made to recover the Gdańsk Pomerania. Prominent citizens of Wielkopolska, in particular those from the Konin area, played a considerable role in these activities. Andrzej Łaskarz, a prominent diplomat engaged in diplomatic efforts from the beginning of the 15th century, who died as the bishop of Poznań in 1426, was one of those prominent people. The circle of polish diplomats included as well Zawisza the Black from Garbów, related with Andrzej Łaskarz, Janusz from Tuliszków, castellan of Kalisz, Paweł Włodkowic, rector of Cracow Academy. On 15.07.1410, on the fields of Grunwald both the Zawisza the Black, Janusz from Tuliszków, who was granted the administration of Gdańsk as a reward for his bravery, and Marcin from Sławsk, mentioned by Jan Długosz as a commander of Zaremba ancestral ensign. The other ensign was commanded by Jarand from Brudzew (near Koło).
Just as the Cistercian abbey in Ląd on Warta is related with events, which took place in 1331, the origins of the church in Gosławice, founded by Andrzej Łaskarz, bishop of Poznań and his nephew, Jan from Licheń, might be connected with Polish diplomacy in the beginning of the 15th century. When bishop Łaskarz died, his nephew, Jan from Licheń, also honoured in fighting the Teutonic Order in the diplomatic service, took over the Gosławice goods, including the castle, which was one of the first adjusted for the artillery defence. The church in Gosławice relates to the architectural pattern of St. Maurice church in Konstancja (or church of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Lawn in Prague, Czech Republic).
Łaskarz actively participated in the general council in Konstancja (1415-18), then in 1420 he stayed in Wrocław, where the emperor Sigmund of Luxembourg issued the verdict concerning the Polish-Teutonic conflict, and in 1424 he stayed in Rome, where the decision in the case of Jan Falkenberg, a Dominican monk who was induced to write a virulent libel on king Władysław Jagiełło, was issued. Jan Licheń, his nephew, subsequent governor of the Brzesko-Kujawy region, always accompanied him in his diplomatic voyages.
Another important event from the Polish-Teutonic history is the Thirteen Years’ War (1454-66). In Koło, located within the premises of the historic Konin district, a convention of king Casimir Jagiellonian and the Polish gentry with the representatives of the Prussian Confederation, preceding the act incorporating these lands into the Crown. Final decisions concerning the foundation of the Bernardine monastery in Koło, which can be called the Temple of Peace, were made during the peace talks in Toruń, which ended the war.
The last years of the 15th century create a period, during which Ambroży Pampowski (died 1510), starost of Konin, finally general starost of Wielkopolska and Malbork, was particularly active on the political arena. Former Teutonic castles in Sobowidz and Skarszew were expanded thanks to his efforts.
During the period preceding the secularisation of the Teutonic Order and the Prussian homage paid in 1525 many knights from the Konin area were staying at the court of the Grand Master Albrecht von Hohenzollern. Russocic and Rychwał heirs might be enumerated among them. Wojciech from Rychwał, grandson of Marcin from Sławsk, was pardoned by the king, Sigismund the Old, due to the support of the above-mentioned superior of the Teutonic Order. For robbing merchants he could be sentenced to death, which he unfortunately did not avoid, as he didn’t quit the criminal activity. It is worth to remember him during the visit in Rychwał, where ruins of his old small castle were preserved (stone house on an entrenchment).
The trail entitled “Route to Malbork” presents one of the routes taken by western European knighthood during the great Teutonic expeditions on Lithuania and Samogitia in 14th-15th century, organised to celebrate Easter and Christmas. It presents the two most precious relics of Polish mediaeval heraldry (church in Gosławice, St. Jacob’s chapel in Ląd on Warta). It also indicates places connected with knighthood of Wielkopolska, actively participating in the struggles with the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The route of the trail:
Variant I: Wrocław – Leszno – Pępowo – Krotoszyn – Kalisz – Konin – Koło – Brdów – Toruń – Kłodawa – Godziszewo – Trąbki – Sobowidz – Skarszewy Gdańsk – Malbork
Prepared by Paulina Wojtyniak