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European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe

 

Swantiborides (in Pomerania)
AD 1107? - 1277?

A Germanised duchy was established in Pomerania in the early twelfth century AD. This gradually conquered the remaining native tribes, turning them into vassals and Christianising them. As was typical of German feudal states, it was divided several times over the course of its five hundred years of existence.

The youngest of the three brothers who created the duchy of Pomerania, Swantibor was the founder of the Swantiborides, key figures in Pomerania. This Swantibor would also seem to be the Swantibor who was active around 1113 as a Pomeranian native ruler. From that it can be assumed that the Swantiborides were Pomeranian Slavs in origin, which would account for the obscure nature of the early Pomeranian dukes - the natives were only becoming Germanised shortly before they were conquered, and more probably afterwards to a greater degree. The largely anonymous early twelfth century chronicler known generally as 'Gallus Anonymus' referred to the the Griffins as 'close cousins' of their contemporary in Poland, Boleslaw III, implying a close dynastic relationship with the Piasts. In all probability the Griffins had been part of the same Slavic migrations into northern areas of Central Europe as the Poles themselves.

Swantibor was overthrown in a Pomeranian rebellion in 1105 or 1106 and was exiled to Poland, but it seems that he was able to return after his brother, Wartislaw I, became first duke of Pomerania in 1107. Records on the Swantiborides are very sketchy even after they were Germanised and accepted as part of the local ruling elite. Even their final fate is uncertain, although a good deal of light has been shed on the later generations of Swantiborides in Pomerania thanks to the efforts of Mirka Lewis and Jaromír Stransky. They are both proven direct descendants of Konrad 'the Younger', brother of the last Swantiborides castellan of Kolberg, the Casimir 'the Younger' who died after 1277 or 1280.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Mirka Lewis and Jaromír Stransky, from Gesta principum Polonorum, Gallus Anonymus (early twelfth century chronicler whose real name has been lost), from Rodowód książąt pomorskich, Edward Rymar (Szczecin, 1995), from Ulwencreutz's The Royal Families in Europe V, Lars Ulwencreutz (Ulwencreutz Media, 2013), and from External Link: Lighthouses of Poland: Baltic Coast, Russ Rowlett (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).)

fl 1105 - ?

Swantibor

Brother of duke of Pomerania. Founder of the Swantiborides.

c.1113

Alongside Swantibor himself, another native Pomeranian ruler is mentioned about this time but is not named. He is besieged in Kolobrzeg (Kolberg), which is held by the Swantiborides after it is conquered. The establishment of the duchy of Pomerania in 1107 is leading to more and more conquest of native lands and a gradual end to native rule.

Kolberg's lighthouse and castle remains
All that remains of Kolberg's fortifications comes from the Prussian rebuild of the 1830s which quickly fell out of use and had a lighthouse established within its grounds in 1899 (shown here), while the modern lighthouse which was built directly over the main circular defensive structure was added in 1948 to replace the post-war ruins that then existed

1122 - 1135

Boleslaw III of Poland gains dominance over Wartislaw I in Pomerania, reducing him to a vassal. In 1124-1125, Otto of Bamburg is brought in by Boleslaw to Christianise the pagans, which he does, supported by the already Christianised Duke Wartislaw I. Wartislaw also conquers vast territories to the west of the Oder, defeating the weakened Slavic Liutizian tribes and incorporating them into Pomerania. These new conquests are placed under the overlordship of Albert I of Brandenburg.

1137

Wartislaw I is killed by pagans and leaves the duchy of Pomerania to his young sons. His younger brother, Ratibor, steps in to manage the duchy. He is the founder of the Ratiborides branch which rules the lands of Schlawe-Stolp (until it goes extinct in 1227 and the territory is incorporated back into Pomerania proper), and the branch also accounts for some of the missing reignal numbering in the Pomerania list.

? - c.1196

Wartislaw (II) Swantiboriz

Son? Castellan of Stettin. Died after 1196.

1164

Despite Pomerania already being Christianised, and increasingly Germanised, bishops and dukes from the Holy Roman empire continue to mount expeditions into its lands. The Battle of Verchen in 1164 makes Pomerania a vassal of Henry the Lion of Saxony, while Pomerania secures Circipania around the same time.

1180 - 1185

The Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, dispossesses Henry 'the Lion' Welf, duke of Bavaria and assumes the overlordship of Pomerania himself. This is lost in 1885 to a Danish invasion which makes them overlords of Pomerania.

Henry the Lion and Matilda
Henry's second marriage was to Matilda, daughter of Henry II of England, but his eventual conflict with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa cost him his lands and titles

1181/82 - 1187

Duke Casimir is killed in battle without having any offspring. His brother, Bogislaw, governs all of Pomerania for the remainder of his life, after which it is formally partitioned into Pommern-Demmin and Pommern-Wolgast, with Bogislaw's elder son gaining the latter.

? - 1219

Bartholomäus

Son. Castellan of Gützkow. Died.

? - c.1230/32

Wartislaw

Brother. Castellan of Stettin. Died after 1230/32.

fl 1176 on

Konrad

Brother. Bishop of Kammin (Kaminsk). Died after 1233.

c.1200

One Konrad Swantiborides (Canradus de Swantiborides) visits the Czech capital at Prague around 1200 where he holds high office and resides in Prague castle. He is also granted the fief of the town of Stranka in the Czech lands. Given the name, it is highly likely that this Konrad is the same as Konrad, son of Wartislaw (II) Swantiboriz, despite the absence of written information to confirm it.

? - c.1219

Casimir / Kazimir

Brother. Castellan of Kolberg (Kołobrzeg). Died after 1219.

1219 - ?

Wartislaw

Son of Bartholomäus. Castellan of Stettin. Died after 1233.

fl 1259/60

Bartholomäus 'the Younger'

Son. Born 1206. Died after 1259/60. No offspring?

1264

After losing much of its territory, Pommern-Demmin is absorbed into Pommern-Wolgast by Barnim I upon the death of Wartislaw III. By this time Bartholomäus (possibly also known as Bartholomäus the Younger) may well have died. In no written source that is presently known are any offspring mentioned. In addition, no positoon of any consequence seems to be linked to him (which is why he has a shaded background here).

c.1233 - ?

Swantibor 'the Younger'

Son of Casimir. Castellan of Kolberg (Kołobrzeg).

fl 1265 - 1280

Casimir / Kasimir (II) 'the Younger'

Son. Castellan of Kolberg. Died after 1277/80.

fl 1265 - 1280

Konrad 'the Younger'

Brother. Took up a position under Ottokar the Great of Bohemia.

1277/80

The Swantiborides disappear from history, possibly dying out with Casimir. However, Mirka Lewis and Jaromír Stransky, in their research into their own Stransky family of what is now Czechia, suggest differently. Having pinpointed Konrad, above, as a potential link between the Swantiborides and the Czechs, Lewis suggests that it could be Konrad's own relatives who survive there as the initially wealthy Stránská family (Stranka or Stranky, or 'von Stransky' during German domination of the Czechs).

Ottokar the Great of Bohemia-Moravia
King Przemysl II Ottokar the Great, the 'Golden and Iron', was an inspirational empire-builder for his Czech kingdom of Bohemia-Moravia - he was also a capable politician, who managed to bring the state out of crisis and greatly strengthen it

This makes it more clear why the Swantiborides no longer appear in records which relate to Pomerania - they have moved into Czech lands instead. Kolberg passes to one Barnim I as castellan, seemingly after about 1260-1265, but possibly later if Casimir remains castellan there until his death. Swantibor's other son, Konrad (Conradus) finds that he can gain no position of authority in Kolberg so he accepts a position under Przemysl II Ottokar the Great of Bohemia.