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Prussian Homage

The Prussian coat of arms with the letter "S" (Sigismundus) and a crown around the eagle's neck, reflecting that Ducal Prussia was a fief of the Polish king and crown.
Prussian Homage by Marcello Bacciarelli

The Prussian Homage or Prussian Tribute (German: Preußische Huldigung; Polish: hołd pruski) was the formal investment of Albert of Prussia as duke of the Polish fief of Ducal Prussia.

In the aftermath of the armistice ending the Polish-Teutonic War Albert, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights and a member of the House of Hohenzollern, visited Martin Luther at Wittenberg and soon thereafter became sympathetic to Protestantism. On April 10, 1525, two days after signing of the Treaty of Kraków which officially ended the Polish–Teutonic War (1519–21), in the main square of the Polish capital Kraków, Albert resigned his position as Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights and received the title "Duke of Prussia" from King Zygmunt I the Old of Poland. In the deal, partially brokered by Luther, the Duchy of Prussia became the first Protestant state, anticipating the Peace of Augsburg of 1555. The investiture of a Protestant fief of Duchy of Prussia was better for Poland for strategic reasons than a Catholic fief of State of Teutonic Order in Prussia, formally subject to the Holy Roman Emperor and the Papacy.

As a symbol of vassalage, Albert received a standard with the Prussian coat of arms from the Polish king. The black Prussian eagle on the flag was augmented with a letter "S" (for Sigismundus) and had a crown placed around its neck as a symbol of submission to Poland.

Homages of Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights

The tradition of Prussian Homages dates back to the year 1469, when, after the Thirteen Years' War, and the Second Peace of Thorn, all Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights were obliged to pay homage to Polish rulers within six months of their election. Some Grand Masters refused to do so, claiming that the Teutonic Knights were under Papal sovereignty. Among those who refused were Martin Truchseß von Wetzhausen, Frederick of Saxony (who referred the matter to the 1495 Imperial Diet), as well as Duke Albert.

Homages of Dukes of Prussia

The Duchy of Prussia was created in 1525, and the homage of Duke Albert of Prussia took place on April 10, 1525 at Kraków. Last homage took place on October 6, 1641 in front of the Warsaw's Royal Castle. Following the Treaty of Bromberg (1657), Prussian rulers were no longer regarded as vassals of Polish kings.

References

  • Vetulani A., Lenno pruskie od traktatu krakowskiego do śmierci księcia Albrechta 1525-1568. Studium historyczno-prawne, Kraków 1930;
  • Marian Biskup, Geneza i znaczenie hołdu pruskiego 1525 r., "Komunikaty Mazursko-Warmińskie", 1975, nr 4;
  • Bogucka M., Hołd Pruski, Warszawa 1982;
  • Boockman H., Zakon krzyżacki. Dwanaście rozdziałów jego historii, wyd. polskie, Warszawa 1998
  • Bogdan Wachowiak, Andrzej Kamieński Dzieje Brandenburgii-Prus. Na progu czasów nowożytnych (1500-1701) ISBN 83-7177-195-9;
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